how your dog can save your life, in more ways than one

I’ve woken up early again, and I think I have come to terms with the fact that this is now my life. What I used to know as sleeping in, ceases to exist. Regardless today I wanted to put together a tribute to my second best friend, my dog, Stella.

They’re furry, kind and willing to give you unlimited attention. You take care of them, you love them and you give them treats. They live to please you and survive off of your happiness. To them, you are their world and they would do anything for you – potentially even risk their own life above yours.

My dog Stella is one of the best things that’s ever happened to my husband and I. So today, I want to dedicate this blog to sweet Stella and the happiness she brings to our hearts day in and day out.

For Stella, and her relationship with us, it all started when we first decided to a adopt a dog. 

When we first decided to take the plunge and adopt a dog, my husband was adamant that we look for a pit bull. You see, he had a pit bull a few years prior and he claimed it was the best dog in the world – attentive, loyal and commanding. After some searching, we came across this amazing local rescue and found a pure-bred blue pit bull named Roscoe.

Roscoe was one-year-old and beautiful, strong and handsome – so we scheduled an appointment with the rescue to go meet him. When we went to meet him, the rescue had told us Roscoe was dominant and liked to meet people on his terms – which was totally fine with us. We wanted a dog I could feel safe with on the weekends, and Roscoe was the perfect fit.

During our visit to the rescue, they had us a meet a few other dogs too.

I’ll never forget that visit and Stella running out of the door of the rescue and straight for us – ears flopping in the wind. She was so happy to see people, and would immediately fall on her back so you could give her endless belly rubs. I was immediately in love with Stella, but my husband was sold on Roscoe – so Roscoe it was.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Roscoe, and he was a great dog to us for awhile, however poor Roscoe had some hurdles to overcome and we knew that. I think, at first, we were a little blind to how big the challenges with Roscoe may be, because we loved him.

Over the course of the next nine months, while we worked with Roscoe on his issues with humans he didn’t know,  I struggled with getting Stella out of my mind. You see, Stella was at the rescue the entire nine months that we had Roscoe, and it broke my heart.

Through work opportunities, I had been able to attend a few events where the rescue was, and each time I would get to see Stella. Following the events I would come home and beg my husband for the opportunity to adopt her too. Something just told me that Stella was meant to be in our lives and that she was the dog for me – so sweet and so cute.

As I got to know the owner of the rescue better, I came to find out that Stella had been adopted twice and returned to the rescue and I couldn’t stop thinking about how horrible that was. I knew she was high energy, but other than that she was the sweetest dog I’d ever met. I knew my husband and I had the patience and we could deal with her energy. Plus, we have a fully fenced-in back yard she could run through.

After a lot of begging, I finally convinced my husband that Stella was meant to be a part of our home – so she came to live with us in the Spring. 

The transition in our house was tough from the time we adopted her to July of 2018. We dealt with dog fight after dog fight, all that were typically started by Roscoe. My husband was really turned off to Stella during that time because Roscoe was the head of our household and it seemed unfair to disturb his environment. He had been here first and this was his territory, so we somewhat understood why he had issues with a new dog being suddenly in his space.

What struck me as odd about it all though, was that Roscoe and Stella were best friends at the rescue – they were inseparable before we adopted Roscoe. So what had changed?

We decided to make Stella sleep in her crate during that time and Roscoe could have the bed, our bed, like he always had.

Everything was great with Roscoe aside from the fights with Stella. He was in official training and had been able to be off leash in Lowes two times by the middle of July. It appeared our two-dog household was getting to a place of equality until one night…

It was later in July and my husband had gone to a Sprint Car (dirt car) race with some buddies. In his career he has had opportunities to work on race cars all over the country, and when he gets offers for Sprint Cars, well, I know that’s where his passion lies – so I would never hold him back from that.

So it was a night that I was home alone with both dogs. I went through my usual routine and put Stella in her crate and then Roscoe and I settled into bed.

As we were laying there, Roscoe and I,  I went to wrap my left arm around him like I normally did, and I was stunned. Roscoe shot up and wrapped his mouth around my arm. It happened so fast and he didn’t tear at me; however, I had to rip at his collar to get him to let me go. Scared to death and in pain, I ran to our bathroom and sure enough I had five holes in my arm – near my wrist.

I was terrified and hysterical. I called my husband, who was in the middle of working, and he couldn’t believe what he heard.

His immediate response was, “He’s got to go, we have to get rid of him.” 

Me, being in love with both of our dogs told him no, that it wasn’t that bad and that we could get through it. We even consulted with our trainer who suggested that I had startled Roscoe and that’s why he bit me.

Although I didn’t have to go to the hospital, I had to wrap my wrist from the bite for three to four days and my wrist swelled up like a balloon at first. It was so sad, because after it happened Roscoe acted like he was scared of me – like he knew he did wrong.

Our trainer suggested I work on taking him on a few walks that week and rewarding him when he did well on the walks. After a few days, it seemed that our relationship was the same… until it wasn’t.

Six days after Roscoe bit me, we had an incident. 

On that Monday, I had a busy day at work that required me to be out of the house all day. The only time I could make it to the gym that day was for the 5:30 P.M. class, which I never go to (I am usually a 5:30 A.M. goer).

So the day went by and I came home from the gym, ready to eat and be in pajamas.

When I got home, my husband and I ran through our usual conversation of how each other’s day was, but my husband told me something was off. He said that Roscoe had growled at him during the day. Roscoe was HIS dog, and always obedient for him, so that news really surprised me. We both talked about how strange that was, that Roscoe growled at him, but we went on with our evening.

I proceeded to shower and get into my pajamas while my husband cleaned up our mess from dinner.

When we were both done, we sat on our separate couches like we always do – no big deal. Our couches are placed together to make an L and we have an ottoman in the middle. Stella was on the couch beside me and Roscoe was on our window seat that faces the couches.

We probably weren’t sitting down more than five minutes before Roscoe jumped off the window seat and approached my husband. My husband stuck his arm out and said, “Hey buddy,” and that’s when it happened…

Roscoe,full-force, grabbed my husband’s forearm with his mouth and started shaking him. 

I can personally say I have never experienced an emergency like that in my life, and I hope to never have that feeling again. 

As Roscoe was biting and shaking my husband, unwilling to let go, Stella jumped off the couch and started to attack Roscoe. Roscoe let go as Stella bit into his behind repeatedly, and my husband was able to get Roscoe by the collar and start choking him.

Me – shaking, crying and a total mess – probably looked like the sad version of that meme of Seth Rogan screaming.

My husband told me to get Stella and get her out of the room. As I did this, Roscoe was still trying to fight my husband’s grip on his collar. Roscoe was so strong and his neck was so large, that my husband almost couldn’t contain him (which I am somewhat thankful for).

As I had Stella in our office/library, my husband was yelling that he had to kill him because he would try to attack us again. Fortunately for us, and for our Roscoe, he was too strong for that to happen and this horrible event occurred right next to our deck door.

I screamed for David to throw him outside as I opened the door and that I would slam it immediately after. We counted to three and were able to get Roscoe outside, but the damage was already done in our household.

As I looked out at my beautiful baby boy Roscoe, who was covered in my husband’s blood, I felt so many emotions. 

It was as if I was watching someone else’s life, a TV show or a dream – not the reality that the dog we rescued, nearly a year ago, hurt us, both of us, within a week’s time. As I snapped out of it, I realized we had an extreme situation on our hands and it wasn’t over.

My husband was bleeding all over the place and our house looked like a murder scene. I ran and grabbed a bath towel to put over his forearm that was missing chunks of skin, as he sprawled out on our hardwood floor and told me he was going to 1). need a minute and 2). pass out.

This is where I finally began to find my backbone.

I said to him, “Get up and get in my car now or I am calling an ambulance. You can make it to the car and pass out or you can lay here and I can call an ambulance.”

Sure enough, that got him to move.

On our way to the hospital, I called both the head of the rescue (who has become a dear friend of ours) and our trainer who was working with Roscoe and Stella (and who is also an amazing person).

Despite both of them living rather far from our home, they both agreed they wanted to come get Roscoe from our backyard and have him put down immediately in the humane way. As much as we all loved Roscoe, we knew that he, unfortunately, at this point, was a threat to any person if he could attack my husband.

They came and got Roscoe, and he left our world around 10 P.M. that night. 

At the Emergency Room, my husband had to sit around in pain for about four hours before being treated for his multiple bite wounds. After 10 stitches, and being in the hospital until 1 A.M. and picking up his pain medicine following, we were finally home.

Stella, who had some blood on her cute little white face from the incident, was so happy to see us. I spent another hour cleaning up the murder scene in our house and then it was off to a sleepless night and morning.

At first, it was so hard to adjust to what had happened with our Roscoe. Even typing this now, it makes me want to cry because Roscoe really loved us. I know to outsiders it may sound crazy, however, he was our boy even if it ended in a sad and upsetting way.

However, there was some good from this whole story – which I think God intended.

Stella.

Our Stella went from living somewhat of a half-life with us for those three-four months that Roscoe was still in the picture. She didn’t get to sleep with us and we constantly made sure to be protective of Roscoe and put Roscoe first over Stella – in the sense that Roscoe ran our household.

When Roscoe left us, we were able to see in Stella what I felt all along. 

It was really cool to see my husband go from having this dog that he had in his mind was the ideal dog for him, to having a dog that he wasn’t really interested in – become the light of his life.

Suddenly Stella was sleeping by my husband and happier when my husband was home. It’s kind of funny because she noticeably loves my husband a smidgen more than me, and that’s OK.

For example, if my husband is home she, typically, will only lay with him. If he calls her name, she is immediately by his side and she goes utterly nuts when he walks in the door. He loves her just as much too – it’s really cool.

Stella has become our light – she makes us forget anything bad about our day. 

I am so thankful for the sweet 60-lb girl who thinks shes’ the size of a cat. She watches TV with us, she tries to eat with us and she is always there for us. She’s our first baby. I don’t know what we will do without her someday, but until then, Stella is our angel sent to us by God for a specific purpose, and we know that purpose is our happiness.

Maddy

 

 

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