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Amanda Kiselak and Adam Nebzydoski met the Pit Bull while in school. It was love at first sight.
The first three months of Louie’s life must have been rough. He arrived at the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia shelter covered in feces, urine, and angry pink burns. Clearly hurting and unable to put weight on one of his scarred back legs, young Louie needed an amputation.
Despite everything he’d suffered, the little white Pit Bull was puppy joy personified. He accepted a peanut butter-filled Kong as if it were the greatest gift he could imagine, but the Shelter Dog Specialty Medical Treatment Project had a better present in store for him. Louie was moved to Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital, where he would be gifted with extensive (and expensive) medical care, and an even bigger surprise: a loving home with two veterinary students.
“He was only like 13 pounds,” third-year veterinary student Adam Nebzydoski tells Lucky Puppy before his new wife, Amanda Kiselak, finishes his sentence.
“Now he’s close to like 40,” she adds.
It was Amanda who saw Louie first. Now a full fledged veterinarian, Amanda was still a fourth-year vet student last spring when she stopped by Ryan Hospital to drop off old towels that the couple’s wedding shower had rendered redundant.
“One of my good friends was like, ‘Oh, come look at this Dachshund, it’s an all-white Dachshund’,” the wiener dog fan recalls.
When her friend suggested she come look at a second dog, Amanda resisted.
“She said, ‘There’s a Pit Bull puppy that looks just like the Dachshund except he’s a Pit Bull!” and I was like, ‘Whatever, I’ve seen a million puppies, I have to go.’”
Her friend was persistent, so instead of heading back out to her car, Amanda was led over to Louie, who was then called Punky. The pup was recovering from the amputation of his left hind leg due to a condition known as a quadriceps contracture. His burns had healed in such a way that he would have never be able to straighten the leg he’d been dragging before the surgery.
It was love at first sight for Amanda, who learned the pup needed a foster home and texted a picture to Adam.
“I had to have him,” she recalls.
With Adam quickly on board, the only member of the family left to fall in love with Louie was the couple’s 6-year-old Dachshund, Sierra. Not knowing how their older dog would take a new pup, the couple planned a slow, treat-filled introduction and planned for the worst.
“It was totally like anti-climatic,” says Amanda. “Not even a snarl. Not a lip curl, nothing.”
With Sierra’s blessing, Louie moved in with his new foster family, and it wasn’t long before everyone realized he was in his forever home. At the time, Amanda was busy with clinical rotations, but Adam was able to be home with Louie quite often and do the majority of the heavy lifting.
“We live on the third floor, so he had to be carried up and down stairs and stuff,” Adam recalls. “Also, he wasn’t house trained, so if you tried to bring him down in the elevator, he wouldn’t make it. You had to pick him up and carry him down.”
Eventually, Louie got the hang of going down stairs, and by the time he was 5 1/2 months old, Louie had even figured out how to run.
“He just goes barreling down the hill,” Adam says.
“He uses inertia to his benefit,” Amanda adds.
Louie may be fast for a tripod, but he hasn’t been able to outrun the breed bias that follows so many Pit Bulls. Amanda and Adam have seen people recoil when they learn his breed, but they’ve also seen people change their minds because of him.
“When he is fully grown, he will look very much like a Pit Bull, but because he’s such a gentle, kind dog — with three legs — it’s changing people’s’ perceptions,” says Amanda, who is grateful to the Richard Lichter Charity for Dogs for funding the project that kept Louie off the shelter euthanasia list.
“It would have been a real crying shame if Louie had to be put down because of finances,” she says. “He’s like an old, gentle soul, and he’s always so happy.”
Top photo: Louie outdoors. (Courtesy Amanda Kiselak)
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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