Former dogfighting dog Mya becomes role model to puppies

Vicktory dog Mya, rescued in the Michael Vick felony dog fighting bust, starts her new life. She now is a role model for puppies at the Sanctuary.
By David Dickson

Mya the Vicktory dog had once been forced to fight for a living. Now she’s teaching good behavior skills to other animals in her new role as sanctuary puppy socializer. Her story is further proof how it’s never too late to start over in life.

Michael Vick felony dog fighting

Mya is one of the 22 dogs who came to Best Friends in 2008 from the estate of Michael Vick after he was arrested and charged with "conspiracy to engage in dog fighting in violation of the animal welfare act."

Vicktory dog Mya's personality

When she first arrived, Mya was afraid of her own shadow.

During her time at the Sanctuary, Mya's confidence has grown at lightning speed. While she remains bashful in her own way, she has also found a circle of people she loves and wants to spend time with. She even pulls regular stints in the puppy building office, which is how her new gig as puppy socializer began.

To better understand why Mya was given this task in the first place, it helps to know a little about her personality around other animals. In a nutshell, she’s perfect! Though people from her past tried to make her cruel, their efforts didn’t take. You could sooner train a butterfly to be mean.

Here’s a dog who, while out walking one day, saw a large beetle lift its head, at which point she scurried out of its path - so much for the tough-girl image. … She’s also a dog who, when her old pal Clarabell the office cat nipped her playfully from time to time, would simply look for somewhere to lie down and wait it out. "She’s very good with other animals," says Michelle Besmehn, Dogtown co-manager at the Sanctuary. Whether interacting with dog, kitten, or beetle, Mya is as gentle as they come. She hands out kisses, not snarls.

Mya as a puppy role model and socializer

Given her stellar track record around all manner of different animals, Best Friends' medical director, Dr. Michael Dix, approved Mya for puppy socialization. You see, sometimes puppies need a positive role model like Mya. As well, there are always a few youngsters who could use a mother figure to tell them when they’re out of line.

Mya knows how to be both.

One such puppy who needed some motherly correction was Emma. Emma came to the Sanctuary from the Best Friends L.A. program. Emma may be the smallest puppy in her room, yet she’s definitely the boss. She knows how to be pushy, sometimes, a little too pushy. Here was the perfect chance for Mama Mya to show off her skills.

They met in the puppy park under supervision. Sure enough, Emma tried to be the boss and showed inappropriate behavior. And, as always, Mya took it in stride. Once it became excessive, however, Mya gave Emma a brief talking-to and that was that. Emma realized she was out of line and quickly improved her behavior. Mya is something special.

These new puppy socialization exercises are also great for Mya.

Like all the Vicktory dogs, she came to the Sanctuary unfamiliar with so much of life. Things like doorbells and front porches can be intimidating to dogs who haven’t experienced much of the world. Mya has overcome many fears and uncertainties over time, yet until recently her experiences haven’t included puppies. With Emma, the instant after she gave her a stern talking-to, Mya checked with Michelle Besmehn to make sure that was okay. "At first she looked like she was sorry," explains Michelle. Mya is always trying to do what is right. No worries, Michelle and others let Mya know she was doing just fine.

Then there was another puppy visit Mya enjoyed recently. Pups Frisby and Froggy don’t need to learn good manners, they just want somebody wonderful to play with: her specialty. Mya excelled again, handing out kisses by the end of their time together. And as everybody knows, there’s nobody like Mom to kiss it all better!

See other wonderful puppies and dogs who are looking for loving homes.

Photo by Gary Kalpakoff