Since I recently shared a video of our late pitbull Gabby, I thought today I’d go back further in time and introduce you to her predecessor. Phoebe was my first rescue dog and my first bully breed. She came unexpectedly into my life one afternoon in mid 1983; she and another young pitbull showed up in the front yard of my mom’s house (she lived on a cul-de-sac and people frequently dumped unwanted pets nearby). Initially we were wary about approaching these strange two dogs — but we soon realized they were more interested in playing and eating than in being aggressive. Before long, I knew I needed to hang onto the little red-and-white female pitbull, no matter what. We remained best buddies for the next 11 years.
Phoebe had a very mellow personality, and she was happy to make friends with any new person or animal she met. In all the time she was with me, I never once heard her growl or show even an instant of aggression. She didn’t mind in the least when my mom’s ring-necked dove, Placido, alit on her back one day. Whenever I took Phoebe for a walk in the park across the street from our house, my little grey cat, Liath, would tag along. In 1985 I wrote in my journal:
[Liath] likes to play with Phoebe. I take the two of them into the front yard, and while Phoebe snoops around, the cat stalks her. Then, if Phoebe starts trotting toward me, the cat will dash wildly at her and jump over Phoebe’s head or back, or just bounce off Phoebe with her front feet. Phoebe doesn’t mind. Liath will also run towards Phoebe and then swerve at the last possible minute, and disappear into the weeds.
She suffered from a few health problems over the years. Early on, she needed surgery on one of her knees as her patella had been fractured at some point before she came to us. Then in 1985 she experienced her first grand mal seizure, and for the rest of her life she had to take phenobarbitol to control them.
Despite all this, Phoebe had a good life. After The Big Guy and I met, her world opened up even more as we took her along on our shore fishing trips to the lake or the ocean and on day trips up to the mountains. When we brought home Zack, a German Shepherd puppy, Phoebe became his substitute mom. The two of them looked out for each other and stuck together like glue.
In the chilly month of February 1990, Phoebe became seriously ill. Her heart was failing, and our vet told us that most likely she wouldn’t last until spring. We took her home and set her up in front of our wall heater, wrapped in an old down sleeping bag to keep her warm. I just wanted to make her last few days as comfortable and secure as possible. We fed her chicken and rice and carried her outside when she needed to “go.” Despite the dire prediction, she kept hanging in there, and slowly her condition started to improve. After she was feeling better, we took her out to the lake — she hiked and climbed hills almost like the old days! By May of that year, she was bouncing around with joy at meal times, and she was always ready to go for rides and for walks and on fishing trips. Even the vet was surprised at her improvement.
It was tempting to think Phoebe was going to last forever, but of course it couldn’t be. She lived another two years after that serious health crisis, and she passed away in our back yard. That’s where we buried her, in the garden where she loved to sunbathe. She was one of the best friends I ever had.