But Ellen barely resembled a dog; after years of neglect, she looked more like a dirty ball of knots, her hair so overgrown and matted Trio rescuers had trouble telling whether the pooch was really a boy or a girl.
“When we first saw this dog in its cage, we didn’t know which end was front or back,” Trio explains on its Facebook page. “We had to get a treat to see which end lifted up to sniff.”
In fact, Ellen’s filthy, stinky hair was so cumbersome she had a tough time getting around.
“Flies and gnats swarmed around the pup and what appeared to be the dog’s back legs dragged on the floor and left a watery trail…just like a snail,” Trio founder Sue Naiden remembers.
It was clear to Trio that all of that matted hair was causing Ellen a great deal of pain.
“The fur on the front legs had already started to rip out by the root…it was just too heavy and knotted to hold on,” says Naiden.
As they examined the dog, rescuers knew they’d have hours of grooming and bathing ahead of them before Ellen would finally be comfortable. So they brought the little dog to the Mutt Hutt, a grooming salon in the Chicagoland area, where an experienced groomer painstakingly clipped and snipped and shaved and scrubbed away a whopping 2 pounds of fur.
“The amount of grooming tools that she had to use to break through the hard shell of fur was unbelievable,” Trio says of the groomer on Facebook.
And though the grooming process was certainly uncomfortable for Ellen, especially when the groomer had to pluck out bits of fur that had grown 2 inches down into Ellen’s ear canal, Naiden says Ellen pulled through the experience like a champ, grateful to finally be free from her hairy prison.
“Never once did Ellen growl or show her teeth,” she remembers. “When it came time to shave the matted fur that had tightly wrapped its way around Ellen’s raw legs like a snug boot, Ellen actually looked up at me and started to give me kisses.”
It was Ellen’s sweet and happy nature that inspired her new name.
“We wanted a name that was pretty much synonymous with happiness,” Naiden tells the Huffington Post. “[W]ho couldn’t help but think of Ellen DeGeneres and the smile that she always has on her face?”
Ellen’s transformation is making headlines all around the world, with people from as far away as Greece and Australia hoping for the chance to adopt the adorable little pup.
“She truly is a miracle,” Naiden says of Ellen.