The rest of Pete’s story


Pete wants to drive.
Pete wants to drive.

Last time, I started the story of how Pete the Pit Bull Puppy was abandoned at my mom’s house, and how—one day after I wrote in my prayer journal that I was praying for “guidance about Pete”—we thought we had found him a great home. But two days later, we heard he had jumped a gate at their home and run away.

I found this out on Wednesday night, October 30, and hardly slept. Since we’ve taken care of about a million strays and feral cats over the years, we’ve had our share of animals that just vanished, and it’s always tough. When do you stop worrying over what happened—or what is happening—to them? But still, this was worse.

Maybe because he was a pit bull, and we were hearing too many stories of what bad people do with pit bulls.

The next day, October 31, I dragged myself into work really late, exhausted and miserable. My boss came in to talk to me about something, and I must have looked like…well, something really scary, because she said, “Are you okay?”

Like an idiot, I started crying and telling her about Pete, including some pretty graphic pictures of what I thought was probably happening to him. My boss is so amazing. She’s not even an animal person and doesn’t get the whole pet thing, but she started tearing up, too. And she told me to go out and look for him. I took her up on it, taking time to make flyers before I left. Flyers that promised a $100 reward. I’ve done enough marketing lately to know you’ve got to grab folks’ attention.

I figured I would go to the area where Pete was lost and look for him, and put up flyers if I didn’t see him.

I ran into a couple of problems right away. One, I didn’t know exactly where Pete’s new family lived. I had just been given the name of the road and told it was in Byron, a small town close by. But according to Google maps and my GPS, there was no such road in Byron. There was a road with that name fairly close to my job, though, so I decided maybe it went all the way to Byron. I would just get on that road, set my GPS for Byron, keep my eyes open—and pray for guidance!

Not only did I not see Pete, but the road ended pretty quickly. I just kept following the GPS to Byron but didn’t see anywhere to post signs. Just ditches and woods, mostly.

Finally I popped out of the country roads and found myself on the Main Street of Byron, where a crowd was gathering and setting up tables, and they were preparing for the Halloween Festival. Oh yeah, that’s right. It was Halloween.

I maneuvered through the crowds and out the other side. Drove to the Interstate and asked some people at stores for the road I was looking for. No one had heard of it. I was upset beyond belief by this time, and it was starting to get dark. I started to hit the interstate and take the direct route home.

Then it hit me. All that crowd of people gathering for the Halloween Festival—half the population of Byron, it seemed! Vendors setting up tables to give out candy to kids—tables where half the population of Byron would be passing by. What better opportunity to put out flyers?

I was feeling pretty down and hopeless by this time, and I’m such an introvert that walking up to strangers is hard for me in the best of times. I almost talked myself into just going home. But I almost felt God putting his hand on the wheel of the car and turning me around. I went back to the festival, and asked folks at almost every vendor table to display one of my flyers about Pete.

Almost every table, because one of the last ones was an animal rescue group’s, and they finished me off depression-wise, giving me even more horror stories about what happens to stray pit bulls and telling me what I should have done to keep him safe. That was it. I skipped the last couple of tables and went back to my mom’s house.

I hadn’t been there fifteen minutes when somebody called me from the festival and said he had overheard a woman saying, “I know exactly where that dog is. He’s hanging out at…” (and gave an address).

Off my mother and I went, following the GPS down a road in Byron to the house in question, where we were greeted by a red and white pit bull, wagging his tail and running up to the car to meet us. Trouble was…it wasn’t Pete.

Back home we went, even more upset after this disappointment. And…the phone rang again.

I picked it up and heard this cheerful, homey voice saying, “Hey! Are y’all really giving a hundred dollars for this dog?!”

“Well, if it’s really our dog,” I said.

“He got a white foot and a red collar?” she asked.

Now I started to get excited. The flyer didn’t mention his red collar, and you couldn’t see it in the photo. “Do you know where he is?” I asked her.

“Heck yeah! He’s at my house! Or sometime he at my house. He been sleepin’ under an abandoned trailer next door.”

“How can I get there?”

“Well, I’m at the festival with my niece. You can come down here to Byron to the Dollar Store and meet my husband, and he’ll take you to the house.”

I hung up and started to dash to the car, but then stopped. If these folks did have Pete, I owed them a hundred bucks. And I didn’t want to take time to go to the bank. If I have $2 in cash it’s an amazing thing. Nobody in my family keeps much cash on hand. But I asked my mother, anyway, and then my mouth dropped open. When my father passed away several months earlier, one of my cousins had pressed a hundred-dollar bill into her hand, wanting to help her somehow, and all this time later, it was still in her purse. We had a hundred-dollar bill on hand!

Wow…I’m dragging this out again, aren’t I? Let me try to skim over the next part as I…worried about meeting some total strangers at their home, strangers who figured I would be bringing money…tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with my husband to meet me there…waited in the dark to meet up with some strange woman’s husband…got in touch with my sister, who told me not to go anywhere with anyone until she got there. (Aren’t sisters the BEST!)

So, my sister and I ended up on this dark road, meeting Boo Boo. (That was the woman’s name. I swear. She was home by this time.) Boo Boo pointed further down the road, where it dead ended into woods and pitch black darkness and said, “He’s back there somewhere. There’s a bunch of stray dogs back there.”

My sister and I looked at each other. We didn’t even have a flashlight. Were we supposed to go tripping off into the dark, where we had just been told there were “a bunch of stray dogs”? And yeah, I wasn’t by myself now, but who knew? There could still be someone waiting back there to bop us over the head and rob us.

The woman was pointing back to the woods and looking at us, waiting. (She also asked if we had brought the money. Creepy.) We decided to just start calling Pete.

Which we did for what seemed like forever, but was probably just a minute or two. And all of a sudden, there he came, galloping out of the darkness like a pony, straight toward us, jumping and slobbering on us and hysterically happy.

It was one of the best moments of my life.

“So I guess that’s y’all’s dog,” Boo Boo said.

I think it was a great moment in her life, too. When I gave her the hundred-dollar bill, she started dancing around with it, and ran across the road to her neighbor and singing, “I got a hundred dollars! Just for calling them about this dog!”

Boo Boo said it was really weird, because she never goes to that festival, but at the last minute decided to take her niece. I think a lot of things that night were pretty amazing. First of all, if I hadn’t been looking for Pete on Halloween, I wouldn’t have been able to reach all these Byron people with my flyers. If my boss hadn’t let me leave work when she did, I wouldn’t have ended up seeing folks setting up for the festival. Even the fact that I had been given the wrong street name made me follow my GPS sort of aimlessly into Byron—where I saw them setting up for the festival.

And my mother even had a hundred-dollar bill.

Isn’t God good?

We decided our “guidance about Pete” was that we were meant to keep him. Instead of knocking my mother down, he’s actually discouraged her from going out in the yard when we’re not with her. We used to worry she’d be trying to carry laundry or cat food or something and fall down, and lie out in the elements until someone came home. And now out there in the country, when she’s by herself, she has a great guard dog patrolling the place. The cats have a gate across the porch and their own sanctuary, so she can just open a door and set their food out, and Pete can’t get to them.

And Pete is where he’s supposed to be.


Pete and Mina.
Pete and Mina the cat learning to co-exist.

Guidance About Pete

Our sweet pit bull puppy rescue.
Pete the Pit and me. Doesn’t he look vicious?

In my last blog about a particularly stressful week last August, I mentioned the pit bull puppy that was abandoned at my elderly mom’s house.

When he first showed up, you could count all his ribs. He wanted to be friendly and loved, but you could tell he was scared, too. He would come close to you, but if you put your hand out, he would skitter away.

After a couple of weeks we could pet him, but he was still nervous. And have you ever seen a puppy that didn’t know how to play? If you threw a ball or a stick, he would look at it and then back at you with those big soulful eyes, as if to say, “I know you want me to do something, and I want to make you happy, but what…?”

By October we all adored him, but…even at six months old (by the vet’s estimate) he was almost bigger than my tiny mom. We worry constantly about her falling and breaking a hip, and as Pete settled in and became his normal exuberant, happy self, we figured the day would definitely come when he would jump up to greet her—and one good jump would do the trick.

Also, my mom feeds stray cats—has for all my life. She was very upset because Pete was gobbling up all the food she put out for the ferals, and we were all afraid he would hurt either them or our babies. After all, he was a pit bull. Shudder. Again, an accident waiting to happen.

But what to do with him?

We had heard all the vicious pit bull scary stories, but now that we had one to care for, we started to hear the other side of the story. For example, there was the rescue group that wouldn’t have anything to do with pit bulls. Supposedly their insurance wouldn’t allow it.

Others gave us dire warnings about giving him away, because unscrupulous people often pretend to be nice to get their hands on a dog like Pete for fighting…or for bait to train their fighting dogs.

One extremely nice rescue group said we could bring Pete to their adoption days at PetsMart and at local festivals, as long as we stayed with him, and as long as he was up to date on shots and heartworm prevention and was neutered.

Getting all that done took a few weeks. And the first event we took him to was a total bust. Sadly, I think there were more dogs up for adoption than there were people to look at them.

And so we came to mid October. Pete was up-to-date and ready to be adopted, and the rescue group said that coming Saturday would probably do the trick. They were doing an adoption event at an outdoor festival where they always had good attendance and good luck. The weather would be beautiful, so a great turnout was expected. We were a little conflicted about seeing Pete go, but still, we were sure it was for the best.

The night before the event, the lady in charge of the rescue event called to tell me she had had a death in the family and wouldn’t be able to do the festival—and that the other volunteers had conflicts. So for the first time they could remember, they would not be doing an adoption event at that festival.

Strange, right?

It was going to be about three weeks before the next adoption event. The whole thing was stressing us a lot. We adored that sweet dog, who by now was bursting with love and personality, and we were terrified of him falling into the wrong hands. But we had no fence and there was traffic on the highway. And, you know…our little mother…and the cats…

There is an entry in my prayer journal from the last Saturday in October that says “Guidance about Pete.” We all felt torn, so I think we were all praying that God would guide us to the right solution—and if adoption was the answer, to the right home for Pete. He deserved it.

The next day, Sunday, it seemed as though God had answered! The son and daughter-in-law of a dear church friend wanted Pete. We knew they were good people, we knew he would be a cherished pet. On Monday, Pete went to his new home, and I was assuming that God had sent guidance and this was Pete’s destiny…even though I felt a little sad. And my sister, who had always said people were crazy to own such dangerous dogs, said she cried after he was gone.

Two days later, we found out that Pete had run away from his new home.

And this is where the story gets really amazing.

But…this blog post is running hideously long, so tune in next time for the rest of Pete’s story.