That is her name. She is my pit-bull rescue.
She lived in the Humane Society’s shelter for over 18 months after being dropped off in the middle of the night. Abandoned. I saw her picture featured in a local paper and something deep inside me told me I had to meet her. Upon arriving at the shelter, I found her cowering at the back of her kennel. It took a lot of coaxing to even get her to come close enough for me to reach my fingers through the chain link and pet her. She haphazardly licked my hand.
I took her out to play in their meet and greet area. She was cute, friendly and still aloof. I asked a million questions about her. Why has she been here for over 18 months? What was she like with other dogs? Kids? Cats?
They were unsure of her history and kind of gave her a bad rap at first. One of the volunteers told me she did not do well with children or dogs, so I left disappointed. I didn’t want to risk putting another animal or child in danger. I was well aware of the reputation of pit-bulls.
Later that day I had several messages and an email about Juliet from the Humane Society asking me to give her a chance. They asked me to foster her for one week and see how she did. They sent a video of her interacting with other dogs, and she seemed okay, so I agreed and off I went to pick her up.
I knew the minute she got in the car, she was mine. I read everything I could about rescues and pit bulls in general and even rescue pit bulls. I watched every video I could about dog training. I took owning her very seriously. I asked friends with big rescue dogs about socializing her. I exercised her religiously. I walked her. I ran her. I would take her to the park and run up and down the slides, like an obstacle course. She was happy and loved.
But I watched as people crossed the street to avoid her when we were out for our evening walks. They were afraid to get too close. Little did they know that she was more afraid of letting them get to close to her.
She was the most gentle, loving, sweet dog within the walls of my house. She even learned to interact with my cats (without trying to eat them). I was so proud of her accomplishments. She never let me down, never disappointed me. She never chewed up anything she wasn’t supposed to. She was perfection. An unconditional lover and I loved her wholeheartedly. It was then that I realized that all she ever needed was for someone to have faith in her, to give her a chance to prove herself, to be loved.
It occurred to me that Juliet was the perfect metaphor of my life. I had spent many years feeling abandoned by those that I thought were closest to me, only to realize later than all I ever wanted was a chance to be loved. I was always afraid to let someone get too close and always proving myself to others only to be let down and left again.
I now understood her initial reaction to meeting me. Why would she extend herself to me and trust me when I was just going to walk past that cage as others before me did for 18 months?
We have spent the last four years together, rehabilitating each other and learning to trust. I cannot imagine my life without her.
The healing power of a rescue dog in particular is unlike anything I have ever experienced. She has taught me patience, respect, kindness and understanding on a level that I couldn’t comprehend before. There are just as many misunderstood dogs as there are people. I encourage everyone who’s ready for a dog to please consider adopting a rescue.
My Juliet does not have a tragic ending. She is my best friend, my companion and my soul mate. Because of her I have learned to love unconditionally—and so has she.
Author: Christie Page
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photos: Author’s Own