Ten simple words

Photo of emaciated Pit Bull by Sherry Stinson, TylerDog Photography, www.tylerdog.com

“We can just feed her and she’ll get better, right?”

Ten simple words.

And ten simple words kept me up most of the night, thinking.

Friday, I had my regular TylerDog rescue shoot at Tulsa Animal Welfare. It was special because I had a lot of kids come help given it was Spring break. It was so much fun getting to see them loving on the animals and truly feeling like they were doing something meaningful, which they were. At the end of the shoot, Desi, the youngest one at eight, asked if we could go back and look at puppies. So all of us headed back to the kennels in search of puppies, but what we found pretty much stopped us in our tracks, especially Desi.

We walked up to kennel 251A and sitting there was an emaciated, young red Pit Bull girl; so emaciated the muscles in her head had atrophied and sunken into her skull. A fresh, pink scar went around her neck where a chain had resided for a very long time. Ribs and hip bones jutted out. The kennel card listed her as “Unknown.” The baby didn’t even have a name! And as we stood there in silence, looking at the skeleton of her body, Desi spoke up and said,”What’s wrong with her?” I took a deep breath and said, “Well, sweetheart, looks like someone didn’t feed her or take care of her.” And Desi looked up with those innocent eyes of youth and said, “Why would somebody do that?”

Why, indeed.

Photo of emaciated Pit Bull by Sherry Stinson, TylerDog Photography, www.tylerdog.com

Standing there, I had all the answers I would give another adult: “Piece of scum owners…not caring for their dog…letting it wither away to nothing…” All words of anger from seeing too many beautiful animals treated like garbage. But this was an innocent, sweet child with a pure heart. She hasn’t seen the side of humanity I’ve seen. So I swallowed and said, “I really don’t know, baby, there’s a lot of bad people in the world. And…” She cut me off and said, “We can just feed her and she’ll get better, right?” Then went on to tell me we would just feed them and they would all be better and nothing bad would ever happen to puppies like her. I looked down at her and said, “Of course.”

The minute the words left my mouth, I knew I had just lied to an eight-year-old. She wasn’t going to be better. She most likely would be euthanized once her stray hold was up. Why? Because those of us in rescue know an emaciated dog that obviously lived on a chain and was starved to this point is most likely not going to pass any temperament tests, which includes food and dog-to-dog aggression. A dog like this needs time to heal and acclimate and get better before testing. Yet we all know in a municipal shelter environment, that time simply does not exist. As the weather warms, intake increases, and the number of available kennels decreases. They have to make decisions, unpleasant ones, of which dogs and cats make it and which ones won’t based on a lot of factors and with all the odds stacked against her, a dog like “Unknown” wouldn’t stand a chance.

I left that evening feeling heavy in my heart. For “Unknown.” For Desi knowing the sad things she would eventually learn about humanity as she grew up. For knowing I had lied to a child. Sure, I did it to protect her, but still, I lied to her. I kept hearing the words “Say what you mean and mean what you say” repeat in my head. As I tried to sleep, browsing Facebook to get my mind off things, looking at pictures of anything and everything, I kept going back to those innocent blue eyes looking up at me saying “We can just feed her and she’ll get better, right?”

When I awoke this morning, my heart was troubled and I knew I had to do something. I texted a friend who helped at the photo shoot and said, “What dog’s your most stable?” She replied and I said, “I can’t quit thinking about that red Pittie. I want to do something.” Kelly responded she felt the same way, so we both headed to the shelter. In the meantime, I contacted a rep with a local pit bull rescue and asked, if we were successful with Unknown and I pulled her, would they help promote her on their rescue site if one of us fostered and nursed her back to health. Bless their hearts, they said yes. So now I had a mission.

Photo of emaciated Pit Bull by Sherry Stinson, TylerDog Photography, www.tylerdog.com

So it begins…

I arrived with two packages of treats, Kelly brought treats and her dog, Mia, in case we were successful in reaching the testing stage. We walked back to the kennel and there she sat: still labeled as Unknown. Cowering in the corner of her kennel. I opened the door, sat down on the floor, and opened the first bag of treats. I reached one out to her and she growled. So I tossed it her direction. She snapped it up. Over and over, I tossed treats, eventually getting to the point they were closer to me than they were her. And each time she cautiously came to get them. Then I held the treats out in my hand and she gently took them from me. Each time, my hand came closer and closer to my body until she was standing right next to my leg and was letting me touch her with one hand while she ate from the other. The first time I touched her, she flinched and froze. I knew someone’s touch had not been so kind and she remembered it. So when she came close again, my hand brushed her body again. After the third time, she no longer flinched.

I knew we were making progress.

After awhile, we decided to take her outside, so I asked for a leash, looped it around her, and she gladly walked outside with me. She was still scared, but I noticed right away her tail was no longer tucked between her legs. We walked quietly and slowly. I didn’t speak to her other than soothing sounds one would make when comforting a baby. Each time she came close, I touched her so she’d know my hand wasn’t one of anger or violence, but one of caring and love.

We walked past another dog and she sniffed and greeted him quietly, even though he was bouncing around like a nut. So far, so good. We stayed out a bit longer, then decided that was enough excitement for the day and walked her back to the kennel.

Photo of emaciated Pit Bull by Sherry Stinson, TylerDog Photography, www.tylerdog.com

One more look…

Kelly and I talked about what to do and made sure the shelter staff knew to put a hold on her for one of us once her stray hold was up the following week. As we walked out, I decided I wanted to go back in one more time and see her again, so I took my camera and back in we went. This time, it was a completely different story. She saw me approach and her head went up. Instead of cowering down in fear, she looked me straight in the eyes. It was almost like she was saying, “Okay, you were patient with me when I was scared. I just was waiting to see if you’d come back.” I snapped several photos of her and as I sat there in front of the gate with it open, she walked up and let me gently pet her the entire time. It was all I could do to not break down and cry because I knew what it took for her to trust me enough to let me touch her like that.

She finally decided she’d had enough and went over to her bed and blanket, curled up, and laid down. She watched me the entire time, then she put her head down to sleep. I gently touched her cheek and whispered, “I love you, baby girl.” And she lifted her head, looked me straight in the eyes and blinked, then laid back down to sleep. It was like she acknowledged my words. And that’s when the tears fell.

I told Kelly, “All she needs is time and love and patience. She’ll learn she doesn’t have to be alone anymore. Or scared. Or hurt. Or hungry. One of us is going to take her and give her a chance…” and Kelly agreed.

And her name is…

I truly believe it was meant for us to walk back to the kennels that Friday after our photo shoot. It’s not something I’m in the habit of doing, but I did. I truly believe it was meant for us to see the dog named “Unknown” in kennel 251A. And it was absolutely meant for an eight-year-old to say ten simple words to change the course of this dog’s life and mine. So no longer will this sweet dog be known as “Unknown.”

Her name is Destiny.

Because it was meant to be.

A happy and healthy Destiny the Pibble

A happy and healthy Destiny the Pibble

Destiny and Jazzy, best buddies forever

* * * * * * *


For those who’ve asked, Destiny never went to a rescue. She ended up staying with me permanently, where she now lives happily ever after with her best friend, Jazzy the Amazing Wiener, and sisters Katie the Doberman Pinscher, Xena the Pit Bull, Maggie Monster, and Andi.

To see all of Destiny’s photos, visit TylerDog Photography on Facebook. You can follow Destiny’s daily life at Destiny the Pibble on Facebook and Destiny’s Instagram. Destiny is also part of I’m Not A Monster – representing rescued “monsters,” spreading good cheer and helping other Pibbles get their second chance – with the annual Destiny’s Monster Holiday Drive, benefiting homeless pets in shelters and rescues. To learn more, read Destiny’s story in her own words.

Jo Ann Freeman - November 4, 2015 - 7:49 am

God bless you and Destiny

Diana Martin - October 15, 2015 - 11:31 pm

God bless you !!! I love mine all so much and cant see how even a shelter can murder any animal and God wants them all saved !!! All dogs need a ending like this !!!

Kathy Green - August 4, 2015 - 4:08 pm

Thank you and God Bless both of you <3 <3 <3 I was proud to read and share your story. <3

Jaime Cole - June 30, 2015 - 4:42 am

What a beautiful soulful face! It was truly meant to be the two of you together.

Susan Raudenbush - June 30, 2015 - 3:43 am

Thankyou ❤️

Shelly Meyer-Coates - June 30, 2015 - 12:50 am

Thank you…. As I cry tears of happiness and love… All i can say is thank you!

Jennifer Lamberth - April 10, 2015 - 11:52 pm

My family and I recently saved a little Am Staff named Egypt. At two months old she dared to pee in the house and was put outside on a chain. She remained there for the next seven years. She was starved half the time and neglected all the time. I begged her owner to let me have her for there years. Thank God he lost his house and called me one beautiful day to tell me to come get her or she would be shelter bound. She is now happy and loves every minute of every day. She will be for the rest of her life. She sleeps next to me every night. She lives quite happily with her four doggie brothers and sisters,there cats, and a never ending stream of new foster dogs. I am just as blessed to have her as she is to have me. She has become quite a mommas girl. Thank you for giving Destiny a home and saving her life!

Jennifer Lamberth - April 10, 2015 - 11:15 pm

God Bless you and sweet Destiny! My family and I recently saved a sweet little red American Staffordshire Terrier named Egypt. At two months old she peed in the house and was sentenced to life on a chain. She was fed when they remembered or decided to feed her

Soraya Jane Downing Huertas - January 1, 2015 - 5:56 am

I love this story and what you have done for, and many others. Let’s toast to more rescues in 2015!! Thank you really thank you.

Arnold Weiner - December 31, 2014 - 3:57 pm

Thank you for saving this beautiful baby.

Debbie Alspach Douglas - November 13, 2014 - 9:04 pm

What a difference you have made in Destiny’s life! The picture I saw today and the picture here is such a huge change!! You are amazing!

Adriane Hausher - September 17, 2014 - 2:52 pm

This story touched my heart. I am sitting at work reading this story as tears are streaming down my face! You are a great man & i admire your courage and kindness!! I can only hope to help the way you have. My 2nd dogie is a rescue 🙂

Caroline Alicia - August 6, 2014 - 3:41 am

i know you make these post to teach and uplift but i can’t be uplifted. when i first saw the top photo, i thought the dog had a head injury. She’s just starved. and there are such kind people like yourself, but i can’t stop thinking about the sick fuck who did something like this. it took MONTHS for a dog to degenerate like this, a muscular pit at that. She was tied up somewhere whimpering, so hungry she probably cound’t stand the weight on that chain and just laid down. Maybe without shelter. in the rain cold with fleas. I’m 100% a cat person, never saw the appeal of dogs, but i wouldn’t watch one suffer either. This person had NEIGHBORS family FRIENDS SOMEONE who saw what was going on and did NOTHING. i wouldn’t give a flip if it was my landlord, I’d buy some dog food for the dog and get a tupperware bowl of clean water. Then I’d start making called. the police, the news, a rescue, i’d call until someone did something..

Anna Evens - August 1, 2014 - 3:08 pm

Oh my gosh, tears are flowing! Such a sweet face! Thank you for going back and taking in sweet Destiny! <3

Grace Hermenegildo - June 21, 2014 - 7:05 am

Everything happens for a reason , god bless you both for saving precious destiny!

Hilary Gravette - June 20, 2014 - 10:34 pm


Kim Stroehlein Bandy - June 20, 2014 - 10:11 pm

It just sickens me to know people can be so cruel and unattentive to a beautiful creature that loves unconditionally every minute of every day

Deb Gallardo-Missioni - May 22, 2014 - 11:51 am

What a sweet story that brought tears to my eyes,

Monica Britton - May 22, 2014 - 3:56 am

Your words and the pictures have me in tears. How can some people be so cruel and others so loving.

Leo Raye - May 22, 2014 - 2:46 am

My Layla girl don’t get along with other animals.

Leo Raye - May 22, 2014 - 2:41 am

Makes me so sad to see that when I look at my rednose Layla girl they both the same color except for the white.

David-Celeste Gray - May 20, 2014 - 12:34 am

This had me in tears. Thank you for saving her.

Rachieal Hayes-Mannix - May 10, 2014 - 12:07 pm

Please keep us imformed

Jaye Brazzale - May 6, 2014 - 1:26 am

Love you AND Destiny the Beautiful Pibble! Thx for sharing this story;

Rachael Foust Smith - May 5, 2014 - 7:48 pm

Sweet baby girl! Thank you for giving this baby a chance. Are you fostering her or is she your forever baby now? I thank Goss for people like you everyday.

Sharon Clemens Beebe - April 18, 2014 - 9:24 pm

Was hard to read this story with tears in my eyes…God bless the people giving Destiny a chance.

Brenda Grandi - April 18, 2014 - 3:36 am

Thank you for saving her precious soul.

Paul Beasley - March 24, 2014 - 1:57 pm

That face had tears rolling down my face as I looked into those eyes that were begging for help.Then it came,Thank you for all you do.

Evan Fadem - March 24, 2014 - 12:16 am

Sherri, I am sitting here in my car bawling. I am so happy that Destiny has been given a second chance at a new life. Thank you so much for all of the work that you do to help gentle souls like this baby girl!

Kaye Smith - March 23, 2014 - 4:05 pm

If one person decides to help one animals its life is changed for the good forever. Imagine a world where everyone could help just one sad soul and this might not have to happen again. I want to live in THAT world.

Loren Black - March 23, 2014 - 3:51 pm

You are a special person Sherry, and so is 8 year old Destiny. I HOPE you’ll be able to show Destiny (the human) that she was right and the dog will get all better <3

Lollie Pop - March 23, 2014 - 3:34 pm

goodness sherry, barely awake & already crying. thank you for sharing but thank you even more for being a wonderful loving person.

Mindie Baab - March 23, 2014 - 1:22 pm

Oh. My goodness I have tears rolling down my face. This was such a horrible story of a dog named unknown, but ended with a beautiful future & a name for a pitbull that no one loved enough to treat humanely & even give a name to. So thankful for these ladies & the 8 year old girl for saving this dog & inspiring others to save a dog on death row!

Doreen Rappa Sprague - March 23, 2014 - 1:07 pm

Crying a river. I believe in Destiny. Thank you for saving her.

Ellen Graben - March 23, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Not everyone can rescue a dog like this. Not everyone thinks a dog like this can or should be rescued, with so many physically and mentally healthy dogs – who’d be so much easier and cheaper to save – also in need each and every day. But as long as there’s one person willing and able to take home a dog whose life needs patching up and relaunching, that person is never wrong in accepting the challenge. Caring about the Unknowns in shelters or on the streets, and telling their stories, is one step toward reducing their numbers.

Naheed Ali - March 23, 2014 - 6:40 am

Beautiful story. Sometimes children give better solutions of problems.

Amanda Jason Scerbo - March 23, 2014 - 4:33 am

As I sit here with tears in my eyes as a private rescuer I just want to say thank you and would love to keep up with her if at all possible! My email is voices4furbabies@gmail.com her face and eyes touched my heart!

Lana Rae Newberry - March 23, 2014 - 4:18 am

Bless you for taking the time to be with this sweet baby! She is going to have, already has had, a chance to know what love is and to be taken care of like she should be! I can’t wait to read the updates on her! Destiny is precious!

Brenda Jones - March 23, 2014 - 4:10 am

You truly have a gift Sherry! Thanks for all you do for these precious babies! Platty has my heart & I have a feeling Destiny will as well!

Shaunna Starr Bailey - March 23, 2014 - 4:07 am

Oh man.. .Destiny, please take care of her and use this story for others looking for their forever home.

Andrea Hofmaier - March 23, 2014 - 4:04 am

Oh my goodness. This story breaks my heart. God bless you!!! PLEASE keep us updated.

Cindie Shatto - March 23, 2014 - 4:04 am

Thank you for listening to your heart!

Cricket Nicole Marion - March 23, 2014 - 3:51 am

I love that girl. She has the biggest heart and so much innocence. Amazing story.

Belinda Brandenburg McCoy - March 23, 2014 - 3:45 am

Thank you Sherry for all you do! I am in tears! Destiny is lucky to have someone like you! That’s all they need is a second chance! I wish all municipal shelters had resources to give all animals like Destiny a chance. I’m glad you were there to make that happen!

Carol Rae Moore - March 23, 2014 - 3:44 am

Oh, now I’m crying. What a beautiful dog and a more beautiful name. It fits, you know. It is a wonderful thing you do Sherry. Please keep us posted on Destiny. Thank you and God Bless you and yours! <3 <3 <3

AmandaJean Beaulieu - March 23, 2014 - 3:31 am

OMG! You have such a beautiful soul. Destiny is a perfect name for such a loving animal. She is so lucky to have found you.

Linda L. Branch - March 23, 2014 - 3:28 am

Thank you for doing what you do. And for loving and speaking for creatures who cannot.

Ronna Wilson McCraw - March 23, 2014 - 3:20 am

Couldn’t hardly read this for the tears….why can’t everybody love animals like this ? Thank you for the time, love and effort you are giving this precious baby

Whalewatcher Roper - March 23, 2014 - 3:17 am

FANTASTIC writing….very emotion filled!! Thank you for giving this BEAUTIFUL DOG A CHANCE!!!!

Barbara Kramer Srnec - March 23, 2014 - 3:14 am

Thank you for caring for this suffering animal!

Patricia A Maloney - March 23, 2014 - 3:13 am

Sometimes angels speak to us through our hearts. Bless you for listening. ♡

Sue Sullivan - March 23, 2014 - 3:12 am

Thank you for all you do. Destiny deserves to be treated with love, kindness and good food. I can tell that is just what you will do for her. Bless your heart!

Dorothy Figlio - March 23, 2014 - 3:11 am

Thank you thank you for caring you are an angel

Kimberly Stewart - March 23, 2014 - 3:09 am

Sherry, another amazing story. You are truly an angel to these beautiful dogs. Thank you!

Mitch D Smythe - March 23, 2014 - 3:07 am

This broke my heart.. I sometimes forget the evil things people do to animals.. I wish I was able to rescue animals again. My current situation doesn’t allow me to, not am I allowed to foster animals.. The best I get, is the semi-feral cat I feed at my work. She is shy & timid to 90% of the human race, except me. She rolls onto her belly, and shows her submissive side, and she loves to have her ears scratched… She drools when she is purring..

Melissa Schock Thompson - March 23, 2014 - 3:07 am

Thank You SOOO much!!!

Tracy Stocker - March 23, 2014 - 3:07 am

Thank you. I do this too; foster the ones no one wants because they are old, sick , scared or just not interesting enough. Our hearts are like everyone else’s just a lil bigger. Thank you .

Joy Myers - March 23, 2014 - 3:05 am

Thank you! Best of luck to Destiny!

Desireah Hernandez Boutahri - March 23, 2014 - 3:05 am

You have such an amazing heart!!!

Noel Toal-Grose - March 23, 2014 - 3:04 am

Absolutely amazing.

Patti Merlotti Ahner - March 23, 2014 - 3:03 am

Will she get out of there? Is someone taking her? I will pray for her tonight. Such a sweet face, lots of love left in that tired shell of hers.

Marian Dabney Mcaffee - March 23, 2014 - 3:03 am

A great story. Would love to see her progress on this site . What a sad life she must have had.

Candy Thomas Parnell - March 23, 2014 - 3:02 am

God is smiling , bless you & all of your helpers . Destiny is beautiful today & will be gorgeous when she is better.

Gaydeane Alexander - March 23, 2014 - 3:01 am

You are a True Angel and a Blessing to Destiny… Thank You!
My grandson sat next to me while I read your story…He said “I will feed her”
Please when you take her home start a FB Page for her so we can share in her new life..
If you need anything please let us know… God Bless You!!!

Tony Sanders - March 23, 2014 - 3:00 am

Sherry you are one special lady.

Susie Quick - March 23, 2014 - 2:58 am

:'( :'( :'(
Beautiful story

Lindsey Lee - March 23, 2014 - 2:58 am

Just in tears. Beautiful story. This girl deserves a miracle and an amazing forever home.

Liz De Arvil - March 23, 2014 - 2:57 am

Tears of gratitude for all you do and for giving Destiny a chance at the good life. I don’t think you lied to that little child, just let her savor her innocence for a bit longer.

Peggy Ellis - March 23, 2014 - 2:56 am

What a sad story with a happy ending.

Missy Massey - March 23, 2014 - 2:56 am

God bless you for your work and heart.

Pattie Lazarus - March 23, 2014 - 2:55 am

Thank you – from one rescuer to another.

Tanya Owen - March 23, 2014 - 2:55 am

I’m very anxious to watch and hear about Destiny’s progress

Bonnie Sloan - March 23, 2014 - 2:55 am

Oh Bless your hearts

Cindy Kienlen - March 23, 2014 - 2:54 am

that sad face and those sunken eyes break my heart. i cant wait to see what this beautiful soul looks like 6 months from now!

Mary Bourke Ruderstaller - March 23, 2014 - 2:53 am

Thank you for writing the story on Destiny. Will you keep us all updated on her. ❤️

Cheryl Amatelli - March 23, 2014 - 2:51 am


Sara Biese Hurt - March 23, 2014 - 2:50 am

You are amazing! Thank you for helping to save this baby. You captured her beautifully! <3

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