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Jan 14

Gertie, Our Shelter Ambassador

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 4:39 PM by Jamey Cantrell

2000? - January 14, 2013

There comes a time when people who love their pets must make the heart wrenching decision to say goodbye.  Sadly, most of our beloved companions don't live as long as we do, so the everlasting and uncompromising love they give us is nearly always accompanied by the heartbreak of losing them.  It is with very heavy hearts that we announce that our Gertie crossed over the rainbow bridge this morning. 


Gertie and Scarlett

Gertie first came to our shelter when she was found as a stray and rescued from the streets in the middle of the night on November 10, 2006.  She had obvious medical issues that were likely due to being nothing more than puppy factory to her previous owner.  She was underweight, covered in fleas, with very dry skin and a dull, thin coat.  Constant nursing of litters leached the calcium from her bones until her front legs bowed and twisted and left her unable to walk normally.  Despite suffering from an obvious lack of care, Gertie was gentle, loving, and trusting of everyone she came in contact with.  We hoped that a special home could be found for her despite being in such bad shape and when she was adopted to what we thought was the perfect home, we celebrated and thought she was finally going to be able to see that there are people out there who would love her just as much as she loved them.  We thought she would be happy with a new life, in a new home, with a new family but Gertie knew that wasn't where she belonged.

She was returned after a few days because she destroyed her adopter's house when they left her alone to go to the grocery store.  It is still amazing that such an innocent looking pit bull, with a severe limp and one flopped-over ear, could be responsible for what all she was accused of.  We knew Gertie had separation anxiety and hated being left alone, but it was almost as if she was trying to tell everyone that she was only happy here in our shelter.  She became our shelter ambassador on February 21, 2007, and spent every day of her life since then with us.
Gertie, a shelter dog. - Plano, TX

In that nearly six year period, over 300,000 people have walked through our doors and nearly 50,000 animals have been taken in.  Most never even known that she was there, in her warm, comfy bed under our front counter, usually at the feet of whoever was working there for the day.  But she was always there, just waiting for her opportunity to show her true nature.  She was an official stop on our shelter tours and especially loved the scouts, daycares, and other groups of small children that visited.  She greeted them all and patiently let them do whatever they wanted.  She endured being dressed up, was sometimes hugged a little too exhuberantly, and many other things that would have made other dogs ready to bare teeth or tuck tail and run.  But Gertie relished the attention and never once gave even the slightest hint of being annoyed with them. 

Gertie with kids

We think Gertie's selfless and loving nature was largely influenced by her early life.  Constantly caring for puppies put her in a permanent "mommy mode" and she showed her maternal instincts to every person and animal that crossed her path.  She helped clean and love literally hundreds of bottle babies being fostered by staff.  She warmed and bathed an untold number of orphaned wildlife waiting to go to rehabilitators.  Anytime she heard the high pitched calls of a hungry newborn, she would search them out and whimper until she was given the opportunity to nurture them.  

Gertie mothering a squirrel

But maybe Gertie's true reason for being here, and the thing she most excelled at, was when she got to meet children who had a fear of dogs.  She just had this way of calming them, inviting them over to her without saying a word, and showing them the special bond that can exist between people and pets.  Maybe it was because her movement was slowed by her legs.  Maybe it was how sweet she was with everything and everyone she met.  Maybe it was that her big brown eyes let them see how gentle her soul was.  Whatever the reason, she was able to connect with them in a way that we know changed many young lives.

Some have said "how sad that she lived half her life at an animal shelter and never knew the love of a family."  To them we respond, we're just sad that it took half her life to find the place where she belonged.  Gertie was born to be a shelter dog.  She loved everyone she met, wanted nothing more than to always be by someone's side, and was the perfect ambassador for her breed and our shelter.  She showed people how wonderful shelter dogs can be and that pit bulls are not vicious dogs to be feared just because of their name.  We loved her beyond measure but nothing we could have given her would ever equal what  we got from her in return.  We do not believe that a more perfect home for Gertie exists because she didn't want a typical home with just one family to care for.  She wanted one where there was a never-ending supply of people and other animals she could share her endless amount of love with.  We were her family and the only home she would ever have been truly happy in. 

You are loved, will be greatly missed, but will never be forgotten, Gertie.

Gertie in bed