Inspiration on Four Legs
Sophie or Sophia is my favorite female name, and pit bulls are my favorite breed of dog, so when the two combine I know something special is going on in my world.
I sat on a bench in sunny Westfield last week, waiting for my ride who was a few minutes late, who I knew would be, so I was already writing when he told me he was about ten minutes away.
I had been perfecting a piece in my notebook that I had begun writing earlier that day, when I looked up and saw the most gorgeous pit mix walking toward me with her owner.
Can I Say Hi to Your Dog?
I always ask first, because I have learned never to assume when it comes to a person’s pet.
Not only that, but it is respectful both to the human and the animal. I have certainly received a no from time to time, so it is good to check.
And when it comes to pitbulls, if an owner sees you approach your dog they might wonder what you have in mind, given the amount of unkind people the breed crosses (more on that below).
When the young man who was walking her introduced her to me as Sophie, my heart melted on the spot.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a good picture of her, but Sophie was almost completely covered in white fur, with a couple black spots, one on her back, one on the tail, and she even sported a pirate patch of black over one eye.
Once I could get her attention, dogs are horrible at meeting people in the outdoors – way too many smells, Sophie was a complete love bug, kissing my face and being adorable.
Then I asked the million dollar question: where did you get her from?
A Quick History Lesson
I asked him where she came from because we were in Westfield, and I have volunteered on and off at the Westfield Animal Shelter for a few years now.
It is really only for dogs, and I would say around 75-80% of the ones at the shelter at any given time are pit bulls, pit mixes, or American Pit Bull Terriers.
There are many variations on the breed, but one common problem. A hundred years ago, the dogs were as prized for being American as the bald eagle.
Eventually, due to the way people thus treated and bred the dogs (to be powerful, protective, adventurous, etc.), they became a hard dog to live with for some people.
Due to a lack of breed knowledge about these energetic and over-the-top characteristics, any pitbulls’ demeanor could turn an animal against a human if they were not trained the right way, this is why pits got a bad rep when people become irresponsible.
For all this, these dogs can be some of the friendliest, funniest, and delightful animals to be around. However, a lack of taking the time to get these dogs spayed or neutered, along with a misunderstanding of their breed has resulted in a surplus of them, and it sometimes doesn’t end up so nicely.
That is why, when the man Ian told me that he had found her tied to a tree in the middle of nowhere while hiking, I was quite dismayed, but not shocked.
Can I Write Your Story?
That is another question I have invariably found myself asking more and more as time goes on.
Now that I have my blog up and running, I can dedicate some of my time to spreading the word about ordinary people that I find to be heroic or inspirational for whatever reason.
I find incredible people everywhere I go. I always want to write about them and their unique story. With a dog like this, named Sophie, I couldn’t pass up the chance. I was thrilled when he said I could write it up.
I went to take his number down, but he told me he could give me the story quickly right there. It was clear he had places to be, but seemed polite about it and interested in telling others about Sophie’s ordeal.
It could only increase awareness of the cruelty to these gorgeous creatures that still unfortunately happens.
The Sad Reality
When making the choice between paying a surrender fee to a shelter, or just leaving the dog tied up outside of the place, most people opt for the latter when it comes to getting rid of dogs.
But actually taking the dog to an isolated area to leave it to die speaks of premeditation to me, and outright cruelty. At least release it so it can hunt for itself, not make it an easy meal for predators.
I was fascinated as Ian recalled to me how he had gone hiking in Chester, Massachusetts, which is very rural indeed, at the falls and found her over a year ago tied up.
“From her weight and her size, I would say she had been out there at least four days…She weighed about 15 pounds.”
Ian spoke candidly about her condition and stated the facts about how the two had come together. To me, Sophie appeared to be quite young, less than two years old.
Sophie would have been a six or seven month old pit puppy, full of energy, starved enough to attempt dining on pine cones, in a totally foreign area to her. Not to mention the fact that it was late fall or early winter. And someone believed that it was okay to do that.
Change Is in Order
In 50 to 100 years from now, the type of actions that people take today to harm animals, whether intentionally or not, are going to be regarded as atrocities that speak of a very dark time in the history of humanity.
The Jungle was published over 108 years ago, and we are just now getting around to really solving the issue of the quality our food consumption.
We’ve learned that when we treat the animals we eat better, we feel better. Domesticated animals and how we treat them is a more progressive, but still lofty, goal for a massive shift in popular opinion. This will come with time, I believe.
We need to take care of ourselves, our health, and our earth mother before we can begin to address the guilt that is going to have to be endured to require us to want the change.
We are moving at a faster pace than before, but there are so many of us, that an idea can spread quickly and gain momentum in much less time than before.
So maybe it will be before 50 years. I am eager to experience it though.
I have spent too long loving animals and watching them regard us with unconditional love despite what we do to them, that if I hear even one tale of cruelty I want to spread awareness to others, so they may make more informed decisions.
No one has to agree with me on this of course, just my own speculation, but I think humanity is getting ready to treat our inferiors in some ways as equals in a deeper way.
Ian clearly had to get going and I had taken enough of his time, so my hastily snapped photos fail to do Sophie’s beauty justice.
Then again, maybe it makes her look a little more mysterious, a little regal.
Almost a year and a half ago these two beings crossed paths in a heartbreaking, yet triumphant meeting.
Something in Sophia called to Ian and he found her twenty miles away from his home, tiny and way too thin.
If pit bulls were really the monsters some people genuinely believe them to be, how could this same animal be giving me so much love and affection, a person she just met, in such an open way?
No animal is capable of hatred the way humans are. They know less than us about science and mathematics, but the depth of their emotional knowledge is a completely different form of intelligence that we may never be able to experience the same way as they do.
That is why we can parade them around, beat them, tie them to trees and leave them to die, because they will never stop loving us.
Therefore, when we learn to love ourselves, we will be emotionally closer to their level. Then we can truly enjoy being companions to animals.