image19This is a story about ‘Tuukka the Pit’, and it began on the day that she was rescued and brought to a local animal hospital. I received a call from a very excited friend who worked at the hospital insisting that I swing by to take a look at a pittie that had just arrived. Naturally, having a soft spot for bully breeds, I immediately drove to the hospital to check out the frightened, new arrival.

When I first met “Savannah”, her name at time of rescue, she stared at me with daunting eyes as if she was looking straight through my soul. It was apparent that she did not have a good upbringing with her previous owners. Her ears were home cropped, and apparently were not done properly, since one of her ears was chopped off to a little nub. She was also very thin, had visible skin issues, was withdrawn, and was very timid indeed. I wasn’t sure, at first glance, if she would be a good fit for me, but somehow I was captivated by her, so I decided to try and do whatever I could to help her. My friend suggested perhaps fostering her until she found a forever home. It didn’t take long to decide, as there was something about her face, her look, and her eyes that instinctively told me that I had to bring her home.

When I took her home, she quickly adapted to her new surroundings. Surprisingly, she was quite playful and full of energy. It was then that Savannah became Tuukka, named after my favorite Boston Bruins hockey player. In the weeks following, I discovered that Tuukka had a lot of issues. She was apprehensive towards other people; she was very aggressive towards dogs, she didn’t respond favorably towards affection, and she simply didn’t know how to behave like a normal dog. I was worried at first on taking on such a challenge in my attempt to rehabilitate this reluctant one-year-old pup.

Tuukka’s hostile behavior towards other dogs was very bad, becoming uncontrollable at times and becoming “red zone”. During walks, she would go wild when she saw dogs from a block away; as such she has broken many leashes and collars. I have also been bitten a few times in my efforts to tame her, but I never blamed Tuukka for hurting me. It wasn’t her fault since her bad conduct was partly due to how she was raised and her thinking she needed to protect herself before the other dog got to her first. Trust me, there were many occasions when I cried and many times when I just didn’t know if I could help her, but I never gave up and always believed in her.

With hard work and determination, firm training, and lots of love and patience, I conquered many of these challenges in my efforts to raise a happy and well-behaved pit. Through all the hard work, Tuukka and I formed an unbreakable bond. I had fallen in love with her and decided it was time to make it official by adopting her and giving her a forever, loving home. After months of diligent training, I was able to rehabilitate her and helped to control her fear of humans and her aggression towards other dogs. She no longer cowers behind me when approached by people, she gets along exceedingly well with all types of breeds, and she has learned to love all the attention that she constantly receives. It’s hard to believe that she is the same dog.

I am so proud and amazed at how far she has come. Tuukka now ventures out on dog playgroups or outings, dog events, and pack walks or hikes with her doggie playmates. She helps me show people what a responsible pit bull owner is and I have since trained Tuukka to become my loyal service dog. She understands that I am the pack leader and she follows my commands accordingly. She completely knows me and provides me with happiness, companionship, comfort, calmness, love, and protection. She came into my life when I truly needed her, so not only was she rescued, but I strongly believe that it was Tuukka that saved and rescued me.