When I rescued Teddy from a high-kill shelter at 10 weeks old, I had high hopes for him, but never could I have guessed what an amazing member of the family and “ambassadog” for the breed he would become. The second I saw his face, I knew that we were meant to be. He let me hold him and gave me tons of kisses and fell asleep in my lap. He seemed totally oblivious to the danger he was in and just wanted to be loved and give love back.
How can you say no that?
From the start, Teddy was a loving, curious and fun-loving guy. He approached the world with such unabashed joy that you couldn’t help but feel happier when you were around him. He quickly became a local celebrity in our neighborhood, friends to people and dogs alike. People from local stores and restaurants would run outside to say “Hi” to Teddy and much to his delight, offer him lots of pets, kisses, and treats. During this time, I took great care to socialize him through lots of play dates, training classes, and other interactions with people and dogs of all sizes.
When work caused me to move cross-country when he was two years old, Teddy was all for it and was the best road companion a girl could ask for. We spent seven days in a U-Haul together, and he took it all in stride; I think he took the move easier than I did. Upon arriving in Seattle, he didn’t waste any time in making new doggy friends, both big and small.
For being a 75-pound dog, he certainly thinks he is much smaller, as evidenced by both his breed-like trait of thinking he is a lap dog and his interactions with small dogs. One of my favorite things Teddy does when around small dogs is lie down or roll over on his back so he can play at “their” level. He is incredibly gentle, and small-dog owners are constantly amazed at how great he is with their dogs. I can’t tell you how many people have said things along the lines of, “Wow, my dog usually isn’t very friendly/social/etc., but he seems to really like Teddy!” I am pretty sure he’s changed more than a few peoples’ minds about what a “Pit Bull” is really like.
Whether he knows it or not, his charm and gentle nature have made quite an impact on the people he meets. In addition to his daily interactions with new people and dogs, Teddy has begun being used as a “tester” dog for many of the dogs at the Seattle Animal Shelter where I volunteer. Word has spread that he is very stable and that he is tolerant of all dogs, even those who could use some manners, so when a dog is in need of some dog interaction, we get a call for Teddy to come out and play. It absolutely warms my heart that when a shelter dog needs a playtime companion, they immediately think of Teddy. Not only is Teddy helping to convince strangers that Pit Bulls can be good citizens, but he is helping other Pit Bulls learn the skills necessary to become good citizens themselves. That to me is the epitome of being a breed ambassador.
I could go on and on about what he’s brought to my life, but I think his contributions to the breed and those who he meets are even better indicators of what a great dog he really is. It’s now been a little over three years since I first saw his face, and as cliché as it sounds, I honestly cannot imagine life without him.
This article first appeared on StubbyDog.org