It’s Not Just How They Were Raised

August 4, 2011  

When adopting adults, it’s what you see in front of you that matters

By Micaela Myers

“It’s how they’re raised.” Every pit bull person has heard this refrain. When pit bulls get media attention for the wrong reasons, we often say, “It’s not the breed, it’s how they were raised.” And the idea has sunk in, with unintended consequences.

As a volunteer for a pit bull rescue, I heard it over and over again. “We really want to adopt a puppy because we want to raise it right.”

In fact, the majority of adopters I talked to wouldn’t even consider adopting an adult pit bull, especially if their pasts were unknown. When the rescue would get litters of puppies, they were always adopted quickly, while wonderful adults would stay for up to two years awaiting homes.

While how you raise a puppy is certainly important in helping that puppy grow up into a good canine citizen, it doesn’t mean that adult dogs with unknown or even abusive pasts won’t have ideal temperaments. Many adult dogs have such wonderful personalities that no matter where they’ve been, they still look at the world with nothing but love in their hearts.

“If you see the dog right now at an adult age, and he’s a good dog, it doesn’t matter what his history was. It’s a moot point,” explained expert trainer Marthina McClay. Marthina is a CPDT, certified professional dog trainer. She’s also director of Our Pack, Inc. , a San Francisco-based pit bull rescue; an Animal Behavior College Mentor Trainer; a certified tester/observer for Therapy Dogs, Inc.; and an AKC certified CGC evaluator.

With adult dogs, what you see personality and temperament wise is what you’re going to get, Marthina said. “It’s an easier decision for many to make because you can assess whether the dog matches the needs of the family.”

Case in Point

My own dog Omega (photo below) is an excellent example of why people should consider adult dogs when looking for the perfect fit for their family. Omega was 3.5 years old when we met her at a Pit Bull Rescue San Diego adoption event. I wanted a dog that could be a therapy dog. If I had adopted a puppy, no matter how perfectly I raised him or her, there is no guarantee that puppy would grow up to have the temperament or personality to make an ideal therapy dog. However, it was clear Omega’s calm and loving temperament would make her a wonderful therapy pet. Within months she was certified.

“Our Vick dog was a good example,” Marthina said. “He became a therapy dog in five weeks. He was probably around 2.5 years old when we got him. He trained very, very quickly and slipped right into that therapy dog position because that’s who he was and that’s what he wanted to do. But when he was 4 months old, we wouldn’t have known he was going to be like that. I guess that would be my point. Working with adult dogs is much easier if you just look at them and evaluate what their personalities are like in any given environment, and that’s who they are.”

As an example of a senior dog with a rough past that is nonetheless an awesome family dog, Marthina shares the story of Bernie, (photo right) one of the dogs rescued from the Ohio 200 case. Bernie was between 7 and 8 years old when he came to Our Pack. “He had a crappy start,” Marthina said. “He lived a long time on a chain. But he was just recently adopted. He’s still active, and they go and do things — they go on hikes, they go to the park. They have three kids. He loves the kids, and the kids love him. He fits right into the household. He’s one of my favorite dogs we’ve adopted out. He’s just fabulous.”

And yes, adult dogs are perfectly capable of learning new tricks. “We’ve taken dogs from dog fighting busts that didn’t know anything and taught them to sit, down and stay and do all sorts of things,” Marthina said. “Some of them were 4, 5, 6 years old learning to sit and do a down, and had never done that sort of thing. They actually pick it up a little bit faster [than puppies].”

In addition to knowing exactly the personality and temperament you’re getting, adopting adults comes with other benefits.

“Often they’re already potty trained, and if not, they potty train much more quickly,” Marthina said. Many adult dogs may also be crate trained or already know basic obedience and house manners. “They learn the rules much more quickly.”

Finding the Right Dog for Your Family

For people that are open to adopting an adult dog, Marthina offers advice on how to find the right match.

“One of the first things is your activity level,” she said. If you love to hike, run or play ball, than a more active dog will be a great match. Those who prefer snuggling on the couch should look for a mellower adult.

“If you’re adopting from a rescue, ask the foster home or ask the rescue how active the dog is and how affectionate,” Marthina said. “Ask questions about the dog’s personality. Often rescues like ours, we foster the dog for a minimum of a month before we put the dog up for adoption. That way we kind of know the dog inside and out. That way you can get a better match in regards to what you’re looking for.”

Adopting an adult can be perfect for a family with young children, as raising a puppy and little ones at the same time easily becomes overwhelming.

“If you have children, you want to bring your kids in to meet the dog,” Marthina said. “How does the dog react around your children? Is it a match with the kids as far as the children’s energy and the dog’s energy?”

Finally, make sure the dog gets along with your current pets through careful introductions in a controlled environment.

Take Home Messages

“I’ll hear people walk by a kennel with an adult dog in it and say, ‘No, I really want to get a puppy so we can mold him and raise him the way we want.’ I think, wait, check this guy out, he may already be what you want,” Marthina said. “See if he works with your family. Often people are surprised. Even if you don’t know his background, check out his temperament now.”

She also urges people not to overlook senior dogs. “Seniors are great,” Marthina said. “They are usually housetrained. They aren’t chewing on anything. They’re usually much more calm. They like cuddling on the couch with you more. I think what’s really sad about it is that people will just walk by those kennels. They just don’t tend to take them. Seniors are awesome. They just seem so thankful. It’s so easy to give them a nice bed, good food and love, and they’re very appreciative of just that. They don’t need to be walking three miles a day. They’re very happy to just lounge around and relax.”

Marthina’s rescue focuses mainly on taking in adult dogs. After growing up with Dobermans, she was familiar with how myths, misconceptions and stereotypes can haunt certain breeds. Now, she helps change pit bull misconceptions through foster, adoption and training programs, and her website blog posts. She hopes to rescue more senior dogs in the future and promote their fabulous attributes to adopters.

« « Multi-Pet Homes | Senior Dogs Rule! » »


112 Responses to “It’s Not Just How They Were Raised”
  1. DawnDunsmore says:

    Such a fantastic article, all the points were right on!

  2. obxpuparazzi says:

    Having fostered dogs with special needs for many years, I agree with the article. Even dogs with a rocky start can make excellent family pets with just a little help. We are blessed to have a very stable core “pack” that has helped us give dogs not used to living indoors or trusting people the boost they need to make a wonderful family member. Dogs from those situations seem to learn faster from our dogs than from people, which gets them to their forever home faster!

  3. marthinam says:

    That is so great that you are fostering! So true how our dogs teach other dogs. I always say, I could not do rescue without my dogs. They do so much of the work!

  4. SueCostello says:

    I rescued a pit mix almost five years ago. She had two collars embedded and terribly infected, a bb shot under her skin, and a scar on her lip with a darkened tooth underneath. All obvious signs of mistreatment, at least. She quickly became such a wonderfully loving dog that without the physical signs of her past life, it would appear she was with a loving family from puppyhood to adulthood. Luckily, her spirit wasn’t broken and she showers us with love, and we reciprocate gladly.

  5. thigby7 says:

    We recently adopted a 1 1/2 year old female pit bull from the local pound. We didn’t set out to get a Pit but that’s is mostly what you’ll find at a city/county pound. Shelters like this don’t know and don’t care to find out anything about the animals they adopt out, so it took us 3 days to finally make the decision on our girl. Day one we found her quietly laying on her bed among the hysterically barking masses in a slurry of kennels. Her calmness was what caught my eye. So we introduced her to my grandson and she was calm and friendly during all of his excitement. On day two she met her future dog “sister” they played a bit, did their doggy introductions and generally acted like they had known each other for years. On day three she met my husband who said she seems”fine”, and she came home later that day. We knew as soon as we got home she had never been around cats, but with patience and training she quickly accepted them as part of her pack.

    She’s is dream and has lived up to her first impressions. She’s friendly, loveable, great with even the youngest of children, and likes everyone she meets. Her house-training took 2 days, she was already perfect on a leash, is calm in the car, great at the vet, and she and her sister are now inseparable. If only we could get her to smell instead of chew new things. Ah, nobody’s is perfect and she is still fairly young.

  6. thigby7 says:

    Actually, our red-nose looks exactly like the one pictured above 🙂

  7. JennArias says:

    Can I just say I’ve been looking for this article for DAYS! It came at the perfect time as I just had a conversation with an advocate about how “It’s not just how they were raised” and she DISAGREED! Saying that’s not what she meant and I was putting words in her mouth. *FACEPALM*

  8. tdotcopeland says:

    @JennArias This is why we black girls tell people to “talk to the hand”–which also means wait and/or stay for the pups, lol.

  9. StubbyDog says:

    @thigby7 Congrats on your new girl, it’s a perfect example of how wonderful it can be getting an adult dog, regardless of what her past may be.

  10. StubbyDog says:

    @DawnDunsmore Thanks Dawn!

  11. PattiCorreira-Ovitt says:

    @StubbyDog We adopted an eight year old pittie mix a few years back. She was thin, and covered with sores due to allergies..but through all that, probably the sweetest creature to walk this earth. Put her on grain free diet, meds and LOTS of love and within days she was an integral part of our family. Like she had been with us forever. Sadly, she passed from cancer just 4 VERY short years later, but Keelin will always be in our hearts and we were blessed to have her in our lives for that time… I would absolutely, without a doubt adopt a pit or pit mix again….

  12. StubbyDog says:

    @PattiCorreira-Ovitt Wow Patti, your Keelin sounds like she was a great girl, and good for you for adopting an 8-year-old pit mix. She was blessed to have you in her life.

  13. RachelStewartGarza says:

    Great article. I adopted my most recent pitbull over a year ago from the pound. Someone had placed him on craigslist (like they do to show them off more) and was concerned for his weight dropping. My mission was to save this dog, so I went to the pound that day and adopted him. While his vet check came clear within the two days, he got very sick that night (Saturday night) of course. After $800 later and an unknown lung infection he is the sweetest dog (he is a little over 2) and has the best temperment. I trained him to sit, shake, and he gives hugs. They definitely get a bad rap. I was attacked by one (no skin broke) when I was 13 (more of a scare) at a friend’s house, but it never deterred me from that breed. Our Pima County Animal Control in Tucson is inundated with pits and mixes. I wish I could rescue them all.

  14. StubbyDog says:

    @RachelStewartGarza Thanks Rachel, your boy sounds great, seems like a perfect match for both of you.

  15. StubbyDog says:

    @RachelStewartGarza Thanks Rachel, your boy sounds great, seems like a perfect match for both of you.

  16. fairlyerica says:

    Agreed! And sometimes the puppy where you “do everything just right” still doesn’t turn out to be exactly what you hoped. At least with adults, you can have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting! It’s nature AND nuture, not just one or the other!

  17. AgnesDyro-Leonetti says:

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  18. blazer says:

    We got our boy at 3 years of age from the shelter (neglected, mystery past) — whenever I hear someone say that ‘it is how they are raised’ I can’t help but think of Sam’s three years before us and feel that their often well-meant comment is SO wrong. Sam clearly wasn’t cared for yet here he is, a well-rounded, loveable boy who just yearns to please us. If it were solely how he was raised, he wouldn’t be the great dog he is. That was ingrained in him — it is his temperament. (dog social, no prey drive, no food/toy aggression — we couldn’t have molded a puppy as perfect as him!) Plus, I love knowing him as the dog he’ll be for the rest of our lives…not wondering what a puppy will be like in his adulthood. (energy level, prey-drive etc) 🙂

  19. blazer says:


    Totally! We took a puppy on from a questionable background, two months old and have raised him with love and training, had a great dog-mentor for him to learn from, and he has still turned out to be a problem child. He has some issues! (he’s a small to medium breed dog)

  20. SamLee says:

    This might be exactly what somebody thinking about adopting needs to hear! I wish you could post this at every animal shelter, make folks read it before going in to look at the available dogs & puppies…..its amazing how much a person can miss out on by passing right by the perfect dog for them without ever knowing it.

  21. NancyDomin says:

    Great article! My guy didn’t come from an abusive home…he’s a former show dog. But, I adopted him at 4.5 and saw his potential for therapy immediately. He just has this completely mellow way about him. He is quite the snuggler as well as a good hiker, camper, and backpacker! I did have to buy him his own sleeping bag though, because he kept trying to sleep on me when we went camping/packing! I have adopted all of my other dogs as puppies and I must say, adopting an adult dog was a lot easier!

  22. marthinam says:

    Congrats on your family member. Glad it’s worked out. I know you mean about the house training, it is generally a snap!

  23. marthinam says:

    Congrats on your family member. Glad it’s worked out. I know you mean about the house training, it is generally a snap!

  24. marthinam says:

    Congrats on your family member. Glad it’s worked out. I know you mean about the house training, it is generally a snap!

  25. marthinam says:

    Congrats on your family member. Glad it’s worked out. I know you mean about the house training, it is generally a snap!

  26. StubbyDog says:

    @blazer@fairlyerica It’s so great to hear people realizing the amazing potential of adult dogs!

  27. KristinaDey says:

    You don’t need to tell me twice! Growing up we’ve always gotten puppies that never wanted to learn. We adopted an adult dog and she was just such a fabulous fit for us! Granted I do like puppies but if I were left the choice, I would adopt an adult dog just because of the fact that they are more overlooked. I foster for my local animal shelter and I get where you’re coming from.

  28. KristinaDey says:

    @thigby7 We got our Pit mix when she was only a few months. She was rescued from a bad part of the city by one of my dad’s friends and he gave her to us. She used to have this really bad biting problem but with some work she outgrew it and she has been the sweetest thing!

  29. KristinaDey says:

    @obxpuparazzi I love having the chance to foster animals. I’ve grown up doing this and I just couldn’t give it up, no matter what my husband says.

  30. SydneyRocks says:

    Before–I had ‘Sydney’ (Lab Pitt Lab Rott mix) for ten years I would have disagreed w/ this article. I totally thought it was ‘nurture over nature’…But, it was not. In fact, he was the opposite a wonderfully loving dog to humans and then ‘not so much’ w/ other dogs. He had some doggie friends that we’d see on a regular basis but (even though I socialized him at a very early age) he just didn’t like most at first. I loved this dog like a child and just made sure to keep him around people more than dogs…I still miss him terribly!!

  31. SydneyRocks says:

    Before–I had ‘Sydney’ (Lab Pitt Lab Rott mix) for ten years I would have disagreed w/ this article. I totally thought it was ‘nurture over nature’…But, it was not. In fact, he was the opposite a wonderfully loving dog to humans and then ‘not so much’ w/ other dogs. He had some doggie friends that we’d see on a regular basis but (even though I socialized him at a very early age) he just didn’t like most at first. I loved this dog like a child and just made sure to keep him around people more than dogs…I still miss him terribly!!

  32. SydneyRocks says:

    Before–I had ‘Sydney’ (Lab Pitt Lab Rott mix) for ten years I would have disagreed w/ this article. I totally thought it was ‘nurture over nature’…But, it was not. In fact, he was the opposite a wonderfully loving dog to humans and then ‘not so much’ w/ other dogs. He had some doggie friends that we’d see on a regular basis but (even though I socialized him at a very early age) he just didn’t like most at first. I loved this dog like a child and just made sure to keep him around people more than dogs…I still miss him terribly!!

  33. SydneyRocks says:

    Before–I had ‘Sydney’ (Lab Pitt Lab Rott mix) for ten years I would have disagreed w/ this article. I totally thought it was ‘nurture over nature’…But, it was not. In fact, he was the opposite a wonderfully loving dog to humans and then ‘not so much’ w/ other dogs. He had some doggie friends that we’d see on a regular basis but (even though I socialized him at a very early age) he just didn’t like most at first. I loved this dog like a child and just made sure to keep him around people more than dogs…I still miss him terribly!!

  34. StubbyDog says:

    @blazer Thanks for sharing, he sounds great, glad you took a chance on a 3-year-old dog, and we’re sure you were glad too.

  35. StubbyDog says:

    @blazer Thanks for sharing, he sounds great, glad you took a chance on a 3-year-old dog, and we’re sure you were glad too.

  36. StubbyDog says:

    @SamLee We know how you feel, it’s so hard to pass up the lure of puppies, but adult dogs are great additions to the family, many times without as much effort as a puppy.

  37. StubbyDog says:

    @NancyDomin Thanks Nancy for confirming what many people who adopt adult dogs already know.

  38. StubbyDog says:

    @SydneyRocks Thanks for sharing about Sydney, and some dogs just don’t like other dogs, especially at first. At least he did have some doggie friends and obviously he had a wonderful life with you. 🙂

  39. NicoleVeneroso says:

    I am writing a paper on the american pit bull, and why it has a bad rep, and why BSL is unethical. I loved this article and I was wondering if I could use it as a source? Could I have the author’s name for my source listing please? Really great info!

  40. StubbyDog says:

    @NicoleVeneroso The author is Stubbydog’s very own Micaela Myers, and Marthina McClay of Our Pack, Inc. was interviewed.

  41. dezg says:

    Although a different bred, my husband and I adopted an adult dog 15 years ago. We were both “working for The Man” and had little flexibly in our schedules; we realized puppies would require more time than we had. After 15 years of love & joy with us, our dog passed away peacefully this spring. Now we have more flexibility in our lives, so we recently got a puppy. Wow! I can honestly say that 15 years ago, there is NO WAY we could have properly raised a puppy. I have nothing but wonderful things to share based on our experience adopting an adult dog. I strongly encourage people to consider this option!

  42. MarilynDecker says:

    I think it’s great that public awareness is being raised. It’s not about their background, it how they coped with it, and their innate characteristics. While some dogs may become aggressive and hostile from an abusive or neglected past, alot of dogs actually are very grateful to finally find love and acceptance. It isn’t the breed or the circumstances that make the dog, it’s the dog.

  43. shelternut says:

    My girl was 6 months old when I got her. She was 7.6 pounds…….a tad on the thin side. I took her as a foster dog and ended up falling in love.

    I run a shelter and in the 5 years I’ve been there of all the Pit and Pit mixes that have come through it I have only encountered ONE nasty Pit.

    I have a boy out in foster right now that was abandoned and he has got to be the sweetest one yet. About 1 1/2 and all love with those wonderful caramel colored eyes………and the smiles they have……………Yup, another Pit will be in my home without question when its time. Love the breed.

  44. StubbyDog says:

    @MarilynDecker Thanks Marilyn, very well said.

  45. StubbyDog says:

    @shelternut Thanks for sharing about how wonderful pit bulls are.

  46. Pit Bull Mama says:

    Well said StubbyDog! Look at the Vicktory dogs! Some of them have gone on to become therapy dogs despite their past. My own therapy dog (a rescue) was a very shy puppy who would have turned out very differetly if I didn’t socialize the heck out of him and enroll him in classes right away. So it’s really more about the dogs than wat what age you get it or “it’s all in how you raise it”. Also like you point out, it’s so important that people choose a dog that fits with their lifestyle!! Im a vet tech and I’ll see clients get new dogs because they think they are pretty but nevermind the fact the dog was bred to run 5 hours a day and they live in an apartment!

  47. thigby7 says:

    Our Pit-Shepherd mix was 5 1/2 weeks when we adopted her. Way more work and I will never adopt a puppy again. We looked for an out-going pup and boy that’s what we got. At three pounds she wanted to play with every dog she saw, including the growling American Bulldog. Then and now she just sees it as play, and seems very confused by dogs who act agressively. Then and now her out-going personality often see’s her going-out of the front door to run and find someone to play with. So we adopted her a new sister and so far little sis has kept her at home.@KristinaDey

  48. NancyDomin says:

    Have a female purebred AmStaff that needs a home. Her family lost their home and need to adopt her out. She is the niece of my dog. We are in Southern California, the Inland Empire. If anyone is interested, please respond to this posting. We are looking for a forever home for this beauty! Anyone interested will be screened by her breeder.

  49. NancyDomin says:

    Have a female purebred AmStaff that needs a home. Her family lost their home and need to adopt her out. She is the niece of my dog. We are in Southern California, the Inland Empire. If anyone is interested, please respond to this posting. We are looking for a forever home for this beauty! Anyone interested will be screened by her breeder.

  50. Anne says:

    Another absolutely amazing article– filled with so much truth and great balance! My daughter and son-in-law adopted two adult pit bull mixes who are the joy of our lives!

  51. LoriBeston says:

    Thank you for the article. I adopted a pit/american bull dog mix from a shelter when he was 6 months old. He was not an adult, but was malnourished, sick and had a chain embedded in his neck — he obviously had a bad start. the pound was not supposed to adopt out pits at that time so they put “german shepard mix” on the card, but was going to have to euthanize within the week. I had no intention of getting a pit, believing the media hype, but I could tell this boy had a good soul and when I took him out he buried his nose in my 9 year old daughter’s armpit and stayed there. I went to fill out the application and the guy said “fill it out and take him or he may not be here in the morning.” That was 9 1/2 years ago and he is the love of my life. It would not have mattered what age anyone got him, he just has a gentle nature and soul. He is just a big, dopey love bug. noone could take that away from him. When he goes (i dread the day), I will adopt an adult pit with a similar temperment, but my Rosco will always be my first true pittie love.

  52. StubbyDog says:

    @Pit Bull Mama Thanks Pit Bull Mama! It’s so true, people really need to consider their lifestyle and find a suitable dog for that. And the Victory dogs are a perfect example, among many, of how dogs can overcome a rough past, because they are so resilient and forgiving. We could learn a lot from dogs. 🙂

  53. StubbyDog says:

    @Anne Thanks Anne!

  54. StubbyDog says:

    @LoriBeston Rosco is so lucky to have you, for you to see beyond his rough start and see the love in his heart. If you want to share his story with us, please email, he sounds like a perfect StubbyDog of the Week to us!

  55. EvelynBertoni says:

    My Chancie was 2 years old when I picked him up off the streets of Harrisburg, Pa. My vet thought he was probably a “baiter” in a fighting ring. Within weeks of bringing him home I could literally take food out of his mouth. He was the best dog I have ever had and almost 2 years after his death from lymphoma, I still miss him and his sweet disposition. It most assuredly is NOT about how they are raised. thank you, Stubby Dog.

  56. StubbyDog says:

    @EvelynBertoni Thanks for sharing about Chancie, he sounds like one of those one-in-a-lifetime dogs. 🙂

  57. MargieRennebaumNeil says:

    We have adopted two adult pits! We couldn’t have raised them from pups to be any better then they are both are wonderful loving members of the famiy. We would adopt an adult pit again in a heart beat!

  58. StubbyDog says:

    @MargieRennebaumNeil Thanks for the ringing endorsement for adopting adult pit bulls! Good for you!

  59. CindyLudwig says:


  60. hayleybob says:

    This is a great article!

    My dad was pissed off when mum and I told him we were taking on a rescue, he said the whole “we want it from a puppy so we can raise it right” thing, and they had done so with two awesome dogs they got before I was born. But it was tough, the dog was coming.Our GSD, Angie, came to us when she was nearly 5, she’d been teased and bullied every day by a teenage son, beaten when the father was drunk or felt like it(so was the wife, she was the one who got the dog out of there when she left, bless her). Poor thing was a nervous wreck but she had never shown a lick of aggression to anyone. After being in a structured, loving household, she’s so confident and relaxed now, she came right out of her shell. This dog used to wet herself if you moved towards her too fast, she’d cower under tables at raised voices or hide out in her crate/in the one room all day. She’s a cheeky minx now and we adore her, she even got dad over his stupid ideas about certain breeds being inherently bad. He’d be lost without her(and our staffy/lurcher mix, Alfie, he used to haaate anything bully and now he baby talks to one. Silly old Dad c:)But yeah, we’re lucky dogs can move on and live in the now, that they can withstand so much, they deserve that chance. A friendly dog that has withstood abuse is going to be an amazing companion.

  61. StubbyDog says:

    @hayleybob Thanks for sharing about Angie. It’s just amazing how dogs just live in the present, and when that present becomes consistently good, they adjust to their new reality.

  62. kashygirl602 says:

    Pit bulls are by nature sweet, loving dogs. So most of the time even when they are raised incorrectly they are still absolutely wonderful. Also, people love to say “my dog is awesome, that’s why I want to breed him/her”. Yea well, every pit bull I’ve ever met is awesome and it doesn’t necessitate breeding. While I foster puppies I will always adopt an adult/senior because they ARE hard to adopt out and they so deserve a second chance. They are also very grateful for your love.

  63. StubbyDog says:

    @kashygirl602 Thanks for sharing, adult dogs, especially seniors are just wonderful additions to the family and so deserving of a second chance.

  64. ThunderVasquez-Peterson says:

    After our girl Libby passed the American Temperament Testing Society test, the evaluator congratulated me on how well she had done and what a great dog she was. Then she said “It’s all how they’re raised,” and I got to tell her that Libby was “raised” on a chain while her skin grew over her harness. She was sweet from the moment she was rescued, through several surgeries to repair the damage of the buried (not just embedded) harness, and every day since then. She has permanent physical scars but I have never known a dog who loves people as much as she does. She passed the Canine Good Citizen test on her first try as well and is a big favorite at the library, where kids read and snuggle with her. She’s just the kind of dog you can’t wreck (although we wish no one had ever tried).

  65. StubbyDog says:

    @ThunderVasquez-Peterson Wow! Libby is an incredible girl, we are getting all teary. We would love for you to share the whole story with us. She’s just the kind of pit bull we love to highlight and honor. If you are interested please email

  66. SydneyRocks says:

    @StubbyDog Thanks…I’ve been eagerly reading all the comments. Just loving all the support that the breed is getting. Our rescued small terrier-mix just played w/ ‘Charlie’ the Pitt-Boxer in the dogpark this weekend…oooh how much fun they had!!

  67. emancman11 says:

    got our Blue just over a year ago at 6 yrs of age. so glad we didnt over look him because of his age. I’ve raised pits since they were puppies and they were all great dogs and Blue is no different. they are great dogs young or old it makes no difference. always be open to adopting an adult pit. Your my boy Blue!!!

  68. StubbyDog says:

    @emancman11 haha, thanks for sharing, and the testimony to adopting an adult pit bull.

  69. D.S.Doglover says:

    Not to suggest that people do what I did to find my dog, but year and a half ago, i stumbled onto a Craig’s list post for an adult red pit, with an attached picture. My two American bull dogs had just passed the same year, and I was nostalgic to find a companion, while away from home, at school. His photo held my attention so much so that I couldn’t stop thinking about him till I got the chance to go see him. When I met the woman who posted the add for him, she told me she had a rottie and another pit already that were picking on him, and stated that the dog posted, was found one Feb. night frozen and balled up on her front stoop a few weeks prior. She took him in but knew she couldn’t keep him, and wanted to find him a safe home. She brought him out to me in a wicker chest 2ft by 2ft, and the poor thing was skin and bones at least 20lbs underweight, scars on he front legs, and absolutely petrified, and I was sold! Took him home with me that night. For the first few months, he was an obvious challenge, thought that a leash meant punishment, scared of any load noises, trucks, vacuumes, lawn mowers, and all male voices, was basically scared of any person that moved that wasn’t me, and if he couldn’t hide in his box he would hide in my tub in the bathroom until they were gone. The only upside was that he knew what sit, and good-boy meant. Now after lots of love, TLC, obedience training, and patients, he is honestly a completely different dog. He loves to swim, trail walks, loves to play tag with my friends, and loves to learn new things, and diligently watches everything I do. Although he is still a little slow to warm up to people, he has learned that he does not have to live in utter fear of every person. I share this, to make the point that there is potential for this breed, for them to be amazing dogs, that will keep you smiling and love you unconditionally, even when they are adults with unknown, or even abusive backgrounds. Moreover, its not about the breed, their age, their temperament, or their background, it is about us, as human beings, who have made them into what they are today, to be responsible enough to do right by them all, and the willingness to commit to the efforts required for the well-being of all domesticated animals. With that said, I now have to do just that, and give my boy his dinner that he has patiently waited for as I finish writing this.

  70. D.S.Doglover says:

    p.s he loves road trips and thinks ice cubes are treats. F.Y.I, chicken or beef bullion flavored ice cubes are a healthy way to keep them hydrated and will save you a fortune in dog treats!

  71. RichardJuliaRaymond says:

    For the most part, in almost every post here, there is one common factor that everyone has applied with outstanding results. LOVE!

  72. SydneyRocks says:

    @D.S.Doglover I just read your story and am so touched. You are his angel…Wish I could see his sweet face.~

  73. StubbyDog says:

    @D.S.Doglover Aw, he sounds like such a sweet boy and we are so glad you found each other. If you want to share his story in more detail, we would love to post it on this site. Include photos of course. If you’re interested, email Best to both of you. 🙂

  74. StubbyDog says:

    @RichardJuliaRaymond So true!

  75. AshleyRoseD'Orazio says:

    We got our little girl 4 years ago she was approx 3years old. She was a stray and was underweight and very skiddish and would wet herself if someone raised their voice. I saw her come off of the animal control truck walking in the shelter. I ran across the parking lot over to her and wrapped my arms around her flea infested little body. I was inlove!! She cuddled right up to me with her cute little butt wagging needless to say I was yelled at for running up to a dog they didn’t know anything about yet. They told me I couldn’t adopt her yet so I came everyday for 3 days the moment they opened so I could see her, finally we were able to foster until we could adopt.  6 months later we got her a  brother. We got Boo-Boo Bear from a kill shelter he was to be put down in 2days. He was 3-5yrs old found tied to a fence he had multiple scars on his neck and sides of his head he was only 25 lbs he is now 48lbs.  We believe he was a bait dog. I knew he was the missing piece. The first night home he layed btwn us and passed right out snoring louder then my fiance  It took us a year of patience and slowly introducing him to new people.  We spent 4,000 dollars in medical expenses he allergic to everything just like my fiancé. So every month I give them both shots lol. Now they both love going out on the boat and beach, hiking, and riding in the convertible. When  we decided on adopting pitbulls both our families were enraged that we would bring a dangerous dog into our home. Juniper and Bear changed their minds quickly! Our families each went and adopted their own adult pits.   Our babies would have been sweet no matter what but Adopting as adults they were already trained and I think dogs that come from an abusive background are so grateful to be loved. They bring so much joy into our life. I love coming home seeing white beauties in the window shaking their butts like crazy and their heads bobbing side to side. 

  76. StubbyDog says:

    @AshleyRoseD’Orazio Thanks Ashley for sharing your successful story of adopting adult pit bulls. Juniper and Bear sound like fantastic dogs and we are so happy you gave them both a great life. And we are also thrilled that they are so good, that your family has since adopted pit bulls. If you want to send us your full story about them, please email We would love to feature them on our site.

  77. BetseyHench says:

    I always try to correct people when they say that with, “Its how they Are managed”

  78. StubbyDog says:

    @BetseyHench sounds good, thanks Betsey.

  79. MarilynDecker says:

    I’ve never had a pit but heard that they are a very affectionate dogs who are eager to please their humans.

  80. MarilynDecker says:

    @NancyDomin I will copy/paste this post (if I can) and post it to my Facebook page. I have several Facebook friends in the Texas and California area who might know someone.

  81. MarilynDecker says:

    @NancyDomin Any luck yet in finding a forever home for her yet? If not I will repost this. If memory served me correctly I couldn’t copy and paste, so what I will do is just copy it verbatim and type it into my Facebook status. Please keep me posted … your message should come through to my Yahoo email.

  82. NancyDomin says:

    @MarilynDecker Hi Marilyn – She was just returned to her breeder (my friend) last weekend. She does not have a new home yet. If I had a bigger yard I’d take her myself! I haven’t seen her, but I was told that she’s red with a black mask like my guy. Not sure about the white feet. I believe she’s 5 yrs old. I don’t have much more info, but if you want some (i.e. training, socialization, spayed, etc.) let me know. Thanks for your help and concern!

  83. MarilynDecker says:

    @NancyDomin Thanks for the info Nancy … I’ll put this post up again. I’ll tell people I can get additional info if they need it. Now is she full pit or bred with another line? Just asking in case someone wants to know. Since today is Pit Appreciation Day, I’ll post this on my wall today 🙂

  84. MarilynDecker says:

    @NancyDomin Oh I’m sorry … duh … I just looked at earlier post that says she’s purepred. What does AmStaff mean?

  85. NancyDomin says:

    @MarilynDecker American Staffordshire Terrier

  86. dollysoto says:

    I adopted a adult bull and the adoption agency didn’t tell me she was very dog aggressive. I ended up having to spend a lot of time and money defending my new pet. She loves humans but is dog aggressive and it did everyone a disservice by the adoption agency not telling me that upfront. While this is common in many bulls it doesn’t mean they can’t have a great life with humans. We adore our bull, she gets along with children (though all dogs should be watched with children), and we’re hoping to start a family in the next year. This is a great article and there are many great bulls out there. Just make sure you know whether or not they get along with dogs before you adopt. While its not a dealbreaker for adoption it will save you a lot of time and money knowing upfront.

  87. StubbyDog says:

    @dollysoto We’re sorry that you weren’t told that the dog you adopted was dog aggressive, but not all shelters have the manpower to test each dog for this. Of course, it is best to know all you can before adopting, just sometimes it’s not possible.

    Also, there are many types of dogs who do not like other dogs, and is not just a characteristic of a pit bull, so we should never generalize.

    Your dog might learn to tolerate other dogs and even like some with the help of a trainer. Many times when a dog is not used to the company of other dogs, it can learn to accept them. Here’s an article that you might find helpful, should you decide to introduce your dog to other dogs.

  88. dollysoto says:

    @StubbyDog I definitely agree it is not exclusively a bully breed trait. I do think that many bull enthusiasts shy away from the fact that their dog may be dog aggressive because they’re embarrassed/ don’t want to give a bad name to the dogs because they ARE so loveable and have so much to offer. I’ve tried many, many trainers, classes, etc. and have come to the conclusion that she likes some dogs and not others and I’m perfectly ok with that. Some dogs are like that and as long as she is not human aggressive I feel she is most definitely worth the extra effort. 🙂

  89. Bullymama54 says:

    I adopted my dog through a great bully rescue in Fresno, CA. I totally agree with what you said about you get what you see in front of you. My dog, Vinny, was very calm, friendly and was one of the few dogs that did not bark very much. There was something about him that I instantly liked and he has turned out to be one of the best dogs I’ve ever had. I had a boxer before him that was dog aggressive and it was very hard to take her for walks. But I educated myself before I got him and took him to obedience classes right after I brought him home, and he is great on walks and with other dogs and people. I also dog-sit my daughter’s two dogs, a doberman and long-haired dauchsand, and they get along great. I would totally recommend getting an adult dog for anyone looking to adopt.

  90. StubbyDog says:

    @dollysoto We are so glad that you found her worth the extra effort and good for you for seeking trainers and other help to see if she would get along with other dogs.

  91. StubbyDog says:

    @Bullymama54 Thanks for the glowing recommendation on adopting an older dog. 🙂

  92. Bullymama54 says:

    The reason I liked the bully rescue so much where I got Vinny from is that they require an application and home visit before they would consider me, and they also offered help with introducing other dogs to make sure they would get along. So my daughter brought her two dogs to the rescue and then again to my home, with the trainer there, to make sure they would get along. They were very supportive and any time I needed help, they were there. I think that made all the difference to me.

  93. StubbyDog says:

    @Bullymama54 That’s terrific, it’s great that rescue took the time to make sure Vinny was in the best home for him, and it sounds like he surely is!

  94. KoryLarson says:

    I adopted my pitt at two years of age …… His name is Achilles and I have never seen such a hard working wonderful dog. He is so eager to please and work hard for my wife who has been deathly ill with liver failure. I can’t even tell you all the things he figures out on his own. With all the adult dogs out there I would never adopt a pupp. I love them but with Achilles I saw the bond between him and my wife at the shelter with just the couple of hours we had spent with Him.

  95. StubbyDog says:

    @KoryLarson Achilles sounds like a wonderful dog, so glad you adopted him, he’s in the perfect home. It’s just amazing how dogs sense when we are ill and are so comforting and accommodating.

  96. Bullymama54 says:

    Korylarson….I know just what you mean. When I saw my dog, Vinny, there was something I instantly liked about him and he has proven to be a great dog. He’s almost 2 years old also and such a sweetheart. Good for you in adopting an adult dog. I hope your wife is feeling better soon.

  97. loralothringer says:

    Thank you for your article. It is so very true. I have a 5 yr old female Am Staff that is a rescue, and I love, love, love her as well as another female terrier that is a (non-pitbull).
    About 6 mos back I found a stray, starving pit bull on a lonesome road on a very, very, cold afternoon. Without knowing him AT ALL, I took him home and slowly introduced him to my other two females. My plan was to take him to vet and get him checked out and then to try and find him a home. He has been such a wonderful, easy dog to care for. He had one accident in the house the same day I brought him home and since that day has not had anymore. I no longer crate him and he and my other two dogs have the run of the house. None of them ever get in the trash or chew or destroy things. He looks at me with his loving eyes and wagging tail and I know he is telling me that he is so grateful for having a home and he shows me everyday how grateful he is. I didn’t know a thing about this older starving dog that I decided to pick up one cold day. He is such a fabulous dog that I decided he needed to be a part of my family and he has made a fabulous addition to my pack! Senior dogs rock!

    • MargoBernardWillmes says:

       @loralothringer I also picked up a stray pit bull a couple years ago. She was curled up on the side of the road on a hot summer night, apparently waiting for whoever had dumped her to come back. (Props to my husband for being the kind of guy who upon hearing the words “There’s a pit bull on the side of the road!” quickly turned the car around so we could go back and get her). 
      When we got her home, she quickly hit it off with our male Am Staff mix and our senior male GSD. She also left the cats alone.
      I listed her with the rescue we got our pittie boy from, and within a week she was adopted by a wonderful couple who post pictures of her on Facebook with captions like “She is my best friend”. 

      • StubbyDog says:

         @MargoBernardWillmes  @loralothringer Wonderful, it must make you smile every day knowing that she is so loved.

  98. SydneyRocks says:

    @loralothringer Your story touched me. You both received a great present that day.

    I wish you your family/pack the best~

  99. StubbyDog says:

    @loralothringer Thanks for the ringing endorsement for adopting a senior. We would love to share your story on our site if you’re interested. If so, email

  100. AmberBrooks says:

    I adopted a stray pit/lab mix they guessed to be around 2-4 years old almost 8 years ago, and the only thing that makes me sad is that as she’s a senior dog now with some health problems, I won’t have more time with her then if I had gotten a puppy. But I don’t regret the adoption, she’s one of the best decisions I ever made in my life and she’s made me into a different person. She was already trained, well behaved, until recently a great walking partner, and willing to lay by my side and be my constant companion. I would not hesitate to adopt an older dog in the future, although it’s been a long time since I’ve had a puppy (I was a kid) and they are really adorable as puppies. I love in breed at any age.

  101. CourtneyFurgason says:

    I am the proud owner of a 10+ year old rescue “pit bull”. She had many issues when she first came to live with me. Through a lot of training and socialization over the past 5 years I now have a wonderful companion and working dog. At obedience trials people make small talk and the statement “I always tell people it’s how they are raised” comes up. People say it with the best intentions but it hurts. I did not even adopt Violet until she was about 5 so why are the people who over bred her and mistreated her getting all the credit? It takes credit away from all the dedication that owners put into their older rescues. It also means the adult dogs you see in the shelters are for lack of a better word “ruined”.
    I have trained and fostered so many adult APBT, AMSTAFFS and other bullies out of shelters and other bad situations that there is no doubt that they don’t care how they were raised they care about what you want from them here and now.
    Violet in my mind is a shining example: Violet CDX RE CGC
    You may recognize her as the pit with two subwoofers 🙂

    • StubbyDog says:

       @CourtneyFurgason Courtney you are absolutely correct. it’s the now that matters. And we did recognize Violet from that subwoofers photo. Too funny. We would love to have you share your story about Violet with us. if  you’re interested please email and just elaborate on what you said here. And send lots of photos of your beautiful Violet. Thanks!

    • MargoBernardWillmes says:

       @CourtneyFurgason Oh, I have always loved that photo with the sub-woofers. So nice to know who and where it came from!

  102. wooferhoofer says:

    When people tell me they need to get a puppy, I like to point out that when you are looking for a relationship, you have no way of really knowing the other person’s history and they may very well lie to you. So, why do we penalize dogs for having lived a few years with someone else, but accept that without thinking about it with humans? 
    With a dog, they don’t hide who they are. I would much rather adopt an adult dog, regardless of age, because what you see is what you get. 

  103. MarianneAllbritton says:

    My sister raised Dobermans, I have rescued 2 pits. Same prejudices, different days. Dogs have personalities. The most vicious dog I ever owned was a Scottish Terrier. Know the dog, know your own personality.

  104. MichelleReyes says:

    I have 2 pit bulls that are mine and one that is my daughters. Both of mine I have had since they were puppies and they are the sweetest dogs i could ever have. Then we got Lola. She belonged to my son in laws brother and they did not raise her right. She was used as a puppy mill a fight dog and she was beat and malnurished. We have had her for more than a year now and she is 10 years old. While I was exposed to her before we got her I was never afraid of her. All she has ever wanted from us is love. Unfortunately we do have to keep her and my female pit apart. They are both female dog agressive for some reason. It just takes diligence and patients. Somehow we make it work! I will never give either of them up It’s just not fair to them to know we would get rid of one of them just because they don’t like each other.

  105. ValerieSherman says:

    As soon as I saw the beginning of the article I had to comment. We got Lacy as a puppy. We didn’t do everything right, but we raised her with love, discipline, obedience (as we understood it, from having many dogs in our family through the years) and other dogs as a juvenile.
    She still charged other dogs, fence fought and pulled mercilessly on her leash. It wasn’t until we hired a behaviorist who trained with positive reinforcement that we got a handle on it…the many puppy classes, group training and private trainers all said, “she won’t survive “these dogs” never do”, etc etc. 
    Our behaviorist Tom (I found him through Invisible Fence in Placer County and called him the other day, he has retired) showed up with a terrible injury to his hand he had received from another dog he tried to rehab weeks early…he never once showed the fear and hopeless attitude about Lacy that all the other “professionals” had..he focused on US..her humans.
    My daughter and I were laughing about it last night that it took her till age 10 to be able to trust her alone lose in the house for up to an hour without her tearing up the walls to get out. Forget leaving her outside, a wooden plank neighbor fence is no match…she just tears out the bottom.
    It is about the dog. We don’t know where she came from or the temperament of her parents..we simply committed to her and did what we had to. The one thing we always were sure of, she has zero aggression toward humans.
    I am glad to see this article. Thanks you again Stubby Dog!


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