Pit bull’s transformation from homeless, sick and a bit rude to Miss Congeniality
The girl is a head-turner — thoughtful brown eyes against snow-white fur with hints of pink peeking out from her perfectly perked ears. The beautiful dog seemed destined for her role as supermodel in a recent fashion parade at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. But the best part of all? Inky was feeling as fabulous as she looked.
Just a few short months ago, Inky was at a low point. Stuck in a Louisiana shelter, she had an intimidating list of health problems — ailments ranging from stressful and uncomfortable to life-threatening. The sweet dog had allergies, ear infections, entropion in both eyes (a painful condition that can also affect vision), heartworm, kidney disease and severe malnourishment.
In many under-resourced shelters, even young dogs with multiple medical concerns often can’t get the extensive veterinary care they need so that they can go on to find loving new families. For a senior dog like Inky, a combination of issues can mean an uncertain future.
Inky comes to Best Friends
Inky was brought to Best Friends and life got better, fast. Veterinary staff immediately got to work treating her collection of health issues and performing surgery to correct her entropion. It took months to get her healthy, but a with good diet and treatment for her medical challenges, Inky began to feel better. She was gentle and compliant through even the most invasive procedures, and her sole response seemed to be one of gratitude.
“I have never met a dog so loving and sweet,” says Jess Cieplinski, one of Inky’s caregivers at Dogtown. “I'd be trying to apply her eye meds and she'd be licking my face. Tending to her was a privilege because she's such a gem. She came from a place that wasn't so great, and yet she was happy and willing to receive help and just live in the moment.”
Volunteers and visitors, too, were charmed by the lovely dog’s unfailingly agreeable disposition. She became one of the most popular dogs for people to take on sleepovers and proved to be a champion spooner and all-around expert cuddlebug. Inky adored the attention and savored every ear-scritch and belly rub.
Inky’s medical conditions were being treated and resolved, but there was still an issue that potentially hampered her adoptability, and human interference could go only so far. Her dog skills needed a lot of work. She really didn’t know how to play or interact appropriately. Her approach translated as obnoxious (even rude) with her fellow pups, and many wouldn’t tolerate it.
One dog helps another
Enter Sosa. The easygoing, exceptionally well-adjusted six-year-old dog isn’t particularly fazed by the quirks or awkwardness of other dogs. A natural communicator, Sosa seems to effortlessly defuse tension with a simple wag or a play bow. When Inky would come on too strong or get bossy or overbearing, Sosa would instantly spin out from under her and take the game in a new direction.
For Inky, these sessions were just the social tutorials she needed. She learned that play didn’t have to get boorish to be fun, and soon she was adopting many of Sosa’s good habits as her own. It wasn’t long before Inky was also enjoying regular play dates with other pups, because they now actually enjoyed being around her.
Indeed, Inky has come so far that there’s always someone for her to snuggle and play with, or charm with her adorable snorts and coos. Soon she was rooming with her old teacher and friend, Sosa, along with two other dogs.
These days, Inky is nearly unrecognizable from the dog who arrived at Best Friends. Healthy, gorgeous and a better playmate to other pups, she was ready for her next stop: a home. And that’s what she soon got. She’s still a head-turner, but today she’s embracing a whole new role in her new home that fits her just as well: Miss Congeniality.
Photos by Kurt Budde and Molly Wald