Sunday, April 19, 2009

River's Story


Tomorrow's Mute Monday post, the subject of which is "Outrage," will feature photos of my friend Liz's pit bull, River. I wanted to give you her story and the happy ending complete with pictures before I post the "mute" portion. You'll see why. Tomorrow's photos will likely render you speechless, apropos of Mute Monday, and I promise you that you'll want to know there was a happily ever after. So here goes...






From Liz:

My husband and I were looking for another dog in early 2006 when we stumbled upon River's story. We had been the proud and happy owners of Emma, a rescued American Pit Bull Terrier, for nearly 3 years, and had grown to love the "Pibble" personality: equal parts goofball and steadfast friend and companion. Emma loves other dogs, and has no dog-aggressiveness, so we wanted another APBT.

I was cruising PetFinder.com when I saw a listing for a dog at a nearby shelter who had "special needs." My husband is an ordained minister, and I'm a clinical social worker who frequently works with "special needs" people, so I wondered what a "special needs" dog would be. I clicked on her profile and saw the photos of River, taken when she was first rescued in June 2005.

River was found chained to a street sign in Wilmington, North Carolina. She had been doused with gasoline or another accelerant and set on fire. When the good Samaritan who found her brought her to the animal hospital, she was a bloody mess, missing most of the fur and skin from her face and one side of her body. She was underweight and terrified, but showed no aggressiveness to the staff who tended her painful injuries. The Norman P. Wiggle Home for Wayward Dogs, a privately-owned no-kill shelter in the area, raised funds to pay for the surgeries River needed. After one eye was removed and her wounds healed sufficiently, River was sent to her temporary home. There she was re-socialized and given basic obedience and housetraining.

River's first two home placements didn't work out—she's a skilled escape artist, and can easily jump 4-foot fences. As soon as I read her story, I spoke with my husband, and Adrian and I scheduled an appointment to meet River. After socializing with our other dog, Emma, ensuring that they got on well with no dominance struggles, River came home with us.

River and Emma bring joy to the lives of everyone they meet. They have both completed beginning and intermediate obedience courses; my husband and I believe it is essential that River and Emma be good ambassadors of their breed. River shows a special intuitiveness toward people: when my husband and I return from a long day of emotionally exhausting work, she rests her head on our legs and gives us that one-eyed look that just melts us. "You're not alone," she seems to say; "I love you, and we're going to be okay." In my work with survivors of abuse and neglect, I use River's story to illustrate that our success in the painful process of working our way through woundedness lies in our ability to continue loving ourselves and others despite our pain. River's unconditional and enthusiastic acceptance of every new person and experience is the best testimony to the true nature of the American Pit Bull Terrier: no abuse, no matter how horrific, has the power to destroy their ability to love.







Please note: Tomorrow's post will have a graphic image warning. If you are squeamish, proceed with caution.

8 comments:

Jess said...

My husband and I also have a pit bull who was rescued from a shelter. He suffered abuse, but nothing like this. And now he's the gentlest dog I know.

This is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

HumaneSociety WTX said...

Poor poor pup - It makes me so angry that people hurt animals -especially in such a sadistic way. If it weren't for the good people, like you and Liz and all the others who aid in the rescue and adoption of these animals, I would loose hope.

Heather Cherry said...

River is the sweetest girl, too. Both she and Emma are very loving and always give me big kisses. What is amazing to me is to look at the before pictures and then see how much Riv's wounds healed up so nicely. Pretty incredible, actually.

Out on a Limb said...

YAY! I'm so glad to see she had a happy ending. Liz, you are a special kind of angel.

Hairball said...

I'm glad that River has found a forever home!

Heather Cherry said...

Out on a Limb: Me, too. And Liz is definitely that. Her job is helping people, too, through therapy.

Hairball: And a great one it is!

Pricilla said...

I don't understand people! That is horrible. We just took in two goats to our Farm that were not being treated right. We really don't have the $$ for two more goats but we are making it work. I will never understand why people think they can do this to animals. I am glad that poor doggie found a good and loving home.

Heather Cherry said...

Pricilla: Your farm looks like an awfully nice place to live. Please pass my compliments along to the Publicist.