When love saved him

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and it’s a day when hoomans make an effort to show affection to each other with cards, flowers, gifts, special dinners, etc, etc.

We doggies show our affection for you everyday with waggy tails and multiple licks. Because we are always grateful and love you for taking care of us and loving us.

We are lucky pups. But it is not like that for all pooches.

Cruz, the Pitbull was abused, abandoned and very ill. He had no one to thank for his existence.

He was labelled “aggressive” and it was his time to be euthanised because there was no room for him at the shelter. Thankfully, love saved him on the day, in fact, an hour before he was to be led to his end.

Cruz came into the San Bernardino shelter as a stray. He was very fearful and especially afraid of people with long sticks, like canes and poles. He was labelled “aggressive” towards people and was allowed to be taken by rescue groups only, i.e. the general public is not allowed to adopt him in case they get mauled and the shelter gets sued. So only people who specialise in rescues can take him out of the shelter.

A volunteer at the shelter, named Maria Sanchez, took the time to coax Cruz out of his shell. She filmed this in th hope that someone will see beyond Cruz’s demeanour to give him a chance. She had posted it on San Bernardino’s Shelter Facebook page.

In the meantime, the shelter was getting full. Each day, they had to decide which dogs to put down. Dogs with really severe medical problems, e.g. if an animal was badly injured in an accident, to end their suffering – are at the top of the list. Otherwise, they do try to keep them for as long as possible. But when the shelter gets full, and they need to euthanise dogs to make space, and the “rescue only” dogs are usually the first ones to go because they are the least likely to get adopted. So if you are able to adopt “rescue only” dogs, please do as they need our attention – look here if you need any dog care tips, and a review on some of the best training harnesses for dogs – Jug Dog.

Then one day in September last year, Vanessa was visiting the shelter to adopt a dog that she had seen on Maria’s posts. But that dog that she so wanted to take home turned out to be very aggressive, and Vanessa knew it would not work with her dog, Razor. She was heartbroken that she couldn’t take the dog she had set her heart on. But she did not want to leave the shelter without a dog. She was determined to take a dog home. She walked around the shelter to meet every single other dog. It was getting late, and staff had started taking dogs out to be euthanised because the shelter was full. Cruz was on that list.

When Vanessa went by his kennel, he absolutely melted in her hands with the most sweet and gentle energy. She fell in love immediately. She volunteered to take him out to the play yard so he could be introduced to Vanessa’s dog, Razor. 12651304_494142104099539_7051400240396235549_nAs Cruz was labelled “aggressive” she did not have high hopes that Cruz would get on with other dogs, but she had to try to give Cruz a chance. To her surprise, he turned out to be great with dogs.

From that point, Vanessa begged the Shelter staff to let her adopt Cruz even though he was designated for “rescue only.” But there were no rescue groups interested in him and since he was going to be euthanised within the hour, the Shelter basically gave Cruz a chance at life. And Vanessa is forever grateful that they trusted her.

Cruz was very sick with kennel cough when he went home. 12647085_494142114099538_266261760124462841_nFor almost two weeks Vanessa hand-fed him treats with medicine. All he did was sleep in Vanessa’s bed the whole day. His body must have finally relaxed into submission when he realised he no longer needed to fend for himself.12670613_494142144099535_7677750137954260903_nWhen he became well again, Vanessa and Cruz went on hikes, swim, travel12715204_497906943723055_4363370674128960032_n 12647218_494405350739881_6082755135437273024_n 12651100_494405340739882_527246906958634929_n 12647218_494405314073218_5218015137703833672_n– it was the beginning of a new relationship. They were bonded.12670468_497906293723120_2875797999166351387_nCruz and Razor became inseparable from day one.12715773_497616850418731_187141857678756663_nUnfortunately, Razor passed on two months ago. Cruz pined for Razor and stopped eating for two days.

Since then Vanessa had adopted another “aggressive” rescue, Ace!12698545_497616987085384_1993964041598800334_oAnd Cruz, just the easy going chap, welcomes Ace to their home and they get on great!12698612_497617107085372_6300916575420268802_oCruz goes to the dog park and daycare often and he has never shown aggression towards any dogs or animals. Vanessa often gets asked how she rehabilitated and transformed this “beast of a dog.” 12687909_10154000253270625_1176686665482576408_n 12715442_10154000253380625_4785144141367743860_n 12654340_10154000253340625_7869711118792803673_n 12654412_10154000253400625_4858814582988141818_nThe truth is, as Vanessa will be the first to tell you – she didn’t do anything. She is not a dog trainer. She admits she’s not even that “dog behavior savvy”. She just fell in love with a dog, and treated him like her best friend from day one. 12715373_497906903723059_8275754314528744498_nFor Cruz, that was all he needed, wanted and hoped for. He didn’t know he would be that lucky.12642659_494789940701422_1352949170800199279_nWoof! Woof! Cruz! You are a very lucky dog. Vanessa was meant to have you. And we wish you the very best that life has to offer.

May’s comment: We learnt about Cruz quite by accident. Someone shared Maria’s video of Cruz on Facebook and just like Vanessa, I saw the video. And then I had read that Cruz had been adopted. I reached out to Vanessa to ask if I could share hers and his story.

I have to admit that I am not comfortable with big dogs, especially breeds that have been labelled as “dangerous.” But I also now know, as a dog owner that a dog’s behaviour has a lot to do with the owners – what we teach them, what we subject them to and how they are treated. They are as good as we make them. Of course there are ones that do have problems and they don’t even have to be big dogs. But so do humans – there are those who are not so right in their heads either. Yet we stay cautious when we see massive dogs out of fear told to us of numerous stories about dog attacks.

But the story of Cruz just goes to show that here is a “beast of an animal” who is so gentle and loving in nature. But so hurt by humans that he could not comprehend why and what he had done to deserve to be treated so badly. Thankfully a human took the time to connect with him to show that he is not as he was labelled. And then to have the good fortune to find another human who gave him a chance to live the life he so deserves.

Maria’s video showed Cruz, when approached, grunted with fear and hesitated with uncertainty as he had never been shown kindness before. He was unsure if he would receive the blows of sticks and clubs he must have experienced with the humans he had encountered so far. Yet so desperately, he wanted to connect and to believe this was finally the kindness he yearned for, now being offered to him.

Cruz was one very lucky dog. But how many Cruzs are out there? Mistreated, misunderstood and labelled as “aggressive” because humans wanted him to be purposefully aggressive. When he couldn’t they beat him up. He was pushed beyond his limit. Surely he was allowed to fight back when hurt.

Vanessa had also started Cruz’s Facebook page – if you are interested in following his adventures!12661839_497906477056435_590329552517337244_n

As for my own fears, well, I must admit, they are still there. But the last time I was in New York, I met a Doberman, Zeus. I was cautious of his strength and the whole notion of him being a Doberman – with the fake cropped ears and chopped off tail. But he too is a gentle, loving soul who only wanted to play and who snuggled up in bed with me. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love.


  1. Margaret Danks

    What a lovely story May. I’m also fearful of certain dogs, but for good reason. However, I do know that they are not bad dogs, they have been reared by bad people. I shall follow Cruz’s story.

  2. Cheryl

    Such a beautiful story! I’m convinced there are no bad dogs, just bad owners!

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