I have always been stubborn as a mule. Most people learn to accept it, others grow to hate that trait about my character. When people mention it, I always laugh and say what is so bad about it, it has always lead to positive outcomes. Some, well most people (my mother included) find that response narcissistic and ignorant. Maybe it is a little bit, but is that so bad? Is it really such a bad trait? I am stubborn, I admit it, but I am always stubborn for good reasons. Although the people around me may not always understand the reasons behind it, and me neither most of the time. I am a strong willed, stubborn, head-strong person. I guess I am stubborn, because I believe in myself and do not let others change how a feel about my decisions. But like I said, it has always turn out for the best.
Last Friday I went to Rive-Sud to wish Charlie good luck, before his surgery to remove the 14 inch plate and 12 screws in his leg. He looked great, he was glowing, and so was his new family. There was so much love around him, you could tell he was one hellof a happy pup. He has not idea how hard I fought for his life, on several occasions. He has no idea how close he was to having his life ended, more than once. He was happy, and loved, and that is all he knew.
The moto of Eleven Eleven is; we will figth teeth an nails for any animal under our rescue. We will do whatever is needed for these animals once they are under our umbrella. We are their lifeline, their support system, once an Eleven Eleven animal, always an Eleven Eleven animal.
Anyone who has ever met me or my mother (who is a big support in this rescue) has probably heard at least one story about Charlie; how many fresh banana breads or sandwiches he stole off the counter, how his best friend was an 8 pound 5 week old puppy who use to kick is ass, how he is our million dollar baby, or how my mom use to sit with him in his dog bed to watch the 10 o’clock news every night. If you have not heard any of those stories, you probably heard us say how good of a dog Charlie is, or how much we loved this dog.
September 3rd, 2009: just over a year ago, about 2 hours into my 12 hour shift. That was the first time Charlie and I met. He was a year and a half old, he was brought in by his previous owner to be euthanize because of a change in his work schedule, he no longer had time for the dog. He was put in a cage and had a signed euthanasia paper taped to his door. He had no idea what that meant, but I did. He had been kept in a crate for over 20 hours a day, for the past year and a half. He was a pitbull cross Doberman, which basically meant a Doberman sized pitbull. He was huge, and weighed more than me. He was wild, un-trained, overly enthusiastic, broke his metal link leash just walking into the clinic with his owner, but was a sweet-heart. He was non-stop affection and kisses, although his kisses practically gave me a black eye. I looked him in the eyes, and told him today is not his day, I told him I have a choice, and I am choosing to save you. He was too attention deficient to understand; I don’t think he even knew how close to death he was. I chose to save and place this, un-trained, beastly, un-adoptable, dog.
After his first foster could no longer keep him, my mother stepped up to foster him. We did not really have any other choice, he had no where to go. She did not like pitbulls, and had no interest in getting to know them either. But she had no choice, and opened up her home to Charlie for me. The first few days were hell, he would knock her over for her food, chased her beloved cat, air snapped when being told off, had no concept of any training or manners, and took lake sized pees in the middle of her floor. She called me one night, furious. She told me tomorrow she was taking him to a clinic to be euthanized, and I had no choice. This dog was un-adoptable, un-rully, and obnoxious. I told her I would call every clinic and pound in and around Montreal to let them know this dog is not hers to surrender or euthanize. After realizing I was not backing down from this, and the dog being euthanized was not even an option, we came to an agreement; I would get her professional help for the dog. So, I signed Charlie the monster pup up for a personal trainer. Although most normal people would probably think a 500$ personal trainer for this dog is insane, i am stubborn, so to me it was natural. Euthanizing him would mean I failed him, it was out of the question. I promised what ever he needed, I would do it.
Over the next 8 months while he was in foster, and there was zero interest in adoption for him, he won many hearts. He had the most impact on my mothers heart, who is now a strong pitbull advocate and Charlie’s name will bring tears to her (and my) eyes any day. He visited an old age home where her mother resides frequently, they all looked forward to his visits and uplifting spirit. People on the streets could not belive how well behaved this ‘pitbull’ is (his training did wonders). He walked away from many fights other dogs instigated. There was not an once of aggression in the dog. He saw many foster buddies come and go, each family that came to visit the other dog in the house for adoption, was won over by his goofy, loving nature. But no one ever left with him, he was too big, too goofy, too much of a dog to just be a part of a family. His personality was 3 dogs compacted in one, and his size took up the room of 2 dogs in house. His favorite place was curling up in your lap and drooling on your leg, although him sitting in your lap was a little suffocating, it made him happy.
March 2010 at 12:00am: Charlie ran out a door that was not closed properly. He opened it up with his nose and bolted. His foster yelled for him to sit, which he had practiced outdoor trained at his weekly training sessions for 8 months. But like many pits (and me), Charlie was stubborn and head-strong, he only did what he felt like doing at the time. He looked at her, looked up the street, looked back at her, and bolted up the driveway and out of sight. He was found within 15 minutes of escaping, but on three legs and reeking of skunk. I got the call at 1am (6 hours before a final, as i was still in school then), “Charlie got away and was hit by a car, do I have the OK to go to an emergency clinic?” – YES! He was picked up and loaded in the car, despite the sheer agony he was in, he did not even snap or flinch. He arrived at Rive-Sud at 2am, and was seen by the vet on duty. His leg was obliterated into tiny pieces.. many tiny pieces. The vet told me I had to amputate, and that he was going into shock and may not survive the night. The vet asked what I wanted to do, did I want to persist and invest in trying to save this rescue dog? Absolutely. I was also pressured and ridiculed by many people around me, saving this dog is insane they said. He is a rescue, you gave him the chance, sleep well with that, just let him go. That was not even an option, I am too stubborn for that, called me insane. This was the third time Charlie was faced with the question of euthanasia, this was the third time I choose that his life was worth fighting for.
I also choose that amputating his leg was not an option, I wanted to do what ever it took to save his leg. Life on 3 legs is do-able, but not comfortable. He was young, healthy, and worth the fight. He saw the specialist the next morning who could not imagine how he would be able to piece that leg back together. But we agreed that he would go into surgery and at least see what he could do. 5 hours of surgery, a 14 inch plate, 12 screws and many wires and curse words later, the leg was back in one piece. It was one of the hardest surgeries the doctor had ever successfully performed. But Charlie was alive, on good painkillers, and with all 4 legs in tact. Charlie was saved, for the third time in 8 months, because I was too stubborn to give up on him now. I stepped on toes, disregarded negative opinions, pissed off a few people, I blocked out everything around me and focused on what I need to do to save this dogs life (again).
His surgery cost 4, 000$, the second surgery to remove the plate was 1, 000$, the follow up x-rays close to 1, 000$, and lets not add up the post-operative medication and care costs. Who is counting anyways? We raised funds online, did many fundraisers, are still paying off our debts for this million-dollar baby. I, in no way had this kind on money to spend on a dog, but I damn well knew I would do what I could to raise it for him.
A few months after Charlie recovered, he was adopted to an amazing home up-north. A home who had over 15 years of experience with the breed, a lot of love and space to offer him, and were willing to continue to see him through his recovery. It was heaven sent, he has not idea how lucky he was.
He has no idea how hard i fought for his life, how many people were behind him an donated towards his life. He has no idea the amount of support he had to still be here today, and on 4 legs. He has no idea.
Call me stubborn, because I am.