Pansy is a Cane
Corso Mastiff. We found her at the
Humane Pound in Newark New Jersey. God only knows
why we picked her. She was absolutely
-- encrusted, really, with dirt -- and she was so thin
her ribs and backbone stood out in bar relief. The tips
of her ears were fly-bitten. Her face was scarred. She
had recently weaned pups, we could see, since she still
had milk glands. We saw her progeny, 4 huge Rottweiler-Cane
Corso mix pups down the aisle, also waiting for homes.
She was a mess -- but there was something about her.
Why even consider it? I recognized her as a Cane
Corso, but otherwise, I knew little about the breed,
except that they looked a lot like pit bulls (which
have a terrible reputation, especially here in the wilds
of suburban New Jersey). Now Maiasaura is not usually
a Mastiff kind of girl, but Pansy and Maiasaura had
a conversation there in the din and noxious smells of
the pound. She told me that she liked women, kids and
other dogs and wanted to be a good dog if she knew what
she was supposed to do.
My old pal, Oscar,
died early this year and we were still grieving. He
was a happy-go-lucky yellow Labrador Retriever who died
at age 11 of a brain tumor. God, we all loved that dog!
I assured myself we would get a male puppy when we found
the right one. I puppy shopped for months, but the right
fit never happened. We talked seriously to Greater Swiss
Mountain Dog Breeders. Finally, we looked at pet
finders on the web which led us to St.
Hubert's Giralda animal shelter, (here's a tip,
St. Huberts--when a live one who wants to adopt a dog
walks in on a Monday and your adoption shelter is 'closed'
make it 'open').
It was a crappy rainy day, and my daughter and
I went for a ride to share some mother-daughter bonding
time. We went to Associated Humane deep in the bowels
of Newark, New Jersey. On the way I was able to give
my 16-year-old daughter a lesson in spotting hookers,
drug dealers and pimps.
Standing out at the pound, we saw a lot
of Pit Bulls, Chow Chows, Rottweilers and every conceivable
mixture of the three. The place was loud, dirty, smelly
and scary. If I was a dog, I would have gone out of
my mind. In one of the cages I saw a big dark brindle
girl with a cropped tail, looking patiently at me, as
if waiting for me to get done with whatever I was doing
and get around to her.
The 16-year-old daughter was not impressed. Pansy
was not a flashy dog, nor was she a demonstrative dog.
"Keep looking" was her seasoned advice. Nevertheless,
we took her out of the cage and visited for a while
and were a bit perplexed to find out that she didn't
know even the basic rudiments of obedience (even with
the cinnamon graham crackers in my purse.) She didn't
even know how to sit! What kind of a dog doesn't
know how to sit?? She was distracted and was looking
for her pups, so it was hard to tell if she would be
a good dog, but my Spidey-sense was tingling, so I called
/Mr. Maiasaura / and asked him if he would come by and
check her out, too. I needed a second opinion.
She was named "Isis", was three-years
old, and had been dumped with her pups, along with a
severely malnourished female English Mastiff, from an
address in one of the worst areas of Newark. She had
been kept for breeding. Mr. Maiasaura was also not impressed.
She didn't like him much, either, it seemed, but if
I wanted her, go ahead and get her (oh, sure, make it
all MY decision!!)
I am an experienced dog person, and have trained
many dogs, so I knew Pansy would be a challenging dog.
She is physically strong, and needed basic training.
She also needed strong direction as to who is the alpha
personality (yes, me!). She had been abused, and was
sensitive and needed to develop confidence and trust
in me and the family. She hadn't been allowed into the
house much, although she was housebroken. She was
wary of men (hello /Mr. Maiasaura/). Also, I wasn't
100% sure of how she would react around children and
small dogs in unusual situations. She would be a handful
-- but I had lost my Oscar and I was ready for a
After testing her for food aggression (she passed),
small dog aggression (Peaches was the volunteer), spaying
her (whew), microchipping her, renaming her (absolutely!),
bathing her (a two-woman job), feeding her up a bit
and teaching her how to walk on a leash,
Pansy is now my buddy. Where ever I am, she is. She
is learning to play with toys and lay on a dog bed --
both skills she somehow never acquired in the first
three years of her life. She walks beautifully on and
leash. She is 90 pounds now. She looks ferocious, but
is very gentle with children and other animals. Our
pug, Peaches, is the alpha dog, and there have been
no arguments. The car was a problem, since she seemed
to have never been in one before, and we had to lift
her into it for a while before I demonstrated to her
that trips to the dog park are GOOD but the only way
to get there is to get in to the damn car.
And yes, she *now *knows how to sit. This
is Pansy's new world.