Hello all, I haven’t written in a while because my New Year didn’t start off so great and I have been sorting through a sea of difficult emotions for the past several weeks. My heart is so heavy. I don’t know how to heal it. Perhaps writing this will help. I am trying to make some sense of what has transpired on January 2nd and use this experience to fuel my passion to create empathy for all living things. So, I really need to get this blog post written so I can move forward and forgive myself. It is a very complicated story, I’ll try to make it short…
Nelson, pulled at the strings to my soul with his love. His beautiful blue eyes and ‘doublewide’ smile spanning ear to ear was a beautiful site to behold. I sat quietly just a few days ago looking at the trees blowing nearby where his empty dog house sits…I long for his smile, his enthusiasm and sweet unconditional love that only an animal can give.
I can only imagine what his beginnings were like. I am guessing a lonely and scared existence in a horrible environment being bread to fight and beaten daily. After all, his first given name was “Snake.” Lexi found him in August of 2016 nearly starved to death and living under a car in Deep Ellum in Dallas. Snake had an identification chip, so the veterinarian’s office was under legal obligation to call the owner. The owner told the doctor’s office he “didn’t want him back.”
And so the journey began, we searched for a home for months and months, NO ONE wanted a Pit Bull, and I mean no one except Chris Watts, a local and longtime animal advocate in Dallas and the owner of The Petropolitan Pet Care Company. He was the only person who really offered to help. Lexi and I drove there together to drop off “Snake” so Chris could find him a new permanent home. But, when we got there Snake wouldn’t get out of the car and started shaking with fear and cowering down. At that moment Lexi decided to take him home with her and give her dog Bonnie, a new brother. Lexi was so sweet and so excited to give him a home!
Lexi and her sister Macie renamed him “Coop”, short for Cooper, and he and Bonnie hit it off immediately and became as thick as thieves. Coop was amazing, and he and Bonnie were a great team for three weeks until…one day walking down the hall of Lexi’s apartment building Coop attacked another dog who had just moved in that day! For the record, the other dog started it by giving Coop the doggie stink eye!
The little dog had to be taken to the vet for emergency surgery, leaving the owner hysterical…understandably. Of course, a complaint was issued and back Coop went to the veterinarian’s office to be put back in the kennel while we looked for another home. Months passed again with NO ONE wanting a Pit Bull, certainly not one that now had bitten another dog. So, we continued to search for a home even going out of state, several states, with no luck at all.
Then, in late November just after Thanksgiving I got the call from the doctor that Coop was going stir crazy from being there for so long. I debated for several days, then I decided Coop was coming home with me and be my new baby. I already had five dogs, and I surely did not need another one, but I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt so responsible and guilty about him being in there day after day, month after month, to the point I couldn’t even sleep well at night thinking about it. And so, we built a beautiful big kennel and dog house for his forever home with huge excitement! We re-named him Nelson-Coop Fiaschetti, named after Nelson Mandella. What a perfect name! We all took a deep breath and worked through the transition. It was going really well!
Every morning Nelson played outside on his side of the property, and every night he slept on a comfy human bed in the guest room separate from the main house. Great food, great toys and great love! We had a routine down. Nelson on one side of the property and house and my other dogs on the other side until I found a good trainer to incorporate Nelson with my other dogs Zeus, Mick, Max, Ruby and Pretzel.
Our Christmas was wonderful and my heart was light from giving this wonderful dog a fine home. I was so looking forward to my family coming into town from Houston to celebrate New Year’s together and meeting our new boy Nelson! My whole family are generational animal lovers. My family just bought a big ranch two hours from Houston where they have rescued everything from horses from the SPCA, to goats, pigs, dogs, or whatever comes their way. They are very knowledgeable about the care and proper treatment of animals. They make me proud!
Unfortunately, now comes the very sad part of the story…on this most recent beautiful, sunny New Year’s Day we were outside walking around the property and Nelson viciously lunged at my young niece and nephew ages seven and nine. Nelson also looked at my youngest daughter who is 12 very strangely like he was preparing to lunge at her as well. I was in shock, it was the worst feeling in the world! It was dreadful, I was in absolute shock. What in the hell do I do now I asked myself?
I thought for hours, days…this was such a blow after all that Nelson had been through. I was heartbroken. What would happen if he ever got away from me, what if he climbed over the top of the kennel? I was freaked out! Not just for the safety of any child that might ever encounter Nelson, but for Nelson. What if he bit someone else? He already had a documented reputation from the dog he bit. He would most assuredly have to be locked up again and then put to sleep under duress and fear. He could be subjected to god know’s what at the hand’s of a stranger. I was sick from thinking about the “what if’s.”
Okay, so now the story gets even crazier.
On Monday, the day after New Year’s Day, I had just let all of my other dogs out for their morning business and morning run. I went to have a cup of coffee on the other side of the house and visit with Nelson (remember I was keeping them separate). I had such a heavy heart and mind trying to figure out what I was going to do about Nelson when I had this funny feeling that something wasn’t right outside with the other dogs on the other side of the property. I don’t remember if I heard a noise or what but something…let’s call it energy, “it” alerted me.
I looked out from the deck of my pool to the fence line to find my two biggest dogs what I thought to be initially playing…in a vicious fight! They had fought before but never like this. I ran as fast as I could jumping off the deck straight at them to break up the fight.
It was the most god-awful, indescribable, traumatic thing I have ever seen first hand. I watched pleading and screaming at them to stop as I watched them rip at each other’s flesh. I ran to the house get help from my oldest daughter who was in bed and grabbed a broom hysterically screaming “they are trying to kill each other, oh my God, oh my God!!” It was a terrible scene.
As I stared in shock at the huge area of my lawn stained in fresh blood I quickly realized that I needed to call my veterinarian to arrange medical attention for my two injured dogs. My daughter wrapped Mick in a blanket and carried him to the car. Zeus was in such bad shape we thought he wasn’t even going to make it to the hospital. I gave him pain killer, we would have to come back for him. I was injured as well. I could barely walk but I didn’t know why yet? I broke my foot when I jumped off the deck. At first I thought I had been bitten by a snake or something, I was in shock from the fight. I forgot to mention, that I also told the doctor on the phone call about Coop-Nelson lunging at the kids over the holiday just two days ago. He said we could discuss when I got there.
As I was a checking in at the vet’s office I said to the staff worker that I had known for years, “Did you hear about what happened with Nelson?”
She said, “No what?”
When I told her she said,
“That doesn’t surprise me because he lunged at me one day.”
At that moment my heart sank because I knew in an instant what I had to do.
And so. I left with a very heavy heart and mind dreading what needed to be done. I had decided that Nelson had to be put down and probably Zeus as well because he was so torn up. I made the arrangements for late in the day as the sun was going down. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. I played with Nelson for hours, I loved and hugged on both he and Zeus every second I could, sautéed them fresh big bowls of chicken, sang to them and cried and cried.
The doctor came, my oldest daughter, Vincenza, held Nelson’s paw and loved on him while he very peacefully went to where he will never suffer again. I was inside preparing for Zeus to depart the earth, loving on him and thanking him for always being there for me and protecting me all these years. And as I cried on the floor next to him, he lifted his head almost to say not yet please. When the doctor came in I told him “I just can’t do it today, I can’t do it.”
So the doctor left and I stayed with Zeus for hours that night and each day he has gotten better and even has a little pep in this step from time to time. My heart is still hurting over Nelson and I’m not sure it will ever heal. I will use this experience to fuel my passion for the ethical treatment of all animals.