2011 December 19
We have waited a good while to publish this final chapter in Scarlett's story, though it has been tempting to share this wonderful news for many weeks. We wanted to be absolutely certain that this happy news was forever. Because those of you who have so kindly followed Scarlett's story probably have hearts like ours, and hers; and to drag you through another disappointing roller coaster would be as bad as it must have been for Scarlett. But no worries now! Those disappointing days are over. Scarlett is part of a forever family who adores her, complete with a gentle older pit bull brother who is delighted to share his home and heart and toys with her.
We flew her to a ranch outside Conroe, Texas in early November, to some people who are dedicated and experienced pit bull rescuers (Spindletop Pit Bull Rescue). We knew the moment we met Leah and saw her interact with Scarlett that we had brought Scarlett to the right place, a place where she would learn and grow and relax. Leah let Scarlett accompany her frequently during the days and evenings for the first few weeks, doing ranch chores, meeting all of the other animals, constantly observing and being exposed to the predictable, kind, orderly routines. Scarlett spent time in close proximity to many other dogs in a controlled way, and she leared that her first response need not be a ten-alarm defensive one.
The love that we had shown her cracked open her trusting gentle heart, and life at Spindletop taught Scarlett that she can get along with dogs in general, not just the dogs in our family. It was just the transition she needed to become adopted into a real family, a permanent home.
Thank you to everyone who encouraged us and helped us help Scarlett! Before her, we knew very little about pit bulls. Now, when we see one, we understand better the terrier soul, the sensitive but brave heart, the playful, affectionate spirit, the flexible, sound outlook, the ever curious nose and digger. They can be taught to fight, but they must be taught to fight. Then excel even more when they are taught to love.
(Following are older posts in the story of Saving Scarlett.)
Scarlett finds a playmate! And maybe a new home!
2011 October 18, Tuesday
San Gabriel Mountains, southern California
[Note: 2011 Oct 20, Thursday: We just added the video from Tuesday Oct 18, see below!]
If you're reading this, then you've already read about "Saving Scarlett" and the continuing saga of this homeless hungry waif, now become a blossoming young lady of the forest in her foster home with us. Every day we introduce her to new situations, new animals, new people, new challenges to her personality, social skills, coordination, and strength. Today was a big question mark, for today she was going to meet a new dog, a big, strong dog, who could play as tough or tougher than she ever could. We hoped for a happy outcome but wondered if there would be a bit of tooth-and-claw before we got there. She has been nothing but a mellow, gentle sweetheart here in our home with our senior dogs, and she has been the same with people everywhere we've gone -- sweet, social, affectionate, quiet. But we hadn't yet introduced her to other dogs, and now it would be on what she has come to consider as her own turf.
We took it slowly, but when we first brought Bear up to the porch with Scarlett inside, she raised a ruckus about this intruder. Hmm, try another tack. Took Bear outside the yard, came back inside and put Scarlett in her large cage in the kitchen, after letting her smell Bear all over us. We then invited "Bear" and his human dad inside, welcomed them, made a warm fuss over Bear and generally made sure there could be no mistake in her mind that this dog and his human were very welcome and we were all very comfortable together. Surprise -- she wagged her tail and smiled, seemed to want to be part of it all. We decided to take a hike up the canyon. Our two seniors can't make it up that rugged way, so we left them snoozing at home, and had Dave take Bear outside the yard. Then I brought Scarlett out, and we met down at the stream. Well, we stupid humans who can't read dogs very well, there was nothing to worry about. From the start, the two dogs started smelling things and sharing "the news", and from there on it was pure amusement watching them show off for each other, watching her tease and taunt and try very hard to get him to chase her (which he did much of the time), until they would both get exhausted and have to lie down together in the stream laughing.
She passed that test! And the two of them had more fun than we think that either of them have had in a very long time.
This past weekend, Scarlett came along with the other dogs to the airport, where we had some work to do. She was the belle of the airport, greeting everyone who dropped by warmly and affectionately -- and carrying one of her stuffed animals everywhere she went, sometimes offering them to people. Several people expressed interest in adopting her! One couple was really serious, so this weekend we're going to fly her up to their home in Big Bear, California (only about 30 miles from here but up high in the mountains), where they have a full acre yard, two senior male dogs (a retriever and an eskimo dog), and a great love for dogs -- and now for Scarlett. Stay tuned to hear how that turns out! But if it goes well, she may become a mountain dog instead of a Texas prairie dog. And we'll be able to visit her for the rest of her life, because the family flies down to their second home in the Los Angeles area fairly frequently! Scarlett the Ski Bunny, maybe. We'll see!
Here are some photos and video from today's jaunt up the canyon for Scarlett and Bear. Get ready to smile, as you see Scarlett run and play like she hasn't for ... well, maybe ever. Tonight she is one tired girl, curled up on the sofa in the kitchen with all her stuffed animals and snoring away. Bear is on a dog bed on the floor not four feet from her. I guess she doesn't have the dog issues we were afraid she had. Another lesson on lousy presumptions about dogs, especially pit bulls. They are what they are, terriers, who want to root out what's under every bush and rock before they answer your call. But after they've checked it all out, they just want to jump in your arms and tell you how much they love you and how happy they are, and how can you be disappointed in them when they're nothing but love? sigh.
(Remember, to see these photo galleries as slideshows and with higher resolution, just click on any photo and use the right or left arrows to move through the gallery.)