This is Chiquita, a 6-year-old pitbull who came to live with us when her previous human passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly. When we first met her, she had spent a few weeks still living in her old backyard waiting for someone to take her in. A member of her previous family came by once a day to give her food and water, but that and a neighbor stopping by occasionally to say hello was pretty much all she had as far as care or company. We sort of broke the rules of our community by bringing in an animal that exceeded the size and weight limit we’d agreed to when we moved in, but when you meet a girl like Chiquita, you break rules without thinking twice.
We don’t know much about her previous human, or her history, but a few things were obvious just from looking at her; she had been overfed, under-exercised and badly over-bred. Her hips gave her a lot of trouble as a result, to the point where she had difficulty standing and walking. The first thing we did was put her on a diet, and encourage her to walk as much as possible. She loved company and hadn’t had any for a while, so it wasn’t difficult to get her to follow me from room to room around the house, and when she’d had enough, she let me know.
Within a week, she was walking far more easily. Within three weeks, she was running. By the end of the first month, we could see she had lost weight. There were still mornings when her hip troubles made it difficult for her to get out of bed, but they were fewer and farther between.
Also by the end of the month, the manager of our community became aware of her presence and very gently but firmly told us she couldn’t stay. We were able to find a good home for her in Texas, with lots of room to exercise her recently rediscovered love of running and playing, with a friend whom I had no doubt would love her every bit as much as we did. And for the next year and a half, until all the years of improper treatment compromising her health caught up to her and she succumbed to pneumonia, that’s exactly what he did; loved her like the family she was, and knew without a doubt how much she loved him in return.
Because that was the thing about Chiquita. She loved everyone she met, and just about everyone she met loved her right back. She was, hands down, the sweetest animal I’ve ever encountered. She was gentle, and playful, and loyal, and smart, and affectionate, and more than a little silly, and the best friend you could ever have.
But then, that’s really not surprising. Pitbulls are like that.
(Photography by Jerry Seeger)