This little girl is about as goofy as they come and the smallest dog we've had in our house since fostering puppies. She desperately wants to play with our dogs and is anxious to give us kisses as often as possible. Sadly, she has kennel cough, so she also sounds a bit like a Canada Goose honking.
I've gone back and forth on some clever way to introduce you to Kaylee- but I think just the real story is fine. I was volunteering at an elementary school in need (that will be another post, someday) in one of the poorer areas of Atlanta. And not really the safest. Based on research I've since done, with 100 being the US national average, this area has a total crime risk of 224, murder risk of 350 and robbery risk of 315. The kids need support.
As I left the school, I saw a little dog dart across the road, following a car, trying desperately to jump in the window of the vehicle. My heart sank- I just couldn't drive away. I spoke with the woman driving the car and after a brief exchange, she asked if I'd find the dog a home. I said I'd try.
The dog was scared of me, but friendly towards to the woman, so she helped me get her up into my car. I took the dog to the vet, made sure she wasn't currently feeding puppies, got her vetted, and on the advice of my vet, took her to the animal shelter (in Atlanta, lost dogs should be taken to the shelter to give their legal owners 7 days to claim them. I thank the folks at the Fulton County Animal Shelter... I could never do what they do each day.).
I signed as her "last contact" (i.e., call me before you put her to sleep) and began to look for rescue groups that would allow her into the program. I finally found one and a week later, freed her from the pound (where she got kennel cough despite her shots!).
So we're now fostering a 2ish (I think she's more like 1) recently spayed little girl. While we'll never know what her first year(s) were like, she seems extremely grateful to us.
Unfortunately for Kaylee, her breed (or at least one of the breeds that she has in her) is misunderstood by people throughout not just Atlanta, but the whole United States (and probably world). You see, Kaylee is part Pit Bull (which is not actually a breed, but rather a description of several types of breeds). And honestly, I knew that when I picked her up. And I wanted to make sure that she never learned (or saw again) abuse either from an owner, dogfighting, whatever.
So this Southern Housewife, with the amazing support from her husband, went from fostering Golden Retrievers to a Pittie mix.
I admit that I'm hesitant to mention at all what she is- for I know all the stereotypes. Kaylee, however, does not. But I think that's how we can add value. I can teach this little girl all the right doggie behaviors, use positive reinforcement, and have her be a great advocate for her breed- with Kaylee just being Kaylee. Yep, there are some "bad Pit Bulls" out there. And there are "bad" labs, or "bad" dobermans, and even "bad" Goldens. Some has to do with how they were raised. Some, just bad breeding. But it's amazing what great training can do in many circumstances. (check out the happier endings of some of Vick's dogs at Best Friends Animal Society. The videos will move you to happy tears!)
Kaylee is available for adoption through Rescue Me! Animal Project. Oh- and have to share some previous Pittie owners (you'd be in good company)- Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, President Teddy Roosevelt, and President Woodrow Wilson. For more information on some of terrier breeds, visit Pit Bull Rescue Central.
And one final clarification. I mention where I got Kaylee because I was admittedly uneasy there and full of my own stereotypes (thinking Kaylee could be used for bait). But there are plenty of folks living in lower-income housing who love their pets and take great care of them. And there are plenty of upper-income people who do NOT take care of their pets, despite their vast resources. A few days later, I saw a dog running through our neighborhood without a collar, clearly un-neutered, and looking to be a pit mix. I tried to pick him up too (I know, I know) but he was too skiddish.