Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pit Bull Love

Note:  I apologize for the varying fonts in the text of this post.  I wrote the bulk of this on my laptop in the SUV while we travelled, and then copied and pasted it into Blogger.  I cannot seem to format the font to be unified.

August Update:  this is my entry for Pets on Quilts in the Dogs on Quilts category for this year's Pets on Quilts Show at Lily Pad Quilting.

Dayna has long bugged me to write a post about Rocco.

"You can tell me anything; I'm a great listener."
I tell her he figures quite often in my quilt posts and life musings.   
His happy place

Today, however, this is all about him. Well, I'm sure a quilt -- or three -- will show up.
11 weeks old, blue-eyed and chillin' (and posing!) on my "Starry Hearts" quilt
 During the binding stage of "Seaside Rose":
Notice how his hind legs (Pibble style of chill-axin' nicely frame my label?!

Since Rocco found me, I have become quite the Pitbull (aka Pibble) advocate.  Both Joe and I have.  As has Dayna; she even did one of her university speech assignments about Breed Specific Legislation.
Wearing his new hoodie

Even though we paid a fair amount for him, as he is 8th generation purebred American Pit Bull Terrier, we know we rescued him from a not-so-happy life.  At 11 weeks old, he spent the bulk of his day in a crate, although he did sleep with the man of the house each night.  Because they already had two dogs, a cat, a just-moved-back-home daughter with her 1-year-old, something had to go, and it was him.  They didn’t have a name for him, just called him Baby.  Oddly enough, that is what he frequently gets called by strangers:  Baby.  And he is.

What a BABY!!!! On a bed...again...with a quilt...again!  This time Dayna's.

He is low man on the totem pole in our household; even our 6.5 pound cat, Bella, bosses him around. 

The day after we brought Bella home

Yet he is happiest there. Even when sometimes it appears not!
In fact, on walks with John and Brandy, his place of Zen is in the middle of the pack.

Well, here's one time where he took the lead for a few steps!

He loves life.  LOVES.  In fact, his tail wags so hard and furiously at, oh, pretty much everything, that sadly, last May it had to be amputated.  He would smack it against corners, against table legs, table edges, people’s legs, doorjambs, walls, so much so that this caused frequent cuts, abrasions, gouges, all of which took longer and longer to heal, and eventually got infected very badly.  Consequently, our vet advised us to remove it.  It was not an easy time, and I felt so bad for my little guy.

"I'm not ON the chair, really."  You can see his fur shaved off on his tail.
He sings.  I used to call it talking until I read Ken Foster’s book, I'm A Good Dog, where he described a neighbourhood Pibble who would announce his coming by singing his way down the street on walks. Many years ago we had a Samoyed named Rex, who would talk in much the same way, and so, at the hint of a “rrrrooowwwwooo” from Rocco a few years ago, I encouraged it.  And his voice has developed just beautifully.  He sings when people come to the door, he sings for a treat, he sings when people leave, he sings when we arrive home, adding the wiggle-butt and rolling wriggle through the torso that Pibbles are well-known for.

He can be pretty goofy.

He loves blankies.


Wrapped up
Even if the blankie isn't finished being knitted!
He especially loved snoozing on our brand new patio chair cushions!

He puts up with Dayna dressing him up.

He loves cats.
Even though most cats do not reciprocate his love. Here is Muffin, the condo 'hood cat.
He has been through more than his share of hurts.  A porcupine that did not want to be friends beat Rocco up on his first birthday.  He had a few subsequent treatments for embedded or infected quills.  I've mentioned the tail issue.  He got a bad bite in his chest from Naala when he ticked her off one evening.  He just wanted to play, but it was her quiet time.  Do NOT mess around with her then!  He got an infected ear when Naala bit him because he was going crazy in the SUV over a dog walking by.  He had an abscessed tooth that had to be extracted.  He has had to wear the cone of shame on more than one occasion.

The dogs travel SO well, never complaining, happy to be wherever we are. They have covered thousands of miles in our vehicles: between Alberta and Ontario 3 times, and between Ontario and Florida four times!

Moving Dayna to Windsor, Ontario in 2010.  He was 9 months old.
Because we were on the road the last two nights, he slept with me in one bed, Naala with Joe in the other.  When we travel, we find this works best for the dogs: they feel more secure, so they tend to relax better and not woof at every little noise or bump.  Both nights he had to touch me the whole night, whether it was his muzzle to my face, his back pressed up against mine (his favourite) or his head resting on my feet or shins.
On the couch this past January

It is so wonderful to call up Bayside Pet Resort where Rocco goes to daycare and have the girls excited on the phone when they know Rocco is coming in.  He arrives and puts his paws up on their counter, singing his presence. Last time he tried to jump his whole body onto the counter, succeeding in a good thud to his barrel of a chest.  He wasn’t fazed.  The pet pals love him there, and he loves them, but most of all he loves all his buds, 20-25 big dogs milling around in the big dog outside play area.

Bandana courtesy of Bayside Pet Resort, after their weekend at the kennel
Sadly, we can’t do that in Ontario.  His breed is banned.  He was grandfathered in because of us being homeowners there, and because our little town, Kingsville, has an open-minded town office.  Our neighbours all love Rocco.  His happy, friendly, docile nature, in our Alberta kennel owner/friend’s words, “makes him an ambassador for his breed.”

Two perfect Pibbles, Rocco and Brandy

One of our Florida neighbours got a Shih Tzu puppy earlier this winter.  Rocco let that puppy jump on his head.  Stand on his little hind legs and sniff Rocco’s face and ears. 

Rocco did the usual dog greeting: sniffed the puppy’s parts, and then stood still so the puppy could sniff his.  The owner, as well as another neighbour commented that they couldn’t believe the pup had no fear of a big dog, like Rocco, or like Brandy.  That’s when I thought, it’s because the puppy doesn’t judge.  He sees a dog.  Period. Another potential kindred spirit to meet and to get to know.  He doesn’t label Rocco by breed, but by his personality, his character.  From there, he makes his decision.  

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we humans could follow this puppy’s simple outlook, towards not just all animals, but also all fellow humans?

But no, because some jerks of humans exploit the Pitbull’s love of life and of people (especially of children), his loyalty, his willingness to please, and FORCE them to fight or be killed, this incredibly loving breed has now been very wrongly maligned.  But this post is not a rant about breed specific legislation.

Instead it’s about a funny, loving, lovable, goofy, blue-nose American Pitbull Terrier named Rocco, who has taught us, our family and friends, so much about the wrongful prejudice his breed is subjected to.

Note:  Please tune in to National Geographic Wild at 8 pm tonight, April 18, to watch Cesar Millan’s “Love My Pit Bull” show where John’s daughter, Julie, Chief Development Officer for the Washington DC Humane Society, and her rescued Pit Bull, Porter, are featured!!

Sorry, that show has now aired, since I have been on the road most of the day today, and took extra-long to get lots of good pics in this post tonight!  It should be available on YouTube; in fact, here is a link to a teaser of Porter's TV début.

Here is one last pic of me with my boy, Rocco, in front of a spectacular Sycamore, aka American planetree, in Charleston, West Virginia, yesterday afternoon.


  1. Best post yet!!! D and I giggled and guffawed at many of the pics. Aww, we absolutely ADORE silly baby Rocco, ADORE him, such a silly silly pibble <3 <3 <3. Give him lots of kisses and hugs from us <3 <3 <3

  2. I enjoyed this post best of all. Rocco and Naala are your guys's world.

  3. awww! what great dogs!!!!!!!!!! loving your story and all your pictures!

  4. What a beautiful pitty!! I was so taken by him that I forgot to look at the quilts. I had better go back and do that now.

  5. Rocco is such a handsome gentleman! How great his life sounds too! It is wonderful that you have become an advocate for pitbulls. Most people just believe the bad stereotypes and don't know that pitbulls were once considered the dog of choice for families with children. They were even called the Nanny Dog! So Yay! for you and Rocco Sandra!

  6. This was a beautiful post about your sweet Rocco...loved it! My son has a part pit, part lab dog who is the sweetest thing.

  7. My favorite is the shot of his paws while he was sleeping. Something about dog feet are just so sweet. Our dog lays like that with his legs back too. I heard someone refer to it as Frog Legs! LOL

  8. It's wonderful to meet Rocco, he is very handsome and does make a good ambassador for his breed, if only people could meet more pits and get to know how sweet they are.

  9. Love this post Sandra! Hopefully a day will come when more will give the breed a chance. I really have not met one I did not like - they are sweeties :)

  10. Rocco is a credit to his breed and a true ambassador. What a sweetheart.

  11. Rocco looks very composed in the first picture. Love the story of him. Hugs, Susie x

  12. Love the bullies! More people need to see good PR like Rocco.

  13. Rocco looks like a real joy to be around. This is a great post! Thanks for sharing your beautiful Pit Bull.

  14. He has a great pose with his paws crossed - love the expression you have captured!

  15. Great post and beautiful dog. My kids have a white pitbull. I admit I was upset when their father got her, but she is the kindest dog I have ever know. Great pics - love moving day when Rocco is asleep between the seats

  16. I just discovered this blog post and am late to the game but had to comment. Rocco is a gorgeous boy! I'm happy that he is in a good and loving home. Thank you for sharing his story and photos. Pibbles (have never heard that term until you used it, how cute) are fabulous dogs. I've never had one myself but have had the pleasure of knowing some very special and loving Pibbles.


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