Any dog owner can attest that their four-legged friend finds a place in their heart and eventually becomes another member of the family, and when they have had a near-death experience, they are even more precious.
Four-year-old Rue found her way into the cozy Regina home of Lauren Steele and Jodi Bogdon on Oct 27.
“Come here boo boo,” Steele calls repeatedly while she squishes Rue’s squeaky toy to get her settled on the couch for the interview.
“It’s like watching a toddler,” she laughed.
In truth, Rue is a much bigger and fuzzier than your average toddler, but she does sport hot pink toenail polish and a Wonder Woman scarf around her “cow head,” as Steele jokingly calls it.
When Steele first saw Rue, formerly known as Sapphire, on the Internet, she saw a white and black spotted Pitbull-mix rescue from Montreal, whose life would have been cut short at the kill shelter that she was brought to by her previous owners.
The Montreal SPCA estimates that out of the 2,000 dogs it receives each year, the pitbull breed makes up about 700 of that number. Alana Devine, director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA told the Dodo in an interview that "dogs (who) don't have an 'owner' on the day of the passing of the legislation, the way the legislation is drafted, the dogs have to be euthanized.”
But Rue was spared when Prairie Sky Dog Rescue, a non-profit group run completely by volunteers, paid to have her flown to Regina from Montreal. One of the volunteers, Jon Claggett, played a big role in helping Rue adjust to her new prairie home.
“Lauren was a bit of a special case because she saw Rue and it was kind of a ‘love at first sight’ deal, which happens with a lot of dogs,” said Claggett.
Steele surprised her partner with Rue, and she recorded the entire moment and uploaded it to Facebook.
Social media has been a huge role in Rue’s life since she was brought to her new home on Osler Street. Not only was she discovered on social media, but Steele also made an Instagram account specifically dedicated to pictures and videos of Rue.
“You know some people say, ‘Why do you have so many damn pictures of your kid?’ (This) is like my own personal album,” Steele laughed.
She uses social media as a platform to inform people about Breed Specific Legislations with hashtags like #stopbsl, which has been used 99,641 times on Instagram.
Besides social media, Rue now makes frequent appearances at Steele’s work place, Salon Snax in downtown Regina. Steele always makes her clients aware when Rue is present, in case someone feels uncomfortable; and the reaction has been nothing but positive.
Rue places her head on clients laps while they get their hair done and some have even started asking for Steele to bring her to work.
Steele also offers special hair services, from which a percentage of proceeds go to Prairie Sky Dog Rescue and in addition to the donations, she plans to donate a large bag of dog food at least once a month.
“I think we’re really lucky in Saskatchewan because we do embrace different breeds, besides Craven, because big dogs are important too,” said Steele.
She rubs Rue’s head and says softly, “You’re so scary aren’t you?”
Steele thinks it is very close-minded of places like Montreal and even Craven, Sask. to create a ban against so-called aggressive dogs. She said it would prevent her from visiting or potentially living in those places where her dog is not welcome.
Claggett argues that there’s a major lack of education about the pitbull breed.
“If dogs are abused, mistreated, underfed, never given attention, or a variety of issues, then the dog is going to have issues, ones that will most likely manifest as aggression. And that will be blamed on the dog.
He also questioned why Canada doesn’t make other suggestions like specific training designed for owners of certain breeds or have tougher animal cruelty laws. He mentioned that in several provinces where there are breed specific bans, the number of dog bites have not gone down.
Pitbulls are banned in Ontario and some places in Manitoba, but they’re not the first breed to be labelled as aggressive in an attempt to be banned in some provinces.
According to Canadas Guide to Dogs, New Brunswick has also tried to ban “aggressive-type” dogs such as Stafforshire Bull Terriors, American Staffordshire Terriers, Rottweilers, and Akitas.
Steele is thankful that Regina doesn’t have a ban on pitbulls because she’s already noticed the difference Rue has made in her life.
“It’s been really good,” said Steele. “I’ve noticed between my partner and I that (our) anxiety has gone down and it’s kind of weird because we have another life to take care of, but it’s actually made our lives a lot easier.”