Wednesday, July 10, 2013

353 Days Ago

353 days ago I met Athena, and 354 days ago I walked her little brindle bum out of the shelter and took her home.  As Athena's 365th day with us quickly approaches, I can't help but think back on everything that has happened this year and how far Athena has come.


Every time I think about the day we walked into the shelter and first saw Athena, the image of her laying on the concrete floor with her nose up to the metal door is what I always see.  She was full of fear with urine in the corner of her kennel and dogs jumping and barking all around her.  Among all of the great potential inside each and every other kennel, something drew B to Athena.  

My eyes were flooded with tears when I approached him to say that I had had enough.  I couldn't bare to be at the shelter any longer and see so many dogs begging for us to save them and take them home.  I was about to tell him "let's go home, it's too sad here," but instead I found B sitting on the ground in front of Athena's kennel.  She was a dog that I had passed by on my first walk through because her intake paper said "dog aggressive."  We hadn't gone to the shelter to adopt a dog, just to look, so why fall in love with the one who may be the hardest for us to help.


Just as I was ready to walk out the door, B asked a shelter worker to see Athena out of her kennel.  As the woman pulled the rope over Athena's head, a part of me was terrified.  It was my first real encounter with a pit bull and even though I believed that pit bulls were good dogs from everything that I'd read online, I had never met one in person to see for myself.

Athena's leash was removed in the play yard as she showed us her love for the ball.  She brought it back and forth to B to throw and I was able to pet her a few times.  As we continued to play with Athena, something inside of me just knew that she was a special dog.  We hadn't gone to the shelter to adopt, but I started to feel anxious that if we didn't put in paperwork for her, she might not be at the shelter the next day.


Of course the shelter worker thought that we were serious potential adopters, so she gathered more information about Athena's "dog aggressive" label.  We learned that Athena originally got to the shelter as a stray and then was adopted by a family who returned her after two weeks because she was aggressive towards their other dog.  We were assured that Athena showed no signs of aggression during shelter play groups and that there may have been something else that caused the family to return her.  Being new to dog ownership, I was still a bit hesitant about the aggressive label, but of course B assured me that everything would be alright.

Even with all of my jitters and feelings of "OMG--we're going to adopt a pit bull-- maybe TODAY!" it was me who begged B to put in an application for Athena.  I was so nervous that if we didn't make our decision right then and there (which happened to be 30 minutes before the shelter closed), we wouldn't get Athena.  The shelter told us that they would consider our application among any other applicants and would give us a call the next day.  Of course I figured that we had a slim chance seeing as we were first time dog owners, let alone being first time pit bull owners.


I remember calling my mom as soon as we got in the car and breaking the news to her that we put in an application for a dog...and it was a pit bull.  Being the wonderfully supportive mom that she is, she was happy for B and I and a bit of my worry went away.  The next day B got the call from the shelter saying that Athena was ours and we could pick her up in the afternoon.  We rushed to the nearest Petsmart and followed a kind trainer around the store as she filled our cart with the essentials seeing as we had no idea what we were doing or how to prepare for a new dog.


Once at the shelter, we were given all of the details about Athena's medications, microchipping, kennel cough, vetting, return policy, etc. and I started to freak out again.  I honestly didn't know that adopting a dog would be so official and I had doubts about whether or not we would actually be cut out for dog ownership.

Athena was finally brought out to the lobby and her leash was handed off to us.  I remember a comment made by a shelter worker as we waved them goodbye.  She said, "oh, you've got to watch out for that one, she's alpha."  Such a delicate goodbye that surely added to the knots in my stomach and the feeling that we were in over our heads.


But here we are, 353 days later and I couldn't be happier.  With a lot of love and training, Athena has turned into an amazing dog and friend and I owe it all to B for looking into her sad eyes that day at the shelter and choosing her to be our heart dog.

37 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post. I love how honest you are about the mixed emotions. But, it just proves that your heart always knows best!

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    1. Thank you =) I tried to be as honest as possible and I'm glad it showed!

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  2. So sweet. Congratulations on your (almost) one year together. You guys have done SO much work this year, I can hardly believe it's only a year!

    We're glad you took the chance on her!!

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    1. I can't believe it's only been a year as well! It's amazing how far Athena has come in this year.

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  3. As we've followed you, it's hard to believe you've only been together for a year! What an amazing journey Athena has had with you. I love your story, it's a lot like mine. I didn't have any pit bull experience before Corbin, and although I believed they were wrongfully shown by the media, I couldn't help the worry and knots about bring home a pit bull. Congrats on your (almost) 1 year! We can't wait to see what the next 365 days brings :-)
    -Corbin's momma Jenn

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    1. I didn't realize your story is so similar to ours and look at you now with all of that pit bull experience under your belt! I only hope to be as amazing as you in the years to come.

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  4. Congratulations on your adoptaversary! Athena is one lucky dog, and you are one lucky human. I honestly believe we wind up with the critters we are meant to wind up with - and obviously you and Athena were meant to be together! A perfect family! Many many blessings your way ~ with love from Twinkle and Star and their catses ~

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    1. Thank you! I also believe that dogs are meant to be =)

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  5. Bless your heart for giving her a chance and not deciding against her because of her breed. That made me cry. If more people would give shelter dogs a chance rather than pass them by because of the breed stereotypes it would change the world; one dog at a time. I believe that each dog should be judged on its own rather than by the breed but I am also one of those crazy dog rescue ladies. :-)

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    1. I totally agree with you, Christina. It's a sad thing that so many people pass by pitties in the shelter just because of breed stereotypes. I was almost one of them, but am so glad that something in me decided to give Athena a chance!

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  6. So happy you walked into the shelter that day and B saw what most others wouldn't. Athena is soooo lucky have such loving and committed pawrents. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Athena through your blogs. Watching her blossum into the absolutely incredible pup she is has been a pleasure. I only wish I didn't live on the east coast because I would love to throw a ball for her one day.

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    1. You are so kind =) Athena would LOVE it if you threw the ball for her! Be sure to let us know if you're ever on the West Coast!

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  7. It's a story that hits home with a lot of us in the rescue community and hearing yours makes me so happy for you and Athena. Congrats on unlocking the love and joy a dog can bring to your lives. And, congrats on being such great first time dog parents!

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    1. Thanks =) We really have unlocked the love and joy of having a dog and it is SO worth it!

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  8. You are an amazing dog mama. Athena's not the only one who has shined brightly this past year! You are both lucky to have each other.

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    1. I sure am lucky to have that girl =) I seriously don't know what my life would be like without her.

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  9. OH HAPPY ADOPTAVERSARY! Reading this story brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons... first because B saved a pup who might not otherwise have made it out of the shelter, second because of the amazing dog Thean has become, third because of the amazing pit bulls advocates that you and B have become, and fourth, because adopting Thean directly led to ME meeting YOU! Oh happy happy day, friend!

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    1. Oh, thank you!! I am also SO glad that the Thean brought you and I together! We're just waiting for the day that you pack up and move on out here so that we can actually see each other!!!

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    2. Oh I hope that day is soon, my friend! :)

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  10. This was such a fantastic post! It summed up all the mixed emotions many experience and all the triumphs you have achieved. It definitely brought tears to my eyes knowing how close the two of you have gotten over the year. It is really hard to believe it has only been a year! This reinforces my commitment to the rescue I volunteer for. This is the story we all want and need to here. Thank you for telling it!

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    1. It sure is hard to believe that it has only been a year! I'm so glad that our story has been heard and I'm hoping that it will move others to adopt =)

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  11. Aw... what a sweet post... makes me feel all mushy like I need to go hug all over Boomer and Dottie. I'm so glad that B saw something in those eyes and that you recognized it too, you saved her and look at where she is today!

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    1. I sure hope you gave Boomer and Dottie a hug! Be sure to give them a hug from me too!

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  12. I definitely just cried through this whole thing. It sounds exactly like our story. We went to "just look"and kept being drawn back to the pretty brown pittie sitting at the edge of her kennel. And I swore that it wasn't a good time for us to adopt and that maybe in a month we could get her. And then I was the one who decided there was no way I was going to let that pretty dog with the chopped off ears (by jerks) stay there any longer so I put in an application and on Christmas Eve we took her home! Thanks for all you do for pitties

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    1. Yes, your story does sound EXACTLY like ours and I'm so glad that your dog was still waiting for you at the shelter when you went back for her =)

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  13. Great post. It's always nice to sit back and reflect on the journey to see just how far we've all come.

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    1. I really have been doing a lot of reflecting these past couple of weeks. I remember thinking one year ago that I had no idea where we would be at this point in time, but things are even better than I could have imagined!

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  14. Great post! I too, love thinking back on my early days with my dogs. I remember a shelter worker saying, "Oh boy, are you ready for this?" as I walked Kaya out. I'm so glad you took a chance on Athena and ignored that silly label!

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  15. I came to your blog via Pinterest because of your awesome tutu tutorial. Which I am so excited I found! This post made me tear up reading through it. I used to have a dog that was part pit bull and my brother used to have a full blooded pit bull. Both have since passed on, but I still love the breed! I'm so glad Athena has wonderful parents and is able to live a wonderful life. I have one dog (lab mix) now and I would love to eventually get another pit bull. Keep up the good work!

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  16. We love that Athena has become such an amazing ambassador for her breed and we love even more than you guys gave a guest at the Adoption & Education Center a chance. She is beautiful and happy and we love you all for this.

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