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The Pit Bull spent eight years being overbred, but Lexy’s new life allows her to be a happy, healthy dog.
She’s known for being silly, whimsical, and incredibly photogenic, but for Instagram star Lexy the Elderbull, life wasn’t always so picture perfect. Two and a half years ago, the then 8-year-old Pit Bull was entering her fifth lonely month at the Vancouver BC SPCA, looking nothing like her current, beautiful self.
“Her belly pretty much touched the ground,” Lexy’s human, Jenny Mackay, tells Lucky Puppy. “She’d been so completely overbred.”
Lexy’s pendulous underside hung from a skinny body that showed signs of a life no dog would choose. Her teeth were ground down in a way that suggested she’d spend time trying to chew her way out of a crate.
“The SPCA trainers were guessing that she hadn’t even been outside before because the pads of her feet were just completely like butter — it didn’t look like they’d had any use,” Jenny recalls.
Jenny first met Lexy when she came to the shelter seeking a companion for her 9-year-old Basenji–Corgi mix, Pete, who she’d previously adopted through the BC SPCA. Pete was suffering from autoimmune issues, and Jenny was hoping a new canine pal would lift his spirits. Lexy was close to Pete’s age, but her strength and energy level far outstripped the ailing male’s. The two dogs just weren’t compatible.
“So with my heart in my hand — it was very sad — I left the shelter hoping she would find a home,” Jenny explains.
One week later, on December 27, Pete passed away. While Jenny was grieving, Lexy was receiving the second best gift a shelter dog can hope for: After so many months at the BC SPCA, she’d been moved to foster care.
The senior dog was out of the shelter, but never out of Jenny’s thoughts. When she learned a friend of friend was the one fostering Lexy, she began visiting, and adopted the traumatized dog on Jan. 26, 2014.
“Everything was new and surprising to her. That was the biggest thing I learned, to see the world through her eyes,” Jenny explains. “To me, it’s just a car going down the street. To her, it was a big fright because she had no idea what it was.”
In her new home, Lexy would hug the walls while moving from room to room, always staying on the perimeter. Jenny put the dog’s bed in front of the fireplace, knowing Pete had always loved to sleep in that spot, but Lexy was too frightened of the flames to enjoy the warmth. She didn’t seem to be able to take pleasure in anything other dogs enjoy.
Then, one day, Jenny was walking Lexy through Vancouver’s Stanley Park when Lexy tentatively stepped off the path and onto the damp grass.
“Out of nowhere, she just dropped and did that happy roll on her back. You could just see that switch going on,” says Jenny, who remembers the moment as the first time she really saw Lexy being a dog.
It must have become clear to Lexy that she was safe in her new life, because soon she was doing things she’d never tried before, like following another dog into the surf at the dog beach, and even sleeping in front of the fireplace.
“She moved over next to the bed, put one paw on it, then another paw, and eventually all four paws were on it, and [then] she was on her back,” Jenny recalls.
The results of Lexy’s transformation from serious to silly are visible on her Instagram, where she’s dressed up in outfits from a tutu to a unicorn costume.
Jenny says she likes to put Lexy in costumes not just for the entertainment value, but also because it challenges the mental image many people have of Pit Bulls. Now an active advocate for the breed, Jenny had never had a Pit before Lexy, and was shocked by the breed bias she’s encountered. She’s using her social media platform to fundraise for Pit Bull rescue groups not just locally, but throughout the United States as well.
Jenny hopes Lexy’s fun-loving photoshoots will help others see the potential for joy in sad-looking shelter dogs.
“The fact that she spent eight years with really no love, with very little human interaction, without going outside, and here she is — this goofy, loving, costume wearing little girl — it’s amazing.”
Top photo: Lexi posing with butterfly prop. (Photo courtesy Lexy’s Facebook page)
Heather is a wife, new mom, and former TV journalist in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. You can follow Heather on Twitter and Google+.
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