Reef came into my life in June of 2001. I was doing some work at a shelter that catered mainly to Bull breeds. These were strong dogs, which without direction, could be deemed unadoptable. I spent my time there working with the “level 3” dogs. These were the animals that were not allowed to leave the shelter to go for walks. They could be brought up to the rooftop run for exercise and training purposes, but were generally too unruly or had too many behavioral issues for exposure to the general public.
Reef’s mother and siblings came into the shelter that June in rough shape. Her mother was a seizure from a dog fighting ring and had obviously been used as a breeding dog. She was emaciated and her young pups had to be removed from her as she didn’t have the strength or body mass to care for them any more. The puppies were wiggly masses of black and white. They had wormy bellies and were caked in filth. I knew as soon as I saw her that Reef was coming home with me. And she did- that very night.
I always tell my clients that the puppies that are the most trouble turn out to be the best dogs if you are willing to work with them. Reef lived up to that statement. I lived with roommates when she was a very young pup and I remember one night I came home and someone had let her out of her crate. Of course I would expect an accident or two in this situation, but that would have been letting me off too easily. She had opened a low kitchen cabinet, discovered a 20 lb sack of rice and spread the entire thing across our loft apartment. The floors were old and wooden and had large spaces between each board that were wedged full with grains of rice. I will never forget her smiling puppy face greeting me from piles of rice, pee and more rice.
As Reef grew, her fan base grew as well. People who lived in the small town I was residing in at the time would come by and ask if they could take her for walks. She was incredibly social and loved interacting with everyone – human or animal. She truly was a Pit Bull ambassador. It was around 6 months of age that I realized that Reef was suffering from some severe allergies. I put her on a variety of natural foods, but had a very hard time finding one that she thrived on. I would cook for her, but at the time I couldn’t handle all the prep every night.
Through the next years Reef moved with me from the North East to the Midwest, to the South and finally we settled down in Philadelphia. She has adjusted to life with a new dog companion as well as 4 rescued cats. She enjoys dining outside, soft beds and has even attended large-scale political rallies. I call her the “big sister dog”, as she helps out my clients who need an example of a stable and well adjusted pooch as a role model. That formerly stinky Pit Bull puppy is now the princess of the household.
I may have rescued my dog, but she has paid me back a thousand times for the favor.