I’ve always loved dogs and wanted one badly but life circumstances did not cooperate…until my late 40’s. That’s when I had a job working half the time at home so as I was getting ready to make a residence move I was determined to move into a dog friendly place. I saw breed restrictions in so many places that I was truly bothered by the unfairness of it and decided that on principle alone I did not want to rent from any of those places, regardless of what type of dog I decided to get.
Now I’d been around pit bulls and always had positive experiences with them. But as my first dog I had to question myself as to if I could handle one. Maybe a little of the hype got to me, that they are dogs that can’t be trusted. But when I saw the flyer San Diego Humane Society did for ‘Jason’ I was love-struck. It had been sent in a mass email by Best Friends to area residents but I was two hours away so I don’t know how it got sent as far as me in Long Beach, but I am so glad it did. I could not get the photo of his smiling face out of my mind. I began looking at dogs for adoption and there were plenty of beauties but none of them struck me the way he did. I wasn’t ready to move quite yet but decided to take the drive to at least meet ‘Jason.’
He was stronger looking than I imagined but he was also as sweet as pie. Within ten minutes of meeting he rolled over and gave me the belly for a rub. He was just so jovial and loving. I was enamored but I knew I wasn’t quite ready and still had not decided. The staff member I spoke with was not exactly encouraging because ‘Jason’ was labeled dog aggressive and perhaps as a first time dog owner I wasn’t suited to take that on. I had to give that some serious thought.
So I went home and prayed that ‘Jason’ would find the absolute best possible home, even if it wasn’t with me. But I could not get the little booger out of my mind. I found myself obsessively checking his webpage every day to see if someone else had swooped him up. I was truly surprised that no one had. Then July came and I moved into my new dog friendly, no restrictions, apartment. I unpacked and settled in and ten days later I decided to take the plunge and go get my boy. Oh, and I had decided that the name Jason wouldn’t do so began referring to him as JJ long before I brought him home. Also, I must confess that I showed his photos to everyone and many of my friends advised against getting a pit bull. I weighed their comments but decided that they were borne out of believing myths, along with concern, more than from actual knowledge and experience.
On the day I went to bring my new baby home so many of the staff came to say goodbye to ‘Jason’ and there were even some tears. He had been there a year and it was obvious many had grown to love him. He is truly a special boy. It also must be said that the staff had done such a great job with him as he was coming to me already knowing quite well how to do a sit and down. He loves learning and is very food motivated.
I put JJ in the backseat of my car and he was so up for the adventure. From there I’d say the adjustments were more mine to make as he settled in at home very nicely. Only he refused to sleep in his crate but whined pathetically until I let him out and then he jumped up on the bed and began sleeping at my feet. I did not plan on allowing that.
I consulted with trainers and could not afford private sessions so we started with basic obedience in a group setting. JJ was not accustomed to being around other dogs so initially he would stare at them which made them feel threatened. I learned to break his stare and after some time JJ learned that he was safe and could ignore the other dogs while focusing on me and training. He excelled in classes and we went through all three levels of obedience and JJ passed his Canine Good Citizen test! We also took tricks class, fun nose work, and agility courses. He absolutely loves training…and well, food rewards.
I began to slowly and carefully introduce JJ to other dogs and each time JJ did fine. There were even a few dogs that did not like JJ and snapped a warning but JJ backed off as if to say, “Fine, we don’t have to be chums. I’ll just go play over here then.” JJ now has several friends in the neighborhood but occasionally he and another dog decide not to like each other. That’s totally fine as I don’t like everyone I meet either. I think that JJ has changed over time in being in a secure, loving home and knows that I won’t throw him into a bad situation.
JJ has always adored people and seems genuinely disappointed when someone on the street doesn’t stop to greet him. I knew that I had to find a way to fulfill him in this area and give him the human socialization he craves. We completed a therapy dog workshop and evaluation and JJ is now a registered therapy dog through Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Inc. We go to Los Angeles Airport regularly so JJ can make his rounds in the Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) program. JJ is truly a rock star there as people can’t get enough of him and he can’t get enough of meeting new people.
I couldn’t be happier with JJ. He is the sweetest big lug and people who are able to see past the cropped ears and huge head fall in love with him, too. What a blessing he is and thanks to San Diego Humane Society for taking care of him for an entire year and all the great work they did with him. I only hope I make him as happy as he makes me!