Love at First Sight

December 10, 2012  

Sometimes we unexpectedly find what we didn’t know we were missing

By Rachel Barrett

Unintentionally Falling in Love

It was June 2007 and I was looking for a doggie fix. I had recently split with a boyfriend and we shared his dog together whom I grew incredibly close to. I set out that hot Sunday with the intention of only petting or hugging a sweet pup. I was walking through Union Square Park towards the late afternoon and I knew there were a couple different dog rescues that stationed there on the weekends and went up to see the furry friends of Earth Angels Animal Rescue outside the Petco on the corner of Broadway and 17th Street.

There I met Emelinda Narvaez, the fearless woman who for decades has been rescuing at first pit bulls and now all dogs in need. She introduced me to a couple of her recent rescues and when I told her I wasn’t in a position to adopt she explained that I could foster a dog for even just a couple of days and how much it would help. She pointed out her minivan stacked full of crates and mentioned she does this almost entirely by herself and at about 70 years old with health problems of her own. As much as I liked the idea of helping, these dogs were loud and excited and nervous and it seemed like too much to take on.

Just as I was about to leave I saw a man come walking up the sidewalk towards us with the most striking looking pit bull puppy. I locked eyes on her. He brought her over to place her back in her crate, which was stacked on top of another and so when she was seated inside was near eye level to me. I was mesmerized by her markings, her perfect puppy sit, a little quiver in her right paw and her utter silence. I inquired, “Who is this?!” Emelinda told me, “This is Princess!” They rescued her out of a dumpster only two days earlier. She was about 6 and a half months old, skinny, covered in rashes and fearful. She had just been spayed and at the same time had surgery to repair a hernia. That was it! I once had a hernia, and in that second I said, “I will take her home for a few days and give her a clean apartment to recover in.” That was all. It was meant to be.

Emelinda brought her to me that night. Two days went by quickly and in that short time I discovered this big pup was not house trained, not anything trained in fact, was a complete and total spaz on the leash, had a knack for eating pillows and more significantly had signs of severe trauma including hiding under the furniture and recoiling from my hand, to recover from. But she was also the sweetest girl, with love in her eyes and I was smitten. I decided to keep her, forever.

Consistency and Patience is Key

Princess became Cess and then Cessie. She gained 10 pounds the first week I had her simply from feeding her and we quickly surpassed the “about 40 pounds or so” it was estimated she would grow to. I was incredibly lucky to have a next-door neighbor in my West Village apartment who had just received her dog trainer certification and offered to help me. Our approach to rewards was not with treats but with physical affection as a means to bond us and consider one of the most important lessons in dog training: A tired dog is an obedient dog. If she can get all that energy out in a healthy way, through exercise and socialized play with other dogs, she would be too exhausted to behave badly. With a couple months of intense work Cessie had regained physical health, learned to sit and shake and learned to trust in me.

Best Friends Forever

It has been a long and amazing five years since then and Cessie has become the greatest companion. Today she is an amazing animal and friend, with a beautiful spirit and an endless stream of love. I am about to get married this fall but in many ways she has been my life partner this past half a decade. She has not been without her issues; I actually cannot count the number of shoes she has destroyed or recall how many pieces of furniture she has chewed up. But that’s pretty well par for the course with a pup and in the end those things are just things. What I lost in material possessions cannot be measured by what I have gained with Cessie. She is a remarkable living creature that gives me more than I could ask for. I am not alone in thinking as much in truth she has an incredible fan club of my friends and relatives, many of who volunteer to dog sit for us, even before we make plans to go away. We take her to visit our granny at her senior home and our friends bring their babies to crawl on the floor with her and she is the sweetest and most gentle dog.

I am grateful to have found her and cannot imagine my life without her. We all too frequently encounter and deal with people’s misconceptions and misunderstandings about this breed. StubbyDog is an incredible organization that allows the opportunity to share about the wonders of the pit bull and all the qualities that make them a great partner in life.

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