From cruelty case to the couch

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In honor of National Pit Bull Awareness Day I’m sharing the story of a wonderful dog who went from cruelty to my couch.

Sometimes a dog is just meant to be yours, or in this case, mine. Diamond Shamrock (I’ll explain that name in a later blog post) is right here on the couch next to me as I write this post, but she had a long journey to get here.

Diamond Shamrock Couch

Diamond Shamrock relaxes.

For reasons I’ll never quite understand, terrible people are attracted to the bully breeds. Thankfully there are more good people than bad, but it took several years for Diamond Shamrock to discover that first hand. She came from a dog fighting bust that found 200 dogs, 500 animals in total, hidden in the woods of Jefferson County, Ohio. She spent her first 3 – 4 years of life chained to a truck axle with no protection from the weather, little water or food and was used as a breeding dog. Her case was dubbed the ‘Ohio 200’.

The breeding and fighting operation was discovered when the property owner was arrested for unrelated charges in August 2010. The Humane Society of the United States stepped in to help with the investigation and successful conviction of the man in charge, as well as the medical treatment and transportation of the animals to shelters and rescues across the country. They filmed a short video you can see below — it’s not graphic but you can see some of the equipment used and the living conditions made a friend tear up. Each dog was given a number and Animal Alliance in Lambertville, NJ stepped up to take in Dog 101.

Dog 101 was one of the last dogs to be selected for rescue, one of the last dogs put on a transport and the only dog from the case to come to a New Jersey shelter. She was renamed Lula and began her transition to learn to be a dog. After 7 months at the shelter, I was shown her picture on the Petfinder iPhone app by one of the shelter volunteers and fell in love. When my husband and I met her in person, we couldn’t believe that this sweet, quiet dog had been passed over by other adopters or that she had been through such a horrific ordeal. Two days later, she came home and was renamed Diamond Shamrock.

The first few months, it was a challenge just to get her out of her crate. Everything was new; the stairs, the shower, the TV, the cats, the human mom who won’t stop posting her picture on Facebook… A cat crossing her path would send her running for her crate. Same if there was a knock on the door or even a big gust of wind. With time, patience and lots of encouragement (and treats), she now greets new experiences with gusto. Everyone we pass on our walks comments on how happy she is – never knowing what she had to overcome to get there.

While most pet parents work hard to discourage their dogs from getting on the couch or bed, we had the opposite problem. I spent MONTHS trying to convince her it was okay, until one day she was all amped up from a walk and hopped up on her own. She surprised herself as much as she surprised me! She has barely gotten down since then, and has even taken lessons from the cats, draping herself over the back of the couch to catch some sun.

Diamond Shamrock Upside Down

We don’t dwell on the past. Instead, we focus on trying new things, like eating canned pumpkin for the first time last week. I am still kicking myself for not having my camera ready to capture that reaction! She’s my constant shadow and best friend, and I love having her around to just enjoy life as dog.