Tributes to Carla Lou

September 19, 2012  

This special pit bull who inspired Pinups for Pitbulls recently passed away at the age of 18, but her spirit and message live on

By Kirstyn Northrop Cobb

The classic silhouette, the pin up with the pit bull. Carla Lou, family member, friend, cover girl, sweetheart, advocate, inspiration.

Carla Lou was rescued at the age of 1 year old where she went to live with Deirdre “Little Darling” Franklin. Together, they founded Pinups for Pitbulls and set about changing minds and misconceptions. Carla Lou had supporters and friends all across the country. Carla Lou turned 16 a couple of years back, and it was a nationwide event. Carla Lou showed many that your appearance is only your appearance (and for Carla Lou, what a pretty appearance) and it does not dictate your actions. Though her personal interests included normal dog things such as napping and chewing on Kongs, riding in the car and snuggling with mom, Carla Lou was far from ordinary.

So many had such wonderful things to say about Carla Lou and had wonderful stories to share. In their words, here are a few:

Carla Lou not only inspired Deirdre to start Pinups for Pitbulls, but she inspired me to help a cause for which I didn’t know was needed. I grew up with German Shepherds, Chows, Rottweilers, pit bulls and mixes of all kinds. Frankly, when Deirdre and I started dating, I knew about Pinups for Pitbulls, but didn’t know why it was needed. I thought it was just a continuation of her modeling and burlesque work. I didn’t realize there was a “pit bull perception problem” because I never bought into poor media reporting in the first place. Secondly, I knew other types of dogs were discriminated against in the past, and those were the breeds I grew up with in my home or family members’ homes. She opened my eyes to the bigger effects on shelter populations, breed-discriminatory legislation and the general misconception that pit bulls are different than any other type of breed/mix. They are just dogs. Period. Carla Lou helped me see that and helped me join the fight to educate people against this and any discrimination. I never thought I would be an advocate for anything. Now I am active in dispelling the myths and educating the public so these mistakes do not continue. — Jeffington, board member at Pinups for Pitbulls

I’ve known and loved Carla Lou since 2005. At the time, I lived right down the street from Deirdre, and we often pet sat for each other. As I look back on all my time spent with her, I find I don’t have one or two specific memories of Carla but deep love and fondness for her every day quirks and habits. For example, she always knew when it was time for me to leave and would conveniently be unable to hear my calls of “Come in please!” from the yard. She would make me walk the whole way to the far corner of the yard to get her, then pleasantly look up like “Oh hello, I forgot you were here. Can I help you with something?” Carla taught all of us many lessons and opened countless hearts and minds to pit bull breeds and rescue dogs by just being herself. The lesson I hold closest to my heart is this: Carla always knew who she was, and while she loved pleasing people, she was always true to herself first. Her motto seemed to be “I’m doing this, and if you want to come along great! But if not, I’m still going to do it and going to do it with all of me.” — Rachel Love, Pinups for Pitbulls Shipping Manager

Quickly, a few lessons Carla Lou taught me:

– Don’t dangle your fingers at the table when a hungry blind dog is near. Just because she’s blind doesn’t mean she can’t smell.

– You’re never too old to join in a midnight dance party.

– When a dog says a full sentence with her eyes, you know she’s got your soul. Things Carla Lou said to me with her foggy blind eyes: “Gimme a chicken sammich,” “I do what I want!” Carla Lou was a tenacious independent woman, just like her mom. She didn’t need your help up the stairs, off the bed, onto the couch, or anywhere else. Carla Lou can do it her damn self. Period. Whether she needed it or not.

One story shared included a group of people who were out and about after a Pinups for Pitbulls photo shoot. After a night of fun and laughter and maybe a bit of drinking, the five of them piled into a car withtwo2 dogs and balloons galore and decided to drive out to wish Carla Lou a happy birthday, as it was her 16th birthday! On the way, they came across a stalled scooter in the road and picked up the owner. Now this is where you realize just how rad Pinups for Pitbulls is: We all pile out of the clown car, the two men of the group pick up the scooter that I swear was the size of a small car, shove it in the rear of the [vehicle], and the man on the scooter gets in the front passenger seat. So now there are four people haphazardly piled in the backseat with two dogs draped across their laps, balloons and all. For the entire 45 minute ride to the man’s house (yes, we picked up a random man in the middle of Philly and drove him 45 minutes home instead of just to the train station where he was headed). We learned that we were in the car with a Vietnam veteran who survived serving two tours only to come home to someone shooting his leg off (which we were sure to bring up the fact that one of the dogs in the back seat was missing a leg too), who is a local legend in Philly named Sonny Forrest, Jr. He made up a song on the spot that night about Carla Lou, and we all sang it the entire way home. — Katie Bray, attorney at Best Friends Animal Society and Game Dog Guardian

On Aug. 20, 2012, Carla Lou passed away, but she, as well as her message, will live on in the hearts of many.

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29 Responses to “Tributes to Carla Lou”
  1. I had the pleasure of meeting Deirdre earlier this  year at the tattoo convention in Virginia.  She was/is a true inspiration!  Carla Lou have fun running & jumping over the Rainbow Bridge!

  2. Arleen J Rutten says:

    …rest in peace running free and always, precious Carla♥…you are so loved…
    …am tearing up…in a “good” way…

  3. rn4pitbulls says:

    Carla Lou, you will forever be remember as the face of beauty, compassion and the road to change. You and your mom have created a mission I am proud to say I follow( I volunteer for Pinups). I met Carla when she was almost 17, wearing a pink sweater and a pearl necklace and she was just an elegant little peanut. Thank you for changing the lives for so many dogs and their people.

  4. millermorgan says:

    Words cannot describe how much fun this was to read. CL, only your physical manifestation is gone. You are definitely still in the room!!! And always will be.

  5. barbaraleeanderson07090 says:

    Carla Lou sounds very much like my elderbull, Diva, in personality and spirit.  Run free, Miss Carla Lou….we know you are watching over the other pitties left her on Earth, and we hope you are pleased with our efforts on their behalf.

  6. DianaJones says:

    What one sweet pup inspired her Mom to do. Now if that isn’t unimaginable positive power and inspiration I don’t know what is. You will be missed Carla Lou, but will go down in history and our memories as someone special!

  7. LittleDarling says:

    I am so honored that you guys took the time to put this together for my sweet baby girl. It was so nice to read about her influence and laugh at her amazing quirks. She was my little Buddha, a sweet sage, and will always be my very best friend and daughter. I love you guys! xoxo Deirdre  ‘Little Darling’ Franklin 

    • StubbyDog says:

      LittleDarling We are so honored to count Carla Lou as one of the all time great pit bull ambassadors. You keep up the great work and know Carla Lou will always be with you to guide you.

  8. NancyRacnelks says:

    I LOVE Carla Lou so much and am so very sad that she had to leave the world.  She was just a wonderful pup who loved everyone.  She always had a smile whenever I was with her and I just loved to pet her little softy ears.  My favorite thing about CL is that her front paws would leave the ground every time she barked.  I can STILL picture this in my mind and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.  CL was such a great dog and made that much better, if it was even possible, because of the love of her Mommy.  Two beautiful girls changed each other’s lives and the world along with it.  RIP Carla Lou.  There is not one possible way that you will ever be forgotten.

    • LittleDarling says:

      NancyRacnelks I miss those soft little ears of hers. You were a great aunt to her. Baxter asked when you’re coming over next too!

      • NancyRacnelks says:

        LittleDarling NancyRacnelks  I wanna come over soon!  I need some promo and I need to see your fantastic faces!  Many hugs and kisses to y’all.  Lemme know when you’re free.

  9. ReneeMKeller says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful pup!!!  Run free Carla Lou.  I know you will always be in your mommys heart and remembered by many many people!!!!  

  10. BrookBolen says:

    I’ve had torrid love affairs with dogs my entire life, and sweet angel baby Carla Lou was no different. She was a truly special spirit. Her sweet, cloudy eyes spoke volumes when they looked into yours. As an individual, I’m blessed to have known her. As a fellow pitbull mama and breed advocate, I’m doubly blessed. I love her and human family and will always remember her with an aching warmth and fondness. What a truly wonderful girl!! May she continue to inspire all of us to continue making sure the world is as safe for bullies as they help make it for us. 

  11. SandyJones says:

    It seems as though I missed the boat on adding to this beautiful tribute to a good dog, so I will add here.I have had the honor, over the past three or four years, of being welcomed into the warm and caring family that is “Pinups for Pitbulls”.  I knew of Carla Lou long before she knew of me, as her “fame” as the founding dog of this creative organization preceded her.  When she and her mom, Deirdre, became some of my very best friends, I was able to love Carla in an up-close-and-personal way, and her sweetness, endless happiness, and pure spirit made her just oh-so-loveable.One of my favorite Carla Lou memories happened when I was puppy-sitting a couple of years ago for Carla.  The minute she came into my house, Carla immediately ruled the roost.  My other dogs (and cat) watched her in wonder as she slurped up gallons of water, ate from everyone’s food dish, and then made herself right at home on the couch where she slept for hours.  It was during this time that I truly fell in love with miss Carla.As one of my dearest friend’s heart breaks for the loss of her beloved girl, I just want her to know that Carla’s memory, legacy, and spirit will always live on with us.  She has set the bar high for dogs in our lives, and I will always remember her <3Sandra Dee – Event Coordinator, PFPB

  12. Karen D says:

    I’m so sorry to learn about Carla Lou.  I hope you can find peace knowing that she had such a wonderful and long life.  The world is blessed having known her story and she will carry on as a top ambassador for the breed.  Thank you for sharing her with us, Deidre.  Take care.  (Karen and Lenny the Pitbull)

  13. Todd Gardner says:

    I had the fortune of meeting Carla Lou, and her parents (Jeffington and Deirdre) through mutual friends. I have never been as inspired, and impressed with anyone’s dedication to such an important and worthy cause. I was privileged and honored to work with Pin Ups For Pitbulls on two separate occasions at events that brought awareness to the evils of Breed Specific Legislation, while presenting a night of great music and burlesque. Bully breeds are good dogs, and they’re generally owned by even more amazing people.  On a personal note, I have always been fascinated by numbers, superstition, and the bit of magic that fills the gaps of our lives. Carla Lou lived to be a righteous 18 years old. “18”, as a number, is very powerful in the Jewish faith. It’s the numeric value of the word “Chai” meaning “Life”. The written form of “Chai” is often found on necklaces, or adorning mezuzahs on the doorposts of homes, and synagogues. It is about as common a totem, or talisman in Judaism as the Star of David itself.  Language lessons aside, it’s fair to say that Carla Lou is the embodiment of a life well spent. She has been the adorable face, and the  silhouette for Pin Ups For Pitbulls.  Her visage and presence at events all across the country led to the saving, rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption of countless dogs.  Her smoky eyes, and coy manner beguiled you to join her cause, while her easygoing, yet goofy manner caused a nationwide epidemic of melting hearts wherever she went.  Carla Lou’s legacy will live on. She will continue to inspire ongoing changes in the hearts of people every time they take a second look at a shelter animal, or an alert on various social media. She will even turn the hearts and minds of politicians, as the fight against breed specific legislation continues. Good girl Carla Lou! Good girl indeed.

  14. RomanEich says:

    R.I.P and thank you for being the source of inspiration for such a great organisation

  15. Matt.S says:

    Carla Lou’s legacy befits her long and impactful life. Run Free, Carla Lou.