Friday, October 12, 2012

Pit bull awareness month: This was Rhett

On  May 30 2011, a sweet, shy, docile dog named Rhett was attacked inside his own yard by a pit bull from across the street that had smashed through a gate to get to him. Rhett was a good sized dog, but he was a lover, not a fighter, and he submitted to the pit bull. But pit bulls don't recognize normal canine etiquette, as many bewildered family pets have found out too late. After Rhett lay on his back and submitted, the pit bull continued to maul the vulnerable dog, and before Rhett's owner could come to his aid, he had suffered life changing and ultimately fatal wounds.

Rhett suffered for days, his condition steadily worsening. After his stroke and paralysis, Rhett's human companion made the painful decision to put him to sleep. Like most pit bull victims, Rhett's story never made the news, but we did write about it last year in this article. 

Even though the broken gate has been repaired, the murder scene washed and painted, the creature that killed her dog breathes still, and strains daily against it's screen door, a constant reminder of the injustice of the violation suffered. The sorrow of Rhett's end remains a poignant memory.

"My sister made a little monument for my garden, and I put in on the spot where Rhett was defeated by the monster. I've put plants and wind chimes on this spot, prayed but I can't get over the image of him on his back, and the blood splattered on the wall."

As animal lovers, we all sooner or later know the pain of losing a beloved pet, but when the end is so brutal, senseless and undeserved, the pain is worse.

"Every day, when I walk my other two dogs, there's that spot in the graveyard, where Rhett kept vigil, and I wonder if his spirit is still there, if he keeps vigil for the first owner who abandoned him and broke his heart, or if he's waiting for me."

"I hope that there is a kind of heaven for him"


  1. Thank you for commemorating the life of a beloved dog lost to pit bulls. I've seen tens of these in my time. It's unbearable. It's also unbearable that all those who want to preserve these killer dogs, including 'rescuing' individual pit bulls that have mauled and killed, act as if the lives of dogs like Rhett don't count. The only life that counts is the life of a pit bull, never mind how many real, normal dogs die as sacrifices to pit bull life.

    I don't know anymore who originally said it, but you can't love dogs and love pit bulls. It's one or the other.

  2. exactly sputnik. perhaps my greatest frustration with the pit bull problem is the lack of concern, empathy and legal protection for the normal dogs who are unfortunate enough to cross paths with gripping dogs or worse for the normal dogs like Rhett whose path was violated by gripping dogs.

  3. Here it is over a year later, and I shed tears for my big handsome Rhett. I was giving my Scarlett a hug, I wouldn't have her had Rhett not been nearly perfect, not been so wonderful. And I thought he may be lonely when I went to work. Rhett, true to his name, really didn't
    "give a damn" about Scarlett, and I know when I went to work, instead of one breaking heart waiting for me to come home, there were two. Then Wile E. Coyote the graveyard dog adopted all of us, and then we were three. I feel the same way, a broken heart with out him, seeing him when I return home, even though there are two wonderful cheerleaders, one who has a curly tail of a pom pom, the other that beats on the side of the wall as if he plays the bass drum in the band. One who yelps and howls, almost Beagle -like, the other who silently grins. Bittersweet is his lovely gift, she's such a beautiful and sweet dog. I was feeding her by herself in the house, on that day in May, 2011, she was on some medication at the time. It was Scarlett who let me know, something was terribly wrong out there in our garden.

    I likely wouldn't have even thought of opening up room for one more, with the two big dogs already, when Wile followed us through the very same gate that later was violated by the neighbor's dog. After many months of watching him, a limping bag of bones, learn to trust us, and he would follow Rhett and Scarlett on our walks, and that one day, I shut THE gate behind him. The gate to my favorite place on the planet, my garden. He submitted to me, and I swear, I heard him sigh so loudly that his life as a hobo was over. He's not perfect, not exactly a handsome dog with scars and torn ears and he has no fluff to speak of, and he digs and he sometimes chomps and destroys, but he's a champion spooner. His love and devotion for me is humbling. Last night, it was a bit nippy, and Scarlett and Wiley actually snuggled together on the same giant pillow bed I recently purchased for them. This would not have happened had I not been a sucker for that big red dog. The stories held by gates, spots on the garden, places in the neighborhood, kind neighbors who for long, asked "Where's Rhett?" starting a find out there are even more of us who also met with the brutal savage reality these dogs leave. The friendships I have made without meeting face to face, hearts of warmth who give of their time and talent to create such a lovely tribute to how many of us, sadly, feel. These are the cherished gifts that a beloved big handsome red dog named Rhett keep giving to me.

    Thank you.

  4. I can't imagine what you have been through. our 'normal' dogs have no clue how to defend themselves.


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