Wonderful Wilbur

July 17, 2012  

A starved pit bull changes a family’s mind about pit bull type dogs and begins their love affair with fostering

By Emilee Intlekofer

This is a before and after photo of our first foster, Wilbur, who we fostered through Black Dog Animal Rescue in Cheyenne, Wyo. As you can see, he came to us a broken dog in need of a bath, food and most of all, love. We gave him all of those things, and in return he gained weight and learned to trust again. But most importantly, he taught us and everyone he encountered the beauty and unconditional love of a pit bull.

Until the time he came to live with us, the only interaction I had ever had with pit bull was when I was small; once a snarling one chased me down the street on my bike and another time one that was tethered on a short chain lunged at my sister’s face. This was all I had to go by. That and the fear that was ingrained in me from a lifetime of horror stories in the media. I was honestly terrified to bring this starving pit bull into my home to live with me, my husband and our beloved 9-year-old Silky Terrier, Rex. But, there was just something about this boy’s pictures that I couldn’t resist.

Once Wilbur finally arrived at our home, my trepidation dissolved in about 30 seconds. We introduced him and Rex, and to my total surprise, our “precious” 17-pound boy bared his teeth at this huge emaciated “monster,” instantly establishing who was in charge. The more I lived with Wilbur, the sadder I became, knowing that even though he was the sweetest, smartest, most loving and well behaved dog I had ever had the pleasure of knowing, some people would never give him the chance to show them that. And it broke my heart for him.

Wilbur was a model foster dog – only one accident in the house, no barking, no jumping and no chewing on anything he wasn’t given to chew on. I think the one time I had to discipline him I said, “Please don’t do that.” We really wanted to keep Wilbur as our own. We, along with all of our family and friends, had bonded with him in the deepest ways. But, the healthier he got the more playful he got, and our grouchy terrier wanted no part of this. So, we decided that after all he had been through in his short life, he deserved a home with a dog closer to his size and age that he could play and bond with.

We soon received an application from a wonderful family with a little girl (Wilbur loves kids), a Miniature Pincher and a great big Boxer/pit bull mix. It was meant to be, and on Dec. 10, 2011, he went to live with his new family. I hugged him goodbye, he kissed me, all the humans cried, and he walked off with his new mom and dad and never looked back. I miss him terribly sometimes, and even as I type this, I am crying. But, I truly believe that Wilbur wasn’t meant to live with us forever. To keep him for ourselves would have been selfish. He had way too much love to give and many more hearts and minds to open.

We have fostered three dogs since Wilbur and have failed once with a Beagle/Blue Heeler mix named Syd. We kept him mostly because he was the only one Rex didn’t hate.

I was always afraid to foster because I didn’t want the heartbreak of giving them up. But I have never experienced anything more rewarding than fostering a dog. There is something so beautiful (and addicting) about seeing dogs you have helped go to their forever home with lessons you’ve taught them and a renewed spirit in mankind that you’ve given them. However, the lessons that they leave you with are usually much greater.

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11 Responses to “Wonderful Wilbur”
  1. emcreech says:

    Thank you so much for sharing my story! If anyone would like to help Black Dog Animal Rescue save other dogs like Wilbur, please click on the following link and consider signing up for our “$10 for Life” campaign. http://www.bdar.org/10-for-life-campaign/
    Thanks for all you do for these precious dogs!
    Emilee Intlekofer

    • StubbyDog says:

      emcreech Thank you Emilee for continuing to open your home to help dogs. You did such an amazing job with Wilbur. 

  2. What a wonderful story! Sad to see that Rex didn’t take kindly to having Wilbur in his home, but it sounds like he’s happy in his forever home with more forgiving dogs. 🙂 I hope you have many more wonderful fosters to come. Thank you for all that you do! 

  3. NikkiKeating says:

    Loved this story- it’s so true about the little ones establishing who is dominant. Thank you for saving Wilbur (and other dogs) and helping him have a wonderful life. =)

  4. emcreech says:

    Thank you all so much! I’m so pleased that everyone finally gets to learn about Wilbur! We are getting ready for our 7th foster who is coming this weekend. Rex has lightened up a bit, as have we. It takes a few fosters to get in the groove of things, but once you do, it’s spectacular!

  5. DianaJones says:

    Takes guts to get over fears like that but the rewards are clearly endless!! I am glad Wilbur and you crossed paths you both were very lucky.

  6. Matt.S says:

    Sounds to me like “Wonderful Wilbur” is wonderful indeed. You deserve a lot of credit for putting aside your fear to help Wilbur, such courage and compassion are a rare combination. Bless you!

  7. DanaHopkins says:

    Cool! I have the ‘other’ wonderful Wilbur, a rescue Pit now my service dog.  YAY.  Go Wilburs!!!  My Wilbur was featured here in September.  here is his July Wonderful Wilbur story in BayWoof 🙂  Pittie success stories!  http://www.baywoof.com/article.php?id=661

    • StubbyDog says:

      DanaHopkins We love Wilbur!!!!! Your story is so great Dana, we loved bringing it to our fans! And here’s your story for any one who missed it: http://stubbydog.org/2011/09/overcoming-ptsd-together/

      • DanaHopkins says:

        StubbyDog  Thanks guys! The Bay Woof story is a good follow up, now that Wilbur is a full time Service Dog… tells more about what he does.  We LOVE Stubby Dog!!  Hit us up any time for a follow up.  Your Wilbur story raised a lot of awareness.  People still recognize him from your story as we are out working as a team  & it raises Positive Pit awareness! 🙂

        • StubbyDog says:

          DanaHopkins Dana, you can give us a follow up any time. We would love that! Although we require many more cute photos of you and Wilbur than Bay Woof! please email ingridf@stubbydog.org with your follow up any time you are ready. Thanks, kisses to Wilbur!