Why I Walk – Danika

Darwin Dogs is committed to all dogs, including those unfairly discriminated against in Breed Specific Laws (“BSL”).  That’s why Darwin Dogs has teamed up with Brittany Graham Photography for the Pittie Parades.  Pit bulls and bully breeds are a lovable group of dogs, and we hope everyone who wants to love and care for one will someday be able to legally do so in their city. The purpose of a Pittie Parade is to peacefully protest the BSL’s in specific cities.  On May 3, 2014 at 10:00 a.m., we will start our walk at W 117th and Madison and walk across Lakewood, Ohio with all our dogs, gaining signatures on petitions in opposition to BSL’s as we go.  Dogs and their owners are encouraged to wear their green bandanas in support of the Pittie Parade.  ”Bandanas for Banned Breeds” T-shirts are also available.

Danika Migliore of Darwin Dogs explains here why she chose to become involved with pitties and work towards revocation of BSLs.  To find out more about the Pittie Parade or to make a donation, please visit us here.  Proceeds from the Lakewood Pittie Parade benefit Cleveland Animal Control Volunteers, who are inundated with pitties who, because they are banned in so many cities, typically never find homes. 

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Vesta. Impossibly cute as a puppy.

We all have different reasons why we love those pittie breeds. But, I’d like to share mine. No, a pittie breed didn’t save me from a burning building or ward off an attacker. One just loved me. At a time when I needed it most.

While in college, I ended up getting very sick. I had what they call Adrenal Fatigue. I couldn’t sleep, I was exhausted all the time, felt panicky, alone (even though I wasn’t and had an awesome support system), and would just break down a lot for no reason. I cried once because Batman was on TV. I’m serious. It was crazy. I felt not one bit like myself and that’s what frustrated me the most. I was determined to get through college though and not take any time off.

Before heading back for my Junior year, I had considered getting a dog. Someone that would offer me that companionship I felt I needed. Before actually making a decision though, my roommate called me asking if I’d be okay with having a puppy in the house, as her Mom’s dog had just had some Staffordshire Bull-Terriers (or “Staffies” as they’re known). I was all for it. I didn’t know at the time, that the little diva that would come into my life, would change it forever.

We named her Vesta. Goddess of the Home. And boy did she fit that. She was a typical pittie breed. Hilarious and a goofball, with her own spice of attitude. She loved to cuddle. And she loved me. When she was little, she was a hellion. Doing homework was always difficult because pens were pretty much the most amazing things when we were holding them. However, once she got past her crazy puppy stage she settled into her own.

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Freddy Kreuger didn’t enjoy shredding as much as Vesta did!

She was my shadow and my partner in crime. We went everywhere together. The park, the library, farmers markets, everywhere I could take her she went. She slept with me every night, and you’d be amazed at how much room a 35 lb dog can take up. Yet somehow her snores were so soothing. I couldn’t help but finally be able to sleep again. She never asked more of me than what I could give. She could always tell when I wasn’t feeling great and was the best snuggle partner I could ask for. She motivated me to get out and do things even when I felt I was too tired. She made me feel better and lowered my anxiety. She was a therapy dog without knowing it.

I taught her tricks and worked with her constantly. My roommate’s mom couldn’t believe how good she was and the things she knew. That built both of our confidences. We were a team. Her Staffie attitude of complete loyalty and love is what helped me get better. I know it.

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We graduated Summa Cum Canine!

We lived in an older community. And there were lots of smaller dogs on our street. Many of our neighbors would make comments about how “dangerous” she looked. Meanwhile, their 3 pound dog wanted nothing more than to rip both of our throats out. It was unfortunate that Vesta got labeled because of what she looked like, and not by the fact that she would sit calmly by me and wait for me to make the first move. She changed a few minds while I lived there. Not enough in my opinion, but it was a step forward.

The day I moved out was hard. She followed me around the condo like usual. And she knew what was going on. I went into my room to do a last check to make sure everything was out and I felt a little nose at my leg and then paws. She was crawling up my leg one last time to say goodbye. I bent down and she gave me a gentle kiss on the nose. I walked downstairs and on my way out the door I went to say goodbye one more time, but in true Vesta fashion, she wouldn’t look at me. She was a diva after all, and well, she had already said her sweetest goodbye.

I miss that dog every day. I don’t have a pittie breed right now because I knew I wasn’t ready. I was afraid I would do too much comparing. But the next dog will be a pittie breed. There’s no doubt in my mind. She built a place for herself in my heart that is Staffie shaped. I get updates about her every once in a while and each picture I am so thankful and heartbroken at the same time. And that’s why I’m walking. Because a Staffie changed my life. A Staffie that had 4 legs, a cold nose, a big heart and a pittie face.

This is for you Vesta.

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Porter lending his support for banned breeds.  #BandanasForBannedBreeds

Porter lending his support for banned breeds. #BandanasForBannedBreeds

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training Cleveland Ohio

3 thoughts on “Why I Walk – Danika

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