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.