My Pitbull Valentine

George arrived on Sunday, February the 13th.

George is a Pit Bull Sharpei mix according to my vet.
George is a Pit Bull Sharpei mix according to my vet. | Source

It is August of 2010 and a quickly growing reddish brown blob on my Golden Retriever's left paw marks the beginning of my emotional spiral down. Around this same time, my sister Susan calls with news of Dad's declining health. My vet diagnoses Retriever Amber with a very aggressive form of bone cancer. Amber's toe is amputated and by mid October I am off to visit Dad in North Carolina. Two weeks of traveling on the mainland goes well - Dad is so happy to see me - its been two years. Dad is frail and medicated, but astute as ever. Leaving Dad hurts . . . am I saying goodbye for the last time? My heart breaks again when I come home to see Amber with a new tumor growing where her amputated toe used to be.

On December 30th Dad's heart finally gives out and the funeral takes place in Gordonsville, Virginia. My daughter Jackie stays behind to take care of Amber, whose tumors are becoming larger, and have spread into her shoulder cavity. Jackie tells me they took Amber in the car everywhere - Amber loved car rides. Jackie's boyfriend Kalei had to pick her up to put her in and out as Amber's left foot couldn't take her weight anymore.

Amber after her unsuccessful tumor amputation.

Baby Amber Girl
Baby Amber Girl | Source

Amazing Amber

Golden Retrievers are astounding dogs and Amber was my top notch baby. She was an excellent guard dog, only barking at strangers when necessary. Amber was the second Golden Retriever I have had the pleasure to care for. Missy was my first Golden and she died from health complications at 13 . . . a ripe old age for a big dog. Considered the fourth most intelligent breed of dog, they sense what annoys you and avoid that behavior. It is easy to see why Golden Retrievers were listed as the fifth most popular breed in 2010. Amber ran more than 28,000 miles with me in our seven and a half years together. I would say "get your leash", she would wrestle it off the door handle with her jaws and off we went on another adventure.

Dad the Whisperer

Dad knew an animal's heart and soul and as a Colorado farm boy was given the family horse Jigs to groom and care for. Dad loved many dogs throughout his life. There was always one lounging beneath his feet. On February 8th, when Amber lay at death's door, I asked Dad to guide her passage from our living world to his. When the vet came to the house to end Amber's pain I only cried a little, because I felt Dad's gentle spirit was there to comfort us.

George was my valentine on February 13th when I saw a stray dog lounging on my lanai. I studied him through my sliding glass door - large and very male, he had the white markings on his chest and paws common to Pit Bulls. "Pit Bulls are fighting dogs who go for the throat." Remnants of a caretaker victim article floated through my brain.

Suddenly my previous night's dream crystalized. Dad and I were on his patio in Wilmington, North Carolina. Dad regretted never seeing my home on Oahu and he wanted to visit for a month . . . yikes . . . goose bumps . . . I opened the sliding glass door and cautiously greeted the strange doggie through the screen. George, the dog perked his head up and stood. He walked over and cocked an ear, wagging his tail. A month has come and gone, but George, the dog is still here.

What breed makes a better pet?

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George the Pita Bull Mix

No that is not a typo . . . pita is short for pain in the ass . . . more on that later. My mother came for a visit the day after George appeared and insisted George see the vet before I let him in my house. We threw crackers and cheese into the back of my car, flipped the seats back and scooted into the front while he was busy gobbling them up. We slammed the doors fast before he could escape and cruised down the freeway to my vet's office amid a frenzy of fur and dog slobber while he tried to climb into the front seat with us.

My vet estimated George to be perhaps two years of age judging from his teeth. She thought he was a Pit Bull Sharpei mixed breed. She and her aide pressed and poked him. They tried to stick a temperature gage up his butt. He wouldn't let them anywhere near his ears either - I thought they might be infected as he had been shaking them often. I made the few hundred dollar decision to let my vet put him to sleep so she could look at him in depth. We picked him up an hour later and drove him home along with his ear drops and other pet sundries. Perhaps George felt violated by his experience. He cried and kept trying to climb into the front seat with us. Maybe it was my Dad's spirit in him missing Mom. That night, in the wee hours Mom got up to go to the bathroom and when she came back to her bed George was lying in it.

Pita George is strong and an escape artist. Our walks are interesting. He has two speeds, the excuciatingly slow sniff and pee on a bush rate and the pell mell I smell something so fall flat on your ass mph. I use one collar around his neck and a harness that goes around his chest with a separate leash attached to each. One of his tricks is to sit down in the middle of busy streets and major traffic thoroughfares. Often I have to pick him up and carry him across - at 50+ lbs this is no easy feat. George does better off the leash. On secluded trails and fields where he runs on his own, he answers to whistles and keeps track of me, always circling back to find me, making sure I am safe.

Several months have come and gone since Dad led George to his new home. It seems he's here to stay. Maybe one day he will acknowledge me as the alpha and he will be my amazing Pit Bull. Naughty boy George has a peace and gentleness in his spirit. And regardless, George will always be Daddy's funny valentine.


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Comments 32 comments

Cresentmoon2007 profile image

Cresentmoon2007 5 years ago from Caledonia, MI

I am glad to hear you found a new found friend in George bad saddened to hear about your dear friend Amber as well as your dad. Though this tale did end happily and that is always good. Your pit bull is a beauty and though I don't know him personally by looking at him in the picture I am in love with him :)

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for stopping by to read Crescentmoon. 2010 was rough year. Writing about it was therapy.

sistersusan 5 years ago

Enjoyed it. I am your number 1 fan!

amymarie_5 profile image

amymarie_5 5 years ago from Chicago IL

What a beautiful story. I'm sad to hear of your father's and Amber's passing but so happy to hear of your new companion George. George is a blessing and will help you get through your loss.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 5 years ago from America

We had a dog die from cancer I know how awful it can be. So glad your Dad sent you George. When you find a stray and they make your place their home. They are the best dogs because they know they have it good. Enjoyed your hub.

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for your comment moonlake. George is quite the happy dog.

pattyworld1 profile image

pattyworld1 5 years ago from Maine

What a beautiful story. Losing loved ones is so difficult and to lose two in a very short period is devastating. So sorry for your loses. I lost two of my furry friends this year within one week of each other - one with cancer and the other with kidney disease. Such a sad time in my life. Thanks for sharing your story.

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for reading and commenting pattyworld1. We will never forget our furry friends, but it writing, reading, commenting is helpful therapy and a nice way to hold them in our heart.

landscapeartist profile image

landscapeartist 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

So sorry to hear of your loss. Amber sounds so much like my babies. I thought not so long ago that I had lost Drake and I cried more than I ever have over anyone. It is so nice to hear that your dad and amber sent George to take care of you.

billips profile image

billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

Lovely story - heartbreaking in some senses, but also full of hope - dogs are wonderful friends who will always stand by you, and help you through the hard times - B.

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thank you billips and landscape artist for your comments. This story was hard to write, and your responses warm my heart.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, I am so sorry to hear about your dad, it was strange that your dog turned up like that, it does make you wonder, dogs are amazing, and I think you are right, your dad sent him to comfort you, take care nell

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks Nell Rose for stopping by my hub.

Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 5 years ago from Oregon

You have told the story of people who know how to love everywhere. Thank you.

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stessily 5 years ago

YogaKat, Golden retrievers are beautiful. My aunt's second dog was a golden retriever, Shiloh, whom I loved almost as much as her first dog, Clinker, a black labrador retriever. Shiloh had an eccentricity of bounding out of the car at the family farm, selecting a rock, and then depositing it under the front porch. No one ever knew why Shiloh always did that! Only in the country at the farm, never in the city at home.:-)

Amber sounds like a perfect companion, and it saddens me that she suffered. I remember being astounded to learn in childhood that dogs and other critters can be stricken with cancer; it broke my heart because somehow it seemed super unfair. The photo of Amber with her cast is beautiful; she conveys so much dignity, even though there's something else there, pain, sadness because she could see to the end, etc. Whatever it is, it's a beautiful dignity which pets exude in their sufferings and which is admirable.

The gift of George is touching. The previous night's dream about your father is magical. Love is stronger than death; love lasts forever and knows no boundaries.

Thank you for sharing.

All the votes.

Kind regards, Stessily

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for your awesome response Stessily. I will NEVER forget my Amber Girl. Quirky Shiloh and Clinker will be with you always as well. Dogs . . . I thank God for the ones I've had the pleasure to know.

Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I am reading this on the eve of Valentine's remembering my pitbull mix. She was a social butterfly and engaged everyone around her. Always full of energy,and a total hambone and entertainer a wonderful dog...everyone loved her. George picked you and that says it all! He is your Valentine.

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Scribenet . . . glad you popped up and put your two cents in. George's one year anniversary might have otherwise gone unnoticed. February 13th will be his official birthday.

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stessily 5 years ago

YogaKat, It's fortuitous that I was drawn back to this hub today through notification of a recent comment because I would like you to convey to your pitbull valentine George that I wish him a happy, happier, happiest birthday today (February 13) and many more of them, too.

Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

well, Happy Birthday to George!

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Stessily and Scribenet - Thanks for George's birthday wishes!

landscapeartist profile image

landscapeartist 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

happy birthday george. you are a sweetie and the perfect valentine

zoey127721 profile image

zoey127721 5 years ago from South Carolina.......bleck :P

I am terribly sorry for the rough time you have had. Losing a pet can be just as hard as losing family, I cannot begin to imagine dealing with both. But your George is a sweetie and proof of life's little miracles.

And as for the "sitting in the middle of roads" thing. My bully is quite fond of this (anything that will make me sweat a little really). But when she was a puppy she decided to jump out the car window into a very busy intersection and just sat there! How she got out the window in the first place was baffling, but she is quite the escape artist.

And happy belated birthday to your bully!!!!!!

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for your comments and bully bday wishes zoey127721. Sounds like you also have a bull headed bully :)

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

i couldn't finish reading this! It made me so sad. I'm very happy you rescued a pit bull and amber is so lucky to have had you for a parent. I have a chow mix who will be 13 in May. She had a four hour surgery to remove a tumor the size of a softball on her chest last summer. it hasn't grown back, but it's clear to me that she's winding down. She's been extra sweet lately which feels, to me, like her way of saying goodbye. she even licked my face for the first time ever last week.

we also have a labradoodle who will be three in April. The thought of her getting older makes me sad too, but I wouldn't trade them for the world. Dogs are such a tremendous gift. Thanks for sharing *sniffle*

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for popping in PDXKaraokeGuy. Saying goodbye is heartbreaking - but worth the joy of having had them in your life. Each of my dogs has been unique and the memory of our good times will always be with me.

Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

I am sorry about your dad. They pictures of your dogs are priceless!

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Thanks for reading Angela . . . that was one of my toughest years and my Dad sent George to help me through. I am convinced that your dead loved ones will help you if you ask them.

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

This is a wonderful hub! I am so sorry about your dad as well as your sweet Amber. I like to think that things happen for a reason. I also like to believe that our passed loved ones look out for us left here on earth. I would like to think that George was sent to you by your dad because he knew you lost Amber and how much you were going to miss her. George was sent to you to take up some of the emptyness in your heart as well as be your protector. Pit bulls are good dogs when treated right, (I wrote a hub on them.), and I am sure he has a wonderful home. Voting this up and awesome! Have a wonderful day! :)

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jadedmama 4 years ago

So... it's been almost 3 years now and I'm just wondering how you and George are doing. Dogs have a way of finding those that need them and I totally believe that our guardian angels help them find us sometimes. I have 6 dogs and a cat, all rescues, and all found me just at the right times. 3 of my dogs are pibbles and some of the most amazing dogs I've ever had. One of them, Bizzy, went to battle against breast cancer and thankfully won. She had the type of cancer that the vet said although they got it all, she was high risk for re-occurance. That was when she was not quite 2, she's 8 now and we've had only one scare that turned out not to be cancer. :) Anyway... I hope you and George are doing well and loving life!

YogaKat profile image

YogaKat 4 years ago from Oahu Hawaii Author

Jademama . . . George is still with me. He and Sugar, one of five kittens I found on the side of the road are the best of friends. Yes we are happy and life is sweet. Thanks for stopping by.

Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

I am resurrecting this story of yours on an anniversary of mine. Somehow Christmas Eve and good dog stories go together for the soothing comforts a good pet can give in the sad times of life.

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