Silly Millie

April 4, 2012  

Once abandoned to give birth on the highway, this pit bull is now changing hearts and minds as therapy dog

By Emily Bullard

For a mama pit bull and her unborn pups, the new year of 2011 did not start out with a party surrounded by friends or family. No, instead, this mommy dog found herself dumped on a busy highway in Carlsbad, Calif., as she was giving birth to puppies! Can you imagine the fear she must have felt for her own safety and that of the new pups she was trying to protect?

Animal control picked this terrified girl up, and in her fragile state, she finished giving birth to four more precious, colorful pups in the cold, dark shelter. This county shelter called It’s the Pits Dog Rescue and begged them to save this beautiful mom dog and her newborn babies. That’s when I was contacted, and it was arranged that I would foster this mama and her eight pups.

Mama dog came to be called “Annie.” She was an incredible, nurturing mom to her babies, and they thrived under her care and our watch. Weeks soared by and before we knew it (when old enough and fully vaccinated and vetted), the pups were adopted into carefully screened and specially selected homes.

As a foster mom, I was used to the hard part of letting the pups leave to their new homes and was proud of being able to do that. In this time span of nine or 10 weeks, I became undeniably close to mama Annie. It could be said she became equally close to me; she bonded to me like no other had before (and I have had a lot of amazing, loving fosters that I have adored). She became my sidekick and shadow, my best friend on four legs and my inspiration.

After agonizing nights of tossing and turning, thinking about my future (I was just about to leave the state for school and start a life on my own essentially) and how I could incorporate this girl into it, my decision was made. I did my research beforehand, making sure that my college town had no breed-discriminatory legislation, and then I talked to the amazing Beth Gruff of It’s the Pits and made Annie mine.

A New Beginning

“Annie” became “Millie.” She never clicked with her name Annie (though it’s a cute name), and after all the pups were gone, it was time for a new identity. Her new life! Millie was a name she clicked with, and it fit her “silly” personality after all. Silly Millie was who she became and most certainly what she was. Silly Millie saw joy in things that I never even noticed before – tiny puddles from last night’s rain, a stick that fits perfectly in her mouth and the great joy of greeting her humans every new time she saw them. Her bubbly spirit was contagious, and I knew I made the right decision in making her mine. We were a fit.

Millie may have been sweeter than pie with sugar, but she lacked social skills and manners. I knew that as a pit bull mom, as a young college adult about to embark on my own and as a dog guardian in general, I needed to set a stellar example, and thus the next step was confirmed. Obedience training! I had successfully trained many “difficult” dogs on my own, but I knew Millie needed a little bit more; she needed the structured socialization that a group class provided. She was extremely dog reactive/aggressive and not herself around anything besides people.

Six weeks later, Millie not only graduated her class, but we were also asked to test for Millie’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate. When Millie aced the test, we were asked to be demonstrators for the next CGC group in training! We were on such a roll that I exposed Millie to more and more training and environments, and then signed us up for therapy dog testing weeks later. She passed her Therapy Dogs International (TDI) test with flying colors!

Changing Hearts and Minds

Days later, it was time for me to pack up and move across the country from California to Kansas for school. I couldn’t have been more excited for my new journey because I had the best friend anyone could ever ask for journeying with me.

Silly Millie lent me strength and courage, and shared some contagious laughs and silly smiles too. In our new town, we experience lots of pit bull “fear” as people are wary of pit bull type dogs here. We make a point to go on extensive walks and show people how friendly and socialized we are. I tell them how Millie is a tested and certified therapy dog (that was rescued), and she dedicates lots of time to loving people. We have encountered several pit bull skeptics that have said Millie has changed their outlook on pit bulls! I always preach that you can’t discriminate against dogs based on breed or looks. Rather than focusing on the breed of that animal at the end of the leash, focus first on the human walking that dog. Is the human responsible, in control and encouraging a happy, mannered dog?

Millie’s favorite therapy visit was probably with Carl, an older gentleman in a nursing home near us. Carl doesn’t like people, and he is very negative and rude to the staff. When I approached him with Millie, he glared at me and scowled at Millie. I asked softly if he’d like to pet Millie, and he ignored me. Instead, he leaned down out of his wheelchair and looked Millie in the eye. She set her head very gently in his lap and steadily looked right back at him. I felt like I was witnessing a shell peel off Carl, and the next thing I knew, he was enthusiastically telling Silly Millie (and me) about this Christmas holiday season and how things were going. The look on the staff’s faces was proof enough for me that Millie was a special girl. At that moment, I was so grateful to have a pit bull. My pit bull. Millie is an unparallel example of pit bulls – loving, nonjudgmental, forgiving, sensitive, bubbly and faithful.

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7 Responses to “Silly Millie”
  1. YAY Silly Millie & you!!

  2. honeyremedy says:

    A very sweet story, puppy dog and rescuer! 

  3. blazer says:

    go Millie!

  4. Judithg says:

    Oh yay!  I am tearing up over Millie and your willingness to expose her to the world as a wonderful little being.  Bless you.  

  5. EmilyMillie says:

    Thank you everyone, for the kind words. I am truly so blessed to be adopted by a special shelter pit bull!

  6. avegas72 says:

    Awesome story. I love it!
    Happy endings make me tear up in happy tears. =)
    Thank you for sharing!