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Pit Bull Forms Unique Bond With Foster Mom


Chi Super Dog
When Emma Toth of Milwaukee saw this pit bull, she saw a piece of herself. They both know what it’s like to feel alone and out of place.

A few weeks ago, in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, an injured and exhausted pit bull terrier dragged himself onto the front porch of someone’s home.

He was a handsome dog, buff both in color and in build, with caramel-colored eyes and a white stripe that ran down the center of his muscular face.

The reputation of pit bulls, deservedly or not, precedes them, and the owners of the home didn’t want to tangle with the collarless stray. But — this being Riverwest, arguably the dog-friendliest place in the city — they didn’t what to call animal control either. What if he belonged to a neighbor?

So they posted something on the Riverwest Facebook page. The item caught the eye of Emma Toth, who knows a few things about dogs — and about what it feels like to be lost, alone and abandoned.

Emma had been a foster child. She had bounced through 27 homes before turning 10. She lived with her father for a while. One day, he dropped her off at her half-sister’s house for a visit. He never came back to get her.

That sort of thing leaves a mark. Emma, now grown, is a woman inclined to trust dogs more than people.

“Dog people are dog people for a reason,” she says. “They are not people people. And I fit the bill pretty well. Dogs are the only example of unconditional love that I have had in my life.”

Emma and her 4-year-old daughter, Nora, live in a modest house with four dogs (two of which are blind), three cats and her partner, Sam Jansen. She wasn’t exactly interested in adding to her menagerie, but she got out a slip collar and went to her neighbor’s house to see if she could help.

“There he was,” she says. “Just shaking really hard.”

Emma knew just how he felt.

The dog had a telling detail that fired Emma’s imagination: He had been neutered. So, Emma thought, someone at some point must have cared about him. That caring someone, Emma thought, was probably out searching for him, hoping to bring him home.

Emma was determined to reunite the lost dog with this caring someone.

She posted his picture and his story on various neighborhood Facebook sites. She notified the police. She went door to door. She registered him with various lost-animal services.

She named him George. Word got around. People asked Emma if George needed anything. Food? Blankets? Toys? Money for medical care.

George had a terrible limp. Emma wanted to take him to a veterinarian, something she couldn’t afford. A neighbor set up an online fundraiser, and within hours, the money was there.

X-rays revealed that George had a broken shoulder. Perhaps he’d been hit by a car. Perhaps he’d been beaten. It wasn’t clear. Emma nursed George and continued to look for his owner.

The neighborhood pitched in to help. They more or less adopted him, calling him “Riverwest George.” In adopting George, they adopted Emma as well.

Emma wasn’t used to this. When she walked to the corner store, it was her habit to keep her head down and avert her eyes, seeking to avoid unnecessary contact.

Now strangers wave at her. They beep at her as they drive by. Emma finds herself smiling and waving back.

Emma says she would love to add George to her family. But for now, she considers herself George’s foster mother. She can’t shake the thought that perhaps somewhere, George is wanted.

She knows the chances of finding George’s home grow more remote with every passing day. And while this means that the chances of George remaining with her increase, it breaks her heart a little.

“I don’t think I’ll ever stop identifying with someone who doesn’t really belong anywhere,” she says.



Source: www.usatoday.com