January 27, 2023
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Alice’s note: This story first appeared in my blog The Bright Lights of Muleshoe on October 22, 2009. At the time I wrote the story, we did think Mari was a pit bull. We found out later she was a Staffordshire bull terrier, a smaller dog than an American Pit Bull, but many of the pit bull characteristics in looks, intelligence, strength, a need for social interaction, and energy levels are similar. I wrote several stories about her in the blog. This is just one of them.  

Perhaps you’ve heard of the movie “Marley and Me?” Well, we have our own version going these days with a three-legged pit bull pup our grandson adopted. 

We have all fallen in love with this little dog, but, honestly, nothing is safe around her! Just this afternoon alone she has drug a box of charcoal briquettes out of the garage-for about the third time-spreading them all over the yard and tearing the box to shreds, also all over the yard; demolished the squeaky toy which was new just yesterday; chewed on tennis shoes; pulled a soaker hose off a shelf and out into the yard, and tried really hard to grab my camera out of my hands when I tried to take some pictures of her. And then there were the two accidents on the carpet. Yes, we are experiencing the joys of potty training again, with limited success today.  

Over the weekend she took out the screen off a long patio window trying to get in the house with us, literally broke a metal water faucet off its pipe, loosened the other water faucet with the timer on it causing water to go all over the place, chewed up a basket she discovered on a low shelf, mutilated a watering can, and the list just goes on and on. We keep putting things out of her reach-we think-and then she figures out a way to get to them anyway. She delights in trotting down the hall, head high, those over-sized jaws displaying trophies found and vandalized from my computer room: skeins of yarn; shoes, socks, trash retrieved from the trash can; trinkets. I looked out to check on her the other day and couldn’t find her, only to realize I was looking in the wrong place. She had figured out she could jump from a lawn chair to a small side table to the top of the patio table and have a much better view from there. 

I watched the “Marley and Me” movie thinking, these people are crazy to keep a dog like that. And surely they wouldn’t actually let him wreck their house that way. Guess what? This crafty little canine can wreak havoc before I realize it and make me love her anyway. Mari lost her leg to an infection, but she doesn’t have any idea she’s supposed to have a fourth leg. Doesn’t slow her down a bit. She digs like a gopher, hops like Pepe Le Pew when she plays, is a bit clumsy on sudden stops, but can do a roll back like a reining horse. Her little eyes twinkle and those ears go goofy, and it’s really hard to get mad at her. 

Mari is Colten’s dog, but she spends most of the afternoon at our house during the school day. We would have never chosen a pit bull, mostly due to their violent reputation, I guess, but this one is quite the charmer, always happy to see us, and prefers being in the house with people. Colten and I googled characteristics of pit bulls and found a great website called American Pit Bull-What’s Good About ‘Em? What’s Bad….The format starts with a section labeled “If you want a dog who…” and then goes into “If you don’t want to deal with…” which I found very helpful. Among other things it said these dogs are destructive when bored (tell me about it!) and are strong-willed. They require lots of activity and social interaction, which we give her, but apparently she needs more to do-which is when she invents games, like chew up everything in sight, and see how many things will fit through the pet door. 

So today we made a trip to the pet store for more squeaky balls, a supposedly indestructible chew toy, and picked up information about dog training class. Right now Mari is napping at my feet after a rousing game of squeaky ball keep-away. And tomorrow will be more fun and games. I can hardly wait! 

And the rest of the story-Mari lived with us till October of 2021. You can read more about her in “The Best Girl,” at www.aliceliles.com. She did well in that dog training class, outgrew her chewing habits, and was a delightful member of the family for many years. We miss her terribly. Shame on me for not wanting her in the beginning because of pit bulls having an unfair reputation, and as it turned out, she wasn’t even a pit bull. You might come in contact with a nasty individual pit bull-type dog now and then, but their owners are the problem. I am convinced that if these dogs, any dog for that matter, are treated with love and respect, given some quality attention, and not taught to be mean, they are loyal and loving, and yes, protective of their humans, but a joy to have around. And if you are not willing to treat them well, then don’t get a dog in the first place.  

I will always be thankful that she wound up at our house.  

Alice Liles

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