I won’t quote statistics in this post, they have been refuted and debated ad nauseam and regardless of how you look at them, no one can deny that Pit Bulls and “pitty-mixes” have a bad rap in society. While this story illustrates how wrong that stereotype is, that is only one reason I’m writing it. The other two are simply:
- To ask when we poisoned our ‘nest’ so badly that our pets have cancer?
- To honor a dog whose courage and optimism is a lesson for us all.
A brood bitch gave birth to a litter of Pit Bull puppies, in a shed in Tuscaloosa. When they were old enough, perhaps eight or ten weeks, they were put into service, as training tools for the fighting Pits. It was thought, by the humans in charge, that none of the “bait” puppies survived. The bloody box of bodies was tossed out onto the highway during a beer run; let the crows feast.
Cars and trucks rushed past. One puppy was not dead. He crawled out from under his mangled siblings and peeked over the edge of the box. A man stopped to relieve himself and spotted the box. Amid the carnage, the puppy was alive. He opened a crack in his heart and dropped the breathing slab of skin at a local pound. The puppy made it through the night, and the next night. The staff named him “Bones” and did their best not to let their hopes get too high. He made it through a few more days.
A transport was headed North to New England; it had one tiny empty crate. Bones just fit. Hours on the road, in a truck filled with dozens of other scared, anxious commrads, he found his way to Kittery, Maine. There, a kind couple opened their home to the weary and bedraggled pup. Day after day, he thrived…on air, on water, on food, on the lack of physical pain and the sheer joy of a gentle touch. As his body filled out, his eyes reamained enormous and intense. It was as if, the more he grew, his expression grew with him. Something about the fundamental trust in those eyes, never changed. His foster home fought to keep him and other Pits, against the will of their neighbors, who declared them dangerous.
The couple’s job was not to be his forever home, but to help him find just that. In the world of adoptable dogs, he was just another Pit Bull. They were patient and understood this would take a long time. They also knew, if they kept him to themselves, his ambassadorship for his breed would not flourish. They found him his forever home.
Having endured so many death sentences, Boomer, as he found himself called, took a look at the new pack and realized every time life changed for him it also got easier. He had immense comfort physically but more importantly, he found himself connected mentally and emotionally with one of the two-legged beings. There were the obvious physical similarities to those who had caused so much trauma early in his life. But this human was completely different in every other way.
He watched her ease the end and say good-bye to the elderly dog whose pack he joined. He understood her sorrow and when she brought home a bossy, wiggly rescue bitch, he explained to this dog that she had just found nirvana. She could boss him all she wanted, because he saw no need for conflict; the woman’s heart was his.
He also saw the fear in other humans at his very presence and wondered at this turn of events. What threat had he ever posed to them?
Stage IV Lymphoma in dogs is not as rare as we would think. It is frightening that we have not only poisoned ourselves but have poisoned our very companions – the entire nest. Boomer’s story is one of importance, not only because he was an amazing Pit Bull, an outstanding example of what happens when you rescue a dog, but because it tells us that in the end, we are killing the most tenacious of our kind.
Boomer was five years old when he left this world yesterday. In those five years he succeeded in creating a lifetime full of love.