Ok, that title is me trying to do a play off the popular Animal Planet show, ‘Pitbulls and Parolees’ . Which many of you who aren’t crazy pitbull moms probably have never seen. Indulge me for a minute, you’ve got Scandal dvr’d already, you have 6-7 minutes to read this.
My middle son wanted a dog his entire life. Then my aunt goes and adopts a dog from North Shore Animal League and takes him along to help pick the dog out. Just great. You’d think walking that dog would be enough for him but no, he wanted his own puppy. So literally 6 years pass while he’s showing how responsible he is by walking my aunt’s dog and begging and I start to feel like this kid should have his own dog… he’s going to take care of it! (Parents who are wiser than me, go ahead and laugh your asses off at me at this point in the story, I deserve it). I know that NYC is full of kill-shelters. So I decide we are getting a puppy from one of them. I begin calling them in October 2010 looking for puppies. Every time I call, the only puppies they have are pitbull mixes. I’ve seen the news. I know pitbulls are dangerous and I don’t want one. But every time I try to rescue a puppy, that is all they have in all of New York City. Fuck.
I call my sister who is a marine mammal trainer and has worked with walruses. Because, pitbulls, walruses, you know a connection, large, volatile uncontrollable and wild right? Um… no. She says dogs are dogs. Pitbulls, German shephards, Rottweilers, they’re bully breeds, big and strong and you can train them and go for it, I’ll help you. We went to Manhattan Animal Care and Control one night right before Tariq’s 14th birthday. It was a scary place. Row after row of tiny kennels with pitbulls and chihuahuas. That’s all they had. We looked at 6 pit-mix puppies. Khevin was terrified (he was 5 at the time) and spent most of the time pressed up against the wall of the shelters’ hallway, assailed by the stench. Most of the dogs were girls, 2 were boys. Only one was a reddish brown and he was much calmer than the other dogs. He’d only been there 3 days, a stray from the Bronx. I liked him immediately but Tariq wanted to keep looking. So we had the shelter workers take all 6 of them out of the kennels. Many of them jumped on us or barked excitedly. Only the skinny brown one didn’t do either. He just looked terrified, trying to hide behind the shelter worker. Tariq held his hand out and finally the skinny dog came over to him and let him pet him. I said, that’s it then, I think we should get him. His tag said 10 months old, much older than I wanted but it just seemed right so we put down a deposit and promised to come back for him later.
We picked him up 3 days later. This is the day he came home, his ‘gotcha day’ in dog adoption circles.
I thought I knew what to expect. I’d done the reading. But I didn’t know how much we would fall in love with him. Like, deeply, forever, in love. My sister told me socialization and desensitization were the keys to a good dog, and she couldn’t have been more right. No one who has met him doesn’t like him. People who have been bitten by dogs like this dog. It’s truly amazing. Talk about changing lives… We started our journey that day. Khevin was still unsure and unhappy. He was afraid of our 28 pound puppy that at 5 months (yeah, that 10 month thing was all wrong) should’ve been 43 pounds. He wanted me to take the dog back to the shelter. He only liked cats, like his oldest brother. He was terrified, a little prisoner in his own house. How would I reconcile this?
I didn’t need to worry. He was afraid of him for about three days. It wasn’t long after he realized he could lay all over the dog, hug him, play with him (you know, a boy and his dog stuff!) that they became the best of friends. And my heart was full of joy watching the relationships between Petey and the boys blossom. I forgot he was a ‘pitbull’ because he was just a sweet, goofy puppy. It’s also when I fell in love with the “breed” and realized that they get a terrible rap for all the wrong reasons.