Rose, our 2-year old pit bull ended up in the the animal shelter long before she was one-year old. We don’t know the specific circumstances or reasons. After quite some time in the shelter, she was adopted by an individual who allegedly ended up using her as bait dog for illegal dog fighting, which unfortunately is still very active and wide-spread in Tennessee and the South in general. The same individual also adopted a significantly larger male pit bull from another shelter for the purpose of breeding pit bulls for dog fighting. Somehow the two dogs escaped and where picked up by animal control. Both pit bulls had severe bite marks all over their bodies. Rose’s face was twice the normal size, because of all the swelling of the bite wounds.
This was the time when my wife, Cindy and I met Rose for the first time during our weekly volunteer time at the shelter. We simply get the dogs out of their kennels and take them for a walk or let them run in the fenced in areas. Sometimes these trips present for the dogs the only opportunity during the entire week to get out of their kennels to see sun light and feel some grass under their paws. Unfortunately, there are more dogs than we can walk every week.
Every dog has a story and quite frequently they are reflecting very poorly on the individuals who were entrusted with their care before they came to the shelter. These experiences change some of the dogs to be mistrusting, fearful or aggressive, but not so Rose. Even though she was used as bait dog and forced to breed with a much large male, her tail was wagging with so much excitement every time she was around people that she was a clear favorite of the shelter staff. Once out in the grass, Rose would run to you and lick your face for as long as you let her. Her disposition was so wonderful that is was hard to believe that she has been mistreated so badly by humans before.
With every weekly trip to the shelter I made a point to get Rose out for a walk. After just a few weeks her faced looked significantly better and her wounds started to heal, but now it became obvious that she was pregnant and couldn’t stay at the shelter. The shelter policy did not allow for puppies to be born in the shelter, since neither the staff nor the facility were equipped to support the new born puppies. The desperate attempts of the shelter volunteers to find a home for Rose failed. No one was willing to take in a Pit bull who was previously involved in dog fights. In addition, Rose had displayed some aggression toward other dogs while in the shelter. With no home for Rose in sight, the shelter manager informed the volunteers that Rose had to be put down prior to giving birth to her babies.
At that point in time my wife Cindy and I decided that we would foster Rose until she had her pups and was able to care for them for at least 6 – 7 weeks. When we picked up Rose at the shelter every single member of the staff as well as the volunteer cried, because they were to happy that we able to give Rose at least a temporary lien on her life and her ability to have her puppies.
It took a full two weeks before the puppies were born in our basement. Due to Rose’s dog aggression and the fact that we have 3 other dogs, we had to strictly separate our dogs from Rose, which in it self was not an easy task. On January 21, 2016 Rose gave birth to three healthy and strong babies, which we named Tank, Duke and Bruno. Based on an x-ray that was performed while she was still in the shelter we knew that the vet had seen 4 babies on the x-ray, but Rose appeared to be fully satisfied with her three babies and did not show any sign of distress. After 4 hours and no additional baby we got very concerned, but we could not take her to a vet since January 21st was also the day of the first big snow storm in Northeast Tennessee and we were snowed in with no way to get the car safely down the driveway and on the main road. After 12 hours Rose was still doing great, taking care of babies with no signs of distress or medical problems. We called the vet that had performed the x-rays to find out if there could have been a mistake, but the answer was absolutely not. So I drove Rose through the high snow to the vet, where a C-section was performed immediately. Unfortunately, the fourth baby was already deceased, but at a minimum we had saved Rose from dying a painful death.
Despite the C-section, Rose did not take a break and was taking care of her babies immediately upon return from the vet. During her pregnancy and during the first week of having her pups Rose had grown weary of my son Kayden and attempted to attack him twice, which certainly put us on guard and now limited the number of individuals in the household that were able to care for Rose and her pups.
The weeks passed by quickly and the entire family had a life-changing experience in seeing the pups be born and grow up at a rapid pace. While all of this was going on my wife was in contact with Second Chance Rescue in New York, as they had expressed their willingness and support in finding homes for the puppies. Rose on the other hand was according to the rescue much harder to place. We were dreading the day that the pups would be picked up by the k9 transporter, but we knew that it was not in our or the pups best interest to keep them.
Determined not to give Rose back to the shelter, but to provide her with a forever home, we decided several weeks before the pups were picked up to adopt her and integrate her into the existing pack and the family. The integration turned out to be a little bit more difficult than we had anticipated, since Rose has very little experience with other dogs other than being a bait dog. Two of our dogs, one being a 12 –year old female Lab-Husky mix and the other being a 5-year old Cairn Terrier did not like Rose’s lack of “manners” and social skills. Despite of all our preventative measures we ended up with a confrontation between the Lab and Rose that sent the 12-year old leader of the pack to the vet with a bite wound on her left front leg. Since that time we have made great progress in teaching Rose how to approach other dogs and Rose and our English Fox Hound “Zack” have actually become best buddies, are hard to separate and even take naps together.