Guest writer Nomi Berger is interviewing and writing about some of the “pit bull heroes” in our community. Today we feature Rollie, a seasoned “ambassadog” who has proven her mettle in the agility world, and is no less impressive in her role as family dog. Chay and Rollie have fostered a number of HugABull dogs, including Floyd, whose story was shared on our blog several times (here and here if you want to do a little background reading). Floyd was soon added to the family as a permanent member, followed by two tiny humans shortly thereafter!
With her sweet, open face and helicopter tail always spinning, Rollie of the many roles is impossible to resist. Whether she’s soaring over agility bars, playing the protective kiddie guardian, soaking up some rays or simply sniffing the salt air, this perky, and personable pit is easy to love.
But she wasn’t always like this. Chay first met Rollie in June 2006 in the unlikeliest of places: a car lot. She was the young owner’s dog, and rather than leave her in a kennel 20 hours a day (as he had for much of her 1 1⁄2 years), he now kept Rollie with him at the lot. Knowing Chay was a dog lover, he asked if she could take Rollie in until he found her a new home.
Despite Chay’s initial hesitation (she already owned two dogs, and her acreage was teeming with chickens, cats and ducks) she finally agreed.
She was the saddest dog Chay had ever seen. She loved the other dogs in the house, but refused to interact with HER. To coax the reluctant Rollie out of her shell, Chay began basic training lessons with her at home. Although Rollie was a good student, she lacked enthusiasm, and remained shut down.
When a friend started agility with her dog, Chay decided to try it with Rollie. To her delight, Rollie seemed to truly enjoy the contact equipment. “Where other dogs were nervous on the teeter,” Chay recounts, “Rollie reveled in slamming it to the ground.” But she refused to jump. She either went under the bars or through them, as if writing her own rules. And Chay gamely played along, focusing solely on the FUN of it all.
Soon Rollie was a changed dog, happy and confident, and when Chay had her try jumping at home, she succeeded on the first attempt. Before long, this once closed and reticent gal was competing in trials. She earned the titles of Starter and Advanced Agility Dog of Canada, a Masters title, and was ultimately awarded her Canine Good Neighbour certificate.
Meanwhile, Chay and her husband had begun fostering for HugABull – including some dogs with medical and training challenges – and Rollie promptly assumed the role of devoted “den mother.” With what Chay proudly calls her “bombproof personality,” Rollie was surprisingly tolerant of bad behaviours. Whenever the fosters acted out, she would be their support, their snuggler, and their rock, providing them with the calm and confidence they so desperately needed.
After the birth of her second child, Chay officially retired Rollie from agility, allowing her to slide, proudly and protectively, into the role of “full-fledged family dog. If anything,” laughs Chay, “Rollie’s activities have only increased. They now include hiking and walking with her doggy friends, many of them from HugABull.”
If a single picture is worth a thousand words, then the pictures of Rollie say it all. From car lot to nanny dog, it’s been an incredible ride!
Written by Nomi Berger.