A Puppy From Guam

July 26, 2012  

While stationed in Guam, a couple welcomes a pit bull into the family – beginning a new journey

By Carolyn Gerhardt

For 25 years I had never been around a pit bull, but I was never scared of them. I just thought they were big, drooly dogs. I was in the U. S. Navy stationed in Guam and lived off base. My boyfriend Cody (now husband) wanted to get a dog, and he said how much he wanted a pit bull because his best friend from his hometown has a pit bull named Cherry. Cody kept telling me how cool this dog was and that they are not drooly. He said, “Give it a chance, and I bet you that you will fall in love.” We wanted to get a puppy and he insisted on getting a pit bull.

Our friend Derrick overheard us and told us that when he was by a dog-fighting area, he found two 5-week-old pit bull puppies (male and female), and the owners did not want them. They pretty much were going to leave these dogs for dead because the female was the runt, and the male was not aggressive enough. Derrick took them and kept them at his house. He already had a female pit bull and wanted to keep the male. I told him that I really wanted the female. Derrick waited on it for a few days because he wanted to make sure that she went to a good home. He then told us to meet him at his house and said, “You can have this pup, but you have to make sure she gets the proper vet care.” We went to his house and saw this little puppy. The first thing I wanted to do was hold her, and she instantly gave me kisses.

Stitch Gets Healthy

Cody and I decided to name our new pup Stitch. It was after the movie “Lilo & Stitch.” I came up with the name because of the stigma of pit bulls. In the movie Stitch is looked to be a monster. When he’s adopted by Lilo, everything changes. With any dog, as long as they have the proper training, treatment and socialization, they can be the best dogs ever!

Stitch was very malnourished, had lots of sores on her body and had over 30 ticks in her ears. We couldn’t take her to the vet that night, but the first thing the next day we took her to Wise Owl Animal Hospital. Doctor Joel Joseph took amazing care of her. Stitch ended up having ringworm, four different types of worms and a parasite called coccidia. She only weighed 4 pounds and needed to be put on special food to help her gain weight. Stitch had to take daily medicated baths and lots of medicines, which started to make her healthier.

Flying Pit Bulls

When Cody and I were discharging from the Navy, we said that we would do anything to bring our puppy back to California. At the time, Continental and Delta were the only two airlines flying into Guam, and they both had a strict pet policies and wouldn’t accept pit bull type dogs. I would get in arguments with the customer service people because it was straight ridiculous. I talked to our vet to see if he could do anything. The only thing that he could do is put that her breed is Shar-Pei. I thought it was sad that I had to change my puppy’s breed because of the horrible “rap” that these dogs get. If the airline people would get to know her, they would know that Stitch is harmless. She submits to 3-pound Chihuahuas, she will kiss kids silly, and when she sees anyone new she wags her tail so hard that her but wiggles. Cody told me to just put her as a Shar-Pei so that we could bring our baby to California.

Stitch is the most lovable dog ever. We made her the best bed with one of our old comforters and memory foam pads. It is very comfy – trust me, I tested it myself. Still, I have caught her many times laying on her bed lifting her head to see if we are sleeping. Mind you that Cody and I are both very heavy sleepers. She will place her paws very carefully on the bed, slowly bringing her back legs on the bed and will sleep in between us. No matter how much we do to keep her off the bed, Stitch will find a way.

Working to Change Minds

I work at a management company that manages homeowners associations. One association that we manage sends out a monthly newsletter along with the billing. There was an incident when a dog was loose and attacked a small breed dog. The homeowner who used to write the newsletters placed in the newsletter a “pit bull type dog” was responsible for the attack. I asked the homeowner whose dog was attacked what type of dog the aggressor was. She advised that it was a Mastiff type dog. This is an all-too-common scenario where pit bulls are misidentified, and people try to make it a breed issue rather than an owner responsibility issue.

There are so many pit bulls being put down because of misperceptions and misinformation. You would think people would have learned better by this point in history not to judge something just by how it looks.

I changed the newsletter to state, “Also, keep your dog on a leash when out for a walk. We’ve had a couple of incidents recently involving dogs, which were not on a leash, attacking other pets.”

I asked my manager if I could take over the newsletter of the association. So every month I will place a funny, goofy, positive picture of a pit bull. The vice president of the association asked me what type of dogs were in the pictures. I told her that they were pit bulls. She didn’t know that pit bulls were so goofy and had such sweet sides. She said that she and a few other homeowners were used to what they see in the media but now their views have changed. I gave them a few websites to visit so that they can see that pit bulls are really good dogs and not what the media portrays.

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5 Responses to “A Puppy From Guam”
  1. Glad all worked out for you & your family.  Thank you for changing minds & perceptions of this wonderful bully breed!

  2. So happy to hear of this great story. Thank you for everything you’re doing — love the pictures! 

  3. Doversmom says:

    thanks for sharing.  I work in a nursing home that allows us to bring our pets to work, my shep-wolf thought he was the only dog that belong to 100 senior citizens.  Fast forward, I needed to bring my then 16 week old pit with me so we could walk to the vet’s for shots (a block away) I was told this time if anybody complained about the him being a pit he’d have to be removed from the building.  Thank heavens everyone gave him a chance and just loved him.  We are now working on behavior (he is a puppy) but i intend to have him certified as a therapy dog so people will realize finally that its all in how you raise them.  Dover also has the misfortune of being albino, which makes him deaf.  

  4. DeborahSlusher says:

    Nice job, thanks, breed discrimination has caused so much pain for so many undeserving animals.