Hurricane Katrina in 2005 brought devastation to millions of people and to even more animals. Well-known police trainer Jeff Chudwin was down there in the aftermath and reported that, despite the death and destruction all around him, the thing he found saddest was the situation of the animals. But even that tragedy resulted in some wonderful things, and one of them is a pit bull named Roy. He's ours now, and we love him dearly.
Pit bulls have a controversial reputation of course, particularly with cops who've probably seen their fair share of ones beyond redemption. But talk to any bullie owner who's rescued one and they will tell you a different story; one that echoes the fond sentiments of previous generations of owners of this once all-American family dog. In fact pits were called the nanny dog back then because they were so tolerant of and trusted with children.
There is even controversy within the circle of pit bull breeders as to what a pit bull actually is or it's a breed at all rather than simply a type of dog. The term "pit bull" can refer to Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers (just what the differences between these breeds is is often hotly debated), mixes of these breeds or simply pit bull type dogs. To us, Roy seems like more of the old pit bull-type dog: taller, leaner and less stylized than the various breed standards call for today. Most people, though, just know one when they see one, and any dog that resembles their idea of what a pit bull looks like is a "pit bull" as far as they are concerned, arcane debates between breeders not withstanding. It is their reputation as vicious animals, naturally, that gives people pause.
Roy was found on a fourth floor porch on a reconnaissance run by rescue volunteers working with the well-organized efforts of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). He was thin and hungry, and the initial spotters left him with a bag of food and a tub of clean water. He was picked up later and transported to one of the screening areas that the Humane Society had set up. Here he was examined, treated, fed, watered, temperament tested, and given as much love and attention as the harried volunteers could manage. The temperament testing was impressive. As part of his adoption papers we received a copy of the intake and testing forms done in Louisiana during those chaotic, sad days after the hurricane. Twenty-three separate tests were given to the dogs to determine their suitability for adoption. How does the dog react when you approach his kennel? When you pick up each paw? When you throw a ball? When you hold his muzzle? When he's approached with food? When he's around other dogs? And so on. Roy got consistent zeros for aggression, and consistent threes (the highest possible score) for friendliness.
Roy was known as Bullet then. We know this because his owner's cell phone number was written on his collar. The owner was contacted right after his rescue and he indicated that he wasn't capable of taking him, either then or in the future. Six month old Bullet was pretty lucky. In addition to surviving the disaster with his spirit and health intact, his owner had kept his shots up to date. Cynthia Armstrong, the HSUS state coordinator for Okalahoma who found Roy told us that he was everyone's favorite. That didn't surprise us. He has an exuberant personality that's all fun and play, 100% sweetness and zero dog (or people) aggression. He bounds like a deer with excitement whenever he sees a person or a dog that he can go meet. When he's not playing with someone, he insists on body-contact cuddling. He's a favorite of anyone who meets him even now.