by Becky Holly
Becky Holly is a board member with the Fresno Bully Rescue. FBR will be sharing their animal rescue adventures with us now every other month.
Raising children, whether they be two-legged or four-legged, certainly comes with challenges, frustrations, and tests of patience; however, most would agree that the rewards greatly outweigh any challenges, and the bond of unconditional love cannot be measured.
I have a twin sister named Kate and we are very close. A few years ago, after living together for the majority of our lives, I moved out of the home we owned together, and Kate was left living alone for one of the first times in her life. Although I worried she might be lonely at times, I knew she would be fine since she had her best friend, Dottie, living with her. Dottie is a black and white American Pitbull Terrier, and like the majority of her breed she is an extremely intelligent, loyal, and loving companion. It wasn’t always this way.
Two years ago, after seeing Dottie listed on a social media post as being sold or given away at the tender, much-too-young, age of four weeks, Kate responded and picked up Dottie right away. Puppies should not leave their mother until at least eight weeks of age, not just for health reasons, but also because this is a very formative time for them socially. Through the interactions between their mother and siblings, they learn the necessary social skills for survival. When puppies are taken away too young, they miss these essential learning opportunity, and this can make raising them more challenging. We, as humans, try very hard to identify with our furry family members, but no matter how hard we try, realistically, there is so much they need to learn from other dogs that we just cannot teach.
Dottie was a tiny ball of fire! She learned more quickly than any puppy I had ever seen, but was also very independent and prone to negative behaviors such as biting, growling, lunging, etc. when she was displeased. At first she was so tiny that this behavior was not harmful, but Kate knew Dottie would soon grow to be a large, strong dog, so some lessons were in order. While Dottie was certainly the cutest thing I’d ever seen, I wasn’t quite prepared for how much work it would be raising a puppy that had no social skills with other animals or people. It took quite a bit of learning, and not just on her end, on mine as well.
Because she was so cute, at first I would try to give her affection that she didn’t want and wasn’t asking for. While she was growing up, I realized that this was the exact opposite of what I should be doing, which was waiting for her to ask for affection. I needed to be a strong leader. “I changed my way of thinking and doing things and the immediate change in Dottie was nothing short of miraculous,” says Kate. By providing strict boundaries tempered with affection, Dottie is now a perfect companion. She is very social with people of all ages and loves children, including infants. She is social with dogs as well and loves to play with her best buddy, Murphy.
Kate knew Dottie needed a friend, so she came to Fresno Bully Rescue and adopted Murphy (formerly Peanut). Murphy is a very friendly, silly boy, but unlike Dottie, is more reserved, can be insecure at times and is extremely clingy to “mama.” Murphy recently required surgery on both of his back knees. This surgery was not only costly, but the long recovery period was a challenge for Kate. Due to Murphy’s need for bed rest and to be crated, Kate lugged him to work with her every day. Of course Murphy was thrilled with this arrangement: mom time all the time, and an office with people who loved giving him treats. There was just one problem: he had to be separated from Dottie for 14 weeks! The two best friends had to be kept apart in order to allow Murphy’s legs the rest they needed to heal properly.
While they could be around each other, interaction had to be kept at a minimum. Watching them want to be together so badly was heartbreaking, but necessary. Kate added, “The hardest part of Murphy’s 14-week recovery was the impact on my social life. I was tied to the house every day for that period, and could not go out with friends for long periods or dates with my boyfriend. It was a test for sure but one that I would take again in a heartbeat. To see him run, jump and play again without pain is more than worth my tiny sacrifice.”
My sister’s two dogs and the love she has for them is a pleasure to witness. In her words: “My dogs are my best friends. They entertain me, they protect me, and they love me. They deserve the exact same from me.”
Two of the many reasons we at Fresno Bully Rescue receive requests to surrender animals to our shelter are medical and behavioral issues. In trying to understand why we receive so many requests and wrap my head around why so many people give up on wonderful dogs, Kate simply used the word perseverance. The definition of perseverance is: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.
I thought this was a perfect word to describe what it sometimes takes to achieve a wonderful, fulfilling relationship with your best friend. There are so many loving, deserving dogs out there waiting for someone who is as dedicated and committed to them as they are in return. We at Fresno Bully Rescue are very grateful to all of our adopters who make the commitment to fully love and care for their best friends for life.