In theory the idea was great but the reality was I did not have material, other than a few personal stories of my own. I began contacting people I knew who were involved with pit bull rescue and I received a couple of submissions but not nearly enough. I thought my goal of writing a book, which started out with such promise, would not be realized. Then an amazing thing happened. On November 17, 2013, a friend of mine, Theodora DeBarbieri, wrote this article for the Examiner.
Almost immediately the stories started to materialize as if by magic, and within days I knew that there would be a book. The stories I received were all amazing. I could feel the love these individuals had for their dogs and I knew I had to tell their stories.
Two days after the Examiner article ran, I received an email from a young woman in Michigan that immediately caught my attention. It began:
I was about four years old when my parents brought home their first rescue pit bull straight out of a fighting ring. He was a mess. After some love and care from them he became my best friend who played Barbies and dress up with me. I guess you could say I was "ruined" right from the start.
This young woman’s name is Jacqueline Drake, a college student and rescue volunteer who landed a two week internship at Villalobos Rescue Center and was assigned to work with a group of special dogs that were stressed and overwhelmed by life in a kennel.
It was at Villalobos that Jacqueline met Puma, a pit bull that was rescued after a shootout and suffered from PTSD. Puma had been at the rescue center for nine years. She had lived in a kennel since she was six months old. It was believed that Puma’s issues made her unadoptable and that she would spend the remainder of her life at Villalobos. Then Jacqueline came along and there was an immediate and profound connection. In May of 2013, Jacqueline adopted Puma and after nine long years, Puma was finally home.
Jacqueline excitedly told me how she and Puma were going to be featured on one of last season’s episodes of Pit Bulls and Parolees, and proudly emailed me again to let me know when the show would air. As I watched the adoption unfold on television, I felt like I was a part of it – like I knew them, even though, of course we had never actually met. The story had touched me that much.
Puma’s life story had a very unhappy beginning but we must remember that in the end, she left this world knowing she was loved and really, that is all any of us can ask. My deepest thanks to Jacqueline, not only for sharing her story, but most of all for changing the world for this most deserving dog. Jacqueline and Puma showed all of us that with love all things are possible.