By Brenda Rapp
“The clash of Titans…”, that’s what I told myself, “how is this ever going to work out?”
I was in the kennel yard, watching our beloved pit mix Nina chasing, charging and clashing with Moochie, another pitbull , who was desperate for a home. They were a sight to behold—powerful, strong, but the growling, snarling and flashing teeth signaled that it was not going to be happily ever after anytime soon, and it wasn’t clear that it ever would be.Nina and Moochie were two dogs with dog “issues”. We had adopted Nina from BARCS 18 months earlier, a lovely fawn-colored 3 year-old brindle who had come emaciated into BARCS. She turned out to be a wonderful, loving pet and had even developed a great friendship with our cat. However, she wasn’t friendly with other dogs and, given the fears that people had about the breed, we hadn’t had any opportunities to try to socialize her. We so much wanted her to have a buddy to play with that we had brought her to meet Moochie. Moochie , a 2 year-old black pit mix, had also been brought into BARCS emaciated and sick and had been adopted by a loving family. He was wonderful with the family and their young children, who loved their “moo-moo”. However, after a year of altercations with other dogs and increasing friction with the family’s older dog , Moochie’s owners needed to find a new home for him. They had searched unsuccessfully for four months, and time had just about run out for this sweet boy.
Catalina Stirling from Jasmine’s House had brought us together, and after watching the dogs clashing for a few minutes, decided to call it a day. That was the first day of a 6-week journey during which Catalina guided us all –my husband, me and the two dogs- down a path that took us from the “clash of Titans” to “happily ever after”.
Despite such an unpromising beginning, we put our trust in Catalina and the dogs and brought Moochie home to see if a friendship could be forged. We kept him in a separate room from which he could watch the family, but where each dog was “safe” and could slowly become familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of the other without the stress of direct contact. We began with several weeks of walks with two people and two dogs, slowing moving closer together. Then there were walks on the leash in the house, and we moved on to watching TV with both dogs on leashes at either end of the sofa. During this time, they became calmer in each other’s presence, and established a hierarchy, with Moochie deferring to Nina, looking slightly to one side when she stared at him. And then finally came the amazing day when we finally let them loose in the house, their first time together, off leash. We held our breaths as they chased, charged and clashed. But this time it was different! They couldn’t get enough: back and forth, one on top, then the other, chewing on ears, necks and legs, round and round, up and down. The joy of dogs finally able to play!
This is a story with a happy ending, and we know how precious that is for pit bulls. It was possible because of Catalina’s guidance, patience and faith in these dogs. And, of course, it was possible because of the wonderful, loving pitbull spirit of Nina and Moochie.