Once-neglected pit bull is living her dream life

Abused, neglected pit bull finds her happy place in a home with three kids.
By Nicole Hamilton

On most days, you can find Midge relaxing in the woodshop while John Burdick makes furniture. The five-year-old dog is perfectly content to spend the day lounging anywhere in the shop, from the studio to her favorite chair in the office.

Wherever Midge goes, she has a wagging tail and constant smile. It’s obvious that she’s happy just where she is, but there was a time when her face said otherwise. That was back when she ended up at the Animal Foundation, a Best Friends Network partner in Las Vegas; she was emaciated with patches of fur missing, after someone had treated her badly.

While there, she met Melissa Lipani, Best Friends regional engagement manager, during a tour of the shelter. Melissa will never forget the first time she saw her.

“There was just such a sweet softness about her, despite the fact that she had not been well cared for,” says Melissa. The sad-faced dog was at the shelter because she’d been part of a court case, and she had to stay there until the case finished. That day, Melissa talked to shelter staff about having Midge come to Best Friends in Utah, located in Salt Lake City. Melissa said she would be happy to foster her and help her get adopted.

A few weeks later, Midge was free to leave the shelter. Another Las Vegas area Best Friends Network partner, the Churchill Foundation, stepped in to help, temporarily caring for Midge while Best Friends worked out her transport to Salt Lake City.

Midge the pit bull terrier lying on the ground with all four feet splayed out while multiple people pet her

Midge makes friends with kids

When Midge arrived in Salt Lake City, she was welcomed by Melissa’s three dogs, Tuggy Tugboat, Ollie and the late Captain Cowpants, all of whom made room for her on the couch. But after about a week at Melissa’s place, Midge developed a hacking cough. Captain Cowpants was immune-compromised at the time, so Midge went temporarily to another foster home until the cause of her coughing could be determined.

“It ended up being a perfect little vacation for her, as they had three boys,” says Melissa. Midge made fast friends with them, and that would be something to think about when she was ready to start meeting potential adopters.

An EKG revealed that Midge’s cough was probably caused by a heart murmur and some mild congenital defects. “It’s something to monitor, but thankfully shouldn’t cause her too many issues,” Melissa says.

Midge the pit bull terrier sharing a bed with two of Melissa's dogs

Part pittie, part Velcro, all love

When Midge was back on the mend, she returned to Melissa’s home and the search for her family began. In the meantime, Midge made up for all the time she had spent neglected in years past, by getting as close to people as she could.

“She is the true definition of a Velcro dog,” says Melissa. “She loves to be kissed right on her lips and nose, and she can't get enough belly rubs. We also discovered that she loves to play fetch and chew tennis balls, usually while lying upside down.”

Midge the pit bull terrier rolled over on her back with her belly exposed

Midge also really enjoys the company of other dogs, although when she first met Captain Cowpants, Ollie and Tuggy, she was a little unsure and defensive. “She still can play a little awkwardly,” Melissa notes, “but she has learned that dogs are great, and she even loves to snuggle them.”

In fact, Melissa discovered all sorts of things about Midge that she could share with possible adopters. For example, she snores like a freight train and gives the most amazing hugs. “Sometimes, she high-fives your face. Ouch,” adds Melissa.

Pit bull or English bulldog?

Melissa shared photos of Midge (who is named after Miriam “Midge” Maisel from Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) on Tuggy’s Instagram page. That’s how John Burdick noticed her.

John arranged to meet Midge at Melissa’s home, although he admits he had some doubts that it would work out. “My hesitation was with getting a pit bull, and especially one who had been abused,” he says. He wanted an English bulldog because he heard they are low-energy.

But then Melissa opened her front door and Midge came right up to welcome John and didn’t leave his side until he left. “As it turns out, Midge is really mellow,” John says. “She actually has all the qualities I imagined an English bulldog would have.” That’s when he knew his search for the family dog was over. Best of all for Midge: John has three kids.

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The perfect companion


First day in the woodshop. #shopdog #pitbull #pitbullsofinstagram #rescuedog

A post shared by Midge the Pocket Pit (@_just_a_smidge_) on

“She’s the ideal dog for us,” says John, talking from his shop as Midge lounges nearby. “She’s well-behaved on walks and comes with me everywhere. I never have to worry about her.” Midge is also a great companion for John’s three kids. “She’s amazing with them,” he says. “They all love to play in the park and she’ll cuddle up right next to them.”

As for Midge’s heart condition, John says it wasn’t a factor in deciding to adopt her. “It’s mild, although she breathes a little heavier after she chases the tennis ball, so I just limit her activities.”

Midge the pit bull terrier with three boys in her new family

From a shelter kennel to a custom doghouse

Midge is far away from the days when she was in a Las Vegas shelter because someone mistreated her. And now that she lives with a loving family, she’s giving them love in return — something that amazes John, who’s building Midge a beautiful doghouse.

“I’ve had a rough few years myself, so the first thing I said to Midge when we were alone was ‘We’re gonna take it easy from now on,’” says John. “I hope she knows that she will never have to go through anything like she has in her past again.”

Adopt a dog near you

Best Friends in Utah works collaboratively with animal rescue groups, city shelters and passionate individuals who are all dedicated to the mission of making Utah a no-kill state. As part of this mission, Best Friends hosts adoption and fundraising events, runs the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Salt Lake City, operates two spay/neuter clinics and leads the No-Kill Utah (NKUT) initiative. Together, we will Save Them All.  

Photos courtesy of Melissa Lipani and John Burdick