My boyfriend and I have been volunteering at the Humane Society of Allen County for the past few months-- walking dogs and petting kitties is obviously the best way to spend an afternoon-- and inadvertently acquired a passion for rescued Pit Bulls. We walk all the pups, but Olivia (below) has become a favorite. She is exceedingly smart, always happy and obedient, tends to think she is a cat (perching on your lap and whatnot) and is just an all around perfectly tempered dog. She would make an exceptional companion to a home that can get past the unfortunate stigma of her breed. Wise up, folks. Olivia is the best dog you'll probably ever have.
This is her happy face. She is so marvelously serious.
Ready to attack with insane dexterity her favorite toy, a tennis ball.
Look at that stride!
I first met Bruce Wayne only a few days after he arrived at the shelter. Initially attracted to him because of his name, I was excited to see the newest shelter addition. As I approached the stall, I didn't meet the spirited and anxious to get the heck outside dog I was expecting. Huddled in a corner, terrified and shivering, Bruce Wayne was curled as tight as possible in his blanket, head hung low. Tears immediately sprung to my eyes-- I could feel the unimaginable pain he had endured before I even knew his story. Bending down, I cautiously and slowly extended my hand to him. He shrank into himself at my slightest movement. As I carefully got closer to him, we made eye contact and I was struck by the most gentle and direct stare I've ever received from a dog. I softly touched the side of his face and started to stroke him under his chin (I was told this builds confidence in abused dogs). I looked into his eyes once more and saw a dog utterly broken, yet so very tender. With no reason whatsoever to be affectionate to any human, his eyes are kind and trusting, hopeful even. As I continued to pet him and tell him how good and beautiful he was, he gingerly leaned into my hand. I continued talking to him and gradually, after several minutes of soft tones and just sitting with him in the stall, he allowed me to put a collar around his neck and start the equally long process of getting him outside to take a walk.
On the way out I was informed by another volunteer that Bruce Wayne had been a bait dog for his entire life. Specifically selected for his docile and gentle nature, for five years he was thrown into a ring between two other vicious dogs and used, quite literally, as fight bait. His tenderness was exploited and from puppy hood his mouth was taped shut and he was utilized as "training" to make other dogs more brutal. It's a miracle Bruce Wayne made it to his fifth birthday since the life expectancy of most bait dogs rarely exceeds two years. We don't know all the details of Bruce's incredible story of survival, but we can easily assume it wasn't much different than most bait dogs, like Noah: http://luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/noah-bait-dog.html?m=1
Once we made it outside, he was confused, anxious and stayed very low to the ground for our entire walk-- scared and afraid of any and everything. The long walk became a little too much for him to handle so we stopped at a bench and I sat in the grass beside him, determined to spend as much time loving on him as I could. While petting him I felt the scars all across his back, felt the scabs that covered his entire body and saw the tears in his ears-- his big, hilariously out of place ears that rendered him his name-- ears that were undoubtedly an unlucky large target for attacks all of his life. As the petting continued, he started to inch just a little closer to me, relaxing into my hands and arms. I told Kiarash as we left that day, "Oh baby, this is really bad. This is why I was afraid to volunteer in the first place-- I think I fell in love today. We have to do something for Bruce." I continued to talk about Bruce Wayne incessantly all weekend and look at his picture on my iPhone with what could be dubbed compulsion.
About a month later, I saw Bruce again and the difference was incredible. He met me at the gate with his tongue out, ears perked up and with eyes still timid, yet bright. It still takes a lot of patience to get him out of the stall, as he will probably always cower at the sight of metal (on the collar and leash tip), but this time our walk was full of wagging tails and happy sprints. He no longer walks close to the ground, but upright and tall. His burgeoning confidence left me happily surprised to find him a much bigger dog than I had initially thought! About half way through our time together, he stopped mid-walk and looked back at me, his eyes direct as always, and I swear he kinda smiled. As I came closer to bend down and give him the biggest hug I could without scaring him, my eyes once again filled with tears-- so proud of his progress and amazed by his resilience. Bruce Wayne still has a very long way to go, but if he can make this dramatic of change in only a month, I have exceedingly high hopes for his progress.
Kia and I decided to foster him a few days ago. As soon as finals are over and we have the proper time to devote to him, we are bringing this handsome boy home in hopes to render him more adoptable and acclimate him to domestic living-- a luxury he has never experienced.
Bruce Wayne may never fully recover. He may never have the "normal" life a dog. He may never learn how to play and he may always be skittish and timid-- but I'll be damned if I don't at least try to show him how to wrestle with a toy, run around a back yard and enjoy days of comfort and stability. For all his pain, he will at least have me-- for as long as I can, until some lucky person decides to adopt him-- to kiss his face, pet his ridged back, tell him how awesome he is, and smooth down his torn ears.
Brucey, baby, I've already got a collar picked out for you, and it's Tiffany blue.
I should note that nearly all of Bruce's progress is due to Alicia, one of the few tireless and incredible workers at the Humane Society. When Bruce sees her, the world melts away and he becomes so joyful. I cannot speak highly enough of this woman who has dedicated her life to helping/rescuing all animals that come to the shelter (specifically Pits).