Here's another insight to my life that my readership may not know. I'm a big dog lover. I love dogs of all kinds. St. Bernard's are my favorite breed, but the ones that really hold my heart like no other are pit bulls.
I have a four-year-old male pit named Sarrow. He's red and white, red-nosed and too gentle to bite at flies. He's been in my family since he was three weeks old, and been a complete joy from the moment we brought him home. He's a beautiful dog, weighing in right at 70 lbs. A good weight for a medium sized pit. He might be a tiny bit fat. I can't help it, I have to spoil him.
That's him above, in his play area outside.
Today, though, my heart was broken. I met a beautiful little girl pit named Chancey. She is only three-years-old, tawny and white. She seems gentle and has taken right up with my children, my husband and I.
Chancey, though, hasn't had such a happy life. For a long time, she was left on a mountain top with no food or sufficient water. She received no human love or attention--no one even lived at the place where they left her chained, outside, with no dog house or cover. She's full grown, as tall as my Sarrow, but poor Chancey can't weigh but 25-30 pounds. Every bone she has shows through her skin. She has no muscle mass, no fat stored on her body. She literally is skin and bone. The pads of her paws hang from her feet, even the joints of her toes knob through the skin and fur. I nearly cried when I saw her in the condition she is in. Her neck and legs have abrasions from being chained for so long with no slack to play on. Can you see the difference in the sheer size of these two dogs? Can you?
Well, what could I do? I brought her home with me. When a friend of mine and my husband's called and said he knew where a neglected female pit had been left, I had no idea how bad it was. I've seen neglected and abused dogs, rescued my fair share, and I've never, ever seen a dog this thin. My friend wanted to keep her himself, but he knew he couldn't afford to feed her. So he called me. And now, my family has grown yet again. Do I mind? Hell no, I don't mind. If I could, I'd rescue every animal I see that suffers neglect and abuse. I'd take them all.(And I'll post new pics of her once she's healthy again. This one doesn't show how ghastly it looks up close, but you know)
But it makes me wonder if rescuing is enough. There are times, as is the case with sweet, gentle Chancey, that it's never going to be enough. Will she always wait until she's alone to eat, so that nothing can take her precious food away? Will she always ache for attention, as I can see in her liquid green eyes that she aches now? When I held her, loved on her, she just leaned on me--like her frail frame could barely stand without my support. Her tail flicked back and forth with each stroke of my hand on her head, but it never reached a full wag. She just didn't have the energy. And when I took my hand away, I saw her lean under it, trying to make the gentle touches stay. She has missed being loved.
She will not miss it again.
I can't keep every dog. I know that. This will make my third amid a veritble menagerie of pets. Turtles, frogs, fish, birds, cats and dogs. I have some of every one of those animals. I can't take on all the abused dogs I see. Though I'm a horror writer, my heart is so big that if I could afford it, I'd give every one of them a home and the special attention they need. Because no one else will. Especially for a pit bull.
These dogs have been given a stigma that nothing but caring and understanding will out-do. These animals want only to be loved, like any other breed. They are not fierce killers, but gentle darlings who are forced to kill by the bastards who use and abuse their awesome strength. If they will not kill, they are left to starve, as Chancey was.
So next time, dear readers, you see a thin dog with sad eyes--stop. Take a chance, as I've done with this sweet girl Chancey. You may get a trusted friend... and you may instantly become a saving grace in a life that, before you, had no meaning beyond the three feet of chain that held it down.
There. I'm fairly certain I've destroyed my hardened image, but I don't care. Sometimes, it's good to be soft too. To love. Chancey has a chance now, and that is all that matters.