Story of Penny -- Our Rescue Dog (VIDEO)


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Read More: brittany foundation, dog, nelsons, petco, rescue, vegsource, video, worldfest

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Last year we adopted a dog while attending WorldFest here in Los Angeles, and brought Penny to her new home here at the VegSource compound.

But Penny had serious issues, which we didn't realize until we got her home.

She was very fearful of Jeff (and all men), was a fear biter, and we had to decide whether we could even keep her.

Find out what happened to our "Lucky Penny."



12 Comments | Leave a comment


I am very disappointed that you were ready to abandon this poor dog after only a week.
You seem to be like all the other people who
are looking for perfect pets, then dump them at
a shelter if they are not perfect. Pets are a
Would you have done that to your children?
You couldn't have imagined that this animal was emotionally injured and needed love and patience?
Thank God someone talked sense to you
I'm just so mad that you are really so shallow towards animals! And then thought it was a good story to tell!


What a beautiful story! Thanks for adopting Penny and for sharing your story. The earlier commentator took the phrase literally that you were ready to give up after a week, but nothing else you said indicated that you were actually doing so. Perhaps she can share any experiences she's had that made that phrase such a hot button for her.


I agree with you fineartmarcella. Just hearing you say something like 'you had to reconsider if you could keep Penny because she had emo. tional issues' is sad. If you have a child and the child has some emotional issues, do you abandon the child? No. So, why would the thought of abandoning little Penny ever cross your mind? Sad. Nobody is perfect, I'm sure you have your moments but thank goodness our mates, children, friends & family don't abandon us when we have our moments. I'm sure abandoing little Penny would have been really emotionally healthy for her! I'm glad you gave her a home and I hope she id doing well, but in the future perhaps you shouldn't adopt anymore animals (or any children) if you think they are disposable because they have emotional issues! This sort of mentality needs to be wiped away from human thought. And, getting praise for doing what is normal (keeping the animal/child we adopt) shouldn't be necessary. I'd much rather see a story that deserves praise not a story that shows people doing what is expected (keeping the animal they adopt).


Congratulations to the Nelson Family on getting through those scary early days with Penny. My family also adopted a dog with threatening issues so I appreciate what you went through. You have every right to be proud of yourselves for succeeding in giving Penny a second chance.

It's only natural to ask "did we make the wrong decision?" when dealing with the aggression of a dog that has been abused. The health & safety of the family really does have to be the first priority; and sadly, sometimes difficult decisions must be made.

It's a tragic reality that some companion animals are so badly abused that their ability to trust is actually destroyed. I can totally understand the joyful relief you all feel in discovering that Penny could be rehabilitated. Well done! May you all enjoy many happy, healthy years together.


Thanks for the comments to date. I want to clarify a couple things not in the video.

Penny was a shy sweet dog when we all held her at WorldFest. When she came to our home a few days later, she was quite different. She attacked our cats repeatedly, drawing blood on occasions, and this was our biggest concern. She was also very destructive on furniture, clothing and a variety of items, she would pee and poop anywhere in the house, and was very difficult for my daughters and I to catch, in order to put her outside.

During those times when my son, Willie (in school), and wife, Sabrina, were away, it was very hard for the rest of us to manage her. She would bite when you tried to catch or pick her up, she refused to come inside from the backyard when the gardeners showed up (or any other time) unless Sabrina or Willie let her in. Despite the gardeners' efforts, she got out on a few occasions which was a huge problem when she refused to come and would just run full on away. She got hit by a car when running away, fortunately she lived, thanks to great actions by the vet hospital (for which I paid around $2,500 in vet bills).

Our biggest concern was the safety of our other animals, and trying to teach Penny not to dominate, chase and bite them.

Sabrina and I did have conversations early on with each other as to whether we felt we could keep Penny. We never told Nancy at the shelter that we were thinking of giving Penny up, but we told her about the problems and asked her for guidance, and she referred us to a trainer who works with rescue dogs. Feeling like wanting to give up isn't the same thing as giving up.

If you bring a dog into your house which turns out to endanger your other pets and potentially endanger small kids who come over, you may decide you're not qualified or don't have time to deal with that dog's issues, and so it might be more responsible to relinquish the dog to others better qualified to deal with the issues. I read just the other day about a baby who was killed and partially eaten by a family dog. Should those people have had that dog around? If we hadn't been able to stop Penny from going after our three cats, that would have represented a failure on our part to protect those cats. Perhaps some people who have commented here and who rescue troubled dogs have unlimited financial resources and unlimited time to deal with the dog which attacks their other animals. Everyone is different.

But in the end it worked out, and we're a success story. It took the whole family agreeing to dedicate ourselves to making it work. When this audition came up for a dog and family, we fully expected not to get a callback, since Penny still has a lot of issues with strangers and getting fearful and aggressive -- and a set is filled with strangers. The fact that Penny got the job was a surprise and delight for the family. Maybe if Penny gets a TV show I can retire. (joke...)

Regarding people "giving back" children, as a couple of people have brought up on this string: I do know of people who have adopted children from Eastern European countries who were raised in orphanages, only to find the kids had such severe problems that they did return the kid, because they were not able to have a job and earn a living while trying to address the kid's very serious (and dangerous) behavioral and emotional problems. Should they have returned the kid? I try not to judge others. That sort of seems like a big tragedy to me, but I would not seek to judge the person who felt forced to make that awful decision, without really knowing all the details and the full story.


What a SWEET story! Got me teary! And congrats to all of u on the commercial! How wonderful!! I didnt know u were having such issues w/her. Am wondering who ur trainer was. I would have recommended behaviorist Brandon Fouche, who is amazing.

Nancy's been running Brittany for many yrs & knows her stuff, u were in good hands.

It's understandable that it would take her time to trust again , and that she was confused & scared. She went thru a loss & had to grieve that & take out her anger on someone. She truly is Lucky!


Great video! I'm so happy for you all. I'd like to recommend "clicker training" as a great method for training Penny -- it uses positive reinforcement and the click serves as a wonderful signal to let her understand exactly what she did right that earned a reward. To learn more about this wonderful method, go to and

(And I'm a former Irish Setter owner myself, and a volunteer for Irish Setter rescue! Love them!)


What a great story! Thanks to the Nelson family for sharing :) I'm a firm believer in rescuing our four legged loved ones. I have two rescue cats of my own (Sony and Reesee) and I couldn't possibly think of what life would be like without them.


What an absolutely beautiful story.


Am coming into this conversation very late, but here goes. My question is, are the animals adopted converted to vegan diets including this one? I cannot reconcile my thirty year vegan idealogy to pet owning although I've owned three. One dog and three cats - all rescued and all of them vegan. My adorable Dal passed away two years ago after thirteen years vegan (one year was typical commercial dog diet by the puppymill). My two cats have also since passed but both lived long and good lives on vegan cat food. It can be done. It's pricey and labor consumptive, but we enslaved these animals thousands of years ago and now our urban areas are overrun with thousands of unwanted animals, breeding and dying in awful circumstances. We can't allow ouselves hypocrisy by preaching veganism if we own animals who are tied to the suffering of the slaughterhouse industry.


the quick brown fox jumps ride over the dog


the quick brown fox jumps ride over the dog

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