In celebration of National Shelter Dog Month, we’ve teamed up with Project Blue Collar to bring you heartwarming stories about how rescue dogs have enhanced peoples’ lives.
Over the summer, PBC collected numerous inspirational stories through their Lessons From My Rescue Dog campaign. Many powerful themes emerged from the stories, and we’ll be sharing some our favorites over the course of October to honor National Shelter Dog Month.
PBC is a global grassroots movement promoting dog adoption. It is striving to tell a different story about rescue dogs––not to engender pity, but but to celebrate transformation and possibilities. PBC gives people a way to show their “rescue pride” and tell their dog’s story. The goal is simple: To elevate the status of rescue dogs as prized pets and inspire more people to adopt.
PBC’s signature Support the Underdog Blue Collar is the symbol of the movement. Taking the concept of the rubber cause wristband and making it into an accessory dog collar, this symbol gets conversations going and lets dogs be the marketers of the movement. The Support the Underdog Blue Collar identifies your dog as rescued, and gives you an opportunity to tell your his or her story. Even dogs who weren’t adopted can join the movement to show their support for rescue dogs.
To date, PBC has “Blue Collared” dogs in 11 countries and all 50 U.S. states. PBC donates a portion of their online sales to rescue groups to support their lifesaving work.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” was the most prevalent theme in the PBC’s Lessons From My Rescue Dog campaign, and one that appeared most often in stories from people who adopted Pit Bulls. They face continual discrimination and judgment because of their dog’s breed, and yet, their deep love and commitment is the source of motivation to courageously advocate for other stereotyped animals.
The stories of emotional and physical neglect were hard to read, specifically the stories of dogs discarded like trash or abandoned to fend for themselves. Through love, kindness, and empathy, these dogs all proved that they were capable of forgetting their pasts. Over and over in these stories, people learned about what forgiveness is by looking at their dogs.
(Note: Stories have been lightly edited for spelling and grammar).
On March 8, 2014, I took a chance on Chester. He has scars on his face, his nose, and his chest. He flinches if you raise your hand or a his leash above his head. A belt stops him in his tracks. He hates tape measurers. It’s obvious that the first part of his life was less than pleasant.
And yet, he still runs up to strangers, excited to meet them, wiggling his body around and always wagging his tail. Once the initial excitement is over, he tries to get you to play with his toys or hangs out calmly by your side. Though he clearly was abused and in a fight or two, that doesn’t seem to affect his personality. He still trusts. He still loves. He is resilient. He is a Pit Bull.
The first couple nights with Chester were rough. Things were not going well, and I felt completely defeated. Like I had taken a chance and blown it. But despite this feeling, I knew I had to stick it out. I brought this dog into my home for a better life, and that is what I was going to give him. Since then things have only gotten better, and I know he will be a great ambassador for the breed.
So far the most important thing Chester has taught me is to not give up. If your life seems less than pleasant, remember that things will get better. And when it does get better, forget the past because it’s over now. When you feel defeated and worn out, don’t give up.
Chester didn’t give up on his life, and I’m so glad that I did not give up on Chester.
– Haley Tucker
Buster lost his leg in 2011 after being shot by a police officer during a domestic dispute which involved his previous owner. He was returned, only to be involved in a house fire where he and two of his buddies lost their home. Then in April of this year his owner passed away during an operation, and Buster and his friends were left in boarding, homeless.
The other two dogs were immediately adopted out, but Buster was left waiting in a foster home. One of the local rescues posted his story to Facebook, and there was no way we could ignore it and not try to help him.
We met him in person the following week and introduced him to our other dog, Willow. Somehow everything lined up for us and we were able to rescue Buster in June. He has fit seamlessly into our family. Even though there was a little separation anxiety initially (totally understandable), and at times he gets anxious around other dogs (we think he might have been involved in dog fighting), he and Willow have become best friends, and we have no idea what we’d do without him in our lives.
He is the perfect cuddle buddy and despite all the unnecessary trauma and drama he’s been through he is still very trusting of people, which amazes me everyday. I love his smile––through everything he continues to smile––which made it so important to get him a blue collar and let the world know that he’s a rescue and that we are very proud he chose us as his people. Buster rescued us!
– Jessica Flenoy
Hermes taught me how to forgive.
After living three years of his life abused and neglected in a puppy mill, he allowed me to pet him and show him affection daily. I can’t even imagine all he had endured at the hands of those breeders. Yet, four months after I adopted him, he timidly came and sat on my lap.
He came to National Mill Dog Rescue very sick: corneal ulcers, infected ears, and underweight. After forgiving the cruelty of other humans he flourished in a loving home. Though he passed suddenly in September and I only had him for nine months, Hermes’ power to forgive taught me to reflect on those I ought to forgive in my own life.
– Lauren Bobick
In July 2013, Calista was found by a police officer wandering the streets of Phoenix. She was so cautious, that he thought she was blind. He brought her to the county shelter, who contacted Mayday Pit Bull Rescue & Advocacy.
We agreed to foster her for Mayday, and she went to the vet the very next day. Her ears were severely damaged and the remaining tissue was infected and decaying. The wounds to her ears looked like bite wounds, and her body was covered in old scars. It became apparent that she was likely bred and used as a bait dog. She was also emaciated and dehydrated and the veterinarian said she had been like this for a while. Her body was covered in ticks and she tested positive for nearly every tick borne disease including, ehrlichia, babesia, and anaplasma. She needed a blood transfusion, multiple surgeries to clean and debride her ears, and lots of medicine.
Seeing her for the first time was gut wrenching. She smelled like death; a smell so strong it filled the entire room. You could see every bone in her body and she was so dirty that her white fur appeared brown in some places. Her eyes were terrified, but relieved.
We were outraged when the vet informed us it took weeks or months for her health to deteriorate like this. We became even more angry when they told us the best guess was she was used as a bait dog. We were outraged that someone allowed or created this, but then we looked in her eyes. She lay on that table with the vet’s hand on her side and she was not angry.
We learned a lot about ourselves that day, and Calista has continued to teach us every day since then. One of the most important lessons she taught us, is that forgiveness is about healing yourself and that anger that motivates action is helpful, but anger that breeds hatred for others is not.
Similar to her ability for forgiveness, Calista continues to triumph over her fears. In the beginning, she feared everything, including food. At her own pace, she conquered many of her fears and if you watched her eat now, you would never guess that the sound of kibble in her bowl once terrified her.
Going through this process with her, we learned that when we accept where we are at this moment, we are able to overcome anything we want. Calista continues to be an inspiration to us, and others. She is an amazing indication of the resilient, loving, courageous, nature of the Pit Bull and we are beyond fortunate to have her as a part of our family.