pit bulls

Adopting — and The Emotional Tugs. (from a friend)

Today’s post is one that my friend, Sara Elizabeth Jackson, posted on Facebook.  She’s one of my former students, fosters dogs regularly, and has a huge heart.  This post was exceptionally poignant, so I asked whether I could share.  At the bottom of the post is a photo of the dog to which she refers. 

 

My head is spinning and tears are flowing, and with every drop I become even more angry because rescuing sometimes feels as good as banging your head against a wall that keeps coming back for me. Driving home in silence tonight with this forgotten dog sitting shot gun beside me didn’t feel silent at all, it felt as though I was talking to an old soul. Her eyes are confused and worried, she whimpers with fear every few minutes, only then to look me in the eyes and heavily wag her tail with little thumps that soon fade. Her bones are showing, her breasts are heavy and evident that she has not been loved, she has been used. She has been seen as a money dispenser. Her hips hurt, her back is arched and protruding out in pain. She looks at me for comfort and all I can do is beg for her forgiveness. We have failed her. We as the dominant species have let down another soul that was put here only to give love to us whole heartily, selflessly, and for their entire lives. Instead, many abuse them, use them, forget them and toss them aside as if they are trash. You say you feel bad for her, that it makes you sad, that it hurts? Well I’m no longer sad, I can no longer just feel bad for her, I am angry. I have seen the pain in her eyes, I have felt the confusion and chaos in her soul, the plea for help, the desperation. Every day dogs like her are euthanized in shelters, alone, confused. Blah Blah Blah… you’ve heard it all before, but you know what, take in one of these dogs. See how they transform and only beg to be loved. Love. That is what we need to save this world. Selflessness and Love. Something the dog has truly mastered.

 

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Pitbull

Izzy spends the weekend days and nights at my screen door, looking out on the street and letting me know if anyone comes too close to the house 🙂  He’s a guard dog as long as he’s behind the door, but if he’s out on the street, he just wants to meet all the new dogs in the neighborhood and greet those he already knows.

I spent Saturday writing, so I was in my office and looking out on the same street Izzy sees from his door.  It’s early Fall and the day glowed with that special light autumn days embody.  We made excuses for more walks than our usual, mostly because I needed to stretch after sitting in my office chair for so long — and Izzy had to see the people and “other beings” who had walked by the house during the day.  The last week at 10 PM presented the gift of a star-filled sky, high-flying planes that competed with the brightest stars, and a glimpse of what I think was Venus near the half moon.  I breathed deeply, sure that all was right within my world and comforted by the thought that there is so much more than what exists within the perimeters of Roxboro.

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Izzy took his seat again on Sunday afternoon as I did my laundry and ironing.  The weather, as gorgeous as Saturday’s, enticed more people to take a walk, and I really didn’t pay much attention to what was going on unless Izzy growled or did his squirrel dance (on his back two legs) in front of the door . . . until I heard a tinkle-clink-clank-tinkle-clink like a broken ice cream truck going by.  Izzy came to where I stood at the ironing board, dancing and whining, then went back to the door as if trying to tell me something.  Curious, I followed him and heard the sound but didn’t see anything.  Still, he wouldn’t calm down.

A couple of minutes later, he still hadn’t calmed down and kept going to the back door, then coming to the dining room like he does when he wants to tell me to take him out.  Though we had gone for a walk only half an hour before, I gave in and put him on the leash.  He scrambled through my gravel driveway, choking on his collar and trying to get me to walk faster.  I could tell he had picked up the scent of something and thought it was the groundhog we have in the backyard (that has pretty much destroyed my garden).

On the way down the street, Izzy was at “high alert” but I still didn’t see anything.  Then a van coming toward us slowed down and stopped in front of us.  The window rolled down and a heavyset, older woman in a flowered dress leaned out.  “You might not want to walk up that way,” she said, motioning toward Izzy.  “There’s a brown pitbull wandering around up there.  He’s dragging a 6-8′ chain, so I think he got loose from someone’s yard.  He’s kinda big.  Your pup wouldn’t stand a chance.”

I thanked her and wondered whether it was the same one that my friend, the old man, was having trouble containing when Izzy and I walked earlier this week.  Then I realized he never had a chain on that dog.  And I realized instantly where the loose pitbull had come from.  The night before when Izzy and I were out, I heard howling, barking and growling from beyond the railroad tracks.  I’ve heard it before, and it’s obviously a group of dogs that are either caged or within close proximity of each other.  I’ve seen several pitbulls with some rather large guys who walk them up my street and can barely hold onto the dogs when they see Izzy.

I think there’s a dogfighting ring close by . . . and I’m feeling two emotions:  fear that my Izzy wouldn’t have a chance if any large dog became violent and compassion for those dogs who are chained up in a yard or made to fight when they should be in a loving home.  Now my journalistic curiosity is aroused.  I need to find out what’s going on.

Walking Habits

Walking Habits
Izzy and I have established a routine: 5 walks each day, sometimes one more on the weekend. We leave the house around 6-6:15 AM, often in time to watch the sun rise, like this morning. A fairly banal sunrise today, but the sky did pinken a little, which always raises my spirits. That’s the long walk of the day. The streets in Uptown Roxboro are quiet, except for the trash truck making its rounds mid-week. We can count on seeing the retired school teacher who sits on his porch smoking his morning cigarette, as well as the old Black lady who lives in the group home up the street and also smokes nonstop. Sometimes we run into a couple of our dog friends: Peaches, the female boxer who does a GI Joe, belly-to-the-ground when she sees Izzy, or the new little Terrier who belongs to the retired school teacher’s wife (and is still a puppy so rather crazy).

We come back to the house and Izzy lies on the guest bed in my office (see the pic) until I get out of the shower, then we go out again for a quick walk up the street, one last pee before I go to work. Izzy always knows when I’m ready to go and races me to the door for that brief walk.

Then I’m home for lunch. He has slept all morning so is ready and waiting at the back door, his nose pressed up against the glass. He bops around, wagging his tail, tongue hanging out, ready to walk. We do a quick walk up the street, and the energy level is definitely different than our early morning walk. I eat my lunch, he sleeps on the rug and watches me, and he knows that when I go to the door this time, I’m gone.

After work is another long walk, and this one is the busiest. We sometimes pick up my next door neighbor/friend, Deb, and we talk as we walk. Izzy is actively sniffing all the other dogs that have recently left their scents on the street and most of the time, we meet one of them. Last night was one of those meetings, and it didn’t go well.

One of our favorite dogs was an old Shipperneke that had been the long-time companion of a kindly 80-something gentleman who’d been through several strokes. The dog was blind, fat, and slow, but she loved seeing Izzy, and her ‘dad’ and I talked about the dogs, the weather, and his health whenever we met on the sidewalk. When Lacey, the Shipperneke, passed over the rainbow bridge, the old man was bereft. For a long time, I didn’t see him, then one day, we passed his son on the sidewalk with a new dog: a young, reddish, Pitbull mix with lots of energy.

The old man still walks with a cane but now he has his “new girl” to accompany him. Unfortunately, she’s got way too much energy and no manners whatsoever. I worry that she’s going to make him fall one of these days. Last night when we came up to them on the sidewalk, Izzy was excited to see his new friend. She sniffed him, then turned and suddenly, she bared her teeth, growled and lunged. Though she’s a small pittie, she’s strong and it took all the old man’s strength to hold her back.

“I think we’d better go the other way,” I told him, as he struggled to hold onto his dog.

Izzy looked from the dog to me and pranced from one foot to the other, as if confused.

Deb, Izzy and I retraced our steps, with Deb and I looking over our shoulder at the old man and the now frantic dog.

“She needs exercise and training,” I told Deb. “He’s never going to be able to handle her unless she learns how to behave.”

And as I said that, I realized that Izzy, who had once had aggression issues, was now acting like the model dog.

As Cesar Millan says, once you master the walk, you master the dog. I agree!