One of a Kind

October 23, 2012  

While many said this special pit bull was lucky to have found his mistress, she knows she was the lucky one

By Michelle Farlie

I met Tank when I was 20 years old and seven months pregnant. When I met him, he was just a number needing a home. I was planning on placing my future son with an adoptive couple and I needed a companion. I walked by his cage at the shelter and did a double take; this dog had all the teeth on the left side of his face showing.

“You’re kinda ugly, aren’t you?” I asked, for the last time. He flipped around in his cage, pressing his back against the chain link and looked over his shoulder as if to say, “You want to pet me, right?” I did. I scratched his back and ended up telling the workers that I wanted to socialize with him.

“Really?” they asked. “You want to see that dog?” The only story on him that I got is that they found him wandering the streets of Albuquerque with his cheek rotting away. It was speculated that he was abused as a bait dog. The workers at the shelter amputated his cheek, thinking all the while that no one would ever want this dog. They speculated that he would end up being put down. Through socializing with him, I discovered a sweet and pure personality. When I decided to adopt him, the staff at the shelter pooled some money together and paid the adoption fee. I guess I wasn’t the only one touched by him.

From the beginning, Tank was astoundingly loyal, easily trainable (I only had to teach him things once) and a touch manipulative. Whenever we would go out to eat or go to the pet store, he would always wait until the server or clerk would look at him. When he caught their eye he would dramatically move his head to show his missing cheek. His ears would always perk up whenever he would hear the words, “Ooh, what happened to his face?” He knew it meant extra treats, occasional bacon and ear scratches. This tough looking, squat, 80 pounds of muscle won people over at every opportunity.

Having Tank led me to buy a house. No one would rent to me – some places claiming it was his breed, some claiming it was his weight; regardless, every “no” I received was hugely disappointing. I managed to find a great deal on a place in the mountains where Tank had a fully fenced acre to run and dance on.

In time, he managed to get over his fear of water and he stopped being hand shy with me. He was still nervous around men, especially ones that wore boots, but slowly came out of that shell. He never got over his aggression towards adult dogs, but we fostered many puppies for the shelter, and Tank was the perfect big brother. He would put up with anything the puppies would throw at him (often with a roll of his eyes).

Before I got diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Tank decided he was my service dog. He would get in between me and any stressful situation. Seeming to know how to calm me down, he would even wake me up from my nightmares. If I had gotten the diagnosis sooner, I might have been able to formally train him as a service dog and have him by my side all the time. Tank may not be the hero dogs we see articles on, but I do feel like this dog, if not saved my life, selflessly improved the quality of my life immensely.

In the summer of 2010, Tank’s age and difficult life prior to 2006 took its toll. I took him to multiple veterinarians, and they all told me to make him comfortable and prepare to say goodbye. I was in denial. Thinking he might get better, I helped him manage his pain and tried to get him to eat. On July 4, 2010, he died peacefully in my arms. I still haven’t recovered from that loss.

Every now and again in life, you meet someone that you just connect with. Maybe what it takes is two beings really needing each other. But whenever people tell me how lucky that older and damaged shelter pit bull was to find me, I have never been able to form a more honest reply: I’m the lucky one, and everyone should have a Tank.

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18 Responses to “One of a Kind”
  1. Tank is the absolute cutest & you’re the absolutely the BEST!!

  2. laurieburton says:

    brought tears to my eyes! thank you for understanding him and letting him live out his life with you. i agree – everyone needs a dog like tank!

  3. jennmartinelli says:

    What a wonderful story. I’m so glad you and Tank found each other and rescued each other. I’m very sorry for your loss but so happy Tank got to live out his days with you.

  4. barbaraleeanderson07090 says:

    Beautiful story, Michelle.  I, too, have been blessed with a “tank,” although she’s a Diva!  You’ve been blessed on Earth and you’ll be blessed for eternity when you and Tank run together one day beyond the rainbow bridge.

  5. AprilMays says:

    that made me cry very beautiful story im gld some of us do have a Tank in our life…And it takes time to get over a loss like that so take your  time and grieve there is no time limit he is always going to be by your side and in your heart…

  6. DianaLarson says:

    Awesome, so glad you found Tank. Not many people would have given him a second look. I love my Che’ who is now 8 yrs old and I am already dreading the day she goes over the rainbow bridge. There is no way to prepare for it but I enjoy her every single day. It’s truly amazing how smart pit bulls are. I really had no idea until I had one!

  7. AndreaLackeyKutzko says:

    We adopted my Tank after our miscarriage, but before my formal diagnosis of bipolar disorder. You’re right. Everyone needs a Tank.

  8. trissi_v says:

    I need to stop reading these things in the morning when I get to work…I just end up crying at my desk.  
    Tank was a beautiful dog with a beautiful soul.  You were both luck to have each other for the time that you had…though it always seems/is way too short.

  9. GreggBarnes says:

    Damn leaky eyes. I’m so glad you adopted Tank, and that he was able to help you get through life. Its great that he was able to live the rest of his life with someone that loved him unconditionally.

  10. AprilMullen says:

    I am so sorry for your loss.  You’re an angel for showing Tank love in the years you had him.

  11. Pupperiffic says:

    Tank was a hero regardless of whether there were articles written about him while he was alive – and YOU are a hero, too, for taking a chance with this dog, and showing him love, compassion, and security before he passed out of this world into the next.  And I guess  the same could be said for Tank; he helped you immensely, too, so that you might know love, compassion, and security.  I don’t think he’s ugly at all!  He’s beautifully “customized.”  My condolences on your loss. XO

  12. Matt.S says:

    Tank was a hero! He helped you on multiple levels and made your life better, that’s the definition of “hero” as I see it. Yes, Tank was fortunate to have you in his life, but that worked both ways! Run Free, Tank.

  13. ReneeMKeller says:

    Thanks for the hanky warning.  I totally needed one!!!  Im so glad you and Tank found each other.  You are both heroes.

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