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A Dog that Promotes the Positives about Pit Bull Terriers

Editor’s Note: By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

I met Zoey and Kelly Kaliszewski at BlogPaws, a conference for pet bloggers.  Zoey, an American Pit Bull Terrier, stood out because of the pink taffeta that she was sporting. If anyone sees a large dog that may appear a bit frightening, think pink! That was why Kelly Kaliszewski, Zoey’s mom, dressed Zoey in pink.   Personally,  Zoey looked adorable.  I’m a fan of the breed.  She was so friendly that I wanted to get to know her story. Kelly was kind enough to write it.

Threatening? Absolutely not! Zoey really is pretty in pink.

 By Kelly Kaliszewski for Pet News and Views

Zoey came into my life quite unexpectedly in December 2010.  I was asked to foster a litter of puppies that had been confiscated from a person who was involved in breeding dogs to support illegal activities. I agreed to foster two of them until their adoptions were secured—not knowing at the time that one of them would capture my heart.Zoey and her brother, Bruiser, were as different from each other as night and day.  Bruiser lived up to his name.  He stuck close by my side.  Zoey, however, was a free spirit.  She stared defiantly at me when I called to her, ran from me when I tried to pick her up, and danced to the beat of a different drummer from the moment she set paws in my house!  I fell in love with them both.

Some History

In 2008, I left a career in real estate to launch my own dog treat company, Wishcuit. I had grown weary of a job that left me unfulfilled. For several years, I had been crafting food and treats for my deaf dog Bear, who struggled with food allergies.  I had created a treat that didn’t cause her any problems, and found that all of my dogs and my friends’ dogs loved them.  Wishcuit was born.

Donating a portion of the proceeds to rescues was a no-brainer. It was just three days later that I found myself on the road, selling treats with my American Bulldog Cain at my side.  Everything seemed perfect, and then my world came crashing down.  Cain was prone to aspiration pneumonia. Before we left on our trip, I had taken him in for a routine x-ray.  It was something that had been a part of our lives for more than three years, so I was shocked when I received a phone call stating that the x-ray had discovered a tumor in one of Cain’s lung lobes.  I returned home with him to have additional tests run. A few days later, Cain was diagnosed with cancer.  I’m not even sure of the exact moment that I made the decision to put Wishcuit on hold, but my heart wouldn’t have it any other way.   We spent the next year and a half battling his cancer, and taking advantage of every single moment that we had left to share. You can read Cain’s story here.

After My Loss

In 2010, I created a completely different product for Wishcuit, which I titled Love Adds Up; I began attending pet events and canine cancer walks, selling stickers and magnets and donating portions of the proceeds to rescues, urgent dogs in need, and to the research and treatment of canine cancer.  I stayed as busy as I could while keeping much of my sorrow to myself.  Losing Cain was devastating, and it seemed that no matter how hard I tried to move on, I slipped deeper into depression. I still had two other dogs that needed me, Bear and Sadie.  I also fostered, and eventually adopted another dog during that time.

Enter Zoey

Zoey, the crazy little dog, with one ear that perpetually flops while the other stands straight up, has become my rock.  Shortly before she turned one, her birthday is 10/10/10, she began attending events with me.  She was like a magnet; people were drawn to her for her friendliness.  This little dog began to help me heal.

Dressed in her signature pink with a big smile makes Zoey look sweet and approachable.

In the summer of 2011, she went with me to a pet expo outside of Denver. Denver has a breed ban in place, and the media is notorious for spewing negative stories about dogs that resemble “pit bulls.” I had a cute little tutu that I threw around her neck before we left for the event that day, and the rest as they say is history!  People couldn’t resist her!  I found myself not only sharing information about canine cancer, but also sharing her love and good nature with thousands of people.  Zoey became my sales associate thaty day, and pit bull advocacy became a huge part of our campaign.

She continues to visit retail businesses and veterinary hospitals on my quest to raise money to help find a cure for canine cancer.  Whether she’s dressed in a pink tutu or wearing a pair of glasses, she knows what I need her to do, and it’s absolutely incredible to see her changing preconceived perceptions of those who have believed otherwise about “pit bulls.”

She has her own Facebook  page, in which she shares information on canine cancer studies, clinical trials, pit bull advocacy, and events that we attend to raise funds and spread awareness.  She also has some new merchandise that will be released through Wishcuit in the fall.

Cancer invaded my life again on September 18, 2011 when it claimed the life of my beautiful lab Sadie.  At that time, I strengthened my commitment to do all that I can to help find a cure for this insidious disease.  I recently founded the Wishcuit Canine Cancer Fund, which is currently pending 501c3 non profit status.  The mission of the Wishcuit Canine Cancer Fund is to provide education and awareness about canine cancer on a national level through partnerships, social media, events, speaking engagements and other forms of media, while raising funds to help find a cure.

28 comments to A Dog that Promotes the Positives about Pit Bull Terriers

  • Sue

    What a fun and smart idea to dress up a dog in pink definitely makes her not scary looking!

  • Mary

    Smart and thanks for promoting these issues. Dog cancer is so sad. I lost a dog to cancer. It is a dreadful disease.

  • Rhonda

    I met Zoey at BlogPaws. She is a great dog–so friendly.

  • Joyce

    I am going to check out Zoey’s FB page. Thanks for sharing this. You run such good copy.

  • Robert

    I really love your blog, Michele! Great story Kelly, and you are doing such important work.

  • George

    What if everyone with a Pit Bull Terrier dressed them up in something frou-frou? In addition to making a great fashion statement, it would also be the start of a movement.

  • Prudence

    I’ve met Zoey, and she is a very friendly and kind dog.

  • Darrius

    Thank you for your efforts on trying to promote the positives in Pit Bulls. They really are great dogs, and those of us in the know appreciate your efforts. I wish the news media would start showing these positives too.

  • Lucy

    My brother got a pit bull, and they faced some troubles because of ignorance. His dog is very friendly, and if you break into his house, he will probably want to play with you. Seriously, these dogs are wrongly maligned, and I thank you for changing people’s perceptions about this breed.

  • Jane

    I think that if I saw a Doberman, Pit, Rotweiller or other negatively media portrayed dog dressed in a boa, I would laugh and not be afraid. Here appearances can make a big difference, and you are wise to create change this way. Thank you.

  • Joe

    American Pit Bull Terriers are great dogs, and are such a misunderstood breed. I appreciate all you are doing to change their image for the better.

  • Irina

    Your Facebook page is very helpful Kelly. And I look forward to see what you will have to offer in the fall.

  • I have had the pleasure of meeting Kelly and spending time with both she and her dog, Zoey, at BlogPaws 2012 in Salt Lake City. I love this dog and Kelly is such a genuine human being with an amazing passion for animals.

    Thanks for bringing Kelly to the forefront on your blog here, Michele. Well done!

  • Ydalia

    Thanks for this information. I checked out your FB page–very useful.

  • Thanks Carol. I also took an instant liking to Kelly and Zoey.–Michele

  • George, what a great idea!–Best, Michele

  • Thanks Robert! Thank you for reading Pet News and Views. –Best, Michele

  • Linda

    I’ve had 3 pit bulls; all of them came from my local animal shelter. What a misunderstood breed, and a wonderful loyal loving breed at that.

  • P. Elizabeth

    Thank you for posting this story about beautiful Zoey. Ignorance abounds about Pit Bulls. I wish everyone could meet Zoey. What a love.

  • Love Zoey! Would love to meet her someday.

  • Katherine

    I have 2 pit bulls from a local shelter. They were badly abused but even so they have been the best thing that has ever happened to my family. They helped my dad rehab from a few serious medical problems that all happened at once and they have become my rock as well. I could not have asked for sweeter, more adorable, or more loving dogs. I truly think that the ignorance about this horribly stereotyped breed is a problem. I also have had two dogs die of cancer and I think what you are doing is AMAZING. Keep it up!!! and thank you for your hard work!!

  • Thank you for reading Katherine, and for your views of this wonderful breed.–Michele

  • Zoey is a very friendly and kind dog.

  • Good, I am glad to see some positive promotion for this breed. Pit bulls just flat out get a bad rap. I know plenty of incredible pit bulls and they do not deserve the bad press they get Go Zoey!!!!

  • Wonderful story and great exposure for this breed!

  • Enough with the bad press for pit bulls, do news story on the owner not the dog the next time there is a incident.

  • Thank you to everyone for all of the wonderful comments, and Michele, THANK YOU once again for sharing our story, and being such a fabulous advocate for pit bulls. It is fast approaching three years since I lost Cain, and this week will mark one year since I lost Sadie to cancer. Raising awareness about this deadly disease, while advocating for pit bulls in such soft, subtle ways has not only educated others, but been an incredible healing process for me. The journey from how it all began to how far I’ve come has been both rocky and smooth, and I know in my heart that I wouldn’t be where I am without Zoey and the amazing people that I have come to know. I say this all the time…Zoey has changed my life in more ways than one. She is magic, and healing wrapped up in a magnetic bundle of fur. She is my rock, reminding me daily that life is for living, and love carries on♥ Thanks again!

  • Kelly, Thank you for all you are doing. You are a great advocate, and I so enjoyed meeting you and Zoey at BlogPaws. Best, Michele