Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lenny the Pit Bull


Lenny checking out his custom portrait by The Pet Studio!
Tell me a little about Lenny’s history? 
We know almost nothing about Lenny’s beginnings.  We know he was fought.  Whether it was as a bait dog, as a potential fighting dog, or just an accidental altercation with another dog… we will never know.  He was riddled with bite wounds on his front legs, neck, and head and these wounds were not treated at the time he was injured. 

He was kept outside somewhere and was at least provided with straw bedding, as pieces of straw had worked their way inside several of his wounds.  One of his injuries was a large puncture wound that went through his jaw and into his mouth.  This made it difficult to keep food and water from spilling out while he ate.  It is hard to say if this is why he was so thin (35 lbs… he is now 85 lbs).  It seems to be more likely that he was not fed or watered at all after he acquired his injuries, but we will probably never know for sure.
Lenny, shortly after being rescued, all skin and bones.
How did he come into your life? 
I found Lenny on the side of the road near our home.  It is unclear if he was abandoned or somehow escaped and wandered there.  However he ended up in that spot, it was purely coincidence that he caught my attention.  Just a few seconds difference and he would have headed into the woods where he most certainly would have died from his injuries and neglect.

He stopped when I pulled up in my car, but I feared I would scare him away so I knelt down about ten feet away from him.  He slowly walked over to me and put his head on my knee almost as if he was asking for my help.  We took him to a veterinarian to help us evaluate whether or not he was able to be saved.  His wounds and overall health were very bad, but after a few days of treatment he began to recover. 

During that time, I started a Facebook page, “Lenny the Pitbull,” to let my friends know that we had a dog in need of help.  I did this with the intention of collecting a few donations from people I knew, as well as to network the dog through potential rescue organizations.  I did not expect that someone would leak his story and the page to a local news network. 

Within four days of finding him, his story was on three different local news channels and one radio show.  Donations poured in to help with the cost of Lenny’s care.  His Facebook page went from a few dozen friends to thousands of fans in a matter of days.  Lenny’s journey has been made successful by the caring and support of really wonderful people that were touched by his story.  Lenny’s fans have given financial, educational, and positive support that we could never appreciate enough.

We did not commit to keeping him until after the first year.  We had planned on placing him either in a new home or a sanctuary, depending on what type of dog he would be once he was healthy.  It wasn’t love at first site for us or for Lenny.  We were not in the market for another dog and Lenny appeared to have never bonded with people before.  Over time, things changed.  We all let our guards down and once that happened we couldn’t stop the love-fest.  Lenny was ours and we were Lenny’s.
Lenny exercising his mind in his training class.
What makes him so special to you? 
Lenny is a survivor.  It is amazing that he has been through what he has gone through and is still a happy, affectionate dog.  Lenny has taught us more about ourselves than we could ever possibly hope to teach him. 

He is a big goofball as well.  A day doesn’t go by without Lenny making you laugh.  And the most special thing about him is that he not only makes us happy, but he makes so many others happy when we share little moments from his life on his page. 

What has Lenny taught you? 
Lenny has taught us that we are capable of much more than we sometimes think we are.  Taking Lenny into our home and adjusting our lives and the lives of our other pets to help meet his needs has been challenging.  Yet, for every obstacle we have developed a solution. 

Lenny also has a good lesson to teach us all and I believe that has to do with forgiveness.  After all that Lenny has been through, it would easy for him to not trust or even want to be around people.  Instead, he trusted in a stranger and over time, bonded with his new family.  He let go of his past and moved on into a happier and more fulfilling life.  If only more of us had that same capability.
Lenny having a play-date with his best buddy Harley!
How has he changed your life? 
Lenny has brought a new focus to our lives.  We see every day what a difference positive care and patience can make in not only Lenny’s world, but in our own world as well.  That commitment to making one life better reflects in all aspects of our life now.

In addition, the opportunity we have been given to share Lenny’s story with others has been amazing.  We have been blessed to communicate with and even at times meet many of Lenny’s fans.  They are incredibly kind and gracious people that have impacted our lives in so many positive ways.  We feel lucky and humbled to be part of Lenny’s journey.

What do you hope to gain by sharing his story? 
We are very proud of the positive message that comes from Lenny and his page.  Even his set backs are a tool to help us as well as others learn from our mistakes. 

As Lenny progresses, we will continue sharing his story in an effort to not only help the reputation of pit bulls, but also other dogs that have suffered abuse like he has endured.  It is a story of perseverance and forgiveness.  Lenny doesn’t discriminate or hate.  He loves everyone equally and sees them as a friend, regardless if they are human or animal.  He and other dogs like him deserve the same respect.

Most importantly, we hope that sharing Lenny’s story will show other people that they can do what we have done.  They can help a dog like Lenny and be successful at it.  We’ve already had people tell us they adopted their dog (sometimes a pit bull) after being inspired by Lenny’s story.  We could really not ask for more than that.

Does he have a favorite thing to do? 
Lenny likes to be outside… running, playing, chasing, etc., but he’s only happy if someone is with him.  He enjoys having his fire hose toy thrown for him and loves a good game of pick up the sticks in the yard.  Of course, we do all the picking up of the sticks and he prefers to steal them and then zoom around the yard.

If Lenny isn’t playing he is most likely sleeping.  Sleeping usually involves a good snuggle partner.  Lenny’s favorite thing in the world is to be hanging out with his people and snuggled up close to them.  In a pinch, a good snuggle with a cat is acceptable as well.
Lenny, looking gorgeous and healthy!
Any other little tidbits about Lenny that you would like to share? 
Lenny is still a work in progress.  Although he has made amazing progress, he still has some social issues to overcome… particularly if he is around a dog that is reactive in any way.  He has yet to show us aggression toward other dogs, but only agitation and over excitement that appears to be based on fear and inexperience.  

We take him to classes regularly to help him work through some of his social problems.  Although we do believe more people can do what we have done for Lenny, it is a commitment in time, patience, and dedication.  It isn’t always perfect, but the happy moments far outweigh the sad or frustrating times.  We would not change a thing about what we have done and where it has taken us.

Why did you choose The Pet Studio for your custom painting? 
I wanted to have portraits done of our pets for quite some time.  After much research, The Pet Studio caught my attention.  The way Stephanie captures the personalities of all of her subjects really touched me.  I particularly love the work she has done with pit bulls, both on the canvas and off.  Stephanie is a wonderful advocate for animals and the positive approach she takes in the work she does is important to us.  We could not be happier with Lenny’s portrait and the portrait of our cats.  Stephanie is a great artist in addition to being a very kind and gracious person.
"Lenny" | 20in x 20in Custom Painting by The Pet Studio.

Stephanie Conrad
The Pet Studio | Owner | Artist

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