Pet-Peeves: none he can do no wrong! - well ok he does have a bad habit of tromping on my feet and hitting me from behind while running past me
Favorite Toy: nylabones hands down
Favorite Food: he only get's science diet, vitamins and occasional Iams treats
Favorite Walk: back yard - don't walk him
Best Tricks: not much of a trickster
Arrival Story: I was driving to town one day when I saw this awful looking dog on the side of the road scrounging for food scraps. I already had a pit bull and I THOUGHT he could be a pit bull too. But it was hard to tell because he was in such bad shape. I pulled over and walked toward him. He started to skitter away but I knelt down on the ground and coaxed him. He cautiously approached me and then started to slink away again. I looked into his eyes and could tell he was gentle like my dog Lucy was.
I knew there was NO ONE that was going to try to help this dog. I figured if he was picked up by animal control he would surely be put to sleep. So I decided I was going to take him home. I coaxed him close again and when he got close enough I scooped him up and carried him back to my truck. He was such a mess I had to turn around and take him home.
It's difficult to describe the condition this dog was in. (Warning: It may also be difficult to read!) He had open bloody sores all over his body. He had fairly advanced mange. He was scratching himself so much and so hard it was tearing deep into his flesh. He stunk so bad you could smell him from at least 10 feet away. My wife wouldn't get anywhere near him. His skin reminded me of either an elephant's skin or perhaps dried parchment. He had putrefying oozing sores all over his body mixed with probably hundreds of insect bites. I decided to name him Patch since he seemed to only have "patches" of fur remaining.
The first thing I did when I got him home was wash him down. It did nothing to eliminate the stench and it didn't stop the flow of blood. He ended up getting blood all over my back door and covered my wooden deck with blood stains. I was constantly having to hose it down. It was REALLY bad.
I was able to get him in to see the vet the day I brought him home and they weren't very encouraging about his prospects. The mange was so far along the vet doubted it would ever come under control. He gave him several shots and they found he had about every worm known to man.
The mange and the worms were the most immediate problem. He needed to be wormed most importantly because eating was doing him no good. He would eat and immediately pass it as diarrhea. Once the worms were taken care of he quickly gained over 20 LBs. For about the first 6 months I let him eat as much as he wanted.
The vet prescribed oral Ivermectin for the mange which I could tell was having little if any effect. I wanted to get Mitaban dips for him but at that time it had been taken off the market for whatever reason. I found a vet that would dip him but they were apparently using a very weak solution because it too didn't seem to be working after a number of weeks.
Finally I found out there were other products that had the same ingredient as Mitaban but under different names. I bought a big can of some stuff called Taktic which is used for sheep and started dipping him myself. I immediately noticed an improvement. Even still the progress was not as rapid as I hoped. I eventually figured out to scrub the dip into the worst affected areas and he started to clear up rapidly. I have since found out that tea tree oil could have helped him without the risk of poisoning him.
In the end it took over a year and somewhere around 15 dips to get the mange fully under control. But he still stunk badly. I had missed it when the vet mentioned he needed a different type of treatment for the skin infection. So it took several weeks of antibiotics and another 6 months of Oxydex shampoos to get the stinky skin problem taken care of. From there I had to break him of the HABIT of scratching himself constantly.
Somewhere between 18 months and 2 years after I brought him home people started commenting on what a beautiful dog he was. The transformation was nothing short of amazing really. He grew back a full coat of fur with only a few thin spots. And he developed a nice shiny and surprisingly soft coat. He really is a handsome dog. And he has the most piercing sunburst eyes. The back of his neck was the worst because the sun was beating down on it and the fur is still thin back there to this day. It serves as a reminder where he started out with me.
I didn't actually plan to KEEP Patch at first. The idea was to nurse him to a point where he would be adoptable. But as time went on I realized there was no way I could part with him. He wasn't quite as sweet-natured as Lucy but he would look at me like I was the best thing he'd ever seen. He still does and it's very endearing. And he was so willing to please me it made him very obedient and easy to teach.
I was actually surprised how much I was able to teach him seeing how for the first 18 months of his life he was free to do whatever he wanted. He had to be taught EVERYTHING as if he was just a newborn puppy. Lucy actually helped in a big way. She taught him a lot of important things by example. He also had to be house trained and I had to break a good number of his bad habits.
Lucy died after I had had him somewhere around 18 months. It was hard having 2 dogs and it made it much easier to manage him when I was left with just Patch. Not that I didn't badly miss Lucy when she was gone. I just found myself sometimes wishing I had kept driving when I saw Patch on the side of the road. Pit bulls are a handful and it's hard having more than one of them. It was especially hard when Lucy was dying and I wanted to spend as much time as I could while she was still with me. But Patch was demanding my attention as well.
It's hard to understand how far along Patch has come. When I first got him he had a survival state of mind. His life revolved around finding food which was clearly scarce. He would eat any leather I left laying around. He would also eat sticky notes. He seemed to like the glue on them. And I mean he would eat an entire pad of sticky notes! They would disappear and then I'd see them in his droppings. He also had the very bad habit of eating cat droppings which was totally disgusting not to mention unhealthy. For the most part he's past those bad eating habits.
I developed an idea of what life was like for him before I found him. He seems to have been attacked by an owl or a hawk at night when he was very small. I have this image in my mind of him being airborne and somehow managing to get himself free. He's terrified if he sees a shadow on the ceiling at night. I can't run a ceiling fan with him in the room. It seems to remind him of something swooping out of the sky.
He was very shy around people and still is to a degree. There's no question people he encountered were very cruel to him before I found him. He had a big lump on his forehead that looked like he'd been struck with a 2 x 4. With all the mange and worms and the scars it's a miracle to me he survived the 18 months before I found him.
I've also been amazed that we crossed paths in the way we did. I had to be driving down the road at the exact moment he was by the road foraging. A few seconds either way and we would have missed each other and there's just no telling what would have befell Patch.
Patch didn't understand the concept of play at all. He would play with Lucy and so it was really good having her around early on. But he didn't know how to play with me. Lucy was so old I couldn't play with her much to show Patch. After Lucy died I was able to get him to understand play.
I bought him some Nylabone because he was so bad about chewing on things like my wife's slippers and TV remotes and things like that. I put one in each room of the house. He LOVES them and will spend hours chewing them. It's good they last a long time too.
He learned to chase after the bones when I throw them. It took some time but I'm now able to initiate play by saying "Where's your toy?" and he'll go run for his bone. It's hard to explain what a big step that was for him. It's like he was fully domesticated when he finally learned to play.
He is a constant companion around the house. I let him sleep up on the bed and on the couch. He has his own blanket he lays on.
I've been around pit bulls for many years now. It's hard for me to look at them like other people who don't know the breed. They are the most misunderstood animals I'm aware of. People have this idea that they are naturally aggressive and blindly viscous animals. But nothing could be further from the truth. They are actually the most naturally gentle animals I've ever seen. They are powerful and strong willed. Not just anybody can own them. But they make great companions for anyone who is willing to work with them.