A few years ago my beloved niece Raquel relocated to Hawaii to be with a boyfriend. While the relationship with the boyfriend didn’t work out, her relationship with the dog they rescued from the local shelter most certainly did. Soon Raquel found her way home, and brought her beloved dog Kekoa with her via the airlines all the way back home to Colorado from Hawaii.
For pretty much all of her life, Raquel had been a cat person so I couldn’t possibly understand the sudden change from cat to dog. I had been raised with cats myself and when I became an adult chose to add dogs to my life but have always been “naturally” a cat person. My niece’s sudden change left me befuddled (and I’ll admit a little disappointed because I was concerned that she no longer was a fan of cats). She said that she hadn’t quit being a cat lover, but just that her experiences with her pup had only broadened her passion for both species.
Silly me wondered if she had completely abandoned her love for her not only her cat Monty back home but for the species in general, eventually tho I “got” what she was saying much to her chagrin at not “getting it” prior to when I did. :S Oh well.
I must admit that part of my concern over Raquel’s new found doggy love was because Kekoa was a Pit Bull Terrier mix. My limited experience with the breed had made me biased with respect to them, and so I was not only concerned with her safety in owning this dog, but in the general safety of all those that would come around him. Interestingly enough though, Kekoa never acted like the alleged images that are portrayed by the media. He was always funny, playful, and to the frustration of the people he lived with, a bit gassy, but never threatening, biting, or hostile whatsoever. However, the other dog of the household, Raquel’s parents dog Chinook, has already done her fair share of being aggressive, unpredictable, and guilty of biting/snapping at one or 2 people. Chinook, is a giant size of a dog that is a Malamute mix. (Can you see the irony of the situation?)
A couple of years later, I was busy “bussing” my pets back and forth between my house and the local shelter for a low cost vaccination clinic. While waiting, a lady was there who’s family members included 4 or 5 Schnauzers, one Pit Bull Terrier named Petie, and cats of which the number I can’t remember. The lady had initially taken in Petie as a foster and to help out the local shelter, however, Petie turned out to be such a joy that she decided to keep him. This stout little fella (ok little for a Pit Bull) made the rounds between all of us waiting in line with our pets: friendly, tail wagging, and a bully smile on his face, greeting humans, various dogs, and any cats that would allow him to approach. His owner claimed that he was not only better behaved than her Schnauzers, but that he was almost “maternal” when it came to the cats and very sweet to any kittens she fosterd as well. Once again I was completely blown away by the friendly nature of this guy: what about all those pictures of snarling viscious unpredictable Pittys you always see?
Summer of last year, was a huge education for me as I came to not only learn more about the severe neglect and abuse this breed is constantly dealt, but at the time, began dating a guy with a tremendous love and appreciation for the breed.
The first time I met Sarah, I was still fearful and cautious because despite the fact that my experiences with the breed up until now had been positive, the image of this breed within our society was still affecting me. The first time meeting Sarah there was a kennel fence between me and her, and when my the guy I was dating at the tim wasn’t there to supervise, she did bark at me, but never once showed her teeth. If he went inside, she would again bark at me, but other than barking, never showed her teeth. Now I have had a few dogs of my own, and know that sometimes it’s important to take an alpha role when it comes to certain dogs. (I insert here that it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT I’M NOT A DOG TRAINER AND I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU TRYING WHAT I USED HERE!!) I decided it was time to quit being scared and take this step with Sarah. I shrugged off the fear and took on a different “personna” and then approached. I also looked her in the eyes to let her know that I wasn’t afraid and was alpha at this point. As I did this, it finally dawned on me just exactly what was going on: Sarah was obviously not being aggressive or threatening in her behavior, but was just as scared of me as I was of her!! This revolation really surprised me. I was really shocked to discover that such a powerful breed could actually be scared of me, when she was so capable of doing harm with the strength her breed is made up of!!
As time progressed me and the dogs all got to know each other. I did alot of observing of Sarah and found not only was she an amazing dog, but she’s just like alot of other dogs I have known. I also have came to really love her as well, and took it as a compliment when a few weeks later after initial introductions she crawled up next to me on the couch to snuggle, and be petted. (ok actually I felt really honored!!) 🙂 lol I have also discovered that she’s really just like any other dog, and Sarah has managed to make good friends not only with all 3 of my dogs, but the king cat of my household, Eli, walked up to her when she came in the front door of my house, exchanged sniffs, and both went on about their business.
I would also like to insert here that up until entering rescue, Sarah had only known one home and one owner, and I truly believe that when any animal goes into rescue, it creates alot of issues for them. Not issues that they necessarily can’t overcome, but I think it does add “baggage” to their life just as humans collect “baggage” as we go through our lives as well. With the epiphany that Sarah was just as scared of me as I was her, I was also determined to take a gentle path and go slowly in allowing her to get to know me as well as allowing me to get to know her. I could appreciate her caution in the situation especially after having gone through being relenquished to a shelter-she was not turned over for any behavioral reasons, but simply because her previous owner could not afford to keep her which is happening to alot of pets these days thanks to the economy-and loosing everything she knew and the person she loved the most. How traumatizing!!
While the relationship with the guy didn’t last, the education I had received concerning pitbulls left a permament understanding. I soon became much more aware of the plight of the breed, and even became the owner of one myself. Kelly Jo was rescue’d from a kill shelter in Utah, and nowadays, especially with the passing of my greyhound Greta, I could not imagine my life without her.
The current plight of the American Pitbull is absolutely heartbreaking!! In my own estimation, and not based on any offical research but just paying closer attention to the crosspostings of rescues I see on facebook, I truly believe that of all the dog breeds out there, the American Pit Bull has become not only one of the most overbred dogs, but is also the top breed, from what I see, to suffer terrible neglect and abuse at the hands of humans. I am constantly seeing dogs that are beaten, malnourished-literally walking skeletons- tortured, neglected, and abandoned 24/7 , 365 days a year. IT IS TRULY HEARTBREAKING!!!
For example, I give the most recent case of Patrick. The pitbull pup that was shoved down a trashshoot aftering being thoroughly starved to death on the part of sheer selfishness and lazyness by a human being. The fact that despite this dog’s ill treatment, he is still desiring to interact with and have contact with humans is a true testiment to the breed the American Pitbull.
Today, Greta’s Kingdom and I were able to partake in a rescue of an 8 month old pitbull male dog, called Dozer, that had been left abandoned in a 4×4 living space. The dog has been living in it’s own feces for at least 2 months, and had been left without water and food for at least 10 days. An anonymous angel, as I say, who says they don’t even really care for dogs, discovered the plight of Dozer, and began checking on him and making sure he had water and food. They managed make contact with us, and today in conjunction with Grand Junction Pitbull Rescue, a volunteer for Greta’s Kingdom pulled the dog from his living conditions and got him to a vet as quickly as possible.
Amazingly, the dog had suffered no major health issues-in part i’m sure due to the kindness of the anonymous party. Tests, vaccinations, and other requirements came to a total of $178. Greta’s Kingdom has started a chipin that can be found at this link, to help with costs, if you are please donate. ( The chipin, last checked read $500 goal, but since finding out the total of Dozer’s bill, we have adjusted it to $178 even tho the chipin still isn’t reflecting that. Hopefully the changes will catch up and it’ll reflect that shortly). The parties responsible for Dozer’s abuse/neglect will be pursued legally. Updates on the situation will be given as we know them.
link to Dozer’s chipin: http://dozerfundraiser414.chipin.com/dozer-abused-and-neglicted-8-month-old-pitbull-puppy
The volunteer that rescued Dozer stated:
“WE OPENED THE DOOR TO THE ENCLOSURE” STATED THE VOLUNTEER, “AND HE CAME OUT, LAID DOWN ON THE GROWN AND SHOWED US HIS BELLY FOR A RUB! IT’S AMAZING THE CAPACITY HE HAS TO STILL LOVE A HUMAN DESPITE WHAT ALL HE’S BEEN THROUGH”.
THE VOLUNTEER NOTED THAT SINCE RETREIVING DOZER AND BRINGING HIM HOME “HE HASN’T STOPPED KISSING ME. HE IS SUCH A SWEET BOY!!”
It’s amazing the capacity this animal has for once again putting his trust in a human, after what he has suffered at the hands of a human.
During the progression of this rescue today, I have given my own dogs inumerable hugs, and I’m sure they are probably wondering what is going on. I just can’t help but to wonder what if it had been one of them in this situation, or even more pointedly, what if it had been my own bully mix, Kelly Jo. Altho stubborn, she has such a big heart and a gentleness about her that you don’t hear about ENOUGH when it comes to this breed.
Last but not least, I leave you with the video of Hector, one of the Michael Vick dogs that is now a therapy dog. It appears to me that these dogs always manage to do right by us when given a fair chance. My question is, when we will do right by them?