The last year of my Dad’s life he kept talking about how he should have had a dog. The man fought in Vietnam and especially after retirement had serious issues with the military. He had a whole lot of family stuff happen. I mean. A lot. And his one regret…not having a dog. That has been a niggling thought in my head for three years. When my cats died in 2020 I brought up getting a dog. But my ex, at the time my wife, did not want a dog. She actually said she would leave if we got a dog. In retrospect…that was a missed opportunity. But here we are. Two cats. Two kids. Single Mom. And Pup.
Her name is Cheetah.
I had no say in her name. See above (two kids).
Now within the search for my dog I was adamant that I wanted a dog that could be a therapy dog, I wanted a mutt, I wanted to rescue, and I didn’t want a pitbull.
I’ve learned a few things about dogs since adopting one. Pitbulls are terriers. So a “terrier/hound” mix could actually mean a Pit mix. I did not know that before I happened to fall in love with a “terrier/hound” mix.
I applied to 4 or 5 rescues. Which by the way, is stressful. Then I waited. Then I heard from a few. Then I waited. I kept saying I would wait for the right fit. That I wanted a dog who is good with kids and cats and overall fit was more important than rushing it.
Then I got a call about a dog I found online. She wasn’t necessarily my first choice. But by the time she came through I had been in contact with a few shelters/rescues and I was basically going to agree to anything. I agreed to meet her. The foster mom texted me pictures and sang her praises. She was not totally cute in the pictures. I mean she was in a smushy dog face kind of way. I showed the boys, and Declan said, “She looks so sad Mama! She needs a family. She should be part of our family.”
The foster mom brought her over the night before Thanksgiving. She was exuberant to meet us. She licked Declan’s head. She does a tail wag with her whole body. The woman handed me the leash, and said a somewhat tearful good-bye to Cheetah. Then left. Cheetah watched her drive off and then was instantly immersed back in the chaos of our family.
She was perfect on Thanksgiving. I’ve never actually worried at all about her being with my sons. She gets hyper as puppies do, but she would never hurt them. She did try to nip my sister’s min-pin, which I still feel really bad about. But we are working with a trainer now who is socializing her. We’ve gone on walks at parks, and she loves people. She loves other dogs less; which is honestly fine. I don’t love other dogs either.
She loves kids. I’ve had her around a number of kids and she’s a gem.
She is without a doubt a Pit mix. The vet, all 6+ feet of him, got down on the floor with her, grinning from ear to ear, as they tussled together. He couldn’t get enough of her. My friend met me recently and I brought Cheetah, and she clearly was happier to see the dog than me. It’s been three weeks and she’s stolen the hearts of most every one she meets. Including my patients on telehealth who see her now on camera. We even did a therapy session live, and she did excellent.
It’s been hard. Every walk. Every accident. Every second; it’s all on me. Takes a month to adjust to a new home. Takes six months to make a new routine permanent. We are now one month in. She feels comfortable. She feels at home. She sleeps in bed with me every night and we now have an understanding that she does not come past the center line of pillows until after 6 AM. Somehow she knows when it is 6 AM. On the dot.
We found a trainer, a groomer, and a dog walker. The groomer was the fifth? person to slam it down my throat that she is a pitbull. I was sort of trying to deny it. Referring to her as a mutt. The groomer said, “She’s a pit mix. Pit dominant.” I smiled and said, “Can you still give her a bath?” She laughed and said yes. She pointed at a little fluff ball in a crate waiting for her bath and said, “I’d take a pit over that little fluff ball any day.” The tiny ball of fluff then growled at no one in particular.
That was hard though; leaving her at the groomer. I know she wasn’t sure I’d come back for her. She’s five months old and she spent the first 4 months being shuffled from South Carolina, to CT, to a foster, then to me. Her butt wagging when I came back for her was fierce. When the dog trainer took her for the morning, she was unhappy, to put it mildly. When they finally got back in his car and drove to our meeting spot, she refused to get out with him and fell asleep in the front seat. She didn’t get out until I got there. Again, I think she was worried I wouldn’t come back for her. The foster had her for two weeks. We’ve now been the place she’s stayed the longest in her whole little life.
The cats. Ginsburg and Scooby Doo (Scooby the cat and Cheetah the dog. yes I get the irony. Again, I had no say in these name choices. I got to name Ginsburg who is a respectable cat with a respectable name!) So no one has tried to kill the other yet. Cheetah wants to sniff them. The cats sort of let her. Then run away. I haven’t let them all loose together yet…waiting for no Christmas tree as I have this vision of all three of them diving behind it. They did all sleep on my lap or lap adjacent on different occasions. I am hopeful they will all be harmonious. No red flags so far.
And why would I not end up with a pit? I spend my life championing minorities who are misunderstood, misrepresented, and maltreated. Once I accepted it, I realized of course I have a pit mix. How could I have anything else but the most misunderstood, misrepresented, and maltreated breed of dog? The vet called her a “Heinz 57” because she’s some of everything: lab, hound, boxer, rhodesian, etc. He also said if he had to tell a tech to go get her from a crowd he’d say, “Red pit”. She’s a love. She’s going to be a therapy dog. She hates the rain and the cold. She snores.
One of my friends told me I was matched with this dog for a reason. That she needed me and I needed her. I told myself I was getting her for the boys but as she snores softly on my lap as I write this, I know my friend is right.