As we bring you up to speed on our Tribe, here is a little bio on each of our foster failures. And while Ruby’s accomplishments have captured the most headlines, each one is a valued family member….A spoke in our wheel. We love them all!
Carla (Rottweiler, 2001 – )
A smallish example of the breed, Carla is the class clown. Sensitive,
smart, pretty, cute, and fun, Carla was the youngest household
member until Ruby arrived. A momma’s girl, she would lay at
Lynn’s feet all day as Lynn telecommuted in her front porch office.
Life was good for Carla.
She had not a care in the world until her best friend, Hannah,
died not long after Ruby’s arrival. Just recovering from that loss,
Carla was then struck with Katie passing away eight months later.
BOOM! She spiraled down a dark tunnel to a place that was sad
and terrible and frightening. She became withdrawn, skittish, fearful
of everything, and snappish with strangers. She even nipped a
cop on the hand when he reached down to pet her. Lucky for us all,
he was a fan of the breed, understanding her sad tale.
Carla’s eating was spotty. The happy brightness had left her
eyes. She was truly like a ship without a rudder. Carla mentally left
us for more than two years, living among us like a ghost. It was so
heartbreaking and the damndest thing I had ever seen.
But Carla battled back, enduring some serious health issues
along the way. At eight years of age, she began acting like the young,
happy dog she used to be. The light returned in her eyes and was
beautiful to see.
Another delight to see was Carla taking on the responsibility
of nanny to the little girl we adopted. It was a job she relished with
great care and tenderness. If Carla has a fault, it is that she watches
too much television and doesn’t much care for dogs on the screen.
They don’t even have to be barking. Another thing she hates is people
who sneak up on something. This is met with a low, nasty growl.
Watching her watch television is more entertaining than anything on
the tube. Carla is now an older dog, and we know time is not on our
side, so we live each day grateful to have her back.
Tiger (Rescue Pit Bull, 1998 – )
We met the dog that would change our minds about pit bulls at an
adoption day function years before Ruby came along. “Mr. T” was
five years old and sharing a pen with a young black Lab. Tiger was
wrestling, with his tail wagging and mouth agape in a big happy smile.
With a beautiful light tan brindle coat, Tiger was low to the ground
and broad across the beam. His ears were nonexistent, cropped tight
to his skull, and he had a strange, unsteady gate — a kind of weird
side-to-side waffling motion, frightening really. But his eyes were soft
and kind with traces of sadness. I liked him! After I petted and played
with Tiger for awhile, the volunteers told me that he needed a foster
home. I hunted Lynn down in another part of the store. “Honey, I
want to show you something. Ta da! Isn’t he pretty?”
Lynn clearly wasn’t as impressed. “Well, sort of. Scary looking,
Uh-oh, I hadn’t planned on her noticing that part. “He’s really
sweet. Can we foster him?” As most guys in a situation like this, I
behaved like an excited young boy.
Reality quickly followed. “Patrick, are you out of your mind?!
A pit bull?!”
I pleaded, “It’s only to foster!”
Unmoved, Lynn uttered, “Unh-unh . . . no way!”
I slunked away, defeated, to pout for awhile.
Starting that night, I read everything I could about the breed. A
lot of it certainly wasn’t flattering. A lot of digging was required to
disseminate fact from fiction from urban legends.
A couple of weeks later, we were at yet another adoption day
event. There was Tiger in the first pen for all to see! “Hey look,
Lynn, there’s my buddy.”
This time, she lingered, her eyes washing over Tiger again and
again, surveying every movement. Finally, “Well, he does seem like
a good boy. Gets along with other dogs.”
Not wanting to bring up that foster word again, I casually asked,
“What do you think?”
“Well, okay, we can give it a try.”
Wow! That was too easy! Tiger was able to come with us immediately
— the animal rescue group was familiar with Lynn and me
because of our experience with Rottweilers. We signed a few papers
and were off to meet some friends at a dog show in downtown St.
Paul. In our hurry, we did two really dumb things that would definitely
fall into the “What were we thinking?” category.
Katie my Rottweiler, was waiting in the car out in the parking lot. I held Tiger
on a leash while Lynn hooked up Katie. In the middle of the lot,
they had a quick meet and greet. The two got along like fast friends.
Katie jumped into the car first, and then Tiger followed. She was a
perfect host. He respected her. This, however, was not a good idea,
and things could have gone very badly. Once we arrived at the dog
show, we at least had the presence of mind to know that the two
shouldn’t be left alone together.
“We can’t leave Tiger alone in the car,” Lynn said. “We don’t
know if he’ll chew up the seats.” So it was Tiger who would come
inside with us, but how to get him in? Quickly, a half-baked plan
was hatched. We took turns without Tiger entering the building,
buying a ticket, going to another entrance, getting stamped, meeting
back at the car, grabbing Tiger, and re-entering via the exhibitors’
entrance that was manned by an unsuspecting teenager. Oh, we felt
Once inside, the challenges changed. People were frightened by
Tiger’s appearance with that wafflely gate and the hack job on his
ears. Then they would turn their attention to us with an expression
that clearly said, “How could you do that?!” Yet, there was
puzzlement. We didn’t act or dress like the pit bull owners depicted
by the media.
A couple of judges picked up our scent and followed us. Finally
they closed in. “Excuse me,” the beefier, middle-aged judge panted
out as if he had run a marathon. “That dog doesn’t belong here.
How did you get in?!”
I said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Aren’t we allowed to bring the dogs into
He asked, “Where did you come from?” Taken aback by my
instant answer and sugary sweet concern, he was confused.
I responded, “We’re doing doggie demos over in the retail arena.”
Seemingly more confused he retorted, “What?”
I had him on the run as I smoothly answered, “Agility demos. To
share with people the fun they can have with their dog. Today we’re
using rescue dogs.”
“Oh,” they both seemed satisfied.
I made one final stab at bravado. “It’s break time now, but stop
by later and we’ll show you what agility is all about.”
The older one spoke this time, “We know what agility is!” They
moved on. I thought to myself, Dear God, I’m going to hell. No
trial. Nothing. Lynn and I made a hasty retreat to the real agility ring
where we sat up high and out of sight in the balcony. Our friends did
find us that day, but were left wondering why we enjoyed sitting up
so high. It’s embarrassing to think about this little adventure today,
and it bothers me to think that there are a couple of guys out there
who have my image in their mind’s eye as a rogue and a liar.
As usual in rescue dogs, we knew nothing about Tiger’s past, but
in the coming months and years we caught glimpses. Motorcycles.
He loved motorcycles. Anything that sounded like a Harley-Davidson
woke something deep within him. If we were out for a walk and a
Harley started up with that signature blast, Tiger would pull up short,
with tail wagging and head bobbing, to see if there was anyone he
knew from his past. When the motorcycle roared off, he would watch
until it disappeared. It was a sad sight to see.
We called him “the locksmith.” Gate latches, doorknobs, double-
hung window locks, and sliding window latches were all of great
interest to Tiger. He would poke and prod, even try using a tooth to
manipulate them. This was just one of the unsolved mysteries of Tiger.
Tiger was thin coated and hated the cold. If the house was the
least bit chilly, we would find him curled up tightly, shivering. The
first time we saw that, Lynn said, “Poor guy, let’s put a blanket over
him.” When I attempted to cover him, Tiger rocketed out of the
room, running to the back porch and hiding under the table, not
budging for two days. We couldn’t tempt him with food, water, or
meaty treats. What terrible thing happened to the poor guy?! It was
a couple of weeks before things were more or less back to normal.
Tiger’s waffling gate was the product of enormous muscle mass
on a hodgepodge skeletal frame no doubt caused by bad breeding.
He also had a notch in his spine caused by a blow from a pipe or
board, which caused untold problems. So there you have it . . . an
abused rescue dog with issues, both physical and mental, leaving the
adopter to pick up the pieces. With love, patience, and direction, the
big lug led a good life after coming to live with us. We are proud to
know him and grateful that he allowed us to live with him and be
part of his life.
Tiger lived up to his namesake, very cat-like and independent.
Always a gentleman, if one of the girls finished her food before him
and approached his bowl looking for more, Tiger always stepped
aside to let her chow down. Always. So, we sat beside him at breakfast
and dinner, guarding his meal from those canine sirens. In his
old age, his bones started to betray him, making his strange gait
even more pronounced. Slower and tiring more easily, he was nonetheless
content and happy. And on chilly nights when we covered
him up with his blanket, Tiger gave us that little snorting noise
Lynn and I came to know so well. It was an approving “Thank you,
everything is okay…..Next post, you’ll meet more family members!
Front row, L to R: Sugar, Tiger, Ruby, Molly, Blue
Back row: Carla and our daughter Sadie