A survivor of a large multi–state dogfighting ring, Dixie was rescued during a home raid in Baltimore, Maryland where she had spent her days “chained to a wall in a dark basement, sitting in her own fluids and waste.” Growing up in such a confined space with no socialization, this then nine–month–old brindle Pit Bull puppy was terrified of almost everything.
In fact, her fear was so great that when Jasmine’s House, Inc., a Pit Bull rescue and outreach organization, pulled Dixie from the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, Inc., Jasmine’s House co-founder Kate Callahan had to physically carry her out of the shelter.
It was the photo of Kate carrying Dixie that began the journey of finding her furever home. Kara DeBord, Dixie’s mom, shared with BarkPost what she felt the first time she saw that photo.
I focused in on those lost little eyes and let out a long sigh. I knew I was not going to be able to forget that picture any time soon. She instantly felt like she was mine, and I was hers.
Even with Kara feeling like Dixie was meant to be in their family, it wasn’t her who made the final decision. Nathan DeBord, Dixie’s dad, explained who really wears the (furry) pants in their household.
For me, [our dog,] Ana, made the decision…she’s a special girl. [Ana] was…in the shelter the longest of any dog when we adopted her but Kara had a feeling. Kara had the same feeling about Dixie….I knew that Ana would do amazing things for a fearful dog like Dixie.
As a family, Kara, Nathan, Ana, and their other dog, Chip, who has since passed, worked to bring Dixie home. With Dixie being a fearful dog, Kara and Nathan met with Dixie multiple times before they adopted her. During their first meeting, Dixie “maybe peeked around the bush five times while Kara and [Nathan] sat on a brick half–wall.” Nathan said:
I had no idea she was going to be that fearful but she was a little better with us the second time when we took a walk with her and her foster brother…so that was encouraging.
Now, over a year into her furever home, Dixie — also known as Dixie Pixie or Dixie Doodle — is blossoming. As Kara explained:
Dixie spends more time out of her shell than she does in it. In the beginning, it was the other way around. She has gained a lot of confidence, and it’s really allowed her to find herself; her personality is very entertaining.
Entertaining for sure, especially for Dixie’s grandparents as of recently. Kara and Nathan “stick by the mantra of letting Dixie decide when she wants to push her boundaries when interacting with others” and for a long time, the only physical contact between Dixie and her grandparents was when she would take a treat from their hands.
This past Mother’s Day weekend, though, that all changed.
…Dixie approached the patio area and play–bowed, with a single bark. None of us expected that, and Bonnie, [Dixie’s grandma], asked, “What do you think it is? Does she want something?” I told her I thought Dixie wanted to play….So Bonnie headed out into the yard and crouched down to the grass, and Dixie started playing with her and running circles around her. It was just one of those magical moments when Dixie was just ready to grow a little more, plain and simple. I don’t think any of us will ever forget it.
Dixie has also begun to show affection for longer periods of time, moments that Kara calls her “little treasures.” Recently, while watching the news before preparing dinner, Dixie hopped up on the couch next to Kara. What happened next, though, was completely unexpected.
…[Dixie] scooched herself closer to me so that her head rested on my leg like it was her pillow. I started tearing up and stroking her side while she snored softly, and thought, ‘My baby girl is tired and just wants to rest on her mama.’ I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. It was like no one had ever hurt her before or caused her to ever be afraid of the world around her.
For others considering sharing their home with a fearful dog, Kara has an important reminder.
There are going to be good days and there are going to be not–so–great days. If something isn’t working out the way you’ve planned, take a step back, take a deep breath, and try doing it differently. Most importantly, just be their cheerleader.
Dixie’s recovery has “taken a small village,” but she continues to grow, living a healthy and happy life. For Kara, Dixie’s future couldn’t be any brighter.
The light inside of Dixie is only going to get bigger.
Featured image via Jasmine’s House, Inc. & Kara DeBord