How I Met My Leonard

The summer of my sophomore year in college I got a dog. I had always had a family dog but now I had my very own dog. A rescue dog from the Richmond Virginia SPCA. He was a mutt but if I had to say he was probably a mix of Lab, Doberman and Greyhound. I called him Malikai. We had 9.5 wonderful years together and then he tragically passed in February 2002. It took me 2 years to stop crying in public if I had to talk about Malikai. He did everything with me, went everywhere and loved all dogs.

So finally in Oct. 2004 I was ready for a new dog, I decided to go to the Richmond City Animal Control and inquire about a dog I saw on Petfinders. The dog I had originally picked was already on hold by someone else but they wanted to show me another dog. A special dog they said but one that doesn’t have much more time left. They showed me Lenny, a small 8-10 month old pitbull puppy. He reached his paw out to touch my hand. I noticed his little legs were missing a lot of hair and he seemed very weak. I asked to take him outside to sit in the grass and sunshine with me for a moment. Out of the small crate, I noticed he was afraid to walk completely upright – he hovered and clutched the ground as if he might fall off.

Animal control was located beside some sort of trucking company. With every diesel sound he shivered. But as I rubbed him, he laid on his back right against my legs and put his arm over them. He hugged me and I knew he was meant for me. Lenny had mange and worms but with medicine and proper nutrition he slowly started to feel better.

So now I own my first pitbull. I had heard awful stories about people mistreating them and the stories of dog attacks but back then I didn’t comprehend the magnitude of abuse, judgment and cruelty that truly existed in the world of pitbulls.

Lenny is now 7 years old. From all of our experiences together thus far- I have developed a profound love for pitbulls! They can be incredible dogs that express a huge array of emotion, love and commitment than I have ever seen in a dog. I deeply appreciate good people who continually educated, teach, train, rescue and adopt pitbulls.

Although a very handsome black and white pitbull. Whatever abuse he suffered during his beginning months still affects him today. Even though we have been taking walks regularly for the past 6 years - he is still very nervous about being outside, takes walks very seriously and is thrilled when we make it home safe and sound. He prefers to walk back the same direction we came and hates the feeling of wet grass on his paws. We have found one place outside he truly loves and that is a secluded beach with calm water and tall grass in the dunes. He will swim out to retrieve his ball or stick. Roll around in the sand and tall grass. Even eat a snack while laying on his blanket in public.

He is a great student in training classes and if often at the top of his class when it comes to commands or agility class. But take him outside and his nerves get the best of him. He forgets how brave he can be and often shivers as we walk on the city street. He tries very hard and has definitely improved but he will forever be a nervous guy in the city. Despite his nerves he still shows me love and thoughtfulness everyday. I am so thankful he came into my life!

This project is dedicated to him. One day I hope I can move to the country and give him his own private pond with a beach.