You guys, fellow dog lovers, can we just stipulate up front that there is no way in the world to keep a list of our favorite pit bulls to any manageable length? There are so many who give us hope, and inspire us, and make us laugh. There are so many we love, who we lost this past year.
With that said: after going over our initial list of the 10 million or so pit bulls who we’ve been obsessed with since January, we’ve somehow managed to pare it down to ten. Or so.
But there are always omissions (as well as inevitable emissions; we hope you brought a bag to clean that up). So please, please, feel free to contribute your own best and favorite pibbles of 2016 in the comments!
For the record: We’re not *ordering* these dogs below. Don’t you dare make us play favorites here! It’s hard enough getting down to 10. Or so.
1. The Vicktory Dogs
The 51 dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting operation have been in the public eye for nearly a decade now. They have helped change minds about pit bulls, about dogs rescued rescued out of fighting — and in so doing, they’ve helped convince the public, and lawmakers, to stop punishing these dogs for what they look like, and the abuse they’ve endured.
This past year, the so-called “Vicktory dogs” won a whole new group of fans, with the release of Darcy Dennet’s remarkable documentary The Champions. Some who saw the film screened in the theater were even lucky enough to meet Vicktory dog Cherry Garcia in person.
2. K9 Kiah
This girl has every reason to look so proud: K9 Kiah is a former shelter dog, who in 2015 became New York state’s first police pit bull. Now, she helps locate missing persons (and, drugs), while also proving that pits, and shelter dogs, should be given a shot to do this kind of work.
In a couple of weeks, K9 Kiah will be given the ASPCA’s Public Service Award at a big fancy event. We’re already cheering.
Beautiful Khalessi lost half her face to violence, before winding up in a Florida shelter, in the summer of 2015. Rescuer Stephanie Paquin and her husband Mike got the badly injured dog out of the shelter and to safety, gave her the name of a warrior — and shared her with an adoring world.
Khalessi was happy. She had a family who loved her, and whom she loved. And through living well, this dog gave her fans so much joy, and so much hope. In January, she wore a fancy pink outfit while being honored onstage, receiving the “Underdog” award at the World Dog Awards.
But despite all the love, and a lot of medical procedures, Khalessi’s past abuse caught up with her. She died in June, of an illness that likely stemmed from previous mistreatment. We’ve missed her every day since.
What do you call a three-legged elderly pit bull who’s saved his family’s life, by scaring away the armed intruder holding them at gunpoint? You call that dog Levi.
The burglar shot Levi in the head during this terrifying incident, which took place in Wisconsin in January. Luckily, the heroic dog survived.
What makes Levi’s story even more remarkable is that this incredible pup had previously survived a dognapping. Levi then became a tripaw, after needing his leg amputated — the leg broke when Levi fell off a hiking trail; his owner Darcy Cherry says this fall saved their son’s, Levi’s human brother’s, life.
“This dog is just meant to be with us. He is not meant to go anywhere, it’s just crazy,” Cherry told WISC-TV.
Levi, good dog, we salute you — and we really hope you’re nearby if we are ever in trouble.
Angel was found running down the street in Los Angeles, in 2007. Her body had been wrecked by abuse — burns were down her back, her ears had been chopped off, she appeared to have given birth many times.
This dog, who’d seen the worst humans have to offer, then inspired a movement to help protect other dogs from that fate.
The actor, writer, and comedian Rebecca Corry adopted Angel in 2008. Corry was so inspired by Angel, that she became an ardent pit bull advocate, who travels the country raising money for rescue groups and awareness about discrimination, dog fighting, and animal abuse. Corry founded the Stand Up For Pits Foundation, and her outspoken, relentless drive to help pit bulls led her to organize 2014’s Pibble March on Washington, to create a dog fighting tip line, and so much more. Corry was recognized for her work, with the 2014 Wallace Award, given to the pit bull advocate of the year.
Angel was by Corry’s side through this all — often, being called on to dole out smooches from a kissing booth — until she died of cancer in April. Her legacy lives on, through Corry’s hard work, and through all our dedication.
In a blog post in May, Corry asked for those who love Angel to keep saying “Hello” to her, “instead of ‘I miss you'”:
Please speak about Angel in the present tense and know she is still in me and in all who know and love her. Take the grief you’re feeling over her loss and do something with that grief to help save lives.
Angel is bigger than her physical body. Many of you say you still feel and see her and will always keep doing the work her life-changing spirit taught you to do, and I’d encourage everyone else to start doing the same. Angel is still teaching, inspiring, saving lives, educating and bringing joy to people all over the world. I know this is true because I see it happening, and because I am one of the people it’s happening to.
So hello Angel, and thank you.
6. Ice Cream Dog
We don’t know who this pit bull is, or how he or she learned how to wait in line so well. But the dog sure captured our hearts, as well as snagging some ice cream.
Lucky is a Montreal dog who valiantly tried to explain the folly of an absolutely godawful pit bull ban Mayor Denis Denis Coderre was promoting.
Unfortunately, Coderre and the Montreal city council did not heed Lucky’s wise words, and still voted the ban into law. Fortunately, the Montreal SPCA immediately filed a legal challenge and the law’s implementation has been put on hold while the suit is underway.
And since there will be another mayoral election next year, we hereby throw our hat in with Lucky for mayor, 2017.
Scout became very very famous for being able to balance just about anything on that gorgeous blocky head of his. Donuts, big hunks of cheese, pink wigs, large cameras, and political signs as well.
Indeed, Scout used his platform — the fame, and the head — very well: to speak out against discrimination.
Scout died in the early summer, at the age of 12. “It’s taken a week for me to find the right wording to break the news and I don’t even think this does him justice,” his person, Jen Gillen, wrote on Instagram. “I wish you all could have given him a hug as a final goodbye, there would have been a line as far as the eye could see — I swear he was fuelled through the last few months by love entirely.”
WE JOKE, WE JOKE.
for real 9. Simon and Lily
Very naughty, Simon and Lily. Very, very hilariously naughty. And don’t think your mom and we will all forget about this transgression just because you look at us with those eyes framed by such absurdly cute eyebrows.
Oh, who are we kidding.
10. Elle the Pit Bull
In 2013, Elle the Pit Bull was named American Hero Dog of the year by the American Humane Association, for her work as a therapy dog who help kids feel more comfortable reading, who also helps folks overcome negative, untrue stereotypes about pit bulls.
But Elle — and her mom, Leah Brewer — haven’t rested on this laurel. They have tirelessly kept on working with police and fire departments, with schools, even with insurance companies, advocating for humane laws and for dog safety, and for pit bulls.
This year, Elle wagged her way into becoming the first therapy dog to work in Halifax Regional, a North Carolina hospital — where she continues to make the world a better place for people, and for pits.
11. (because who were we kidding, trying to stick to 10) Dexter
Dexter and his new dad — NFL player Terrell Watson — sported identical grins on their ride home from the shelter, in late March.
It was an adoption that everyone could be happy about. Not only did a pittie find a wonderful home (and vice versa), but Watson helped send an important message about how great shelter dogs are.
If you needed more proof: Neither of these guys has stopped beaming since, from the looks of Watson’s Instagram feed:
And with that, friends, we’ll call it a game.
PupJournal is proudly hosting National #PitBullWeek, or #NPBW, to celebrate blocky-headed wigglebutts, otherwise known as “pit bulls.” It’s time these pups are able to live their lives free from discrimination and harm. You can find articles, videos, and adoptable dogs on our National Pit Bull Week page and on Facebook. Join us by tagging National #PitBullWeek, or #NPBW!