Someone left Loki and his littermates to die. It was back in June of 2009, and Cheryl Erickson was on a morning patrol of Horseshoe Lake State Park in Illinois. The animal control officer was looking for stray kittens in a remote area when she spotted the large cardboard box. Inside were eight wet and shivering Pit Bull-mix puppies.
“They had been outside at least overnight, and there were thunderstorms the night before and a tornado warning,” she says. “They were barely alive.”
Erickson knew that if the puppies entered the county shelter system they would be euthanized, so she took them to her vet. He estimated that they were about five weeks old and said they would likely not survive the day.
As she helped dry and warm up the puppies, one in particular caught her eye.
“He just looked up at me, pleading for me to save him,” Erickson says, recalling her immediate connection with the pup who would become a beloved family pet.
She returned after her shift to take him home. Without a mother to provide milk, the course of treatment was warmth, half a teaspoon of wet food every three hours, and observation.
Erickson provided exactly that, but worried at one point in the night that she had lost him.
“He let out this big sigh. I looked down and couldn’t see him moving, so I picked him up thinking he had stopped breathing. He opened his eyes and gave me this look like, ‘Do you mind, I was sleeping,'” she says, laughing at the memory.
Two of his littermates did not make it, but a vet tech at the clinic adopted one survivor and Partners for Pets placed the rest. Erickson had originally intended for Loki — named after the Norse god of mischief, which he quickly grew into — to be her son Scott’s dog. His 23rd birthday was coming up, and she saw it as a way to keep the puppy without getting too much grief from her husband, Scott Sr. It was not the first or last time she brought home an animal from work.
Loki turned out to be a grandma’s boy, though. He snuggles with her when not playing with the six other dogs — Oddball, Teenie, Morgan, Sandie, Artimus, and MacKenzie — adopted by the couple and their grown children, Scott and daughter Caitlin, over the years.
Erickson shares Loki’s gentle nature with more than 6,000 followers through his Facebook page. She does so to educate others about the breed and to help combat the kind of discrimination she and her family faced after bringing Loki home. The landlord of the home they had rented for more than 20 years evicted them once he heard there was a Pit Bull on the premises.
“He said, ‘He goes or you go,'” Erickson says. “I told him, ‘you’re not going to tell me I can’t have my baby.'”
She also shares through social media stories of other Pit Bulls, including pleas for help finding forever homes. Erickson, an Army vet along with her husband, hopes to start a rescue for the breed after she retires from her current job as a security EMT and from her volunteer role as a firefighter.
“I want to bring the love that Loki has gotten to other Pit Bulls, too,” she says.
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