Adopted Pit Bull Gives Shelter Dogs a Helping Paw

Thanks to Bexley and mom Cynthia, adoptable dogs are getting a second chance.

Cynthia + Bexley

An adopted pit bull not only helped Cynthia cope with depression, but he also gave her a purpose: to help other dogs too.

"Bexley halved the workload by teaching these dogs so much. They just followed his lead, and his quiet, steady demeanor worked wonders. He tolerated puppy teeth and annoying adolescents. He slept next to them when crate training if they needed calming."

I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and was doing well provided I kept busy, but I was facing retirement without a whole lot of things to work on. I’ve always wanted a dog, so I visited Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter (CCAS) to find one. I finally found Bexley. He looked at me through the kennel cage with his ears plastered to his head, paws on the bars, with a hopeless look of fear in his eyes… and once my husband and I met him he was irresistible: a big, blocky-headed pit bull.

Adopted Dog Bexley

I became a volunteer at CCAS and because Bexley was so well behaved, I was asked to help with a dog who had behavioral issues. The dog needed exercise, some basic training and jobs to do. Bexley became my second in command, my co-pilot. He fulfilled her need to run and play. He taught her manners. I worked with her and gave her jobs to keep her occupied and help her learn. She settled down and was adopted quickly. I continued bringing home stressed shelter dogs for rest and relaxation, lessons in manners and room to run. Bexley halved the workload by teaching these dogs so much. They just followed his lead, and his quiet, steady demeanor worked wonders. He tolerated puppy teeth and annoying adolescents. He slept next to them when crate training if they needed calming. By allowing him to handle the corrections, they learned so much faster. I had a “working relationship” with my best bud. I honestly can say… that’s never happened to me with a human.

Adopted Dog Bexley

I fostered dogs with medical problems, took dogs out for day trips to run in the woods at my sister’s farm, and brought them home to learn house manners. With Bexley’s confidence, the dogs always followed his lead. I attended any workshop I could to learn more about dog behavior and methods to help them become adoptable. Dogs Playing for Life visited CCAS and I became involved in playgroups at the shelter. Bexley had given me a new sense of purpose: I was passionate about working with these dogs.

Adopted Dog Bexley

Loving Bexley taught me about the discrimination faced by pit bulls and their owners. Owning a pit bull, fostering and rehabbing them in my neighborhood has been challenging. The fear people have of them has motivated me to advocate for pit bull awareness. I tell you, I’m very aware of how this pit bull has become my wingman.

Adopted Dog Bexley

Bexley is truly a special boy and he has given my life so much meaning by helping me to succeed, thus fueling my passion to train, socialize, heal and promote adoption of shelter dogs. I am proud of the things I have accomplished but I am even more proud of the lives that Bexley has helped save. After raising my family and my nursing career, instead of facing retirement and battling depression, I found a passion that has enriched my life. It all began with one very special blocky-headed pit bull who needed a home.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Cynthia won Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter in Valley View, Ohio a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.