My Dog, Ella | Pit Bulls Pt 3

**This is the third and final post in my three part series: Pit Bulls. This series outlines our journey towards getting our official "family dog", a pit bull.** V worked the night shift. Luke and I fell asleep on the couch while watching Golden Girls reruns. It was a Wednesday night. 

I was content having a single dog household. I knew that getting a second dog with our schedules would be... Tricky.  Although V mentioned getting a puppy a few times, I naturally assumed the novelty would wear off and he would switch his laser focus to another subject in time. 

V walked in at 5am. To be clear, that's 5am meaning 5:00 in the morning. He startled me awake with an announcement. 

I found a puppy. A pitbull. We're going to get her. She's in North Carolina. If we leave now we can get there by 8am. 

This had to be some kind of dream. It didn't make any sense. What was he talking about? Wasn't this a bit sudden? What's the rush anyway, couldn't we at least talk about this some more and get her maybe over the weekend? 

We can't wait, there's no time. Her owner is a breeder. The neighbor called animal control because there was a litter of newborn puppies in the yard and they were being kept away from their mother. The owner would come out to the yard and spray the puppies with a garden hose and that was supposed to be their drinking water. Animal control took all the puppies but one, since the neighbor asked to keep her. Now they don't think it's feasible to keep her so they're re-homing her. She's 6 weeks old and who knows how long she's been away from her mother. She needs us. We gotta get her. Now. 

You've got to be kidding me. Okay you can put your violins away now, you win. 

I got dressed, got Luke taken care of for the morning, then we headed for North Carolina. 

Hey, babe? Do you think you can drive? I really think I need to catch some z's, I'm exhausted. 

You've got to be kidding me. I thought you put the violins away?? 

So I headed to North Carolina while V headed to dreamland in the passenger seat. After what seemed like an eternity of driving, the GPS rang out with the "You have arrived" alert. I turned to V. 

What I thought was:

I'm staying in the car. Go get your dog so we can get the hell out of here. I'm tired, dammit! 

What I said was:

We're here babe. I'll wait here while you get her. 

He came back with a ziploc bag of dog food, some papers showing some vaccination records, and the tiniest ball of dog that I had ever seen. Her little body curled up in his palm was enough to melt any heart. I started getting excited because I knew that Luke would enjoy having a friend.

We named her Ella. 

She was a very rambunctious pup. She got into everything. The pantry was her personal food storage space-- everything in there was fair game. Dry rice or beans, potatoes, lemongrass, she wasn't picky. She chewed through shoes, she chewed clear through the drywall in two places, then somehow got into my makeup. 

Though, in V's eyes, she could do no harm,  I was quickly losing patience. That's when I delivered my ultimatum: either she goes to training, or she goes. 

So she went to training... And graduated! 

She got us through some tough times. She was there when we were losing Luke. She stayed by his side during his final days and I think it brought him peace, but it also set my mind at ease since I knew he wasn't alone in the end...

**Fast forward to today**

She has been Mimi's best friend since day one. It's strange to see such a large dog be so gentle, but she is. I was worried about "bringing home baby" to a dog in the house, but she instinctively took on the role of guardian and protector.

The two are now inseparable. Mimi's a bit older now, but she still loves vegging out on the rug-- just a girl and her dog. 

Mimi has learned how to be loving, caring, and compassionate much more quickly (I think) than if she didn't have her dog by her side. 

Our pit bull has been so important to our family, in fact, our pit bull is family. We have faced housing discrimination because of her, but no housing situation is worth giving her up. It's so unfortunate that breed discrimination exists today. Dogs are so much more than "labels".

If people could put their pitch forks down and take the time to learn more about the breed, they might actually learn that pit bulls can enrich lives...

...I did.

Santana The Stray | Pit Bulls Pt 2

**This is the second post in my three part series: Pit Bulls. This series outlines our journey towards getting our official "family dog", a pit bull.**

It was a gorgeous Sunday morning in Small-town, USA. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the dogs were barking (no escaping the barking-- there was an almost sickening dog population, with each person having on average 1.5 dogs, but I digress).

We had gotten our beautiful rescue, an English Pointer named Luke, about 6 months earlier. Not a pit bull, but I figured I needed at least some pet experience before I dove in. And when I say "our" pointer, I mean "my" pointer. Luke and V had a tumultuous relationship, to say the least.

Luke and I were inseparable. I was completely transformed into a "dog person" at that point. I took him on hikes (by hike I mean a walk around the neighborhood trail, which was more than I was used to anyway), I took him shopping so he could choose his favorite toys, and I took him for grooming every 2 weeks. Seeing Luke grow from a terrified and shy creature to a proud pointer in all his glory made me appreciate just how much human love can transform a dog.

I had just come back from taking Luke on his morning walk, and I decided to go for a drive. I turned out onto the main road leading out of our apartment complex, and I saw this black shadow hobbling along the side of the road. No collar, no owner in sight. I slowed down and pulled up next to the dog. Black, female, pit bull. I remained cautious at this point because she was a stray, after all.

Wait a minute. Strays don't exist here. Every dog belongs to somebody. 

I rolled down the window. "Hey Girl!" I called out to her. I was still in the car, but I was close enough to get a good look at her. She could barely walk. She seemed tired, thirsty, and she had a terrible limp. "Hey girl, come here girl!" She started to hobble towards me, as if she could understand the basic command. Excellent! We established communication and she was walking towards me.

Wait a minute. A strange pit bull is walking towards me. I have no idea what I'm doing. 

I turned the car around and parked on the side of the road. V would know what to do. My heart ached. What if that was Luke?

I got out of the car and, maintaining a safe distance, called her to follow me. She made it to our apartment. I banged on the door for V to come outside.

He came out through the front door. "What the hell is this?" He asked, motioning towards the dog. "I found her up the street," I explained, "No collar but I don't think she's a stray. And she stinks".

V leaned in closer, "Yeah, she does. Skunk".

"So what do we do?"

"Call animal control. "

"We can't. They're closed on Sunday. We have to wait until tomorrow. But what do we do now?"

"Well she needs food and water. I'll put Luke away in the bedroom then I'll get her something to eat and drink. You go to the pet store and get some skunk shampoo."

He put Luke away then led her inside. He kept talking to her and that seemed to make her a bit more comfortable, though she still seemed terrified.

I went to the store and rushed back with the shampoo. When I walked through the door, she and Luke were already sniffing each other, and each seemed to be enjoying the other's company. V gave her a bath and used about half of the bottle of shampoo. We had an extra collar and leash, and we took them outside a few times more that day. She was clearly housebroken. What could have happened to her?

The next morning, I called animal control. I described her and they checked their records for reported missing dogs. I started to get nervous. What if there was no record? What do we do? Do we surrender her to the pound? No, we can't do that. We'll keep her. We have to.

"Ma'am," the rescue agent continued, "we have a black pit bull, reported missing Friday. Says here that she escaped after the owners were trying to give her a bath after she got sprayed by a skunk."

"Well I guess it doesn't get any more specific than that."

I gave them my contact info so that the owner could contact me. She sent me a text a few minutes later, asking if I could meet her at a nearby gas station. V and I loaded her up with her one posession: half a bottle of skunk shampoo. We pulled in to the gas station and there was a woman with 4 children. Their eyes lit up as we approached. "Santana! Santana!" The kids all ran towards her and started showering her with kisses. It was obvious that they didn't think that they would be reunited with their dog.

I explained everything that happened and how I came to meet the gentle thing. Her owner thanked us and told us she didn't think that Santana would make it, since she was in poor health. She was an older dog, and wandering around really took a toll on her. I looked at the love she was met with and I knew she would be okay.

V and I drove back to our apartment. We walked in and Luke searched behind us, looking for his new friend. "I'm sorry, Luke," I explained, "She had to go back to her real home."

We sat there with Luke for a while, in silence. "I know it sounds weird, but I miss her," I confessed to V. "I know, me too," he replied.

"So when are we getting our own pit bull?"

Fats, The Family Dog | Pit Bulls Pt 1

**This is the first post in my three part series: Pit Bulls. This series outlines our journey towards getting our official "family dog", a pit bull.** I hated dogs. I mean not just regular dislike. I hated them. They disgusted me. They were furry vectors of disease who had no place in a domestic setting.

But then I met V and his family dog, Fats. Not just any dog, but a pit bull. Surely he didn't expect me to be nice to that thing. Surely he didn't expect me to be friends with that thing. But he did.

Our first Thanksgiving rolled around. There was no more putting it off. I was brought face to face with the savage beast. He was stout yet muscular. He had a short yellow coat and a red nose. He looked to be about 100lbs, easy. "I've heard about your kind," I thought, as I examined him through the screen door. V quickly ushered me inside.

I froze as Fats examined me. He sniffed my shoes, my clothes. I could feel his repulsive wet snout on my exposed knees. "This is it," I thought. "This is the day I die. He's going to tear me limb from limb and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it".

Then, he wagged his tail and walked away.

This had to be some kind of mind trick. I heard they were smart. He's trying to make me let my guard down, then he'll launch his attack. I'm smarter than him; he's just a savage beast.

I mingled and shuffled about, never once letting him out of my sight. He lay on the floor, playing possum, waiting until the moment was right. I sat on the couch and started to ease into the family conversation.

Slowly, Fats rose from the floor. He turned his gaze towards me and started walking in my direction. Slowly. Deliberately. I froze. I was trapped. He stepped closer. Who would save me?! Closer and closer until.. He was right in front of me.. I silently searched the room with my eyes, paralyzed by terror. My desperate gaze was unmet-- they were all deep in conversation. Fats gave a quick glance to his master as if to ask for permission to carry out the attack. No one was paying attention. That's when he climbed on the couch and...

......Curled up in my lap.

This 100lb thing was on me. I was so confused. Before I could come up with my escape plan to make it to safety, he...

......Nudged my hand with his head, as if he wanted me to.. Pet him?

I obliged.

There we were, the two of us, from different worlds, different galaxies. Yet, something made me so calm in that moment. Me and Fats. This wasn't so bad. Actually, it was quite nice.

V glanced over at me after what had seemed like an eternity. He saw me petting Fats and he softly chuckled to himself. He knew he had won.

That's when I knew that we were probably going to have a family dog (if and when we ever had a family).

That's when I knew it would probably be a pit bull...