The True Story of My Pit Bull, the Best Dog I Ever Had
Tia Juana--We called her TJ
My youngest brother got a new puppy and it was in payment for a debt a friend owed him. His friend had borrowed $40.00 a few months previously, and seemed unable to pay him, for they were both young, and his dog had just had a big litter of puppies. Fourteen puppies to be exact, and they were too much for the mother dog to care for, so, actually it was a double whammy for his friend. My brother named the pup right off the bat, she was called Tia Juana because he had just come from there a week earlier on vacation.
The dog was full blooded pit bull, and even at such a young age of only three weeks, her coloring was eye catching. She was a brindle, with black and a small amount of white, on a tan background. The only other place she had any color, was on her chest, where she had a very small, but perfect diamond, about the size of a nickle when she was full grown, but barely noticeable back then.
My brother was but a kid himself, and had moved out of our parents house, but did not have the funds to pay rent even though he was working full time as a cook at the local hospital. He was saving his money for I don't know what, so he chose to live in his van, which at that time, the mid 70's, was "in". Unfortunately for him and TJ, it was not the perfect place to housebreak a puppy. She and he lasted until she was about 6 months old, and then he lost patience with her, not being able to hold it a full eight hour shift, and he brought the dog over to my house and asked me if I could help him out and keep her for a while.
What he really wanted to ask me was if he could drop her off until she was housebroken.....
He returned after TJ was housebroken, and took her back, for by then he had a place to live too. TJ had so grown to love my kids, that no matter how many times he picked her up, and no matter how he restrained her, she ran away and would show up at my door over and over. After more than a half a dozen attempts to keep her, he finally gave up and gave her to my boys. They were unhappy when she was gone anyway, and he began to feel guilty. TJ was officially a part of my family.
I had three small boys at the time, ages 3 to 9 years old. A puppy was just what we needed to make our group complete. I was a single parent at that time though, and the appearance of a big bad pit bull was something that I actually liked. Even though she was the most docile and sweetest dog I had ever owned, her "look" was good. Once you got to know her, her scariness was done. Although later, and I will explain later, she did have it in her to be scary.
TJ proved very easy to housebreak, and she rarely had an accident in the house after a week or maybe two. She seemed to have accidents more often when left at home, especially when I took the kids to the beach. She seemed to know, and after a while she was impossible to leave home, for her insistence to go to came down to me having to physically pull her back out of the way and shut the door before she could block the doorway again. As she got older and bigger, she was really a handful to move that way, and I found it easier to just take her with me where ever I went. This included work, and she was very content to wait for me in the car until I returned to it, and without any accidents....
TJ got to be such a member of the family, and knew instinctively what her jobs were. I got home from work at about 2 or 3 pm, and would lay down on the couch and turn the television on, knowing that I had to be out on the curb at 3:35, when the youngest child's school bus dropped him off. If I was not out there, they would take him back to the school and call me to pick him up, which was frowned upon. In no time at all, TJ knew it was her job to wake me up in time to catch that bus. She sat next to me and whined, and if that did not do the trick, she would paw at me until I woke up.This is exactly what she did in the morning to the boys when it was time to get up and get ready for school, and at which time she also walked the youngest to the bus stop to go to school.
Another job she took upon herself, was a good and bad one. She accompanied me to the store whenever I walked there, and had to be included in carrying back a bag. This meant anything at all. If I only went to the store for milk, she insisted on bringing it back. I thought it was too much for her, but she just arched her neck, and grab onto the handle, and would carry it all the way home, until we got to the front grass where she deposited it next to the door on the lawn. Our only problem was if I only went to the store for smokes. In this instance, she would always put at least one tooth through the pack and into the smokes. She just could not be that gentle. If I refused to give her something, she would not walk home with me, but sit in front of the store until she had something to carry. In one instance, I had to leave her there and return with something she could carry, as it was a holiday and she could not carry this fragile package. The man at the store laughed at her tenacity.
She Minded Better Than My Kids Did
She was remarkably smart, and protected my kids beyond what you could imagine. Once she held a man at bay when he approached my kids with a big stick, not allowing him to budge one step until I said it was OK, and she felt it was safe.
When told to, she would snarl, not making any growling sounds, just showing her teeth and looking like a typical "imagined" pit would look like. She could fill the boots so to speak, if I asked her to, which one night, that is exactly what I needed from her. It was about 10 pm and I was walking home, rather late for me, when a man came up to me and told me he wanted whatever I had in my pockets. TJ sat down next to me, and when I told her, "What him TJ", she put on that pit bull snarl, and the man retreated about two steps back, and I told him to stop, or she would attack. He stopped, and I grabbed he collar, mostly for show, but she felt more like "getting him" when I did this. Having her secured, I told him to "GO". He did and she barked. It was better than having a gun with me.
TJ was one of my kids for about twelve years. As she got older, I noticed that she was eating less and less, and that her stomach was protruding. I took her to the vet one day when she had refused to eat for several days.
As I had suspected, she had a very large tumor. She did not complain ever, nor did I ever suspect until that week that something was wrong. We had to put her down. Thinking back, she was the best dog I ever owned, and that includes my border collie. She was the sweetest, most loyal, and most trusted companion, ever.