In February 2009, after I got neutered (woohoo!), my new Mom and Dad brought me home as a "foster dog" to live with their four other other adopted dogs: Fannie, Captain, Nancy Reagan, and Mary Todd Lincoln (also from the PSPCA). From the second I came home, we were one big happy family. No one thought I'd last long, given my age and the abuse I suffered, but I sure showed them! Mom and Dad made our relationship permanent and officially adopted me, and here I am 14 months later, still going strong!
I've done some amazing things since I came home. In April 2009 I got certified with Pals for Life to visit people in nursing homes, rehab centers, and libraries (or any place where I can spread cheer!). In November 2009 I began doing humane education and I visit schools throughout the Philadelphia regions to teach kids about responsible pet ownership.
I "speak" frequently at community events to educate people about dogs like me and to share factual information about pit bull type dogs, victims of animal abuse, and the importance of creating safe and humane communities. I also challenge people to think of aging not as a disease, but as a new life stage with new opportunities. Just because I'm old doesn't mean I'm useless! As you'll see, I've accomplished many things in this past year of my life, and I've contributed so much to society.
It's important for me to share my story as widely as possible so that dogs can be viewed as individuals, rather than the product of stereotypes, fear, and hatred. Many pit bull type dogs and/or victims of cruelty are discriminated against and mislabeled as "inherently dangerous," "too far gone," or "not capable of being pets." Sadly, in cities throughout the U.S., dogs like me are killed every day as result. In some places, there is breed-specific legislation (i.e., breed bans) that prevents people from owning us, regardless of what who we are as individual dogs. I was one of the lucky dogs who got a second chance, so I am using this chance to prevent other dogs from suffering in the future. I also want people to drop their misconceptions about older dogs and to embrace us as valuable members of society.
I also share my story so that more people can experience the joy that dogs like me can share. There are many people who feel strongly that animal abuse (especially dog fighting) is wrong and sympathize with the victims. But many of these people have not yet opened their hearts and their homes to having pit bulls as pets. I feel sorry for these people, who are really missing out! We pit bulls don't want your sympathy -- we want to be your pet! We want to lick your face to wake you up in the morning. We want to help you train for marathons by being your jogging partner. We want to rest our heads on your lap when you're crying. And we want to sit attentively while we pose for family pictures.
As I said before, I'm 15 1/2 years old and I was rescued from my abuser at the age of 14. I have every right to be angry and I have certainly earned the right to kick back and enjoy retirement. But anger and complacency are not in my nature. Instead, I want to use my second chance to educate, enlighten, and endear. My bones might be old and my muzzle might be grey, but there's too much wisdom and love inside of me to sleep through my "golden years."
As the late feminist Betty Friedan once said, "Aging is not 'lost youth' but a new stage of opportunity and strength."
I hope you enjoy hearing my stories.
With lots of love,
Sarge the Elderbull