Kennel Confidential: A Tribute

Written by Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey. Posted in Featured, Lifestyle

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on July 29, 2011 with 21 Comments

This is usually the space reserved for me to talk about Gracie, the pound pup I adopted with KeyPulp co-founder Ross Currie. If you’re new to the column, a quick re-cap: although we’d planned on rescuing a puppy, and even had one available and ready for us, we decided to go with a slightly older bully mix from the city animal control HQ. I’d never adopted an older dog before, let alone one that could even possibly fall into the “pit bull” category, but I approached the situation with confidence. That’s because about a year earlier, I met Sarge.

Reporting on the Barking Beauty, which is exactly what it sounds like, for a now-defunct website, I had a chance to arrive early and scope out the competition. Up on stage, I spotted a large older dog, a pit bull, lying at his human’s feet. He was dressed in a military flack jacket (pictured here), but his youthful attire belied his age. The dog—Sarge—was fifteen years old, a feat for any canine, but especially so when you consider one very important fact: Sarge was a rescue, saved from an animal abuser only a year before. For a dog to sustain so much for so long, and not break under the pressure, was impressive enough. For him to become a certified therapy dog working with the elderly, and then compete in and eventually win a beauty pageant against shih-tzus and poodles and yorkies, was nothing short of a testament to the redeeming power of love—specifically the love given to him by his new family. Sarge’s mom, Kim Wolf, had become an advocate for the dogs she called “elderbulls” and Sarge’s victory in the pageant gave him a very public platform to show the world that old or not—and pit bull or not—a dog is a dog is a dog. Sarge’s needs—food, shelter, and love from his humans—were no different from those of his canine compatriots; but his incredible ability to give as much affection as he received, and possibly more, set him apart, made him exemplary.

And when Ross and I decided that we were ready for a dog, visions of Sarge danced in both of our heads as we agreed that a rescue—a real rescue from a high-kill shelter, and not a cuddly puppy in foster care who would have no problem finding a home—was the right decision for us. Would we have made the same decision if it hadn’t been for Sarge, and our ongoing but infrequent interactions with him and Kim? I don’t know … but probably not. I’d volunteered to work with pitties before, had even met one of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation and proudly posted the photo to my Facebook, and would argue with anyone who listened that not all pit bulls are horrible dogs set to rip out the throats of young children, no matter what biased news reports said, but I’d approached the idea of adopting a dog with a checkered past and a bad breed reputation with more than a little trepidation. But then I met Sarge, and any skepticism went out the window. Sarge paved the way in our lives for Gracie.

Which is why when I received news that Sarge passed away this morning, I felt completely and utterly gutted. It was his time. He was almost seventeen years old, and had crammed as much love into those last three years of his life as any other dog could hope to achieve in a lifetime; but it doesn’t make it any less upsetting to see a dog who meant so much to so many people cross the rainbow bridge. But I do take comfort in the fact that when it’s finally our pets’ turns to do the same—although that will be a very, very long time from now—Sarge will be there to show them the ropes.

Thank you, Sarge, for all that you did, all those you taught, and above all, for Gracie. You’re missed already.

About Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey

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Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey is one person with four names. There's a story behind that, but she won't bore you with it. Just call her Jill. Jill is one of KeyPulp's five founding editors. She works in marketing and communications by day and attends graduate school by night. She fully intends to make this bio more interesting after KeyPulp's beta phase is over. | 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Vanderlaan/100000071395012 Ann Vanderlaan

    A fine tribute to an old dog who showed that even an old, abused pit bull can bring pleasure and joy into the lives of caring humans by simply being a dog.

  • Tamarad3

    Bravo. Sarge reminds me if the picture u have in my home..the first decorated war dog..a pitbull.
    No dint your new friend was infrastructures..a soilder…to have survived that many years of abuse.
    My thought will be with you today.

  • Allie

    Always a good dog…

  • Kim

    Sarge you will be missed and loved by many !!!! But you will never be forgotten ..RIP Sarge .. Your an inspiration to all ~ELDER BULLS~

  • Wnterghurl

    RIP you brave, forgiving, loving pup!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Antoinette-Serrano/100000476312645 Antoinette Serrano

    R.I.P SARGE

  • Mary

    What a wonderful tribute to an exceptional dog!  I want to think like in “A Dog’s Purpose,” Sarge finished his purpose in this life and will come back again to help out with someone or something else.  You did a great job, Sarge.

  • Karen Ciocco

    So sorry for your loss. I’m glad to know in the last three years, your family gave him the love he much deserved. R.I.P. Sarge.

    • http://keypulp.com Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey

      Thanks for that, but Sarge wasn’t my dog—just a dog who touched me and influenced my adoption decisions.  Sarge belonged (if that’s even the right word) to Kim Wolf and her husband.  Kim’s been maintaining Sarge’s Facebook page, which is linked above, so feel free to post your kind words there.

  • Brad Carr

    Sad but Sarge sounds like he was a very sweet lovable dog.I would love to have a pittbull but the city I live in passed an ordinace banning the breed,sad.I also have two cats so I would have to get a puppy or a recue that has been around cats.I never really understood the breed and was like most people thinking the were mean and dangerous,till I watched the pitt recue shows on animal planet I leared alot and liked the breed.They are a terrier (I had an airedale) stubborn,energetic ,protective ,loyal and very loving dogs.How do I know this well a good frind of mine has a pitt,dobbie,rotwieler mix maned Rosie.Rosie is a sweet lovable dog if she knows you,she is a family pet and a good guard dog.She didn’t like me at first and had to get to know me(i’m an animal lover at heart)after a couple times comming over visitting she would come by me and let me pet her.Now three year later this is my buddy I love this dog she is so sweet every time i come over she howels,wines for me then jumps on me and kisses me when I come in the house.Rosie made me see they arn’t all bad and made me want one from a recue.Having had an Airdale I know the breed pitts are similar (rosie always is in front of you)If we could only get rid of the dogfighting around the world forever pitts would get a better rap and the breed would be better understood too many misunderstood people out there.When I do get another dog it will be a pit or pit mix from a recue.Just like my cat I have had for six yrs. I got him as a kitten I was cutting grass(landscaper) I came out of a back yard and saw a car slow down and throw something out of it.It was my cat sox a little ball of fur six weeks old.I ran in the street swooped him up before another car hit him I put him in the truck and took him home wih me best cat I’ve ever had very sweet and lovable a big tom cat named sox,he looks like tom from the cartoon tom and jerry.

    • Kiscaly

      Brad Carr,
      It sounds like from where you live, you could get a pitbull the same way. I adopted a pitbull from my local humane society. My pittie Demo is the most well behaved, sweetest and loving dog I have ever had and I have had various breeds of dogs (Huskeys, German Sherpards, Golden Retrievers, Lab mixes etc.) for the last 25 years and I loved them all, but Demo has caught a very special place in my heart. I hope you can also adopt your own pitbull some day. They are definately worth it.

  • Brad Carr

    Sad but Sarge sounds like he was a very sweet lovable dog.I would love to have a pittbull but the city I live in passed an ordinace banning the breed,sad.I also have two cats so I would have to get a puppy or a recue that has been around cats.I never really understood the breed and was like most people thinking the were mean and dangerous,till I watched the pitt recue shows on animal planet I leared alot and liked the breed.They are a terrier (I had an airedale) stubborn,energetic ,protective ,loyal and very loving dogs.How do I know this well a good frind of mine has a pitt,dobbie,rotwieler mix maned Rosie.Rosie is a sweet lovable dog if she knows you,she is a family pet and a good guard dog.She didn’t like me at first and had to get to know me(i’m an animal lover at heart)after a couple times comming over visitting she would come by me and let me pet her.Now three year later this is my buddy I love this dog she is so sweet every time i come over she howels,wines for me then jumps on me and kisses me when I come in the house.Rosie made me see they arn’t all bad and made me want one from a recue.Having had an Airdale I know the breed pitts are similar (rosie always is in front of you)If we could only get rid of the dogfighting around the world forever pitts would get a better rap and the breed would be better understood too many misunderstood people out there.When I do get another dog it will be a pit or pit mix from a recue.Just like my cat I have had for six yrs. I got him as a kitten I was cutting grass(landscaper) I came out of a back yard and saw a car slow down and throw something out of it.It was my cat sox a little ball of fur six weeks old.I ran in the street swooped him up before another car hit him I put him in the truck and took him home wih me best cat I’ve ever had very sweet and lovable a big tom cat named sox,he looks like tom from the cartoon tom and jerry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=822877901 Janice Holladay

    I got to know Sarge AFTER he’d crossed the Bridge, and yet he still has impacted me. What a wonderful dog and wonderful family who gave him love and joy in the last years of his life. And, for all he gave and continues to give from the other side of that Bridge, thank you, Sarge. Love to you and peace to those who grieve your passing. And, may was all learn what real redemption and second chances look like when we think of your sweet face!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cheryl-Ali/1566271988 Cheryl Ali

    I feel no shame in confessing that I cried while reading the news of Sarge’s passing!  What an incredible “dog” you have turned to be!  You deserve this “Tribute” that was given to you……RIP my beloved four-legged friend ! Your picture in uniform is already posted on my wall in front of my computer.  Thank you so much to the family who took him in after so much abuse. Your love and joy gave Serge the strength to enjoy the last years of his life. Thank you! <3

  • Larry

    Elderbulls rule,I’m proud to wear my Surge tee shirt when I walk my elderbulls

  • Cambridge Rat Mom

    RIP, sweetest Sarge. You will never be forgotten. Kisses on your little nose.

  • Cjustpeachie

    What a wonderful story!!  God bless Sarge and his family.<3

  • http://www.facebook.com/pixistickers Julie Anderson

    wat an incredable story of love, and devotion. and someone who was able to see thru his past, and give him a new life. i’d love to be proud of being the owner of a therapy animal. my dog is getting older, and she is very tolerent, but not very affectionate. so idk if she wud make a good therapy dog. but gosh this story about sarge, and the way it changed ur mind about adopting an older dog. very touching. i too want to adopt an older dog. i love the pit bull breed. and am always trying to learn more about them. rip sarge.  because of u, gracie too got a second chance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pixistickers Julie Anderson

    i dont think ive ever been more eager to learn more, or wanted to give as much of my time and devotion to anything in my whole life. as i do the pit bull. at first after a yr of getting 3 of them at once wen id never owned a pit bull, or even been around them, i thought i knew it all. crash course for sure. but now 10 years later i learn something new every day from them, and also new ways for me to be a better master, pack leader, owner, watever u wanna call it. i consider myself mommy tho. they are truly a real member of my family. my kids probaly think i love my dogs more than them, but thats not true. but i do love my dogs. and will put them first sometimes wen maybe i shudnt.. but somehow it alwyas works out. and wat they give me, the part that they play in my life now that im growing older, and alone, i dont feel alone. maybe in sum ways.  i cant find a decent man, and not going to waste 10 yrs on one that gives me nothing, lol im totally dedicating my time to volunteering, adopting, hopefully fostering more. and if a man comes along that can live with that and isnt jealous of my dogs, then i can deal with that. if not, thats ok too. my last boyfriend was jealous of pixi. i decided he wasnt exactly my type, lol any man competing with a dog or a child for attention isnt all that stable. hehehe

  • http://www.facebook.com/pixistickers Julie Anderson

    just to make something clear, wen i said i put my dogs first sometimes, i dont put them first over my children. i put them first over myself sometimes when i shudnt. i do however, miss family get togethers, or the chance to attend a concert my grandchildren r in, because of a very sick dog, but its cuz i love them too. i wud not miss being at the emergencyu room with my grandchildren, or child, or  a high school graduation. i think i balance it out the best i can living alone and out of town. i get babysitters when its not appropiate for my dogs to attend. because of the distance, and nowhere to put them while im there. omg i need to shut up. but i just love this breed, and have recently dove into putting most of my time and energy even money into them, its helped my depression, my health, my attitude, and most of all made me feel needed. and i quit wasting my energy on worthless men, hoping i’ll meet my soulmate any day now. ive just quit focusing on a relationship with a man, and am satisfied with my relationship and everything im researching, learning, participating in right now. im doing something good in the world today. ok im done. just wanted to share how happy ive beenf lately since devoting my time into volunteer work, and leanring experiences and the hole in my life that these dogs have filled.

  • marla briggs

    What a great story.  Adopting an older pet is a wonderful way to go.  We adopted a 8 year old Pitbull 2 and 1/2 years ago from our local shelter.  She has brought to us love and joy. Our other dog would say the same,.  he absolutely loves her.

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