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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption

When my sister adopted a pit bull I have to admit I was not looking forward to meeting him. I was leery and didn't think I'd ever be able to warm up to him. The first time I visited her I was hesitant around him although he greeted me like a big clown and beat me with his tail and tried to lick the nose off my face. I love dogs but her other dog, a lab-shepard mix,was my baby and she was getting on in years. Wasn't terribly sure poor Jake should have to deal with a young animal that probably was unpredictable and not likely to be tolerant of an older less strong dog. I was sure she would be bullied and perhaps even hurt by this member of such a vicious breed. Well, Damien didn't have a chance. Jake was the alpha dog and, though she was a bit arthritic, hard of hearing and had dimming eyesight, she kept him right in his proper young whipper snapper place with an occasional low growl when she'd had enough of his kibutzing. In general, though, her final year was one of renewed vigor and youth and she loved playing with him and napping with him in the sun. And he seemed to look out for her when they were in the yard--guiding her around obstacles and to a toy she seemed to have lost. It was then I fell in love with him and though I still miss her, as does my sister, he filled the void she left immediately with his cuddles, and kisses, and clowning and companionship. He NEVER barks, we cannot entice him to make a sound. He wants to sit in your lap, butts with is nose when you don't pet him and greets you at the door with a toy in his mouth, ready to play! So, I thought, she got the only wimp in the breed. Well, a year later, my nephew adopted a pit. This poor fellow had been in a shelter for over 2 yrs. His teeth were ground down from chewing on his cage. No one would adopt him--a pit bull--but the man who ran the shelter just could not put him down, he had such a wonderful personality and had such a beautiful face. Along came Charlie who adopted him and named him, Sunny. And Sunny he is. He and Damien play together all the time. Both love people, especially kids and love to romp in the park where they are a big hit with other strollers. Had I not known Damien and Sunny I would never believe the story of the rehabilitation of Michael Vick's dogs nor would I have believed what the abuse he and his friends inflicted on these gentle creatures did to them. The beginning of the book deals with the conditions, the business of dog fighting, the building of the case and the conviction and sentencing of the partners in that business. But the bulk of the story belongs to the dogs--Sweet Jasmine, Jonny Rotten, Leo, Little Red and the others. To the people who worked to save them --the foster families, the adoptive families, the rescue organizations. And in the end, the story comes full circle to where the dogs are now and what they have achieved. If you think about pits the way I did and the way many still do--that they are dangerous and unpredictable--read this book. A dog is a dog is a dog and though, like people, there may be some that are " bad " it is more often the result of nurture rather than nature. I always knew that but I let the bad rap they've gotten through ill-informed publicity make me forget it.

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