“I’m going to come home one night and she’ll bite me,” Bill grumbled. That was his reaction to the news that we were foster family to a rescue pit bull named Janie. Of course, this completely ignored the fact that at night she was sleeping in a crate (locked) in Megan’s room (with the door shut), as well as the immediately all-too obvious fact that Janie, far from being a watchdog of any sort, was more likely, if someone broke in, to accompany them around the house while they took everything, then cheerfully leave with them as well. She was a lover, not a fighter, and in her eight months with us, she changed the minds and touched the hearts of everyone who met her.
Janie came into our lives just before Christmas after Megan, while searching for dog rescues, decided she wanted to foster a rescue pit bull and came across For the Love of Pits, http://www.fortheloveofpits.org/. She liked their site and information, so we contacted Shana, the founder of the organization, talked with her, filled out the fostering forms and got ready to have a dog. FTLOP runs on donations and with the help of a cadre of amazing volunteers. But you can’t just waltz in and take a dog, even when helping them out by fostering. For the dog’s sake, and yours as well, they want to make sure of a good fit and they go to great lengths to be sure both sides are in a win-win situation.
Janie hadn’t been abused in the physical sense. But she’d been on a short chain out in front of an abandoned house in the inner city, sometimes there, sometimes not, until she was rescued. I imagine that all sorts of dogs, and maybe even people, came up to her when she couldn’t get away or play with them. She’d also had at least one litter of pups at some time. When she arrived at our house, she was hungry for love but also filled with it, ready to lavish it on someone or more than one someone. However, she was reactive to other dogs (which doesn’t mean she wanted to attack other dogs; she was just socially inept) and our house had one big problem–very large windows with low window sills, just perfect for an interested dog to look out and see who or what was going past. One day, if I’d been home, we wouldn’t have had a foster dog any longer.
Our older daughter was home from college; the Christmas decorations were up. Everyone was out doing something except our older daughter and Janie. Shannon thought it would be fun to watch the newly-met Janie. It probably was fun until a dog walked by. Janie spotted it, rushed to the window and vaulted onto an antique sideboard whose top was covered with a village of needlepoint houses and a church, Christmas decorations that my mom had made , complete with trees and fake snow, as Shannon tried ineffectually to get between Janie and the window. The sideboard is just over three feet high! It was quite a shock for Shannon, to say the least, but by the time I got home, she’d recovered, everything was back in place and Janie was in her crate, although probably not repentant. In the spirit of Christmas, Janie escaped Mom deporting her with all haste back to the rescue…but just barely.
Janie was an athlete. She loved to go for walks and at a fast pace, although she walked slightly sideways, like those out-of-alignment cars you see going down the road at an angle. It was winter, and a cold one at that, and because pit bulls don’t have long coats, Janie submitted to the indignity of a too-big coat when we went out. But it didn’t hamper her style and pace in the least!
Our older daughter got both Megan and Janie Snuglis for Christmas. Perhaps I’m anthropomorphizing, but I think Janie looked mortified by hers and we never did use it. She looked a bit too much like Super Dog in a blue cape. Definitely not her best look.
I wish I had a video of her playing in the snow in the back yard. The drifts, where they’d been piled up more than usual by the snowplow guy, weren’t an obstacle but a part of her playground and when I’d throw the tire, she would fly over the drifts as if they were only a few inches high. She loved those tires and would chew on one whenever she got the opportunity, holding it down with her paws and yanking at the rubber with her entire body. She had an awesome ability to position herself just right and use as much weight and angle as possible to pull in the most efficient manner. Once she got a piece off, she spit it to the side and went after what was left. If I’d had endless money, I could have feed her habit, but since she could have gone through one a day if we let her, tire fun had to be rationed. We found little bits of tire all over the back yard and in the house, when we gave her the tire inside.
We always had her on a tie-out in the yard because our chain link fence, of a normal height, wouldn’t have slowed her in the least if she’d seen something she wanted to go after or explore. When I threw the tire, I had to be sure not to throw it too far because she had no concept of where the end of the tie-out was and brought herself up short a few times. I would tell her to sit, then wait. Her eyes locked on the tire and my hand, she was ready to go in an instant. Sometimes I would fake a few tosses but she didn’t go far until the tire soared and she shot after it. This girl knew how to have fun.