Taco, Detroit, MI

Whassssssup Turds! It’s me, Taco!

I am the biggest diva of the #367 survivors, and am on a mission to show the world that you don’t need no braces to look sexy 😉

See, what happened was, in August of 2013, 367 dogs were saved from the second largest dogfighting raid in US history.

Among those? Yours truly.

I prefer to believe mine was a gold chain, not those dingy rusted metal ones like everyone else’s. While at the HSUS shelter, I preferred to shout expletives at everyone until they cleaned up my poop, and, clearly, preferred to be in my own space…far away from those servants, like my mom, caring for me. 

And then the worst thing happened. While I was awaiting my knight in shining armor to give me the home I always deserved, one of my poop cleaners put a thunder shirt and freedom harness on me, put me in a crate with a gosh awful homemade fleece (FLEECE) blanket, at took me to freezing cold Michigan. 

From then on out, I have endured kibble almost every day of my life (yeah yeah yeah…bully sticks, too). Only when new lowly folk are in my presence do I receive the nectar of the gods…spray cheese.

I’ve put on a few pounds and developed seasonal alopecia, probably because I was forced to move where there is, like, no sun half of the year. And I’ve gotten a lot braver since I discovered how sexy I truly am. Confidence is key, people. 

My one hope is to ensure that dogs that came from my same background make it into a home, unlike mine, where they receive the steak they deserve daily. Where their blankets are made of nothing but cashmere. And that they never, EVER, are forced to potty in the snow.

And also, for everyone to know, it’s not less sexy to go out in public in a stroller, ok?

And for all my doggie homies, if you pretend like you are too scared to walk outside, someone will literally push you around like the royalty that you are.

You are welcome. 
Taco

Parent: Kelly


About #BarkNation & #TeamZomo:

On February 23, 2014, two of the Bark Nation board members set out on a journey to transport three of the most fearful survivors from the #367 Multi-State Dogfighting case to Michigan. They had spent countless weeks volunteering at the HSUS temporary shelter for these amazing survivors over the 6 months that our boys resided there — reading to them, singing to them, attempting to calm their fearful trembling, and promising them that there was a very real place in this big world for three fearful guys that had made no wrong choices in their lives.

These boys would become known as #TeamZomo [Zander, Homer and Taco], and would pave the way for many cruelty survivors to find reprieve with Bark Nation.

To say these three have surpassed any expectation is an understatement. They learned to trust quickly, found reprieve in playing with each other (and others), found their courage (man, did they become brave), learned how to demand bark and counter surf with the best of ’em. And snuggle! They love to snuggle!

They go on walks without low-crawling, play with toys, go belly-up and even potty outside [most of the time … yes, they are talking about this guy, Taco 🙂 ]. In a society where Bark Nation cannot save them all, these three stand as a pillar of hope and strength that we are capable of more than we think.

In two short years, #TeamZomo quickly expanded and Bark Nation have collaborated with dozens of shelters to provide enrichment opportunities and hosted free spay/neuter and wellness clinics in the city of Detroit.

Bark Nation also partners with colleagues from across the nation to form a rescue team to offer reprieve to hundreds, if not thousands, of survivors of contract level dogfighting; and rescue many beautiful, amazing souls still tethered to their heavy chains, 55 gallon drums and dirt circles.

For every dogfighting survivors, we celebrate the first time they…
put their feet on grass,
walked through a threshold,
climbed those pesky stairs,
played with each other,
took treats from a human’s hands,
asked for affection…
And every single kiss and tail wag since.

#EndDogFighting

Tigger, Waco, TX

Howdy…

I’m Tigger Marie Morris…aka…Grandmaw Tigg, MawMaw, Tigga Lou and various other silly nicknames my human mom and boy call me.

I live in Texas. I am an American Pitbull Terrier. I just recently celebrated my 22nd birthday which means… I’m VERY wise! (Mom says to say “and spoiled”)

Many years ago, a family member and her sons rescued me. I was four years old. I’m pretty smart and knew I needed a change of scenery so I escaped the place where I was chained. 

I was found wandering thru an apartment complex parking lot. I had a heavy tractor chain around my neck and dragging down past my feet. I still have a faint scar where the chain had rubbed into my skin.

Mom’s family asked if she would help find me a home and she agreed. At first, she was very concerned because she did not have much information about “pitbulls.” She only heard negative things about them on TV. 

She decided to ask a trainer and then read up about how AMAZING, MAFNIFICENT, GOOFY and PERFECT pitbulls are. 🙂

The trainer said I was perfect… (lol of course, I could have told her that) and mom decided to keep me. The very night i came home, I crawled up the stairs of my boys bunkbed to sleep with him…my sneaky plan to make sure mom knew I need to stay ♥♥

It worked!!! I’ve had my mommy and boy for 18 years. I also have countless human friends and family.

There are two MOST FAVORITE things I am SUPER passionate about: low cost spay and neuter AND Bully Breed shelter adoptions. All dogs like me should have the chance to be owned by a loving family and being altered keeps us SUPER-DUPER HEALTHY!

My VERY most favorite thing was to be a foster grandmaw dog for dogs that were in transition…dogs who were waiting for their own family.

Since I’m older now, mom, my boy and human friends and family let me sleep, ride around in the truck and eat anything I want (Pizza and tomatoes are THE BEST).

I’m slowing down and the days with my people are becoming less and less. My humans struggle with knowing that. I do my best every day cause they give me extra love these days ♥ I am brave for them because I know they know things are changing.

So I want to close by saying give pitbulls a chance… cause I paw promise they will fill your heart with wiggles and unconditional love.

I’m inherently GOOD ♥ ♥ ♥

PAW my LOVE,
Tigger girl from Texas

p.s. Come say hi to me on Facebook: Tigger’s Adventure

Parent: Julie

Photo credit: Crazy M Photography, Waco Town Photography

Cora, Garner, NC

Hello Everypawdy!! I am Cora, also known as “Pizza”, “Pitbulina”, and “Moo Moo Chicken” among others. 🙂

I am 12 years old now. My momma rescued me from a bad man, a backyard breeder who had sold all my brothers to be “fighting” dogs and was selling me and my sisters for “bait”. When my momma and her sister found us, the bad man would not let them rescue all of us, but only one a piece. So momma rescued me and auntie rescued my sister Olivia, and they notified someone called an Animal Control Officer to go and rescue the rest of my sisters.

I was 10 weeks old and only weighed 8 pounds. I was very, very skinny! I was also extremely anemic, wormy, and covered from nose to tail in fleas and ticks. Momma, Auntie and a friend of theirs took 3 whole hours just to pick the ticks off me. 🙁

I earned my CGC and TD titles by my first birthday. My motto: “I represent my peeps!” I really enjoyed my visits to the patients at Dorothea Dix Hospital. I think I made them feel so much better. 🙂

But…. then… at around 18 months momma noticed that I was having trouble walking sometimes. She thought I had hurt my leg, and that is when the doctor’s visits started. First, my regular vet… then the orthopedist… finally the neurologist at the Veterinary School at North Carolina State University who diagnosed me with Wobbler’s Disease. He said I have a relatively mild case, which I guess is a good thing, but it is progressive so over the years, my symptoms have gotten more obvious.

An unfortunate side effect of all the diagnosing, was that I developed a severe anxiety disorder and now I do not like going anywhere (I always assume it is going to be to the vet to be poked and prodded), and everything scares me… EXCEPT other dogs. I LOVE dogs!!

My fur-family consists of 1 fur-brother named Juan Chihuahua and 2 fur-sisters Little Kita the Dachshund with EPI and our forever foster Molly the Maltese with Mr. Mo Project — all of whom are also rescues and all of whom I love love LOVE so much. 🙂

And of course the never ending parade of foster fur-brothers and fur-sisters that pass through our doors on their way to their own forever home. If I am out in public, I will always gravitate to other dogs and submissively lick their faces to make myself feel better. It seems to work for me.

I have been an official Helper Elf to the Famous Laila Ali for the past 3 years with the I’m Not A Monster organization, and am humbled and honored to have been asked by Laila herself to become an official Not a Monster myself.

I hope I can still represent my peeps in showing the world not only how amazing “Pit Bull” type dogs are, but how “differently abled” or “aged” doesn’t detract in the least from the quality of love and heart that we have!!

♥ Lub,
Cora the Wobbly Pittie Girl

Parent: Andrea

Jasmine, Battle Creek, MI

Hi, there! I’m Jasmine AKA Jazzy AKA JazzyBoBazzy. My mom thinks I’m around 6 years old and when she adopted me they told her I was a pibble/bulldog mix. Who knows, really?! But I sure am a special girl – Mom tells me that alllll the time!

I started my life out in a shelter at 3 months old with my best friend at the time, and the only other dog I knew, Keala, a Shepherd mix. We were both adopted together and ended up spending the first 3 years of our life together outside, on cement. I had calluses on my chest and feet from laying on the cement for so long.

One day, the person who adopted us returned both of us back to the shelter and told them that we “just didn’t work out.” 🙁

We were both once again back in a kennel at a shelter, not knowing what happened or why we were here. The really nice people at the shelter wanted us to be adopted together as a “bonded pair” because I relied on Keala so much!

I guess a lot of people didn’t really want two full-grown dogs and for some reason, nobody wanted me, just Keala. After a couple months of really trying, the shelter decided to separate us and the next thing I knew, Keala was gone. Some family came and adopted her immediately!

I instantly became so lost and afraid without my Keala. I didn’t know what to do or how to act without her. I was so depressed, devastated and scared — I would just hide and would shake at the back of my kennel. 🙁

The people at the shelter were so nice and really tried working with me. Even though I was a staff favorite, I was just so scared of everything and didn’t know how to be a dog without Keala. I didn’t really get any interest in the next few months – my behavior in the shelter was turning people away from adopting me despite the staff and volunteers working really hard to help me feel comfortable. So they tried to put in me in a home setting to see if my fear subsided in a home setting.

That was my last chance.

A really nice volunteer lady named Stephanie who fell in love with me since day one, decided to take me home and see how I liked it!! And I loved it!! 🙂

There I met new friends Nana and Zyra, and I became attached to them!! I really enjoyed sitting on them actually, that was my favorite thing to do next to cuddling with them. After a couple days they decided to foster me so I didn’t have to go back to being alone in a shelter.

My foster mama was amazing. I really loved her and she said I perked right up as soon as I had another dog to sit on and guide me! Foster mama Stephanie said, “There was just something about her! Like she needed just one person to push for her. And I knew, just like you do, that she just needed some extra love and guidance and structure to blossom and gain confidence!”

My new foster sister Nana the Earless Pibble had quite the following on social media so she decided to use her platform to help get me adopted! I just loved Nana, she showed me so many things and taught me that things were going to be ok.

I didn’t meet my real mom for a little while yet but I was told she fell instantly for me and my gorgeous eyes the very first time she saw me on Nana’s page. She felt connected in such an unexplainable way that although she wasn’t even looking to adopt another dog, the second she saw me, she said, “I will hop in the next plane to California and adopt her!”

From there foster mama Stephanie and my soon-to-be Mom started talking about her flying from Michigan to visit me in California and adopting me. Unfortunately, as per the shelter rules, I was not able to be adopted out of state!

I did get adopted by a family that lived in California, but they returned me to foster mama Stephanie after just a few days because I didn’t work out with their other dog. I don’t think it liked me very much.

The next thing I knew I was being pulled by a rescue! The amazing rescue, A Purposeful Rescue, specializes in the harder-to-adopt dogs, like me, or seniors and special needs dogs. And they even let me stay with my foster family!!!

At that point, foster mama Stephanie had talked to the founder of the rescue, Hillary, and told her all about my soon-to-be mom and her family in Michigan. Stephanie asked my mom to fill out the adoption application and email it directly to Hillary. Hillary fell in love with my mom’s application and they started going through the out-of-state adoption process which requires a home visit first.

Add in another twist: in the midst of all of this, another very potential adopter put in an application for my adoption. Since she lived in CA and was a dog trainer, she became a better adoption option for me, compared to an out-of-state adoption. So I had a meet and greet with this lady and her dog. They really liked me but they ended up passing me by because I was too energetic for her and her dog. So then the adoption option came back to my mom!

We were back to figuring out how to get me to my mom. Foster mama Stephanie was talking to this amazing pibble advocate Rebecca Corry about my mom’s interest in me and how it would be a perfect fit and situation for me. That I would have someone to guide me and rely on, like with my Keala and Nana, because my new family has 3 dogs and one was another pibble name Lola.

Knowing how hard it is to adopt out of state, Rebecca’s non-profit, Stand Up For Pits Foundation, offered to pay for all of my travel and transportation from California to Michigan. My mom was planning on flying out to California to meet me and then go from there, but Rebecca and Stephanie decided my mom didn’t need to come out to California at all. Instead, foster mama Stephanie packed me up in a car and we were off!! She drove me all the way from California to Michigan!! She did a home check for the rescue and I had finally found my forever home!

When I got to my new home in Michigan, I was still quite fearful of new places and things. My mom says it’s so amazing to see me come out of my shell more and more each and every day. I’m learning so many new things about life and about having a home, living in a house and sleeping in a comfy bed. Now I live the life of a queen! I have so many big comfy orthopedic beds on the floor just for me and I get to sleep in bed with my family every single night.

I’m attached to my mom. She calls me her shadow! I love to go everywhere with her and I always get lots of attention wherever we go, my favorites are the puppacinos when Mom gets coffee!!

I love me some scratches and I get lots of them every single day, especially head and butt scratches (those are my favorite)!! My favorite things are playing with my ropes/jolly ball and playing with my sister and going on walks. I now have a big backyard and I just love it!! I love to just wander around it! I don’t get zoomies often but when I do, watch out world!!

Did you remember in the beginning of my story I wrote that I’m a special girl? Well, that wasn’t just something my Mom says because she loves me so much. My foster mom & mom think I have special needs similar to a mix of Down Syndrome and Autism in dogs. This is why I was so reliant on Keala, then Nana, and now Lola. I need guidance and someone to support me. Even though I’m coming out of my shell more and more every day, I’m still 100% more comfortable having Lola with me 24/7. My foster mom had a full neurological workup done on me and it came back clear.

My 3rd eyelids are always up and come up really high on my eyeballs, so I have very limited vision – I can’t see anything below my nose. So my mom & Dad have to help me up onto the bed and into the car and with stairs (but we are working on stairs and I’m becoming more comfortable with them everyday!!). I’ve finally mastered getting up on the couch by myself but it took me a good 6 months to trust myself to get up, and occasionally I will struggle.

I don’t have much peripheral vision either, so I scan back and forth, left to right a lot to see my surroundings. I get a little nervous of small spaces, so when I walk into a narrow room, I generally feel more comfortable backing out of the room rather than turning around, kind of like, I know that’s how I got in and I know that’s how I can get out. All of this makes my eyes end up looking a little crossed-eye which also makes it look like I’m not looking right you. I’ve had several eye tests done to check for disease or injury and all came back with normal ranges.

Mom says there might be a slight possibility that I may be a little hard of hearing. I mean I definitely can hear, but sometimes it seems a little sensitive, and sometimes I don’t always respond right away. And that being said, I often can be easily startled or spooked with loud noises, like motorcycle, truck, a sneeze or a cough.

I still am generally nervous around new people so when a new person try to touch me, I duck my head a little, crouch, and stick my tongue out. My mom & dad have worked so hard on this with me and I’m getting better!! When I’m nervous around new people, I like to lick them incessantly and then I try to sit on them. I loves licking – it’s my favorite hobby! – it’s kind of like how I get to know you.

I have an extraordinarily long tongue, for some reason it just doesn’t al fit in my mouth and so it always hangs out. 🙂

I have an amazing family now with the best parents and my super cool sister Lola (I love to do everything she does!), two older little brothers, the best grand dog-parents any dog could ask for. You can follow my antics on my Facebook page – Life with Lola & Jazzy – or on Instagram.

My happy ending is possible because of so many amazing people, from the best foster mom (Stephanie) and foster sisters (Nana & Zyra) who are constantly a part of our life, to an incredible foundation (Stand Up for Pits Foundation) and the amazing Rebecca Corry, to the incredible group of people who were part of my success and adoption at the Agoura Animal Care Center, Healthcare for Homeless Animals, and A Purposeful Rescue.

I am Jazzy, and yes, I am a very special girl!


Jazzy

Parent: Natalie

Finn, Las Vegas, NV

Hi, I’m Finn (aka Finn the Adorable) and I adopted my humans after they fostered me through a rescue group, The Churchill Foundation, a year ago, when I was a couple months old.

Mom fell in love with me at first sight, when Lara posted a picture on Facebook. Her and Dad had adopted my “sister” Cinder (aka Cinder the Wonder Dog), a pit/lab mix, from a local shelter, but they were smitten (can you blame them? I was a pretty cute pup!) and really hoped I’d choose them.

When they first met me, they brought Cinder and we played in the yard for awhile and I just knew. I knew they would love me unconditionally and that Cinder would be a great big sister to me. She was playful, but caring and is still protective of me. I follow her everywhere! If she sniffs a patch of grass, I sniff it. If she barks, I run to her and bark, too. Mom & Dad spoil us, but they say that’s the way it should be.

Mom & Dad knew I was born with a “chicken wing” left front leg, due to inbreeding, but that didn’t make any difference to them. I had a surgery to remove the “wing” because the vet was afraid I’d hurt myself, as it sometimes got caught on the doggie door; I had also started to chew on it, like a toy. (Hey, I taste delicious, what can I say?!)

I’ve healed nicely and get around just fine. Cinder and I race all the time and I keep up really well! Sometimes people feel sorry for me, but Mom & Dad explain that it doesn’t stop me from doing almost everything any other dog does. I just may do it slower, differently or with a bit of help.

One of my favorite things is when we go to the swimming hole by our home, and Cinder and I get to run around and swim. I just wear my life jacket and then I can swim with her! We also go camping, take road trips and go off-roading with Mom & Dad.

People who have known us, aren’t afraid of us, but when we meet people who don’t know us, some people are worried that I’m not friendly. Many people think I lost my leg in a dog fight, just because I’m a pittie. Mom & Dad do the talking, and I turn on the charm and win them over, showing them how friendly, happy and good I am. We have taught many people not to be afraid of dogs, just because they’re a certain breed.

I love people, all dogs, taking naps and ice cubes. I am loved a lot; Mom gives me great massages and makes us homemade treats (she calls them Tail Waggers), which is pretty much the best thing ever. I have a great sense of humor and even if I do something I’m not really supposed to (like dig; yes, I am quite the digging doggie), I just give them “the look” and tilt my head, wag my tail and Mom & Dad just can’t be mad. I chase my sister around the house and love to do zoomies from the hall to the couch, bounce off and run back down the hall. This makes everyone laugh, which is awesome! 🙂

All 5 of Mom & Dad’s grandkids adore me, especially when I kiss their faces! I hope when we post pictures of me & Cinder with them, it helps to dispel misinformation about my breed. I hope that other people who meet me, realize how much love my fellow pitties have. I hope they realize we are just dogs. We have so much love to give…and we are really funny!

Mom has been an advocate for pitties for about 10 years, since she was adopted by a “bait dog” pup, named Chance. She learned a lot about BSL and dog fighting with him, and she says he saved her, and taught her to be a better human, after her Mom & Grandma passed away. He passed over the rainbow bridge in August 2014, and my family will always advocate for pitties and take the opportunity to educate people about adopting, pittie love and fighting BSL.

Mom & Dad say that because I’m a black pittie, with a medical issue, I probably wouldn’t be alive if I had been surrendered to a shelter. That’s why we support The Churchill Foundation; they rescue the dogs that others overlook.

I think people can be afraid to adopt a dog with a medical issue, but Mom & Dad tell everyone it’s not a big deal. Yes, there are some things I can’t do (hike up big hills or long walks) but that’s okay; we work around it. Mom & Dad say that what they get from me (love, laughs and more kisses than you can imagine) far outweighs any special accommodations they have to make for me. I’m really happy that Lara rescued me, so that I’d have this wonderful life!

I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a little about me. If you are looking for a loving companion, consider adopting a pittie — especially a black one, since they’re harder to place. And if they have a medical issue, please don’t automatically dismiss them. They can still bring you much love, loyalty and laughs.

Love,
Finn the Adorable

Parent: Lisa

Nelson, Nijlen, Belgium

My name is Nelson. I am my human’s second bull-breed dog.

Before me, my human had a pit bull named Tyson. Tyson was a very good dog who loved kids. He went along to drop off and pick up his human sibling from school every day, until the school decided that he wasn’t allowed near the school childeren anymore. He was too “dangerous”.

Tyson was puzzled because all he did was eat the leftover sandwiches he got and give kisses to the kids that petted him. 🙁

My human was glad when she moved out of the city because she hoped there was less prejudice there and that Tyson was welcome again at the school gate (which he was).

When Tyson died of old age, he left a huge hole in my human’s heart so she remained dogless for 2 years. She saw me on a photo that her sister-in-law sent to her via Facebook.

My human’s sister-in-law lives with my sister. I was originally going to be adopted by other humans but my sister’s human talked to the man that put me up for adoption and finally he said my human could come and see if I was ok for her.

This man (my mom’s human) was very good to us, even if we were not really expected (my mom had a little accident while playing with my dad, and the result was me and my 7 brothers and sisters). My mom’s human kept reports of our growth, weight and how we responded to our shots. My human received a sheet with my data when she took me home and the man cried when he saw me leave.

I have not been an easy dog: I am very stubborn, and have tested my human’s nerves several times. I’m lucky to have my human, because she always says if I lived somewhere else they would have abandoned me because of my behavior. 🙂

But my human is stubborn as well. She went to school with me and plays with me every day. She also cuddles me a lot, and allows me to sleep with my human sibling, who is now a teenager. Even though she socialized me well, I am still afraid of certain things, children and people in the dark being some of them.

Yesterday we went for a walk, and I played with one of my doggy friends while my human spoke with the other human. Another person came by and asked the other human to keep my friend with her. The friend’s owner told my human that we would see each other at another time.

The person walking by said she did not like bull-breeds. My human answered that we were good dogs, the person laughed and said: “that’s what they all say.” in a tone my human did not like. She answered “don’t judge what you don’t know” and I felt she was very angry and hurting inside, because even outside of the city, there still was prejudice about our beautiful breed.

We went back home and she cuddled me tight and said she would never ever let anybody call me a bad or dangerous dog.

Thank goodness for humans that don’t judge our blocky heads and strong bodies; they are the ones that keep us alive and out of the shelters. I know my human will defend me against people who don’t take time to get to know me and tell people with small children to keep their distance because they make me nervous.

I have a responsible owner and I am thankful to have her.

Nelson

Parent: Liz

Butters, Shakopee, MN

Oh hai! Mine name is Butters. I was rescued as a young pup — just 7 weeks old!

My momma picked me up & was only supposed to foster me but we formed an incredible bond & she knew I was supposed to be hers forever.

She decided that I was going to help her change the perception of pit bulls by showcasing that I am just an ordinary dog — who just happens to have an abnormally large head.

Shortly after I was adopted she started my facebook page and she continues to stalk me like paparazzi and share my life with the public.

I don’t mind though, I get lots of treats 🙂

Other than being a complete stud muffin, I also happen to be a certified Canine Good Citizen. I absolutely LOVE meeting new people (and giving kisses).

I have done a handful of modeling gigs (including a photo shoot for Target) and have my cute self in 2 books that are sold in Barnes & Noble and a handful of other stores across the country (Target, airport book stores, etc).

I am on the cover of Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin (which is an amazing book I may add) and I am in Dog Face by Barbara O’Brien.

Momma’s goal is to get my face everywhere. 🙂

I live in Shakopee, MN, with my mom and dad, my 2 sisters — Bella is a red lab and Lilly (or as I call her, Sister Bossy Pants) is an english jack russell. Lilly terrifies me. She is a real bossy old lady. I also have a feline sibling, Miles Davis.

Please stop on by my facebook page, AllAboutButters, for a smile — or sometimes even a little squeal. I am also on Instagram — @DisButters.

zOoMiEs!
Butters

Parent: Emily

Photo credit: Karin Newstrom Photography

Kaida & Kabuki, Falls Church, VA

Hello interwebs!

My name is Kaida and I was adopted in May 2009 from a pit bull rescue in Culpepper, VA. Mom named me Kaida, because it means ‘gentle’ in Japanese. But she calls me her little sweet angel.

When I was at the foster farm, Mom made the 2-hour drive to come out at meet me. My foster family introduced Mom to a few dogs, until they got to me. I immediately snuggled with Mom and started to give her kisses. We then went for a walk outside, I followed mom off leash all over the farm. All the humans started saying, “She’s the one.” Whatever that meant.

A couple weeks later, I went with my foster dad to a house and I saw Mom again! We hung out at the house while my foster dad walked around the house and back yard, I followed mommy and him the whole time. Afterwards, my foster dad gave me a big hug and kiss and left me with my new mom. 🙂

After a couple weeks, mom started taking me out and about; I went to a lot of outdoor festivals, and doggie events. And mom started dressing me up in costumes and clothes. A lot of the time I matched her! Mom baked me treats, and snuggled with me everyday.

Mom introduced me to her family; I met so many new aunties and uncles. At first, everyone was afraid of me. But eventually, they saw how sweet I was and now they love having me visit. Mom even says that my uncle Nick and La adopted a pit bull because of me!

In 2010, after some training my mom decided I was ready for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. While at my test, the evaluator suggested to Mom that I was a good candidate for therapy work. Then in 2011, Mom took me for my Therapy Dog International evaluation and I passed! From there, I went to nursing homes, and libraries to meet with senior citizens and read with kids.

Mom and her friends say I was an instrumental tool at Camp Fusion, a leadership, and self-esteem building camp for minority kids, organized by Females United for Self Esteem Development (FUSED). At Camp Fusion, counselors used me to help kids open up, and feel more comfortable during activities and one on one time. All the kids loved me, especially the really shy ones, so a counselor would borrow me, and ask the shy kids to take a walk. During the walk, I was a really good listener, and made the kids feel more comfortable to open up and talk to the counselors so that they could help the shy kids engage in the activities and games. I helped the kids open up more, and feel more comfortable participating with the other kids. Some kids even asked me to dance on stage with them and play some of their games!

In 2012, Mom met the folks of Jasmine’s House Rescue at the Super Pet Expo, and they told her of a program they were starting called Project Mickey. This program teaches Baltimore City elementary school children build positive attitudes towards animals. The program focuses on empathy and responsible ownership, through hands on visits, from dogs, cats, and rescue and shelter professionals.

The Project Mickey folks invite me to meet with the classes and they talk about pit bull stereotypes, training, and animal abuse. At the end of the lesson, the kids get to visit with me and pet me and I get to give kisses!

I was invited to visit the first year, and have been a fixture in the program ever since. So Mom makes the hour-long drive every few weeks during the school year so I can visit with my classes. We used to go to just one elementary school, but since the first year’s success, we have been visiting a number of more schools in Baltimore City.

I absolutely love visiting with the kids, and have helped change many of the views of the kids and their parents. I am especially effective with working with the kids who are fearful of dogs, because of my calm and loving demeanor. Many kids who are fearful of dogs, or have never been around a dog will pet me, often for the first time ever! I’m really good at staying calm and patient while the fearful kids work up the courage to pet me. When they do, it’s such a reward, because I usually get a lot of pets! 🙂

Mom volunteers for a rescue called Ambassador Pit Bull Alliance (APBA), whose focus is to support and foster responsible ownership, breed awareness, and advocacy. I go with Mom to all their events as a breed ambassador, I love meeting all the people and dogs. The APBA family like having me around, and tell people that even though I’m a pit bull, I am a therapy dog, and I do a lot of volunteering, especially with kids. People are always so shocked to hear about all that I do.

I have also been invited to join a public speaking project for an APBA volunteer about BSL and breed discrimination at George Mason University. It’s such hard work to sit front of a class and let people see how awesome pit bulls are!

In 2013, Mommy brought home an 8-week-old foster puppy, and we named her Kabuki, because it means “mask” in Japanese, and she had an all black face. A rescue friend of Mom’s had come across a homeless woman in Springfield, VA, with a small brindle puppy. After approaching the woman about the puppy, she had told the rescuer that some teenage boys had asked her to watch their puppy while they went to the library and never returned. 🙁

The rescuer asked if the homeless woman was capable of caring for the puppy, to which the homeless woman said no. The puppy was taken into APBA to be cared for.

We fostered Kabuki for a little over a month, when our small family fell in love with the puppy, and within a short amount of time she was a foster fail. 🙂

I love this goofy little girl, we like to play tug-of-war and chase squirrels in the yard. Kabuki is a lot of energy and love. She keeps me active and on my toes. Mom even has an ongoing series of her on our Facebook Page called “Guess What Kabuki Did.” She’s so loving, she gives everyone kisses, even me! She’s Mom and my snuggle buddy.

Kabuki joined Mom and I at Project Mickey as a puppy and has been invited back every year. Kabuki loves giving kisses to the kids and snuggles. After Kabuki turned 1, to remain a Project Mickey ambassador, she had to pass her CGC. In May of 2014, at one and a half, Mom took her and she passed! She is now an official Project Mickey dog, and loves spending time with the students.

Mom calls us the Brindle Babes, we go to all APBA events and lots of other events around the DC area as breed ambassadors, changing the minds of all who meet us.

Parent: Phuong

Photo credit: Dirty Paw Photography

Destiny, Bartlesville, OK

The day my Mama found me, my name was “Unknown.”

Once upon a time, I belonged to somebody. And that somebody didn’t want me no more, so they dumped me. Somehow I ended up over 50 miles away from where I used to live and was caught stumbling down a busy street as a stray.

I was only 39 pounds, dehydrated, and so skinny, all the muscles in my head were gone and made me look kinda funny.

I was sitting in my kennel, number 251A, when this nice lady and a beautiful 8-year-old girl named Destiny walked up and saw me.

The sweet angel looked at the nice lady and said, “What’s wrong with her?”

The lady said, ”Well, sweetheart, looks like someone didn’t feed her or take care of her.”

The little girl looked up and said, “Why would somebody do that?”

The lady looked sad, like she wanted to cry. Finally she said, ”I really don’t know, baby, there’s a lot of bad people in the world.”

Then the little angel spoke up and said, ”We can just feed her and she’ll get better, right?”

Those ten simple words saved my life.

The nice lady, she went home that night and couldn’t sleep, haunted by the look in my eyes. I was afraid, hungry, defeated. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw mine. She knew in a shelter full of healthy, friendly dogs, I wouldn’t make it.

She knew she had to do something.

So the next day, she came back to the shelter and got into the kennel with me, sitting on the cold concrete. I was very scared and tried to warn her, ”Please, lady, I’m afraid. Don’t push me!” I said with my growls.

The lady listened. She didn’t look at me. She didn’t try to pet me. She just tossed treats my way. And oh, my, did they ever smell good! I wanted them so badly, but I just knew if I went near them she might try to grab me or something.

The nice lady just kept tossing treats my way. Eventually, I just couldn’t stand it and I started eating them.

That lady, she was sneaky. She started tossing them closer and closer to her until I realized I was standing right next to her. I almost bolted, but still she didn’t try to touch me or anything, so I stayed.

Finally, she held out a treat and it was in her hand. This time I looked up at her and she looked at me, then looked at the treat. I took the treat, then sniffed her hand, and closed my eyes as she gently touched my cheek.

Her touch was so gentle, all I could do was sigh.

I looked up at the nice lady and she had water running down her face. I stood up really close to her and then put my paws on her legs and stood on her. I heard her say, ”You beautiful baby girl,” and I knew something special was about to happen.

After a while, I was tired, so I went over to my bed and blankie and laid down. The lady watched me the whole time, then gently touched my cheek and said, ”I love you, baby girl.”

I think that’s the moment she knew I was coming home with her.

That night, the lady went home and wrote my story. In her story, she said,”I truly believe it was meant for us to walk back to the kennels that Friday after our photo shoot. I truly believe it was meant for us to see the dog named ’Unknown’ in kennel 251A.

“And it was absolutely meant for an eight-year-old to say ten simple words to change the course of this dog’s life and mine. So no longer will this sweet dog be known as ’Unknown.’ Her name is Destiny. Because it was meant to be.”

My Mama (that’s what I call her now) took me home to a house full of love. No longer am I cold. No longer am I hungry. I’m not scared anymore.

I have special blankies I cover up with. I have a Pibble Posse I love more than anything in this world that I write to every day on Facebook! I have my own bed. I have sisters (five of them!). But most of all, I have love.

Love,
Destiny the Pibble

Parent: Sherry

Ziggy, Ogden, UT

Hi! My name is Ziggy and I’m eight years old.

I have known nothing but love my entire life. When I was about one year old, my first mom had to find me a new home due to breed restrictions where we lived.

My new family thought they were just going to foster me until she found us a home to live in together. It turned out to be harder then she thought. She was unable to find any housing that would take me.

So here I am now, a foster failure living with my amazing new family for the past seven years. Moving from house to house, couch to couch, trailer to trailer, state to state, just so we can all live together.

My family has dealt with a lot of BSL but no matter what I know I will always have a home and a family to call my own! I have lived a very happy and very loved life.

I have a brother, Hercules, who was rescued from doggie jail days before he was to be killed. He has not been loved his whole life. As soon as my family brought him home, we were best friends forever and I have been teaching him ever since.

We also rescued a kitten who we named Marley because me and her are inseparable! She loves sleeping on my back or laying on my head and I will just lay there sitting very still until she wakes up on her own.

I love everybody, every animal, every object, everything! I have never in my life growled or even nipped at anything. We had our house broken into one time. Me and my dad were sleeping on the couch when someone opened our door, dressed in a ski mask with a back pack. As my dad chased the criminal outside, I peacefully went back to sleep. 🙂

We have a joke around here that I will lick a burglar to death or for a treat I might help them carry the TV to their car. And they are very right! I couldn’t hurt a fly!

I also love to spend time with my mom volunteering. She is currently helping people and their animals who don’t have homes right now. The group For the Love of Paws goes out every Sunday to provide the necessary items for animals to survive — food, toys, treats, booties, sweaters, etc.

It is very important to help these people especially in the winter because the temperature drops drastically. I may be lucky enough to sleep in a warm bed every night but some are not as lucky as me.

This is very close to my heart because these people give up the warmth and comfort of a shelter just to keep their animal companion with them. Just as my mom has done for me my entire life.

It is very touching and we will continue to help in any way we can!

♥ Ziggy

Parent: Nicole

Simon, Mankato, MN

Hello! My name is Simon.

I know what you’re thinking, and I’ll answer that question right away. Yes, they’re real. I was born with these eyebrows. 🙂

I’m often asked if my name is Groucho, but I’m really not a grouch! There’s a lot more to my story than just a great pair of eyebrows, so let’s get started.

I was born at the Minneapolis Animal Care and Control facility in August, 2011. I’m one of a litter of 13!

At that time, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC) only released dogs like me (pit bulls, pit bull mixes) to rescue organizations. When my entire litter was just six weeks old, we were scheduled to be euthanized. 🙁

A wonderful twin cities-based rescue group, Secondhand Hounds, found out about us and they were given 30 minutes to bail us out of this facility!

Some incredible people showed up with one crate in the back of a minivan. Our mom went in the crate, and all 13 pups were placed on the lap of a volunteer.

There was a catch to getting out of MACC — we had to be named. So, these volunteers were able to come up with some names. They named us after cheese!

My name was Swiss. My siblings had names like Colby, Jack, Romano, Gouda, etc. We all went to foster homes and were adopted. Some of us kept our cheese names, and some of us got new names.

I was adopted, but after around one year, my first family returned me to Secondhand Hounds since they were no longer able to keep me.

Mom and her friend saw me on the Secondhand Hounds website and decided to co-foster me. Mom’s friend had me for a weekend, and Mom has had me ever since!

I have three wonderful adopted siblings: Lili, Rufus and Kane. Mom has done a lot of work to help me learn manners, and I teach her that life is supposed to be fun and exciting all the time!

My life has been a wonderful adventure. I’ve been in magazines, I was on the front page of a newspaper, and I’m learning the fun sport of dock diving.

Lots of people are very curious about these eyebrows, and my eyebrows seem to start conversations about certain types of dogs. Lots of people’s perceptions have changed once they get to know my personality. I love people! 🙂

My human mom has lots of big plans for me for the coming year. I’ll be swimming more, and hopefully dock diving in a few more competitions.

And with a little more obedience training, I might get my Canine Good Citizen certification. I guess you could say I’ve got some big plans on the horizon.

Follow my adventure at Simon The Pit Bull/Boxer!

🙂
Simon

Parent: Stephanie

Georgia & Jasmine, Van Buren, AR

Hello! We’re bully sisters. I’m Georgia, an American Bulldog, and my sister Jasmine is an English Bulldog.

My story is not much different from many of my abandoned bully brothers and sisters. I’m a beautiful girl and my owner knew I would have beautiful babies — to sell. I was what my newly adopted parents say, overbred.

I had many puppies in a short amount of time. My milk bottles were hanging and I was thin.

One day my owner took me to the dog park near Carrollton, TX, and left me there.

A nice lady found me after I was at the part for over 2 hours. She was kind enough to wait at the park to see if my owner would come back for me. When they didn’t show up, she loaded all 75 lbs. of me into her car and drove me to the rescue.

I’d like to think that she wanted to adopt me but she had other dogs and they might be jealous of me, taking all the hugs and kisses…and treats.

This was right about Thanksgiving time. I was thankful alright, to be alive. I was abandoned yet I was one of the lucky ones because it could have been a much worse circumstance.

The nice lady reached out to Operation Kindness, a no-kill rescue, and they took me in. The humans at Operation Kindness were so kind to me. Every day I got to eat canned dog food mixed in with dry food. There were many volunteers who took the canines out for daily walks — I wiggled and jiggled with excitement when it was my turn to get outside of the kennel and run!

But I didn’t feel too well. I was heart-worm positive. Even I knew that it was going to be difficult for someone to adopt me because that the treatments were expensive…and painful too. 🙁

Christmas came…and went. Yep, I spent my Christmas in the rescue. But on December 28, the friendly rescue volunteer gave me an extra good bath. She wiped the eye stain off of my white fur too. She told me a lady saw my picture on the bulldog network online and that her husband wanted to see me.

He drove 5 hours to see me…to see ME! Well, I was nervous and excited, although I tried to contain myself — it was difficult. I warmed right up to this nice stranger.

He took me outside for a short walk. I was taught to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ during my 5 weeks of incarceration. Of course, I had to show off how well behaved I was. I leaned on his leg and wouldn’t leave his side. I had this feeling, you know, that special sense that canines have, they can tell a good guy from a bad guy.

Well, this man was a good guy. He took a picture of me on his phone and sent it to his wife. She said to bring me home with him! 🙂

My parents took me to the doctor and they got me started on the heart-worm treatments. It hurt me very much and my mom cried when she saw how much pain I was in. But it was only one of the treatments that was the worst.

It was just a matter of time that I was rid of heartworms. My parents noticed how much faster I could run. And I began to eat more and gained 10 lbs. in just a few weeks.

About 7 months later, my parents decided to adopt a bully sister for me. They found a place in Oklahoma City, a group of volunteers who foster bulldogs — Tornado Alley Bulldog Rescue.

My mom talked to Amber — my mom calls her an Angel. Amber takes in bulldogs that nobody wants or can afford medical care or are taken away because they weren’t treated very well. Amber works with these bullies to get them to not be afraid. She gives them medicine to make their skin better — some of the bulldogs come there without fur. Some of them have bladder problems and other issues from staying inside a kennel for hours on end.

My sister was owner surrendered to TABR but she was lucky too. Because of this rescue, people can bring their unwanted bulldogs and Amber will take them in, love them, feed them, care for them and fix them.

I got into the truck with my mom and dad, and we set out to get my new sister, Jasmine (Sassy). Jasmine was very shy but she didn’t seem sad when we put her in the truck with us to take her home. We think she’s about the same age as me.

And she was a former baby mama too. Her spine is curved because of the weight of having multiple litters of puppies. She has an eye condition and my mom has to put ointment on it every day but she never complains and Jasmine doesn’t mind either.

I continue to get canned dog food mixed in with dry food and so does my sister. Both my sister and I are lucky that there are rescues out there for bullies like us.

I hope you’ll join me in the Christmas drive to give new toys, collars, treats, warm blankets, towels and other wonderful things to help cheer up my bully brothers and sisters at Tornado Alley Bulldog Rescue while they wait for their new home.

Love,
Georgia & Jasmine

Parent: Pam

Titus & Hailey, Islip Terrace, NY

Hi, My name is Titus and my girl is Hailey. We were both rescued from shelters as pups. I was rescued from a NYC shelter and Hailey was rescued from one in Virginia.

Mommy and Daddy had always talked about adopting a Pit Bull and finally made the decision to in 2008. They saw Hailey’s pic on Petfinder and were soon on their way to Virginia to pick her up.

Once they got her home to their other 3 dogs, they realized that everything they have ever heard about pit bulls were all myths. They had never met a sweeter, lovable more submissive dog in their lives.

Mommy knew Hailey was special. She started taking her to Therapy Dog classes that she passed with flying colors. Unfortunately, she did not pass the test due to her barking at the photographer when his flash went off and lens shot out. 🙁

That didn’t matter because Mommy knew what she wanted to prove all along, Pit Bulls make awesome therapy dogs!

Flash forward to 2011. Mommy was scrolling through Facebook and saw a ugly lil pup needing a foster home; ME. I was found on the streets of the Bronx with mange and a broken femur in my back leg (guess that made me easy to catch).

I sat in the shelter watching people just walk right by me. Who really wanted a mangy lil ugly pup? My time was almost up before someone noticed my inner beauty and rescued me. I had my leg fixed and began treatment for my mange. I needed crate rest due to surgery on my broken leg so I sat in boarding.

Hailey had just finished 3 months of crate rest after ACL surgery and Mommy still had the crate upstairs. Mommy always wanted to help us rescued/homeless animals in some way and figured fostering would be a great start.

In April, she began fostering me and training me so I would be perfect for my new family. She had the perfect home lined up for me, only a block away.

Unfortunately that home fell through and Mommy realized that she could not let me go. I had fallen head-over-heels in love with Hailey and Mommy could not bear the thought of tearing me away from her.

Once Mommy decided that she was keeping me she knew that she had to make me my own Facebook page. She said she just had to share my pawsome personality with the world.

What turned out to be a fun little page has turned into so much more. With Mommy’s help it seems that I have become quite the celebrity. I have made several TV appearances — News 12 Long Island, Newsday — featured in a few magazines and newspapers, freelance for American Pet Magazine, and each morning I do a daily weather report which it seems some can no longer live without. 🙂

Mommy started volunteering for rescue and eventually started her own rescue with some of my Facebook Aunts. Hailey and I are now Ambassadogs for our rescue, Peace Love –N- Rescue Angels.

We help Mommy fundraise by setting up kissing booths at fundraisers and holding auctions on our Facebook page. We have been able to help so many rescues and homeless furbabies and the feeling that comes from it is immeasurable.

Hailey and I were married in a backyard ceremony, on July 14th, 2013, where we were able to raise over $5,000 for rescue. We were joined by over 100 of our Facebook friends and family and it is what I call, The Best Day Ever!

Of course it was not a “real” wedding as they do not offer dog marriage licenses but Mommy knew that I just love Hailey so much that she thought it would be a great way to raise money for rescue. And because we are spayed and neutered and do not believe in breeding, we may adopt a puppy in the future.

We work very hard to dispel the myths that have been brought upon our breed and have been successful in changing many people’s minds about Pit Bulls. We have had a few people start fostering pit bulls, only to foster fail, because they realized what we knew all along, we are that awesome.

We know that everything we have been able to do would not be possible without all of our fans so we would like to thank each and every one of you.

We will continue to be advocates for our breed and raise awareness for shelter and homeless animals and those with no voice. We will also continue to work tirelessly to raise awareness for abused and neglected animals.

We were 2 of the lucky dogs that found their happy furever but we will not be totally happy till we can do the same for all the other homeless, lonely animals out there.

Please join us on our journey to help as many as we can; visit us at Titus and His Girl Hailey.

~Titus

Parent: Laura

Admiral, Herndon, VA

My name is Admiral and I’m a tripod.

In January of 2013 I was found tied to a tree, underweight, with a broken leg. Some nice people found me, untied me from the tree, and took me to the Montgomery County (MD) Humane Society.

The humane society people were really nice to me and got me vet care to try to fix my leg. My femoral head (the ball part of the ball and socket joint) was broken off of my femoral neck. The shelter vet did an FHO surgery in an attempt to save my leg, but it would be a long time before we would find out if it was successful.

See, my leg had been broken for a long time. The surgeon guessed it had been that way for at least four months, judging by the amount of muscle atrophy, and that I had probably been hit by a car. I had a lot of work to do to build up some muscle tone so that I could try to move my leg. Before my surgery all it would do was dangle. 🙁

I went back to the humane society and became a staff favorite. Volunteers would sit with me and staff would let me hang out with them in their offices, but they knew they couldn’t provide the level of care I needed in the shelter. They put out a plea to rescues to take me in. That’s when I was pulled by Ambassador Pit Bull Alliance.

The night that I arrived in my foster home was the beginning of a new journey. My foster mom took me to APBA’s vet and we discovered that, in addition to being really skinny, I had a major infection deep in my pelvic bones.

My new x-rays showed that my bones were full of little holes where the infection was eating through them. I started on strong antibiotics (two different ones at the same time!) and stayed on them for four months.

I went to the vet once a month for pain management medication, x-rays to check the progress of my infection, and to check on how well my muscles were building back up. I did actually manage to build up muscle tone and start walking on my leg, but I was always in pain. I never cried or whimpered, but people said they could tell by the look in my eyes. I never really wanted to walk very far, and when I would go to adoption events, I got tired really fast.

Still, I was always nice to everyone, because you never know who your next family might be!

After my infection finally cleared up and I had muscles I could use in my leg, it was discovered that my hock would hyper-extend. The vet said it would always cause me problems, and after all that work, fighting to save my leg, it was decided that the best course of action for my quality of life would be to amputate.

APBA raised the money for my surgery, and my foster mom took me all the way down to Richmond, VA, where my surgery was done at Helping Hands Veterinary Surgery and Dental Care. My foster mom said it was an adventure because I got to go on a long car ride and sleep at a hotel!

Surgery went well, but recovery was hard. My foster mom took a week off of work to stay home with me. She made sure I had enough pain medicine, that my bandages got changed regularly, and that my incision stayed clean. She also made sure I got up and walked around to keep my circulation going.

A few weeks later, I met a nice family who adopted me! There was a mom, a dad, a sister dog, and three kids! I was excited, but also sad, because I really loved my foster mom, but she said from the beginning that I would find a family to adopt me. I moved in with them and tried hard to be the good dog they expected me to be.

I lived with that family for two months, but it just didn’t work out, and they called my foster mom to come get me.

I was so excited to see her! I ran around like a puppy and barked and bounced around, I sat in her lap and gave her lots of kisses! She brought me home, and then she told me that she missed me too, and that she was my real mom now! I was home forever! 🙂

These days my favorite thing to do is volunteer with my Mom and APBA. We go to lots of pet friendly events where I get to meet people and tell my story. My mission is to spread the message that “Not all good dogs are good because of the way they are raised. Many are good despite it” and “it’s much more likely that a pit bull will be harmed by a human than the other way around.”

My hope is that by meeting me, more people will choose to meet and adopt shelter pit bulls, and that they will join me in my mission to make the world a better place for dogs like us.

You can follow me on Facebook at Admiral’s Pit Bull Advocacy and Education.

~ Admiral

Parent: Kristie

Bobbie Sue, Chico, CA

My name is Bobbie Sue and this is my story.

On July 8, 2009, my mommy, while pregnant with me, was rescued in the largest dog fighting bust in U.S. History, the “Missouri 500”. Many arrests were made in 8 states and over 500 dogs and puppies were rescued.

I was born in a shelter in St. Louis, MO, in September 2009.

There were so many dogs to take care of that we lived in warehouse shelters. Missouri asked for help and luckily some great rescue organizations were there for us. They found us new places to live and transportation to get there.

In November 2009, I boarded a semi trailer truck with some of my friends and travelled 1,600 miles from St. Louis to Sacramento, CA. It was scary, since I was just little, but having some of my friends made it a bit easier. Also, the people who drove us and took care of us on the trip, Best Friends Animal Society, were really nice to us.

When we reached Sacramento, 11 of us were picked up and driven 90 miles north to Butte Humane Society in Chico, CA.

I lived at Butte Humane for about 4 months. The people were nice, but the shelter was crowded, so I had to share an outdoor kennel with a couple of other dogs. I was beginning to think this was my forever home.

Lots of people looked at me, but no one took me home because I was a pitbull, a black pitbull at that (I learned about black dog syndrome in the shelter) and also a “bust” dog. My family had a fighting dog reputation. Many things were against me.

In March 2010, a man came to the shelter looking for his missing dog. His dog wasn’t there, but he walked around and talked to us dogs anyway. He looked really sad, so I played with him. It made him smile when he saw how nice and smart I was.

The man’s wife said they should take me home and foster me. I got real excited when I heard her, but my hopes were dashed when the man said it might not work out if his missing dog came home. I had just hung my head in sadness when the man said, “I guess we can take her home with us for a few days so she’ll be warm”. It had been really cold at night.

I perked up and told myself the man would not be sorry. I would be the best dog ever.

My foster parents, Ken and Teri, were really nice. I got lots of attention, treats and toys. My foster Dad taught me how to fetch the morning paper, and to retrieve firewood for the woodstove. 🙂 This made him happy, and I enjoy working. They knew I was very smart.

I loved my foster parents and felt they loved me, but I was certain I’d have to return to the shelter one day soon.

After a couple of months, that day came. We got into the car and drove to the shelter. I was scared, however I showed the shelter staff how well I was doing and how much I loved my foster parents.

Then it happened! They said the “A” word and everyone agreed I should stay with this family FOREVER. 🙂

My adoption was granted that day and I officially became Bobbie Sue Morgan. Turns out my parents had wanted to adopt me for a while, but there was a fostering requirement for us dogs from Missouri due to our rough beginnings.

I have lived with my human mom and dad for about 5 ½ years now. I still get the paper for my Dad every morning and in the winter I bring in wood so we all stay warm. My family loves me very much and have taught me manners and how to earn positive respect from people who may not like me because of my breed.

My Dad says my biggest accomplishments are not tricks or chores I do, but rather, being a great ambassador for pitbulls. My parents take me everywhere with them and we travel a lot. I have swam in rivers, lakes, and played on beaches in many different states. I love the water!

I meet lots of people and what makes me most proud is knowing I’ve changed a lot of peoples’ attitudes about my breed. My dream is that other pitbulls get the same opportunities I have had, because if given that chance I know they won’t disappoint.

Thank you for reading my story. Don’t forget to check the links to my videos above so you can see me in action, and I hope they put a smile on your face. 🙂

Love,
Bobbie Sue

p.s. I am not a monster.

Parents: Ken & Teri

Puddin’, Anderson, IN

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,
Puddin’

Parent: Kay

Brodie, Lomita, CA

Hi, my name is Brodie! I found my home in 2009.

I was found by a nice lady in Compton, CA. She saw me wandering around and got me so I wouldn’t get hurt on the streets. She looked for my owners but came up empty.

The nice lady put me in her car and drove to find her friend at work, but he wasn’t there. She went next door and met a couple of nice men — Dan and Sean. They talked — she needed to find her friend or I would have to go to the pound.

I was so scared. Dan kept looking at me and when the nice lady mentioned “pound” he stepped up and said he would take me. The nice lady and Dan (who is now my dad) worked it out so that his girlfriend would pick me up after she got off of work.

I sat in the nice lady’s house waiting for something to happen! And then it did. Another nice lady came to the front door and was looking for me! She introduced herself as Dan’s girlfriend, Jessica (who is now my mom). This was it — I was going somewhere else, somewhere new.

But I was still so scared because I didn’t know what was going on. When Jessica came to get me from the couch, I peed all over it. The nice lady told Jessica that I did that in her car too but she looked at me and said everything was going to be okay. I let Jessica pick me up and take me to her home.

We got to what was going to be my home and it was big! There was a yard and another dog already there. My mom and dad had a roommate and he was really nice too.

She took a good look at me once we got settled and realized I was in bad shape. My ribs were showing and my ears were scarred from bites. I have a tear on one side of my ear as well. I was dirty and scared.

My back was the worst though: there was a nasty gash from the top of my tail to the middle of my back. It was open and infected. I don’t really remember what happened or how I got it.

My mom went inside the house and came out with a warm rag and a medical kit. She shaved my back and got as much of the caked and scabbed infection off of my back. I was given fresh water and food, but I wasn’t hungry.

For this first time ever, I was brought to a bed and got to sleep on it! I got really sick my first night home and Mochi, my new sister, slept right next to me and never left my side.

The next day my mom took me to see the vet. They looked me over and said I was about 6 months old. When told about my back, the infection, and how I was sick, the vet said I most likely spiked a fever but that I should be okay now.

I was given a clean bill of health (aside from my healing back). When we got home, I felt much better and finally got to play with Mochi!

While living with my new family, I started to show quirks (as my mom likes to call them) in my personality. We found out that hoodies, when they are on someone’s head, scare me a lot. So do construction or steel toed boots. My tail goes between my legs and I try to hide somewhere.

So we have a routine in the house so I don’t get scared anymore: hoodies cannot be on and construction boots stay outside. Mom says everything is okay and that I will always be safe.

Six years later, I am as happy as can be. I have a new brother, Sonnie, and the three of us are now a pack – the Knuckleheads as mom likes to call us! 🙂

I am slowly working on not being scared. Mom and I go to training sessions and visit Robin from Zoom Room in Redondo Beach, CA. She is really nice. I am working up to get my Canine Good Citizen test.

Mom says I might be a good therapy dog but nothing big and crazy. I like intimate environments – big crowds and loud noises also scare me. But, one day at a time and one paw forward!

I am always learning new things and helping mom out with activities and education. My mom has joined the Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. mission and I am an honorary four-legged advocate. Most of the time I don’t get to go to events but that’s okay — I help out in spirit.

When we are out on a walk or at the dog park, I get to show everyone who I am and that second chances do happen. I am a good boy and am on a mission to show that we are always wanted, not trash that can be tossed away!

Thank you for reading my story!

Sincerely,
Brodie

Parents: Jessica & Dan

Grimm, Kansas City, MO

My name is Grimm. I’m almost 11 years old.

I’ve been with my mommy and daddy my whole life. I feel blessed that my life has been perfect since I was 8 weeks old. Except when I lived under breed specific legislation.

I lived with my daddy and his family until I was 2 years old. Then the town I lived in, Independence, MO, passed breed ban. When the laws passed, I moved in with my mommy and her family because my daddy’s family couldn’t obtain the strict and expensive requirements of those laws.

When I first arrived at mommy’s, her family was scared of me, but they knew I’d die if they didn’t let me move in with them. The first night, grandma was worried. She asked mommy where I was going to sleep. When mommy said I’d sleep in her bed, grandma was worried she wouldn’t be safe.

But within 2 days, I won them all over. 🙂 They love me dearly and learned pit bulls aren’t what the media says about them.

I lived under BSL for 6 years. I was a prisoner, confined to my home and it was illegal for me to go anywhere but the vet. Although I was grandfathered, my mommy kept me hidden.

She was so afraid something would happened to me, or we were deemed to have broken a new rule she wasn’t aware of…she heard stories of harassment and she didn’t want me taken away from her.

I couldn’t go anywhere or even play outside. 🙁

Because my mommy’s house didn’t have a 6-ft tall fence that is 2-ft deep in the ground, I needed two 4-ft leashes, one attached to a normal collar and one on a choke chain with a basket or heavy leather muzzle, just to go potty.

In addition, my family also had to take out a $300,000 home owners insurance, plus pay a $100 yearly fee to animal control. Yeah, BSL sucks!

Thankfully, two years ago we moved to Kansas City so no more hiding me in the house! Oh and I can go on car rides! I LOVE riding shotgun!

Mommy and daddy started fostering pit bulls in need. I’ve helped all 10 fosters learn manners and gain confidence while they were here.

When I grew attached to one of them, mommy adopted her for me. 🙂 That’s how we got our precious Adira, who had her paw amputated after being caught in a hunting trap.

I love everyone I meet. I’ve never met a dog, cat or person I didn’t give a big smooch to. Mommy says I’m a great big foster brother because of my wonderful temperament. Other rescue people mommy has worked with even say I’m perfect for it because I’m so even tempered.

I’ve never raised my lip or growled at any other dogs, even when they do it to me. I trust my mommy and daddy will protect me so I let them take care of those situations.

One time, I met a Pomeranian that tried to attack me. Mommy was in shock when all I did was run away.

When I got my own Facebook page, I decided I wanted to have it promote pit bulls that needed furever homes and to raise money for the rescues that save them. I’ve done a couple auctions in which I’ve raised over $5,000 for rescues. My grandma even paid for shipping so all the money raised went straight to the rescues.

Over the last few years, I’ve also become mommy’s nurse. She has chronic migraines and I can read her like a book. I let her know when she needs to stop and take it easy. And I know when she needs me to lick her face to distract her from her migraine.

I am very loved, and I’m proud I inspired my mommy to rescue and foster pit bulls less fortunate than me.

Thanks for reading my story and I’d love to see you on my Facebook page: Sir Grimm the Elderbull and Lady Adira the Diva Princess.

Grimm.

Parent: Lori

Puppet, Sterling, VA

Let me introduce myself. My name is Puppet and I am a three-legged miniature bull terrier.

I am almost 1 year old and I was born with a birth defect: my front left leg had a deformity that my mommy called my little “chicken wing”.

At 4 weeks old, I was surrendered by a breeder to a rescue that my mom was in, Terabithia Animal Advocacy Group, Inc. I never use my deformed leg so I’ve been walking on three legs since birth.

My mom is awesome! She taught me how to balance myself, how to drink out of a water bowl and how to eat my food without falling over.

Mom said that a lot of people fell in love with me through the rescue and wanted to help me with my surgery so money was raised so that I could have my chicken wing taken off.

The surgery was really hard and it didn’t make me feel very good. It made my mom upset a lot too but now she said it is like it never even happened and I’ve turned into her little tripod pistol.

I love people, I love dogs and I love every other kind of animal. Everywhere I go, it’s my special purpose to make friends with everybody. Mommy said I’m so good at it that she’s decided that I am going to be a therapy dog!

I do an awesome job at showing people that missing a leg doesn’t matter so I’m going to be a therapy dog for veteran amputees and help them understand just because you’re missing a leg or an arm doesn’t mean that you can’t be #bullystrong like me.

And because I’m very well behaved and gentle, mom hopes one day I can go see the kids at the hospital and help them as well. Woohoo! I love kids! They are my favorite!

I also get to go on special adventures with my mom to help other dogs with problems that they might have such as not trusting other dogs, being scared of humans or just showing them that I make a really good “BFF”!

I’m really lucky because I get to go to work with my mom every day. She has a dog wash so I get to make new friends on a daily basis. The people that come in love me. They say that I put a smile on their face and I inspire them. Some even come by just to see me.

I think that’s awesome because not a lot of people have seen a dog like me. Mom says that some people out there don’t think bully breed dogs like me are good and that we are not nice but I’m trying to show everyone everyday what the meaning of true bully love is!

I am an ambassadors for my breed and TRIPODS RULE!

XO,
Puppet

p.s. Follow my adventures on Facebook, The Plucky Puppet: A Three Legged Bull Terrier!

Parent: Sandi

Photo Credit:
Kathy Kupka Photography
Virgil Ocampo Photography

Petunia, Houston, TX

Hi! My name is Petunia. In December of 2014, I was surrendered to BARC, Houston’s city shelter.

I was estimated to be 9 weeks old, although it is estimated later I was probably only 4 to 6 weeks old. I had an infected, extended eyeball. 🙁

A rescue, Houston Street Dogs, saved me and the next day I had my eye removed. After surgery I was picked up by my foster mom. Foster mom picked me up and said, “Oh my! A chocolate pit puppy with puppy’s breath!!”

I heard her say that I was sent by Pig; I didn’t understand yet what that meant. We got home and I had a nice, comfy, warm bed in a crate. There were big dogs there too.

Foster mom said she wanted me to learn to sleep in a crate for my new family and she said she didn’t want the big dogs to step on me.

The next day foster mom told me my name would be Petunia Pig, Petunia for short. I was named after the dog named Pig that foster mom had lost just a week earlier. I heard foster mom talk about missing him and she even cried. I snuggled with her.

Pretty soon after coming home, I started not feeling good. Foster mom got me back to the doctor because it was almost Christmas. Foster mom learned I had parvo and she was worried. 🙁

She told me to be strong and we would get through this. She told me Angel Pig would help.

Christmas came and went and foster mom stayed with me. I didn’t like the needle under my skin very much. I even nip at her. She told me even when I don’t feel good, biting is not the solution.

Pretty soon I felt good and started sneaking naps in the bed with the big dogs and foster mom. I was told I was a pint-sized trooper for making it through surgery and parvo.

I got my stitches out of my eye and things were going well. Then…I got a cherry eye. Foster mom said I couldn’t catch a break!

Surgery was scheduled and I was spayed and had my cherry eye removed. My health was excellent and mom started teaching me obedience. She said that because I am a pit bull I will have to act and behave better than all other dogs. It doesn’t make sense because I’m already a nice pup.

Mom explained that some humans are confused and that we were going to change minds. So, we went to a local walk for a pit bull at a dog park with some other friends and my foster sister Bug. It was my first walk on leash. Mom was so proud of me! 🙂

Mom took me everywhere and everyone really loved me. Well, those who took the time to know me. Some people ran from me and called me a pit bull like it was bad. I was doing my sit and stay. Those are the people mom warned me about. So, I wagged my tail.

I am now 10 months old and I’m adopted! Foster mom adopted me on the anniversary date she lost Pig.

I am learning to swim so I can dock dive. I just earned my Canine Good Citizen certification and I am on mom’s team, The Ambassabull Project, where I am changing minds one heart at a time.

I am a good girl and I am going to prove how strong I am and all those like me are. I would love to represent Houston like Super “Monster” Jagger!

I will work in the honor of all the pit bulls that have come before me so the ones that come after me have it better. “Changing minds one heart at a time!”

Thank you for reading my story.

~ Petunia

Parent: Stacey Lea

Credit: Theheartnose ~ photo by Kelly Labrie Ferguson

Bubba G., Kanab, UT

My name is Bubba G. People ask my mom what the G stands for, and sometimes she says “goof”. 🙂

I am generally a very good natured, exuberant puppy of a dog. I am a klutz. I am an athlete. I am a cuddler. And I am a clown.

I am NOT a monster.

In March of 2015 I was found laying beside a dumpster in an alley in Denver. I was covered in wounds that were “consistent with dog-fighting”. Some were old, some were new, some were infected.

The newest and worst wound was on top of my head, where my entire scalp and ears had been torn from my skull.

Denver Animal Control picked me up and rushed me to the vet. It took more than 5 surgeries to try and repair the damage I had sustained.

Some of the surgeries were minor…removing an infected dew claw. But some were extremely major. Thank goodness they were able to save one of my ear canals, or else I wouldn’t be able to hear at all.

After two months of medical care and healing, I was ready to find a home of my own. Because of a long standing breed ban, Denver Animal Control is unable to adopt out pit bull terrier type dogs. A rescue group has to “pull” a dog. There were a lot of groups that wanted to take me. But ultimately it was decided that I would go to Coloradogs.

Coloradogs is a small private rescue. They are primarily foster based, but two lucky dogs at a time get to stay at Nancy’s house in the “rad pad”. Nancy has done work with Bad Rap, and she based the rad pad on Bad Rap’s barn. I got to move in and enjoy all the benefits of living in a warm, happy, enriching, safe place.

While I was staying at Nancy’s, a very nice lady came to see me and take me on outings. Her name was Rachel, and she told me all about her dog: Oscar the Vicktory Dog. Rachel even took me to her office, so she could see how I’d do in an environment like that.

Right around the same time I was making myself at home at the Rad Pad, a family in Arizona was trying to deal with the grief of losing a very special family member.

Ray the Vicktory Dog was a little brown dog with a huge personality. He was also a former “Monster.” He had died unexpectedly and his parents, Kevin and Jacque, were having a hard time trying to get over his loss.

One day Jacque decided that she couldn’t bear the silence of her office every day. She wasn’t walking any more. She didn’t have anyone to cuddle.

The other family dog, McCaela the Turtle, was 100% Kevin’s dog. She liked Jacque, but not enough to spend every day in her office. She much preferred staying home and sleeping on the couch.

So Jacque started looking on-line at dogs needing a home. None of them seemed exactly right. She was looking for a dog who was friendly and who had good dog skills. She wanted a dog who wasn’t a puppy, but who wasn’t too old. She wanted a dog who liked to train and was good with all sorts of people.

Jacque knew her friend Rachel had been volunteering at Coloradogs and had even done some fundraising for them. So she decided to take a chance and emailed Nancy.

Nancy emailed her back right away and told her:

“We actually have a great boy here named Bubba G we are searching for the perfect home for. He was found in Denver terribly wounded and with his ears completely removed. He spent 2 months at the Denver shelter getting fixed up and we pulled him a week ago.

He is so so sweet, loves being out around town, has done great with large dogs but can be a bit dicey around small ones. He is most likely a no cat boy but is super soft in temperament and so responds really week to correction.

He has shown zero tendency to be destructive at all or to go to the bathroom inside the Rad Pad. Rachel hung out with him yesterday so she can give you a great run down.”

Jacque emailed Rachel and asked what she thought. Then Kevin and Jacque had lots of talks about taking on another dog so soon. But it didn’t take long for them to decide I was the right dog for them.

A wonderful volunteer named Deanne offered to drive me halfway home. She even rented a car to help get me there. My mom and I met her at a gas station just past the Colorado/Utah border. Mom took one look at me in Deanne’s car and called dad to say “we need to buy more dog food”.

I guess I’m a little bigger than she expected! 🙂

Now I have a room of my own with tons of toys. Every weekday I go with my mom to work. We take lots of walks and I get to meet new people every day. Mom works at an animal sanctuary, so everyone here is happy to stop and pet me.

I go to class with mom several times a week so that I can become something called a “therapy dog”. I think that just means I will have even more people to love on me.

Every morning and every evening my mom or dad and I play “ball”. I have about 20 identical balls that I love more than anything. I even carry one in my mouth when I go for a walk.

Turtle and I are becoming good friends. It took awhile, but now we even play together. Every night we go for a walk together with mom and dad.

My life started out a bit rough. People tried hard to make me a monster. But I’m not and will never be one.

I am Bubba G and I am a very good dog.

~ Bubba G

Parents: Jacque & Kevin

Meatball, Cleveland, OH

Hi! My name is Meatball. My story started in the first dog park in the city of Cleveland, Tremont’s Clark Fields.

Soon after the park was opened, a group of people came to use the park with their dogs and found a small, probably 6-week-old puppy tied to the fence. That was me. One of them, who had two male German Shepherds, said she would take me home with her. She named me Clark. That should be my happy ending, right?

Sadly, as I got a little older, her dogs—who were unaltered—started attacking me and she let them. This continued for a couple of months with me, requiring frequent vet care. The vet at Gateway Animal Hospital suggested she have me neutered, which she did, but the attacks didn’t stop.

The vet then suggested that if she wanted to keep me alive, she should have her other male dogs neutered. She had one neutered and then decided—after another attack that nearly killed me—that she wanted me euthanized because I was “too expensive and costing too much money.” She asked the vet to do it.

The vet, having seen the abuse I suffered for the past year and knowing what a good boy I am, asked my owner to sign me over to the vet clinic and covered the costs of that day’s treatment, which were substantial. She signed me over and a vet tech went into the waiting room where the president of a rescue was waiting for her personal dog to be seen by a vet, and asked if she could take me into her program.

She fell in love with me and not only took me into her rescue, but fostered me at her home. I also got a new name: Meatball. 🙂

Right around the time all of this was happening, there is a woman named Sandy whose dog Ted was dying of cancer. Ted was an amazing pit bull—socialized, Canine Good Citizen Certified, a neighborhood celebrity. After he passed away, the vet tech—who is Sandy’s friend—started sending her photos of me.

She told Sandy that I am an amazing dog with green eyes who she claimed was “just like Ted.” Sandy wasn’t ready.

Meanwhile, the trainer who certified Ted as CGC contacted her and said Ted was the first pit bull dog she had certified and she wanted to do a special fundraiser in Ted’s honor for his rescue. It would be a CGC workshop and certification test for “monster” breeds—bullies, Rotties, Dobermans…—to show how wonderful they are. All proceeds would go to Ted’s rescue. Sandy didn’t know it at the time, but I participated in that fundraiser and received my CGC.

Sandy’s friend the vet tech once again started sending her photos and videos, and tagging her on my photos on Facebook. Sandy knew she wasn’t ready for another dog and that no dog could replace Ted. But to shut her friend up, she agreed to meet me four months after she started sending her photos.

I went home from the meet-and-greet with Sandy and we’ve been together for five years. 🙂

My mom says I’m a clown, a goofball, a dog who has changed hundreds of people’s minds about what a pit bull dog is “supposed” to be. I have helped her foster half a dozen dogs, including “Monster” Bonzai, who was afraid of every dog until he met me. I showed Bonzai how to have fun. Mom says I am a therapy dog for dogs…

One time, a play session between Bonzai and I turned rough. And that one time was enough for Bonzai to infect me with Babesia Gibsoni, a bloodborne autoimmune disease that generally is not treated until a dog shows symptoms (treating an asymptomatic dog can cause the disease to flare up and can be fatal).

Twice now, I have overcome bouts of Babesia, which cause my red blood cells to mutate and my white blood cells to attack them. We’ve been fortunate in that when I begin to break with the disease, I show symptoms early on like lethargy and lack of appetite. Bonzai showed no symptoms—although my family knew he had it—until the day he died; and at that point, his internal organs were shutting down. 🙁

So now, through my Facebook page, I helps educate people about Babesia Gibsoni, which can be spread by dog fights and by kenneling dogs in close quarters. Whenever I become ill, our friends (and strangers) rally around us.

The first time I became ill, the medicine to treat me cost $1,700 at a traditional pharmacy or from the vet. The Cleveland MetroParks Zoo uses the same medicine to treat kangaroos and had a bottle on hand that recently had expired and could no longer be used for zoo animals. The vet at the zoo donated it to me at the request of a friend of my mom who used to work there.

The second time I became ill, my parents’ friends researched alternative sources for the medicine and one found a compounding vet pharmacy that would make it for 1/10th of the price of a regular pharmacy. My parents been able to share that info with other dog owners who have dogs with Babesia Gibsoni.

Along with that medicine, I have to take steroids and antibiotics and have frequent bloodwork done, which can add up to hundreds of dollars. Friends have held fundraisers for me and the last time, so much money was raised that much of it was donated to other families with dogs in need of veterinary care.

My mom says that I am such a meathead/goofball that no one can look at me and be “afraid” of pit bull dogs. I am a clown who play bows to every dog I meet and who gators on my back to get attention from humans.

I’ve won kissing contests and when asked to “wiggle my butt,” I flip around in a circle and presents my wiggling, wagging tail end to my audience.

I’m very grateful to Ted. Mom says Ted’s journey took him away from this world, which made room in her heart and home for me. I know I didn’t replace him, but mom says in my own right, I am irreplaceable.

XO,
Meatball

Parent: Sandy

Buddy, Madison Heights, MI

Hi, my name is Buddy. My past is not one of being adopted and living happily ever after. Here is my story.

My soon-to-be foster mom got a call about a dog living in a junkyard. That’s me. I was found living in a junkyard by a wonderful group of people volunteering with Pound Buddies. Back then I was known as Sparky.

My new foster mom goes down to the county pound, to the locked down pit bull ward. Any dog — puppy, anything pit bull-looking — in the pit bull ward is going to the gas chamber, unless they get “special” permission from the county’s main office, an approved foster and to adopt us into another county other than Muskegon County, Michigan.

Then I was brought out to meet Stacie, I was so happy, so full of energy. I was not the cleanest of dogs, didn’t have the best manners, but I was happy.

My foster mom was also told I had people interested in meeting me, wanting to give me a forever home. So the potential adopters come, meet me at the pound, and decided “yes, he is THE ONE.” They were concerned about my dandruff, as the woman was a vet tech, but they decided they wanted to adopt me.

I was vetted and checked over and neutered before heading out to my new home. A week later I was returned. The vet tech that said she wanted to be my new mom insisted I had mange. Tests were done and I did not have mange. Sadly it didn’t change her mind. 🙁

So, happy-go-lucky me has nowhere to go, as the adoption didn’t work out and if I go back to the pound, it’s back into the possible gas chamber system if the volunteers can’t find a place to go.

It was decided I would go to my foster mom Stacie’s house, where she would foster me. My name was changed to Meatball as I officially became a foster dog. Stacie lived in the next county so I was safe from BSL.

Me and foster mom Stacie work on my manners, set up obstacle courses. I get to do agility. My energy is high and I am loving the challenges.

Everything in my life is good now. I never meet a stranger, I just love being with people, big ones and little ones.

It’s been awhile now that I have been in foster care, more than a year. My foster mom and I go to adoption
events, and promote me anywhere we can. Not a person who meets me doesn’t leave with a smile, but yet…I still don’t have my own home.

Black, Pit bull, cropped ears, bans in nearby towns, people are not lining up to adopt me.

Finally, someone sees my write up on Petfinder. I am finally off to a meet-and-greet in Lansing. We give them time after the meeting to really think about it and make sure I am the right fit for their family.

They call and excitedly state “He’s the ONE.” My foster mom did some training and work with my new people, me and their other dog — a mixed-breed, happy dog.

They adopt me with a two-week trial in place, then extended to a month just to make sure things are going smoothly. My new family signs up to take training classes with me and the other resident dog, I am going on bike runs, things continue to go well.

My foster mom Stacie drives to Lansing to make sure things are still going well and to make sure I was doing OK. I was happy, healthy and was enjoying my new life. My new parents told foster mom Stacie a new 2-legged addition would be joining our family soon.

Two years later they call foster mom Stacie and say they are returning me. They tell her that I leak urine, and they put me on medicine. They tell her I was diagnosed with chronic diarrhea and have to take pills for that. They tell her me and the other dog have been arguing, and that I had been banished from certain areas of the house. The other dog has been theirs longer, so I had to go. 🙁

Foster mom calls the director of the shelter on “what to do.” The director says they will put me back up for
adoption, don’t worry. But it’s not long after that I completely rips out my ACL on my back leg. Foster mom asks “what to do again?” to our director, fearing that this is the end of me and it might be suggested I be put to sleep.

The director says I am worth it and I am going to have my ACL surgery. But first I have to get all this extra weight off me. It is not easy thing to do with me already having an injury, but we did it and I go in for the surgery and I start rehab.

Months later, I am doing very well. I’m off the leaking urine medicine and I didn’t have one accident. I stopped taking my diarrhea medicine, and other than one little minor incident, I had no problem here either. This tells foster mom that I was probably living under much stress and duress that may have caused these issues.

Now it’s another year… no applications.

I am now considered a Senior dog, with medical possibilities of more injuries as I age…not the best chance to go against cute young fuzzy faces out there.

I have many followers in the pit bull world. And a friend of foster moms says she has a friend who was thinking of adopting me!

She lives a bit from me, but they drive half way to come and meet me. Foster mom talks of introduction times for the dogs, they go over my health and medical problems that may come up in my future. Foster mom encourages them to go home and really think about this. I have been failed and she doesn’t want this to happen to me again.

The family calls and say they want to add me to their family. They know about potential health concerns. They know they have to go slow with me and resident dogs meeting and getting to know each other. I am going into my new home on a two-week trial period.

Then 2 days later, everything changed. I was attacked by the resident dog. I could hear my potential new mom talking to foster mom Stacie begging her to come get me. The new man kicked me and it really hurt. My face hurt from the resident dog attacking me. The new man said he was going to drag me out and shoot me. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was feeling the anger and I was scared.

Foster mom was frantic and gathered up some friends to go and get me. A friend of hers is closer and can quickly get me out of that house. We do not trust that man and I just want to be away from him.

I go back to the vet for treatments and antibiotics for the wounds. There are no broken bones or ribs, just soon to be scars and a very sore dog.

It’s back to rehab time with me and foster mom. As time goes on, I am back to my happy, confidant self.
It’s time again, promoting, adoption events, something that I have always done great at! So what’s the problem? Now I am an elder dog, medical problems, scars, cropped ears, black pit bull (oh yea, there’s
that)…

But there’s a light, someone who has followed me from the start…someone who understands bullies, special need bullies and how hard it is for elder dogs of any breed to be adopted…

On December 31, 2011, I travel to meet what I have hoped and dreamed of. A forever family that will love me, unconditionally. I found them!

Bob and Julie could not resist the Meatball charm. I played with them, had my big silly grin going the whole time. Then I heard those words once again, we want to adopt him. I was happy, scared, so many emotions going. Could this really be my forever family?

Julie sensed me being nervous on our ride home. She looked me right in the eyes and said, “There is nothing you can do to make us give you back, you are going home.”

It has been almost 3 years and they have kept their promise. They love me, they really love me. Not a day goes by without me hearing what a good boy I am. Bob and Julie have changed my name to Buddy. New start, new name, leave all the bad stuff in the past where it belongs.

I have had another ACL repair and now daily thyroid medication. I also share my home with a toy poodle and a terrier mix. I also have 3 kitty sisters that were living on the streets.

As I look back on my life, all those “bumps in the road” I endured, never broke my beautiful spirit and my passion for people.

The biggest thing I want people to take away from my story is pets are a lifetime commitment. We are not disposable, when things go wrong to just toss us away. Think things through long and hard before committing to adding a new animal to your life.

I am one of the lucky ones. I finally got to find out what having a loving family is all about.

Sincerely,
Buddy
xoxo

p.s. Come visit me on Facebook, Buddy: Never stop dreaming

Parent: Julie & Bob

Gabriel, Nashville, TN

Hi there! My name is Gabriel and everyone says I’ve had a hard life but you wouldn’t know if you met me!

I was found in a ditch on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. This nice lady who was on her way to work saw me laying a ditch and thought I may have been dead but decided to make sure I wasn’t alive. I tried to stand up when I saw her and I wagged my tail like crazy.

She took me to the local no kill animal shelter, Community Animal Rescue & Adoption in Jackson, MS. I am so thankful for that!

When I arrived at the shelter, a little boy with his grandmother who volunteers at the shelter greeted me there. It was the happiest I’d ever been. A little kid was rubbing my belly since I couldn’t even stand up on my own. I think this is why I love kids so much! 🙂

I lived there for almost two years and everyone loved me! I was definitely a shelter favorite throughout the volunteers and workers. But for some reason, no one wanted to make me a part of their family.

On October 5th, 2014, my family finally came. My mom was a volunteer at the shelter who moved to Nashville. When she and dad moved, they lived in a house that wouldn’t allow pit bulls. 🙁

When they decided she wanted to bring me home, they sought tirelessly for a house that would allow me to live with them. They finally found that and October 5th, 2014, they made the six-hour trip to pick me up!

I couldn’t believe it, and all of the shelter workers told mom that I knew it was happening. I was so ready to go! I was so ready to join my new family where I would have a sister and a brother!

But with every great triumph, comes a downfall. The night before I was to be adopted, we found out that I have these things in my heart called heart worms. Mom says they’re bad! But of course, this did not make mom not want me anymore. We just knew this would have to be one thing we would overcome as a family.

So, with the support of our friends, family and loved ones, we raised enough money to pay for the heart worm treatment I needed for my stage 3 heartworms. Mom says it costs a lot of money!

I was on kennel rest for two months, which I was not a fan of. 🙁 I just really wanted to play with my siblings!

Finally, after two months of vet visits and kennel rest, on December 15th, 2014, the vet gave me the all clear and said those awful heart worms were gone and that I could play! YAY!!

I now a heartworm-free, worry-free life filled tons of play time (especially since mom works at a doggy daycare and I get to go everyday), treats, and toys!

You can now follow me on my Instagram, @pittiesintenn, to keep up with my adventures and journey to becoming a therapy dog to help kids!

I am so thankful for everyone on my journey to where I am now. Now we have a mission to change the ideas of pit bulls and tell everyone how much love I have to give!

Thanks for reading! An I’m so excited to join the “Monster” Movement!

Love and kisses,
Gabriel

Parent: Sarah

Hazel, Sinking Spring, PA

Hi, everybody! My name is Hazel and I am almost 7 years old.

The first five years of my life were pretty ruff!! I was used as a breeder dog; every 6 months I would keep having babies. I would have loved to see them better but I had eutropia in my eyes that irritated them and made it very hard to see. 🙁

My back leg also hurt me but this was all I knew so I always thought that I must be loved. Boy, was I wrong!

I remember going for a car ride. I loved it! I thought I was going to a dog park or a pet store to maybe get a toy or even a bone because I know I was a good girl. After all, I took very good care of all of my puppies. Maybe this was my owners way of showing how much they loved me!

We pulled up to a building and I heard other dogs barking! Surly this was a dog park! I had always heard about them but had never been to one this was going to be awesome! But, as I listened to the barking, the dogs sounded scared and lonely. This couldn’t be a dog park. What is this place?

My owner walked me to the building and before I knew what was happening threw me into a pen and slammed the door! I barked and cried and tried to get out of the cage but it was no use! Between my eyes and my leg I was stuck inside this cage. I was scared and alone…

Three weeks went by. By now, I knew that I was in a shelter. Although I would rather have a home, the people that work here were nice! I got food, water, warm blankets to sleep on and I got petted and even told that I was a good girl.

I even got a Kennel Companion named Kim. She took me for a walk, and gave me hugs and told me what a good girl I was! On the second day that Kim visited me I didn’t feel too well. I had a bad cough so Kim didn’t take me far on our walk today. 🙁

I heard one of the shelter workers tell Kim that I had Kennel Cough and that there was no room in the sick area for me. I heard them say something about euthanasia… That sounds scary.

I heard Kim ask about taking me to her house to give me medicine to help me feel better. The next day I met her dogs, Roscoe and Cody, and I liked them!

Kim took me home to “foster” me until I get better. I sid goodbye to the people at the shelter who took care of me and I was on my way to a home! Even though it was only temporary, I loved it already!

From the first moment I came into Kim’s home, I was grateful! I tried my best to be on my best behavior. I wanted to stay with Kim and Roscoe and Cody!

I got both of my eyes fixed (sutured open for three weeks). I also had my leg fixed (I heard it is something called ACL surgery). Kim said I was a champ with both procedures. I wagged my tail and gave kisses every time I needed cream in my eyes or needed to go for a short walk.

Kim continued to put out a plea for my furever home. Little did I know that I had already found it! On September 13, 2013, just 7 weeks after fostering me, Kim told me that she had become a failure… a foster failure!! I got to stay with her forever!! 🙂

A month later, on October 13, 2013, I earned my Canine Good Citizenship and three months later, in January 2014, I became a Certified Therapy dog!

I LOVE going to the hospital to see the staff, patients and anyone else I can say hello to! I also visit nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and different civic organizations.

I’ve been through a lot but my tail never stops wagging, my kisses are a constant and I just love with all of my heart. I shower everyone with Joy, Love, and Pitty Kisses wherever I go and I even give out a dose of education about Pit Bulls in the process. 🙂

Check out my pawsome life (and outfit!) on Facebook, Hazel: Therapy Dog Extraodinaire.

p.s. My mom never had the pleasure of being owned by a Pit Bull before me and she told me she is forever grateful that I chose her to be my mom. And that I rescued her. Silly Mom — she’s the one who rescued me! I guess you can say we rescued each other, and I’m so glad we did.

Much love,
Hazel

Parent: Kim

Towpath, Washington, D.C.

My name is Towpath. I am a happy dog.

When I am out walking with my family persons, other persons sometimes look at me and they smile. They smile because I wiggle a lot when I meet them, and I lick their faces when they lean over.

They look at my pink and brown markings that are all over my belly and my side and my bottom. Some persons think they are nice and pretty. They say, ‘Those are pretty markings. What kind of markings are they?’ And my family persons tell them, ‘They are burns.’

Sometimes the other persons get angry. They say they would like to hurt the persons who did that to me. But then they stop being angry. They say ‘He sure seems like a happy dog.’

They say that because I am always wiggling my bottom and shaking my little tail. I used to have a bigger tail. It was long and pointed. Then it got burned. So my doctor persons cut it off. It was cut off when I was four months old, when I was little.

That was almost three years ago. I like my new little tail. And I like my new family persons. I am a happy dog.

I used to be sad. I was sad after I was burned, and then I was all by myself on a strange road near the woods. I didn’t have any friends and I didn’t know where to go.

I walked through the woods. I was thirsty. There was a big river really close, but I couldn’t walk any more. My burns hurt too much.

Then a person came running up to me. He didn’t kick me or yell at me. He looked at me and said nice things to me and picked me up.

He carried me through the woods and made a bed for me in the grass beside the road. He sat with me and said more nice things to me. The flies wanted to bite my sores, but he wouldn’t let them.

Then a car came. The person who found me lifted me up and we got inside. There was another person inside. She said nice things to me too. I wanted them to be my new family persons.

We went to a place where it was cool inside. There were dogs and cats and other persons there. Some of the dogs and cats looked sad and afraid. It was a dog and cat hospital. We went into a little room, and the persons who lived in the hospital came and said more nice things to me.

They put me on a table and looked at my belly and my sides and my bottom. That’s where my burns were. They looked in my eyes and my ears. They listened to my heart. They put a needle in my leg and took out some of my blood. After they looked at my blood, they told my new family persons that I was dying.

My new persons were sad. They hugged me. They said more nice things to me. But they were sad. And then they left.

That night the persons who lived in the hospital put more needles in me, and it stopped hurting so bad. And then they put me in a cage, and they left. I was afraid. But then I fell asleep.

In the morning the persons who put me in the cage came and opened my cage. They were surprised and happy. I was not dead.

They brought me out of the cage and put some pills in my mouth and I felt better again. They put a bowl around my neck so I could not lick my sores. And then my new family persons came back. They were happy too.

They called me Towpath. That is where they found me when I was all alone. They carried me to their car, and we all went to their home.

When we got there they put me on a soft bed. They said it was my own special bed. They put some pills in my mouth, and I went to sleep. When I woke up, my new family persons were still there.

They sat by my bed all the time. They gave me water and food. They gave me pills when I could not stop crying.

I could not walk very far so when I had to go to the bathroom they had to carry me to the bathroom. I could not walk very far because my burns hurt too much. I wanted to lick my sores, but I couldn’t because there was a bowl around my neck.

Each day they sat next to my bed. Sometimes when I did not want any more water or food, they would just look at me and talk to me. And then they would hug me.

After a few days, my burns did not get better. They started hurting more. My red marks got bigger. My new family persons took me back to the hospital. The hospital persons were afraid when they saw how big my sores were. They said some of my skin was dying, and if they did not cut it off, the rest of me would die too.

My family persons were really afraid. They hugged me. They said, ‘Don’t worry, Towpath, we will come back.’ The hospital persons gave me a shot, and I went to sleep.

My family persons went home and they were sad. They didn’t know what to do.

So they told all their friends about me, and showed them my picture, and asked them to think nice things about me. All their friends told all their other friends. And pretty soon there was a whole lot of persons who liked me and wanted to be my friend.

When I woke up I had a big blue bandage around my whole body. And my tail was really short. I was really sleepy. But when I stopped being sleepy, my burns started to hurt again. So the persons at the hospital made me sleepy again.

Almost every day I had to come back to the hospital to get another bandage. The burns hurt a lot. I couldn’t help it. I cried.

My family persons tried to make me feel better. They hugged me and gave me more pills, but the pills didn’t work any more. When I was crying and couldn’t sleep, they lay down next to me and held me. Sometimes they held me all night until it was morning.

They were worried that I would never get better. They were afraid because my burns hurt so much, and they could not stop them from hurting.

I thought they might leave me alone like my old family persons did. But my new persons did not leave me. Some of my new friends came to visit me and gave me new toys to chew on. And some of my other new friends who lived far away sent me letters. They said they hoped I got better.

The hugs and the toys and the letters started to make me feel happy again.

And I started getting better! At first I started walking in the garden. Sometimes I bumped into things and fell down. But I didn’t care. I liked walking in the garden and smelling all the flowers, and smelling the places where the deer were.

At first I was afraid to walk down the stairs, but then one day I tried it, and even though I was afraid and I cried and it took a long time, I did it! And my persons were so happy.

After a while my burns stopped hurting and I did not need bandages any more. I met lots of new dog friends who liked to play with me. Some of my person friends liked me so much they took pictures of me and put them on magazines where lots of other persons could see me and like me.

Then some of my other person friends took another picture of me and my family persons, and put the picture on posters in a big city where everybody could see them, and then everybody could see how nice we are, so they would not hurt their dogs and leave them all alone like me.

I am all better now. My person who found me takes me for long walks along the river where he found me. I like to splash in the water and run as fast as I can in the sand! We meet lots of other persons who want to meet me too. Some of them even know my name! They say, ‘Is that Towpath?’ 🙂

Some of them don’t know me. They ask about my markings. And my person tells them about my markings. And then they are sad. But then I wiggle my bottom and lick their faces when they lean over. And then they are happy.

I am a happy dog.

Towpath

Parent: Will

Pretty & Lily, San Diego, CA

Hiyaz I’m Pretty! My mom says she didn’t give me that name but everywhere I go people say “what a pretty girl!” so she think it fits.

I love to give pibble nibbles and butt hugs to my human friends, especially momma. My little sister Lily is a Staffie/Boxer mix who is actually bigger than me, and our older sister Roo is a three-legged Chihuahua, but momma calls her a pocket pittie.

We are all rescues who live together representing doggies everywhere just like us: Rescues, Pit Bulls, Chihuahuas, Seniors, Cancer Survivors, and Dogs with Special Needs. People call us the Unlikely Trio!

Momma rescued me in 2009 from a mean man. She didn’t know I was a pit bull, just a dog who was broken and abused and needed her help. She took me to my first vet visit ever, and even though I was scared, momma held my paw and I knew things would be okay.

I was covered in fleas and ticks, I was super skinny, and I had a double ear infection that left me mostly deaf. 🙁

I turn 10 years old this year so I guess that means I’m an elderbull, and momma says she’s so proud of me because I’m a Canine Cancer Survivor. I had a bump on my paw pad that mom said looked funny — so we went to see this really nice vet lady who discovered I had a rare form of cancer called Plasmacytoma.

Momma says we were lucky because we caught it early and now that it’s been removed, I’m cancer free! 🙂

Lily is my goofy little sister who loves to give kisses to everyone she meets. Even though she’s bigger than me, I’m always the big spoon when we cuddle. Lily was rescued as a puppy in 2011; momma says she’s lucky because she’ll never know what it’s like to be yelled at or be afraid, so she’s the baby of the house.

She’s super sweet, even if she does get into trouble sometimes — like the time she ate a whole box of crayons and pooped out rainbows for a week! Or how she gnaws off one half of the toilet paper without unraveling the whole roll.

But Lily always makes us laugh, and she taught me it’s okay to like other dogs and to snuggle and play and not be so serious all the time. Lily is a Canine Ambassador with the San Diego Humane Society and helps children and adults learn the positive side of pit bulls. Check out this video of her getting ready for her first gig. She was so excited! 🙂

Momma helps lots of rescue groups in the area; she’s a foster mom so she brings home new doggies all the time. None of them stay too long because they eventually go to their own forever homes. In the meantime, Lily, Roo and I teach them how to be around other dogs and help them with training, so we are pretty much foster sister pros!

Momma takes me and Lily everywhere, she calls us Pit Bull Ambassadors because everywhere we go, people tell her how well-behaved and gentle we are. You may already know our best friends, “Angel” Rocky and Manders (and their little brother Hercules) who are also “Monster” Elves.

Our moms started a group called San Diego Pittie Parents where we get to go out and meet new pittie friends all the time at Pack Walks, Yappy Hours, Fundraisers, Training Events and more.

When we’re at home we can get really silly… we run zoomies after our baths, and do tricks for carrots, and give butt hugs when we lean in for a scratch. But me and Lily take our job as Pit Bull Ambassadors very seriously. We may come from different backgrounds or be different shapes and sizes, and we may have disabilities, but we are luv-a-bull, hug-a-bull wonder-bulls who are deserving of love like all dogs.

We can’t wait to officially be Monster Elves so we can share our story with pittie friends all over the world!

XOXO,
Pretty & Lily

Parent: Kristin

Oscar, Greeley, CO

I don’t know where I was born, nor when. Maybe someone knows, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter: that is the past. I don’t dwell on the past.

My early years were spent in a clearing surrounded by trees. It sounds pretty when you put it like that. But it wasn’t. A heavy chain connected my collar to an axle buried in the hard ground, limiting me to a small patch of bare earth. There were other dogs in my clearing, all with a chain, axle, and bare patch of ground of their own. They are my family, but we were not allowed to interact or play; the heavy chains kept us rooted to our spot.

Every now and again a man would come and take me off my chain. He would take me to a dark building that smelled of blood and fear. There were men there, and other dogs. Sometimes a dog from my clearing. But we were not allowed to play. No, those men wanted us to fight.

I have scars from those fights: scars on my body, scars on my soul. I don’t know how often I went to that dark place, nor how many dogs I had to fight. Maybe someone knows, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter: that is the past. I don’t dwell on the past.

On April 25, 2007, my world changed forever, thanks in part to a police dog named Troy. Nine days earlier, Troy alerted the officers with him that there were drugs in a parked car. A search of the car yielded three ounces of marijuana. The owner of the car, Davon Boddie, was arrested and charged with possession with intent to sell. He listed his address as 1915 Moonlight Road, a house owned by his cousin, NFL star Michael Vick.

A search of the property at Moonlight Road revealed a dog fighting operation known as Bad Newz Kennels, owned and operated by Michael Vick, Quanis Phillips, and Tony Taylor. Most of you know this part of the story. It was national news.

This is where I left my chain, axle, and bare patch of ground, where I left behind hunger and abuse. This is when I started down the long, and sometimes scary, road to a new life.

A lot happened in the next eight months. I was taken to the City of Suffolk Animal Control building, along with 4 others, where we would spend the following months. We were no longer on chains in the hot sun. We had food and water. But we were still isolated. Most of the time, we waited. Alone. I did not like being alone.

Then came the people who cared for us. I do not know all of their names, but I know some: Tim, Donna, Rebecca, Nicole, John, Jeff… They cared about us more than I knew. They cared so much that I was given a name. In October 2007, Tim chose my name — he said that I seemed like an accomplished fighter, but also, a genuinely nice guy, much like the boxer Oscar De La Hoya.

My name is Oscar.

The days passed. Weeks turned into months. We waited. Then, on December 6, 2007, the next phase of my life began. A judge said that all the people who cared about us were right: we were not innately vicious, aggressive, mean dogs without value. We deserved a chance at more. A chance to live off the chain and away from the dark place that smelled of fear. A chance at life. A chance to be loved.

Late one night in early January 2008, I arrived in Kanab, Utah, along with 21 of the dogs I call my family. We were told that nothing bad would ever happen to us again, that we would be loved and cherished, and that we could stay as long as we needed at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. We were collectively given the name Vicktory Dogs.

I didn’t really know what it meant to be loved.

In the eight months between being taken to Suffolk and then going to Best Friends, I changed. I’d once been confident and sure, but I lost that. All the change was overwhelming. People brought change, and that scared me. I grew wary of people. I became withdrawn. Instead of facing what scared me, I’d just detach from the world, check out and go into my happy place.

I found comfort in my forever girlfriend, Squeaker. She also survived Bad News Kennels and came to Best Friends. Squeaker was much more confident around people than I, so I let her take the lead and I hung back. We shacked up. We played together. We got into a scuffle or two, usually over stuffies. I discovered the joy of disemboweling them. 🙂

A special lady named Annick, who works at Best Friends, fell in love with Squeaker and me. She started spending lots of time with us, and gained my trust. She took us on golf cart rides, and hikes, and all sorts of adventures. She took us to get hamburgers at the drive through. She knew that in order for me and Squeaker to ever go to homes of our own, we had to pass the Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) test, so she enlisted (Uncle) Kevin to help her work with us every day at lunch.

Eventually, Squeaker and I moved away from DogTown and over to Parrot Garden to be the first office dogs in the land of very noisy birds. I did not like moving: the place was unfamiliar, full of new people and shrieking birds. Squeaker had to have ACL surgery, so she went to stay at the clinic. I was alone again to face my fears. I’d find the smallest space between the desk and the wall, squeezed my way in, closed my eyes, and checked out. Other times, I would stare at the door, wanting it to open so I could go anywhere but where I was.

I didn’t really know it at first, but I was still surrounded by people who cared about me. Virginia, from Wild Friends, would sneak me meatballs in the morning, trying to cheer me up. Annick would come by to see me. And, of course, Uncle Kevin was there along with Aunt Jacque, whose office I was living in. I made Aunt Jacque cry the first time I came out of hiding to nudge her hand for a little attention.

Slowly, very slowly, I started to trust my new caregivers. I no longer had Squeaker to hide behind, so I had to face my fears on my own.

Kevin, Jacque, Annick and the amazing trainer Pat all kept working with me, building my confidence, with the goal of passing the CGC in mind. Little did any of us know that my Mom was searching for me…

On April 10, 2012, my Mom sent in an adoption application to Best Friends. On the application she wrote: I’m interested in adopting a Pit Bull. Many of my friends have Pits, and they are just the greatest dogs. I want an adult dog who is good with other dogs and people. One that can go for walks, hikes, fun-time at the dog park. I’m specifically drawn to Oscar.

On April 13, 2012, after a few calls and follow up emails, she was told, “Looks like all is a possible ‘go’ for Oscar with you 🙂 ” She would have to complete some additional court-mandated requirements, including a background check and a home inspection. But the biggest hurdle was mine. In order to have a home of my own, I would have to pass the CGC.

And I did! On April 27, 2012, I passed the CGC. I got lots of praise and treats. What I didn’t know was that this meant more change. I don’t like change.

The lady that would be my Mom came to meet me on May 29, 2012. She took me for a walk with Uncle Kevin and sat in the office with me and Aunt Jacque. We went for a car ride. I love car rides; nothing bad has ever happened to me in a car. It was a long drive. Then we stopped.

I did not know where we were or why. I did not know where Kevin, Jacque, Annick or Squeaker were. I did not understand that this was my home, that I was safe, that I was staying here. I was scared.

Mom let me find a safe spot and brought my bed over too it. I squeezed myself into a corner and checked out. I did this for days. For weeks.

Mom was worried about me. She wanted to comfort me, but I did not want to be comforted. I would not eat if she was in the room. I did not want treats, not even the really good kinds. I stared out the door, wanting to be anywhere but there.

Slowly, very slowly, I began to trust Mom. It took two months for me to trust her enough to come over to her seeking a butt scratch. I became comfortable in my home. I killed stuffies, ate treats, and discovered the joy of the couch. Mom took me for car rides and out on adventures in the desert. Over time, I started exploring the rest of the house. I eventually discovered Mom’s walk-in closet and quickly adopted it as my closet.

Then, an amazing thing happened. I had a visitor: Mel. He too had survived Bad Newz Kennels and became a Vicktory Dog. He had been adopted not long after arriving at Best Friends. We quickly became pals, hanging out whenever he was in town. He even stayed over at my house for a week and hung out in the closet with me.

I made other dog friends, too: Brody and Chopper were great pals to go walking with. Brody would come over to the house and play while our moms were in the other room. I’ve always been more comfortable with dogs than with people. I think this surprises some people, given my past, but what you have to remember that I was never the one who wanted to fight: those people wanted us fight each other, it wasn’t our choice.

I think that became even clearer when in March 2013 I got together with 5 other survivors and their families. Halle, Handsome Dan, Cherry Garcia, Little Red, Mel and I were brought back together in Utah for the first ever Vicktory Dog Reunion. We all stayed in one lodge and got to hang out; our people tried to reintroduce us slowly, but we were having none of that! Cherry promptly went and laid atop Mel, and they stayed that way for hours. Little and Dan wasted no time getting reacquainted; they lived together at Best Friends. The last thing any of us wanted to do was fight each other.

Since the Reunion, I have helped Mom raise awareness of both the good and bad things happening in terms of dog fighting and breed discrimination via my very own Facebook page. Together, we have found a voice to educate and promote change. Granted, I let Mom do most of the work, but I have lent my paw to many fundraisers, most of them aimed at raising funds for dogs that came from situations similar to mine.

Mom and I recently left Las Vegas and moved to Northern Colorado. While the State of Colorado does not allow for breed discrimination, there several are municipalities (including the city and county of Denver) who claim home rule and have breed bans in place. We are getting to know the local organizations whose aims are similar to ours, helping abuse victims and ending BSL, and are becoming actively involved in our new home state.

The Vicktory Dog Reunion clearly showed that all who advocated for us so strongly were right. Six years after our rescue, our bodies healed, our souls comforted…we are just dogs. We are not inherently vicious, aggressive, or mean.

I have scars on my body, scars on my soul — I will never be fully healed from the abuse I suffered, but given the choice, I choose to spend my life holding down the couch, taking car rides, destroying stuffies, and hanging out with my dogs friends.

I was a Victim, but that is the past. I don’t dwell on the past.
I am Victorious.
I am Oscar.

Parent: Rachel

Starbuck, Washington, DC

My name is Starbuck now. I don’t remember much from when I was a tiny baby, but I remember a couple things.

I remember they took me away from my Mommy, some people came and took me away from her. The next thing I remember? Well we went for a car ride. I was sitting on the person’s lap I thought was my family. Then they grabbed me.

It all happened so very fast and I don’t know what I did to make them do this to me. I remember them grabbing me and things getting really blurry and a WOOSH. Then I was on the ground. What happened? We were going for a car ride, and now I am tumbling across the ground?

It hurt so bad. There was lots of blood coming from me and the ground was so cold. I tried to get up to get out of the road — I didn’t want another car to come by — but I couldn’t walk. My back leg was twisted and mangled. it hurt so bad. I figured this was it. 🙁

I saw a bright light. But I am just 3 months old! I am not ready for this!

The lights came fast at first. I wanted them to go away so bad, I closed my eyes so I couldn’t see them anymore. It slowed down… I think it’s working!! The light got bigger and brighter and it got really close to me, then it stopped!!

Oh I was so happy I thought I was done for!! Then I saw a person! Oh the lights were another car! They saw me and stopped for me! The person had a really nice uniform, and now I know that it was a Police Officer!

They scooped me up and told me I was safe now. They brought me to some rescue people who immediately took me to the Vet. The Doc told me everything would be okay and I can take a nap now, he gave me some medicines to help me sleep.

When I woke up there was some new people from Lotsa Love Pet Rescue & Adoptions. They paid my doctor bills and came over and said that they would help me learn to walk again. What are they talking about? I didn’t forget to walk! Maybe this medicine is confusing me. I’m gonna nap some more.

I woke up in a totally new place, and there was A LOT of dogs. Dogs of all kinds, and cats and some other animals! I thought maybe I was in heaven but then the people from before were there!

They checked on my owies. I looked too. Where did my leg go? I thought Doc was supposed to fix me not take away my whole leg! I need that!! I was sad, but I was alive, and the people said they would help me. They were so kind so I will listen to them.

I am so glad I did! Over the next month they helped me crawl, then walk, then run!! All my cuts and scrapes had healed into scars, some of those even cleared up a little! I got noms every day, and other animals to play with! Then one day they took me and some other puppies in the car. Oh no, here we go again! 🙁

Well I not sure where we went, but it was awesome. 🙂 We got to this place that had lots of other animals from other rescues. My rescue parents put us in the pen, and one of the older more wiser doggies from another group said we were at an adoption fair! They said this is how we can maybe find our forever home!

But I liked the family at the rescue. Then she told me that they can’t save other doggies if I am eating all the food! So I was hesitant but they are probably right. My rescue Momma came and scooped me up, and took me away from the fair. Ummm, where are we going? All the other doggies are in there; why are we going outside?

Then it happened. I saw this lady, and she saw me. She started tearing up and she looked so pathetic, I didn’t want her to be pathetic alone so I put on this pitiful face. Rescue Momma handed me to this crazy person, who held me and hugged me so hard. But it was so nice! I relaxed and I really like hugs! Okay I guess I like this lady too. She gives good hugs.

So I hanging out with her and she and rescue Momma kept saying Foster? Okay so this is a Foster Mom? I meeting a lot of people and living a lot of places. When will I get a family?

Foster Mom had her furkids, 2 labs in the car. It was a truck and there was no backseat, so we all cuddled together the bench seat. Scout — the younger yellow lab — stood over me and I wasn’t scared cause if she’s protecting me I can’t get thrown outta the car again. Bubba —the older black lab — let me rest my head on him while I took a nap.

She started calling me Starbuck. Apparently in her favorite TV show there is someone named Starbuck that is tough, rough around the edges, but still really cute. She went through something that should have killed her, but instead came back, as an angel and lead the human race to their new home.

Over the next week we went on lots of adventures, I went to Foster Moms work, to the retirement home to visit with the residents (WHICH I LOVED), I went shopping and I met so many people. I kept thinking “is that my new family?” But I really liked it at Foster Mom’s house. They have other dogs for me to play with, and noms, and I get to sleep in the bed, and Foster Mom even cuddles with me! I didn’t wanna leave…

And I didn’t have to!! About a week later Foster Mom got an e-mail that said “of course we can adopt her”! 🙂

I got a big hug and Foster Mom, well Mum. She started crying. She says I have a Daddy too but he’s out to sea. I’ll meet him in a couple months.

My new family is great! We moved away from our old house, but we still a family! And I get to go to work with Mum in a Daycare, we have a big yard for Zoomies, and we are working on my training to be a therapy dog.

My dream is to show the world that we are sweet dogs, that people hurt us and we are still sweet dogs. I also want to help people who have lost a limb like I have.

Oh ya about that! I am doing great, I can run and swim and even hike!! I forget about it most time time! And most all of my scars have healed, although the hair came in white instead of black? Mum said it’s character, and I have lots of it! 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read my story!

All my love,
Starbuck!

Parent: Allison

Lita, Carmel, IN

Hi! I’m Lita! My life began on October 1st, 2012, when I was only 2-3 months old.

Castaway Pit Bull Rescue (CPBR) pulled me from a local shelter right before I was set to be euthanized. This photo saved my life.

Manya, who pulled me, fostered me with her own dogs & cats. I was socialized in no time! But within a few weeks, I got very sick. 🙁 Manya took me to the vet and they thought I had Distemper! After multiple tests and IV’s they found out I just had a severe respiratory infection.

Soon after, I formed a lump on my side from where the IV fluid didn’t disperse properly, so I had to have surgery to have that removed. I still have the scar but Mom says it adds to my uniqueness and beauty.

Before I was set to have surgery, my foster mom took me to her best friend Kelsey’s house who has ALWAYS wanted a white female pittie but since Kelsey lived with her parents, and had a senior Yorkie of her own, she didn’t think she could ever have one. Well since I was so cute and sweet asleep in my foster mom’s arms, Kelsey’s mom just said they could adopt me without Kelsey even asking!

Kelsey’s mom was terrified of me before I came home. As soon as she told Kelsey that she could adopt me she started freaking out about what she just did. The first question she asked my new mom was “now if I correct her, will she turn around and bite me?!”

Obviously, that wasn’t the case.

After I healed from my surgery, I went to my forever home. Mom’s Yorkie was a crabby old man who liked to bark at other dogs but run the opposite way, but for some reason he loved me!

Sadly a week after I got into my new home, he passed on. He was very ill with diabetes and had his second kidney stone, and with my brother already being diabetic, he most likely wouldn’t of survived surgery. I was a good little sister and cuddled with him during his last two days.

It was perfect timing that they got me when they did. Mom was a huge mess but I helped make her feel better! I picked up on potty training fairly quickly, and knew sit, shake, and down thanks to Mom’s coworkers working with me when they were dead at work!

I still was a little shy around tall men, but Mom took me to volunteer with her at the CPBR table during events and I warmed up in no time. It especially helped that my foster brothers were always there with me and showed me that not all people are scary.

My mom struggles with social anxiety, so when I first came to live with her she still didn’t have her drivers license and she was 23! She started driving around with me in the car and eventually got the courage to go take the driver’s test and passed! I usually go anywhere possible with mom, because when her anxiety starts acting up I give her courage.

My mom’s parents fell so much in love with me that they decided they wanted one of their own, and that’s when we adopted my brother Stache. Grandpa found him on PetFinder.com at a shelter in Sidney, Ohio. We sent in our application, and it was approved within the hour!

That same day, Grandma, Mom & I drove all the way to Ohio to go pick up little Stache. As soon as we arrived and walked in through the doors, we got the stare down…

Grandma quickly explained they weren’t dropping me off, but instead we were there to take a dog off their hands, we just wanted to make sure my brother and I would get along.

Phew! The shelter staff took big sighs of relief and went back to get my brother. When he came around the corner, he looked like a little ferret because he was wiggling back and forth so much.

As soon as we got close enough, I jumped all over him and played like we were the best of friends. It was official, Stache was my brother.

And as soon as they put Stache and I in the car, Stache decides he needs to poop. Grandma said she already knew he was gonna be her little sh*t after that one. Haha. After that, the whole car ride home we barked and kept punching each other; it was true love! 🙂

I was an awesome big sister and taught Stache the rules of the house, and well…how to get what you want from the humans. He’s way more outgoing than me, and loved everyone & everything already when we brought him home from the shelter. So if neighbors come to my fence, I let Stache go up there first and once I realize they’re not mean, I’ll run up to them for attention as well.

Our neighbors love us; the other dog parents always bring us treats if they’re out doing yard work and we’re out as well.

Now I’m just enjoying my life being a normal dog, with an annoying little brother who I love very much. I go to events all dressed up and pose for photos with my brother for our social media pages to hopefully inspire others to adopt a Pit Bull, or a shelter dog period, and maybe change some peoples perspectives of my breed.

I didn’t mean to be born as a dog that’s feared by society; I was just born this way, and I’m definitely not a monster!

~ Lita

p.s. We have a new brother, Jax. He was being rehomed on Craigslist the week before Thanksgiving. When mom saw the post, she knew she had to save Jax!

He is another white pup, a Dogo Argentino, and even though he was only 5 months old when we got him, he was already so much bigger than me. He’s the biggest baby who throws whining tantrums whenever Stache or I don’t want to play with him, but we love the big goof! 🙂

p.p.s. Don’t forget to follow our adventure on Instagram @thewhitestpupsyouknow and Facebook, The Whitest Pups You Know!

Parent: Kelsey

Lady, Whittier, CA

My name is Lady. I’m a very fashionable diva….but my life wasn’t always mani pedis and being the center of attention…

My previous owners were most likely breeders. My ears are horribly cropped and uneven, I have scars on my face and legs but it never affected my personality and the love I give.

My sister Tanka and I were abandoned at a high kill shelter. She got adopted right away because of how pretty she was…but I just waited and waited. 🙁

One day I finally got my chance! It just so happened that a rescue organization, ROMP Rescue, had heard about me and on my scheduled Kill day… and I was free!

I was taken to a boarding kennel where I stayed for OVER A YEAR. But they were all so nice to me. I went to adoption events and always had a blast!

One day while I was out for my social time at the kennel, a little blonde woman showed up and was saying how beautiful I was. I immediately knew she was going to be mine! I didnt know how but it was going to happen.

The little blonde lady was on her very first day at work at that kennel, so I saw a lot of her. She would even come in on her days off to take me for walks and play with me. She became very close with my rescue.

During the time I was in boarding, I started having really painful knee problems. 🙁

As it turned out, I needed to lose weight (85lbs!! I was a BIG girl) and I was suffering from luxating patella which was very painful and expensive.

ROMP Rescue worked so hard to raise the money for my vet bills, but then this little blonde girl surprised me when she also started raising money for little ol’ me. She cared for me at the kennel when I had my first surgery…it was hard lugging around 85lbs on 3 legs!

But what I didn’t know is that my mama was struggling to find an apartment that would let her have a dog, let alone one that looked like me. 🙁

It took lots of phone calls, hours searching online and lots of patience. People even cursed at her and hung up on her as soon as she told them my breed. But just by chance my mom and dad had found a beautiful apartment with the most amazing landlord who fell in love with me!

We moved in shortly after with no furniture other than two beds, one for me and one for them. I could not believe that I wasn’t at the kennel! I have a family now!

My mom and dad were so poor because I was still in need of my second surgery. Thanks to more amazing donations, I was able to recover in MY OWN HOUSE. It was a painful recovery, but I didn’t care because I was HOME.

Today I am 65lbs, active, stylish and spoiled! I even have my own Instagram! @ladythepitbull 🙂

It started because my mama is always taking pictures of me, so together we try to change peoples perception of dogs with cropped ears. And it’s also great for getting connected with other dogs and people who also fight breed discrimination.

I have a big beautiful red bow on my collar and bright red painted nails. Mama says it helps people see that I’m not scary or dangerous….I’m FABULOUS!

I really think it works! 🙂

Lady

Parent: Gabriela

Murdock, Wantagh, NY

Hi! My name is Murdock and my story hasn’t found its happy ending quite yet, but I am still hopeful!

I arrived at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter back in July of 2014. My “owner” was arrested for numerous crimes, including dog fighting. When I first arrived my face and body was covered in countless fresh wounds and old scars, a severely injured eye (I’m blind in my left eye) a torn ear, and worn down teeth. This is my “before” photo.

Some said that I was one of the fighting dogs, while others thought that after getting too old to be a fighter, I was used as a bait dog. Either way it’s a past that I don’t like to look back at.

Since I was part of an ongoing court case I was not allowed to be taken out for walks or quality time by the volunteers. Although I was not allowed to be taken out, that didn’t stop numerous staff and volunteers from visiting me and giving me lots of love, attention and treats!

I had to sit in my kennel and wait for the courts to determine my fate. Time dragged as the court case reached several hurtles (the slow wheels of justice).

After eight very long months of isolation my owner pleaded guilty to dog fighting and I was turned over to the custody of the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. At first many were concerned that due to what I had been through I might be a dangerous. Sometimes the trauma from years of abuse is too much for a dog to handle and they are never able to acclimate into society.

Although I bear the scars from years of abuse, you could never tell from my personality! After spending time and behavioral testing with me, the staff found me to beyond sweet and wanting nothing more than human affection. When approached by a person I push my head and body up against them — I guess you could say I like to cuddle — it’s something I have not received nearly enough of in my lifetime.

So here is where I am now, at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, waiting for my future family to come adopt me. I have already become a staff and volunteer favorite due to my lovable personality and warm-hearted disposition. As much as I love all the attention from the staff and volunteers, I’m ready for a family and a home to call my own.

If you are looking to save a dog desperately in need, I’m your boy! Here is some more info on me:

  • I’m a male dog estimated at 6 ½ years old
  • I am neutered, microchipped and up-to-date on all of my vaccinations.
  • I am great with people, but am not comfortable with other dogs. I can walk past a dog with no problem, but need to be the only dog in my home
  • I love to chase balls and other toys, but will readily give it up when asked
  • I LOVE lying in the sun, being lazy and getting my ears, neck, chest and belly scratched. This is a new luxurious experience for me. I certainly loves being outside.

If you are interested in providing a forever home for me, please contact the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter. Tell them I sent you! 🙂

Thanks for reading my story. You can follow my adventure on Facebook, Adopt Murdock, and I hope to see you soon!

Murdock

p.s. Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter is located at 3320 Beltagh Avenue, Wantagh, NY 11793. Call (516) 785-5220 and ask to speak with an Adoptions Counselor. Thank you.

Update: After waiting more than 400 days in a shelter and traveling 2,500 miles, Murdock finally found his forever home. Read his journey home.

Cashmere, Noblesville, IN

Attention Dog Lovers: I am seeking a very special person to call my own because I am a very special girl.

My name is Cashmere. My story is sadly a familiar one. I was surrendered to Humane Society for Hamilton County on January 4th, 2010, because my owner could no longer afford to keep me.

I was a sweet tempered, friendly one-year-old girl with a desire to please and a love of people. I passed all of my temperament testing with A’s. I was adopted in April of 2010. Everyone was so happy until I was surrendered back to the shelter on January 21, 2011. 🙁

Nobody knows what happened to me in those 8 months, but I became a frightened and mistrustful girl. I was truly brokenhearted to find myself back at the shelter. I don’t think I will ever be happy again.

Thankfully HSHC assigned a dedicated volunteer to work with me for 2 months and she reported that I am incredibly smart! The professional trainer, Julie Case, taught me to sit in 8 minutes!

I now know lots of command, from“down” and “up” to sit and stay seated in my kennel on approach as well as leave it take it and lead pulling. I also learned to take treats gently (I admit I’m a bit of a pig but I know how to take my treats so softly 🙂 ).

I am loving with my own people, but I am not quick to trust new people. My guardians think I may have been abused in the past because I am very hand-shy. It is as if I try to duck out of the way when someone’s hand comes toward me.

It breaks my guardian’s heart to see a young dog like me cringe in fear of a human’s touch.

But all it will take is consistently kind treatment, patience and a gentle touch to teach me that I needn’t worry about being beaten ever again.

I hold the 2nd longest record for being a shelter dog at HSHC. Living in the shelter is just too stressful for me. I hated being behind bars like I was a criminal. 🙁 Once outside the kennel, I became the happy girl I was meant to be. 

Thankfully, I have been living with a wonderful foster mom who has taught me so much about being a good dog. If she did not already have her own dogs I would have been hers long ago.

Despite my girly sounding name, I am a true Nature’s Child. I love the woods and swimming in ponds and sniffing everything I can find. But I can still carry off wearing a rose on my collar!

What you need to know about me:

  • I am now almost 6 years old, but still a real beauty with a light brown brindle and white coat, hazel eyes and a winning smile
  • I still have loads of energy and enthusiasm
  • I am sharp as a tack
  • I am very well trained in obedience and other skills
  • I do not want to share my affection with other 4-legged pets so I need to be the only dog in my owner’s heart and home
  • I also need an owner who is patient, understanding and knows how to give positive reinforcement to good behavior. A harsh, strict disciplinarian will only make me tense and afraid. Hey, I may be an out-door-lover but I am still sensitive!
  • I am an American Pit Bull Terrier mix, so you must be 21 to adopt me
  • I will be best suited to an active family with kids 13 and up. Remember: I love people but need some time to warm up and trust

My foster mom will miss me terribly and I, her. But we both know that I am a wonderful girl and I deserve to spend the rest of my life with someone who appreciates my intelligence and loving heart.

I have been waiting for 5 long years. Please help me find that very special person.


Cashmere

p.s. If you’d like to meet me, please email hshc@hamiltonhumane.com. Thank you.

Editor’s Note: On September 9, 2015, after waiting 1,692 days, Cashmere found her forever family!!

Theo, Guilderland, NY

Hi! I’m Theo!

I was found as a stray on the side of the road when I was only 9 weeks old. While it is common to find stray dogs, this was particularly sad because not only was I little, I also was unable to walk.

I was brought to the shelter in Utica, NY. At first the people there thought I had been hit by a car but they soon realized that wasn’t the case. In an effort to get me the care and diagnosis I would require, they asked Out Of The Pits to take me.

Since coming into the rescue, I have had an MRI and extensive bloodwork. The results showed that my cerebellum was partially missing, likely not completely formed while in the womb. The cerebellum controls motor function. This is why I’m bright, alert and every bit a puppy, but I have no ability to control the movement of my legs.

Check out my first video after I was rescued. I couldn’t do much back then, although my tail wagged pretty good. 🙂

So off to Eddie’s Wheels we went, and I was fitted with a cart. My current cart has 4 wheels and I get along in it very well. But when out of it I don’t have any motor control so I flop around or do the army crawl trying to move myself along. I received my adult cart and I’m adjusting nicely to my new wheels.

When my foster parents first started fostering me, I couldn’t walk or even sit up on my own, but now I’m really strong in the front end and can sit up without a problem. I can even walk up to 10 steps on my own, but I don’t know how to stop myself so I kind of do a drop and roll. 🙂

I’m up for adoption through Out of the Pits. Here’s my stats:

  • I am currently 14 months old and about 56 lbs
  • I’m happy, playful and incredibly sweet-natured
  • I’m basically housebroken but need to stick to a schedule
  • I’m crate-trained and hold it all night and then all day while my fosters are at work
  • I LOVE all people and animals, but I would be best in a home without small children because of my inability to control my movements
  • I recently stayed in a home with two cats while my foster parents were on vacation and I loved them!
  • I will always be disabled and require a considerable amount of care; my future family will have to be OK with lifting me into my cart as I grow

I am a lot of work, but I’m worth the reward. 🙂 Check out my TV debut in Pet Connection with Steve Caporizzo!

Everyday I deal with not being able to stand or balance on my own, but with my cart, I am ready to achieve anything. I have a physical condition, but it doesn’t hinder my ability to love and be loved. Against all odds I have progressed and thrived, making the world realize I deserve to be a part of it. I really do make it a better place!

Help me find a home that can allow me to thrive, grow and enjoy the life that I have fought to live. I deserve to be a part of a family and I will continue to wait for my perfect match.

XOXO,
Theo AKA “Nugget”

p.s. If you’d like to open your home to me, please fill out the application. Thank you!

Editor’s Note: On August 17, 2015, Theo is officially adopted!! From his page:

“I’m happy to announce that I FINALLY found a FOREVER family of my own. No longer a New Yorker, I’m now a Jersey boy & hope to see less snow then last year 🙂 I’ve been living w/my forever family for a little over a month now & before posting the big news we wanted to make sure all went well & I adjusted to my new family. I love my parents Heylin & George & as you can see I have some siblings as well, Scout, Luke, Mia, Charlotte & Jordie. Don’t worry, you’ll still be getting updates from time to time because my foster ‘rents (AKA my godparents/forever woof-sitters) will be staying in touch with us & updating my page.

I want to thank the Stevens Swan Humane Society for taking me in & contacting Out of the Pits for bringing me into their rescue & giving me the second chance at life. I also want to thank everyone who follows my page & everyone who has helped me along the way to help with my rehabilitation and helping me find my forever family. Enjoy the rest of your summer….

XOXO, Theo”

JoJo, Linneus, ME

Hi everybody! I’m JoJo.

I wish I could tell you my history, but it’s really not all that clear to me. Mom thinks I blocked it out, although it doesn’t seem to have been traumatic, just sad, because someone walked me into a Clarksville, TN, shelter one day when I was around two years old and left me there.

I was house-broken, pretty much obedient and a calm soul. Who would throw someone like me away? 🙁

I was in there for a while, I couldn’t count at the time, but the word was I was ‘out of time’ and they took me from the room where people came in and chose pups to go home with them. I thought, wait a minute, if you take me out of here, how are people going to see me and take me home?!

But away I went. Scary, scary. The room I went into lead to the Rainbow Bridge before I was naturally ready to cross it. Downright scary!

Meanwhile, all the way in Maine, “Monster” Emma the Sidekick — who was adopted the previous year — was lonely without another dog in the house, so her Mom went searching online and lo & behold(!) she found another brindle pup like Emma at the same shelter where I was!

No, she didn’t find me — I didn’t have that kind of luck. But this is where it gets interesting.

Emma’s Mom & Dad drove down from northern Maine, as they had for Emma (she also came from this shelter, but she had been pulled and fostered by the local humane society). They brought Emma with them to make sure she and the pup would work out.

It didn’t. The female pup and Emma had too much raging female hormones going on. Like a diva reality show. And Emma’s Mom felt real bad having to deny that pup a home.

Oh, did I mention, despite the situation I was in, this shelter is filled with guardian angels? Yes indeed. And mine’s name is Vanessa! Vanessa tried hard to find the ‘right fit’ for Emma, but no one was working out, then she came and got me! And zoinks! It was like Emma & I were littermates!

We hit it off right away and home to Maine I went, just days before I was scheduled to cross the Bridge without being loved by anyone but those guardian angels! Talk about “just in the nick of time”! 🙂

I can tell you, I know I am loved. Even though I’m a guy, I was named in honor of Mom’s beloved sister who crossed the Bridge herself twenty years ago to be with her own beloved pets. They also call me JoJo Ears, like I some kinda wiseguy hooligan pup! BOL! Yup, I have some kinda ears!

Since coming home to Maine, I have become a Therapy Dog with Silent Sidekicks, following in the pawsteps of my little big sister Emma! Together we’re making it plain and clear that bully breed dogs not only need love, they know how to give it!

The residents and staff at our local health care facility love us and enjoy our visits! As soon as we walk in the door, it’s like a scene from Cheers! Everybody knows my name! And they all reach out to love on me. Life cannot get any better than this.

Please follow this remarkable life journey with me through my Facebook page: JoJo the Sidekick.

Thanks for reading my story!
JoJo

Parent: Darlene

Layla “Bean”, Scottsdale, AZ

My name is Layla. My story starts much like the stories of the other dogs who Michael Vick and his cohorts victimized in the cruelest and most terrifying ways at Bad Newz Kennels in Virginia.

I think I was born there…I can’t remember being anywhere else before that bad place. We were all forced to live our own nightmares. I was a frightened fighting machine.

When I was around 4 years old, we were rescued from the bad people and 18 of us went to the Sussex County Shelter, where I became Sussex 2609. It was so hard for me to be close to other dogs that I couldn’t relax. I always barked and circled and felt so wound up that I wanted to jump out of my skin! You see, up until then, something bad always happened when I was this close to another dog. (Even after all these years, I’ve never been able to unlearn that.)

Well, after a long time, I finally went on an airplane to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary with 21 other Vick dogs and we became the Vicktory Dogs! Oh, and someone nice along the way, who happened to be a boxing fan, named me Layla (after Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter). Goodbye Bad Newz, goodbye Sussex 2609, hello hope and relief!

My life got so much better at Best Friends. I was surrounded by really nice people who kept me safe, warm and well fed. They let me live in my very own run, since living with other dogs is really not “my thing”. They treated my wounds, repaired my torn ACL, gave me hydrotherapy and pain relief for my arthritis, loved me, taught me manners and believed in me. I had caregivers who massaged me, played music for me, trained me, and spent their precious time to help me recover.

I eventually got to go live in Jacque’s office, who manages Parrot Garden (She became my Jacque-Mom), so I could get far away from other dogs and could think calmly enough to stop barking and fencing and circling.

While I was living with the birds and my Jacque-Mom, she let me be an ambassador for ex-fighting dogs for the many tour buses that came through the sanctuary. Jacque-Mom would bring me out to say hello and she would tell my story and I would receive all the butt-scratches and baby-talk the visitors could dish out! I felt so good being cared for by Jacque-Mom and Papa Kevin (my brother Ray’s mom and dad) that I was able to pass my CGC test, which I was court-ordered to pass before I could go to my forever home.

Now, after almost 6 years of kindness and patience from my caregivers, I was up for adoption! If I did get adopted, I was going to miss the things I loved at Best Friends: long, long walks with Papa Kevin, Jacque-Mom’s attention and encouragement and both of their help in my training to know how to live outside of Best Friends.

Papa Kevin started to call me “Bean” and now it’s one my names! I hoped there would be car rides, and boiled chicken, and snugly blankets, and golf cart rides, and people who would teach me and keep me calm and call me “Bean” wherever I went next!

My lucky day came at the Vicktory Dog Reunion honoring 6 of the adopted Vicktory Dogs and their new families: Halle, Handsome Dan, Cherry, Little Red, Mel and Oscar; and reuniting them with their wonderful caregivers and with each other. Lots of people came to hear the stories of their new lives.

Jacque-Mom and Papa Kevin brought me there to announce that I had passed my CGC and was now ready to leave Best Friends. I was so excited that day that I sat and trembled with anticipation. Maybe I would finally find my forever family too!

A nice lady wanted to sit and meet me, and while she was petting me, a nice man came up to us. The nice lady said to the nice man “meet your new daughter”! They became my new mom and dad. 🙂

It turns out, my new mom was starting an internship at Best Friends, so I got to see her every day for 5 weeks before I went home forever with her. This helped me a lot, because I had never had a real home before and I was going to be scared enough in a strange place with strange things, maybe with new rules and for sure with new noises (hopefully no loud bangs).

I started to get used to my new mom and I decided in those 5 weeks that I liked her, so I would sing when she came up the walk at Parrot Gardens to let her know I was ready for our walk and our time together! That made her smile. 🙂

The day came for me to go home and everyone treated me extra special. Virginia made me boiled chicken, I got to have a bath and I got a special necklace with a GPS device, Jacque-Mom and Papa Kevin and my good friend Justyne were there to kiss me goodbye and then I got in the car and came home!

I slept the whole way and when I got home, it was nice but weird! There were new things everywhere and I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to sleep, or potty, or relax, or find my food and water. But my new mom and dad helped me learn all of that and I learned how to be in my own family after almost 10 years of life!

Now I have some new friends that are helping me try to learn about keeping calm when I pass dogs on my walks, and are preparing me for another test so I can be a therapy dog. The only hard part is that some dogs make me so nervous that I lunge and whine and can’t think calmly!

Jacque-Mom always thought that my calling was in therapy work, and my new mom and dad think I’m a natural at enthusiastically meeting people in my community and showing them that I’m not a monster. And I’m NOT! I’m just a regular dog with some special circumstances and some special needs.

My mom and dad always keep me safe and only let nice people be with me. I got a treat from a little girl wearing butterfly wings at Home Depot the other day; I got to go meet a group of teenagers at AAWL (Arizona Animal Welfare League) and tell my story; I got to kiss a really tiny little girl on her finger and on her forehead at the park…and my mom never has her camera ready when it happens! C’mon mom…I’m making history here!

Life is really good now. Since I live in Scottsdale which isn’t too far from Best Friends, I sometimes get to go back and see my old friends. In my new life, I get to meet all kinds of people. Some love animals, some want to say hi to me, some stay far away from me, some are a lot smaller than the people I’m used to seeing, some ignore me, some want to hear my story and some want to help me.

I have 4 older brothers and sisters, I have a nice grandma, new friends and neighbors…and I get to be an only dog, just like I always wanted! 🙂 And that’s my story.

~ Layla “Bean”

Parent: Tess

Astro, Huntington, WV

My name is Astro! I lived in a very high kill shelter in NY from the time I was a puppy and stayed there for FOUR whole years.

In the shelter they used a rough prong collar on me because I am such a big boy (a whole 87lbs!) and I became so cage crazy and nervous that I began eating the wall beside my kennel and spinning in circles in my cage. 🙁

The staff was nice to me, but they weren’t my family. Thankfully, my Auntie Nichole from Road to Home Rescue Support whisked me away to get me the help that I needed and the family that I wanted so badly.

After my Auntie Nichole got me out of the shelter, I was taken to a boarding facility at a vets office where I was out on doggy Prozac for my anxiety and wall-eating skills. I finally went to the first family that I thought was mine…but they returned me within about a week. They said that I was crazy and dog aggressive. I also supposedly ate a couch or something.

I then went back to boarding for a while…where somehow my medication got mixed up and they ended up giving me double the dosage of Prozac that I was supposed to receive. That caused even more problems with my behavior.

I went to a second family in Chicago this time…but was returned again, and then a third family in Virginia…but…that one didn’t work out either. 🙁

The boarding facility forgot to send my medication with me to the last family and so I went from being on double the dose of Prozac to no Prozac at all which really messed me up. Those two families claimed that I was a bad dog… Yet again that I was dog aggressive, destructive, would try to bite and mouth, that I had issues that couldn’t be fixed and that no one could handle me.

Auntie Nichole then reached out to my good friend Lilly the Hero Pit Bull and her Auntie Lindsay and dad David decided to post me on her Facebook page to try to find me another home.

Auntie Lindsay was then contacted by my (now) mom Desiree, the director of Pitiful Paws Rescue. Auntie Lindsay was friends with mom already and knew that it would be a good fit, so she put mom in contact with Auntie Nicole!

Mom said that her rescue would take me in and try to place me locally. At this point I was still in VA and WV is much closer than sending me all the way back to NY.

So, mom and my Uncle Brad met my previous parents a few days later and brought me home! After just a week or two, mom decided that I wouldn’t be adopted out because she wanted to adopt me herself! 🙂

On July 7th, 2014, I officially became part of my forever family. Mom says that those other families told lies on me or they just didn’t know how to handle me. I am not dog aggressive (I have a ton of friends now), I am not destructive (although I will carry around your shoes for you), and I am not a bad dog.

I am a good dog that needed someone to love me. I am a good dog that is now off of Prozac completely and have been for over a month now.

I am a smart dog that graduated obedience training from Petco. I have a loving family, a best friend pibble named Ember, I have over 1,000 friends on my Facebook page and I love my family as much as they love me.

I’m glad that those other families didn’t work out because now I am right where I belong.

Thanks for reading my story!
Astro

Parent: Desiree

Bulletproof, Hummelstown, PA

Hi! My name is Bulletproof, but everybody calls me Bully. This is my story.

Before I came to live with my Mom and Dad, my name was just “Bullet” and I lived with another family. They decided to give me up because they could no longer care for me. I was going to be brought to the local shelter to be surrendered, but before that could happen, I escaped from my fenced yard.

I didn’t end up having as much fun running free as I thought I would. Some people got nervous when they heard there was a Pit Bull loose…and one of them shot me in the right side of my face. 🙁

I made it back to my old house. When the dog warden picked me up to bring me to the Harrisburg Humane Society, she said she was amazed because even though I was bleeding and had to be in pain, my tail never stopped wagging.

When I arrived at the shelter, I had to have surgery to clean my wound and remove the birdshot that was still in my cheek. Despite my severe injuries, I was so happy to meet all my new friends at the shelter. 🙂 They were all amazed by how friendly and outgoing I seemed despite what I had been through.

The first time Mom saw me, she was volunteering at the shelter. I had been there almost a week. Mom watched me happily playing with my ball even though it kept falling out of my mouth because of my injuries.

Mom knew right away that I was special, and she convinced Dad (the shelter kennel manager) to let me come live with them as a medical foster.

I was so happy to have a family, but I still had a lot of healing to do. My new brother and sister, Pardee and Mya (also Pit Bull mixes), love to run around and play rough. At first, I was afraid to play with them and hurt my face, but they were patient with me.

After a few months, the swelling in my face went down, & my wounds didn’t hurt as much. I was able to play with my brother and sister without being scared, and Mom and Dad knew i was meant to be part of their family.

In November of 2011, Mom and Dad adopted me. They changed my name from Bullet to Bulletproof, because they say it’s more fitting. 🙂

After my adoption, I had to have another surgery to try to fix the damage done to my face. But that’s OK because my vet is one of my favorite people in the world! She extracted my broken teeth and cleaned out what she could of the remaining birdshot. When she was done, she stitched up most of the hole in my face.

Since my last surgery, the hole in my face has healed, and now it’s only about the width of a pencil. Even though Mom and Dad love me no matter what I look like, they’re happy that I’m not in pain anymore.

In October 2013, Mom decided that I should have the chance to bring the same joy to others that I’ve brought to her and Dad. I took my Canine Good Citizen test, as well as my certification test for Therapy Dog International, and passed both tests with flying colors! While I’m still very new to therapy dog work, Mom and Dad know I’m going to be great at it.

Even though I have a family that adores me and LOTS of new friends who know how great I am, I still sometimes encounter people who are afraid of me because of how I look. Sometimes they cross the street when they see me coming. Some even whisper about how I was probably used for dog fighting because of how my face looks. 🙁

I don’t understand why they’re so nervous around me, but Mom says that’s why it’s so important for her to advocate for me and others like me. I don’t really know what a breed ambassador is, but that’s what she says I am!

Thank you for taking the time to hear my story. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me when they read it, because I have a great home now, with a family who is going to love me forever.

I do want to encourage people to give dogs like me a chance; just because we don’t come from the best situations doesn’t mean we’re not great dogs.

Please visit your local shelter and consider giving another special dog a second chance!

~ Bulletproof  the Therapy Dog

Parent: Elysa

Polar, Mentor, OH

My name is Polar but my mom and dad call me “Princess Polar Bean the Beauty Queen” or just “Bean” for short. I like that they gave me this little nickname because for me, it meant a new start and a promise at a new life.

You see, my life wasn’t always so great. I was bred to breed. I was chained to a post in a backyard in Arkansas. Whenever I had puppies, the people from the house took them away and sold them.

One day, I tried to escape so the people put a makeshift fence around me and my puppies to keep us confined. I accidentally got my foot caught in the fencing and since no one helped me, I had to chew my foot off in order to free myself.

The people in the house didn’t take me to the vet after this; instead they put me in a pig pen to heal. 🙁 My pen mate was a 400 pound pig!

When the people from the house weren’t home, a neighbor would sneak over to pet me and give me food. She was a nice lady and wanted to help me but she couldn’t take me home with her. She resorted to this thing that they call the internet and found some people in Ohio who said they would help me.

The people said they would pay my airfare (I had never been on an airplane before!) and that they’d give the people from the house some money too. All of this was for ME?!?!

I spent the day traveling to Ohio and when I landed, I was greeted by my new family. They were so excited and my mom started to cry when she saw me. I’m sure it’s because I didn’t look so great.

I was very thin and had some wounds on my head and neck. I was also very weak and had a hard time getting into their car but my dad is a big guy and he gently picked me up and put me in the backseat. I couldn’t help but kiss his face for that!

They immediately took me to see the vet because they were concerned for my health and for the health of my big brother who was waiting patiently for my arrival. Yes, I was going to have a sibling!!!

After several trips to the vet, several rounds of medication and lots of food and TLC, I was finally healthy! Within weeks, I had gotten my strength back and I was able to go up and down the steps on my own.

I was no longer chained to a post; I had my own yard to run in. I also had my own bed to sleep in, my own toys and, most importantly, my own family to love me! 🙂

These days, I can usually be found sun bathing on the deck or acting as the “Fun Police” while my sister and brother play tug in the backyard. I sometimes go into schools with my mom and teach the kids about safe interactions with dogs and some of the kids read me books.

Some people say that I’m a little bit spoiled but my mom and dad say that I deserve it. 🙂

Thanks for reading my story!

~ Polar

p.s. I’m featured in “Lost Souls: Found!” Pit Bull book and the Disabilities books! 🙂 And when you purchase it, don’t forget to list my mom’s rescue, For the Love of Pits, as the recipient of the author’s donation! Thank you!

Parent: Marlo

T-Bone, Albuquerque, NM

Hi! My name is T-Bone!

My first home was very bad. My “dad” would hit me and kick me if I didn’t do what he said. I wasn’t allowed inside the house. I was only 3 months old when the lady of the house brought me to animal control so that the man of the house didn’t hurt me anymore. 🙁

I went to 2 other foster homes before ending up at in Idaho where I was fostered by Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue. That’s where my parents found me, on the rescue’s website. I was listed as Great Dane Pit mix, whatever that means.

My Mom and Dad told me they picked me because I had one of the saddest faces. Huh? 🙂

Luckily my first “dad” didn’t get to break my spirit. I love my new parents and pretty much everyone I meet.  They brought me home to New Mexico in March of 2009 when I was 5 months old.

I could tell my parents never had a dog before. I was a crazy puppy. I was very excited to be able to live in the house with my new parents. My mom and dad worked very hard at training me. I didn’t always listen and I could tell that they would get frustrated and didn’t know what to do with me. However they never hit me.

I love my new parents. My mom worked even harder since I was part pit bull? Not sure what that has to do with anything; I am just a dog!

When I was 1 1/2, mom brought me to some classes to get me certified to be a therapy dog. Imagine me a therapy dog. My dad said I would never pass.

My mom took me to the testing and it was very rigorous. We had to go for 2 weekends in a row on a Saturday and Sunday. Well we proved daddy wrong: we passed with flying colors! 🙂

We still had a lot of training to do. My mom would take me to a special class every Wednesday with a bunch of other dogs and we would work on everything from sits to stays and also our special tricks. My trick is pretty cool.

Fast forward: My mom takes me to hospitals, nursing homes and the Albuquerque 911 call center. Our favorite place to go is the call center. The people there sure do seem to like it when we go visiting there. All the ladies fuss over me and give me treats. What a fun job!

I even do my favorite trick for them. Here, watch the video! They all think it’s so amazing that I know the word! 🙂

My mom continues to train me and my new sister. We are currently attending training at our local Animal Humane New Mexico with the “505 Pit Crew.” It’s a youth-oriented program aimed at addressing illegal dog-fighting, most often pit bulls, for illegal gambling or gang-related purposes.

The people at the program are calling us ambassadors for our breed. Not sure what all the fuss is about cause I am just a dog. We are learning some really cool things.

I love my mom. She works so hard to advocate for our breed.

In the end I am just a dog. When we are not training or visiting the call center, I get to go to my mom and dad’s office and hang out with the staff and meet all kinds of new people. My dad does something with bones. He told me he’s called a Chiropractor. My mom helps people too. She works in a room in the office and makes people exercise.

I am happy that my parents found me and love me so much. We run in the foothills every morning. It feels so good to run free. When we are done with our run, we get to go to the park for more running.

My favorite thing to do there is yup you guessed it fetch the ball. Oh yeah, I also love cuddling with my sister Madeline.

So that’s my story and thanks for reading!

~ T-Bone

p.s. I am definitely not a monster!

Parent: Karen

Puddin, Alameda, CA

My name is Puddin. I am nine years old. Here is my story:

I was dropped off in the night drop box at the Berkeley shelter. I was probably no older than eight months old. I had had puppies, but they were not with me. I also had a uterine infection that they discovered when I was spayed.

I spent three months at the shelter. I’m not sure why nobody wanted to adopt me. But when Sarah Joe and Judi came to the shelter to meet another dog, they remembered seeing me on the Home At Last Rescue website (a rescue that works with the shelter). They were looking for a companion for their dog, Po, a pit bull/lab mix. They were planning on fostering, with the hopes to adopt a compatible friend.

“What about the one with the big ears? Can we meet her?”

We all went for a walk. I liked Po and he liked me. They agreed to come pick me up after my spay procedure.

Po and I were besties and did everything together until he sadly passed on in 2009. He had been diagnosed with cancer and fought a good fight. I missed him so much and was very lonely.

A few months later, my moms adopted a senior Shepherd named Smokey. He was a great friend as well, and I like to think I made his last few years on earth very happy ones.

Last year, Murray came to live with us, by way of Berkeley Humane. He had also been in the shelter for a few months. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I love him so much. We wrestle and play for hours on end — pretty good for an older lady such as myself.

Everywhere I go, I hear “look at those ears!” — which is a great segue into talking about how I am a pit bull, and what a loving, special dog I am. I have never met a person I haven’t liked. I have many friends — one of my best friends is an animal cop and another one is a 3-year-old child. I love kids, a lot.

I also have a cat friend named Russell. We cuddle sometimes. Don’t tell anyone. 🙂

I have a pretty good life. I now live on an island and take walks to the ocean all the time.

I am now nine years old. Though my legs are turning gray, you would never know I am now a senior — most people think I’m a young dog.

Thank you for reading my story! You can see more of me and my good life here on Tumblr: Fritopaws.

♥ Puddin’

Parents: Sarah Joe & Judi

Star, Lincoln, NE

Hi everybody! My name is Star! And until August 13, 2012, I lived a life of obscurity.

I was regularly seen around a certain spot with my homeless human in one of the busiest, most pedestrian cities in the world: New York City. But no one paid much attention to us; homeless people with their homeless dogs are much too plentiful.

There was nothing that wasn’t “normal” about the two of us; we were virtually invisible in plain sight. But we had each other.

On that fateful day, my human had a seizure right on a curb near Union Square. I was so confused and scared for him! I stood guard by him and I barked and barked. I needed to protect him and keep him safe! People don’t understand us dogs too well and may have thought I was going after them, but I was just protecting my human!

Then the police arrived…and they just stood there!

They seemed scared of me. They didn’t realize I was scared too! There were a lot of people gathering. If I wanted to be vicious, there were plenty of people I could have bitten. But I didn’t; all I wanted to do is keep my human safe.

One woman came close to us and I charged at her to keep her away. I ran back to my human and stood guard by him again. And then all hell broke loose.

I saw the policeman coming close so I ran to him to keep him away, and he shot me! Not far from the head of my human! He could have hit my seizing human!

But omigosh, I was in sudden pain! So much pain. The life blood was draining from my head, I couldn’t see. Like my human, I was laying on a NYC street and the police didn’t care. I was even pepper-sprayed while I writhed in pain.

Someone took a video of the whole incident, and it was seen by millions. The video was graphic and it made a lot of people mad at the police officers, and sad for me.

My life seemed to end; the world turned dark as I worried about my human.

Miraculously, I survived the point-blank shot. I wasn’t expected to live; the NYC Police said I didn’t, although the Gothamist updated that I survived!

I woke in a kennel at NYC Animal Care & Control. I had surgeries, I lost my eye and my hearing was messed up. But my human could not come for me. He knew he couldn’t take care of me anymore and was trying to do the right thing by me. But NYC authority was being very secretive.

The Lexus Project — which advocated for me after the video gained widespread attention — said I had left New York, bound for a rehabilitation facility “where she can rest and be pampered on until she goes for her behavior assessment. From there, she will be placed into her forever home.”

I actually went to a greyhound rescue in PA, of all places. The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals said that I wasn’t yet ready to be adopted, although they did say that was their plan after I recovered. Besides that, everything about me was very hush hush.

So I spent months in that hidden spot, not knowing what would happen to me.

What I didn’t know was I had an honest-to-goodness Guardian Angel! Someone who saw the video of my being shot while trying to get help for my human. A kind man many, many miles away — in 1,500 miles to be exact, in Lincoln, Nebraska — who couldn’t get the image of my body and blood on that NYC street out of his mind.

He immediately began a Facebook page for me. I’m not the only dog to be shot by what can only be considered scared men in uniforms with guns but that video hit home to many. A lot of people quickly found my page and were up in arms about my shooting and voiced this on the page threads.

But to my Guardian Angel, my story touched the deepest part of his heart. He admitted that he was traumatized. He was not faint at heart but the video of me being shot just rocked him.

So he began the search to find out where I was so he could bring me home to live with him!

He is not a man easily dissuaded or ignored. He went through all the channels and then some to find me. And he found me!

After jumping through countless hoops and red tape with Animal Care & Control, he finally got some results. The Mayor’s Alliance set up a date between him and me at the National Greyhound Adoption Program in Pennsylvania.

The meeting happened in December of 2012. My Dad said it was surreal as he would go through several doors, a long corridor and a steel door along with a gate. The lights were dim. He was a guest in this facility which treats animals with care, the way that all animals should live. It was quiet with classical music being played.

And then he entered my large 20 x 20 room and saw me. And he said, “Hey Star Girl. It’s me, Charlie.”

And I sat up and gave him that look with a wide smile – he called it my trademark look. The lights were turned on for us and he hugged me for what seemed like an eternity. He told me that he hugged me for not just him but the whole world.

He then talked to me and hugged me over and over again. And I was filled with the most love.

The next day he came back, and we just hung out. There were lots of belly rubs, hugs and kisses. Oh, I loved it!! I love him!! And then it was time for him to leave. He hugged me and walked away.

I didn’t know if he was going to come back. I also didn’t know that he cried inside because saying good bye to me was one of the hardest things that he had to do.

And he vowed to make me a part of his life.

It took months for him to convince the authorities to let him adopt me. And that finally happened in April 2013! My dad rented a minivan — the first time in his life — and drove all the way from Nebraska to Philadelphia and picked up me. And we became family.

Oh and boy, do I love my life! I love to travel by car, I love to give hugs, and I’m always happy — you can see that I have the biggest tongue. 🙂 And I love making friends wherever I go!

I am the same Star who was a loyal companion to my homeless human, the happy dog who loves everyone — humans and dogs alike.

What happened to me on that August day two years ago is a scary wake-up call. And if that happened to me, then there could be other dogs suffering this same deal because most likely nothing was done about my trigger-happy uniformed shooter!

Was I shot because I’m a pitbull mix? If I were a fluffy dog, would I have been met with a bullet from a cop if they were in my situation? And about that pepper-spray: it wasn’t pleasant, but why didn’t that officer use it instead of shooting me in the head in the first place?

With Dad by my side, I am a Voice against police shooting dogs just because they can. But it’s not only a voice! I have an Army! Yes! Star’s Army, and we Crusade Against Puppycide! It has to stop!

Join us at Star – The New York Pit Bull Shot By Police.

And thank you for reading my story!
Star

p.s. My Dad did reach out to my first human, Lech, wanting to help but the stress of the ordeal on that NYC street was too much for him. He is a private person who was filmed for 10 minutes having a seizure on the sidewalk. He just wanted to return home to Poland and leave what happened to both of us in his past.

I was his love and he was heartbroken for me, but he went home knowing I was a true survivor, that I am safe and I have someone who love me as much as he does.

Parent: Charlie

Pretzel, Baltimore, MD

Hi! My name is Pretzel! I’m a beautiful, loving and loyal dog that was given a second chance at life, proving pit bulls are born inherently good and they are NOT monsters.

You may not realize it just from looking at me, but I came so close to crossing the Rainbow Bridge and in such a horrible way, it was scary!

On October 6, 2010, the terrible, nasty man who once ‘owned’ me took a knife and slit my throat from ear to ear. He then repeatedly stabbed me in the chest,  threw me in my kennel and covered me up to let me die.

He may have thought he had a reason to do so, but no one ever deserves such punishment or malice directed at them.

I was so scared and confused, I was in pain and couldn’t help but cry out through this whole ordeal and the man’s mother had the good sense to call the police.

The Animal Control and police found me in a pool of my own blood, so much of my blood seeping out of my body. They brought me to the local shelter, Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) and I was rushed to the vet. Despite my bloody neck and chest, I gave lots of kisses to the shelter intake vet.

It was going to be costly to save me, but a wonderful fund called “The Frankie Fund” had been set up to help animals like me survive.

I was patched up real good but my neck was all sutures and drains…. 🙁 I was not pretty at all.

After surgery, I returned to BARCS to begin my journey of healing and hopefully finding a forever home!

I fell in love with a volunteer there. When she walked into the room where I was secluded (to help with my healing because I had so many stitches), I wagged my tail so hard, she thought I was going to flip the kennel. But I was just trying to tell her, “You’re mine! You’re mine! Let’s go home!”

She once had another pit bull, a big boy named Diesel. I know she missed him very much and hoped she would love me, too. And she did!

She fell right in love with me, although she told others, and tried to tell herself, she was only going to foster me until I healed more and the stitches came out. Foster Fail, Mom! 🙂 She admitted to me afterwards that I had her the second I came into the house. And that we were meant to meet that day in the shelter.

We are best friends! She’s proud that I have proven myself to be a positive and strong representative for pit bulls with  super sweet and forgiving nature. Wherever I meet people, I change perception of dogs like me and show discriminatory stereotype myths are just that: myths!

And I am very proud of Mom! Together we stood tall and proud at the Million Pibble March in Washington, D.C., this year! Mom was one of the speakers and I made my debut as an international role model for Pibbles on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol!

Mom made a passionate speech about animal abuse and their psychopatic abusers. She encountered many abused animals on her job. As a Baltimore City Police Officer for almost two  decades, Mom has seen countless instances of animal abuse, and all have broken her heart. That’s why she works very hard to catch bad guys and help abused animals like me.

I don’t know what happened to that knife-happy, pathetic little man in my past. He was arrested on the scene but we don’t know if he ever served time for what he did to me. But in case he’s out there, this is all I have to say to him:

“I matter. 

I am doing good. I am helping educate society about dogs and the human-animal bond and in doing so will help save more lives.

No one but you will ever know why you once called me a cute little name like Coco, then hurt me and made me suffer.

And it really doesn’t matter.

In this life I now live full of joy, love and comfort, it’s you that’s does not matter to me. You do not define me. Your actions do not define me.

With my loving Mom’s help, I have proven myself to be the dog I am.”

My life is really great. I’m safe and loved. I have a couple doggie BFFs and Mom’s friends love to love on and spoil me. My mom loves to dress me up — we’re both fashionistas! And we love shoes!! 🙂

Oh, and we’re in a calendar called “The Roles in Rescue — Saving Baltimore’s Dogs” representing beautiful, compassionate and powerful women in Baltimore with their rescued pit bulls. Her role: The Protector. I think we look awesome. 🙂

Rescuing animals and being a voice for those who are unable to speak has been Mom’s passion. It is her hope that her hard work as a police officer and shelter volunteer will help other families add affectionate, faithful and amazing pets, like me, to their families.

What more can a girl ask for? Just that all other dogs experience this kind of love.

I’m not a monster. I am Love. Just ask Mom.

XOXO,
Pretzel

p.s. Bet you wondered how I got my name Pretzel? Mom says it’s from my color and my twistiness! She says if a pretzel had a personality, I am it! Fun, light & twirly! BOL! Yes, that I am!

It took Mom three months to come up with the name but as soon as she said it, I popped up and told her: It’s a perfect name! 🙂

Parent: Kelly

Photo Credit:
Stand Up For Pits photo by Virgil Ocampo Photography
The Protector by tPoz Photography

Tyrion, Pittsburgh, PA

Oh Hai, Tyrion Pittister here!

I am a sweet, snuggly, goofy little boy who was rescued on April 30, 2014, after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, USDA, ATF, Albany PD and other enforcement agencies raided a brutal dogfighting operation in Tift County, GA.

There were 42 of us dogs; we are the lucky ones because the ones no longer useful for the men — to be fought, bred or sold — were exterminated with inhumane methods. Tifton-Tift County Animal Shelter took us in and the staff there were the first humans that showed us kindness and love. They are my first friends. 🙂

The Humane Society of United States took a handful of us to one of HSUS’ emergency shelters in June. Thanks to the HSUS Dogfighting Rescue Coalition, I made my way here to Hello Bully in early August!

I bare a lot of scars on my face from my past, but please do not fear, I am in no pain and I am totally ready to snuggle with a family.

They give me all kinds of fun stuff here at Hello Bully Halfway House to play with and learn! I love to chew on my nylabones, do enrichment activities, eat pupsicles, and most important, snuggle with all my volunteers. Plus, I’m perfectly-sized for snuggling. I love being picked up and craddled like a baby! 🙂

I am puppy-like when I get excited, and love to run around in the play yard with tennis balls, and don’t laugh, but I kind of snort when I do it!

And my Hello Bully friends always ensure I am well-socialized; I constantly go on outings and social events. And I will be spending the Thanksgiving with Hello Bully’s founder Daisy and her boyfriend. How cool, right?

I love everyone! My all-time favorite thing is lounging on the couch or big fluffy dog beds with my people. Aside from a long list of human BFFs, I have a budding romance with Hello Bully Spokesbull/Alumni/Dogfighting Survivor, Princess Pear Bear. 🙂

I am working on my polite ways with other canines and furry creatures, so please check in with my guardian Ashley to see how my progress is doing!

In January, I will have a surgery to help me breathe better. Once my medical issues are behind me, I will be looking for a forever family.

I wish I could meet each one of you. Though my face is a map to my past, that’s where I have left my trauma. I adore everyone and have nothing but love, snuggles, and kisses to give.

I’m a survivor of dogfighting. And I’m also an all around awesome dog. 🙂

Thank you, hope to hear from you soon! Drop by my page and say #HelloTyrion!


Tyrion

If interested in adopting Tyrion, please submit your application at hellobully.org/adopt or email ashley@hellobully.com for more information.

Rocky, Land O Lakes, FL

Hey there!!! My name is Rocky, but that wasn’t always my name – that’s because I am adopted.

People always ask if I am a mean dog or if I bite, Mom says “The only part of me that is “vicious” is my wiggly whip of a tail and wiggly behind!”  When I get excited you better watch out I don’t accidentally knock you over with pure excitement.

My story begins just like a lot of other rescue dogs… I was unwanted.

On Christmas Eve 2011, I was dumped in a cardboard box with my littermates on the side of a very busy 6 lane interstate highway. Luckily, Rugaz Rescue found us. Gosh only knows what could of happened to all of us if a bad person instead of a rescue got to us first. Or worse yet, we could have been squished by traffic.

For the next several weeks I was fostered with my littermates in a home with other dogs and cats. One by one, everyone was adopted but me. Mom says it because a higher power wanted us to be together. You see, I am Mom’s soul mate dog!!!!

In February 2012, I meet my adopted parents for the very first time & it was true LOVE at first sight. My wiggly behind and big sloppy kisses were just what Mom needed. She stayed for hours and played with me, rubbed my belly, gave me treats and even “tried” to take me for a walk. (I say “tried” because I wasn’t so smart back then and I didn’t know how to walk on leash at all. I just plopped my butt down and wouldn’t move. Teehee!)

When I got to my new FURever home I felt comfortable right away. They had lots of toys, soft beds and best of all treats!!

From the beginning, I was very disruptive and rambunctious… Mom knew that I was going to be a handful. So she set out to curb my enthusiasm and wear my butt out – because everyone knows “A tired dog is a good dog.”

In addition to giving me lots of physical exercise, I was also enrolled in agility class, tricks class & obedience classes in order to stimulate my mind. All that hard work sure paid off in the long run. I am now a well-adjusted young fur man!

Shortly after getting me, Mom fell in love not only with me but with the breed. She hates that us bully’s get a bad rap and are discriminated against. She always says “get to know me, before you judge me.” She says that goes for people as well for all dogs.

Around this time, Mom also decided she wanted to do more to help the breed… So she started an online pet supply business that donates the profits to local pit bull rescues. I LOVE being the expert tester for all the new toys, and especially the treats!! Our spare room is like a toy store for dogs. BOL!

Fast forward 2.5 years… I am a Canine Good Citizen (CGC), A Therapy Dog with Pet Partners, an Emotional Support Dog, and a blood donor with Blue Pearl. I also enjoy agility, lure coursing, going for walks & getting belly rubs. 🙂

Ohhh… and I also hold an advanced tricks title from Do More with your Dog!  I love doing tricks like “say my prayers” and “wipe my feet” when I do my therapy visits at the Hillsborough Juvenile Detention Center. Mom just loves showing everyone how smart I am as well as busting the myth that pit bulls are “bad dogs.”

In July 2014, my older sister Tasha, a German Shepherd mix, passed away and Mom & Dad brought a 7-week-old foster puppy home. Her name is Bella. She was from another unwanted pregnancy (seems to be a common theme down here in Tampa). Shortly after birth Bella was brought to the shelter to be euthanized. Again Rugaz Rescue stepped up and saved 3 seven-week-old puppies.

I LOVE my new sister and we are inseparable. After just a couple of days we all knew Bella had found her FURever home too. Bella is now 4.5 months old and had already earned her AKC S.T.A.R puppy certificate. She is smart like me!

You can follow our adventures on our business page on Facebook at HappyTailPetSupply. We are on a mission to change hearts and minds, one paw at a time. We do this by educating, being polite in public and showing everyone what good breed ambassadors we are.

Thanks for reading my story!
Rocky

Rocky’s Timeline & Accomplishments:
Nov, 2011 Born
Dec, 2011 Found by Rugaz Rescue
Feb, 2012 Adopted
March, 2012 Graduated Puppy Basic Obedience
May, 2012 Graduated Advanced Obedience
Mar, 2013 Canine Good Citizen
Oct, 2013 Blood Donor at Blue Pearl
Dec, 2013 Pet Partners Therapy Dog
March, 2014 Novice Tricks Title from Do More with your Dog!
March, 2104 Intermediate Tricks Title from Do More with your Dog!
July, 2014 Advanced Tricks Title from Do More with your Dog!
Sept, 2014 Emotional Support Dog

Bella’s Timeline & Accomplishments:
June, 2014 Born
Aug, 2104 Rescued by Rugaz Rescue
Aug, 2014 Adopted
Oct, 2014 Graduated Puppy Obedience & received AKC Puppy S.T.A.R Certificate

Parents: Monica & Gary

Sunshine, La Habra, CA

My name is Sunshine. I want people to know dogs with fear issues are NOT monsters. We can give lots of love to the right person or family, if given the chance.

On December 23rd, 2011, Downey Shelter picked me up as a stray. I was estimated to be between 2 to 2-1/2 years old. They labelled me “dog and human aggressive”. The shelter even said I was a former “bait dog”. They must have thought that because I was so beat up, frightened and had a rope around my neck.

It doesn’t matter if I was or not, because I live for today, not yesterday.

My rescue didn’t care about the “label” — they saved me on January 5, 2012. My rescue had a foster home ready for me. However, after my foster family met me they decided I was too much of a risk because of my fear issues.

The rescue tried and tried to find me another foster, but the word was out: “Sunshine is a bad dog.” I was actually referred to by a couple people in the rescue as “the dog from Hell.” 🙁

I was sent to a training/boarding facility for 30 days, in hopes that would help me overcome my fear issues. After my 30 days, still no one wanted to take a chance on me so I ended up “living” in a kennel facility for 18 VERY long months. At one point a man took me home, but I was afraid of kids, so back to the kennel I went.

A complete stranger saw my pretty picture on Facebook in May of 2013. The description stated I was a former bait dog and needed a strong leader. My kennel humans told me this stranger wanted to meet me. I knew if I ever wanted to leave the kennel life I had to be on my BEST behavior.

OMDog, I gave lots of kisses, never growled or anything. I was perfect. I had forgotten ALL my training at this point because it wasn’t reinforced daily. The stranger, saw something in me that no one else did: HOPE.

She actually wanted to see me every weekend to prepare me for a forever home. We went to parks, stores, and training for 7 weeks straight weekends. I even stayed the night at her apartment on the weekends. There were three Chihuahuas living with her.

Some dogs run away from their fears, not me. I always want to attack anything I am afraid of. This was something new for the stranger. But, she wasn’t going to give up on me. She knew I had it in me to be good, and she was determined to seek out the proper help and guidance.

We found the perfect team to help: Los Angeles Responsible Pit Bull Owners (LARPBO). The first month we worked with the founder, Troy Smith. I was afraid of him, so I went into attack mode. He never backed down or allowed me to have my way. Then came my new trainer from LARPBO, Sadot Aldaco. He’s been my group and personal trainer since June of 2013.

After 7 weeks of bonding, the stranger decided she was not going to give me away, so she adopted me. This decision came with major changes for her, and challenges for me and her existing pack. Now, mom had to move out of her apartment and into a house with a yard. PLUS, she had to integrate me with my new siblings.

After 18 months, on August 1, 2013 I took my final walk out of the kennel. I was about to start a life with my very own family, FINALLY. 🙂

The first two weeks at home I had to wear a muzzle. This was a must because of my fear issues and the safety of my three siblings. It wasn’t until my chi brother Sarge passed away that I was allowed to be alone with my siblings. This was because of Sarge being blind, and he scared easily.

Fast forward to July 29, 2014. Mom brings a 6 week old foster puppy home. She came from a backyard breeder. Her name is Juniper, she is part Lab/Shepherd/Border Collie. She has no use of the lower portion of her body. This puppy would be the real test on how far I’ve progressed.

The little thing scared me like crazy.

But for the first time, I reacted different to my fear. Every time the puppy made a noise I would run and hide under the bed. This lasted for about two weeks. Mom let me go at my own pace, I slowly came out for short amounts of time.

We have become best buddies and you will rarely find us apart. I talked mom into allowing me to keep the puppy. Now, I have my very own puppy who plays tuggy, wrestles and chases me.

I will always need a muzzle when I’m in public. Why? Simply because I was tossed in a kennel for 18 longs months without proper socialization. Most dogs in that situation will end up with fear and trust issues, it has nothing to do with me being a Pit Bull type dog.

I have a long road ahead of me to get over my fears, but mom tells me I am making progress every day. I’m in my forever home because Troy and my personal trainer Sadot gave mom the guidance, tools and confidence to manage me. Mom and Sadot are helping me live happily ever after.

You can follow my progress on Facebook at “Sunshine, Pack and Friends.”

Sunshine

Parent: Rose

Aladdin, Haddonfield, NJ

My name is Aladdin and I am a pitbull.

I was found in a small town in South Jersey almost two years ago. I was severely emaciated and someone had broken both of my back legs and my tail. I had many open wounds and I was missing twelve teeth. I was also so emaciated that I could no longer control my bowels.

A nice man, Mark Peters of Camden County Animal, called someone to come get me because I was going to be euthanized at the shelter due to my condition. This person fosters emaciated pitbulls for Lilo’s Promise Animal Rescue and they have agreed to take me on.

I remember that day. I was waiting out front, and when I saw her I wagged my tail so she would know that I was a good boy. That’s the day that love found me.

My new foster Mom took me to the beach. I don’t think that she thought I was going to live so she wanted me to be in a peaceful place. I was carried over to the edge of the water and I just stood there with my eyes closed and my face raised up to the sun, sniffing all the glorious beach smells. Mom supported me so I wouldn’t fall.

Little by little, I grew stronger.

When Mom took me to the vet, they said that I had the back and hips of a fourteen-year-old dog but I was only 1 or 2. I was on lots of medicines and had to eat a lot of small meals. I started to gain weight but then a month after I came to live with Mom, I got sick. She had to rush me to the nearest vet, Ocean View Veterinary Hospital. They didn’t know Mom or I but they took great care of me.

I had a very high fever and wouldn’t eat for four days. For four days it was touch and go. Again, Mom thought I was going to die but I couldn’t leave her.

Finally, I ate some yogurt. Dr. Ira and the amazing staff did an incredible job nursing me back to health. Slowly, I got better and they let Mom take me home.

I had lost all of the weight I gained so we had to start my recovery all over again. Once I was healthy enough I started therapy with Dr. Howe-Smith to makes my legs stronger. We did water therapy, laser therapy and dry needling so I could walk without pain. It was a lot of hard work. And I’m so thankful for Lilo’s Promise for taking care of all of my medical bills.

Along the way I figured out that everyone wasn’t bad. I learned to stop jumping when people touched me and to stop dropping to the ground belly up when I got scared thinking someone was going to hurt me. Mom kept saying I was safe and no one would ever hurt me again.

I was now part of a family, I had three human brothers and three bully brothers (from left to right: Parker, Brady, me & Bully). My foster family had become my furever family. 🙂

I love to swim — that is my favorite exercise. I love to play with my brothers, both fur and human, but my favorite thing is snuggling! Mom says I do that very well!!

Despite what someone had done to me, I still loved people — cautiously at first but my little tail was always wagging. Mom said that I made each day better so she decided to let me share my love.

I got certified as a therapy dog with Therapy Dogs, Inc. and I started visiting nursing homes. Everyone loved me as much as I loved them. I got to visit kids and go to schools. I even got to be a model for a nationwide animal abuse campaign called Show Your Soft Side with Jon Dorenbos of the Philadelphia Eagles.

A local hospital asked Mom if I could come and join their therapy team. However, after Mom completed the paperwork, they said that I couldn’t be part of their therapy dog team because I was a Pitbull. 🙁

This made many people mad. Mom says breed specific legislation is wrong. I’m not sure what all of this means but I do know that I love making people happy. When Mom says it’s time to go to work I get super excited.

There are lots of people who need a little Laddylove to help them through the day. People in the hospital relate to me because I too am disabled. My back legs make it hard for me to walk far and they are kind of shriveled, like Tiny Tim legs. When people look at me they know that I understand their pain because I’ve felt it too.

Only now, I feel loved and I want to share that love with everyone.

So that’s my story. I’m Aladdin. I’m a loving family member, therapy dog, Soft Side model and spokesdog for Lilo’s Promise. And you can join my adventure at Aladdin Nation.

Love,
Laddy

Parent: Michele

Photo Credits:

Oakley, Raleigh, NC

Hi I’m Oakley, a paralyzed dog with a positive attitude that’s ready to make a difference!

The beginning of my life wasn’t good, but I’m ok with it because if those things wouldn’t have happened I wouldn’t be where I am today. 🙂

I’m one strong little boy that is making a Stand against Animal Abuse. I also want to inspire other animals and humans that are different to Never Give Up! Nothing’s going to keep me down so you don’t need to let anything keep you down either.

I was an owner surrender to a local shelter in NC at the age of 8 weeks, and they were told I was born paralyzed in my back legs. Thank goodness I wasn’t there long. The shelter was a scary place. I was rescued by Friends FUR Life K-9 Rescue, and taken to the vet immediately.

I had worms, fleas, bad urine burns, and scrapes on my body. The vet did an X-ray and discovered a bullet near my spine! It was confirmed that the bullet caused my paralysis.

I was treated for everything and had a referral to go to a physical therapist. I saw the physical therapist next and was told that there is poor prognosis of me ever being able to walk again. They suggested some physical therapy to help with my flexibility, and to get me stronger to be able to get a wheelchair.

I stayed at my current foster home for a few days. Then my current foster mom said we are taking a ride to the park because there is someone very interested in meeting me. I was excited because when I meet new people treats always seem to be involved.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on my way to meet my forever mom!

It was love at first site for both of us. My mom has fostered before and experienced a situation with a dog that was very jealous over Jasper who is now one of my brothers. Regardless of how much she worked with this dog it didn’t get better. He had to be moved to another foster home. It’s not the dog’s fault, unfortunately he wasn’t trained correctly from the beginning and as we all know old habits are hard to break. 🙁

That is why mom wanted to take me in as a foster only first. My mom says a foster to adopt program is the best for a disabled animals, well she thinks it’s best for any animal. You never know how they are going to react to the new environment.

Mom says I’m a handful, but a handful in a good way. I’m not sure what that means, but she usually gives me a grin after it so it must be good. 🙂 Mom also tells me that everything is going to be ok, and I believe her. It didn’t take me long to win my mom over. We adopted each other after a short period of time! 🙂

I now have a family that consists of mom, two brothers and a sister. Jasper and Kya didn’t like me at first — they thought I was odd because I didn’t walk on all fours like them. Instead I hopped on my bum! I’m pretty fast at it also so it can be quite shocking to see at first. I wasn’t able to walk so figured out how to get around any way I could. See how fast I can zoomie!

Ollie didn’t seem to see any difference and accepted me immediately. We have a special bond. He looks after me, and teaches me all kinds of things. I think that his acceptance made it easier for the others to do the same after a short period of time.

My mom bought me a wheelchair and that was a big adjustment. I conquered that though, and I’m really fast in it also. I’m just really fast in everything! 🙂

I’m growing fast so I will need to upgrade to a bigger one real soon. Once I’m full grown, the plan is to get me a customized one to fit my specific needs. I will probably have to go through three wheelchairs before I’m full grown. The ones that are adjustable are the best for me at this time so I can make them bigger as I get bigger.

I’m a victim of animal abuse, but I’m also a survivor. I want to make a difference for others so they don’t have to endure neglect, or going without because of something they couldn’t control.

My mom had no idea how much animal abuse there was until I came into her life and opened her world to it. She’s a huge animal lover, and if she didn’t know about it then there are so many others that don’t. We are going to let everyone know about it so they know what to do when they see it. It has to stop and mom is going to be my voice so we can make a difference together.

Mom and I were meant to find each other. We make a great team! We are determined to make a difference. We know that we can’t change it for all, but we will definitely change it for some.

I want you to be a part of my team! The more people that we can get to be a part of this the bigger impact we will have. Please come like my Facebook page, Bulletproof Oakley, to follow my journey and be a part of making a difference.


Oakley

Parent: Kristie

Professional photos by InBetween the Blinks Photography

Penny, Annandale, NJ

Hi there everyone, my name is Penny The Pit Bull!

My story is not a heartbreaking one but rather one that has become all too common. See, my mommy was bred to give birth to those gorgeous blue nose pit bulls. When she gave birth to me and my little brothers and sisters, one of my sisters and I came out black instead.

The human daddy didn’t like that very much because he didn’t think he could make something called money from us so he packed up my sister and I and brought us to a very scary place called a ‘shelter.’ 🙁 Thankfully some nice ladies from a rescue came and got us out of there.

Then along came this nice lady who was looking for a playmate for her dog Bernie. She came to an adoption event to see a different puppy but it didn’t work out. She was just about to leave when the rescue lady said, “Hey can you wait a few minutes, we are bringing two 4 month old sisters in.”

Of course my mommy said OK. Shortly afterm my sister and I arrived. We were let out of the crate, we came in and I crawled right into this lady’s lap and went to sleep. It was an instant match.

This lady was so torn because she had heard all these bad things about pit bulls but just thought how could this little face be mean? So she took me home. I felt so bad for my sister being left there without me but my new mommy just couldn’t bring home both of us. The rescue lady assured my new mommy that my sister was safe and would find a great home.

My new mommy started to research pit bulls and black dogs and began to wonder what we could do to help other dogs that were like me. The statistics were devastating.

She had to put all her research on hold for a little while because I had to have surgery. See, when the bad man that used my doggie mommy for breeding didn’t care who he bred her with so I was destined to have many problems. In my first year and a half of life, I had two surgeries on my knees for what was called luxated patellas. Then we found out I also have hip dysplasia.

We began to help a local rescue and started fostering pit bulls in need. This is the part that makes everything so worth it.

Mommy would come home with a pit bull that was in need of a home; some were found on the streets and some were in a shelter that would have otherwise been euthanized. We would love them and take care of them until their forever home was found. They were scared, didn’t know what it was like to be loved but each and every one was part of our family and learned quickly that not everyone was bad.

Last August we even adopted one of our fosters and I have a sister who is named Nala Bone. She is a goofball! 🙂

Mommy and I took it a step further. We became very active in the communities helping dogs, raising funds for rescues and spreading the word that pit bulls are misunderstood. We created a Facebook page for me to help advocate for not only the most misunderstood breed in the world but also for the often overlooked black dog.

My page is often filled with amazing photos shot by our favorite photographer, Valerie Bruder. She has helped us find great homes for our fosters.

I have also been featured in American Dog Magazine, was a model for NJ Aid For Animals were I am on a billboard with Super Bowl Champ Barrett Brooks and have done some amazing work with Miss Philadelphia, Jamie Devine. 🙂

I have been very fortunate to have a great home and a great family that pulls together to speak out for pit bulls and all dogs in need. I use my page to have fun, showcase dogs in need, help raise funds and even have a contest here and there to bring some enjoyment.

Sometimes you will even see my crazy sister Nala Bone take over my page and post funny things because she is just that type of dog!

Saving pit bulls just like me — thats my super power!

With Love,
Penny The Pit Bull

Parent: Beth

Lily, The Woodlands, TX

Hi! My name is Lily.

My litter was born around January 2011 somewhere in/near Montgomery County, Texas. After just a couple of months, we were surrendered to a local kill shelter by our breeder because he didn’t like our markings. 🙁

Fortunately, there were some kind-hearted people at the shelter that gave us a second chance and turned us over to a rescue group. I guess you can say I’ve received a couple of second chances because I contracted Parvo while in foster care, but I received the care I needed and beat the odds a second time!! I was super lucky to find my forever family just a couple of months later in June of 2011.

In addition to my human mom (the “Momager” because she’s my mom and manager 🙂 ) and dad and two girls, ages 7 and 10, my forever family had two female dogs, a Boxer named Camy (3 yrs old at the time) and a pit bull named Nike (13 yrs old at the time).

Nike, by the way, was not named after that company that supports convicted dog fighters — she was named after the Greek Goddess of Winged Triumph! Nike’s story is really important to me because it helped determine my mission and purpose, so it’s important that I share her story too.

Nike belonged to a friend that really just didn’t have a place to keep her. As a little puppy, she was passed from person to person, kept in bathrooms, dorm rooms and sometimes left tied to a tree for the day in random empty lots. Nike’s owner asked the Momager to pet sit her for a semester while he left to go study abroad.

A semester turned into over two years. During that time, my family never heard from Nike’s owner. Although he left her bed and some toys, he never answered any emails about her care: what vaccinations she needed and whether she should be spayed (she did get spayed).

Before Nike, my family was always a “Boxer” family. When Nike came into their lives my family didn’t know anything about pit bulls. They didn’t know about their history or reputation and were not “experienced” owners, as some rescues require. They only knew that Nike needed a home, a loving family and a safe environment.

Nike taught my family that pit bulls are just like any other dog – that we just want a family to love us and be a part of! We have huge hearts, are loyal, quick learners, gentle, funny, athletic, great snugglers and love to give kisses!

Nike also exposed my family to some of the unfortunate aspects of pit bull ownership including the harsh stares and judgmental comments. At the time, they lived in Mexico, where blood sports (bull fighting, cock fighting and dog fighting) are widely accepted and enjoyed. The Momager received offers to fight Nike and breed her and always worried about her — that Nike would be stolen when left in the yard or poisoned by neighbors that said she was “evil” because of her breed. 🙁

More than two years later, Nike’s owner finally came back to claim her. Just a handwritten note on a scrap of paper that was left under the door one day. “I came for my dog” it said. The Momager refused — Nike quickly became part of the family and the Momager wasn’t going to give her up! Fortunately, Nike’s owner easily conceded.

When my family moved back to the U.S., positive comments from more neutral observers were more frequent, although generally cloaked as exceptions. People would tell the Momager, “She’s good with your kids because she knows them” and things like that. During the next 13 years up until when I came into the picture, the Momager noticed that being a good dog just wasn’t good enough –– not when you’re a pit bull.

When I was adopted, Nike had already been diagnosed with cancer and had a lot of tumors, including one in her eye, that was removed. Our vet said that because of her age, it would be risky to put her under anesthesia to remove all of them and that we should just do our best to make her life as comfortable as possible.

Nike crossed over the rainbow bridge on Christmas Eve of 2012. She was a beloved member of our family for a month short of 15 years. I only spent about a year and a half with Nike, but from the first day I came home, she welcomed me and took me under her wing. We miss our sweet, gentle giant with all our hearts and a day doesn’t go by that we don’t stop and think about her. She changed our lives and hearts forever and for that, we are eternally grateful. My family is now a “Pit bull family” and always will be!

After I was adopted and came to my forever home, the Momager and I had a serious heart-to-heart talk. She confessed that she wasn’t sure if she would ever have another pit bull after Nike. “It was a big responsibility…it’s emotionally taxing,” she said, “carrying the burden of an undeserved reputation and everything that went along with it.” The heartache and frustration of knowing the truth about us and dealing with the ignorance, close mindedness and even hatred of others.

But then she told me that when she saw me — saw my markings, markings almost identical to Nike’s (look at our side-by-side walking photo!) — she immediately changed her mind. She thought about Nike and everything that she taught them, the unconditional love she always gave, the happy smiles, Nike’s unwavering loyalty and devotion, and all the awesome times. She remembered how Nike always protected our family, even when she was old and weak, partially blind and deaf and dying of the cancers. She remembered how important Nike was as a beloved family member.

Deep down, she knew that she owed it to Nike and to all the other dogs out there just like her — just like me — to give one of us a second chance and to continue to try to change people’s minds about pit bulls.

My calm and loving temperament convinced the Momager that I would be a great therapy dog and ambassador for pit bulls and that this would be my mission: to carry Nike’s torch in a way that would touch many lives and to show others that “good” pit bulls are not the exception — that we’re the general rule! I was destined to join the ranks of the many, many other “working” pit bulls out there making a positive difference!

In the spring of 2012, I passed the Pet Partners evaluation and became a registered therapy dog! I was ready to test right around turning 10 months old, but Pet Partners requires dogs to be at least a year old, so I had to wait. With almost 40 years in the business and thousands of teams around the world, Pet Partners is by and large, considered the “gold standard” among animal assisted therapy organizations. The fact that Pet Partners does not discriminate against any breed of dog is a testament to the notion that any dog — that dogs of all breeds — have the capacity to bring happiness, comfort and joy to others! It is an organization with very high standards — for people and pets — and it’s such a huge honor to be a registered Pet Partner therapy dog!

A couple of months later, I became a certified Reading Education Assistance Dog through Intermountain Therapy Animals of Utah, another top-notch organization with a 15 year history that is also represented by many therapy animal teams around the world — including pit bulls!

I am registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) as an “American Shelter Dog” and received the AKC Therapy Dog (THD) title in September of 2013 after completing my first 50 therapy visits. My official name is “Lily, Pit Bull Ambassador & Therapy Dog.” My name is very important to me because it represents my promise to Nike and commitment to other dogs like us to always put my best paw forward.

Some people dislike “pit bull” distinctions, but I don’t! I’m proud of who I am — I’m Pit Proud! And yes, I will take every single opportunity I get to let everyone know! If I can change even just one mind – encourage someone else to go to their local shelter and give another pit bull a second chance, then it is well worth the effort. Hopefully, I will change many minds!

As a therapy dog and community volunteer, my mission is to improve the lives of people and pets by:

  • Comforting and bringing joy to the clients I visit through my therapy work;
  • Promoting a love of reading and learning in children through my work as a Reading Education Assistance Dog;
  • Educating others about responsible pet ownership, the importance of spaying and neutering, and safety around dogs;
  • Promoting the acceptance of others’ differences by “not judging a book by its cover” and educating about the negative and harmful effects of stereotyping and discrimination of people and pets (breed specific legislation); and
  • Acting as an ambassador to improve the public’s perception of pit bulls!

During the past two years, I’ve had the privilege and honor of meeting thousands of people, mostly children, and participating in a variety of events in my community and surrounding areas. I am eternally grateful to all the people, businesses, organizations and facilities that have looked past my breed and partnered with me to improve the lives of both people and pets.

I am also extremely thankful to all my friends in the media who have shared my story and message that each and every one of us — even the rejected and misunderstood – has something valuable to offer to make the world a better place!

Some highlights include:

  • My partnership with The Woodlands Children’s Museum, which began in February 2014, to give a 30 minute class titled, “Lily’s Canine Safety Course,” to the KinderReady class. Twice a month I have the amazing opportunity to meet with two groups of pre-K kids and teach them how to be safe around dogs and caring, responsible pet owners.
  • Hosting my very own booth in the children’s Artopoly Area of The Woodlands 2014 Arts Festival. Voted the best art show in the State of Texas and the 3rd best art show in the nation, it was a huge honor to be a part of this two-day event, which bought in over 18,000 visitors!
  • Partnering with Operation Pets Alive! to celebrate my 3rd birthday by sponsoring Transport Truck #86 and giving 10 at risk shelter dogs a one way ticket from Texas to the Dakin Humane Society in Massachusetts, where they all found forever homes within 1 week!

My proudest moments by far, however, are when I am able to bring a smile to someone’s face, to bring someone a moment of joy, or to make a positive impression and turn a doubter into a believer!!

I invite you to be a part of my journey on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram!

Lily

Parent: Debra

Phat Ashley, Pittsburgh, PA

Hi! I’m Phat Ashley! 🙂

My story came into light when I was rescued in the second biggest dog fighting bust  in the country by the Humane Society of the United States. That was August 23, 2013, and I am a #367 survivor.

After living my whole life on a chain, I think my life after I was rescued is fabulous. All the volunteer who met me LOVES me. And I love every single human who interacts with me, despite my horrible past.

I was heavily bred and was thought to actually be pregnant when taken off the chain. After lots of spoiling, and getting the royal treatment it was determined she was not, explaining why she got the name “Phat Ashley”. 🙂

I am confident, joyous, loving and engaging. While I can’t really say much about the HSUS temporary shelter since it is still an ongoing federal case, every volunteer who worked there was smitten with my sweet and snuggly ways. My rescuers say that I’m a dog who no matter what, people fall in love with.

These are just a few of the reasons I was chosen to come to Hello Bully.

Despite being dog aggressive, I showed my rescuers just how much of an amazing dog I am. My guardians at Hello Bully knew they could handle my issue with other dogs and give me the love and time needed to place me into a home with no other pets.

I’ve adjusted to the other dogs in the kennel at Hello Bully and am even attending class with them weekly to work on my reactions and proper manners.

When I arrived, my guardians knew I was heart worm positive and had to go through the tough extensive 8 weeks of treatment. I was allowed very short walks and crate rest for 8 straight weeks on top of the painful injections that I received. I was an absolute champ through the entire process and had a great time running around doing zoomies once I got my freedom from the crate rest. 🙂

The Hello Bully volunteers continuously fall head over heels for me every single shift that they come to because of my personality. I’m just genuinely sweet. I love to snuggle on the couch, chew on Nylabones, watch TV, snuggle with our Jr volunteers while they do homework, sitting in any humans lap, and will always be the first to give you a sweet kiss.

I love the two youngest volunteers Noah, who is 2, and Eli, who is 3 months. 🙂 I am gentle as can be and will walk right along side Noah adoringly looking at him for guidance. I would definitely complete a family with children of any ages.

So here’s my quick stat:

  • I’m a GREAT dog
  • About 5 years old
  • Super sweet, petite pit bull weighing in a little under 40 lbs
  • So wonderful with humans of any size; one of the best dogs Hello Bully has had around children!
  • Sweet, well behaved, will sit at your feet and just wait for the love you give her. I love to snuggle and lay with anyone!!
  • Know simple commands
  • I prefer to be the only furry princess in the house

I’ve attended a car wash in my polka dot bikini and tutu, schools with many children interactions, store events, and visitations to homes. I am the true definition of love and will make a family very happy some day!

Will you be that family?

Love,
Phat Ashley

Editor’s Note: Hello Bully shared with us this great news.

“We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Pit Bull Awareness Day, than to share the wonderful news of Phat Ashley’s adoption!!! It’s been 14 months since the historic #367 were rescued from their chains by The Humane Society of the United States. In February, HSUS gained custody of Ashley and the dogs from her yard, and Jensen and Ash came to Pittsburgh to live at the Hello Bully Halfway House. We immediately fell in love with this sweetheart of a dog. In her time with us she’s learned good manners, and tolerance of other dogs. She’s come so far. Placing dogs who need to be the only pet always takes longer, but we knew Phat Ashley’s day would come. That day came when our incredible volunteer, Anna, realized she just couldn’t live without her.

“Words can’t really describe this amazing girl. She is a survivor. Everyday she continues to grow and amaze me, and she has taught me the true meaning of forgiveness. The first time I saw this this chubby little dog in her kennel, I did not realize just how much she would change my life. She has been through so much, some of which I will never know, but her journey has just begun and I look forward to giving her the life she always deserved. Thank you HSUS, Hello Bully, and all the amazing volunteers who helped her, and helped bring her into my life.”

Congratulations! We love you both! Happy Pit Bull Awareness Day!”

Eugene, Brooklyn, NY

My name is Eugene, and I met my mama when I was four months old.

This was just a few days after I realized I didn’t have to live, sleep, eat, poop and pee in a stupid little box! Some nice people at the NYC ACC saved me and my brother and sisters and showed me ruv and freedom.

Mama says I was fourteen pounds when she met me, and the ACC vet thought I was 1 1/2 years old and that I would never stand straight up or be able to walk normally. Four months and forty pounds later, they found out my real age – I was only a pup!

My brother and sisters had it ruff, too, and my brother Trey, well his heart was broken, and he had to leave us too early. 🙁 Why were we all so sick?

See, I’m happy I’m here – but the truth is, I was bred by some people who didn’t care about all the pain my siblings and I would feel through our lives; they just wanted to create silly looking creatures to sell for money. I know, I don’t get it either!

Mama didn’t baby me and told me to get my butt out there and run with the other dogs, and soon nobody knew there wasn’t anything wrong with me. My favorite time of day was just after we woke up, Mams would take me to this big green place where all my friends were running, playing, peeing and being silly. 🙂

Life was pretty good, but some things started to bug me. My knees hurt but I didn’t know how to tell anyone about it. The vet didn’t know my knees hurt, mama didn’t know my knees hurt and I felt frustrated.

Mama didn’t know why I started acting like a bad boy. But Mama didn’t give up on me and this one day, we met some really nice people at Leash Williamsburg, and they have been helping Mama and I, and things are so much better. I just had knee surgery and am going through physical therapy. And pretty soon I’ll be better than ever!

I am back to being a silly love bug, kissing everybody and rolling around on my back, and showing the world my underbite. I’ve even been in a national commercial!

I love kitties, and birds – some people think that’s weird. Bully sticks and cushy beds are the best! I have a blind sister that is also pretty cool, even though Mama says I can’t wrestle with her.

I’m a pretty social boy; I have a Facebook page, Oh, Eugene, and of course I’m on Instagram. Oh and I’ve met so many cool dogs that also have been through a lot of crazy stuff. I have a lot of awesome friends and life is pretty cool!

Enjoy my fave photos!!
~ Eugene

p.s. Did you know Pick Your Paw is still looking for a forever home for my litter sister June Bug? She’s loving and silly and sweet and a tough cookie. I really hope she can find a great forever family soon. She’s doing so well in her foster home – she gets along with the other pups in the house and is learning lots of manners!

If you’d like to meet my awesome sister, please email pickyourpaw@gmail.com. Thank you!

Parent: Danielle

Lola, Minneapolis, MN

Hi, I’m Lola!

I was found in July of 2012 with my siblings, alone and scared in an abandoned house with no mother or father; we were just two weeks old. Luckily a few kind people found us and I went home with one of them. I was bottle fed by the boy who took me in and had a dog friend named Sasha, a husky, who acted as a mother to me for the next few weeks of my life.

Unfortunately, the family that took me in their house could only keep me for so long. They knew they couldn’t keep me but didn’t know where I would be going next. I did go everywhere with their boy though, who really loved me and didn’t want to see me have to leave their home.

One day he took me over to this house where I met a couple new people. They all thought I was very cute and then found out that I was looking for a home. I didn’t go home with them though, they weren’t really looking for a dog, but secretly I know they were thinking about me after they left.

The next day the family I was living with received a call from the people who met me the previous night! They said they gave it a lot of thought and wanted to give me a permanent home! My boy was a little upset and not sure what to do; after all, we had grown so attached to each other. But his mother told him that they made a deal and simply couldn’t have another dog. He agreed that it was for the best.

On August 14th, 2012, I went to my new family’s house. My momma says that was one of the best days of her life. Well, minus the fact that I peed and pooed all over their floor, a few times. Oops.

I have to say, I’m living the best life a dog ask for! My family is the greatest a dog could ask for and says that I am truly one of the best things that came into their lives. They take me to fun classes such as flyball and obedience. I really prefer flyball. But in the summer of 2014, I earned my Canine Good Citizen certificate!

We also have had a lot of other dogs come and live with us until they find their fur-ever homes. I never minded sharing our home though, plus its fun having a playmate!

After fostering and seeing how much I enjoyed having a playmate, my parents couldn’t resist another dog. In October of 2013 we adopted my brother Rio from Save-A-Bull Rescue in Minnesota. You’ll probably see a lot of him if you follow our Facebook page, Lola the Pitty.

What else would you like to know about me? Well, I’m a sassy little girl, weighing it at just about 35 pounds. But what I lack in weight, I make up for in character! Dad says I’m a daddy’s girl but I really can’t hold back my excitement for everyone I love.

Oh, there’s also a blog named after me, LolaThePitty.com. We share all sorts of fun stuff over there; our goal is to raise positive awareness for often misjudged breeds, fight the stereotypes, make people laugh and share our positive adventures in life as pit bulls!


Lola

Parent: Sarah

Myles, Austin, TX

Hey! I’m Myles – Cleft Lip / Split Nose Puppy and I’m a wonder dog!

On January 15th, 2014, I found myself in an Urgent Shelter in Fort Worth, TX, at just 8 weeks of age. I had a cleft lip and a split nose, but that didn’t stop one person to wanting to love me. She called me a little tiny bundle of joy and to her, I was special!

She became my Momma and brought me home. But that first night, she knew something was wrong: I walked in circles and cried for hours! The next 2 days were really rough. I continuously screamed in pain and walked in circles…she had no idea how much our lives were about to change.

She immediately contacted her vet to have me checked out. I had a umbilical hernia the size of a golf ball and it needed repair right away. I stayed at the vet’s for 2 days where they ran blood tests and got my umbilical hernia fixed. While I was there, the medical team supervised me, and they noted that I was different.

Just how different was the biggest question. They told her the heartbreaking news, that I probably have neurological problem.

Her heart wasn’t breaking because I was different; it broke because she saw an innocent puppy at just 8 weeks old with a road of uncertainty, and she didn’t know how long she would have me or if I would be in any pain. She just wanted to help me, but she didn’t know how.

So we went home, and while we took a nap, my mom told me it would be okay. She looked at the little stitches on my tiny tummy, the look I gave her when I was trying to stay awake and then gave in and fell asleep in her arms. I was safe, and she was going to make sure I always was.

A few weeks later, my umbilical hernia came back and now had a hiatal hernia that needed repair also. I got the repair I needed, and we thought we were on course for a stable life and my mom worked with me on my walking, my commands, and walking on a lease.

We went to Texas A&M hoping I would be the match for a neurological study, but quickly found out my condition was so rare they had only had experience with me, and the study never came to be. 🙁

Then in February, I went on to see a wonderful Neurologist at Central Texas Veterinary Specialty Hospital where I received my MRI with LOTS of help from my online community. If it weren’t for them, we would know nothing.

It was discovered that only part of my brain had actually formed and I probably had what’s called a storage disease. This disease could be diagnosed with a bio-organic acid test and a spinal tap, which my mom opted out of because not only was there risk of paralysis, it would only tell us I had a storage disease, not which one.

We learned that the disease is not known to be fatal, the disease itself cannot kill me. However, but it may cause me to deteriorate and my quality of life would be questioned. We do not know how long I will be here — I am the youngest and only living dog known to my vets to ever have this since most are put to sleep.

Today, at almost 11 months old, I am learning, I’m happy and healthy. To keep tab on my condition, we have regular check-ups scheduled. I’ve had my hernia repaired a couple times now and we have been surgery-free almost 3 months now (knock on wood!!).

I also have nystagmus in my right eye which causes involuntary movement and inability to use it correctly. Oh, and my front right leg isn’t used much unless it’s there to break my fall. Didn’t I tell you I’m special? 🙂

While I still have issues with walking and falling, and learning, I’ve made an INCREDIBLE improvement. I’ve learned to walk on a leash, to sit, to lay down, and just recently shocked Momma by using the staircase — something in a million years she never thought would happen.

I am the happiest dog ever! I love to play, I love to snuggle, I love to love and be loved in return! 🙂 We even got a signed letter from the vet that I am not aggressive!*

Momma said there is nothing wrong with me; I just do things differently. She also says I am wonderful!

So that’s my story. I’m Myles, a wonder dog and I’m special, because I’m special to my mom. She told me that she loves me more than anything, and nothing in the world can stop me!

Love,
Myles

p.s. I also have a sister, Gypsy, Cleft Lip & Split Nose Puppy. Yup! She’s kinda like me! 🙂 She is awesome! She follows me around, she loves being my little sister and is teaching me new things every day!

*The vet’s letter was simply written so I may continue to enjoy living at home. We were told months ago that they would not accept “aggressive breeds” in the neighborhood. Since I a pitbull mix, or whatever they deem aggressive, my vet had to write a letter of recommendation.

Breed discrimination is not cool! If they would just get to know me, they’d see that I am just a happy, playful little guy who just loves everyone!

Parent: Kasiann

McCaela, Kanab, UT

Hi! I’m McCaela! My story started on January 31, 2013, when I was discovered.

I was chained in an abandoned building on Fearing Street in Toledo, OH, with 5 other fighting dogs. All of us were malnourished, full of fleas, ticks and worms, in horrible condition, torn and scarred. Two of us had legs that had been broken and never set. That day we were christened the “Fearing Six.”

Up until this point in time, all fighting dogs seized in Ohio were immediately euthanized. Or they were held as evidence until the trial was over and then euthanized. The Vicktory Dogs (dogs seized from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels) changed the way the country looked at fighting dogs. The Fearing Six were the first fighting dogs seized in Ohio that were individually assessed for rehabilitation.

Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer from Bad Rap came to Ohio to assess the six of us. They felt that we all had potential, but the municipal shelter director felt that two of us were just too aggressive and unpredictable to work with, and were humanely euthanized.

Tim and Donna loved me…and said they wished they had room in their program, because they would have taken me in a heartbeat. But there just wasn’t room for me.

The other three dogs quickly got picked up by a Pit Bull Rescue Group. But no one was really interested in me. It might be because of the way I looked……I am a big girl, my eyes kind of bug out, I’m missing half of one ear and the other one has been ribboned. I am scarred over most of my body, and one of my front legs was badly broken and never set, so I kick that leg out to the side when I walk. Maybe it was because I am Babesia positive…which means I have a blood-borne parasite that can be very expensive to treat.

For nine long months I lived at the shelter. The staff was almost ready to give up on me, but the Lucas County Pit Crew believed in me. They started networking me. Some amazing people and groups got involved. Vicktory Dog Oscar’s mom Rachel hosted a fundraiser for my medical costs. Jasmine’s House rescue (named after another Vicktory Dog) pulled me and sent me to Salt Lake City to be fostered while a permanent home was found for me.

My first foster was temporary…just until I could find the right family to live with, and it was not the right fit for me. And since there was no other place available for me, Kate from Jasmine’s House had me boarded at a vet’s in a cage. Every day Kate would come see me and walk me, but she knew that wasn’t a happy place for me to be.

So she reached out to the pit bull network to see if anyone had any ideas. Vicktory Dog Handsome Dan’s mom Heather said, “I have an idea…give me a bit to check something out.” She knew that Vicktory Dog Ray’s parents had just lost another dog. In less than a year, three of their dogs had passed away: two from old age and one to a spleen tumor. Maybe they were ready for another companion.

In Fredonia, AZ, Ray’s parents Kevin and Jacque were feeling that their home was sad and lonely. Ray was unhappy and moping without his lab sister. They had started looking for just the right dog to bring home. They had some criteria they felt were important, given Ray has some special emotional needs. They were looking for a calm, older female dog. Ray has Babesia, so another dog with that parasite would be okay. And they knew they wanted a pit bull terrier type of dog.

Both of Ray’s parents had fallen in love with muscular, blocky-headed dogs. Heather emailed Kevin and asked him, did he think they would be interested in a dog like me?

A week after the 4th of July, Kate and Vicktory Dog Halle’s mom Traci drove me from Salt Lake City all the way to Kanab, UT, to meet Ray and his parents on neutral ground at Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary.

Ray’s mom walked him around Angel’s Landing while I walked with Kate. Ray was very aware of me, and kept watching me, but he didn’t bark or lunge at me. That was a very good sign. Ray has problems with dogs that are too interested in him…they scare him. But I am so easy going that I wasn’t threatening to him at all.

Kevin sat in the grass and talked to me, and I rolled over so he could rub my pretty pink tummy. That’s when he found out why I was nicknamed Turtle…when I get on my back I can’t flip back over without help. 🙂 Kevin and Jacque decided I was perfect and could come foster at their house.

So Kate, Traci and I followed them to Kevin and Jacque’s house. They stayed for awhile to make sure I was comfortable there. Kate wanted to make sure that the house was safe for me. Ray’s parents have baby gates installed to keep new dogs separated, and their yard is divided in half with six foot fencing. Kate and Traci gave me a hug and a kiss and left me.

I felt right at home immediately. The house smelled like dogs, and there were fluffy beds, soft couches, marrow bones and toys. I fit in pretty seamlessly. In fact I fit so well that mom called Kate the day after I got there and told her to send the adoption contract. She laughed and said I was a foster failure. I guess that’s good, because she hugged me and said I never had to go anywhere else again.

I do have some quirks my parents had to deal with. I am highly food-motivated and my folks were concerned when they saw how fixated I am on eating. I bolted my dinner so quickly they were afraid for my health. But they figured that out pretty quickly. I get my wet food in a slow-eat bowl and my kibble in a bobble toy. That takes me quite awhile to get all my food out.

I also had a very bad habit of jumping up on people. Mom taught me right away that she wouldn’t look at me if I jumped up. But if I sat down in front of her I got lots of love, kisses and treats. So of course I sit down nicely now! It’s a lot more rewarding than jumping up ever was!

Ray and I take walks together every night. Eventually my parents hope that we can be in the same area together. I have great dog skills, but Ray really doesn’t. Until then we play bow at the baby gate, and get zoomies together. We lick each other’s faces. Someday soon we will be able to play together.

I’m a lover not a fighter. And even though I have health issues that are a reminder of my time when I was forced to defend myself, I am a very happy girl. I have never met a person I didn’t love. My butt wiggles so hard that my tail almost smacks my sides. I even like most dogs….just not the small fluffy ones…..they annoy me. 🙂

I have a wonderful life now. I always have someone with me (I have some pretty severe separation anxiety). I get great meals and treats. I get to have wonderful car rides, and every night I get to snuggle with mom and dad on the bed until it’s time to go to sleep. I’d like to stay there all night, but mom says the bed belongs to the cat at night. I don’t think that’s fair, so every night I play possum when it’s time to go to my crate. Sometimes I even snore. But my eyes keep popping open to see if the parents are buying it.

They haven’t yet.but someday I know they will!

XOXO!
McCaela the Turtle

Parents: Jacqueline & Kevin

Ray, Kanab, UT

My name is Ray, but you probably know me as Ray the Vicktory Dog.

The first thing I want to say is that in many ways I am just like any other dog…although in some ways my story, and that of the other Vicktory Dogs, is truly unique.

In April of 2007, police executed a search warrant on the home of football player Michael Vick in Surrey County, Virginia. They did not expect to find a full dog fighting operation, including more than 50 pit bulls, training equipment and paraphernalia unique to dog fighting. I was one of those dogs.

At the time of our seizure it was a common belief that fighting dogs were beyond redemption and must be euthanized. This time concerned groups and individuals went to the court and convinced the judge to have each dog assessed individually.

It surprised everyone involved when all but one of the dogs passed their evaluation. Many of the dogs went directly into foster care or rescue. The 22 most challenging dogs, including me, went to Best Friends Animal Society’s Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

When we arrived at the sanctuary on January 2, 2009, trainers, caregivers and behavioral specialists were on hand to begin assessing and working with us immediately. When one of the caregivers opened my crate, I was so cold, tired and frightened that I crawled up under her coat and nestled under her chin. I am so human-oriented that I turned to a person I didn’t even know for comfort.

It didn’t take long for me to get the reputation of being an overly-excitable goof. I would get so happy when my caregivers would come to see me that I would jump up and grab their clothes, or snatch the leash and run away with it. 😉 Many different people worked with me, trying to help me learn the skills I needed in order to be adopted. But it was very hard for me to learn, because I was just so very excited.

My parents, who worked at the sanctuary in the parrot department, decided to take me on as a project dog. They had worked together with other Vicktory Dogs, and were able to help them pass their court-ordered Canine Good Citizen (CGC) tests, so they could be adopted.

Mom and Dad make an awesome team. Mom’s job was to work with the trainers to teach me the skills I needed to know to pass my CGC. Dad’s job was to be the fun person. Every day he would walk and play with me without any pressure. We walked for miles; sometimes just the two of us and sometimes with another caregiver and dog to help me become less fearful. I have had some bad experiences with other dogs, and they can scare me.

Six years after I was rescued, on August 13, 2013, I passed my CGC, and was ready to be adopted. My parents had to pass a court-ordered Federal background check and meet other requirements before they could take me home. I had to be a foster dog with them for six months before my adoption was final on Valentine’s Day, 2014. I was finally home.

Now I live with a very old cat, 6 parrots and another rescued fighting dog, McCaela the Turtle. My house is noisy and chaotic…but that’s ok, because it’s home. 🙂

It has been a year of firsts, with a lot of things to learn. I needed to learn to wait to relieve myself until I went outside. I had to learn that chairs, rugs, beds and doors were not for chewing and that I didn’t need to gather up everything I could find and stash it in my crate. I learned the joy of stuffies to tear apart, marrow bones, beds, couches, and my favorite thing of all: car rides.

My parents found that I do best with a schedule that doesn’t vary much. I get up, eat, exercise, and play at the same time every day. I know that my training practice with dad happens when mom is doing dishes. I know that dad, mom, Turtle and I will take a long walk at the same time each evening. Routines make me feel safe and happy.

Weekdays I go to work with my mom at the sanctuary. I have a job of my own: to change the hearts and minds of everyone I come into contact with. I greet the visitors to the Parrot Garden. I help teach children about dog fighting and the right way to work with a dog. Each person I meet goes away with a new understanding of pit bulls and the abuse they suffer.

In July my mom and I traveled to South Dakota to help celebrate the end of Breed Discrimination statewide. I attended a ceremony on the steps of the Capital Building, and I helped show that pit bulls are dogs, just like any other dog.

The Vicktory Dogs as a whole have changed the world. We stand for so much more than what we are. We have shown that the heart of a dog can overcome the worst of upbringings…the worst of treatment…the worst that humans can throw at us. We are dogs. We are individuals…and we can love with hearts as big as the world.

Seven years ago we didn’t know the kindness of a human touch. We didn’t know about couches or beds, or stuffies, or leftovers. We didn’t know that butt scratches were the best things ever. But now we do.

And because of us, many, many other dogs have been saved, rehabilitated, and are now enjoying these wonders themselves. Instead of looking back at where we were, we enjoy each new day and celebrate how far we’ve come.

I am Ray the Vicktory Dog. My mom says I’m a naughty little brown dog but I am adored! 🙂

~ Ray

Parents: Jacque & Kevin

Editor’s Note: On May 14th, 2015, Ray underwent a spleen removal surgery at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. He had several issues, including anemia, high blood pressure and kidney problems. Recent ultra-sounds and X-rays showed his spleen was enlarged and mis-shapened.

Ray had a blood parasite — Babesia, often found in fighting dogs — and the spleen is the filter of the blood for this condition. More than a decade of trying to keep up means the spleen was misfunctioning. After a consultation with all of his vets, his parents made the decision to have Ray’s spleen removed.

Surgery went well but soon after, Ray decided he had enough of this life and crossed over the bridge. We are truly heartbroken as this little brown dog has proven to so many that he — and many like him — is not a monster despite what he was made to do in that sad, dark place.

Run free, Ray.

Rita, Baltimore, MD

“Lovely Rita” is my full name and this is my story and my journey. You will read about some twisted truth — I leave it here so you know everything about my journey.

My story started on April 9th, 2013 in Columbia, MD, when my badly battered body was brought into a shelter. The person who carried me in is a BGE Meter Reader who said he saw something moving in the woods and went to investigate when he came upon me. Sadly, the shelter could not take me in because I needed immediate care.

Luckily, someone at the wonderful shelter named Krystal called her friend Bemo at the Vet Hospital and they told the BGE Meter Reader to immediately bring me there. As soon as I got to the hospital, I was rushed to the back.

I had horrible infections in my face and legs. My right ear was sloughing off my head and the left was barely attached. My whole face was grossly misshapen and smelled so badly of infection. I had a 105 temperature and honestly my caretakers did not think I would make it through the night to have surgery the next day.

The Doctor stabilized me and gave her plenty of pain meds. They were happy to see I did eat the food they offered, so they did have some hope. When Bemo came home that evening she gave me a name so I would not die without one. It just came to her that in tribute to the person who brought me in, I would be become “Lovely Rita Meter Reader” — “Lovely Rita” for short.

My caretakers had also discovered that I had chain collar on with an old rabies tag. You can see it in some of my pictures taken that first day. Bemo took the information home to call the next day on the rabies tag not knowing her colleague Paige was tracking it down also. What they found out was truly sad.

I was purchased at 5 weeks, taken to the vet at 6 weeks, ears cropped at 8 weeks or so. Bemo contacted my previous owner and he came in the next day to sign Lovely Rita over to her. He had given me away because I had gone after their cat. My previous owner did say food was involved but his wife said I had to go. So go I did.

It was only a matter of 2 weeks or so until I was discovered in the shape I was in. I was given to a friend of a friend kind of thing. My caretakers do not know what truly happened to me but it had to be horrific to be found in the shape I was. Something just didn’t seem right… Bemo knows that someone somewhere did treat me. When I was found, I had vet wrap around my neck and one leg. My front legs were shaved as if I would have had Catheters.

I had surgery the very next day after being stabilized. My caretakers says I’m a true wonder. I made it through actually multiple surgeries and sedations to treat me. What you see now is a happy little girl who is willing to move on.

How I ended up in the woods was anybody’s guess; what truly happened was a mystery. Baltimore Bully Crew (BBC), a group Bemo was part of, took me under their care. In spite of all my trauma, I still love people and finds joy in life’s simple things.

BBC does a lot of work with pit bulls like me and they shared my journey to draw attention to the horrors of dogfighting and the danger of rehoming your pet without properly checking the potential new homes.

They were not prepared for the outcome.

After the WBAL TV 11 segment and the 2 radio spots, many people sent emails about me. Through perseverance of my guardians at Baltimore Bully Crews and one very special fan, my true story emerged.

I’ve had several owners: my breeder who did it for monetary gain, my first owner who purchased me so young I had to be bottle fed, my second owner, and then Bemo and Baltimore Bully Crew.

What was discovered is truly troubling and testament to human’s inability to tell the truth. I was given to the one person my caretakers thanked for getting me help. Yes, my second owner was the BGE meter reader who lied and said I was found in a field in Columbia, MD.

What happened has been pieced together. A latch was left open on my kennel in the basement. I popped out and was brutally attacked by the other dogs in the home. For how long and why, nobody knows and may never know.

What my guardians do know is that I was torn apart savagely and almost died from my trauma. I was taken to a Vet Hospital and when it was found what the cost would be, my owner decided it was better to lie and dump me. Remember I was found with vet tape around my neck and legs and my front legs were shaved for catheters? So taking me to the vet was true, but getting me the care I needed never happened until I came into the vet hospital.

This person my guardians all wanted to thank has now become the world’s biggest liar. Why I was so emaciated when I came in shows the lack of care I had. No dog becomes emaciated in such a short amount of time. I was just a “disposable dog” and was never given the chance I should have had.

Taken from my mother at such a young age, left in the backyard by my first owner all day long with nothing but one toy to amuse myself. Given away to someone who promised to care for me but in reality caused me more trauma than any animal should have to suffer. This is how I looked before I was attacked.

My guardians say I am true testament to my breed’s resiliency and will to survive. I’ve suffered much pain and many surgeries to get me where I am now. And I am very lucky; so many others don’t get the chance that I have.

I want to share the truth with everyone. Now I’m just “Lovely Rita” — not “Lovely Rita Meter Maid.” I am moving on with my life and it’s going to be one of love and true caring.

My guardians and I do have a message for anyone who is thinking of re-homing a dog: Please re-home your dog responsibly. Don’t let what happened to me happen to another animal.

~ Lovely Rita

p.s. I am still no longer looking for a forever home. Here’s my quick stat:

  • I’m 2 years old
  • I lost one ear and have the other very badly damaged, but it does not slow me down ONE BIT!! I can hear just fine 🙂
  • I love soccer balls and basketballs
  • I also LOVE my swimming pool and playing with water
  • I’m working on touching up my basic commands and walking on a leash without pulling
  • I need to be the only pet in the home (no dogs or cats)

Please contact Baltimore Bully Crew at baltimorebullycrew@gmail.com to adopt me. They will do meet and greets only with approved application, and home checks and adoption contracts are required.

Thank you for adopting instead of buying!

Editor’s Note: On 10/27/2014, Rita’s forever home was found and she will be queen of the castle! From her guardian Bemo:

“Her foster home gave her much love and time to overcome her trauma. Dogs that have gone through what Lovely Rita did, need time to heal, physically and emotionally, she received that and more. Her Journey is still ongoing and let it show you that any animal that has gone through what Lovely Rita has gone through, can and will overcome. She is a true Underdog to Wonderdog and she loves each and every one of you for loving and caring about her. Thank you.”

Jude, Anderson, IN

My name is Jude. I’m a rescued Pittie.

I was brought to The Animal Protection League (APL) in Indiana on Friday, February 15th, 2014. I was recorded as a “stray.” I was too weak to walk, and so was carried back to my kennel.

I had no muscle or fat left on my body, I couldn’t remember the last time I ate (I weighed a whopping 23 lbs.) and I was terrified. My legs were brown from standing in my own mess for so long. My toes were splayed out from living in a crate too small for me. My ears were frostbitten from the cold Indiana winter. My tail had been frostbitten as well, but I’d chewed that part off. There were pressure sores all over my body, mostly on my behind.

No one touched me much for a couple of days, because they thought I was fragile. I’d snapped at a couple workers, but I didn’t really mean it. I was just scared, I promise!

On Sunday, some really nice volunteers came in and looked at me. They were so sad and angry because of what had happened to me. Upon further investigation by shelter workers and volunteers, they discovered that whoever had brought me in had lied. There was snow on the ground and if I were a stray, my paws would’ve been clean.

The volunteers called me “Apollo.” One of the volunteers, Savannah, sat in my kennel with me. She was so nice, and let me climb on her. She was really warm, and I laid on her lap. Her eyes started leaking, so I kissed them.

I was so dehydrated and weak I could barely stand by myself. She held me tight and told me how handsome I was. Her fingertips ran all down my body in disbelief. I kissed her more. She spoke to the other volunteers and talked to the director at APL and Savannah and the others rushed me to the vet. I didn’t go before because I had been doing better, but I got worse between Saturday and Sunday.

I spent a whole week at the vet! (No wonder I do not like them now.) They bathed me and fed and watered me and I started feeling better! After that, I came back to the shelter. I was no longer fighting for my life. I wasn’t dehydrated anymore. But some of the staff were scared that after all I’d gone through that I would “turn.”

My lack of trust for other people soon was taking its toll. I was food protective; after all, I had been starved. Sometimes I snapped at the workers if I thought they would take my food. I didn’t really trust anyone but Savannah.

I always behaved myself when Savannah was there because if I acted up she might not bring me treats! She always sat in my kennel with me when she was there, and gave me lots of love and treats.

Months go by and no foster homes had stepped up for me. I stayed at APL until May, when I finally had gotten a foster home.. with guess who? Savannah! She brought me home May 6th.

I stayed in her home as a foster until June 26th… when she adopted me! Savannah is now my mommy and I have a place to call home which I share with my fur sibling, Nutmeg.

I now weigh about 53 lbs and I have a new name: Jude “Apollo”! I still have scars, but we believe that scars are just a map showing what you’ve gone through and what you’ve accomplished. I still sit in Mom’s lap like I did at the shelter, and she still tells me how beautiful I am and how good I’ve healed.

Some people still scare me if they go too fast with me, but I’m such a love bug! I love car rides and getting good boy fries after the V-E-T. I go on nice walks in the park, or just around my apartment complex. But overall, my favorite thing is FOOD!

My name is Jude, and thanks for reading my story!

p.s. You can follow my new life on Facebook, Jude “Apollo”: Mind Changer

Parent: Savannah

Lila, South Pasadena, CA

Hello, Friends! My name is Lila—mommy tells me it means “dark-haired beauty” in Arabic, and every time somebody stops to tells us how pretty/cute, and/or gorgeous I am (which is quite often), she tells them that I “know it!”

While according to mom I am a very beautiful girl (she often calls me “Lovely Lila”), this would not have happened had it not been for the help of an organization called Poverty’s Pets in Phoenix, AZ. (Note: while I hide my pit well, I am actually an Italian greyhound (IG), black lab, pit mix.)

I was one of five born in the litter, and only one of two that survived. Born into a neglectful and abusive family, my surviving brother was neglected, whereas I was neglected and severely abused (I don’t want to get into details because this note is to make you happy, not sad). I was finally rescued when the “family” lost their home and we were turned loose to fend for ourselves on the streets of Phoenix.

At this point in my life, I was soooooo scared of every human, and it took Poverty’s Pets MONTHS before they caught me on a hot August day—I had literally evaded them for the longest time until I finally collapsed because my body was on the verge of death.

My rescuers took me in and gave me the necessary medical treatment, though they did not expect me to live through the night because of how bad of shape I was in. However, I am a “fighter” and lived through the night, and the next, and the next. It was a long process to physically recover, but emotionally recovering is still an on-going process—though I continue to progress at a very fast rate!

I eventually bonded with my foster mom and four-legged foster siblings, but would NOT let another two-legged person touch me…they simply terrified me! When my now mom inquired about me, she received two 20-minute phone calls from Poverty’s Pets discussing all my issues at length, her response was, “I am currently the volunteer basketball coach of 10 crazy little seven and eight boys, I have the patience of a saint! And besides, dogs and babies LOVE me!”

She pushed for a visit saying, “It won’t hurt to meet her.” However, despite the fact that “dogs and babies love her,” she showed up with toys and treats…just in case…

During her visit, I was sooooo scared of her!!! And after an hour walk, she was sitting in the grass with her feet out in front of her, talking to my rescuer/foster mom, debating if she wanted to take on such a challenging dog. Our ONLY true interaction during this visit was during the time my mommy was sitting in the grass…I came up to her and licked her big toe…and walked away.

While this may not seem significant to most, this moment was what made her decide to take me on as her own! Because two days prior, she had gotten out of a boot and a cast (she had broken the toe I licked) and in that moment she recognized that I knew what was broken with her and consequently, she wanted to give me the chance to heal what was broken with me.

The first few weeks and months were a challenge! I went from having a doggie door at my foster and being able to hide behind my foster siblings, to having some strange lady standing over me while I was on a leash on our daily walks—I tended to use the corner of the living room for “relief” over the grass on our walks. Mommy kept telling me how expensive this thing called “Nature’s Miracle” was, yet she kept buying it by the gallon to clean up after me!

I eventually bonded with mommy and when I did, the Nature’s Miracle bill ceased! But I was still VERY SLOW in even getting near anyone else. Mommy did and continues to push my limits, and now while I am still a bit shy and prefer to approach people on my own terms, I allow people to pet me and I LOVE going to lunch, dinner, or wherever I possibly can with mommy and her friends!

In fact, I’ve been tackled by these little beings called toddlers on numerous occasions, and don’t mind! I’ve also ridden in elevators full of people without reacting, and have mastered this thing called an “escalator.” These other people, called adults, seem to always give me treats and compliment how cute I am!

While I may still be a bit shy with people, I am AMAZING with other dogs and animals, but don’t always realize that not all doggies like me (and mommy takes great care in protecting me from those dogs that are not friendly). Heck, before her passing, I even made friends with a little pet rat named “Ratty Pants.” I knew she was ill, so I’d just lick her as she curled up in my haunches—I wanted to let her know that I loved her and would protect her.

Mommy tells me how happy I make her every single morning and takes me on as many adventures as possible to push my limits and continue to get me to open up. Mommy and I have been together for four and a half years now and on our four-year anniversary, we took a photo that has me thinking about truly transitioning from a rescued puppy to a rescue puppy!

Despite being with mommy for so long now, I continue to amaze her and her friends with my progress—I never seem to plateau! While becoming a therapy dog may be a bit out of reach, mommy and I are hoping that one day I will receive my K-9 good citizen award—this being a testament to the progress I have made!

Thanks to my rescuers and all those who have shown me love and patience over the years! I am happy, I am healthy, I am incredibly intelligent, I am goofy and playful beyond imagination, and I’m clumsy (which makes mommy laugh). Basically, I’m what mommy calls “the whole package.” 🙂

To those of you who may hesitate to take on a shy/fearful dog, I encourage you to give them a chance! Us shy dogs oftentimes have more love to give than you could even anticipate/imagine! We just need someone(s) we love and trust to open up to.

Goooooo shy doggies!

Love,
Lila

Parent: Rachel

Xena, Johns Creek, GA

Hi! My name is Xena. I’m very lucky I get to tell you about my journey to the wonderful life I lead today.

I don’t remember much of my past except that my story begins in September 2012. I had collapsed in someone’s yard in Delkab County, Georgia. I was a four-month-old skeletal puppy, cold to the touch, and teetering on the edge of death.

I was taken to the local shelter where the staff gasped at the sight of me. All who saw my frail, emaciated body were shocked that I was still breathing. My skin was stretched tightly over my bones, my eyes sunken into my skull, my nose scabbed over, and every bone in my body jabbed out.

I weighed a pathetic 5.6 pounds and looked more like a corpse. Chrissy Kaczynski, a co-founder of Friends of DeKalb Animals (FODA) and an employee at the local shelter, stepped up for me. She had been doing rescue for more than 12 years and she had never seen a dog my age in that sort of condition. She didn’t think I would survive the night…

I was rushed to the vet for emergency care. The vet guessed that I had been caged and starved for the first part of my short life. I was given a 1% chance of survival, but with the care of my foster parents Chrissy and Aaron, I grew strong and healthier. I was called a “miracle dog.”

My remarkable return to health prompted my foster mom to name me “Xena the Warrior Puppy.” FODA created a Facebook page to document my miraculous recovery. Within weeks, the page had been shared by thousands of people. Donations to my rescuers began to pour in from around the world.

My life had already changed for the better, but the best part was still to come!

In November 2012, I was healthy enough to finally go out in public and hang out at a FODA fundraiser for abused animals, using my charm and story to support other animals in need. I even dressed up for the event that day: a bright flower collar and a cute little blue and pink sweater. I was excited to meet all of my Facebook friends in person. 🙂

I had a blast meeting everyone that day, but one family stuck out in particular.

I spotted a young boy and his father from across the shelter and something about this little boy interested me. I bolted from another lady that I had just met, and ran straight for the boy, tail wagging and tongue a-flying for kisses to be given. I could tell that he was special, just like me.

I wanted to show him all the love that had been giving to me when I was first found. We pitbull types are known for our love, for our compassion, and I wanted to share this with the little boy. No one else at the event mattered from that point on. The only one who mattered to me was this little boy, and I was the one that mattered to him.

I later found out that one of my Facebook followers, Linda Hickey, had brought her family to meet me at the event. She had followed me from the first news broadcast, and had been considering adopting me into their family, especially for her son, the little boy I had fallen in love with: Jonny.

I heard Linda say words like “special needs” when she spoke about Jonny. I knew from my time with FODA that I had been labeled “special needs” from my past, so I knew that I didn’t want to leave Jonny’s side. We were destined to be together.

On February 11, 2013, I rode to my forever home with Jonny and his family, in my boy’s lap. I listened to his soothing, sweet voice as we rode to my new home, together. He was chatting away, petting me, loving me. I haven’t left his side since that day.

I didn’t know how incredibly special that was for Jonny. Our parents always talk about how Jonny was not very social, would not speak, wouldn’t touch food, but I don’t think my boy could ever be that way. He is so outgoing with me, showing me the compassion that I need. My mom said Jonny has a very limited vocabulary but since I came to live with them, Jonny has not stopped talking. He talks to me all the way home from school, during homework and afterwards he plays with me until dinner.

My family officially adopted me on March 25, 2013, and I became a forever member of this family — their third rescue dog. My foster parents were there too for this new chapter of my life and I could tell they were proud of me.

I still don’t know exactly what “special needs” means, but I know that I am special, Jonny is special, I need him and he needs me. If that’s what special needs is, then we have it covered! Jonny helps cook for me and my doggie siblings, he reads to me, he plays the piano for me. And he loves singing for me. Here’s a video of Jonny singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Pixar’s Toy Story. 🙂

I needed a special boy like him, and he needed me.

Jonny is constantly reassuring me with his touch. People often don’t realize how special that is. Like many children with autism, Jonny has personal space issues and he doesn’t like to have anyone too close. So my mom always gets teary eyed when she sees me on his lap in the car with him smiling, kissing and hugging me. My family has spent thousands of dollars on therapy for Jonny, and my mom believes that on February 11th, when he met me in our family room, the best therapy in the world was standing in front of her.

Sometimes people look at us differently, me because I am a bully breed, and Jonny for his “autism” but that doesn’t matter to either of us. We are together and we have a bond that no one can break. I love my Jonny unconditionally and he loves me. We have both grown together, conquering our issues, together.

With the support and voice of Jonny, we won the Dog of The Year from the ASPCA. We went to the award ceremony in New York City and Jonny even got on stage! 🙂 We are currently in the running for the Hero Dog Award with the American Humane Association after winning the Emerging Hero Dog category.

We walked in support rallies for companion animals and children and promoted awareness of autism and animal cruelty. In April 2014, we made a video to promote Autism Awareness Month and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month — I’m so proud of how confident Jonny has become.

My parents are still in disbelief that so many people love us. And the media too! We’ve been featured on NBC’s Today.com, Nightly News with Jill Rappaport, 11Alive.com (where they captured the moment when I first met Jonny), the Daily Mail and CNN!

I cannot imagine my life without my family, without Jonny. I want the world to know that I love my boy with all my heart and would do anything for him. Jonny said it best, “I think we make a pretty perfect team to spread the word to be nice to animals, and nice to kids like me.”

I would do anything for Jonny. Our lives may have been hard but we have each other to lean on. I’m here to help him be the person he wants to be and together, we are on a mission to spread education about the challenges faced by persons with special needs. I ran my first Autism Speaks 5k in honor of my Jonny and was the top fundraiser thanks to all my friends, the Xena Nation. We had a great time meeting lots of new friends and lots of our Facebook friends.

We are also on a mission to advocate for abused and neglected animals because I wouldn’t be here if FODA didn’t rescue me and my foster parents didn’t nurtured me back to health, giving me a chance to live this wonderful life. Thanks to my rescuers, foster parents and forever family, I have a chance to take part in a miraculous story of survival, friendship, love and hope.

My name is Xena The Warrior Puppy, and I have the best life any dog could dream of.

XXOO, Xena

Parents: Linda & Grant

Braveheart, Benton, LA

Hi! My name is Braveheart and I have one heck of a story to tell.

Back in September 11, 2013, I was found barely hanging on to life, in an abandoned, unventilated metal hot box of a storage unit in Shreveport, Louisiana. The daily temperatures at that time in Shreveport were reaching close to 100 degrees. This was not a climate-controled unit but instead a metal building with concrete floors and no ventilation.

The man renting the unit had skipped on rent so the facility owners came a week or so later to remove the lock and any property inside. They opened the door to the storage unit, and saw me…

I was extremely malnourished, lying on the cold hard concrete, chained to a car. There was no food, water nor bedding. I didn’t move a muscle; I couldn’t. One look at me and the woman had assumed I had already perished.

She wasn’t far off; I was dying, physically and mentally defeated, and was at her mercy. When she came over to pick me up, I mustered the last bit of energy I had to blink, to signal that I was alive and desperately needing her help. Luckily she saw my blink and I was rushed to a local animal emergency clinic where my fight for survival continued.

I was only hours if not minutes from death. I could only move my eyes…yet somehow I survived. I was four months old and weighed a mere 8 pounds. Someone who played a critical role in my recovery stated, “human hands did this, human hands should fix it.” I was given lifesaving medical care immediately and a miracle happened: I began healing. And I was named…Braveheart.

I went through so much as a young pup, but I still had more to battle.

I was given IV fluids, a blood transfusion, and many more life-saving treatments, many more than I can remember. A police report was filed with the local department and animal control was notified. TSR LA Baby Mommas, a local rescue that focuses on puppies like me — on the brink of death and in desperate need of around the clock monitoring and care — came to my aid.

They helped to find my foster family, Ronda and Bo, who took me in after two long, hard weeks at the veterinary ER. I was unsure at first, but in need of constant care, and what a better foster family than one with Ronda, a vet tech who could take me to work every day! My recovery was closely monitored and my health care was very aggressive.

I only weighed 8 pounds when I was found and I spent every ounce of my eight pounds continuing to fight for my life. And boy did I fight!

I was given the best of everything, but what I enjoyed most is getting to know my foster family. I suddenly had three foster brothers who saw me for what I was, a little puppy in need of some brotherly love! 🙂 As my strength grew, they would play with me and encourage me to be the puppy I was meant to be.

My foster dad was amazed with my recovery. He told my rescuers, “Two weeks ago he could not lift his little head. One week ago he could not walk more than a few steps with out falling. Today he is running with tail waggin. He is still very unsure. He has got to be thinking this is all too good to be true and when are bad things gonna start happening to him again. Newsflash to Brave. NO BAD STUFF GONNA EVER HAPPEN AGAIN. His confidence will grow and he will emerge out of his shell an amazing creature. Got to be a reason this pup held on when all hope seemed lost. I think he knows what it is too. Go Brave Go.”

My foster family accepted me into their arms (and paws), helped me physically and emotionally, to make it through the trauma of my previous life. As any puppy would do, I clung tightly to those few around me that I trusted.

As Caddo Parish Animal Control (CAC) prepared to start an investigation into my abandonment case, my foster parents wanted to represent me, to share everything that they could about my case with animal control. When they went to meet with CAC, it was another story.

CAC wanted me as evidence, as property, in the investigation. “We thought that we were going in there to give them everything they need to prosecute who did this to him and we did. But they said they need to seize Braveheart because he’s the Parish’s property until the investigation is finished,” my foster mom reported.

How was I property? We were all so devastated! I was in a safe environment, with a loving family, growing more confident and physically stronger each and every day. How could I be surrendered as evidence, in an investigation?

On October 9, 2013, NBC 6 was doing a story of me when Animal Control showed up and forced my foster parents to give me away. The camera was rolling, capturing how devastated my foster parents were. They held me tight, repeatedly kissed me, letting me know that they loved me.

My foster parents didn’t want to give me up, and I didn’t want to lose them, but CAC said that if we wanted justice to be served, then I had to give up my new life, give up my family and go into their possession.

I remember pressing my nose into my foster mom’s lips as she kissed me goodbye. I didn’t know if I would ever see them again, but knew that they were my family and I didn’t want to leave the safety of my family.

CAC held a press conference right after and said that I was going to be held there for 15 days and my previous “owner” can actually post bail and get me back! I was in isolation and NO ONE could visit me. The CAC Director lied to my foster mom and refused her visit with me when he had previously guaranteed she could see me!

It was terrifying to be stuck in a metal cage, all alone in a strange place, away from the only people who have been taking care of me for the past month. My heartbroken foster dad pleaded to, “We need help. Take a minute and help us.”

My foster parents, TSR LA Baby Mommas and my supporters across the country spoke out against my detention, filing a petition to have me returned to my family. There were planned protest to be held and many people contacted the CAC Director and the Mayor for Shreveport to demand my release. My story even made it on the news!

The mounting pressure works! On October 10, 2013, I was released back into the care of my foster family. Not only were we reunited, but my previous owner also turned himself in!

My foster parents and I agreed to never be parted again, so on October 11, 2013, they signed my adoption papers at the Caddo Parish Animal Control. I have a FUREVER mommy & daddy!!

My dad wrote, “We are fosters. It is what we do. We love animals. However me and Ronda decided when they took him that we would GET HIM BACK AND KEEP HIM FOREVER.” I finally had my forever home with the two people who had promised to “be my voice” from the moment they took me in. They also promised that no bad stuff ever happened to me again, and they kept that promise!

During the first 13 days home from CAC, I gave my parents several scares: I had returned home with ear mites, had diarrhea, and tested positive for Coccidia, Hookworms, Whipworms, kennel cough. There was even a scare of possible Parvo (later to everyone’s relief, negative). My family and I were on edge for some time, but I finally received the all-clear on my health.

My life now is far from that abandoned dog, left to die in a metal box. I’ve gained 35 pounds in 5 months, doing great and have made nearly a full recovery. I have my big brother Ray Ray, who I stick beside all the time, and I even became a big foster brother myself in December 2013. I have triumphed over my past life and much of my fears of humans. I still have some emotional scars that may never go away, but I know I’m safe now.

I am now an ambassador for my breed, my rescue, and abused animals, just like me. My parents take me to events with TSR LA Baby Mommas and charity events by The Running Dogs. I am so popular I’ve even had my picture taken with class of first-graders! 🙂

I want to bring awareness to people near and far, to share my tale of being on death’s doorstep, to lying across the laps of my forever family and my big brother, Ray Ray. My family and I want to advocate adoption over purchasing pets from breeders, and continue our fight, paw in hand, against animal cruelty across the country.

I am Braveheart and I am loved.

XOXO,
Brave

p.s. My abuser’s trial is still on-going, almost a year after I was rescued. He has plead not guilty and the ADA has informed both the judge and defense there will be NO plea deals. The judge has also agreed to a sentencing hearing if he pleads guilty. This type of abuse to any animal with no meaningful penalty needs to be stopped.

You can follow the development on my Facebook page, A Voice for Braveheart, and support my family’s fight to demand harsher punishments to animal abusers. Together, we are the voice of change for abandoned, abused and neglected animals all over the world!

Parents: Bo & Ronda Spataro

Editor’s note: On March 20, 2015, Braveheart’s abuser was handed his sentence: 6 months jail suspended, 8 months supervised probation, 1 year unsupervised probation and can not own any animals while under probation. The ADA actually said it was one of the toughest sentences she had ever seen handed down for a misdemeanor. We fight on! While we were certainly hoping for more the judge was more than fair and gave him everything the law allowed and then some!

Rambo, Winston-Salem, NC

Hi! I’m Rambo. I was a stray. Nobody knew me until I was hit by a car on July 4th, 2013.

It happened at night. A lady who had seen me around her home saw a dog lying in the road and stopped. The lady that ran me over had turned around to check on me and together, they were able to get me into a car and out of the road.

Ruff Love Rescue was contacted and decided to check up on me. When they arrived I was so still they were afraid I had passed. It was dark but finally they saw me breathe. When a dab of food was put under my nose with some pain meds, I gobbled it up. Then they gave me a name: Rambo.

July 4th is a day of celebration and independence. It was a rainy night so there were no firework celebrations. A woman who had been following Ruff Love Rescue for a while decided to go on the computer and came across Ruff Love Rescue’s post about how I had been hit by a car.

My picture broke her heart. It showed me lying in a dog house, blood pouring from my face. There were pleas and people posting all over their page to ‘save’ me, to get me into an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. This woman did the same.

The following morning I was taken to a veterinarian hospital. Head surgery was first because my skull was exposed! In the 48 hours after my surgery, my prognosis was not good. I had brain swelling, my left eye literally rolling around the socket (the vet indicated she had ‘never seen anything like it’). All indications were I would lose permanent vision from that eye. Next, my liver enzymes were off the chart and I was extremely anemic. Oh and I was tested for worms/parasites and was determined one of the worst ‘cases’ of each, including Heartworms.

There were many prayers, well wishes going up for me during this time. This woman offered to ‘foster’ me if I made it. Within 96 hours and lots of prayers; this boy was walking on a leash, brain swelling coming down and passed a vision test!! 🙂

On July 16, I was released from the hospital and came into my foster home. When I got out of the van she could not believe what she saw; the pictures were nothing compared to the dog that stood before her.

I was so skinny, the white on my fur was grey, I smelled so bad, my head wound was oozing, so much of my body scabbed and there was a bag full of medicine I needed. Yet, I stood and wagged my tail! Sue, the founder of RLR was there to help with the introduction of my two fur foster siblings. I immediately made myself at home and was great with them. 🙂

During the next few days, my foster mom noticed that I was so afraid I wouldn’t be fed that I ate so fast it would make me sick. She got me a slow feeder bowl. She also gave me baths to clean my fur, and for weeks she could ‘pick’ gravel from my body.

She would clean my head and put the crème, give my meds for elevated liver enzymes, antibiotics and pills for anemia, and I would sit like a gentle soul, wanting nothing but love.

Next was Heartworm treatment; with my weakened body there was concern how I would do with the treatments so they were divided into 3 rounds. For 60 days, I was not able to ‘play, run or do’ what healthy dogs can. I was crated during the day and perfectly content lying next to my foster mom in the evenings. She said I did amazing. 🙂

After months of special crème, my wounds are healing nicely. My liver enzyme and anemia labs have checked out “perfect” and I have gained MANY pounds! I had one final challenge to face: closing the wound on my head.

After nine months, it had finally granulated all that it could. I love to run and play ball, unfortunately when I barely bumped my head on something, the wound still bled. For me to have a real chance at being a dog, the surgery had to be done.

I came through the surgery fine like all the other obstacles I’ve experienced in my life. (I did have to wear the cone for a while because it was itchy and my foster mom didn’t want me to get to the healing wound.)

I am a Fighter and Survivor on a ‘mission!’ My foster mom and rescue plan to have me train as a therapy dog. I think I’d like that. 🙂

On July 4th, 2014, I received many save day/birthday wishes!! No words could express how thankful we were. I’ve said this many times and it is true: I have the BEST friends in the whole world!! And I got a little cupcake when I woke up! To top it off, we got to meet with the local newspaper that will be featuring an article on me. What a busy day!

My favorite part came later that night. This 4th of July, the night was clear. When the Fireworks started I refused to go in the bathroom with my fur siblings. (I thought I was getting a bath! LOL!) Instead, I went out on the deck with my foster mom and together we watched the fireworks.

I was just glad to be with her and maybe more thankful that one year ago tonight; I wasn’t fighting for my life!!

I was even featured in American Dog Magazine! 🙂 A “Happily Ever After” story. I think that was pretty incredible for a stray dog who just a year ago had no one who cared about.

My journey is not over and we are so grateful for the outpouring of love all over the world for me. Our motto to ‘educate before you discriminate’ and ‘please consider being a foster or adopter of a rescue or shelter pet.’ There are so many that have not been able to share their story like me.

XOXO,
Rambo, A True Miracle

Foster mom: Kim

Ruby Sue, Salt Lake City, UT

Hi! My name is Ruby Sue and I’m a 8-month-old Pitbull puppy.

I was born with a serious birth defect called a cleft lip and palate. My cleft lip just makes me extra cute (if I do say so myself), but the cleft palate caused me major problems. No matter how much I tried to nurse from my momma, I couldn’t get enough milk. I was so hungry! And when I did try to nurse, I kept getting milk in my lungs.

The breeder tried to feed me with a syringe, but I wasn’t getting enough and my lungs were getting sicker. When I was 5 days old, she contacted the Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation, a local rescue group that specializes in rescuing animals with serious medical conditions, and that’s when I met my foster mom.

The vet told her that I was severely malnourished and was suffering from aspiration pneumonia. Things were looking pretty bad for me at that point, and the vets were even saying that maybe it was best to let me go to Rainbow Bridge. 🙁

But I wasn’t ready to go! Even though I was so tired and sick, I lifted my head and started sucking on my foster mom’s finger. She says that’s the moment she knew I was a fighter and that she would do everything she could to help me survive.

My mom started giving me antibiotics and feeding me every couple hours with a special tube that she put down my throat and into my tummy. I didn’t like that much at first, but then I realized it was a magic tube! Every time I saw that tube, I knew my tummy would soon be warm and full.

Because of the large hole in the roof of my mouth (cleft palate), mom had to feed me that way until I was old enough for my cleft palate surgery.

A week before my 4-month birthday, mom and I flew all the way from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, so the experts at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School could repair my cleft palate. I was pretty nervous, but everything went great!

Just hours after surgery, I was able to eat canned puppy food for the very first time. And boy oh boy, do I ever LOVE puppy food! I’ve been eating like a champ and growing like a weed ever since.

So, that’s my story. After everything we’d been through together, my foster mom and I realized we were meant to be together forever. We adopted each other on June 7, 2014 and haven’t looked back. 🙂

I have a Facebook page called “For the Love of Ruby” and I am so lucky to call more than 17,000 amazing people my friends! People from all over the world have supported me on my journey and now it’s my turn to pay it forward.

I’ve been attending adoption events and fundraisers to help the other animals waiting for homes with the Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation. And I’ve been studying really hard in my puppy classes so that I can become a registered therapy dog.

Mom says there are children with cleft lips and cleft palates just like me, and that maybe I can help them see that it’s cool to be different!

Kids are my absolute favorite things in the whole entire world, so I can’t wait to get out there and start spreading the love.

XOXO,
Ruby Sue

p.s. That last picture is of me and my foster sis, Aroha. She was born with a spinal deformity and her back legs don’t work very good. But she is learning to use a wheelchair and now she can run almost as fast as me! Check out her gorgeous photo here.

She is the happiest girl I’ve ever met. She is only 10 months old and has her whole life ahead of her! Can you help us share her story and find her a forever home of her very own? She comes with free kisses and cuddles for life! Thanks, friends!

Parent: Jenn

Lucy, North Bellmore, NY

My name is Lucy. My story begins when I was 7 months old.

I was abandoned and taken in by the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. I was very shy and extremely scared around the staff as well as the other dogs, but the people took very good care of me. I was very underweight and the caring people gave me lots of food but I really didn’t eat that much. Since I was so afraid, I was put in a crate in the hallway so I away from the loud dogs and in a slightly quieter area. But I was so lonely. There I sat, sadly wondering what I did so wrong to be abandoned.

Lucky for me, a few weeks later my mom and dad came into the shelter. They had always wanted a dog, but lived in an apartment where no pets were allowed. As soon as they moved into their own house they were ready to welcome a dog into their home.

As they walked through the rooms at the shelter seeing all these wonderful dogs, they noticed that most of them were pit bulls or a pit mix. My parents had heard the stereotypes and had reservations about adopting a pit bull. At the time they knew very little about the breed. When they finally made it over to my crate, they tried to talk to me, but I just kept my head down.

My mom and dad asked why I was so timid, but since I was abandoned, no one knew what had happened to me before my arrival. It broke their heart to see the sadness and fear on my face. One of the nice staff members let my parents take me outside and walk me around. I was suddenly alive with excitement to be outdoors. I sniffed everything around me and jumped up and down. My mom and dad saw this enthusiasm in me and right away knew I was the dog for them.

The night that mom and dad took me home was an interesting one for all of us. I walked around very hesitant. I took slow steps, sniffed around, and kept looking behind me to see if my parents were still there. I was given food, which I ate right away.

My parents then gave me a toy ball with a rope attached to chew on. It was my first toy!! There I lay down contently on the soft rug chewing on my first toy in this new wonderful place. 🙂

The next morning I ran around the house very excited to explore this interesting new place. My dad was following me around as I went from room to room. Suddenly, my mom came into the room with a surprised look on her face and said to dad, “I’m pregnant!” After the initial excitement and shock sunk in, my parents turned to me with a look of concern on their face. I wasn’t even in the home for 12 hours and already was going to have a two-legged sibling – not to mention the first baby for mom and dad!

My parents were still trying to get past their concerns with owning a pit bull, but now there would be a baby arriving soon. The following few weeks I met many of my new family and friends. I was so very excited to meet everyone that came over. I would jump up on them to say hello and lick them to introduce myself, but so many of them were scared of me. Some were too scared to come near me. 🙁

Once mom and dad announced they were having a baby, some people said that I had to go; that it was dangerous and irresponsible to have a pit bull in the house with a baby. There were arguments about my presence and again I was confused. What did I do so wrong?

My parents discussed it and decided that they couldn’t send me back to the shelter. The thought of me sitting in my crate with that sad look on my face was not an option in their mind. They decided they would help get me ready for the arrival of my sibling.

We started with introductory obedience lessons. Guess what…I was really good at them! So good that I finished at the top of my class. I then moved on to the intermediate level, which I also exceled at. It turns out that I am a great listener (most of the time) and very smart. My mom and dad were so proud and even invited family members to my graduation classes.

Over the months we took long walks in parks to acclimate me being around different people, and visited lots of dog parks so that I could interact with other dogs. A few months later my sister, Juliet, arrived.

Juliet is now 10 months old and we just celebrated my second birthday in June. In the beginning, we would stare at each other wondering what the other was. She would sleep in her crib and I would lay there watching her. As months passed she began interacting with me more.

Every morning I join mom and dad to go wake Juliet up in her crib. She rolls over, smiles at me, and reaches her hand out, which I lick (my way of saying good morning). I follow her as she crawls and love it when she pets me. Sometime she pulls my tail a little, but it doesn’t bother me.

Mom and dad will explain to her how she needs to be nice and pet me gently, but she’s just a baby. I have a lot of patience with her – she is my sister! We have grown to be best friends! The same people that told mom and dad to get rid of me are so surprised to see how easy going I am with my sister. I actually act differently around Juliet, like I know how fragile she is.

We are a family! Mom and dad treat me like I am one of their babies. My family and friends come over to visit all the time and love to play with me. They say that I’ve changed the way they think about pit bulls – how awesome is that?! Already I have changed the way some people think about pit bulls.

I am loved. Isn’t that what every dog wants…just to be loved? I am happy to say I have found it!

My name is Lucy. I am a daughter, a sister, and a great friend! I am not a monster!

~Lucy

Parent: Danielle

Tillie, Providence, RI

“They could chain me, starve me.
They could breed me, fight me.
They could beat me, neglect me.
They could not break me.”

My name is Tillie. I am a #367 Survivor.

In August 2013, law enforcement and dog advocacy agents rescued 367 dogs in the second largest dog-fighting raid in U.S. history which spanned across Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. Federal and local agents also seized firearms and drugs and $500,000 in cash from dogfighting gambling that took place over the course of a three-year investigation.

I was one of the 367 dogs.

We were held as evidence and housed at the HSUS temporary facility. There were a lot of people who came to take care of us, clean our kennels and socialize us. Humans would come in pairs to scrub the kennels, hose in hand. They would greet each one of us but quickly moved on to the next kennel. Some of us were excited to see the humans, some were shut down, some just looked at the humans and lay their heads back down.

One of these humans was Heather. She was on her first deployment to this facility and she worked with another volunteer to clean the kennels. She made her rounds throughout the facility, meeting many of us dogs there.

Then she saw me.

She froze, dead in her tracks. I was lying on a raised bed. My tan body old and tired and she could see golf ball-sized tumors running the length of my mammary chain. I struggled to stand, and slowly walked toward her, stopping at the gate to my kennel.

My front legs were bowed out; chain broke slowly over years under the weight of my heavy chain. I was in the worst shape medically of any dog in the place. I was heartworm positive, riddled with tumors, chain broke legs, and extremely underweight. My body showed the years of living on the end of that heavy mental chain outside, cold and hungry, and being used as a breeding machine.

But she saw me. She saw that my face was wise and kind. I was quiet, slow and searching for acceptance. She knelt down to me and stroked my face and side through the chain link. I am not sure how long we stayed like that, in complete silence, holding soft eye contact.

We were startled back to the present moment when her human partner yelled from the outside that she was ready for her to pull open the guillotine door that would let me into the outside portion of my run so that she could enter and clean the inside. Heather quickly wiped away her tears and stood up. By the time the guillotine door open, I was gone from her sight.

Later that day, Heather came back and talked to me. She then opened my kennel door and slipped the leash around my neck. Many of us dogs were so shut down we needed to be carried while some would walk tentatively and others would pull with all their might.

Not me. To Heather’s surprise, I cheerfully exited my kennel and walked with her through the long corridors and through several doors until we were up at the front office.

The volunteers and staff took a special time to greet me — they do for each dog brought into the office. We are survivors and they treated us as such. I stopped to greet each person and then they put me into a small private office reserved for dogs with the worse conditions. Dogs like me.

Heather and the other volunteer also gave me a name: Tillie. 🙂

The next days she would spend any extra time she could sitting on the floor with me in my small office. I have no idea why anyone would feel sad for me. I love to say hi to people; whenever I saw someone come into view, I started the process of getting up off my bed to walk to the door. I was slow and old but I would try nonetheless. The staff finally decided to close the top half of the door so I could not see people outside of her room, just so I could rest.

And I needed the rest. I was not doing so good. I urinated lot and all over my office. Heather was worried I was in renal failure. And my tumors looked bad.

But at the end of the week, Heather left. She didn’t even say goodbye… I thought she saw my unbreakable spirit, but I was used to being disappointed by humans.

One month later, Heather came back to see me!! I was wiggly and happy to see her. Heather didn’t think I remembered her but I did!

I had gained weight and had settled into the routine. Heather would visit me when she could and told me she loved me and that she would be bringing me home to her house as soon as I could leave! I wasn’t even sure I heard her correctly!

What I didn’t know was that Heather had decided that she would request for me come to her rescue — Handsome Dan’s Rescue — once we were released and were no longer being held as evidence. She made the formal request to Daisy, the Shelter Manager. She also requested that if my medical condition worsened and they felt they needed to euthanize me, to let her know so she could like fly back down to be with me.

I never thought someone would care about me and I was so glad it was her! Heather also told me that she would spoil me and love me for however long I had left. It would be a sort of hospice care, a compassion hold, she said. She had to leave me again at the end of her second deployment but she promised she would be back for me.

Then came the day I was admitted to the vet hospital. My uterus was infected and needed to be removed along with the mammary tumors. Heather was a wreck but she was kept informed long distance as best they could and she waited for news.

When her phone rang and she saw it was Daisy calling, she quickly answered and all she heard was Daisy crying. She felt a huge lump in her throat…but Daisy screamed out that my tumors were benign. I did not have cancer! Heather was so surprised. How could this be? They were all so sure it was cancer. I was not going to need hospice care after all. I was only going to need foster care! 🙂

So the months dragged on and we waited for the day I would be released and I could come to her home… our home.

Heather would send me little care packages, one of their supporters sent me a new bed. She ordered an ID tag for my collar with the words “Tillie #367 Survivor” engraved on it with her phone number. She wore that tag on a chain around her neck until I could wear it around mine. She told her dog Handsome Dan all about me and how he was soon going to have a new foster sister.

Then on January 13, 2014 at 10:02AM, her phone rang. It was Daisy but that was not unusual as they had been in close contact regarding the other four dogs that would also be coming to HDR upon their release. Her daughter Josephine was singing and her house was busy as usual so she decided to take the call in the backyard where it was quiet.

She walked out the back door and answered the phone. Again, she heard Daisy crying, but this time was not like the last. Heather was able to make out that Daisy needed to talk to her about me. Heather sat down on the cold ground and started to cry. All she could say was NO! She was expecting the worst.

The next thing she heard was one of the sweetest things she will ever hear. Daisy said, “Heather, Tillie is yours. She has been released. You can come take her home.”

Heather sat for a little while, sobbing into the phone, and Daisy just let her sob. She finally collected herself and Daisy gave her some detail and information; the bottom line was that they would be able to bring me and the others here to Rhode Island at the end of the month. Heather hung up the phone and ran in the house and told her family. It was all hugs and smiles.

She told the HDR volunteers who were equally as excited and they raised the funds for the transport costs to bring seven of the #367 dog to their foster homes with HDR and Jasmine’s House.

I won’t forget that day. February 1, 2014, we left the facility and made the momentous journey. It was our Freedom Ride. I was finally free.

I am now an official HDR foster dog but Heather aka Foster Mom says I can stay in our home for as long as I need to. HDR volunteers did an amazing job completely redoing the large laundry room to be my room. Yes, I have my own room! My own little suite complete with a mural on one wall painted by HDR volunteer Laurelin Sitterly of the life I should have had from the beginning.

The first order of business for me is heartworm treatment. It was not easy — I had a scare in April when I became severely lethargic and unstable on my feet that I was admitted to the ICU — but I completed the treatment. Then Heather noticed that I was losing so much weight so they did an ultrasound with my last HW injection and a target shaped tumor was found, which indicated it was most likely cancer.

My foster family decided to wait three weeks, until I finished my prednisone, and did another ultrasound. That was on Friday morning and the findings were discouraging: The original tumor had grown and there was a second target shaped tumor that had appeared in only three weeks.

So, my family weighed these two options. They could do nothing, and spoil and love me for the projected 4-6 months I would have left, but if they did nothing there was the chance the tumor could start to bleed at any time, could be in a week, could be in a few months, and they would have to put me to sleep immediately. They went through this with another dog and it was awful; the tumor would bleed slowly and cause him to pass out. This is not the way they wanted me to spend my last few months or weeks.

The other option was to surgically remove my spleen. Because the cancer was so aggressive it will likely return in another organ, probably my liver, but this option would give me some good months and I would have more pain-free time.

Neither option was good. They hated the thought of putting me thorough another surgery, but my wonderful vet, Dr. Lester, says I would do ok, and that although it will be a long incision, dogs generally recovery very quickly and that I would probably be feeling better in about three days.

So on the morning on June 23, 2014, I went in for my spleen removal. My foster parents were beside themselves with worry, but know that I was in the best possible hands. At the end of the surgery, Dr. Lester removed my spleen and did not see any abnormalities on the liver. He also removed five mammary tumors which can be biopsied as well if needed later.

I went home the next day, sore and tired but happy to be sleeping in my bed.

On June 26, my Foster Mom was in tears. This time they were tears of joy and disbelief! She said I had them fooled yet again! The tumors in my spleen, despite being target shaped, came back benign, meaning not cancer! I fooled my radiologist, my doctors and all of #TeamTillie!

And all five new mammary tumors which were sent to pathology also came back benign! So now I’m heartworm free, cancer free and spleen-free! 🙂

So that’s my story for now, and it is quite a story. I am an old girl with an old and broken body: My legs are bowed and I have trouble walking because my legs broke under the weight of a heavy collar and chain that yoked me for years to the buried car axle. I have a broken sternum and a broken tail, but my spirit could not be broken.

My family and I are grateful for everyday I can enjoy my new life. I now wears a pink collar and a necklace of big white faux pearls. I love cuddling up next to everyone who comes to visit me. I love my Foster Mom & Dad, foster sister Josephine and brother Cam. I also love dressing up and digging holes!

My name is Tillie, I am a #367 Survivor and I will continue to show the world what this little survivor can do.

~Tillie

Editor’s Note:

#TeamTillie would like to thank: HSUS, The ASPCA, The FBI and local law enforcement for bringing this group of victims to safety. Daisy Balawejder, Chris Schindler and the rest of the HSUS Dogfighting Rescue Coalition for the amazing care and love shown to these and all dogs in their care. The HSUS Dogfighting Rescue Coalition Partner Rescues who will be taking these dogs into their programs and will eventually help them find their happy endings. And to the many, many HSUS Animal Rescue Volunteers who deploy time and again to provide care for these dogs. And finally big props to the Handsome Dan’s Rescue family.

Sadly, Tillie left us on November 5, 2015. From Tillie’s mom, Heather: “On Thursday evening, with her perfectly-sweet, soft face resting in my hands, surrounded by the love of her family and her vet, Tillie left this world. She was tired, she told us it was time, and she left with the same peaceful dignity she brought to each heart she won as she fullfilled her mission on this earth.” You can read the full note here.

Run free, Tillie. ♥

Capo, Greenville, SC

My name is Capo, which means “Top Dog” or “Boss” in Spanish. I was born eight years ago on January 1. I guess you can say I am a lucky New Year’s baby.

The first time I met my furever mom, I was in a small cage at the Humane Society. I remember being hungry, scared and cold. See, I had just been picked up that morning by an Animal Control Specialist and my coat was still covered in feces, urine and all of the fleas that had made my body their home. They seemed to be just as nervous as I was because they kept jumping all over my fur. I didn’t smell very good.

But, worst of all, I wasn’t very well taken care of and I wasn’t healthy. All of my bones were popping out of my skin, like a piano, or a xylophone. Mom tells the story and says I was severely emaciated. And she says I was most likely held in a cage and dumped on the side of the road because there was so much poop stuck to my body.

My mom walked over to me, slowly placed a finger on my face and she started to cry. I didn’t understand this. She said to me, “I’ve been looking for you. I’ll be right back.” She walked over to the woman with the T-shirt that read “Humane Society” whispered something to her and before I knew it, I was being taken out of my cage and brought into a small room.

The room was warmer than my cage and I was happy to stretch my legs. I felt an immediately connection with my mom and since she sat on the floor I slowly walked over to her and I sat on her lap. This made her cry again. She did this a lot on our first day together. I thought maybe I broke her?

Mom took out her phone and when the other person on the line answered she said, “They will only hold him today until 5 pm. Can you come now?” I found out later she was talking to my dad. My life up until this point is a little fuzzy. The Humane Society told my mom I was found abandoned on the side of a busy highway and Animal Control brought me to the Humane Society to be cleaned up and adopted.

Lucky for me, my mom did not want to wait! She bathed me, removed as many fleas from my coat as possible, and we waited in the room until my dad arrived. When my dad walked through the door something came over me. I ran to him and jumped into his arms. I had never done this with a human before. And, just like that we were a family! 🙂

Before we arrived home we made a stop at PetSmart, which is now my favorite place in the whole world. My parents bought me food/water bowls, a plush bed, large bags of dry food, treats and so many toys I was overwhelmed. All of this for me?

As soon as we got home my dad poured the food in my bowl, placed me on his lap and fed me every-single-piece-of-kibble by hand. He said, “I want you to get used to my scent. You will never go hungry. Anytime you want to eat, just ask! But, I want you to learn how to eat with manners, and, to understand that you will never have to protect your bowl or growl if anyone, or, anything gets near you.” First lesson on day one: Don’t be bowl aggressive. Check! To this day, I will gladly share my food and my water with anyone and everyone. Thanks, Dad for teaching me how to share!

I became comfortable with my new surroundings pretty quickly. Dad was true to his promise. I always had food available to me. Mom and Dad let me sleep with them on their bed whenever I asked. But, to be honest, I was perfectly content to sleep on my own plush bed surrounded by my chew toys. My bed was right next to theirs anyways, so I was never alone. My first month home was filled with family visits, walks at the park, and doggie day care visits.

I met my grandparents, my aunt and my uncles. Everyone was so nice to me and started teaching me Spanish. Yep. I am bi-lingual. I understand English and Spanish. That makes me extra special I am told.

My parents said they wanted to expose me to as many social interactions as possible the first month I was home. My aunt is a Special Education elementary school teacher. So one day, my mom dropped me off to school in the morning and told me I would be spending the day with very special children that had a lot of needs and she wanted me to be on my best behavior. She said there were children in the room that were very sick and it was up to me to help put a smile on their face today. My aunt introduced me to the class and said I was their guest for the day. Boy did I have fun! I got to spend the day with children who were about my height who just wanted to play with me. I will always be grateful for that experience.

I was also taken to doggie day care a few times a month. This is where you go to a big room where you get to play with dogs all day long. I made a lot of friends here. I guess you can say, this is why I am so sociable and I’ve never met a dog I didn’t like.

I am now eight years old and I live with my parents in beautiful South Carolina. We recently added a baby Boston Terrier to our family. He was also adopted from a couple who had too many animals in their house. He had 10 other brothers and sisters living with him so when he came to our house we immediately became best friends. One of my favorite things to do is to visit my aunt. She has two small sons who I love to play with.

I will always be grateful to my parents for taking me in even when I was at my worst: Skinny, stinky, covered in poop, urine and fleas. More importantly, they were never turned off by the fact that I am a Pitbull. Lots of strangers approach us when we are out and say “Is he friendly?” … my mom sighs every time and says, “Yes, he is very friendly. I will bite you before he does. If you want to touch him, just ask him, he won’t say no.”

I am Capo. I love to play with my soccer ball, my little brother, and fluff all the pillows on mom and dad’s bed before taking a nap. I do some pretty cool tricks too. I can speak on command, give you a kiss when you say “Beso” and jump really really high!

Get to know me before you judge me. I may have had a rough beginning, but, my parents have more than made up for it. I didn’t know it at the time, but, my mom and dad needed me just as much as I needed them.

XOXO,
Capo

Parents: Maria & Manny

Nana, Los Angeles, CA

Hi! I’m Nana the Earless Pibble and this is my journey.

Looking at pictures of my big smile now, you would never be able to tell that the first nine years of my life were spent in misery. A mature girl, I was bred repeatedly (more than 15 litters) and when I could no longer reproduce, I was surrendered to a Los Angeles city shelter.

My condition was deplorable… My teeth were pulled out, my reproductive organs were destroyed and my ears horrendously cut off by my previous owners. My ears were horrible; they were most likely cut in an unsterile and inhumane procedure at home, which led to different types of infection. Since it was very likely that I was never seen by a vet, the infections ensued and led to the formation of scar tissue and calcification of my entire ear canals.

I was awaiting certain euthanasia in the back isolation area of the shelter in February 2013…when someone very special came into my life.

She saw my picture posted on the shelter’s social media site. She was immediately compelled to take action and offered to foster me, something she had never done or even thought of doing before. To this day, she cannot explain what sparked her to impulsively apply to foster me. What she does know, though, is that it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

A few days after she filled out the foster application, I was in her car and on my way to safety. The very moment I got into my car, I immediately bonded myself to this human whom I would eventually call my Mama. I looked at her with my hopeful eyes as a way to say thank you and laid my big pibble head on her lap the entire way home.

As we drove home together on this freedom ride, a beautiful moment passed between us; a moment in which I finally felt safe. A moment which has since changed the rest of our lives.

Sadly though, my life full of abuse and fear became immediately evident and manifested in so many ways. During my nine years of life, I had never quite learned how to be a dog and was undoubtedly given every reason possible to fear humans. I would cower at just the sight or movement of any human that wasn’t my Mama, especially men.

I had no concept of potty training and would relieve myself at any given moment, anywhere in the house. I had no idea what to do with toys or bones, and would freeze in my tracks if someone tried to pet me, even in the gentlest manner. Mama has to admit that during that first week of having me home, she found myself wondering if she had gotten herself in too deep, and if she was actually able to give me what she needed.

Despite all of the years that I suffered from abuse and neglect, my hope and optimism became palpable within days. I was brave. My endearing soul, which had survived through nine horrible years, had an endless amount of love to give and was ready to flourish. Mama says it was this engaging, brave spirit of mine that reassured her that she made the right decision in fostering me.

I knew we belonged together. After three months of fostering, I was officially adopted by Mama and her family!

To look at everything we’ve experienced together over the past year is rather overwhelming. While the first few months were rocky, I have triumphed over more hurdles than any human Mama knows.

My road to recovery has been riddled with various health issues. On July 1, 2013, I received a devastating news: dermal hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive cancer with an average metastasis rate of 33%. With my Mama by my side, I’ve beat it and completed chemotherapy and related surgical procedures.

And I no longer have my “cauliflower ears,” which is a real relief!! I was constantly treated for chronic ear infections and the overuse of antibiotics and anti-microbrial drugs led to the development of multidrug-resistant bacterial infections — MRSA and Pseudomonas — which I battled tirelessly. Since they were essentially unmanageable, and because I was in constant pain, Mama decided to go through with a bilateral total ear canal ablation and bulla osteotomy. Two separate surgeries and two pounds of scar tissue and inflammation were removed from my ears. (Yuck!)

I recovered well and while I can no longer hear, I am finally pain-free! I’ve adapted rapidly to my new life and am working on learning sign language. 🙂

I triumphed over all these hurdles and more!

Mama says it is such a blessing to be able to watch me continually blossom and break out of my shell. I do have to pay tribute to Zyra, my fursister. Zyra is a rescued 3-year-old German Shepherd mix and she was a vital part of my rehabilitation. While we had to be separated for awhile and introduced slowly, she has taught me so many things — how to let loose at the dog park; that it was OK to start trusting new humans; how to chomp on bones; that it was better to go potty on the grass and not the carpet; how to “sit,” “down” and “shake.”

Most importantly, she taught me how to be a dog.

And I am now relentless at experiencing new things, even if those attempts are somewhat short-lived. 🙂 No longer do I cower or run away when a stranger approaches me; sometimes I even lets them scratch my ear nubs. I love leashes now and love to go for short walks; I even run around a little at the dog park.

I love the beach and even play with dogs while running through the sand. And then, momentarily, I remember that I’m supposed to be fearful and I suddenly revert. But I am so much stronger. I am thriving. And those periods of reversion are getting shorter and fewer with each passing day.

Meanwhile, for my Mama, this has been an incredible journey for her as well. I was the first “pit bull” she has ever had in her home. She never really known for that matter. Before she rescued me, she really was unconscious to the plight of pit bulls — the stereotypes, BSL, abuse, dog fighting, #1 breed euthanized… I really opened her eyes to the problems that pit bulls, and all abused and/or homeless dogs, currently face.

Throughout my rehabilitation, Mama was surprised and so delighted to learn just how resilient and strong I am. I was unlike any dog she had met, and as she later learned, I truly am the definition of a pit bull — goofy, so loving, cuddly, always smiling, full of kisses, and so forgiving.

Before she officially adopted me, she volunteered a lot with ROMP Rescue, the rescue that pulled me. They did tons of adoption events and she was responsible for making all of the dog flyers and social media stuff. That’s really where all of her advocacy started — with me. She made an Instagram account for me — @journeyofnana — and it somehow reached tens of thousands of people all over the world.

My Instagram connected us with so many amazing people, amazing dogs and amazing stories of rescue. This furthered Mama’s passion of advocating for pit bulls and we connected with a lot of great organizations, from Project Blue Collar to the One Million Pibble March. We didn’t know we would be taking part in the momentous event.

It started with Mama taking the photo of me wearing the Pibble March shirt and posting it on Instagram. She wrote a nice little note about the march and Rebecca to garner support for the cause. Before we knew, a couple thousand people started following Rebecca and her cause, and many immediately ordered the shirts to help with costs.

Rebecca reached out to Mama and said that not only was she touched by my story, but also by the soulful look in my eyes in that first picture of me wearing the t-shirt. My eyes were what prompted Rebecca to reach out to Mama and ask her to share my story. And then she asked if Mama wanted to be a speaker!! Obviously, she could not say no! 🙂

A little secret I’d like to share with you: Mama was actually incredibly nervous about being a speaker at the march. She had never given a speech in front of that many people!! I flew with her on the plane to Washington, D.C., and I did so well — the flight staff loved me and Mama couldn’t even count how many people stopped to take my picture or ask about my story.

DC was amazing. Mama was absolutely humbled at how many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people came up to meet me and take a picture with us. Many people told her how I brighten their darkest days. Mama was so amazed. She thought, “Wow…if I can bring a smile to someone’s face by simply sharing Nana’s beauty, what more could I ask for?”

The day of the march was so special because Mama was super nervous in the moments leading up to the march. She practiced her speech in front of me more than 20 times — Mama says I was such a good sport. 🙂 But as soon as we walked out of the hotel to meet up with the marchers, her nerves dissipated. She thought her heart would be racing out of her chest due to nerves, but she really ended up not being that nervous as soon as we started marching.

When she got on stage, Mama felt even better! The energy of the crowd was unreal and she was able to relax because we all were there for the same reason; we shared the same passion and love and dedication. It was great! And Mama did great too, if I may say so myself! 🙂 I am so proud of her.

For me, life started at the age of nine. I am a senior pit bull who was once battered and beaten, but I retained my fighting spirit and have learned how to trust, love and have fun again. I have proven that it is never too late to be ridiculously happy.

~ Nana the Earless Pibble

p.s. Come join my journey — Journey of Nana on Instagram and Facebook — promoting positive pit bull awareness while spreading awareness about the pet overpopulation crisis. We can ALL make change happen.

Parent: Stephanie

Karma, Milwaukee, WI

Hi, my name is Karma Rue!

A long time ago I was found running around a not so nice neighborhood. The person that turned me in to animal control reported hearing “gun shots” right before they saw me. When I had my physical evaluation done they found a few wounds on my face and neck from metal BB pellets.

The humans think the person must have pulled the trigger point blank in front of me because I was a really small target — I only weighted about 10 lbs — and hit me right on the forehead! 🙁 I’ve still got a little scar, but you can hardly see it.

Anyway, after seven days of stray hold, a wonderful lady pulled me out of that lonely place and I became a foster puppy! Oh, what a wonderful life! I got to do what ever I wanted and played with my foster siblings all the time! I had toys and food and my very own collar. Sure it made my neck itchy, but that collar meant something very important! It meant I had a home, even if it was only temporary.

I also got to go to doggy daycare once a week so I could play and make even more friends! It was really fun, but one day, all that changed… I slipped running up some stairs and before I knew it, I was at the vets office. I got some x-rays done because I was limping an awful lot and they told my mom I had a fractured leg!

Because I didn’t belong to her, my foster mom had to tell animal control, and when they found out they told her to take me back… to be euthanized!

I was just a puppy! I promised my foster mom, “I’ll behave, I’ll try not to run around any more and I’ll walk slowly up the stairs! I’ll give up all my toys, just please don’t take me back there!”

To my surprise, I think she heard me! She said she would adopt me and find me a new home if she had to; she wouldn’t let them kill me because of my accident. So I got a pink cast on my little leg and some pain medication and she talked animal control into giving me a chance. They told her they needed proof that I wouldn’t need surgery, because they couldn’t afford to pay for it.

So she got some opinions from multiple vets, some said I did need surgery and others said I didn’t. It took a couple weeks to get a final answer. During that time a fundraiser was made, so that if I did need surgery, they would have the money saved up to pay for it. The estimate was for surgery was $1,200 and in 3 days almost $600 was raised!

The final decision was made by a specialist who wrote a letter stating that I wouldn’t need a surgery, because in fact, over the past weeks my leg had already been healing. Plus if a surgery were done, they would have to re-fracture my leg! He said I was a strong puppy, and my leg would be fine. All I needed was crate rest! PHEW! 🙂

Eight weeks of crate rest. That was the verdict. So the money that was raised for me was donated to other dogs in need and I got to play lazy in a crate for a while. I thought it would be easy, but boy oh boy… I sure did miss sleeping under the covers in bed!

Every day I wondered what would happen to me when I finally got out of that crate. Where would I end up? I was still with my foster mom, which was way better than animal control, but it wasn’t permanent… I didn’t know that someone had been going through this struggle with me all along.

There was this one person working at the doggy daycare who met me on my first day there and thought I was adorable! She thought we would go together like two peas in a pod, Carla and Carmen, but she didn’t really plan on adopting me… that is, until the day I fractured my leg. That day, when I thought I was going to be put to sleep, she knew she had to adopt me.

She filled out the paperwork and was willing to pay for anything I needed, but she didn’t get an answer. It wasn’t until over eight weeks later that she found out… 🙂

My life officially started when I was adopted on April 17th, 2012. That’s the day everything changed, including my name! That was the day I became something permanent, a real part of the world. I could tell that it wasn’t temporary, I didn’t have to wait around anymore, because that “love” thing that everyone is looking for in life? Well, I found it!

So since that day I’ve made it my mission to be good and do good. I know people think I’m different. I can see it in their eyes; when they stare, when they step away… when they cross the street.

Sure, I might be a pit bull… But I’m not a monster. I’m a dog. I like green olives, swimming and playing fetch. I feel joy, I feel excitement and I feel love.

My name is Karma and I am good!

~ Karma Rue

p.s. Follow me on my Facebook page, Good Karma Rue, as I advocate for Canine Equality and be the spokesdog for Good Karma Canine!

Parent: Carla

Snyder, Pittsburgh, PA

Hi! My name is Snyder and I’m an elderbull. I am somewhere between 10 and 11 years old.

Nothing is known about my early years but it is thought that I spent most of my life on the streets of Brooklyn, NY.

My story begins on October 20th, 2011, when New York Animal Care & Control picked me up and took me to the Brooklyn Center. I was skinny and covered in fly bites. But, I kept smiling!

After a fake hold — meaning someone put a deposit to adopt me but never showed up — and ending up on death row, Second Chance Rescue NYC showed up and saved me on November 19, 2011. I was SAFE!

Second Chance Rescue took me to the vet and it was discovered that I was blind. Oh, not because of age or disease…I had been sprayed in the face with a chemical (probably mace) and it destroyed my eyes! I can see shadows but not much else. I am missing some teeth and have some old bite scars, too. But, for an old guy, I sure had a lot of energy!

Off I went to a foster home. Then I went to another. Things just didn’t work out for me at either of them. The people tried hard but I wasn’t a good fit. 🙁

So, a call went out from Second Chance Rescue looking for a new foster home for me. Pictures were sent, conversations were had and a new foster home was found. I was on my way to Pittsburgh, PA!

My foster momma, Beth, started a Facebook page for me before she even picked me up: Snyder The Elderbull. She was hoping to find me a forever home.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way. Foster Momma became Forever Momma the minute I ran into her arms. Can you say “foster failure”??? Yup, I had found Forever!! Did you see my big smile in that photo with my Momma? 🙂

When I got HOME, I met my sisters, Gemini and Mya, and my brother, Phritz. The first thing I did was find the couch and take a nap. I am a very good napper. If napping was an Olympic sport, I would win the gold medal every time!!

My sister, Gemini, became my best friend. She showed me around the house, taught me where the water bowl was and which door to use to go outside. She snuggled with me and made me feel safe and loved. Phritz and I didn’t really hit it off so Momma only let us be together when we were supervised. Hey, life was great!

In December 2012, we moved from the city to a new house. There are trees and a nice yard and woods. There is also a very nice deck right off the front door. It is the perfect spot for napping! I claimed it as my own!

Momma has three granddaughters and I love them to pieces. They visit often and I sleep with them and keep them safe. They share their food with me, too, which makes me smile really big! The little one hugs and kisses me and I kiss her back. Big bad pitbull, huh??

Gemini has gone to the Bridge. I miss her every day. She was my best friend. But, life moves on. I have a new sister now, Hope, who is kind of exhausting. I am teaching her all about napping. Mya snuggles with me now. Phritz and I still don’t see eye to eye but we make it work. 😉

I still have my Facebook page and I use it to advocate for dogs on death row in NYC. And, I try to teach others that us elderbulls are worth taking a chance on…worth loving.

Senior dogs ROCK!!

~ Snyder The Elderbull

Parent: Beth

Lexi, Tamworth, NH

Hi! My name is Lexi and this is my story.

I had an owner once, until I got pregnant. He decided he couldn’t afford to care for me, being pregnant and all, so he dropped me off at a Kill shelter in South Carolina. My belly was so big the shelter staff knew I was ready to give birth any day.

Although the shelter noted that I was dog-friendly and people-friendly, without a rescue, I would be killed along with my pups. 🙁

It felt like I was there forever. I was losing hope.

I didn’t know that my shelter photo was circulating on Facebook along with a plea to save me. It caught the eye of a man all the way up in New Hampshire. He posted that photo on his wife’s Facebook timeline. She jokingly said let’s do it. Next thing she knew, he was calling her and before long, they decided they need to find out how to save me!

They contacted Cecelia Blake from Second Chance Rescue in NY and within hours I was rescued! These nice people whom I never met saved me and my puppies!

My new Foster Dad and his friend immediately set out to get me. They drove 18 hours south and 18 hours back to a very chilly New Hampshire! They didn’t know if I would go into labor on the ride home or if I would get car sick. They just knew that they had to save me.

And I was lucky not to give birth on our ride home! I was so big I couldn’t walk up or down the stairs to do my business so my Foster Dad had to carry me. Without him I don’t know what I would have done.

A few days later, on November 11th, I gave birth to 11 healthy puppies, 6 girls and 5 boys — Nia, Natasha, Nona, Nori, Nava, Nacia, Nika, Nuki, Nike, Nero & Nomad. Yes, that was a lot of puppies! I was in labor from 7:30 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon!

My foster family took care of all of us and even made us our own Facebook page: Lexi & Pups. My foster parents are awesome. I wasn’t producing milk so my Foster Mom would feed the pups every two hours. My Foster Dad built a pen in the heated basement so we have our own space. We are so grateful to the many many donations that came thru for us. There are so many good people who love us.

When the pups were old enough, my foster family was able to find homes for all my puppies — some of them even get to go together. 🙂 They have even come to visit me so I get to see how they are growing. My parents have built a family with all the puppy adopters and we will have a reunion at the 1 year mark.

After my pups were all adopted, I had a possible adopter. I had not been introduced to the rest of the pack at my foster home because of my puppies so the potential adopter was a little nervous. Over the next few weeks my foster parents slowly introduced me and found I am very loving, calm, accepting dog. I just wants to be on your lap, all 65lbs of me.

After about a month, my foster parents told me that they couldn’t see me going anywhere and adopted me! 🙂 So they contacted the rescue and let them know I was no longer up for adoption. I became their first foster failure!

I now sleep with my parents (they say I hog the bed). I love tug of war and playing with my parents’ first pitty Gemma! I love meeting new people and I have to kiss their faces! (Mom says I have to be easy with those pittie kisses! 🙂 )

I don’t have a cruel bone in my body. My parents says I am their hero and saved them, but it is them who saved me. I’m truly happy here; my family shows me love and I know I won’t have to go through having babies ever again or worry about anything.

I am safe and I am home.


Lexi

Parent: Kendra & Al

Piper, Valparaiso, IN

“Bow Wow”!! My name is Piper! I turned 5 on May 13th, 2014.

My amazing life’s journey began when I was just 12 weeks old. I was adopted by my Mama. I was the only female born in the litter of 4 American Pit Bull Terrier puppies, and if it weren’t for Mama, I would probably be nothing other than a breeding machine for a man who had an interest in me.

I went home and met my two sisters — Simone and Caico, older dogs who were also rescues — and my two cat siblings, who both accepted me without question.

My first year and a half consisted of socialization to both humans and all animals, and lots of training for good manners. Simone and Caico were both amazing role models for me to follow and learn from every day of my life. Simone passed away when I was a year old (she was 18 years old) so Caico became my only best friend, sister and companion. She was the perfect role model because she was very calm and stable, and she taught me how to play nicely and with much respect.

Mama did all of my training on her own. I later realized that she had a goal for me… to become a Therapy Dog. By the age of 2, I tested for my CGC and Therapy Dog Certification, and passed both with flying colors!

I have a sense of knowing when others need a smile or a laugh, and love being the one they can count on for that. I visit hospitals for children with Cancer and enjoy being there for them during their difficult time of treatments. I also visit an elementary school for Autistic children, and my presence has taught these special children how to love, trust, and open up enough to enjoy the simple things in life such as reading and painting.

As an ambassador of my breed, I enjoy being the host of several different events every year in honor of awareness and education for the Pit Bull breed. The “Coast to Coast Bully Walk” is one of my most successful events and it grows each and every year, and dogs and their owners from all over the U.S. attend!

Mama and I have also hosted the “Peaceful Pit Bull Protest” event, which was also a great success in educating humans on Breed Specific Laws. Oh yeah, I was there with my boy Boss – The Surfing Pit Bull! 🙂 Another new program I’ve recently become a big part of is a “Be Kind To Animals” program, which is designed to help educate all ages on how to be more aware of abuse and neglect to any animals, and how to be a responsible dog owner.

We started a new awareness project with my very own “Flat Piper” project. 🙂 This has also been a very exciting adventure, traveling all over the world, spreading positive facts about Pit Bulls and introducing them to what we are capable of if given the chance. “Flat Piper” has already been to Las Vegas, PA, CA, and is now in Saudi Arabia. Soon after that will be traveling to the U.K. and Spain. Those who “host” Flat Piper are those who are teachers, advocates fighting BSL, and even kids who reach out to their friends to help educate them about the Pit Bull Breed.

I have been very blessed to be invited to do a television commercial, and was soon awarded that television station’s “Top Dog”!! I was also honored as the special guest for the Railcats Baseball Team as their special guest and asked to throw the first pitch of the opening season. Oh, and there’s this lady in Germany who wrote a book about Pit Bulls and she featured me in her book! How cool!

I enjoy serving as a “Mentor” to other dogs in training and do my best to set a great example of balance and stability and, of course, love and kindness to all. I love helping the dogs that come our way — like my new emergency foster sister Whinnie who, thanks to Guardians of the Green Mile rescue and Cause 4 Paws (Chicago) -The Darla Foundation, has a second chance at a healthy, happy life; Mama and I will make sure of that.

I take great pride in being an American Pit Bull Terrier, and I will continue to serve as an example, not an exception of my breed. Whether working at hospitals or enjoying being read to by the children at schools or taking the day off, I love meeting new people and breaking negative stereotypes of dogs like me. 🙂

Check out my facebook page Pipers Page Of Life and see for yourself what an amazing, and exciting life I have!

I AM Piper.
I AM a Pit Bull.
I AM a Certified Therapy Dog.
I AM proud of my breed.
I AM sweet, loving, and a very social pup.
I AM here to prove to all who doubt us that we do deserve to exist.


Piper

p.s. When Caico lost her battle with Spinal Cancer this Easter, I mourned her for weeks. She was my bestest friend. Mama was getting very worried because I just hadn’t been my happy-go-lucky self; I wouldn’t get out of Caico’s bed, no desire to go for walks, or eat, or play…

Then Mama decided to put my therapy vest on and said, “let’s go see the kids at school!” So off we went and as soon as I walked into the school, my spirit lifted up!! I went from sad to happy almost instantly! I quickly went down the hall to the classroom and could not wait to see my favorite teachers and children. Mama says these children have become so important to me, and that day they brought back my happy, wiggle butt, smiley self!

That day, these amazing children were my “therapy” and I cannot thank them enough for being so important to me, that only THEY could have made this happen! ♥

Parent: Laura

Hazel, Waikato, New Zealand

Hi , I am Hazel The Pitbull. My Mum and Dad rescued me from being put to sleep because of my breed.

I was rescued from Waikato SPCA on the 12th of April 2013. I was 3 months old at the time and was brought into Waikato SPCA from another shelter because my Mum and Dad were looking to adopt a Pit bull. Usually I would have been put to sleep because of my breed but a friend of Mum’s who was working at the SPCA new that Mum wanted a Pit bull puppy so I was offered to her first.

Mum and Dad could not say no because I was just so cute. 🙂

Since the day that Mum brought me home she knew that she was going to do a lot to entertain me but also to prove to others that pit bulls are good dogs. I have passed puppy class, obedience class, tracking course, advanced tracking and I am now taking part in agility. Through each one of these courses I have been able to prove to people that I get on with other dogs, show them how affectionate I am and Mum has been able to educate people on Pit bulls.

I love people and giving lots of kisses so Mum looked into pet therapy. In New Zealand there is a main pet therapy organization called Canine Friends. They advertised on their flyers and website that they accept all breeds as long as they pass the test that they do. Mum applied for me and we were so excited that we might be apart of something like Canine Friends…

The lady got back to me and said that she would not be testing me because they do not test dangerous dogs!!!

This was a lady who had never met me and apparently tested any breed. My Mum was very upset that someone would call me dangerous without even knowing me!

So we decided to be better than them and do it all by ourselves. We contacted the local rest home and went in for our first visit! Everyone loved me and the manager, Rachel, even came down just to meet me. Everyone was surprised at how calm and affectionate I was for such a young puppy.

I have now been going into the rest home two or three times a month for the past 6 months. I have got even better at pet therapy and I have impressed so many people. It feels good to prove Canine Friends wrong and we are glad they said no to us because it has made Mum and I realize we need to do more to show people who I really am. I plan in the future to move onto more rest homes and hopefully children’s hospitals.

I started my Facebook page as a bit of fun to put up photos and had no idea that so many people would be interested. Today I have more than 6,000 friends and I love every single one of them. I now use my Facebook page to educate people and show people what an every day pit bull gets up to. I also used my page to fundraise for dogs who need surgery! Last year I raised $800 for a dog named Lucy who was hit by a car! We want to show people we care about all animals!

I also love going to dog events! Last year I went to a pooch racing day and I raced with lots of other dogs. I didn’t win but I did show people that a pit bull can take part in those events to! I also went to Paws in The Park and dressed up as a Lady bug. 🙂

I like going to these events as I get to meet a lot of new people who have never met a pit bull before! Some of these people tell Mum that they are scared because of the media but then they realize they have never met one!! That’s when they meet me and i give them lots of slobbery kisses and they fall in love with me.

Mum says its great knowing that we have changed someone’s mind on Pit bulls and we hope to change many more in the future.

Love,
Hazel xxx

Parent: Alanna

Millie, Graham, NC

My name is Millie. I am one of the lucky ones. I was saved from a high kill shelter in North Carolina. And…I am dying.

My parents named me Millie because of its German translation, strength and determination. I also have many nicknames that I answer to—Mildred, Millie Sue, Mills, Mama, Mill Mill, etc. My story is unique and as part of my “bucket list” I want to share it with the world.

I was about two years old when my previous “owner” surrendered me to Lee County Shelter. I had a severe case of demodectic mange and a horrible secondary skin infection. I had absolutely no hair and my whole body was swollen and infested with pustules and scabs.

Due to my horrible condition, I was set to be euthanized on the evening of May 28th, 2013. That day my momma laid eyes on my shelter picture and as soon as she did, she knew I was something special and deserved a second chance at life. I’m so happy my mom found me when she did because I was set to be euthanized at 4:30 pm and I was saved just in time.

She had recently suffered the loss of a foster puppy to Parvo and I knew it was my duty to help heal her heart while she did everything in her power to heal my broken body and soul. So, I guess you could say my mom and I were meant to be or better yet, soul mates!

Oh, she was my foster mom then; she was fostering me for the Fortitudine Vincimus Rescue in Asheboro, NC. It took 3-4 months for my skin infection to clear and for all of my hair to return. When the time came for me to be put up for adoption, she knew that she simply could not part with me. She became my forever momma and turned me into the princess that I am today!

Honestly, Momma and I have a bond that is indescribable! She calls me her shadow—where ever she goes, I’m sure to follow even if it means sitting underneath the shower curtain while she takes a shower! I can tell when she has had a stressful day or when she’s sad and I know just how to cheer her up! Most days, I just sit patiently and let her cry on my shoulder and reassure her that it’s going to be okay. Momma tells me that I’m her special child…I think that means I’m the favorite!

I woke up on November 30th with a temperature of 104.5, no appetite and very lethargic. To say my mom was panicked, is an understatement. My parents diligently monitored my temperature throughout the day. Well, my temperature didn’t subside so my parents decided to take me to the emergency vet. I was poked and prodded and many tests were ran. My platelets were extremely low and the emergency vet felt like I had a tick borne disease (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) which is totally treatable.

My parents were instructed to have me be seen by my regular vet on Monday morning. After many tests, a few days of antibiotics and steroids and no improvement, our personal vet order a echo where the large lesion on my aortic valve was discovered. Three days after my mom’s birthday, my life as I knew it would come to a screeching halt.

Simply put, I am terminally ill. I was diagnosed with Endocarditis—an infection in my heart, specifically on my Aortic Valve—in December of 2013. We were then immediately rushed to NCSU Vet Teaching Hospital and the veterinarians were surprised that I made it through the first two weeks of treatment. The bacterial lesion on my aortic valve was quite large and the risk of an embolism was of great concern.

I stayed in the hospital for 2 weeks to receive intravenous medication. Those were the longest two weeks of our lives—every day, every visit was a gift and my parents were extremely grateful for every second that we got to spend together! The unknown of how I would respond to treatment and the stress of not knowing if I would ever make it out of the hospital made for a long and restless two weeks!

Fortunately, I finally got to come home a few days before Christmas! For the next three months I had several checkups and a strict daily regiment of medicine. Momma think I seemed to be doing really well at home and was pretty much back to myself, just with a little less energy.

But my most recent checkup on April 3, 2014, revealed that I actually wasn’t doing so great. The large lesion is still present on my aortic valve but it looks more calcified, so hopefully all of the bacteria are gone but we won’t know for sure until after my blood tests come back. Due to the damage that the bacteria caused to my valve, my heart can’t pump blood as efficiently and therefore it has to overcompensate. This overcompensation has lead to what they call “Ventricular Hypertrophy” of my left ventricle—a lot of big words that simply mean my heart has enlarged, which isn’t good.

We were devastated to find out that ultimately Millie will go into congestive heart failure sooner rather than later. About a week ago my parents received the results from my April 3rd blood tests/cultures and thankfully they revealed that the bacteria had been eliminated and sterilized. The next step for me is surgical intervention! Due to the fact that a majority of our surgical options are a “first of their kind” type of procedure, my parents are trying to find the best option for ensuring my safety, health, and longevity. Without surgery, my cardiologist predicts that she has between 3 months to 2 years left, which is nowhere near long enough!

The cardio team at NCSU is currently researching new surgical options to prolong my life. My parents were hopeful that a valve replacement at Colorado State would be an option, but they have recently stopped performing this surgery. They are praying that an amazing surgical option will be discovered to help reduce the stress on my heart, which will give them more time with me. I’m sure keeping my paws crossed!

So, in the meantime we are enjoying every last second—which includes lots of playing with my brother and sisters, and my absolute favorite things: riding in the car and playing with stuffed, squeaky toys! I LOVE  them!! Oh, and checking items off my bucket list, like becoming an official “Monster”! 🙂

My bucket list is the reason my parents started my own Facebook page. It help them to focus on living and to record every minute, every second of our life together. And to share my lessons in life.

My first lessons in life weren’t that great. I learned that I had no value. I learned that when I got sick, I would be thrown away. I learned about fear, pain and solitude. Then my mom found me and taught me to love, to play, to dress like a girl and to sleep on fluffy pillows. And now, through my Facebook page, I know the love of strangers, the compassion of saints and the generosity of friends! I don’t think my mom could do all that she does for me if it weren’t for the love and care of strangers and friends. So thank you to everyone who’s helped us!!

Thank you for reading my story. Please follow my journey and share it with your friends. My hope is that by sharing my story I inspire and empower humans to help save broken shelter souls like myself and to never give up on a four-legged friend!

I might have started my life as “just a dog” but, I will leave this world as MILLIE and I will be loved by many.

Millie

Parent: Ashton

Editor’s Note: Millie went into surgery on September 2nd, 2014, at NC State ICU. The surgeon, Dr. Orton from Colorado State University, flew in to perform the surgery; he’s done this surgery once before and Millie’s family was optimistic. Unfortunately, Millie did not make it out of surgery.

From her  heartbroken mom: “Her weak heart stopped towards the end. Her surgeons tried everything to keep her alive, but she was too weak and was ready to cross rainbow bridge. I will miss you sweet girl, I love you more than words will ever be able to describe.”

Run free, Millie 

Calista, San Diego, CA

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” —Helen Keller

My name is Calista; it means “most beautiful.”

In July 2013, I was wandering the streets of Phoenix when a police officer found me. He thought I was blind because of how I was moving around and as he got closer, he quickly realized I was badly hurt.

He was able to convince me to come with him and he took me to the county shelter. The staff at the shelter began networking and they posted a picture of me on Facebook. They also contacted Mayday Pit Bull Rescue & Advocacy and asked them to help me.

Mayday does such good work that they were actually on a moratorium, meaning no new dogs. Lucky for me, the founder and president of Mayday knew I was special and reached out to my (then foster) parents asking for help. They had recently lost their very first Pit Bull to cancer and were having a hard time without her. I reminded them so much of their first dog that they immediately agreed to foster me.

The very next morning they picked me up from the county shelter and brought me to the amazing emergency veterinarians at VetMED. I was not doing well at all. My ears were severely damaged and the remaining tissue was infected and decaying [graphic photos]. The wounds to my ears looked like bite wounds and my body was covered in old scars. It became apparent that I was likely bred and used as a bait dog.

I was also emaciated and dehydrated and the veterinarian said I had been like this for a while. My body was covered in ticks and I tested positive for nearly every tick borne disease including, ehrlichia, babesia, and anaplasma. I needed a blood transfusion, multiple surgeries to clean and debride my ears, and lots of medicine.

I was scared and in pain, but I was hopeful.

The first night was the scariest. The odds of my survival were slim and Mayday and my parents wanted to give me a name before leaving, just in case I didn’t make it. They picked Calista because it means “most beautiful.”

Fortunately, I made it through the first night, and the nights after that! Initially, I was scared of everything, including jingling keys and even food. 🙁

My parents came to see me at least once every day for bonding and slowly, I began to trust the people around me.

After I was stable, I was allowed to go to my foster home! I had to be quarantined for a little while, but my parents took turns spending time with me in my room and they even set up a camera so they could watch me while I slept without waking me.

Eventually, I was allowed to meet my big brother Zazu and spend time in the rest of the house! Considering what I went through, my parents took the introduction very slow and I did amazing! Although I was on my way to becoming a healthy dog, I was still making regular trips to see my friends at VetMED and Mayday continued to fundraise for my medical costs.

Other groups shared my story too, like the Anti-Dog Fighting Campaign and Hendrick Boards who sold t-shirts to support my medical costs. People from all over contributed to my care and because of them, I am here today.

These days, life is awesome. My hearing is intact and I am off all medications. I love pretty much everything I do. My favorite things are sleeping on the couch, giving kisses, playing with toys, long walks anywhere, eating anything possible, and snuggling on top of whoever (2- or 4-legged) is near. 🙂

I also like to do support Mayday Pit Bull Rescue & Advocacy and other organizations that promote awareness of the breed. I even have my own Facebook page, Calista the Pit Bull, where you can see photos that chronicle my journey.

I love people and most other dogs, but my best friend is my big brother Zazu. He lays with me when I’m scared and he helps me learn new things, like how to play with toys and how to go up stairs. Not only does he help me, but my parents say I helped him too. Apparently, he was so sad after he lost his big sister that he stopped taking treats when my parents left for work. The first day I moved into the doggie room, was the first day Zazu took a treat again.

I like to know that not only did my family help me heal, but I helped them heal too. That is beautiful.

My name is Calista and I’M NOT A MONSTER!

♥ Calista

Parents: John & Jeannette

Little Red, Laramie, WY

I am a Vicktory dog and my name is Little Red. My story is one of enormous sadness rooted in horrific abuse. But I am a survivor and my spirit could not be broken. My life is a triumph of good over evil.

I was rescued from NFL football player Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation, Bad Newz Kennels, in April of 2007. I was malnourished and very frightened, barely able to walk. I spent the first five years of my life at Bad Newz as a “bait” dog and a brood mare. I lived my days chained to a car axle in a small clearing in the woods.

I often heard the sounds of other dogs who were being tortured and killed when they refused to fight or did not win their fights. Those sounds terrified me and made me very, very afraid.

I was taken off my chain and put in the rape rack and forced to breed and have litter after litter of pups. I was never able to keep any of my pups and it broke my heart. But it was even worse when I was removed from the chain and carried up the stairs of the fight building and thrown in the pit, forced to serve as a bait dog for the dogs who were made to fight.

The bad men at this place pulled my teeth and filed them down. My body was covered in scars and I often wished I would die.

But then a miracle happened and I was saved. I wasn’t sure if I could survive much longer but my torture ended when I was rescued and the bad men were no longer able to hurt me.

I became a ward of the court during the criminal proceeding against the bad men. I lived for many months in a small noisy kennel. It was not great, but it was so much better than life at Bad Newz. Once the court proceedings with Vick were concluded and I was no longer considered “evidence” of a crime, I began the next phase of my life.

I was one of the dogs who was rescued by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Southern Utah. In early 2008, Best Friends took me and 21 other Vick dogs to the Sanctuary. We were the dogs who suffered from the most trauma and could not go directly into foster homes.

At Best Friends, I began to flourish. The staff provided me with excellent medical care and the gentle and loving touch of humans that I so desperately needed. They gave me the time to heal: physically, mentally and spiritually and I blossomed.

I was soon a favorite among the staff and I eagerly accepted treats and learned to smile with joy at my new life. I loved the company of other dogs and quickly formed a bond with another Vicktory dog, Handsome Dan. We spent our days playing and lounging in the sun. We learned how to enjoy our lives and we put the days of Bad Newz behind us.

When Handsome Dan was adopted into his forever family, I was very lonely and I missed him very much. I found a new friend, Beefcake who was like me – he came from a fight ring in St. Louis. Beefcake and I were good friends and I loved the big lug who helped to protect me when I was afraid.

When Beefcake was adopted, I wondered if I would ever have a chance to find my forever home. I got a new companion named Google and I loved him very much. We were great friends and he made me feel better about losing Handsome Dan and Beefcake.

By court order, many of the Vicktory dogs were required to pass the Canine Good Citizenship Test prior to being considered for adoption. The test was very difficult for me because I was so shy with strangers. But finally, in August of 2011, I passed my test! 🙂 I had spent 3½ years at Best Friends and I felt like my life was very good.

Everything changed again when I was adopted in September 2011. I was very afraid to live in a home and I desperately missed my caregivers and my canine friend Google.

I was afraid of so many thing in my new home especially when I heard loud noises or new people visited; I would go to my corner and turn my back to the wall. I was able to go deep inside myself to get away from things that scared me. It was something I learned to do during my long and horrible days at Bad Newz.

It took me several months to feel comfortable in my new home. I had four canine siblings and they were really fun and so gentle with me. But it was my new Mom who made me feel like I lived in a home. She gave me treats and took me for walks. And when I was scared and overwhelmed by all the changes in my life, she held me on her lap and rocked me like a baby.

Slowly, day-by-day, I began to feel at home. I had still had days when I was afraid, but my Mom and my canine siblings would go outside and play with me, and we had lots of really good treats. I began to blossom again and feel like a happy and confident dog. Whenever my Mom came home from work, I would race to the door and great her with my tail wagging and a big smile on my face.

Even today, I still have moments of fear and I will shut down and turn my back to the world. I still go deep inside myself to shut out the things that frighten me. My Mom says that I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and occasionally things in my environment trigger my fears.

Lots of people think that I needed to be rehabilitated during my time at Best friends, but I was never a mean or vicious dog. I just needed time to recover from all of the trauma that I endured at Bad Newz.

Michael Vick and his bad men tried to make me mean; they were not successful. I am and have always been a sweet and gentle dog and I have stayed true to my nature.

I am now 11 years old and I live a quiet life in the country. I love to spend my days playing with my canine pack and I love to snuggle in my bed in front of the fire. I like to go for car rides with my Mom and I love to lay at her side when she works in her garden. I have a swimming pool, lots of places to run really fast, and my Mom makes special treats for me. I know that she loves me with all of her heart and she will always keep me safe.

The bad men can never hurt me again. I am content to spend my remaining days surrounded by the love and comfort of my forever home.

I am Little Red and I triumphed over evil.

~ Little

p.s. You can visit me on Facebook: Little Red.

Parent: Susan

Zoey, Los Angeles, CA

My name is Zoey and I was born in front of a roast duck restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, in April 2007. The owner came out and washed me and my 5 siblings into a gutter. Luckily a kind student named Amy witnessed this and took us all home with her.

A month later, an amazing group called Animal Rescue Team Taiwan came to help us get ready for adoption in the United States. A really nice lady named Joy became my foster mama from that point on. I was the runt of the litter, only weighing 2.5 pounds, and she gave me so much love and helped me grow stronger.

Across an ocean in Los Angeles, a woman named Grace was looking to adopt another rescue dog. She thought her first rescue dog named Maeby would like a little brother or sister.

One day while searching on the internet, Grace saw my photo staring back at her! She knew I was the puppy she had been waiting for, and in that moment, she just knew she would become my mommy.

In August 2007, a nice young dentist volunteered to bring me to America, so I boarded a plane in Taiwan and crossed an ocean to meet my new mom in LA. I was so scared when I got off the plane! But my new mom was ready for me, and immediately gave me so much love.

I was home.

I’ve always been very, very shy ever since I was a baby. But my big sister Maeby was the best! She is 9 years old and a former street dog from Mexico. She became my friend right away and she’s my inspiration in life. My mom likes to say I’m Maeby’s little shadow. But Maeby is so smart, wise, and gentle and if I have to learn from anyone she’s the best dog to learn from!

I feel like new people don’t understand me. I get really scared of new people and bark a lot, but people don’t realize that I’m more afraid of them than they are of me.

Six years after my mom brought me into her life, a new little creature came into mine. His name was Jasper, and he was my human baby brother!

My mommy and daddy didn’t rush me at all when it came to getting to know this strange little guy. They knew I needed patience and they gave me lots of space. But I like making new friends! I just need to grow brave enough to say hi to them.

Little by little, I became more comfortable with my little brother. I saw how Maeby was with him and knew I could be friendly and gentle, just like her. I started to go closer to him to sniff him, and sometimes I even liked to lay on the bed with him.

One day when he was 7 months old, I was laying on the bed and Jasper came crawling to me. I decided that I knew him well enough by then, and that we could be friends! So I rolled over onto my back and showed him my belly. I’ve heard babies can be rough with dogs, but Jasper gave me the most gentle little pets! And ever since that moment, I decided we could become friends. Now I like to be the first to run into his room in the morning, and lay by mom’s feet when she’s feeding him. He thinks I’m just the funniest girl he knows.

Oh, and Jasper and I are the star of our very own photo series: Zoey + Jasper: A rescue dog and her boy! I love having my photos taken with him. And I feel like people are finally seeing that I’m a pretty cool girl, and not a scary black dog. 🙂

By the way, after the photo series started getting attention, people were criticizing mom for putting clothes on me because I don’t smile in my photos so they think I must be miserable in them. What they don’t understand is that they are looking at my extreme concentration face because I take my job as a model seriously. 🙂 I really enjoy wearing stuff! Maeby would wear anything mom put on her as long as she gets treats. But I absolutely LOVE wearing clothes!

Mom thinks my love of fashion started when our family went on a staycation at this dog-friendly hotel in San Diego. We had to do lots of walking through the lobby and hotel and I was so scared of new situations and new people…so my mom bought Maeby and I matching scarves so other hotel guests would smile at us and send us warm energy. And it worked!! I looooooved it!! Ever since then, I love wearing anything mom put on me and actually do little happy dances when the props come out.

My parents are the best parents ever! They love us SO MUCH that they only take vacations within driving distance so Maeby and I can come along—we even went on their honeymoon!! They would never, ever do anything to make us upset. So please don’t hurt my mom’s feeling by saying she’s making me miserable. If she knows I’m writing this about her, she would say, “Zoey, oh my sweet Zoey!”

Since the series has started getting attention, mom noticed that I had an extra skip in my step. She’s not making this up! I’m extra smiley and happy because I’m feeling all the love you guys have been sending me! 🙂

~ Zoey

p.s. As the photo series broke around the world, a miracle has happened! Mom reconnected with my foster mom Joy! Joy saw the photos all the way in China and had a hunch that I might be the sickly little 2.5 pound dog she nursed to health in Taiwan—and she was right. She’s been waiting for 7 years to hear more about the puppy she fell in love with. ♥

Photos courtesy of Grace Chon, mom and celebrity pet photographer at Shine Pet Photography. Grace also photographs adoptable dogs for rescue groups in Los Angeles and Orange County, including Downtown Dog Rescue, The Dawg Squad and Jason Heigl Foundation.

Gugu, Tenerife, Spain

My name is Gugu and I lived in sunny Spain, which was great for my arthritis cos my old bones got very stiff!

I turned 13 years old in May 2013. The first two years of my life was not great at all. I was a victim of dogfighting, hence the horrible scars all over me. Those evil people even took some of my teeth out and filed the rest down so I couldn’t fight back.

Those days are long gone cos I was seized from a dog fighting ring in 2002 and rescued by a lovely man who took me to his dog refuge in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. The Refuge is called Live Arico and was run by that amazing man, Eugenio Da Mommio from Argentina. I lived there for nine years with many other unwanted dogs that he rescued on that island.

My mum told me how lucky I was because Eugenio is a truly dedicated man who spent 15 years living in a van on the refuge with all us dogs. Oh, did I say my mum? 🙂 Here’s how we met.

Her rescue dog Shaz, a fox terrier, had died six months prior at the age of 18 and she couldn’t live without her dogs! So her boyfriend and her went to Live Arico for a visit and they came across me. She noticed how scarred and battered I was, but also how loved I was at the refuge.

Oh, and the fact that I just followed them around with my food bowl in my mouth. 🙂

They couldn’t resist; they fell in love with me and took me home for one night to see how I was with Lilly the cat. Lilly was so sacred at first but not for long! That was it; they told Eugenio I was staying!!

That was two years ago and my life was just amazing. I love everyone and everything and couldn’t harm a thing!

Everyone who met me never ever seen me show a moment of aggression. Ever! After all that I went through in the hands of the bad people who fought me, my mum says that I was the most gentle, affectionate angel ever. She truly believes dogs like me are so misunderstood just because of my breed, which is a sad thing.

So all was good. I slept loads; I loved the sunshine, nice dinners, treaties and most of all, I feel loved. I lived with Lilly and Trevor—the cats, Fester the other rescue hound, Marty the preying mantis and a whole load of goats who like to wander through the garden whenever they like! (That’s ok!)

Sadly, my hard early life showed its mark on me more profoundly as I got older. Besides the arthritis, in late 2012 I started losing my vision and became totally blind in 2013. But Mum told me not to worry because she was my eyes.

Then in early September 2013, my legs gave way and I couldn’t walk anymore. But I still got to spend my last days lying in the sunshine (I SOOO loved to sunbathe!), eating my favorite treats and being loved.

I left my mum on September 25th, 2013. She told everyone that I was such an angel and so missed, and that she still feels my presence every day!

~ Gugu

p.s. Only after she was getting my story together for I’m Not a Monster did she find out about my history of being seized from a dog fighting ring. Poor mum 🙁 She picked up my ashes on October 10, 2013, and scattered them in all my favorite places. ♥

Parent: Rhona

Tater, Burnsville, MN

Well, where do I start? I guess I should start by telling you a few general facts about my handsome self! 🙂

My name is Tater Tot but I am only called Tater Tot when I decide to be naughty and pretend my humans are invisible. I turned 18 months old on April 13, 2014 and I am a purebred American Pit Bull Terrier. So, I planned on keeping my whole story a secret from my new family but my savior (who you will learn about a little later) decided to spill the beans!

I was born in Kansas on October 13, 2014 with all my little pudgy Pitty siblings—I dare you to say that 5x fast! At a measly 5 weeks old I was sold to this man who brought me home to his family where I would live for about 4 months. There were 2 little kids and a big person lady! As much as I loved my family, I wanted to be with *my* mommy and siblings just a few more weeks so I could grow into a big and strong puppy but don’t get me wrong, I loved my new family!

One day, I heard a very loud  pounding at the door and these big scary guys came into the house. They cuffed my human daddy and took him away!! I didn’t know what was happening but I wanted my daddy.

Next, some more big guys came, scooped me up and brought me to their truck where I was going to be taken to be put down since where I lived I was illegal. 🙁 Thankfully, a nice lady came and she put me in her car where we drove to a nice place with other 4-leggeds!

I stayed there for about a month and a half and really loved it! We played LOTS of fetch and I romped a lot with her senior 4-legged!

I was then off to Minnesota! Let’s just say I don’t want to ride in a truck that long again… I was fetch deprived! We arrived and there were very nice people who came and greeted me. I then went to my foster home where there was another human daddy, a human mommy, 3 little human people and two 4-leggeds. Oh how I loved the little human people!

Apparently I was a feisty puppy but hey, I’m a puppy! I even bugged my 4-legged foster brother so much he told me off! RUDE! After that, I kept my distance… Sheesh, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed!

My girl had been wanting a Pit Bull since October 2012, a few months after she was diagnosed with multiple mental health issues. That is also when she learned about them, and she instantly fell in love. My girl thought having a Pit Bull type dog would be perfect for becoming a Service Dog since they are very determined, loving and can switch from play to working very easily.

Her and her mom moved to Minnesota from California in May and the big human person promised her a Pit Bull. Right when they moved she started searching Petfinder and rescues in Minnesota for the perfect Pit. One day she saw the most HANDSOME Blue Pitty ever, me of course! She started to cry when she looked at my picture because she knew I was supposed to be hers. There was just something that felt “right” about me…that is the only way she can explain it!

Well, our landlord who lives in Australia told us she is NOT going to have a Pit Bull in “her” house (they are renting). The humans purchased renters insurance but the landlord was still not going to have a “killer” live in her house. The insurance, property manager and rescue were just stunned. We finally got through to her and within a few days I made the trip to my forever family’s house! 🙂

It was love at first sight when I saw my girl but the big human person…not so much. She was not too fond of me. The big human person was not a fan of male dogs in general and thought I looked really tough and even a bit scary.

After a few months the big person said, “I don’t know why people give the bad looks they do when I am walking him!!” and my girl and I knew she had fallen in love with me. Now I have her wrapped around my paw! The big person is obsessed with me now! Maybe not love at first sight but it is sure love now! 🙂

In October we joined the Service Dog Organization 1 Boy 4 Change and in February started working with one of their trainers, James. James is a HUGE advocate for the American Pit Bull Terrier and has owned them for over 25 years. My girl knew he was the perfect trainer for me when they first talked!

When not working or training, I LOVE to swim! I used to not want anything to do with water but a doggy friend pushed me in one at the dog park and since then I haven’t ever wanted to get out! I love my Lola who I always go to the dog park with, also. We first met at camp then started to go to the park together. She is BOSSY! People think it’s very funny to watch us play because Lola is the dominant one out of us and always beats me up… 🙁 she is also HALF my weight… I am just a big and clumsy goofball.

In April 2014, my girl notices my happiness declining. I was getting VERY stressed on outings and worried more about other people than her, trying to go up to crying kids and just trying to make EVERYONE happy. I would even run away when my girl picked up my vest; I used to run toward it. 🙁

After the humans talked, they decided that I would no longer train to become a Service Dog. It just was not right for me and they care about my happiness. They told me that was okay and I can become whatever I want to: an agility dog, house dog or maybe even a dog park dog! BOL!

Oh, and BEST part is that my girl sometimes gives me some food off her plate when eating…Shhh!!!!

Fostering is something we do as well. We got our first foster in December 2013. His name is Bear. He was dog reactive/aggressive especially with females but I helped rehabilitate him. He is now living at his forever home and gets along with 80- 90% of other dogs! 🙂

I have escaped the consequences of irresponsible breeding, a future of being bred, living the rest of my life in a motel, BSL and being euthanized because of my breed. If you don’t think I’m lucky then I don’t know what lucky is! My story is to inspire people that no matter what bumps in the road you experience ANYTHING is possible!

I am Tater and I am NOT a Monster!

Tater ♥

p.s. Don’t forget to follow my adventures: Tater Tot!

Parent: Amaya

Odin, San Diego, CA

I’m Odin! And even though I am almost three years old, my life never really began until August 16th, 2013.

It’s funny how the whole “life” thing works. My Mom tells me that, “God will never put a mountain at your feet unless he is sure that you can climb it,” so I guess God knew that even though the first couple years of my life were something from a nightmare, I would put my head down and climb. I would climb all the way to the top, and find my forever family there waiting for me.

I can’t tell the story of my life with words, so I say it with  my eyes. My eyes speak of a sadness and wisdom that a dog as young as me should never know. It was this sadness that drew my Mom to me in the first place.

You see, she is what humans call a “rescuer,” but to dogs like me, she is an angel. In August of last year, I was picked up wandering the streets of  San Bernardino, CA, by an animal control officer. The woman who would soon become my Mom, saw my intake picture on one of the rescue pages she follows on Facebook. “He’s gorgeous, he’ll be adopted quickly!” she said; but sadly, Pit Bull type dogs are abundant in the shelter I was in, and people kept passing me by…

The day came when the shelter saw me sniffle just a little bit and declared I was getting sick. They scheduled me to die at 5pm that night. My Mom was at work when she clicked on my picture and saw that I was on “the list.”

My picture was a sad one, and looking at it now sometimes makes my Mom cry. She saw my sad eyes looking up at the camera, screaming, pleading, for a chance. And just like that, she decided to give me one.

With California Bully Crew Rescue willing to back me, my Mom drove 2 1/2 hours to the shelter to save me. When I met her, I dove into her lap with all 80 pounds of me. She  held out a treat for me, and I shoved it aside, choosing instead to give her kisses of gratitude.

When we pulled onto the interstate to head back to San Diego, I lay quietly beside my new Mom, who at the time, was only my Foster Mom. I nuzzled her hand has her eyes filled with tears—we were so grateful to have one another. And then suddenly—BAM!—her tire blew! She managed to exit the interstate and pull into a parking lot, but we had to wait in the sweltering San Bernadino heat for over an hour just to get a new tire on.

We sat underneath a shade tree and Mom joked with me, saying that “something blue” is supposed to be lucky! It was at that moment that a man in a car drove by slowly, and then lowered his window to ask my mom what my bloodlines were, and if she wanted to breed me. She was so angry! I was hours away from death, because there are just too many Pitties, and this man wanted to use me to create more!

Needless to say, she stayed (somewhat) composed, and we got our tire replaced and hit the road! So long old life!

The road to recovery was long and hard for me. Once Mom got me home, she quickly realized that I had been abused and neglected. My short little ears are edged in tell-tale scar tissue that can only come from a job performed with kitchen shears. I was terrified of being reached over, or having my collar grabbed. I was curious about my brother Loki, but if he touched me I would tense up and growl. I had thick calluses on all of my elbows that the veterinarian said comes from a life lived on a concrete slab. When Mom tried to bring me into the house, I would balk at the door, terrified of coming in.

Mom hired a dog trainer, Fernando of Canine Education, who did a wonderful job at coming over and working with me, and showing Mom what she needed to do to help me learn to trust humans. It certainly wasn’t easy, but now I happily lounge with my brother and have no problem being led by my collar!

Mom spent 6 months as my foster mom when one day, a wonderful application came through for me. When she had the realization that I might get adopted, that I might leave her forever, she couldn’t stop crying. That is when she made what she calls the ‘best decision of her life’, and decided to adopt me officially!

Now I go with her to dog walks, pet expos, adoption events, and was even in a parade! I have what humans call a Cinderella Story!

No one will ever know exactly what happened to me before I was rescued, and for that I am grateful. No one needs to know what was on the other side of that mountain, all that matters is I made it to the top, and after so many years of sadness, I am finally home.

Oh, you can follow me on my adventure on my Facebook page: Odin’s Way Home!

Thank you for reading my story!
—Odin

Parent: Mary

Venus, Morgantown, WV

Hello, my name is Venus! I am a 13-month-old pit bull mix girl. My mom and dad tell me I am the prettiest and sweetest girl in the world, and that I must be very special because although I’ve had a hard life, I’m still so sweet.

I was turned in to the animal shelter when I was 10 months old. The man who took me there said he found me in a Wal-mart parking lot, but the shelter worker knew better.

I was covered in blood and suffering from chronic demodex mange, ear infections, and a painful eye problem. The lady at the shelter couldn’t believe I was so friendly, considering how much I was hurting.

She contacted a local rescue, Pet Helpers, Inc. of Fairmont, WV, to take me into their foster program. When the Pet Helpers volunteers met me, they named me Venus, after the goddess of love and beauty.

I was happy to leave the shelter for a nice foster home.

Over the next two and a half months, my foster mom, Kathy “Mim” Vincent, cared for me while I recovered. Mim took me to the vet every week for mange treatments. She took me to visit the children at the local grade schools, to show the kids how important it is to take good care of their pets.

Mim took lots of pictures of me as I healed, and posted them on the Pet Helpers Facebook page. I didn’t know it, but a lot of people followed my story on the Pet Helpers page, including the people who would become my forever mom and dad. They were looking for a sister for their pit bull, Arlo, and they thought I might be “the one”.

Mim said they would give me a good home, and she promised me that I could visit her any time I wanted. Arlo and I met each other at Petco, and we’ve been together ever since. 🙂

My favorite place to sit is right between mom and dad, so I can give them kisses! Sometimes, if Arlo is already sitting in my spot, I sit on top of him! BOL!

My parents are so happy that I joined the family. They are so very thankful for Pet Helpers and the foster families for the love and compassion they freely give to dogs and cats whom others have thrown away.

They see the value in every four-legged soul, show them that not all people will disappoint them, repair their fragile bodies, and selflessly send them on to a new, forever home.

Because of these wonderful people, I not only have a dad and mom, but will always have my Mim as well.

Love,
Venus

Parent: Sherry

Birdie, Houston, TX

Hi! My name is Birdie. Sure, I’ve got a story, just like all the others. But mine’s a little different.

It started like a lot of the shelter stories you’ve read: A woman saw the photo of me one night at the shelter. They didn’t have an adoption program there so I had 24 hours until they would give me the needle that sends me straight to heaven.

She worked it all out with the rescue group. Everyone at the shelter cried when I said goodbye the next day. I heard something about me being a favorite. You thought this was my happy ending, right?

Well, I was scared at her house — I’d never been in a house before. I tried everything to get out of that box and the door of her house. The next day she took me to another house, but I kind of acted the same.

Then, that afternoon, she brought me to a different shelter and paid them money to take me. Then she left me there. 🙁

I thought she was the one that saved me? Didn’t she know I just needed a few days? I’ve had a rough time & I promise I would have relaxed & began to trust her more. Why didn’t she wait it out?

Lucky for me, the group she worked with found out right away and sent someone to get me. I’ve been staying at another place for the last couple of weeks. Lots of other dogs here but I’m safe & they love me & they teach me stuff. I even have a dog best friend now. They waited me out. Now everyone sees the real me.

I’ve decided that my past and how I became homeless is not as important as telling you about who I am and what exactly I need. So, here goes:

  • I’m strong with a bold personality. I’m sure of myself & confident. See my smile? I have one all the time with my head always held high!
  • Taking care of others is very important to me. I’m a mother & a warrior, but with a soft candy center. I think I would love little babies, although the humans caring for me now haven’t seen me around any yet. I like big people too 🙂
  • Other dogs are cool, but I’m picky about who I’ll let in my circle. I like order and am very aware of my surroundings, so I prefer anything non-chaotic

Well, I am ready. Will you be my true person come get me and keep me for real?

—Birdie

For more information about Birdie or to fill out an application, please visit Buster’s Friends Rescue. Thank you.

Photos by robyn arouty photography

Editor’s Note: In July 2014, Robyn informed us that Birdie was adopted! One of the employees at the boarding place she was staying at fell in love with her. She moved to a new house that would accommodate Birdie better then made it official. Still brings her to work everyday so she can play with other doggies in daycare. 🙂

Emma, Linneus, ME

Hi! My name is Emma. I’m one lucky girl! My early history is pretty much a blur.

I was ‘owned’ by someone who locked me in a hot car, so hot the police had to break in and rescue me. They took me to a kill shelter. Frying pan into the fire! I was only about 7 months old!

The shelter was a scary place. I was virtually invisible to people looking to take home something fluffy or anything but a pit bull. I lost track of the days and of how many familiar doggie voices went silent forever when no one was visiting to adopt. I was giving up hope. Then one day a special lady with the Humane Society of Clarksville took me home!

A real home where I was loved and able to play with other dogs without cages between us! My foster peeps took good care of me for about a year, but we all knew this wasn’t my final stop. I went to adoption events, but always returned to my foster home and playmates; I was Pit Bull in an area inundated with unwanted Pit Bulls.

One day foster mom took me on a road trip. She lifted her camera at me, sitting there in the co-pilot seat; I looked right into the lens and hoped my forever Mom out there would see the love in my eyes.

Foster mom shared it with her Humane Society who shared it with another rescue in Tennessee where it was seen by a volunteer of yet another rescue in Maine. Guess what?

Yes! My forever Mom knew I was talking directly to her! Come get me! I didn’t know it at the time, but phone calls & emails were being exchanged, references called; within the hour of seeing me, forever Mom & Dad had their bags packed and were pacing with anticipation; a couple hours later, it was confirmed they could come get me!

At four-thirty the next morning, they were on the road, driving through a spring snowstorm, coming 1,500 miles from northern Maine to Clarksville, TN, just to adopt me! 🙂

Two days later, I met my forever family! Like we’ve belonged to each other forever! Mom said she had big plans for me. Being loved by my own family is big enough for me. But Mom had another volunteer career, with Maine’s first animal-assisted therapy organization called Silent Sidekicks.

Yes, the once virtually invisible little Pit Bull is very visible and has a wonderful career bringing smiles and comfort to everyone I meet!

The best part is, I am Pit Bull and as a Sidekick, I am able to spread the good word about bully breeds by showing people how much unconditional love and comfort I could give those I meet from young children in schools and libraries to the elderly in nursing homes, hospice and homebound and every one of every age in between!

I am Emma the Sidekick, proud to be a Pit Bull and especially proud of and grateful for the people who find dogs like me and rescue/foster/adopt us!

Love,
Emma

Parent: Darlene

Austin, Cincinnati, OH

Hi, my name’s Austin. Don’t let the name fool you, I’m a GIRL! 🙂

When I was a little five month old puppy, I was dumped in Northern Kentucky. No one is exactly sure how long I’d been alone on the streets. I was underweight, you could see all my ribs. But I love people so much and will run straight up to the first person I see!

A nice lady found me running down the highway, and picked me up. She took care of me for two weeks while she was trying to find my owners. When nobody stepped forward to claim me, she put an ad on Craigslist looking for my new home. My foster mom was sad that she couldn’t keep me herself, but she knew finding me a new home was best.

My mom saw the ad on Craigslist and was drawn to my big, goofy ears! She checked back, noticing the ad was still up, for almost a week. All day at work, her mind drifted to me. She emailed my foster mom and asked if she could come meet me.

When my mom showed up that evening, I ran out the front door and almost knocked her over with all my excitement and love, BOL!! I jumped on her, and gave her kisses, and wiggled all around. I knew things were going to be better from here on out.

My mom realized that I’m deaf my very first night home. My foster mom had sent me with some toys, and I chewed my stuffed bunny to shreds and had stuffing everywhere, BOL. When my mom got the vacuum out to clean up my mess, I had my back to her. When she turned the vacuum on I didn’t even flinch. Later that week she took me to the vet for my shots, and they did a few tests to confirm Mom’s suspicions.

She thinks my old family probably abandoned me because they thought I was dumb, and didn’t realize I’m deaf. I didn’t know anything when I first came to live with my new mom, but she’s taught me sign language and now I listen very well. I learned so quick! It only took about 10 minutes for me to get the hang of sit!

Now I’m much smarter, and I know sit, lay down, roll over, stay, come, NO, and hugs. I’m still learning about walking nicely on a leash, and not jumping on people, but I’ll figure it out with a little more work.

Mom just enrolled me in obedience classes to start working towards earning my CGC, and then learn about agility! She’s showed me some videos on the YouTube, and BOY, DOES THAT STUFF LOOK FUN!!! I can’t wait!

I want to help educate people, not only about BSL, but deaf dogs and Craigslist dogs. I’m trying to become a K9 Blood Donor. I would like to start doing some fundraisers for rescues and special needs dogs in the future. You can follow me on Facebook at Austin the Deaf Bull Terrier/Pit Bull!

Mom says I will forever be a part of her family, and because of me, she will always own/foster deaf dogs.

Love,
Austin

Parent: Lauren

Ruger, Middletown, IN

Hi there, I am Ruger the Pit Bull Ambassabull! My story started in the fall of 2012.

I was a five-week-old backyard breeder puppy surrendered along with my siblings in Ohio. Thanks to a group effort by various rescues organized by Tavia Swain and Jennifer Pratt Williams of Mercy’s Door Pet Rescue, all my siblings were immediately fostered or adopted.

Well, except for me, the only boy. I only had a very temporary foster.

That same week, miles away in Indiana, a family had planned to adopt from a local rescue’s many adoptable dogs. The mom had been wanting a therapy dog to work with PTSD veterans, because the dad suffered from PTSD severely after coming home from Iraq and exiting the Marines. She also wanted a dog who could do very well in large crowds, at events and in public in general to be an ambassador for bully breeds and help change minds.

They found the one, or so they thought. He was an adult Am Staff with his CGC who was well-suited to be a therapy dog and ambassador for his breed. And he’s NOT a puppy, which was exactly what the family wanted. Well, his foster family decided to adopt him and this family were heartbroken…

Until the mom saw my photo. She immediately fell in love with my face!

So this family decided to take a chance on me. They had no idea if being pulled from my dog mom so early would create behavioral issues or what kind of temperament I would have.

Well they found out quickly that I was special! 🙂 I learned things very quickly and retained them. I was also very intuitive. At 5 months old I attended my first public event and everyone told my mom I was amazing. They couldn’t believe it was my first event. My mom knew then that I was that dog!

I continued to attend events and at 9 months old I passed my Canine Good Citizens at a huge event in Indianapolis! I was evaluated by people who train and own therapy dogs and they all tell my mom how I am so well suited for it. I guess sometimes we just pick the humans. 🙂

In July of 2013, my mom founded Project Bully, an organization geared towards making a better name for bully breed dogs, promoting shelter adopting, teaching people how to be responsible owners & more.

I’ve been an ambassador with my family since day one. I LOVE to go anywhere: Pet Supplies Plus, Tractor Supply… but my favorite is to attend to any events! I’ve been to Pride events, Pit Bull Awareness events, Marches, Fundraisers… I’m the main kissing booth dog for Project Bully.

I was even featured on the front page of a local paper in August after an event in a very anti-bully community! Everyone says I’m a natural at working a crowd!

My parents also started “Operation Ruger’s Helpers for Heroes,” a fundraising effort to raise funds for organizations like Dogs for Heroes and Pets for Vets, who take shelter and homeless dogs and train them to be companion, service or therapy dogs for Veterans. These organizations combine the two things that are very special and important to my family: rescue and promotion of shelter and homeless pets, and helping our nation’s biggest heroes.

Just like me and my dad. My mom watches me work with my dad all the time without either my dad and I even know it, and she is so proud of me.

My parents had planned for me to start on my therapy certification but they didn’t want to rush me. They wanted me to have some extra time to grow up, be a puppy and mature. My best friend is a dog named Linus, one of the dogs at Puddin’s Pittie Palace, and my girlfriend is Thelma over there too!

Oh, and I LOVE to talk! I know how to say “I love you”, “thank you”, “please” and a bunch of half barks/howls. My parents are currently teaching me a “What does the fox say”! 🙂

My mom told me she is grateful everyday to be my mom, and cannot believe how amazing I am, the little orphan puppy.

My family says I’m truly a gift. And I’M NOT A MONSTER.

Lubs,
Ruger

Parent: Stephanie

Dexter, Sun Valley, CA

Hi! I’m Dexter The Pibble and this is my story.

I found myself in a cage at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter when I was just 2 months old. I was picked up as a stray with my furmama and siblings and we were all very sick with Parvovirus and malnourished. Sadly, soon my furmama and most of my siblings passed to the rainbow bridge — they were very weak and didn’t have strength to fight the Parvo. Me and my sister were the only two survivors but they separated us and I was alone for a month in the shelter, in a cold cage with cement floors.

I saw Humans pass by the cages and dogs being taken away from the cages. Some were put back in the cage and some never returned, and I wanted to be one of those that never returned. I had ambition and determination. But they never took me out of the cage, and I heard the Humans said they were going to “put me down” if I did survive…

One day this young couple came in and was looking through the cages. I tried my best to look as cute as possible! I wiggled and wiggled and put my paws on the cage to get their attention…The girl finally came over to see me. I was so excited I could barely stand up straight on the slippery floor.

She called the young man over to see me and they both smiled as they pet me through the holes of the cage. They left to talk to the man that fed us every day and the man had told them I was very sick and had Parvo. The couple didn’t seem to care although the man insisted there were “other healthy puppies to pick from” because I wasn’t going to last long and I was going to be “put down” soon. 🙁

The girl insisted she wanted me so the young man asked what they could do for me. The man said that they would have to wait two weeks to see if I would manage to pull through the Parvo. They couldn’t take me out of the cage due to the virus being lethal in most cases and extremely contagious. He said he would call them…

So I waited… and waited… Two weeks had gone by and the couple didn’t come. I lost hope. I thought they were “the ones.”

The very next day, the couple came back! And boy was I excited to see them! The girl questioned the man as to why he didn’t call them and the man apologized, saying he “forgot”. They took me out of my cage and put me in the patio they had outside for me to interact with the couple. I ran around like there was no tomorrow!

I fell quite a lot at that time. I ran towards the girl and fell, that’s when the girl noticed that I had a couple of scars on the side of my face — one under my chin — and two random and round scars on both my back legs. They didn’t think much of my falling, they thought it was because I was so weak and malnourished still.

As I got to their house and they let me roam freely, my back legs would act up and I would get frustrated because I couldn’t run or walk like other dogs could. Sometimes I would just drag my back legs. The couple got worried and brought me to a vet where they did X-Rays and other tests on me. My bones are terrific so it wasn’t that. My blood work came out good too, so the girl told the vet that I had Parvo when I was younger and the vet said, “That would be why then.”

I had lingering problems from the virus and the vet said that I would never be able to walk normal nor would be able to run much (I couldn’t run more than a Chihuahua at the time). And “around 5 years, he will need a wheel chair,” was the vets words. My new parents refused to believe him and went to other vets who also said the same, including one of them said jumping was out of the question as I would never be able to do it.

My Humans never gave up on me. Then, after 3 months of surviving Parvo and the vets saying what they did, I got Distemper. 🙁 But this time, I wasn’t alone in a cold cage with cement floors and left to fight it off for myself. I had my Humans now who helped me overcome it.

Nowadays, I’ve proven everybody wrong! 🙂 I run, I walk, I jump… I do everything other dogs can do.

I love my life and I love all my friends and furiends in it. I love everybody! Big dogs, small dogs, children, adults… you name it! I learned the very hard way that not everybody loves me back though. I’ve been bit 13 different times! Yup, you read that right. Thirteen different times I’ve been attacked due to owners not being responsible with their dogs. And despite what the media and mean people say, I NEVER fought back, EVER. Not even one growl back. I guess I really suck at being a Pit Bull. BOL!

I am healthy and despite the lingering problems I had (partial paralysis in my hind legs due to the Parvo), I have achieved my CGC and Advanced CGC, I know every command and trick you can think of, and I have a “bombproof” temperament — I always stay calm and responsive to my Humans, no matter what happens! I also do sports like Dock Diving and Agility — my legs won’t stop me from having fun!

My Humans say that one of my greatest gifts, aside of having a contagious smile, is the comfort I provide dogs who are struggling with aggression or insecurity issues. My demeanor soothes their anxiety and helps them become more confident with other dogs. My Humans are dog trainers through an amazing organization, LARPBO – Los Angeles Responsible Pit Bull Owners, and I go to classes where I can help these dogs and show their Humans how their dogs can become with the proper training and socialization.

We also go to events where I can show off all of my tricks and obedience. I even help kids (and adults) to not be afraid of Pit Bulls at events and educate them and their parents. I love to show off by the way. BOL!

My Humans learned a valuable lesson: No matter what, never give up on yourself or an animal. Nobody thought that sickly little falling down puppy would survive, let alone doing all these amazing things to help other dogs and Humans. Right? 🙂

Lots of love, licks and hugs,
Dexter The Pibble

Parent: Mariana

Kellan, Houston, TX

We all have a story. This is mine.

My name is Kellan and my story started on November 12th. That day, I saw two humans feeding homeless dogs in Houston’s Fifth Ward. I walked up to them…

And that’s when the humans saw me, a walking skeleton with wounds all over, some looked like bullet wounds. It was apparent that I was abused, abandoned, neglected….and I needed help immediately. I didn’t know it at the time, but the humans—Alicia and Yvette—are volunteers for Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project, an organization who help the forgotten and abandoned animals of the Fifth Ward area of Houston, TX.

They took my photos and sent a plea out in hopes they could find a foster home for me. They also gave me my name, after the fearless leader of the organization, Kelle.

Immediately, they found a foster for me. An angel named Shawna called my rescuers right away without even thinking. She said her heart sank and although she wasn’t sure if she was going to be the help I needed, decided to give me a safe place.

That night Shawna took me home and let me lay on the warmest bed I’d ever been in. She then sat on the floor with me and cried.

I was just happy I could rest safely. You don’t know what a relief it is to be off the street! My rescuers believe I was probably used as a breeder dog and after I was no longer useful, I was either dumped or used as a bait dog. Although the wounds that looked like bullet wounds were actually infected wounds, I was still a mess. Here’s a video my rescuers made of me, documenting all my wounds and scars on my skeletal frame.

Shawna has a wonderful home but my rescuers didn’t want to put her small pets in danger since they hadn’t had a chance to test me with other dogs due to my poor physical condition. So they decided to find another foster home for me, one without any other pet.

This is when my foster dad, Michael, came to my life. Michael was recently separated from a 17-year relationship and was living alone. He is a good friend of a wonderful photographer, Robyn Arouty, who volunteers her talent to help rescues in Houston. The day the plea for a new foster went out, he said to her, “She needs me. And I need her.”

So that’s when this chapter of my life started. Michael & me. 🙂

Robyn decided to do a photoshoot of me and my new fab life, something she called a “Before & After” photos. She enjoyed visiting us often & reported my progress along the way to my rescuers and their supporters.

I love being in my foster home. I spend my days just decompressing which means I just sleep most of the time. I finally gained enough weight to be spayed & my rescuers made plans for my “After” photos so they could list me for adoption. By now, Michael had reconciled with John and that meant they were going back to live in their home with 2 chihuahuas.

Robyn was a worried mess! She was thinking, “Would she want to eat their little dogs? How did John feel about this?” Michael told her it would all be fine. And it was.

Of course I adore my foster family. (I’ll let you in on a little secret: I adore everyone. 🙂 ) And my foster dad Michael is a man of his word. He loves me and is committed to nursing me back to health to prepare me for my new life.

I’ve gained more than 20 pounds. Remember all those bite marks on my face and neck area? Only a few scars remain, and I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life.

  • I’m a Dogo Argentino, approx 3-5 years old and weigh 75 lbs
  • My fosters say I’m very smart and obedient. I already know “SIT”, “BOX” (my foster dad’s word for kennel), and “OUTSIDE”
  • I’m very good on a leash and I will come to sit at your side to signal when I’m finished with my “business”
  • House- and crate-trained, spayed & up to date on all vaccinations, I am low heartworm positive and currently undergoing slow-kill treatment
  • I’m very gentle with people and other dogs
  • I crave attention and companionship; I want nothing more than to just sit next to you and take a nap
  • I love the sofa and the big human bed but if you don’t allow me, I’m okay with that. I just think a snuggle with me is just what you need to get to sleep 🙂

If you’d like more information about me, visit my Adopt-a-Pet.com! page. And when you’re ready to open up your home to me, please fill out an adoption application and let my rescuers know.

I’d like that very much.

Love,
Kellan

p.s. Houston’s got a dirty little secret. 1.2 million homeless animals live in the city. Kellan is a lucky girl who no longer calls the streets home, thanks to wonderful organizations like Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward Project. To volunteer, foster or donate to them, please visit forgottendogs.org.

p.p.s. The “After” photoshoot was special. Shawna was there and it was bittersweet for her. She told Robyn,

“Kellan is truly a special dog. I have never seen a dog full of so much grace and kindness. I hope that her forever family understands the enormity of Kellan’s life, what her story means for all of us involved in her journey and how special they are for choosing the most amazing dog. It will have to be a family worthy of such greatness and who understands that more than them “saving” Kellan, I believe she will be saving them. She has so far with every life she has touched.”

Photos by robyn arouty photography

Editor’s Note: Kellan was adopted in July 2014. Sadly she passed away on January 9th, 2015. Her forever parents wrote:

“It is with deep sadness that I write today. Our sweet baby girl Kellan crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last night. For the past few weeks she had not been feeling well. We worked with our veterinarian and were giving her the best care we could possibly give her. She had her ups and downs the past few weeks but the last couple days she was feeling really good. In fact yesterday was a good day for her. She woke up in the morning, ate a homemade breakfast, and received lots of love from me and her dad. She appeared to be feeling good the majority of the day. We do not know exactly what happened or what was wrong (the vet never came up with a clear diagnosis), but we know that she is now in a place where she will never be abused, neglected, in pain, or sick ever again. She was our baby girl and we loved her with all our heart. Rest in peace sweet Kellan. You will hold a place in our hearts forever.”

Otis, Northampton, PA

My name is Otis. Some of you may also remember me as Trump. That’s the name the NYC ACC gave me when they picked me up as a stray.

I guess I got too sick and my old owners put me out on the streets. My body was quite emaciated and I had a very large distended abdomen. Many of my teeth were rotted or missing and there were signs of tumors in my mouth, too. I had difficulty standing tall and not much strength in my hind legs. I showed signs of being kept in a crate too small for my size for long periods of time.

Due to my condition, I was quickly moved to the Euth list. I rested comfortably with the help of the volunteers in those final hours until what I thought would be the end…

But I had no idea how many people were rooting for me.

First it was Urgent Death Row Dogs, Inc. that posted my picture and a plea for help. That led to Walter Ready, a pit bull therapy dog, to contact my mom—knowing she had a soft spot for seniors. So she reached out to Waggin’ Train Rescue late that final night so that they could pull me out of the shelter. Then the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals loaded me up in a van and transported me to start a new life in Pennsylvania.

All within a matter of hours. My momma says that we can’t even begin to thank everyone.

Once I arrived, my new family immediately took me to the vet. They found that I had a very large tumor in my abdomen that was attached to my spleen and confirmed an oral tumor as well. Without having much time to consider our options, in a matter of days I took a turn for the worse and they rushed to me in for emergency surgery to try to remove the tumor and my spleen.

The doctor told my momma that there was only a 10% chance that I’d survive the surgery, but she knew I wasn’t ready to give up yet. My momma spent countless hours fundraising the money for my surgery and I was blessed with the love and support of more people than I could imagine, sending new beds, blankets, treats, donations, and most of all their positive thoughts and prayers.

Luckily, I’m a fighter and I made it through it thanks to the wonderful staff at Stanglein Veterinary Clinic and the love, care, and attention of my family. But there was good news and bad news.

The good news was that I survived and seemed to be doing just fine and even gaining some healthy weight. The bad news was that the biopsy results came back on my oral tumor as advanced melanoma. So back to the doctors I went, this time to see an oncologist.

He gave my new family a couple of options, but there was more bad news. You see, the cancer had already spread to my lungs as well.

As of now I’m on chemotherapy and I spend my days relaxing with my step-brothers Kongo and Konah, and my new step-sister Honey. Honey is also a survivor of the NYC ACC and we’ve formed a very special bond. She’s a senior too and thankfully my momma believes that seniors who are dumped in shelters deserve a better ending. I just wish more people would feel that way too!

So Honey watches over me while I get to enjoy a warm bed, long naps, and lots of love every day from my new family. I’m not so sure how many days I may have left, but I do know that I am loved and my momma pledged that I will not die alone.

~ Otis

Parent: Kristin

Editor’s Note: Otis passed away on December 23rd, 2013. From his family: “It is with deep sadness that we say goodbye to Otis today. He has surrendered to the angels who had been waiting to take him to a place where there is no pain, no hunger, no suffering, no loneliness, no neglect. We were honored to be by his side and proud to have had the privilege of helping him die with dignity surrounded by love. We love you sweet old man, run fast and run free. You are in our hearts forever.”

We are so thankful Otis knew unconditional love and what it meant to have a forever home because of his family’s big heart and the rescue village that saved him from death row. We’d like to thank his loving mom Kristin and forever family for all the love and comfort that they have given him. We are honored to have known Otis and to be able to share his story. Run free, Otis.

Rocky & Manders, San Diego, CA

Hello, I am Manders and this is my brother Rocky!

We both came from high-kill shelters here in San Diego, California. I was found in 2008 under a trailer home extremely scared and fearful with just 3 of my little puppies. I was about 1-2 years old then. I was scrawny, dirty and with lacerations and bite wounds on my face, neck, head and body. The humans think I was most likely protecting my babies from coyotes or other dogs and that they must’ve gotten my other pups and she fought them off best I could.

Animal Control took me and, of course, adopted out my puppies immediately. There I was, Mama Manders, the only one left. I was so fearful and scared; I did not show well at the overcrowded high kill shelter. I was the typical dog who was as far back in the kennel as possible, curled up in the tightest smallest ball hoping no one would see me. I had closed off emotionally.

A very nice lady who volunteered there saw beyond the fear and bites and filth and felt that I was really worth saving. She described me as a super sweet mellow doggie who didn’t show any signs of aggression to other doggies but wasn’t really interested in them either.

Of course with how fast they move through the animals at the shelter, I was doomed and set for euthanasia almost immediately upon entering the shelter. An abused, neglected, throw away mommy dog with lacerations everywhere and terrified beyond belief… I didn’t stand a chance.

The volunteer didn’t give up. She tried really hard to save me and when she saw that I was on put on the dreaded “list” for the night, she sent my pictures everywhere, including to someone named Jolene. Jolene was searching for a pit bull to adopt but, unfortunately, she couldn’t go up to the shelter that night. She thought that was the end of my story.

But I escaped the list two nights in a row. On the third day the volunteer, along with some others, pulled me and boarded me for two weeks. That’s when It’s The Pits Dog Rescue stepped in and took me into the rescue. This was when I knew Jolene was destined to be with me.

Jolene knows It’s The Pits’ president, Beth, but she didn’t know they have rescued me. Two weeks after I was rescued, Jolene had a meeting with Beth to go meet some dogs at the rescue. She met four dogs but Beth really wanted her to meet one more dog they just took in who she thought would be a great match. Me. Unfortunately, I had just been spayed and Beth asked Jolene to come back to meet me when I was more up and around.

When she came back, Jolene recognized me right away and when Beth was telling her my story, she mentioned the shelter volunteer’s name and Jolene couldn’t believe it. I was truly destined to be with her! That’s when she adopted me and became my mommy. 🙂

It was not easy for me to adjust being a loved pet. I had never seen a toy or treat before nor received love and affection; I was very closed off emotionally. But my mom knew my beautiful heart and soul was buried under all the hurt & fear and with love and patience, the true sweet dog I am finally emerged.

Then in 2010, Rocky came along. Mommy was fostering Rocky for It’s the Pits. The rescue was told that he was found on a roof-top. Some have said that this is something those nasty dog fighters do to isolate and anger the dogs. Some have also said that quite possibly he was being kept on a roof as a “guard dog” for a property (apparently this is a common practice in some places). Either way, we will never know.

Rocky fits the bill for the coveted “blue nose” pit bull. He was about 5-6 years old and was still not neutered so you know what that means: probably lots of little Rockys out there somewhere. Rocky was a bit handful and kind of unruly. He was adopted before and returned, so he is on his third life. Most likely in the beginning Rocky was either being prepped for fighting, or was being bred or someone thought he was just a cute puppy until one day he was big and strong and lacked lots of manners and no one wanted to deal with him anymore.

Rocky is just like a little kid and never stops. But mommy couldn’t resist his frog legging that he does or those big loveable eyes. Just one month after he came to live with us, he was officially “home”. Yeah, mommy is a foster “failure”. 🙂

He is a big ol’ pain in my butt but I love him nonetheless. Rocky had no real training — Mommy says he was kind of like a bull in a china shop, the complete opposite of me. We balance each other out! Me, miss mellow and him always looking for the next thing to do. He really needs a full time job! 🙂

We both are full of life and love. We love playing. I loves rolling in grass and sunning myself. Rocky LOVES swimming and chasing tennis balls. And we both love car rides and being out and about and can never have enough belly rubs and treats!

We have been rescued and are now on a mission to raise awareness and change minds not just on Pit Bulls but shelter & rescue animals as well. We’re putting our best paws forward to help promote pawsitive Pit Bull ownership, help in cross-posting & networking others in need of loving fur-ever homes in our shelters and rescues and support in any way we can.

We want to bring awareness to animal abuse and educate people on the breed and the misconceptions of Pit Bulls in general. We know what it’s like to be discriminated against and judged.

Our mommy works hard with us everyday to ensure we are good Ambassadors for our breed and reflect responsible Pit Bull ownership as well as pawing it forward. We are working towards our CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certifications and we began participating in local events as well as advocating through our Facebook page, helping the throwaways, the unloved, the helpless and the voiceless.

We advocate for Pit Bulls, Rescues, Rehabilitation and Adoption. We believe with love & patience all things are possible. We are “Monsters” of love.

Thank you for reading our story and don’t forget to stop by our Facebook, Rocky and Manders, and follow our adventures!

Love & Pibble Kisses,
Rocky and Manders

Parent: Jolene

Sadie, San Jose, CA

Hello! It’s me, Sadie! I was born in the East Valley Animal Shelter of Los Angeles and that is never a good start, especially for a pit bull like me.

You see, my dog mom was a pregnant and whoever her “owner” was decided to surrender her to the shelter. She gave birth to me and another pup, a boy. The shelter is a scary place full of strangers; naturally, my dog mom was very protective of us. Because of that, the shelter decided to kill her.

We were only three weeks old when that happened. The shelter then sent us pups to two separate fosters that worked with the shelter, and that is the last record of my brother.

While I was with the foster, I got sick. Something called kennel cough. I was treated and then returned to the shelter for adoption at eight weeks old. I never made it to the adoption list as I immediately got kennel cough again and then demodex.

It didn’t look good for me. The shelter was going to kill me like they did my dog mom!! That is when Smashface Rescue swooped in and rescued me.

The rescue treated my kennel cough and my demodex. They had me for a couple of months and then they put me on for adoption at Petfinder. This is where something very amazing happened: my future moms saw my pictures.

Something in my picture spoke to them. Six months prior, their 12-year-old pit bull died from an auto-immune disease. They were devastated and Mom Dannie became depressed. It was not her first loss of companion animals but this one really struck her; she just couldn’t figure out how to be without her. Mommie Amy decided they needed to look for another dog so they went on Petfinder and saw me…

So they drove 9 hours to LA to go see me!

When they got there, they got to meet a four-month-old pup with no hair, a secondary staph infection and who was sticky and smelly. They watched me interact with the other dogs there and a cat and strangers, and they could see my great personality. I listened to other dogs very well and moms say they could tell I was a thinker. 🙂

So they adopted stinky, hairless me!! To this day I still don’t have much hair but my life from that day on is wonderful!

I’m an AKC Star Puppy, I have my CGC, I’m a certified therapy dog and I’ve worked as a mobility assistance service dog since I was 19 months old! My moms do many things together and they are so happy to see me learn so many things.

One of my most favorite thing to do is hiking!! This was how my moms noticed something else about me.

Mom Dannie wrecked her knee when she was 19; 5 surgeries and over 30 years later she began having more stability issues and began falling more that she had been. She never realized a service dog could help her but she knew she needed to exercise. And with a young pup like me, that is what we did. We’d go hiking everywhere.

After about a year, I had learned to anticipate when Mom Dannie was going to slip because of her knee giving out. Somehow I noticed that just before Mom Dannie would slip, the sound of how she plants her foot would be different and I’d be ready to help her. I would place my body and brace myself so she can use me as a counterbalance. My moms couldn’t be prouder of me because I figured it all out myself!

Ongoing physical therapy involves lots of exercise so we hike 100 miles a month. I have hiked over 3,500 miles in my three years and it has helped Mom Dannie tremendously. Her orthopedic surgeon considers her and her knee a success story because she doesn’t even need pain meds anymore! Mom Dannie brags about how I made that possible for her. That’s why my moms call me the wonder pup.

I love people and I love dogs even more. I like cats (my “sisters” are two indoor cats and we are BFFs; we do lots of power napping. 🙂 ) and squirrels and deer. And I have so many friends. I have hiking dog friends in several cities. I love my friends and if I meet a dog that may not be very outgoing, by the end of the hike I’ll have that dog trusting me and hiking along beside me.

We are active members of groups such as SociaBull (a hiking group) and Dance-a-Bulls (a dog drill team) that promote positive experiences with pit bulls and other dogs. I see my Dance-a-Bull dog friends every week but my two BFFs are Reyna the Australian Shepherd and Mazie the Jack Russell Mix. We hike and play chase, tug and swim.

Oh and my moms like to tell people that I’m a boinger. I get happy and I boing! I can leap up so high I’ll be eyeball to eyeball with my moms! When I see my people friends, I will boing up in the air!

One my Facebook page, Sadie Wonder Pup. we try to show people the wonders of the natural world that you can discover while hiking so that people will be inspired to get out more with their dogs. Everyday in our lives we educate people about service dogs and pit bulls.

We live in San Jose, California, but we travel to the Monterey/Carmel/Salinas area every week for dog events and activities. As a service dog, I go everywhere my moms do so there is always opportunities for education as we interact with people in public. I’m a very good traveler and a pro in hotels and elevators.

I love the ocean and beach and I’m always happy and interested to see where we are going next. Come follow my adventure on Facebook!

~ Sadie

Parents: Dannie & Amy

Chance, Smithshire, IL

Hi! I’m Chance. I was found on October 30th, 2012, at a busy Houston gas station. I was trying to drink some water from an old rusted oil-laced bowl.

The first thing you’ll notice about me is my face. It looked like I was shot in the face; my snout had been partially ripped off. The incredible volunteers at The Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward found me that day by accident. They were out searching for another dog when they ran into me. They gave me some kibbles to eat and seeing my injuries — how it was full of infection — they knew they could not leave me.

My rescuers brought me to the vet, Wags 2 Whiskers Veterinary Hospital. The vet took a good look at me and noticed that on top of my ripped snout, I also have broken teeth and my canine was split in half, which may need to be extracted. My rescuers think I was a bait dog and was probably shot due to poor performance. You see, I am not a fighter so whoever thought it was a good idea to fight me might be disappointed and did that to me.

They gave me a name: Joel. They also gave me a yellow ducky stuffed animal, my first toy. And I knew then I was safe.

The staff at the hospital took a very good care of me. I was getting daily soak and medication to reduce the swelling from infection and abscesses. Slowly and surely I healed, and I learned that not all humans are cruel.

After two weeks, my face was finally healed enough for the vet to perform a super-clean on it as well as my neuter surgery. And my rescuers started looking for a long term foster, or better, a forever home for me.

Far away from Texas, a man who was looking for a dog at the local pound in Illinois was shown a picture of me. He just knew I was the dog he wanted. And that’s all it took.

A plan was made and money was raised to get me to Illinois. A collaborated effort with Knox County Humane Society (PAWC) in Galesberg, IL, its Adoptios Coordinator, Liz Ellis, and some very awesome Facebook friends made this happen.

On December 17, 2012, I went on a transport caravan to my forever home! My new family couldn’t wait to see me. I arrived the next day and guess what, I saw SNOW!!!

My family gave me a new name: Chance. I like that. And slowly, I healed and learned to adjust to being a cherished family member.

My nightmares become less and less. Some of my dreams were horrific for my parents to hear. They’d hear me scream for my life while in a dead sleep and it just broke their hearts. My dad says there is no getting used to it, but just let them become less and less until they’re a faded memory.

My dad remembers the first time he saw me smile and he told me it’s something he will never forget.

He says I’m not even the same dog I was when I first joined the family. I have my quirks, I like to go outside, lay in the pasture, play with toys, and I’m comfortable with my dad. I no longer ducks and runs in to the house when he throws a toy or a ball to play. I now know he’s playing with me so I get excited. And I always brings the toy back, even if it’s just to lay and chew on it. 🙂

I want to share my story to create awareness of animal abuse. I want to teach compassion to the next generation so other dogs don’t have to go through what I went through. I participated in a DARE project with Knox County Humane Society where I met some 5th graders at the school along with another pitbull who only has 3 legs. Her name is Diva and I really like her!

And then, one day in July, my dad saw a photo of this pit bull in Texas. Her name was Darla and she was such a sad looking girl, a stray in bad condition just like I was. She had about 2 months of medical issues to deal with and the good folks at St. Francis’ Angels were taking real good care of her.

My dad told me that he couldn’t explain the magnetism. It was the same feeling he had when he first saw my picture. He just knew he had to help her and that we would be great for each other.

So on October 19, 2013, I welcomed my sister. My dad gave her a new name too. She’s now Lucy and we are getting along great!

Right away, I showed her the yard and we proceeded to lick and kiss each other. Lucy is learning to live with a family and I’m showing her the ropes. We play and lay on the couch, go outside together…We even unstuffed the dog bed together! 🙂 I just love her to pieces! You can follow our adventure on my Facebook page: Meet Chance.

Thank you for reading my story!

~ Chance

Parents: Frank & Lynn

Diesel, Greensburg, PA

My name is Diesel. By all rights…I shouldn’t have lived.

My story begins with my mother whose life was spent in suffering. You see, my mom was found in a bad part of town alone, starved, and scarred. Her ears were cut down to nothing and she had scars around her muzzle, which looked like someone had tied her mouth shut. She was 30 pounds underweight for a healthy female pit bull her size, but in reality she was worse off than anyone knew.

When she was found, she was a month pregnant and you could literally see every bone in her aching body. She was lucky. Lucky to be found. Lucky to have survived. Lucky to have found love, even if it was only for a short time.

On July 20th, 2010, she went into labor. It took her 10 hours to have us all, and I was the last to come out. When I was born, my mom didn’t want me. She ignored me and wouldn’t even clean me off or help me breathe. My human lady had to step in to help me. After she helped me, mom stepped in and took over. I got to spend 11 wonderful days with my mom. She loved us all very much, but it was that love that killed her.

On the day that we all turned 11 days old, a feral cat crept just a little too close to us all and my mom’s instincts set in and she escaped to chase the cat away. Before anyone could catch her, she darted out after the cat onto a busy road and was struck by a truck.

Her people heard the accident and my mom’s screams and ran to her. They picked her up to get her off of the road and her new human held onto her while she passed. Before she went though, they tell me that she kept looking back for us and wanted to get to us. She only survived for minutes after the accident and there was nothing anyone could do to save her.

We were orphans. Eight little puppies with not a chance in this world. Well that would have been the case for a normal litter of puppies, but that was not us. Our human lady stepped in and started to bottle feed us. Granted, it wasn’t anything we were used to, but we were so hungry that we couldn’t care. We needed to eat. We needed warmth. We needed love. And she gave it all.

For weeks, she didn’t get much sleep. We were just too demanding. But through the exhaustion, she still loved us all so much.

It came time for us to go on to our new homes. For us to find our own families to love. One by one, they all left. I was starting to feel like no one wanted me because I continued to stay. I watched everyone leave with their families but I stayed, even though everyone was admiring me while I gave my cutest eyes. Little did I know that I already had my family and my family had a plan for me. 🙂

My human lady and I worked very hard together. I was a very hard puppy. I never gave her a break. I was constantly into something I shouldn’t had been and always had my nose in trouble. We just worked harder…together.

My human lady saw something in me when most just saw an ornery puppy. My determination was unique and I NEVER gave up on anything that I put my mind to. I excelled in obedience and earned my AKC CGC shortly after I turned a year old. Still, though, that wasn’t enough. She tried to satisfy my need to work by using me as a demo dog for obedience. I excelled and thoroughly enjoyed showing off my skills to obedience students, but still it wasn’t enough.

It was right before my second birthday that she started to research canine Search and Rescue (SAR). She began by looking up what traits make up solid SAR K9 and wouldn’t you know that my determination and no-quit attitude were high on the list! She had heard about our county SAR team through a friend who was a member. My human lady contacted the senior K9 handler to see about joining.

My very first training was awesome! I showed them my work drive and my even temperament. I even passed out a few kisses and shared my Kong with these new friends. It didn’t take long for me to pick up on the “game” and within a few weeks I showed such great enthusiasm for work that I knew when we were leaving for work and would do everything but push my human lady out of the door!

I trained solidly with my team for 10 long months. It was not always pretty. It was hard work. We train in any and all weather… snow and rain included. In late June 2013, we had our team seminar with our instructors from Tactical Dog Enterprises. My human lady and I worked very hard that weekend and took in any and all suggestions that they had. By the second day, we seemed to understand each other a little better. What a wonderful feeling!

On the fourth and final day of the seminar, only those of us that were ready to test attended. I could tell that my human lady was very nervous. I took it easy on her. She was so scared when they called us up for our turn to test that her hands were shaking but that didn’t hold either of us back.

She harnessed me up, gave me my scent article and told me to “find”. I dropped my nose and followed his trail. It didn’t take me long to find him. He tossed me my Kong and mom unharnessed me. While she was pulling my harness off, our instructor congratulated my human lady and told her that I officially was the first pit bull to pass their Level 1 test and certify. She almost cried.

It has been months now since I certified and we still train just as hard and in any weather. Next year I will test again for Level 2 and next year I hope to make my human lady just as proud. With that Level 2 certification, I will become operational and will then get to officially start working to save human lives.

My work doesn’t stop there though. I want to share with the world that those of us that were discarded, abused, starved and were given a second chance can make amazing work dogs. Not just in SAR, but police work, detection and even performance sports.

Our unfortunate pasts make us that more determined to prove to the world that we can do ANYTHING.

~Diesel the Wonder Pit

Parent: Emylee

Zaxby, Atlanta, GA

Hi! My name is Zaxby and this is my story.

On October 6, 2012, an animal control officer from DeKalb County, GA, found a black dog in a gutter, a pocket-sized pit bull with scabs, lacerations and bite marks all over its body. That was me.

I seemed lifeless; I was barely able to get up — many people thought I was dead. The compassionate animal control officer rushed me to an emergency vet clinic.

The humans are unsure if I was used as a “bait dog”. I also has some road rash on my belly and elbows so I may have also been hit by a car. While everyone waited to see if I’d make it, the staff decided to name me after a local fast food chicken restaurant, Zaxby. They lovingly referred to me as “the Chicken Wing dog” because on top of all my open wounds, my front left leg was deformed, resembling a chicken wing.

I don’t mind; I’m just happy they care enough to give me name. 🙂

I spent more than a week at the clinic recovering. I was beat up, but no matter what, my body exploded with excitement and happiness. I had no energy, but I wanted to love. I wagged my tail so hard the humans thought it would fall off and I smothered everyone with kisses even on my hardest, weakest days. And I was really grateful to finally rest peacefully, sleeping a lot.

The clinic reached out to Friends of DeKalb Animals to get me rescued. On October 19, I was finally released and one of the staff rescue coordinators instantly fell in love with me and became my foster mom, aka Mom1.

She took me home and introduced me to her dog, Fizzle. Mom1 nursed me back to health, helped me heal and I learned what it was to be truly loved.

My chicken wing leg didn’t have much bone or muscles. The rescue consulted various veterinarians and determined the deformation was a birth defect. The leg used to catch on my leash and cause me pain. The vets knew that it would be best if it was amputated.

In December 2012, the leg was surgically removed. To be honest, the loss of my chicken wing didn’t affect me; after all, I had been hopping along fine on my three legs. 🙂

Mom1 started a Facebook page where she updated fans on Chicken’s – that’s what she calls me – medical milestones. While fostering me, Mom1 discovered that I suffered from separation anxiety and I yearned for human and animal companionship. Mom1 spent a lot of time outside our home rescuing other dogs so she knew that keeping me wouldn’t be the best thing for me.

It was a very hard and emotional decision for Mom1 but she wanted the best for me so she decided to find me a forever home where I could have the attention and companionship that I crave.

In reality, I had some odds against me. One, being a black dog, and two, only having three legs. Then came Mom2.

Mom2 learned about me through another dog’s Facebook page. She and her husband weren’t planning on adopting a young dog, or a special needs one, but they knew their life styles could offer me the care I needed.

She wanted to take me because I had separation anxiety and they work from home, so they were a perfect fit. They talked about how difficult it would be to own a three-legged dog, but they knew I needed them and they can provide me the life I needed.

My forever parents were no strangers to the adoption process or opening their home to a shelter dog. Yet, they had no idea how much their lives were going to change with me.

You see, I am a social media celebrity, had a Facebook following that wanted to make sure I went to the right home. What’s more, my fans wanted to continue getting updates on my new life. 🙂

Mom2 was not an active Facebook person and she was just amazed at the connections they have made on my Facebook page. People even recognized our backyard from the pictures she posted and have come up to ask Mom2 if she has a dog named Zaxby.

She also learned something important after adopting me. She admitted she was shamefully ignorant about the homeless pet situation in Georgia. She had no idea of all the needs local shelters have and how difficult it is for these organizations to meet these needs with the little resources they have.

Dog overpopulation is a serious problem. In April alone, DeKalb County Animal Center euthanized 154 dogs. On average, Friends of DeKalb Animals helps adopt out 50 to 100 dogs a month, but there are so many other dogs that could be helped and saved.

My Facebook page has allowed Mom1 and Mom2 to reach people across the nation. Some of the fans are individuals who feared Pit Bulls. Seeing how gentle and loving I am and how my demeanor is nothing like the bad reputation Pit Bulls have, many fans have told Mom2 that their views on Pit Bulls have completely changed.

Mom2 vowed to keep my Facebook page alive if it helps other dogs and helps change the minds of the people about dogs. Especially Pit Bulls.

Mom1 and Mom2 have become great friends from their experience with me. They only live a few miles apart and Mom1 gets to see me every week. Mom1 has also helped Mom2 get more involved helping shelter animals. Since adopting me, Mom2 has fostered two other dogs as well as helps with animal transports and with overnight feedings.

As for me, I have flourished into a happy, playful, energetic dog. The scabs I had all over my body healed. I have found a best friend in Finn – Mom2’s other rescue dog – and every day I am showered with unconditional love from Mom1, Mom2 and my Facebook fans.

So that’s my story. I am Zaxby the Chicken Wing Dog and I am the HAPPIEST dog ever.

~ Zaxby

Parents: Katharine & Dan

Starla & Zephyr, Spokane, WA

My name is Starla and Zephyr is my little sister. We were both adopted from the Spokane Humane Society. Me and my litter mates were surrendered to the shelter when we were just 5 weeks old. Lucky for us, we went straight to a wonderful foster home and didn’t have to spend any time in the shelter.

I met my mom a couple weeks later. The moment I saw her, I knew she was mine! I ran straight up to her and gave her a big puppy kiss. That’s when she knew we were meant to be together.

My mom adopted me and we’ve been best friends ever since.

I was mom’s first puppy so I was good for her. I was potty trained in only a couple weeks. I rarely ever chewed anything I wasn’t supposed to, and I slept all through the night. I was a breeze at training. Mom didn’t work much so she was almost always home and we did everything together. She calls me her baby, because I am like her first child.

Mom ended up rescuing/ adopting a couple more dogs throughout the years so I’m not an only child anymore. She rescued Mr. Bojangles from the streets. Breezy was rescued from a bad home. And mom adopted Zephyr from the humane society while she was at the fair.

Zephyr was complete opposite of me, she was a wild child. She wasn’t a mean dog, just very crazy. Mom had to take her to a few trainers before she finally found a method of training that works for Zephyr.

Now that Zephyr is more under control, she is an awesome dog. Zephyr is very smart and learns new things fast. She is mom’s little trick dog and loves to perform her tricks to people. Zephyr has become a great bully breed ambassador.

Zephyr and I are best friends now. We love to play and do everything together. Mom takes me and Zephyr to events all the time and we help bring awareness of shelter animals and what wonderful companions we can be. We always encourage others to adopt, not shop! And if anyone ever has questions about it, we help educate them.

When mom is able to, she fosters for the Spokane Humane Society. We have a lot of fun helping to raise kittens and occasionally puppies. It’s hard for us when they get adopted but we are happy to have given them that chance.

Me and Zephyr, along with our other siblings have an Instagram where you can follow us on our daily adventures and to bring awareness on rescue dogs. Follow us @starlas.pack.

Zephyr and I are on a mission, to change minds about shelter dogs and pit bulls. We advocate for them and we educate about them. Our motto is Adopt, Don’t Shop! While animals are still dying in shelters, we don’t believe people should be purchasing from breeders or pet stores. Save a life instead.

Someday we hope that every animal has a home and there will be no need for animal shelters anymore.

Thank you for reading our story!

Parent: Brytany

Roo, Decatur, GA

Hi! I’m Roo. My story started on August 23, 2013, when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation went to serve an arrest warrant at the property where I lived as part of a multi-state dog fighting bust.

When they arrived at the house, the suspects were not there, but there were several dogs present, including me. Dekalb County Animal Services took all of us into their care and arrested the woman that owns the house. From all the dogs rescued that day, I was the one in the worst shape.

What I went through at the hands of my abusers was documented on every inch of my body: I was littered with hundreds of scars, I have a severely disrupted left wrist and a mauled right leg, missing a paw.

When the average person thinks about dogs involved in dog fighting rings, they think of a scary, vicious pit bull with a drive to kill. They never imagine a dog looking like me. The cruel dog fighting world involved dogs like me: timid, female, pocket-sized pit bull that they can use for breeding litters after litters of future fighters as well as throwaway practice dogs.

I am the face of dog fighting and for more than two years, I was forced to fight for my life.

When the folks from Friends of Dekalb Animals (FODA) met me, they knew they had to find a way to help me. In spite of my traumatic history, I am a sweet and loving girl. My new friends said that I’m a dog who touched everyone I met and they wanted to make sure I got the best care possible.

Many know me as Roo the Resilient; my name comes from my resemblance to a kangaroo — due to my injuries, I do look and bounce just like one. 🙂

I needed immediate medical assistance and FODA worked with the county to coordinate my release to a foster home. Ten days later, I went to my foster home.

My foster mom Chrissy works at the shelter as a rescue coordinator and works to place dogs with FODA. My foster parents have fostered numerous special needs dogs, rescued from Dekalb County Animal control like Xena the Warrior Puppy. They knew I was the next dog they were destined to rescue and help heal.

Once I was taken to veterinarian specialists, the plan for my recovery was set in place: The joint in my left broken leg needed to be fused into the normal position. This will give me better mobility and less of a kangaroo hop.

As long as all goes well, my rescuers believe that I will have better mobility and less pain. I get around well now, but the bone fusion will make me much more comfortable. If for any reason that does not provide enough support, my other leg will require surgery and a prosthesis.

So my bone fusion surgery was scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. The doctors expected to keep me in the hospital until Saturday or Monday, just to keep a close eye on my leg’s swelling, drainage, and how well I walked on the splint. Guess what? I was released back to my foster parents the next day. 🙂 There were no complications and being in my loving foster home is the best place for me to heal.

My foster mom noticed that I seem to be standing taller and I’m getting used to being able to walk normally. It is also no surprise that since I’ve been in my foster home, my personality has flourished. And I started smiling! I’m no longer the dog with a broken spirit, sad eyes and no smile. I’m playful, loving and I started to trust humans again.

I’ve really come out of my shell with my foster parents. With new people, sometimes I like them and sometimes I don’t trust them. But when I do, I love them! I have not been exposed to other dogs yet other than in passing. (My foster brother is Super “Monster” Mr. Wilson the Elderbull.) When my physical issues are resolved, I will work with a trainer on socializing more with people, new places and dogs.

As for the cruelty case, I’m the only dog with enough visible injuries to help build a case of animal abuse against the criminals who owned and fought us. I’m considered evidence and will not be available for adoption until my abusers are prosecuted, convicted and the case is closed.

For now I will heal and learn how to walk on my repaired leg. And heal I will; my foster mom saw that the little teardrop scar is now white fur, the rest grew in white and brown and you can barely see them any more.

And for the first time in my life, I’m enjoying sunshine on my face, soft beds (I love them!! Sometimes I’m allowed to put one bed on top of another bed), squeaky toys, treats, toys with treats inside (yes, they have treats inside!), belly rubs and gentle hugs, especially from my foster dad. I love it when he picks me up and carries me. I call that the Foster Dad Express. 🙂

My foster parents and all my human friends promised that I will receive unconditional love. And I love them back unconditionally. Because love conquers all.

Dog fighting broke my legs, but not my spirit. And when the criminal case is closed, I will be ready to look for my forever home.

Drop by my Facebook page: Roo the Resilient and follow the journey to my happily ever after. Thank you for reading my story!

~ Roo

Editor’s Note: FODA is sponsoring all of Roo’s medical bills thanks in part to a generous donation by Xena the Warrior Puppy’s family who have started “Friends of Dekalb Animals: Xena and Jonny Shelter Fund.” If you would like to help Roo, you can make an online donation towards her medical expenses.

Editor’s Note: On September 20, 2015, Friends of DeKalb Animals shared this wonderful news:

“Roo has been with us for two years as an “evidence dog”. She was part of the #367 dog fighting bust, but since she was found in Dekalb County, Georgia while serving a warrant and not in Alabama during the bust, her case was initially not linked strongly enough to the federal case. That changed recently when her owner left threatening messages on a witness’s voicemail & Roo’s case moved to federal court. As a result, Roo has been released from limbo.

We have witnessed Roo’s transformation both physically & mentally over the past 2 years. Her physical scars healed and one front leg was repaired while the other was removed in a lengthy surgical process. We saw her first smiles, her relax, and even begin to interact & want to be around other dogs. Roo’s emotional scars will sadly always be there. She has triggers, similar to PTSD in people, where she becomes fearful & defensive with other dogs. As much as she wants their company, she is a dog that will always have to be carefully managed due to her past.

For this reason, and the fact that her foster home is the only place she has ever felt safe & loved, we will keep Roo in her foster home as a long term foster. Roo is extremely happy, knows her routine, and feels safe. FODA will support her future medical care so she does not ever have to feel scared or vulnerable again & can remain with the family she loves. Roo is no longer a piece of evidence in holding; Roo is home.”

Churchill, Las Vegas, NV

Hi! My name is Church! My story started on February 7, 2013, in the Las Vegas county shelter.

I was the big white dog with no name other than A697798, sitting in the isolation room. It was here that a couple of animal rescuers from Little Friends Foundation would stumble upon me, and I would change their lives forever.

I was not on their list of dogs to pick up that day — they only had room for three. Luckily, one dog was in the same isolation room with me. When they rounded the corner, I put my giant paw against the gate and started wagging my tail. They all knew instantly that I was coming home with them one way or another.

Unfortunately, the 72-hour mandatory stray hold made it impossible for them to take me home that day, but driving home that afternoon none of them could keep their minds off me. They decided then to name me Churchill, and while they didn’t realize it at the time my legacy had just begun.

They received a call a few days later when I was supposed to be neutered and picked up that they had discovered a stage 5 heart murmur. The staff were uncomfortable putting me under anesthesia. The rescuers weren’t terribly worried — they had previously taken in a Chihuahua with a stage 5 heart murmur that was ultimately unaffected by the diagnosis…

Well, this was not the case with me.

On February 21, 2013, I had an echocardiogram at the Las Vegas Specialty Center and was diagnosed with Severe Subaortic Stenosis (Severe SAS). The general life expectancy with this condition is 1-2 years. I was barely 2 years old. With medication and little to no exercise, sometimes, dogs with Severe SAS can live longer.

My rescuers were all in shock…and a bit hysterical. For the next few days, it really seemed like time stood still for them.

Once they could think, once they realized that time couldn’t freeze, they got moving. They knew in their hearts that I was sent to them for a reason — they weren’t sure what that reason was just yet, but they knew there was something. In the meantime, what could we possibly do for me?

The answer they came up with was seemingly obvious: make sure however much time I have left is the best time I’ve ever had.

My bucket list was started, and we slowly but surely started checking things off. Once that was off the ground, my rescuers realized that I was gaining popularity and overtaking LFF’s Facebook page. They figured the only way to manage it would be to create a Facebook page of my own: Churchill the Polar Bear.

We had no idea it would take off the way it did. Within days I had 1,000 fans!

Before we even really knew what was happening, people from all over the country were captivated and wanted to help make my life the best it could possibly be. Everyone moved forward to help me accomplish his bucket list items as well as create new ones. My rescuers were all completely stunned by the love and support suddenly surrounding me, a dog that less than a month ago didn’t even have a name.

Shortly after my diagnosis, I was taken home by one of LFF emplsoyees…and she recently adopted me!!

I now spend my days talking to all of my friends online, going to work with my mom, and playing with my 4 brother dogs, 2 human brothers, and my exponential amount of aunts and uncles. I continue to check items off my bucket list.

Check out this one: #20. Visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT!! 🙂

“#33. Have a Foundation in My Name” has been on my bucket list for quite some time but we just weren’t entirely sure when or how to make that a reality. Then LFF — the shelter that rescued me and became my family the last two years — announced they were closing due to circumstances beyond their control. Suddenly it became clear as to why we were all meant for each other.

So we are starting The Churchill Foundation, a place where homeless animals can find solace and find out what life is suppose to be like. A place where the stigma of shelter animals is disposed, and they are looked at more as treasure than trash. Just like me.

My humans told me that as much as they saved me, I have saved all of them too in a thousand different ways. I’ve shown them not only an inordinate amount of strength and courage, but when they all need it the most, I’m showing them that it’s not time to quit just yet.

So instead of quitting, we start a new journey and do it with a courage that anything is possible.

The foundation is going to be a place to truly makes a difference in the lives of the animals we save. A place that impacts the community and the people within just as much as the animals. A place where people can feel like part of the solution and not the problem. A place that we’ll call home.

This is our dream and we are building it to carry on my legacy long after I leave this earth.

I’m Churchill the Polar Bear. I’m a shelter dog living with a terminal heart condition. I’m goofy, a bit clumsy and  slow moving, but I’m loved and probably one of the happiest, most spoiled dogs you’ll ever meet.

~ Church 🙂

Parent: Lara

From Churchill’s people: We’d like you to join us on our journey. Be a part of The Churchill Foundation: Like us on Facebook, donate and share Churchill’s story — help us write the next chapter. Thank you.

Mac, Cape Girardeau, MO

I am Mac the pitbull. I am a rescued pit bull Mom got off a street corner to keep me from being used as something called a bait dog or worse.

I weighed 4lbs when Mom got me at 3 months of age in April of 2011. She and friends have no idea how I survived?! My tiny body was hairless from mange and I nearly died as a puppy.

Mom says I am her heart walking around outside her body and I quickly became a “foster failure”. Everyone that hears my story are all certain I would be dead by now had Mom not got me that day.

Very early on the parents noticed my limping and strange walk and realized they were in for the long haul with my health and growth problems. Mom spent the summer of 2012 working three jobs to come up with the $4,000 needed for my surgery. I had my first ACL surgery Nov 2012 that failed miserably requiring two more surgeries because of infection.

I just had my fourth surgery on that leg this summer and I am still recovering. If this last surgery “fails” I will probably lose my “chicken leg”. AND I will still need my other leg operated on for the same genetic defect. Mom encourages me and we are staying positive and I know that I am in the best place I could be.

I am PITBULL STRONG and while dealing with lots of my own ailments, I use my positive energy to help others. I raise money by selling shirts and stuff in my very own Etsy store or on my Facebook page for other pitbulls in need. My trademarked motto: “i am pitbull strong” came about because I and others like me are strong-hearted. And have to stay strong against BSL and stereotypes.

After we raised the money I needed, we realized we kept selling the shirts. What to do with the money? Mac’s Fund was born and my campaign to pay it forward began!!! All money raised from my shirts/decals go towards “Mac’s Fund” for other pitbulls that need a forever home and I have given away over $5,000 in my various campaigns so far since the start of 2013!

I have a loving home and want to pay it forward so others can get their forever homes like mine. Since I have been dealing with my own surgeries and crate jail I have been getting treats/toys sent to me as I recover. I turned that into “Mac’s 1for1” which is an Amazon wish list. A person who wants to send me a get well presents selects two identical items and I give ONE to the local dogs at the shelter.

I also do a $50 monthly “doggie goodie box” to a sick/injured dog we find out about through my friends. May it be cancer, an illness, an injury, or a recently rescued abuse case we specially tailor the goodies to that dog and happily try and make their day better.

Mom and I have this great ability to raise money when we need it for others. We are very transparent with photos of receipts and such on my Facebook page to show we are really one of the good guys that does good with the trust given to us.

We foster dogs all the time, we call it a revolving door of helping dogs get their homes. I volunteer and now so does my adopted sister Zayda as a dog’s therapy dog of sorts for the adoptable dogs. We do this at a local shelter to help socialize the adoptable dogs (we feel volunteering is very important). By the way, Zayda was rescued out of San Bernardino kill shelter this year and just like me, became a foster failure. Mom says she was destined to be ours — she’s my mini me! 🙂

Mom says I am a “good guy” who loves everyone I meet. I have a ton of WONDERFUL friends who keep me standing strong on my “bad legs” and we love them all for it. This is my journey…

THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

Love, Mac and the mom

Parent: Rochelle

All photos courtesy of Mac the pitbull

Daisy, Weeki Wachee, FL

Hi! My name is Daisy! I just turned 1 in March of 2013. My life started out pretty complicated.

There was a nice disabled gentleman that had come home to find my Pregnant Dogma tied to his back porch…half starved and scared to death. Luckily this guy didn’t make my story end there.

He took my dogma in and fed her and kept her comfortable until she had her babies. My Momma comes into the picture about 6 weeks later. The gentleman was in a wheelchair on a fixed income and was having a very hard time feeding my dogma…let alone 10 pups and keeping the HUGE mess cleaned up that a litter of pups makes. 😉 He started telling all the neighbors about us and my Momma’s friend thought of her right away.

Momma said the first time she saw us was so heartbreaking. We were all so tiny, blown up with worms and very non-socialized. She said we were the saddest, shyest, ten little Pit Bull puppies — we hid and cried instead of the usual wigglebutt, wagging-tail puppy kisses greeting you would get from puppies. We were covered in fleas, full of worms, and living in our own waste. Our Dogma was friendly and proud to show off us puppies but she too was in bad shape, extremely emaciated.

I was the first one to come up and meet my Momma. She had no intention of bringing home another pup at this time, but she said as soon as she picked me up, in that single second all of that changed: She knew I was going home with her that very day.

Momma went and bought dog food and puppy food and some Milkbones for the gentleman to be able to keep us until she figured out what to do with us, and he agreed to let the rest of my family stay there and not take them to the pound. She came over to feed, clean and visit with us on a daily basis.

After about a week, Rugaz Rescue agreed to take us. Momma was beside herself. She bathed my Dogma and the rest of my siblings, loaded them into her car and delivered them to the rescue. They have all been happily adopted out to forever homes. 🙂

Although I was shy and timid at first with my new family, I became a part of the pack within a week and, Momma said, even started to run the show!  In just a week my world was changed forever! I now knew love, I was safe, I had a furever family, and a name: Daisy!!

Momma has always had dogs, but she said there was just “something” about me that she can’t really put into words. Momma was in a difficult point in her life. She was a stay-at-home mom, in a rut and just bored. She said since the day she brought me home I have made her a happier lady. I know I make her laugh all the time with what she calls “all my little shenanigans.” Momma said I complete her and she knew she had to share me with the world.

That’s when she made me my very own Facebook page: Daisy ~ The Little Itty Bitty Pitty Princess. She had no idea that starting that page would open her eyes to all the awful images, stories and mean people that literally hate me just because of the way I look. Momma wishes that one day BSL will not be around to threaten me and those like me. She also wishes that people would adopt more of my breed type from shelters and rescues.

She tells everyone, “They are the most loving and loyal dogs you will ever come into contact with and when you save them from that, they will repay you ten times over that in LOVE!”

We are now Bully Breed Advocates, we push Adoption is the ONLY Option and we try to educate as many people as we can on BSL. I want every dog to have that same opportunity! If we all band together we can defeat BSL. You are our voice!

I have a wonderful life and I love my family more than anything in this world. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

~ Daisy

p.s. I have taken it upon myself to share and help all the pups at Urgent Dogs of Miami. Without our help these babies don’t stand much of a chance to find their furever homes. Please share them far and wide. Thank you!

Parent: April

Odie, Oak Harbor, WA

Hi! My name is Odie. My first year of life wasn’t the nicest one. I was misunderstood a lot.

You see, the people that had me didn’t know that I needed exercise. They used to leave me all alone without toys or anything to keep me busy and they also didn’t walked me or took proper care of me.

Lucky for me, Happy Tails Happy Homes found out about me and decided to help me. When they met me, I was almost 1 year old and I have never played or had any toys to play with. They took me to a foster home. I was nervous and my foster mommy tells me now that she was nervous too because this was her first time fostering a dog — and a pit bull at that!

My foster family already had a dog. Her name was Tasha and she taught me so many wonderful things. She is like my big sister. When I first got to their house, I was very afraid of men and I just didn’t trust anyone, but they didn’t give up on me. There was this miniature human and her mom that loved me and showed me how to trust again. Natalia, the tiny human, was 2 years old then. She was so tender and was never afraid of me, and I liked that.

Slowly I started trusting humans and understanding that life is good. However, things didn’t turn out to be perfect. My foster family saw that I was limping a lot. I was afraid they would give up on me and give me away…but the total opposite happened. They talked to the rescue and told them that they want to adopt me!! 🙂 Oh, I was so very happy.

They had the vet check out why I was limping. The vet told them that I have very bad knees and that I will eventually need surgery on both knees. So far I had one surgery done and it wasn’t fun at all but my family stood by my side — literally! My mommy even slept on the floor with me for one week.

It has being a year since my surgery. The vet tells us that when my other knee goes out, they will have to do surgery on that one too. 🙁 That’s not fun.

I wonder if I would’ve had a different puppyhood maybe things were different? Anyway, there is nothing I could do about that. Now let me tell you about my life.

I get plenty of balls and toys to chew on. Mommy got very upset when I chewed her shoes so i decided to stick with the balls and toys that she gives me. Since i came to this house I have never destroyed anything (expect her shoes, hehe).

My human sister keeps me very busy and we play a lot. I think she sees me as her big brother. She dresses me up. She goes and hides somewhere in the house and mommy lets me go and I go and find her. When I find her mommy gives me a treat. I love treats.

When my human sister doesn’t play with me I play with my dog sister Tasha or I play with my human papa. Did I tell you that they taught me how to swim? I LOVE swimming!! Too bad Tasha doesn’t swim, and she’s a labrador. I don’t understand why she doesn’t like to swim — I think is a girl thing. 🙂

I get spoiled a lot. I also get plenty of exercise. We either go swimming, for a bike ride, walk or on the rainy days I get on the treadmill. My mommy and papa keep me busy and I love it. Mommy also worked with me and trained me, and I passed my Good Canine Citizen test. My family was so proud of me.

Since I’ve been here mommy has fostered more pit bulls. One of them is “Monster” Christian who was adopted and now lives with his big brother, “Monster” Bodie. (Christian is the grey pup with the big grin between me and Tasha!) I like all of them. I get sad when they get adopted but soon after that we foster another one. I guess there are a lot of dogs out there that need help and a foster home.

For the last year, I have noticed something different though. We haven’t gotten new dogs and mommy looks like she is always hiding a HUGE watermelon under her shirt! I keep hearing ”the new baby will be here soon” and I don’t know what it means but everyone is excited so I am too. I guess mommy is taking a break from fostering. She looked big and very uncomfortable and I think another dog will be too much for her for now.

I know that any changes that we will encounter my family will help me to understand them and they will teach me how to properly handle those changes. I wish people wouldn’t tell my family that they need to be careful with me specially when I’m around the kids. It makes me sad.

My family defends me and they tell those people to please don’t judge without knowing the facts. Once a lady stop my mommy and told her that I should be euthanized because of who I am. That made me very sad but my mommy defended me and when we got home, she cried and hugged me and told me that she doesn’t understand why people judge so much.

I know I am forgetting so many wonderful things to share but I think this is enough. I just know that I am thankful to Happy Tails Happy Homes for saving me and placing me with my new family. I am also very thankful for my family; they love me very much and they will always love me unconditionally.

~Odie

Parent: Sandra

Editor’s Note: On August 12, 2013, Odie welcomed another little human sister as part of his family. Congratulations!

Sweetie, Grapevine, TX

Hi, there! My name is Sweetie. I’m an old gal with a goofy grin, full of snorts, and some serious hard knocks. My story started when I was tragically abandoned at a boarding facility in the spring of 2012.

A couple of volunteers were walking rescued dogs at the boarding facility when they noticed me. Years of cranking out litter after litter and spent confined to an outside concrete dog run had taken a toll on me.

Riddled in pain, I could barely stand. Seven years of lying on concrete yielded sore spots and callouses, and flies had laid eggs in my fur. I have a messed up tongue that often drags below my lower jaw. My paws, bloody from chewing, were barely able to support my weight. One of my teats was infected so horribly that it dragged the floor.

The card on the kennel gate read “Sweetie.” It was sort of ironic since I wasn’t too keen on people coming near me: I snarled. I snapped. I lunged.

Judging by the way I’ve been neglected, the humans didn’t blame me for distrusting them. People hadn’t been kind to me. Some of the humans who saw me believed my quality of life was likely to only improve through the kindness of death.

Surprisingly, I was someone’s “pet”! I was boarded there by my “owner” and I sat waiting for him to return. Weeks went by, and then months. It became clear that my “owner” was never coming back so the boarding facility went through a long and tedious process of gaining legal custody of me.

During that time, the volunteers — I learned that their names are Kristan and Audrey — brought me bones and treats in an attempt to earn my trust… and to distract me from chewing on myself. None of it was easy; my health deteriorated further, but I began to approach the humans more and more — still growling, still hating on them, but with cautious desire to interact.

Sometimes I was so depressed that I could only breathe heavy sighs. After months of having only food and water slid to me through a chain-linked fence and receiving whatever treats they had to offer, one day I finally stood close enough to the gate for this one volunteer, Kristan, to touch me.

I groaned a little, but switched sides allowing Kristan to stroke my fur again through the fence. It broke her heart and numbed her brain — it was like touching cardboard. “How could someone treat a creature so terribly?” Kristan told me later that when her fingers connected with my fur that first time, my suffering was tangible, and she felt it in her soul. She can’t explain it but that moment she knew my spirit was still alive. And that I was trying.

They continued to visit me and after awhile, I even wagged my tail when I saw them and let them kiss me.

In mid-summer 2012, the facility won custodianship of me. Kristan arrived to jailbreak me on behalf of DFW Rescue Me for my well-deserved trip to the vet. She put a leash around my neck and she hugged me. We marched to the front of the facility, out the door, and into her truck. I was scared, but I trusted her. At last.

At the vet, the other dogs were nervous and frightened, but this was my best day ever. I smiled like a big dorky girl in that office and licked every hand that reached out to pet my nasty, flaky fur. Jim from DFW Rescue Me told Kristan earlier in the week to tell the hospital to give me the full spa treatment. The woman at the vet’s office stroked my fur and said, “We certainly will. She deserves a spa day, doesn’t she?”

Later that day, Kristan drove me to her home to recover, but she had little faith she’d be able to safely foster me with her other animals. After all, she’s no dog trainer and she always told folks she’s a cat person at the end of the day. But she remembered my progress and thought to herself, “Maybe, just maybe things could work.”

That first month I was kept in a room alone. I wanted to eat the cats and other dogs. The next month, I wanted to eat the cats and other dogs less. I went on walks and supervised play time in the yard, and I decided to befriend my foster parents’ little Italian Greyhound foster guy. I was moved into a large crate by the patio door so I’d have a better view and also spend more time observing the offending cats, whom I became slightly less dead set upon devouring. Slightly.

By the end of the third month, I made friends with the cat, Mr. Bob Dobalina, a grey tabby tom dude with titanium tolerance. Like a helicopter mom, Kristan began leading me around the house on my leash so I could hang out in general population. She could tell I wanted to please my foster parents and was grateful; I just needed to take my time.

In the evenings, Kristan and I would sit in the hammock in the backyard and stare at the sky together. I would close my eyes, lean into Kristan sighing and kissing her cheek. My teats weren’t swollen anymore. My fur felt like…fur. I was content. And Kristan even said I’m beautiful now.

She’d sometimes look at me in complete disbelief that I was the raggedy old hag who used to spit and cuss at her just months earlier. She’d hold me and tell me everything was going to be ok, but she knew we still had a haul ahead of us.

Even though I was improving, my thyroid wonked out. So here I am, an old pit bull with a sordid past and a condition that required medication twice a day for life. I wasn’t receiving boatloads of adoption applications either.

Kristan wished I could only get along with her little dog, Nova Party Pants, who was still pretty irritated I was crashing at her pad. Rock and a hard place, but with a little wiggle room for hope.

Then a couple months went by and I was snoring on the couch when Nova slumped up next to me. Burrowing into the fatty folds of my belly, Nova passed out. Everything really was going to be ok, Kristan realized. Nova just needed time, too. There they were: Four cats and her beloved gal pal Nova…and me. Victory.

Because my progress was so significant, Kristan began socializing me on Main Street. Then we started going around in the car more. Oh and I’m proud to say that now I made appearances as a Voices for Justice dog, an educational program DFW Rescue Me presents to local elementary schools and children’s groups within the Dallas/Fort Worth communities. (I was even on the news because I’m a superstar like that.)

On March 6, 2013, like almost a thousand people before her, Kristan completed an online application to adopt. She closed the laptop after sending the application and told me, “So you’re staying. Forever.” Then, for the the first time ever, I tore apart the kitchen trash. 🙂

So that’s the story of my second life. I’m here because I didn’t give up, and I made my humans believed in me. When those flies were laying eggs in my cardboard fur, I could’ve given up…but I didn’t. I chose to become a better dog when new people showed me a light.

Now I got a family that can’t love me enough, a little Basenji-Collie mix BFF, and my very own cat gang who all are groomed by my giant tongue as often as I can stay awake. My family says I shed and smell like hell, but they don’t care.

As I lay next to Kristan, snoring with my pokey out-y tongue hanging out and drooling on our (yes, our) bed, she whispered in my ear, “Welcome home, Sweetie. This is our sweet hereafter, old girl.”

I’m home. At last.

~ Sweetie

p.s. You can come hang out with me on my Facebook page: Sweetie the Incredible.

Parent: Kristan

Rewritten from Six Days at The Fair: Sweeties Sweet Hereafter and Old Girl Has a Posse with permission from Kristan Turns.