Hello, I’m Puddin’ Pops, or as my friends know me, Puddin’. Today, October 14th, 2015, marks the one-year anniversary of passing to the Rainbow Bridge from Cancer. The “Lady” at Puddin’s Pittie Palace said it’s time I tell everyone my story.
The first 10 years of my life weren’t so great, in fact, from what the pictures show, and what the Lady/AD (Activities Director) was told it was pretty much hell. I was involved in dog fighting with a corrupt “Dogman” who kept very good records, fought me, and then used me for stud. This person kept 200 dogs, chickens, cockroaches, snakes, wild boar, and all sorts of drugs, and guns hidden out in the booneys of Ohio.
It was not a Palace.
In August of 2010, some brave people (local humane societies and the HSUS shout out to Janette Reever!!) showed up to the “Dogman’s” home and finally discovered my family, friends, and best of all: ME!
I was officially Evidence Dog #93 of the 200 dogs (the raid is known as OH200 — in the video, at 1:42, you’ll see me). A nice person put all of us up in a horse barn because there were so many of us. After a lot of work, we were sent to various rescues across the country, like Hello Bully and Measle’s Animal Haven.
Most of us made it out with good temperaments and clean health and were put up for adoption. I made my way to be fostered by Robin Rock’s family from Measle’s Animal Haven and there I began to learn what it meant to be a dog, and got my first name, “Rockstar!”
I had quite a few health issues that had to be dealt with when I first got to Robin’s house and I also had to be neutered. Then after learning what it was like to live in a house, I was placed for adoption.
The AD loves Elderbulls and loves Petfinder. One night she was doing an Elderbull search in the area and saw an Elderbull named “Rockstar” in OH. The AD and the Palace are in IN. She had NO idea that Rockstar was an ex-fighting dog.
A little about the “Palace.” It’s home to a group of working dogs, Elderbulls or foster dogs. Most of the dogs are chosen to be therapy dogs and work in the local community mental health center where the AD works. When the AD sees a dog that “grabs” her, it is always their eyes, and what she usually sees is the potential for them to be a Therapy Dog.
And that is what the AD says she saw in ME! An ex-fighting dog — a dog that was born to be a Therapy Dog even though I was already more than 10 years old.
So…I move to IN, and the AD, while she liked the name Rockstar, thought I was a little too laid back for that name. See, I’m a slow-roll kinda dog. I’m super sweet but I also can get myself into some sticky situations at times…just like Pudding. So my name became Puddin’ Pops.
A piece of trivia: I’m the ONLY Palace dog who does not have the last name of Pants. And that’s because I’m the only Palace dog to ever be a Papa… that we know of.
But everyone just called me Puddin’ and life was good. I had a home with pitties, kitties and chickens.
The AD and I got serious about making me a working dog. I passed the Canine Good Citizen Certification even though I ‘sorta’ almost touched the hot dog… and then I got my Therapy Dog Certification.
Everyone LOVED me. Especially people who had come out of dark pasts like me. It’s like we knew we had both seen Hell on Earth and I like to think when they petted me, they got a little of my strength to help them on their own journey of healing.
The AD always said I wasn’t the most dynamic Therapy Dog she’d ever had, but I was the most zen of the pack. I was like the diffuser in the room. Sometimes, I’d just lie in the corner, especially as I got older, but the room would be calmer. I don’t know what that means, but I think it’s a good thing.
I still struggled with some of my own past though. Squeaky toys terrified me. And I didn’t like it if it was bedtime and everyone got too riled up and wanted to rough house. Sometimes I’d lose my temper if I was asleep and the AD would have to remind me I was safe. Old ways die hard sometimes.
I also didn’t like it when dogs sassed me too much. I had a lot of patience, A LOT of patience. But eventually if a dog pushed me too hard, well, let’s just say, I sometimes showed my past. I didn’t like to fight, but I knew how to fight. But the AD knew this and managed it.
My friends say I had a sublime sense of humor. I loved to sit and play with door stoppers. The boinnng boinnng sound of the spring going back and forth was heaven to me, especially if I could get it to come out of the wall.
I also liked the taste of electronics and would quietly consume them when no one was looking. And seatbelts… Who doesn’t enjoy the taste of a seatbelt? (Yum yum!) I didn’t really like my toys traditional, unless they were sticks. I liked the more avant garde… Phone cord (yes, please), cat poop (oh def!) and scrub brushes.
But my favorite thing? To roll in the grass. When I was back at the Dogman’s I had no grass. Just a circle with a post in the middle. And dirt. The AD knew how much I loved grass. Sometimes on our walk from the car to the office building a 3-minute walk would take almost 10 because I would literally roll my way there. Kicking my legs up and smiling. This is what brought me true joy.
We had good times. Wading in local rivers. Going to dog events. Doing normal stuff. I got to be a dog with a job. I was happy. I was home. I was the muse for a Facebook Page called Puddin’s Pittie Palace. All was good.
One day, my foster sister Jazzy and I had a scuffle. The AD took us to the vet to make sure we were fine. The vet noticed an odd lump on my paw. It hadn’t been there a few days earlier. The AD knew this because I wore boots all winter. Surgery Time… Spindlecell Carcinoma. But… we got it all!
And a wonderful group of people from FB helped arrange an auction to help with the cost of the surgery and with ongoing medical care for me, as well as Stubbydog.org. Then we got the news that I also had Hemangiosarcoma and 3 months to live. BUT, I wasn’t done with life yet.
During this time, you see, the AD was like damnit — Puddin’s doing a bucket list. So she started entering me in all these contests and we started going on fun outings. Because I wasn’t going down easily. I’m a fighter, a peaceful warrior.
So during the last 9 months of my life, I continued to work as much as I was able to at the Mental Health Center, and attended events as an Ambassabull. I even had a special Ther-a-Pit wheelbarrow I rode in and later my own stroller to ride in when I got too weak to walk far.
The AD entered me in the 2015 Pinups for Pit Bull’s Calendar Contest, and guess what! I was selected to be one of the calendar dogs, and in addition was a featured dog in the Pinups for Pit Bull’s book along with my sister Thelma Sparklepants.
My Aunties Lacey and C. Ann and the AD took a trip to the photo shoot and I had a blast. My brother Walter Monkeypants and I were also selected to be in the Rufus Strong, Rufus the Cancer Pitty’s 2015 Calendarl.
But probably the best thing of the year? Meeting Auntie Bea and going on a Gondola ride with a group of friends. My motto was “Fuck Cancer” and I proudly wore a charm on my collar that said that as I also tried to live it.
During the time I was sick, my Auntie Lacey and Uncle James made sure I had a lot of fun. They would come and take me on convertible rides and get hamburgers. Those are some of my happiest memories.
I didn’t want to eat much. Hemangio does that to a lot of dogs — it robs them of their appetites. It also makes sleeping difficult sometimes. I’d wake up to find the AD staring at me and she’d be telling me how much she loved me. We spent a lot of nights that way, just looking at each other.
Despite being sick, I always wanted to work. I’m didn’t want to stay home, so the AD would bundle me up in skeleton PJs and a sweater because I was so thin and off to work we’d go.
I worked up till the Friday before I passed. I couldn’t make the walk from the parking lot to the building so she’d carry me. But once we got to the building, I was “Rockstar” again, and would go around greeting people as if I didn’t have a care in the world. A Therapy Dog doesn’t let people know when they don’t feel well.
The AD always called me her soul dog. Before I passed, we had a weekend party with friends coming in from out of town. I finally got to meet my Auntie Bea. Auntie Bea had literally kept me going with her special treats she sent me when my appetite faded as the cancer grew.
At the party I realized it was OK to go…I’d defeated the cancer for 9 months. Several people noticed there was a change. And the spark in my eyes the AD had seen in the Petfinder photo? It had dimmed. I was tired.
I’d had my meal with Auntie Bea. And on Oct 14, 2014, the AD, Auntie Bea, and I made our last road trip and I passed peacefully to the Bridge knowing I was loved.
But the cool thing is, on that very day, my rescuer Janette Reever of the HSUS was in the middle of conducting a raid on another Dogman in Sevierville, TN, out in the middle of the country. She dubbed it “the Puddin’ raid” in my honor.
That I hope will be my legacy: to show the world that an ex-fighting dog can just be a dog, with his own quirks and funny ways, but a happy dog regardless of his past. And inspire others.
Peace and Light,