Tyger’s morning began has it has for the last twenty-eight days; I get up to make coffee and she goes out with the other dogs to pee, and to get water. When she first got here Tyger would stand close to the backdoor and come in much sooner than the rest of the dogs. Now Tyger charges out into the early morning dark and does a perimeter search, just as Bert did when he was alive. But this day is different for Tyger, even if she doesn’t realize it. At the moment she awoke she was still a foster dog but if all goes well, Tyger will be a family member at the end of the day. She will be mine, she will be ours, and Tyger will be home for the first time in her life.
Tyger is a Pit Bull. There are no mistakes a Pit Bull can make and survive in a shelter. All things must go right. Nothing can go wrong. Death is the only answer to all questions that are asked of this breed. The just and the unjust die in mass. The shape of their heads doom them to a very short life unless someone loves them. Tyger was on Death Row when I saw her photo. There was no way out, no one to protect her, and this was a dog who would be cold before the sun rose again. Like millions before her and millions after her, this was a dog who would die unloved and unclaimed.
I remember the moment I saw her. I remember thinking to myself that I had three dogs; one rescue and two strays. Sam is elderly and psychotic. I had been told I could not have two female pits in the same pack and have peace. I was told, when I was a child, I could not write. Hold her for me, I will take this dog, I will not allow her to die.
It never occurred to me, until much later, that an email sent to one person could and would save this dog. My word, my reputation, my work in rescue, my email, was enough. Someone, and I do not know who, sent word to pull this little girl off Death Row, to remove the needle from her future, and to send her to a vet who would spay her, and she would wait to see if I would show up and save her life.
Whoever you are, if you are reading this: thank you.
How many dogs sit and wait for someone, anyone, and that never happens? How many dogs await for the return of those they love and death arrives instead? What would have happened to this dog if I would have just stayed home instead? She was put in a cold cage. There was no one who would come unless I arrive in time. When I got to the vet’s office very nice people led a very scared dog to me, and that is when I met her.
You want to know a really scary animal? Humans. We subjugate animals and then we declare them dangerous because we invent myths about them. A very small female Pit Bull was handed over to me late on Friday, December the 5th, because she was a Pit Bull, and no one else had come forward and asked that she not die.
Look at the world from the eyes of Tyger, before she knew me. She had been picked up right off the street, a stray, no home, no love, no food, and no hope. Then she was taken into a shelter where her cell mate attacked her. And then she was taken to the vet’s office where she was operated on, in a place filled with strangers, and suddenly she is handed over to me, who she has never seen before.
I took Tyger to an adoption event the next day and prayed that no one would ask for her. No one did. I took her back to my home and there, at that day, the real process of saving this dog truly began. There was really no way in hell I could take another dog. Lilith seemed underwhelmed with her, Lucas didn’t seem to like her. Sam hates everyone. And this girl dog, oh wow, did she seem to have some problems.
She was a stray. No one, no human, ever, had trained her. Tyger was a dog who had lived day to day for how long? You tell me, you, how would you react to this life? If you were totally alone and you had never been cared for, you tell me, here and now, how stable and how sane you would be. I want to hear this story that you have for me. Tyger was plucked off the streets, shifted over to the shelter, out into the vet’s place and then given to me. All of this happened to her without anyone sitting down and telling her that she was loved.
Where are Tyger’s puppies? I’m sorry did that question catch you off guard? She’s less than eighteen months but she’s had at least, at the minimum, one litter. Was she able to feed and take care of her offspring? Did she watch them die slowly because she was starved? I’m sorry, did this ruin your feel good buzz? Tyger was a mom. She had kids. I have no idea what happened to them at all. Do you?
What do you expect? What sort of person do you think Tyger might be considering what she has been through, no, wait, let me say this clearly; what sort of person do you think Tyger would be considering how we humans have allowed her to suffer?
Let’s blame Tyger. Let’s blame Pit Bulls. Let’s blame the dogs for their owners abandoning them. Let’s considering them dangerous when they watch their young die of starvation or worse. Let’s do anything at all but provide the animals we’ve domesticated with a loving way of life.
Of course, we’ve failed to provide our own species with this, haven’t we?
I have a new dog. She is hurt, hurting, lost, damaged, hopeful, and young. I have to undo what we have done. I have to assure her that we humans aren’t nearly as bad as she’s been trained to think we are, by us.
I have a long way to go.
But right now, Tyger is loved. And she knows it.