Thursday, September 17, 2009

Puppy love.

Red and I are blessed to share our home with one of the most loving quadrupeds I’ve ever met: Lucy, the Wonder Pit. She came to us via Recycled Love, where she was being fostered by a coworker of mine. When we first met her, she bounced around excitedly, nosing my pocket for treats and tangling us up in her leash. That day, we knew she’d be ours. She was only a year old, but she had already made an incredible comeback from a nightmarish beginning.

Our sweet puppy was bred by a teenager who, ahem, sold pitbulls to his neighbors. I don’t know about you, but where we’re from, that means he was involved in dogfighting. After two of his dogs attacked a woman, the police agreed and Animal Control raided his house. One of the dogs had recently given birth, and one of her pups—tiny Lucy—had had her ears crudely cropped with kitchen shears. Seriously, that asshole kid just lopped her ears right off so that when he fought her, other dogs couldn’t grab hold of them. Because she was such a small, earless thing, the Recycled Love staff nicknamed her “Mouse.” Wee Lucy-Mouse quickly showed herself to be a resilient, happy dog, playing well with others (human and canine alike) and learning quickly. She thrived in her foster home, but no one seemed to want to adopt the black, earless pitbull.

Fortunately, as Lucy grew, her nubby little ears did too. Now, they are more like half-ears, though I still call her my Earless Wonder. Red and I do occasionally suffer bouts of ear envy when we meet pitties who have their ears intact—lovely, pointy ears that flop over just so. Lucy’s will never flop, but she loves to have them rubbed and scratched nonetheless.

Red and I talked long and hard about what it would mean to have a dog. I’d moved in less than a month before we adopted Lucy, and we were still making that transition. Plus, he’d never had a dog before. I warned him that there would be accidents. “Don’t get too attached to having a perfect carpet,” I said. True to my prediction, Lucy had an accident (two, actually) her first night with us. It was raining and she was afraid to go outside, and with all the excitement of moving to a new home, it was inevitable. Out came the paper towels and carpet cleaner.

For a while, it was like living with a little alien. “What are you?” I’d say to her during the long summer days she spent sprawled at my feet while I job-hunted. “How did you get here?” Even though my family had had dogs, everything Lucy did was endlessly fascinating because she was mine. In the mornings, I’d drink coffee and watch It’s Me or the Dog, hoping to pick up training tips. Later, we’d play marathon games of fetch—the Frisbee attempts didn’t go so well, since all she wanted to do was chew them to shreds. Lucy sailed through the first two levels of PetSmart’s obedience training, making friends and earning an honorable mention in their Halloween costume contest for her portrayal of Flavor Flav. At the same time, she also ran through the screen door in her excitement and destroyed books, pillows, and shoes if she was left alone.

She is not a fan of being crated. We tried—oh, how we tried. Her crate is large and comfortable, and we did our best to make it a safe place for her. And for a while, it worked. Then she decided that she was flat-out finished with it. She’ll go in there long enough to pull out the blankets and nest them on the floor. Now, Lucy has her own room, a development that makes me hang my head in shame. I don’t even have my own room! Lucy has a room with a luxurious futon, ceiling fan, windows, toys, and food and water. It’s doggie heaven. Yet, for a while, she even refused to go in there because she knew we’d be leaving if she did. I’ve been reduced almost to tears in frustration, trying to coax her into her room. Her nonviolent resistance could put Gandhi to shame. She had (and likely still has) classic separation anxiety, albeit at a manageable level. If she’s especially stressed, she won’t even eat the treats we give her when we close the door. Many a day I’ve come home to find her Kong, stuffed with almond butter, completely untouched. But as soon as she’s set free to overwhelm us with the sheer force of her joyous doggie love, she settles down and enjoys the treat she ignored all day. We’re home; all is well.

Red and I are committed to having Lucy be a true pitbull ambassador, a spokes-pittie who people can meet and realize that pitbulls are not killer monsters out to eat your babies. (Lucy likes babies, but only to sniff and kiss them.) She’s been featured on our newspaper’s pet blog (here and here), and we’re looking into furthering her training so that she can eventually become a therapy dog. “Aren’t you afraid to have a pitbull?” people ask, when they don’t simply look askance and cross the street. I can swear on whatever you want that I have never seen her display aggressive behavior towards another animal or person. “But she could bite,” they say. All dogs can bite. If a dog’s got teeth, she can bite. You have hands, so you could hit me. When Lucy plays too rough, we correct her. It’s what we promised to do, and we got a sweet, friendly pitbull for our trouble. “Be good—we bought you manners,” Red reminds her. When she gets into bed with us in the early mornings, it’s hard to remember what life was like without her. She’s a living example of what love and patience can accomplish. Good girl.


  1. I LOVE this post! In fact, I love anything that has to do with dogs, they are just my favorite people in the whole world.

    We have 4 dogs, 2 cats and 1 horse, all rescues! (All you have to do is glance at my blog to find post after post about my crazy herd.)

    One of the dogs, Jack, is part pit part black lab and whenever we tell that to people they are so shocked and they say things like 'oh, but he seems so friendly'. Well, he IS friendly! He is an 80lb lap dog who would like to cuddle you to death!

    One of our other dogs, Polly, is part Australian cattle dog, part dachshund, and actually dachshund have the highest incidence of human aggression of any breed of dog. But because she is small and cute and not a vicious, killer, scary pit bull no one ever worries about her! Not that she would do anything, of course.

  2. I know, right? Lucy will drown you in dog slobber during a kiss frenzy, and maybe try to lie down on you and smush you, but that's the extent of her murderous tendencies. :)

    Is it difficult to have dogs in Saudi Arabia??