You know those dog videos everywhere you look? I saw one of a shelter dog being given a brief walk, then returned to his kennel. It really stuck with me. I looked up the rescue and learned that they had a sleepover program. Like kids do, but with dogs. My husband and I decided to give this needy pup a weekend vacation.
This wasn’t how we planned it though.
Our beloved black lab died suddenly just before the sleepover and three days after his 11th birthday. We were devastated, heartbroken, having trouble believing that the happy dog I just took to the park, the one who was sitting on the couch at 7 p.m. was dead by 8 p.m. That’s what cancer of the blood vessels will do, the emergency vet told us.
I couldn’t save our family dog, but maybe I could help save this one.
We decide to go through with the dog date. The shelter has mostly bully breeds. I knew very little about them except that they were “aggressive”, dangerous even. When I went to pick up the dog, I asked what they knew about him, and the answer was “nothing”, so part of the value of taking him home, of being a foster, is that now he would have a profile rather than being one of hundreds of dogs, many of whom looked very similar. They said his name was Ronin.
Ronin darted out of the shelter not stopping until we reached the car. It had the feel of a prison break. I texted my husband not to do anything too suddenly and to be calm when we got home. I felt like I had a loaded gun.
When we got home Ronin jumped out of the car. He was very scared. Deuces’ pad is on the floor and Ronin went right to it and laid down. He exhales a giant sigh.
We learn on the first day that he is fully trained in all commands. Someone obviously loved this dog to take the time to train him to this degree. I say “get the ball”, and he does it happily and brings it to me. He is too worried to eat, but he takes food out of my hand as softly as any lab. I starting to love him dangerously hard.
At the end of the sleepover period, we can’t give him up. We also can’t keep him . We have been renting a house for four years, and there is a “no aggressive breed” in our rental clause. There was zero about this dog that was aggressive. I send for a DNA test online. I’m hoping he’s a labrodoodle, or at least a boxer. Turns out he’s an almost purebred American Staffordshire Terrier down to his great-grandparents. Doesn’t matter though, in the eyes of the world, he’s a dangerous pit bull.
This is Ronin .
His goal is to please us. He’s very beautiful with a fun, playful personalty. He asks for very little. His favorite things are to lay in the sun, ride in the car and catch a ball. He loves to be close to his person, preferably with his head in their lap or on their shoulder. He’s the sweetest being imaginable!
He’s looking for love and wears his heart on his sleeve. Everyone who meets him feels that this is a special dog. A dilemma is developing. My husband put it perfectly: “We’re going to have our heart broken twice”.
We want to get him adopted without having to return him to the shelter.We haven’t stopped crying or mourning our lab and probably never will, but at least now we have a mission that’s possible. We’ll keep Ronin until we find a permanent home. I put up flyers at vets, pet stores, posts on Instagram and Facebook. I tell everyone I know about him.
This is where I see what a deal breaker the word “pitbull” is.
I try to find out the circumstances of his being at the shelter. That information is only available at the point of adoption. I learned a lot about pit bull breeds though. What we’ve all heard: they are aggressive, unpredictable, and you never know when they might snap.
Nothing could be further from the truth: they are loving, loyal, and live to please their human. Also they are unbelievably funny and playful. They love children, and look after them as if they were their own.
The Staffordshire Terrier isn’t a pit bull. For example, there is a Staffordshire Terrier category in the American Kennel Club dog show. That makes me sad because I know so many loving goofy pitbulls, but as an argument for giving my Staffy a chance, it’s noteworthy.
People still ask about Ronin. You don’t forget a being like him. If we didn’t meet him so close to the death of our dog, we would have worked out a way to keep him.
I got a call recently from the shelter asking if I could help a dog who was deteriorating in her kennel, a year old female. She was a stray who had obviously recently given birth. She arrived at our home terrified and feisty. Today, she’s sweet and loved. She’s our dog and her name is Little Girl.