The day everything changed

We woke last Friday before dawn to the sound of Snickerdoodle coughing up blood. It was alarming, to say the least. A few minutes later, the Doodlebug was in the car on the way to the vet, and I was trying to contain my nerves as I drove there, glancing over at him every couple of seconds to make sure he was breathing.

Some extensive testing and a couple of X-rays later, we learned that Snickerdoodle’s heartworm is at an advanced stage. Although we knew he had heartworm from the beginning, he seemed asymptomatic, so everybody assumed that his was a milder case — as is normally expected of young to mid-aged dogs. However, the presence of blood in his lungs and the swelling of his heart and clouding in his chest revealed by his xray puts him at a Class 3 (out of 4).  Dogs with a Class 3 diagnosis are risky to treat and have a “guarded” prognosis with treatment — an expected mortality rate of 10-20 percent. Snickerdoodle’s generally healthy behavior and appearance put him on the optimistic end of the prognosis, but still — ample reason for his doting foster mom to worry.

We had planned to wait a month to begin his treatment (a series of very painful arsenic-based injections into the deep muscle tissue in the lower back), but the new information increased the urgency. He had his first injection on Friday.

For the next ten weeks, our task is to keep the Dude very, very calm. The injection’s task is to break down the worms and effectively kill the disease over the course of 10 weeks. But a big risk associated with the treatment is that any increase in heart rate for the 10-week duration poses a risk of pulmonary thromboembolism (blood clots) because of the pieces of broken-down heartworm traveling through his blood. This is the greatest danger for dogs undergoing treatment, and is more of a threat with more severe cases like ours. This means that for two and a half months, the Dude can’t go for walks, play or run in the yard, or meet other dogs (which gets him VERY excited). The poor guy is on a strict regimen of rest, and with the stakes as high as they are, we are taking the doctor’s orders very seriously.

For Doodlebug, the doctor’s orders are complicated by his serious separation anxiety, which in the first few days (pre-treatment, thankfully) induced panics that resulted in destroyed crates, chewed furniture, and huge puddles of drool on the floor. We have been working overtime to combat his anxiety through a combination of herbal remedies, anti-anxiety meds, lots of ride-alongs for the Dude, and varying degrees of “free range” status in the house when we’re not home. We have slowly begun leaving the Dude and the Chick loose in the house together when we’re not around, hoping that Chick’s stability and company will serve as a comfort to Doodlebug. We’ve even set up a complex video monitoring scheme involving the cameras on our laptops and an iphone, so that we may spy on the Dude when we’re not home and make sure he’s not working himself into a heart-thumping panic.

We’re not sure what his heartworm will mean for Doodlebug long-term. If he survives treatment, he may live a decade or longer, and grow to be a very old man. That is our dream for him. Some dogs treated for heartworm suffer from abbreviated lifespans, while others go on to live full and healthy lives. The result depends on the severity of the disease, how long it was in the dog’s system, the dog’s genes, and a little bit of luck. But for now, he needs to get through the treatment. If everything goes well through the end of March, we’ll know he’s out of the woods.

Given his complex issues, we know that Snickerdoodle is likely to be with us a while. And given how seamlessly he fits into our home and our life, that’s just fine by us.
To check out our other blog — about pit bull advocacy, education, rescue, and events in Texas — click here.
For photos, bios, and adoption info about Love-A-Bull’s other adorable, adoptable pit bull type dogs, visit here.
For more info on Snickerdoodle, click here.

Former foster updates!

Somebody must have told Santa that what we wanted most of all for Christmas was some updates from our former fosters — and boy did he deliver! Over the course of one week, we got updates on FOUR of our old fosters — Lollie (now Lily Fireworks), Gonzo (now Ozzie Bunny-Ears), Stevie Wonder, and Curious Georgia! Updates from our former fosters’ forever-families are one of our absolute favorite parts of fostering, and we’re thrilled to share these with you, too.

For those in DC or Austin who are on the fence about fostering, this is a great time to give it a try: The Washington Humane Society in DC is undergoing renovation, and is desperately in need of a few short-term foster families to care for dogs through the end of January while they fix up the kennels. Here is more info. At the same time in our new hometown, the Austin Animal Center is way over capacity, and is looking for foster families to help relieve some of the pressure on the physical space. The AAC fostering program places pets into homes for 2-4 weeks, while they grow stronger, gain weight, or recover from injury. Here is more info about how to sign up for one of these animals in this time of great need.

Now, on to the former foster fun!

Lily Fireworks (formerly Lollie Wonderdog)

“So we got Lily some doggles in hopes of remedying some of the squirrel/bird/deer chasing and pulling on our walks, and with a lot of hot dog bits and some coaxing, she wore them today — what a difference!!! She wasn’t too pleased with them at first, but over all did really well!!! She couldn’t see the squirrels and walked so nicely! We took them off at mile 4 and what a difference — 3 minutes later she lunged at a deer and almost pulled me over — Hot dogs came out and doggles went back on 🙂 She’s so cute in them…

Have we told you,we adore her! She’s stretched out hogging up the entire carpet in front of the fireplacechewing happily on an antler….Love her!”

Further Lily updates — Thanks to Lily’s patient mama’s work and Lily’s new doggles, our girl has graduated from her Easywalk harness, and has just ordered her first Sirius Republic collar! We can’t wait to see Lily in her new outfit. She prepared for its arrival with a nice bath . . .

Lily got to go out on a date with adoptable hearthrob Baxter from Peace, Love, and Fostering a couple of weekends ago, and she and her new boyfriend are starting a pit bull hiking club in Maryland called Pittie Trails, inspired by HikeaBull in the Bay Area.

photo courtesy Peace, Love, & Fostering

Lily and Baxter got along so well, that Lily’s parents are now daydreaming about adopting another pit bull type dog so that she can have a live-in boyfriend/brother/playmate. Fingers crossed they find the right dog!

Ozzie (formerly Gonzo Bunny-Ears)

“Oz has been great as ever! He had a great holiday season (plenty of gifts from the parents AND the Grandparents) and there was definitely no shortage of kisses and dog zoomies to boot! We are predicting even more loveable antics in the New Year! The dynamic duo of Laila and Ozzie is as strong as ever. He still cleans her every morning (no small feat when you consider her size), they eat every meal together, play their favorite game (tug-of-war) and snuggle up for naps and bedtime day in and day out. When one gets startled and barks the other is right there to back them up. When dad or I leave the room they are both hot on our heels. Their isn’t much they don’t do together. In fact they have actually taken to dressing alike. Well.. almost. Momma is a HUGE NY Giants fan, having grown up in that area, so Grandma decided to get the two matching jerseys for Christmas. Ozzie’s was snug but Laila’s barely fit over her head! So she had to settle with a cute Giants bandana. Dad wasn’t too pleased with the choice of team, being that he is a Ravens fan, but I go pretty crazy during football season especially they way our year has been going so I need every bit of support I can get. AND now that we are in the playoffs they get to keep their pompoms out for a little while longer (maybe even till February *fingers crossed*)

Ozzie also went on the longest trip (as far as we know) of his life. He got to go to the snowy, cold state of Michigan to visit his aunt and cousins. One cousin in particular fell madly in love with Mr. Ears declaring he was “the cutest dog in the whole world!” I was a little nervous at first since I didn’t know how he would respond to the likes of a rambunctious 3 yr old but he was a champ! My niece pulled him this way and that, tugged on his ears, tried desperately to pick him up but he kept his cool. I was so proud and glad that I could see this side of him! All in all we had a great trip and great holiday!”

Stevie Wonder

“Dear Foster Mom –

I know that I haven’t written awhile and I’m sorry about that. I’ve been really busy at home. My mom AND my dad were both home for two weeks over Christmas break. That meant that I got to chase the tennis ball A LOT. That was the best thing ever. AND Santa brought me NEW tennis balls AND a huge bone AND a new sweater. PLUS, we had this beautiful tree IN OUR HOUSE and I liked to curl up underneath it. My mom and dad said I looked just a like a present under there.

My mom said that one of her goals was to get me to chill out a little more around her. The thing is, I love her so much that I just have to be where she is all the time if she’s in the house and my whole body wiggles REALLY furiously when she comes home from work. My mom thought that, maybe, if we practiced being in different parts of the house for the two weeks while she was home than she might be able to start doing her silly yoga DVDs down in the family room again.

That just hasn’t been possible for the last few months because even though I am a SUPER GOOD girl, I just want to get underneath and on my Mom when she is going yoga. She told me that’s not what they meant by downward dog. (Is that a joke? Mom says it’s a joke.)

It gets even tougher because she does yoga in the room with ALL OF HENRY’S TOYS. If she isn’t going to pet me and love me than how am I supposed to pass up taking all of these toys, one-by-one, out of bins and off shelves and throw them around like I just found the arc of the covenant?!?! It’s the only responsible thing to do, right? But, my Mom says no way. She says I need to remember which toys are mine EVEN WHEN we are in the basement and EVEN WHEN I am left to my own devices. I am doing really well at other times, but that is a serious challenge for me. I mean, look at this place!

But, guess what, foster mom: I can totally do it now! (Okay, I might pick up one toy, but once I realize that Mom is doing the yoga, I leave it alone.) I either curl up on the couch and look like this:

Or, I GO UPSTAIRS – away from Mom! – I am totally brave and strong now and I can go all the way up to the 2nd floor of the house when she’s in the basement. AND TAKE A NAP! We all thought that was super, totally cool.

Of course, it wouldn’t be any fun if I didn’t develop new quirks. So, since Mom and Dad were SO happy about my chill out training success, I have redoubled my efforts to protect them – and especially my brother  Henry – from all enemies that surround us; Like, the dirt devil, the food processor and – this is the most unsuspecting villain – a wet paper towel being used to clean up a spill. You might think it’s wacky, but I know I’m just protecting them. So, when these things come out – I bark and try to bite/eat them. Mom and Dad say that I just don’t see them clean enough (which might be true) and that they are going to show me that these things are not too scary, after all.  Whatever. I think they should consider themselves lucky to have such a vigilant dog. When I’m not napping, that is.

Love you! Hope you’re having fun – Mom and Dad said you and foster Dad and my friend, Chick, went to Texas!?!?


Curious Georgia

“It’s been a while since we checked in, and while everyone is winding down from the holidays, Georgia wanted to pass a few things along and let everyone know how she’s doing.
Georgia completed Basic Obedience with a great trainer.  I have to say that she was the shining star of the class.  We worked everyday on our homework, and she finished the class way ahead of everyone else. She’s now a great loose leash walker, sits and waits patiently while we prepare her meals, she can sit/stay like a champ (even with minor distractions), and has a secure verbal command for “come”, which we started training silently with hand cues.  We test that last one with dummy words to throw her off, and while she twitches sometimes, she does an excellent job of only moving on the correct command.  We’re currently working on laying down and “go settle” (on her bed), as well as getting some distance and duration on those others.  I think we’ve come the longest distance with “go settle”, and have moved from a slight disinterest in her dog bed, to sniffing it, to siting on it, to pretty reliably finding it and laying down completely.  I’ve learned a ton myself about patience and consistency, and the results are making it an easier lesson all the time.  G seems to genuinely enjoy our training sessions, and I really enjoy the feeling that we’re working together towards something.
Next on the plate is to work on her social skills and apparent leash frustration.  When she sees other dogs on our walks, she becomes a bit vocal and they become the focus of much of her attention.  I don’t think it helps that just about every dog in our neighborhood, whether on the leash, in the yard or in a house, is a barker.  I think things are getting slightly better, just with repeated exposure, but we have yet to tackle it head on.  Off leash (which we’ve only done in contained environments) is a different story, and over Christmas we spent a few days in Charleston, WV with three lively Corgis and a Golden Retriever.  She had great manners, and when the rest of the group would break into spontaneous barking sessions, she just looked at them like they were crazy.  New Year’s Day we were back in Baltimore with some of our closest friends and their three dogs.  She was a model citizen and we were proud parents.
G’s getting softer, shinier, and more muscular every day.  She had some thin patches of fur on her head and end of her tail that are almost completely filled back in, and she went from shedding what felt like a pound of fur a day to virtually not shedding at all.  She still bothers her paws a bit, so we’ll try and get her to the vet sometime this week to get that checked out.  She’s getting better in the rain and in the cold, and it turns out she loooves bananas, but leaves neat little piles of completely clean lettuce and carrots when I try to hide them in her peanut butter Kong.  I don’t know how she does it.  We broke down and finally let her on the people couch (before she was only allowed on one), and it feels so good, I think everyone is much happier.
All in all, we’re really proud of and thankful for her, she’s an immediate hit with everyone she meets (except maybe the cats), and all is well in Baltimore.
-R, G, and ML”

A bit of fostering inspiration for our new friends

We don’t normally post on weekends. But we’re also normally not featured on the front page of, which drove a lot of unexpected traffic our way this week.

We got barrel-fulls of kind, thoughtful comments from lovely new readers, many echoing a very common sentiment we’ve heard before: “I don’t know how you foster; it must be so hard to give them up.” No doubt, it is hard. But it’s also one of the most fun, challenging, inspiring, and rewarding things I’ve ever done.

So here’s a quick rundown of a few of our favorite past posts that address this issue specifically. Dare we hope it’ll inspire somebody to jump in?

About us

How to Save a Life

One year blog-a-versary: The stats

One year blog-a-versary: In photos


And new friends may not have seen the fostering guest post series we did last fall, in which we interviewed a handful of stellar foster families who we admire about their own experiences. This series is certainly eye-opening, and offers some diverse and beautiful perspectives on the ins and outs — and hows  and whys — of fostering.

Q&A with us – Love and a Six-Foot Leash (Austin)

Q&A with Heather – Handsome Dan’s Rescue (RI)

Q&A with Josh – Animal Haven (NYC)

Q&A with Kate – Bully Paws (VA/DC)

Q&A with Chris – Animal Compassion Network (NC)

Q&A with Jen – Homeward Bound (Albany)

Q&A with Amy – New Leash on Life (Chicago)

Q&A with Laurie – All Paws (St Louis)

Welcome new friends, and enjoy!

Chix-a-Lot Friday: What I think of the Dude

Last Friday I confessed to you that I like dudes, remember? Well this Friday I have the following to tell you: My new foster brother is called The Dude. And I like him.

Here’s how it went down.

On the first morning, we started off like this:

And then that afternoon, we were like this:

And then I blinked and it was morning again and I woke up like this:

Now. A less gentle-dog-ly fellow might be peeved to wake up to a noseful of his brand new foster brother’s feet, but not I. Because first, as I mentioned last week, I promised my mama that I would love my new brother. And second, I secretly love the smell of dog feets (my mom loves it too so I guess it runs in the family).

Here’s the thing about the Dude. He and I are really, really good-looking together. He doesn’t have the beautiful brindle furs that I have, but otherwise, we go together so nicely. I am white with browns; he is brown with whites. Observe:

He is my perfect accessory, right? And really, there’s more to it than just how much he adores me the colors of his furs. He’s a pretty cool Dude. For one, he is majorly into snuggling, as am I. For two, he doesn’t try to play with me, which I appreciate (being the distinguished older gentleman that I am). And for three, well — I hate to reveal myself to be a big softie, but — I know he’s had a hard life and like mama says, he just needs a soft spot to land for a while. I don’t really remember what that’s like, but mama says I was in his shoes about 8 years ago (which is so silly because I don’t ever wear shoes). It only took me a day to give the Dude my full stamp of approval (the fastest of any of our fosters yet), and last night I told him a Very Sweet Thing. I said: Little Dude, I’ll be your soft spot to land on for as long as you need.

The brink

What kills me the most is how close he came to the end. When Snickerdoodle’s sweet little face showed up in our rescue’s email inbox — one of many faces each day — he was already on the euthanasia list for that day. We can’t take them all, and the Dude’s saving grace was that he looks almost identical to one of the rescue’s all-time favorite spokesdogs. On an emotional impulse, we claimed him with just a couple of hours to spare on his precious, fragile life.

The Arlington, Texas shelter — where Snickerdoodle came from — is one of many shelters around the country whose volunteers and staff are doing what they can with what they have, but are confronted every day with the reality that it’s not enough. Our Doodlebug was on the lucky side of the brink.

In the grand scheme, he is quite lucky: even though he’s underweight, has heartworm, a few bad teeth, and some severe anxiety issues we wrote about yesterday, the world is growing bigger for Doodlebug every day. Two days ago he learned to ride in the car. Yesterday he got to meet and make friends with a four-month-old lab puppy. Today we’re starting work on impulse control.

And tomorrow? Maybe he’ll learn to bake a pizza. Or play the banjo. Or scuba dive. Once you’re pulled back from the brink, the world is full of possibilities.

It’s not all fluffy beds and happy tails

It turns out Snickerdoodle has trouble being alone.

The first night in our home, he cleverly broke his way out of his wire dog crate. When we entered his room to  greet him in the morning, the crate was totally intact and standing in the center of the room — about six feet away from the corner where we had left it and him. And the Dude was peacefully sleeping on the sofa, not a furrowed brow on him. He yawned,  stretched, crossing his paws across each other, and looked at us with those big amber eyes as though to say “Good morning, friends!”

We secured his crate with zip ties to prevent further escapes, but the poor little guy couldn’t resist the urge to continue his Houdini ways, through various creative means.  In two more days our crate waved its white flag and surrendered. Seeing how much stress and anxiety confinement was causing him, we thought we’d try leaving him uncrated in a room. After all, he had slept the whole rest of the first night on the sofa without so much as ruffling a feather in the sofa pillows.


For several days, Dude slept happily on our bed while we came and went, never causing more damage than an innocent little puddle of drool from his happy, heavy slumber.

And then just as we were feeling quite confident in his easygoing nature, he reminded us why we don’t give foster dogs too much freedom too quickly. Foster mom left for the gym one evening, and foster dad came home an hour and a half later to a wide-eyed Dude sitting on the bed with a mound of sawdust on the pillows and a shredded wood headboard.


Such are the trials of dog fostering, we told ourselves. We’re amazed that we’ve churned through eight foster dogs with no damage of any kind. It just figures that the first sign of destruction would come from one of our most gentle, docile, sweet fosters of all. Right now we’re feeling luckier than ever that he and the Chick get along so well — a dog with serious separation anxiety would be much harder to work with if he and our own picky, grumpy Chick had to be separated at all times.

A more food-motivated dog might be entertained by a challenging puzzle that keeps him busy long enough to forget about the trauma of being left behind — but not our Doodlebug. Snickerdoodle barely eats, and although he is getting better, he is not nearly interested enough in snacks to be distracted from our goings and comings.

We’re off to the pharmacy to pick up some anxiety meds, and will be trying a slow introduction to a different crate. It could be a long journey ahead for Snickerdoodle, but we’re up to the challenge — we love the little dude, and we’ll work with him for as long as it takes.

The way to our hearts

It’s funny, how some of them find the way to your heart as though they were hitching a ride on cupid’s arrow.

Don’t get us wrong. We have loved every one of our foster dogs to little bits and pieces. With some of them, the bond we’ve formed feels almost as strong as the one we share with our own Sir Chick. But with Snickerdoodle? We fell hard and fast. Within 24 hours, I was saying to foster dad “we’re going to keep him.” Within 48, I was brainstorming how we could possibly squeeze three dogs into our tiny house — two of our own plus a foster.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve threatened to keep at least four our fosters so far, and gone on to bravely find them a perfect home of their own. Saying goodbye has been bittersweet with most of them, and I’ve cried after sending off at least half of them. But we’ve done what’s best for them and sent them on their way. I’m putting my money on the same thing happening with Snickerdoodle.

We’re already mourning the day in the future when we’ll have to say goodbye, but in the meantime, we’re walking on clouds and loving every minute.


Sweet as a cinnamon-sugar cookie: meet Snickerdoodle!

There were a few short moments after Dora the Explorer was adopted and went home that we felt that the house was a little too quiet and a little too roomy with just us and our Chick. Luckily we didn’t have much time to ponder this, because after Dora trotted off to her new happy life, we had a cup of coffee and ate a piece of toast, and this little dude trotted in to our happy life.

Meet Snickerdoodle!

Before coming into our home, Snickerdoodle was living at the new Austin Animal Center (AAC), where he had come in as a stray*. Animal control officers identified a likely owner, but when alerted, the person said he was not interested in picking our little dude up. And judging from his skin-and-bones appearance, he had been out on his own for a while.

He passed his evaluation with flying colors, but still — an adult pit bull type dog’s fate is never certain at a municipal shelter, even one that has achieved “no kill” status. Lucky for him and lucky for us, Love-A-Bull recognized this guy’s golden spirit and snatched him up.

Snickerdoodle came home straight from his neuter surgery at the vet’s office. The first day in our home, he seemed nervous and anxious. He paced, whimpered, and whined. He wouldn’t eat or drink, and wasn’t interested in toys, treats, or cuddles. But after a peaceful night’s sleep, the little dude had a change of heart, and started to open up. Over the weekend he started to share his true personality with us: his penchant for eating soggy kibble, rolling around on his back in the grass, loving his foster brother Chick with a passion, and sleeping with all four paws in the air.

We didn’t think it was possible to fall in love in just three quick days, but gosh– I guess we were wrong!


*1/9 CORRECTION: Snickerdoodle was living at Arlington Animal Services near Dallas, and was scheduled for euthanasia the day that Love-A-Bull pulled him into rescue. Apologies for the mistake!

Chix-a-Lot Friday: I like dudes!

Now that I’ve shipped off foster sister Dora the Explorer to her new home, can I get something off my chest that I’ve been wanting to tell you for a long time?

I. Like. Dudes. Girls are ok, but I just really, really prefer boy dogs.  You still love me, right?

All of my best friends are boys. Remember how famously I got along with my first boy foster dog, Gonzo Bunny-Ears? Yeah, it’s no coincidence that he was a dude.

And yet, mama keeps bringing home foster sisters for me. What’s the deal with that? I ALWAYS whine and complain, and mama says that rescue groups think it’s a good “rule of thumb” to place opposite gender dogs together for the best chances of success. But that’s dumb. I don’t even have any thumbs, so why would I care about a rule of thumbs? And she’s always talking about how “every dog is an individual,” so why doesn’t that apply to these kinds of preferences? If a Chick likes dudes better, let him foster dudes, I say!

So I begged and pleaded and begged and pleaded, and finally mama relented. She said that if I promised to be totally tender-sweet and love him like a true brother or best friend, she would bring me home a dude instead of a girl. And I promised. And I delivered.

Meet the new dude on Monday!

A hero in Log Cabin

Just before New Years Eve, I took a little drive for Love-A-Bull . . . to Log Cabin, Texas. The object of my road trip? This guy – Macky Mack.

Two days prior, a kind dog-lover had posted the Examiner article to Love-A-Bull’s facebook page, and once we saw it, there was an instantaneous explosion of emails among us: “Can we take this dog?” “We have to take this dog.” “We’re taking this dog.” “I already emailed and called Chief Nutt.” And in a blink, I boldly raised my hand to volunteer for the transport, and was on my way.

Arriving at the police station in town, I noted that “Log Cabin” is not just a name – the picturesque sprinkling of tiny buildings that house all city functions are all actual log cabins. I called Chief Nutt, and he said he’d meet me in a jiffy. “I really appreciate y’all,” he had told me in an email the day before.

Chief Nutt first met Macky while writing a citation for his caretaker for an expired rabies vaccine and no required dog license. Macky was a chained dog, living his life in a barren dirt circle with a 10 foot diameter. Over the following months, the Chief returned a few times to visit Macky. Once to issue another citation for licensing, another time to demand a shelter be constructed for the dog – in the dead of winter.

A lifelong dog lover with a pack of dogs of his own plus an occasional foster, Chief Nutt had never been fond of pit bull type dogs. But when he got the call from Macky’s neighbor saying that the dog had grown thinner and weaker over the past few weeks, he hopped in his truck and headed right over. After a brief negotiation with the caretaker, Chief Nutt learned that she had stopped feeding him because her son – Macky’s owner – had stopped sending money for kibble. Chief Nutt swiftly charged her with animal cruelty and convinced her to surrender Macky.

Ordinarily, there is a three-day “stray hold” period at the police station’s holding facility, after which the dogs are taken to the county humane society and put up for adoption. But the three days came and went, and two weeks later, Chief Nutt was still hanging on to Macky. As the days rolled on, he grew more and more fond of Macky. “He’s just a big pussycat,” he told me. The Chief didn’t want to surrender him for fear that he would be euthanized. So Macky Mack stayed, and Chief Nutt wondered what would happen next.

While a widely-read Examiner article inspired more than 3,000 phone calls to the humane society pleading for help for Macky, no donations came in for his care and no rescue stepped up to take him. About a week later, we got the facebook post.

When I arrived in Log Cabin on December 30th, Macky was prancing around in the large play yard, soaking up the sunshine and letting out an occasional confident, celebratory woof. By this time it was not only Chief Nutt who was infatuated with him, but of several other city employees who were not accustomed to falling for stray dogs. There’s just something about Macky Mack.

He was a little shy at first, doing a few fly-bys before finally plopping his butt down and requesting a good scratch behind the ears. He daintily took treats from my hands and leapt and bounded around after a kong that I produced from my bag of tricks. Under Chief Nutt’s care, Macky had become a happy dog.

As we talked, Chief Nutt fondly scratched Macky Mack’s ears and boasted about how far he had come in just a few weeks. How much stronger and more confident he seemed, and how much weight he had gained. He brought out Macky’s girlfriend – a sweet little blue-and-white pit bull type girl with enormous floppy ears — to show me how gentle and dog-social he is. Watching the two of them run around together and hearing her own sad story (she was picked up as a stray on Christmas Eve, bleeding, reportedly having been shot), I knew that I was heading back to Austin not with one new Love-A-Bull, but with two. Oops!

When I asked, the Chief admitted that Macky was the first pit bull type dog he had ever really liked, but quickly followed that thanks to Macky, he was sure there would be others. Macky had started to change his mind.

What I love perhaps the most about dog rescue is how frequently you see this type of snowball effect in action. One person’s tenacity and hope against the odds –in this case Chief Nutt’s – can be enough to save a life. When the Chief decided to let Macky into his heart and give him a few more days, he changed the course of Macky’s life forever. From now on, Macky will be swaddled in love. It never would have been possible without Macky’s hero, Chief Nutt.

Before we took off, I passed along a few little gifts to Chief Nutt from Love-A-Bull – a thank you card with Chick’s photo on it, a beautiful pit bull calendar, and a t-shirt to remember us by. We exchanged hugs and promises to keep in touch, and the Chief joked that if we didn’t get out of there soon, he was going to cry.

Macky got a good pep talk before we loaded up in the car for the long ride back to Austin. I respectfully walked away to let them have their privacy, but I think I heard the word “proud” in there somewhere.

Macky snoozed peacefully on the three-hour drive to his new home –a long-time Love-A-Bull foster who could take both dogs– in Austin. Upon arrival, he was crowned with a new name for his new start: Nutty Brown — a tribute to his personal hero, Chief Wayne Nutt.

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