Rescuing Boss…

About 13 years ago we rescued our first English Mastiff.  His name was Boss.  How we entered into the rescue mission wasn’t a well thought out nor planned event.  We had, much to my embarrassment, purchased an EM from a pet store about 1 year before.  We had no idea what we were getting into nor what owning a mastiff was about.  But, we fell in love with our Maggie and decided we needed another.

We submitted an application to a mastiff rescue organization and patiently waited to be matched with one that needed a home.  We were notified that they had one for us.  They set up a time to come and do a home visit to make sure we had the space and the means to take on this animal that would be dependent on us.  They sent a picture…we fell in love.  However, he was not meant to be ours.  In a turn of events, his owner that had surrendered him for relocation reasons, was able to remain where he was and to keep his baby.  We were sad, but knew our time would come.

Weeks went by with nothing from them.  My husband and I were at work when we received the phone call.  We have a boy for you.  However, we need you to meet us 4 hours away to pick him up.  It’s a dire situation where he will be put down if he isn’t picked up today.  Of course my husband jumped into the car and headed to another state.  He called me on the way home and his exact words were, “This is the biggest dog I’ve ever seen in my entire life”.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Our Maggie was big to us and she was only about 120 lbs.  This dog was underweight at 178 lbs!

When he arrived home I was given his backstory.  He was rescued from a dog fighting situation.  Here’s the thing…I didn’t know much about dog fighting other than it’s ugly and they predominantly use pitbulls.  Our new beautiful, timid, giant was used as a bait dog.  (please see my post – What is a bait dog?)

Our big man thrived in a loving environment.  He displayed nothing but love for his family despite the ugliness of humans in his life.  He became a healthy 225 lbs. while with us.  He was our gentle giant.  I knew I wanted to love this dog so completely that he would go out of this world knowing I loved him and not all of us are ugly.  I think (hope) I succeeded.

As he got older, we knew because of his hard life his life span wouldn’t be what it should have been.  He died peacefully in his sleep one night and I didn’t think the heartbreak would go away.  Writing this now still makes me cry because while the heartbreak is softened…it’s still there.

So here’s to you big man.  I’ll see you across the bridge, where I know you’ll be waiting.


What is a bait dog?

Oy.  What a disgusting topic I feel compelled to write about.  Luckily (?) with the Michael Vick dog fighting case being front and center in the media a few years ago more attention has been brought to this issue than ever before.

My husband and I rescued our big guy from a dog fighting ring whom was used as a bait dog.  He was perfect because he was large and could withstand a lot of injury and be used repeatedly.  When we picked him up he was covered from head to toe to belly to every spot on his body with scars.  This is how we learned what a bait dog is and how ugly dog fighting really is.

A bait dog is rendered incapacitated by duct taping his mouth shut, filing his teeth down, binding his legs and/or restraining him.  They are completely helpless.  They have absolutely no way to protect themselves.  They are then thrown into a ring with another dog who is trained to kill.  Many die in the ring…if they are one of the lucky.  If he doesn’t, he is repeatedly put into this situation over and over.  He is often badly injured.  He may or may not make it through the night.  If he does not, his lifeless body is thrown out like trash.  If he does, he fearfully waits in pain for the next time.  It’s heartbreaking. It’s ugly.  Until you’ve seen it, you cannot understand how humans can be so ugly.

Our big guy was lucky.  He made it out, into a family who loved him wholly and completely.  My goal for him was to go out of this world knowing love.  I can only hope we were able to make him forget even a small amount of what he lived through.

Please.  Don’t look away when these cases come to light.   The more we do, the more these things are allowed to go on.