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Brookline family adopts pet that saved the life of Cranberry man

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Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Heather Rauenswinter, 29 of Brookline kisses Cloe, a Pit Bull mix newly adopted by Rauenswinter's family at her home in Brookline, Friday. Cloe achieved fame in July for saving her foster father, Chuck Weintraub's life, in July by notifying neighbors after he collapsed in his Cranberry yard.
ptrChloe02090113
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Heather Rauenswinter, 29 of Brookline kisses Cloe, a Pit Bull mix newly adopted by Rauenswinter's family at her home in Brookline, Friday. Cloe achieved fame in July for saving her foster father, Chuck Weintraub's life, in July by notifying neighbors after he collapsed in his Cranberry yard.
ptrChloe03090113
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
The Rauenswinter family of Brookline surrounds Cloe, a Pit Bull mix at their home on Friday. Cloe achieved fame in July for saving her foster father, Chuck Weintraub's life, in July by notifying neighbors after he collapsed in his Cranberry yard. Pictured left to right is Hank, 8, a shepherd/Collie mix, David Rauenswinter, 31, Cloe, Aleah Rauenswinter, 2, Heather Rauenswinter, 29 and DJ Rauenswinter, 4.
ptrChloe04090113
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
The Rauenswinter family of Brookline surrounds Cloe, a Pit Bull mix at their home on Friday. Cloe achieved fame in July for saving her foster father, Chuck Weintraub's life, in July by notifying neighbors after he collapsed in his Cranberry yard. Pictured left to right is Aleah Rauenswinter, 2, Hank, 8, a shepherd/Collie mix, Heather Rauenswinter, 29, Cloe and DJ Rauenswinter, 4.
ptrChloe05090113
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
The Rauenswinter family of Brookline surrounds Cloe, a Pit Bull mix at their home on Friday. Cloe achieved fame in July for saving her foster father, Chuck Weintraub's life, in July by notifying neighbors after he collapsed in his Cranberry yard. Pictured left to right is David Rauenswinter, 31, Hank, 8, a shepherd/Collie mix, Cloe and Aleah Rauenswinter, 2.
ptrChloe06090113
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Heather Rauenswinter, 29 of Brookline cradles Cloe, a Pit Bull mix newly adopted by Rauenswinter's family at her home in Brookline, Friday. Cloe achieved fame in July for saving her foster father, Chuck Weintraub's life, in July by notifying neighbors after he collapsed in his Cranberry yard.

A heart-wrenching call, but the right thing to do.

That’s how Chuck Weintraub described his decision to part with Chloe, a 1-year-old pit bull mix who in July saved his life by alerting neighbors when he collapsed in his Cranberry yard with heart complications.

“Anguish; we were in turmoil,” said Weintraub, 59, who fosters dogs for the Humane Society of Western Pennsylvania. “Then it hit us: It would be selfish of us to keep her because if we do, we can’t do what she saved my life for, which is to save other dogs.

“As much as we love her and as much as she did for me, I feel like I’m paying it forward by helping other dogs in her honor.”

Chloe — renamed Cloe by her new family — now lives in Brookline. She has a big yard to play in, two young children to watch over, a fellow canine named Hank to pal around with, and a protective human mother who watches over Cloe as if she were a third child.

“She’s our angel,” said Heather Rauenswinter, 29, as Cloe rubbed against her leg. “She’s part of our family now.”

The Tribune-Review first reported Cloe’s heroics in early July.

Weintraub fostered Cloe after her previous owner surrendered her in April, Humane Society officials said. Mange, a skin disease caused by parasitic mites, covered her body; she was timid from neglect and potential abuse, officials said.

In her foster home, the skittish dog learned to trust humans. But she remained painfully shy, never straying from Weintraub’s side.

On July 3, Weintraub collapsed while mowing his lawn. His two dogs, confined by collars that respond to an invisible electric fence, could not leave the yard.

Only Cloe could help. Despite her anxieties, she ran to a neighbor’s home and led them up the long driveway and into the yard, where Weintraub lay unconscious. They called paramedics, and Weintraub survived.

When the Rauenswinters heard about Cloe, “the hair on my arms stood up,” Heather Rauenswinter said.

They recently lost a pit bull named Zoey, who died of bone cancer. They did not want another dog — nothing could replace Zoey, Rauenswinter said — but that changed with Cloe.

They contacted Weintraub, who was struggling with what to do. He wanted to keep Cloe, he said, because of everything she had done for him. But keeping her meant he would have no room or time to foster other dogs.

He decided to interview families, vowing to give up Cloe only if he could find a family who offered a better life than he could.

After rejecting several families, he met the Rauenswinters, including Heather’s husband David, 31, and her children DJ, 4, and Aleah, 2, in mid-July.

“We have strict criteria for placement, and this family was above and beyond,” Weintraub said. “You look for compassion — does every member show compassion toward the dog? They did, and not just Heather, but David and the children, too.

“Then Heather said, ‘Look, if we’re not right, we understand. You just find the best place for Cloe.’” Weintraub said. “That was more than compassion. That was a total understanding that Cloe needed the right home.”

When the Rauenswinters loaded into the family pickup to drive home, the still shy dog followed them down the driveway.

“Normally she wouldn’t leave my side,” Weintraub said. “But she walked down to that truck and looked at them like, ‘OK, what about me?’”

The next day, Cloe went to her new “forever home.”

She gains confidence by the day, the Rauenswinters said. Instead of cowering, she greets strangers with a wagging tail. She presses her body against Hank as they nap in the sunlight. She is gentle with the kids and loves visiting the family’s rural camp on the Allegheny River in Venango County, they said.

“She’s home now,” David Rauenswinter said. “She’s ours, for sure.”

Weintraub, meanwhile, has a new foster, a golden retriever named Daisy.

He said he was surprised at the backlash when people learned that he might give Cloe away. Readers wrote disparaging comments about him online, saying it would be cruel not to keep her. One woman called him an idiot.

Weintraub read the comments, but stopped when they got too negative, he said.

“You make a tough decision like that and people say, ‘How could you?’ It takes you back a bit,” he said. “What they don’t understand is there are thousands of dogs in need of help and not enough room in shelters.

“I hope everybody understands, but if they don’t, too bad. Because of Cloe, we’re going to be able to help a lot of other dogs.”

Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or [email protected].

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