How a Bully Changed Our Lives

by on May 24th, 2014
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It was a warm evening in late-September, 2007. I had been sitting on my front porch enjoying the weather while my godson was getting ready to come outside with me after playing with my husband. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dog running wildly up to the porch of an abandoned house that sat caddy-corner to ours. She looked lost, and I had never seen her before.

I stood up and watched her for the briefest of moments before I whistled and made the commonly known “kissing” sound everyone seems to use to call a dog. She ran — no, bounded — up to me, almost knocking me over with her strength and excitement. Kisses came from her freely as she excitedly tried to put her two front legs around my neck. She was skinny and covered in sores; her teats looked as though they still had a bit of milk in them for a litter that was nowhere to be seen.

Our dog Java Bean was inside during all of this, barking anxiously to get out. I yelled to my husband to grab Java’s spare collar and leash and I walked Lily through the neighborhood to see if any of my neighbors recognized her. What I heard was unexpected and shocking. My neighbors saw a girl my age (mid-20s at the time) walk her with a chain, kick her all over and hit her with the chain telling her to “Go!” I was heartbroken. Where were her puppies? This evil girl probably had them and who knows what would be done to them. They were probably sold as fighting dogs for underground rings or as status symbols to less-than-caring homes.

I walked her home and hooked the skinny pit bull up to the runner in the front yard. We let Java outside and the two ran around each other, Java’s hackles up the whole time but the pit was submissive to her. We called Animal Care & Control and described to the ACO what had happened. Unfortunately, pit bulls were only kept at the shelter for three days and then euthanized if not claimed by the proper owner. The ACO looked at us, looked at the dog and told us we should keep her for thirty days and try to find the owner (a lost pet must be kept for 30 days to give the owner time to find them, although the shelter only keeps them for three — I was dumbfounded). He said she was a happy, beautiful girl who he didn’t want to see euthanized.

We kept her on a trial basis at first, trying to find rescues or the owner without success. After the first night, we came up with her name: Lily Jean. Java and her didn’t do well together for the first two weeks. Java is — and will always be — dominant. After these two weeks, they were fine.

We learned quickly she wasn’t cat-friendly. This is where the sacrifices come in. We had to keep her and the cats separated. The cats remained upstairs and Lily Jean remained downstairs. We had a gate at the base of the stairs to keep her down.

Lily took to my husband quickly, but not to me, despite the fact that I took her in. For quite a time, she would growl and snap if I tried to sit beside my husband and her on the couch. As I started staying home more and my husband would go to work, my relationship with Lily changed. She loved me like she did when I found her, but still not quite as much as she loves my husband.

When we moved into our new home 6 months after we found her, new problems arose. For the first six months or so, Lily and Java were fine. There would be occasional spats, but we were very aware of the dangers of having two females and one being a pit that had never been socialized. They were kept in crates when we weren’t home and supervised when we were.

After the first year, Lily and Java were both 2 1/2 to 3 years old — they were mature and not puppies anymore. They would become jealous over silly things or anything exciting (a dog walking outside, loud noises, thunderstorms, etc) could cause a fight. We decided it was best to separate them at all times after the fights they had both endured.

Luckily, we have a contemporary-styled home with a 17 foot-by-20 foot living room that’s sunken approximately 4 feet from the rest of the house but still open. We have a gate installed at the top of the five living room stairs and Lily spends most of her time down there. It may sound like she’s kept away, but trust me, my husband spends plenty of time in the living room when he gets home from work! Both Lily and Java have equal amounts of time with my husband and I.

It’s somewhat inconvenient to have the dogs separated, especially when we have company. Our living room is supposed to be a gathering room for parties and entertaining, but we have to put one of the girls away so we can leave the gate open for people to go upstairs and downstairs freely. We have to watch Lily when she goes outside because so many people hate pit bulls and I don’t want to see what happens if another somewhat-aggressive dog tried to come up to Lily. (That being said, she gets along great with so many other dogs, but it would only take one to pick a fight and lose).

Argos, our third dog (and my boy, as the other two favor my husband), was brought into the picture in October 2008. He was a puppy from a litter mothered by a stray mixed-breed that came to a friend’s house. He completed the family, and gets along with both the girls. It worked out great for both Lily and Java as they both now have a companion to play with and be dogs with.

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