If These Dogs Could Talk

Sometimes, I wish for just five minutes that my rescue pit bull, Stella, could talk and tell me how she ended up with me. Was she dumped? Did she run away? What things happened that scarred her memories?

I can take my guesses about her story, but I’ll never really know. I do know she came to me in October 2020 from the Darlington, SC shelter, emaciated, heartworm positive, and caring for 12 newborn puppies whose eyes weren’t even yet open. I simultaneously wanted to punch the people who allowed her to end up in this situation and hug them for being stupid enough to let her go (it was love at first sight for me – I knew when I first laid eyes on Stella that I would never let her go).

Stella in the back of her transporter’s SUV with her 12 newborns on the day she arrived at my house.

Stella’s story unfortunately isn’t unique. Shelters everywhere are overflowing with relinquished pets, strays, and abandoned dogs that were no longer useful to their owners for one reason or another.

As a result, rescues are also overflowing with dogs, trying our best to clear up space in the shelters and every day, looking into a new dog’s eyes and wondering what their story is.

What I’d Tell You If I Could

Stella at the beach in Oak Island, NC, in March. She’s living her best life now!

If our rescue dogs could talk, I imagine they would tell us:

I’m scared

I’ve been through a lot. I may have been sleeping in the rain or extreme heat yesterday. I couldn’t remember when I last had a full meal. No one wanted me around, as I was dirty and riddled with fleas. People assumed the worst about me, that I was aggressive because I was scared or that I carried disease and would hurt their children or pets.

I’m not mean — I don’t want to hurt anyone. I’m just still experiencing feelings of uncertainty.

Be patient with me

Give me time to settle in. I need time to decompress and learn the new routine. Don’t overwhelm me; let me rest apart from any excitement in the household and experience calm. Then I’d love to explore my new surroundings and meet new people (and maybe the other pets in the house). But for now, I need “me time.”

Give me time to build a relationship with you

It may take a few weeks or months for me to really come out of my shell and be my authentic self. I’m going to tread carefully at first and then as I get more comfortable, I’ll share more of who I really am with you.

Accept me as I am

I have baggage; there are some things I may never like because of past trauma. It could be the noise of a vacuum cleaner or people with a certain build. Respect my boundaries and let me know it’s ok, that you accept me, warts and all. I’ll do the same for you.

Protect me

Restore my faith in people by keeping me safe physically and emotionally. Be my safe place.

Invest in me

I may need some training or additional guidance on how to be my best self. Help me get there so we can stay together forever.

Love me

I just want to feel loved, to know that I belong. I’ll be loyal to you for as long as I live; please do the same for me.

Give me my best life

Take me for pup cups and car rides and adventures. Let me do zoomies and enjoy long naps in the sunshine. Give me words of encouragement and belly rubs. Spoil me. Make me forget everything that came before you as we live our best lives together.

Thank you

Thank you for your time, patience, protection, and love. I didn’t always have those things. You are my hero, an angel sent from above. For that, I am forever grateful.

Adopt: Sunny and Franklin Are Both Still Available

Sunny is a beautiful white pit bull who was used as a breeder dog and lived her life on a chain before coming into rescue. Because of her history as an outside dog, Sunny, while sweet, truly needs someone who has the patience to let her adjust and who will work with her on her anxiety issues. For more information and to apply, go to  www.bigheartsbigbarks.com.

Handsome Franklin is a 7 year-old, brindle and white pit bull terrier mix with a smile that can melt anybody’s heart from a mile away. He is a low-key fella who enjoys couch snoozing and snacking. His secret charm weapon is introducing himself to new human friends by giving them his paw. He is house trained, crate trained, and ready for his forever couch…er, family. Could you be the one he offers his paw to forever? Apply to adopt Franklin at www.bigheartsbigbarks.com.

Article and photos by Timina Stengel, Foster/Adopter/Rescue Advocate: Timina Stengel
Timina Stengel

Timina is the full time Personal Assistant/Mom to her rescue pitty Stella. She also has two human teenagers and works as a content strategist.

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