Finding Hope

November 28, 2011  

After surviving severe neglect, this pit bull inspires her new guardian to help dogs full time

By Kathleen Stewart

I have an amazing pit bull named Hope. I was a volunteer at a shelter, and Sugar, as she was called there, was part of a three-agency rescue from a hoarding situation. She was full-term pregnant and extremely ill with every parasite known, including being heartworm positive. The person who had her had been promised that everything possible would be done to save her. Before coming to our shelter, her pregnancy was terminated and treatment was started for the parasites.

When I met Sugar, she was very sick and only weighed 37 pounds. Her age was hard to determine because her teeth were so bad, but one agency guessed that she was about 5 years old at that point.

I must tell you that I had not had a dog for about 17 – 20 years, just cats since I worked full time and didn’t feel it was fair to leave a dog alone so much of the time. I had worked with pit bulls and pit bull type dogs at the shelter, but I had never shared my life with one. I was nervous about being a good pit bull owner and wanted to be sure I was the right person for her. So, there we were, Sugar never having been a pet and I never a dog owner. I worked to learn as much as I could so that I wouldn’t be flying completely blind.

This dog called to me so strongly that I took her home to foster and adopted her two days later. Since it was not certain she would survive heartworm treatment, I called her Hope, as that was all we had at the time.

She also has a malformed nose and scars, so it’s kind of like living with Darth Vader when she breathes, and she’s a champion snorer!

Hope went through two heartworm treatments and survived, although the second one was especially hard on her. A wonderful retired couple came in and visited her during this time. As soon as she was better, she got to go to doggie daycare one day a week, which she loved.

She felt better for about five months, and then I had to address her teeth, which were all rotten and broken, with many of them abscessed. This was caused by poor nutrition, being bred too often, and chained and penned. We wound up seeing a dental veterinarian, and poor Hope had all her teeth pulled.

The vet used a synthetic graft that turned into bone over a six-month period, and for the first time in many years, Hope was finally pain free. A new dog altogether showed up! Initially, Hope was afraid of toys, but now has a boxful that she is constantly throwing around. She has learned to play and is no longer afraid of the dark. She is happiest when the word “walk” comes up. And, oh yes, she now weighs 60 pounds.

Because Hope has a good-sized scar on her side, the first thing I am asked is whether or not she has been fought, which is not the case. But it does open up the door to a lot of good conversations and the telling of her story. Hope is a great ambassador for her breed because, like most pit bulls, she thinks people are the best thing ever! My neighbors had never met a pit bull before, and they have become huge fans of Hope and talk up the breed to all their friends – it’s been great.

I guess you could say we saved each other. I retired from a very stressful job, moved to Utah to volunteer with dogs at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and Hope now has a semi-feral sister that she is teaching how to be a pet. It’s kind of a pay-it-forward thing. It’s been two years that Hope and I have been together, and it’s been the greatest gift I could have received – getting to know and understand a pit bull is amazing! The complete trust, forgiveness and love she shows me has had to be earned, and that makes this relationship even more special.

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7 Responses to “Finding Hope”
  1. Wonderful story! Glad the two of you have been saved. It’s difficult to hear let alone see cases such as Hope’s. I’m sure she’s very appreciative of the love you show her daily. yes, they tend to get very excited whent hey hear the word “walk.”

  2. 3dognight says:

    I have the pleasure of knowing Hope (and, of course, Kathleen) personally. One of the highlights of my day is stopping when I see Hope on her walk and being greeted by her silly, happy, toothless, snorting, life affirming joy at being alive. I’m just her neighbor and she touches my life too. holly

    • StubbyDog says:

      @3dognight Aw, thanks for sharing that Holly, it’s amazing how certain special dogs and certain special people touch our lives in ways they may never even know.

  3. JenFortin says:

    Hope is just beautiful!!!

  4. ColleenDahlReberBaird says:

    What a wonderful story. I have never met a bad pit.. Bad owners, Yes! Not bad pits, No!

  5. bakercon says:

    How lucky you both are! What a wonderful story.