By Sherri Coner
Everybody loves Pie.
And that’s no surprise.
She’s a feisty 4-year-old pit bull who never meets a stranger and never allows a spinal injury to slow her down.
With her body halfway off a pillow, Pie waited for foster grandma Deb Pahl to notice.
“You need some help there, baby? You’re all tangled up,” she said. Pahl then repositioned the dog’s lifeless back legs and smiled.
“Lots of people know Pie,” Pahl, a Southsider, said.
The Life of Pie
Initially surrendered as a healthy puppy to Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS), Pie had no history, no birthdate, not even a name.
Staff and volunteers declared 3-14, the first three digits of pi, as her birthday.
Strangely enough, the unusual name perfectly fits her personality.
Twice, Pie was rehomed.
When Marion County Animal Control officers found her as an injured stray in 2019, Pie was returned to IACS.
No one knew how or when Pie suffered the spinal injury or how long she had dragged her lifeless back legs around on concrete, surviving on Indianapolis streets.
To save the dog’s life, Southsider Laurie Collins, founder and director of Lucci’s House Bully Rescue, secured an emergency foster care placement for Pie.
In January of this year, Pahl then became Pie’s foster grandma.
An overflowing toy box and a dog-shaped pillow and fresh flannel blankets in one of several dog beds hint that Pie is the queen canine at Pahl’s home.
Fate might also be part of this story about a retired nurse and a partially paralyzed pit bull.
After more than 30 years as a registered nurse, Pahl was an empty nester forced into early retirement by medical issues.
Since she hadn’t planned to retire early, she had no idea how to fill her days, especially when her primary goal had always been to “be purposeful in life.”
First, Pahl became an IACS volunteer, showering attention-starved canines with exercise and love. Then she started fostering with Lucci’s House Bully Rescue.
Collins counts on volunteers with big hearts to get to know the dog instead of judging the breed.
“They are the most misunderstood and mistreated breed in this country,” Collins said.
Love for Lucci
Her passion for pit bulls began when she and her husband adopted Lucci, a nearly 5-month-old pit bull.
“Lucci died in my arms in the parking lot of a vet office while my husband and I did CPR on him,” Collins said. “He was killed at an emergency vet because of his breed.”
After losing Lucci, Collins said her eyes were opened to countless times when pit bulls are tortured, abused and maimed.
She opened the rescue in honor of Lucci.
“Every dog has a story, and it’s my job to listen to it,” Collins said.
Perry Township resident Mandi Neukam is one of many dog lovers who paid attention to Collins’ voice. When Neukam and her family relocated more than two years ago from a condominium to a home, she and her husband adopted 5-year-old Izzie, a pit bull from Lucci’s House.
One spoiled Pittie
As a happy girl who adores constant attention, Izzie’s transition from foster family to her forever family was trouble-free.
“That girl loves walks and rides in the car,” Neukam said. “She also has to be wrapped up like a burrito before she goes to bed. She’s a diva.”
Because Neukam had never owned a pit bull, she spoke at length with Izzie’s foster family before adopting her.
“These dogs are not what is said about the breed,” Neukam said. “Izzie loves to be hand fed. She loves to be brushed. This breed definitely has my heart.”
Since opening the rescue in January 2020, Collins says that donations from pit bull lovers help to offset the cost of dog food, vet visits and many other expenses.
Love and attention heal broken hearts
Volunteers who foster these dogs, even the ones with broken spirits and fear, do wonders with them. Love and attention definitely heal canine hearts just like human ones.
To date, Lucci’s House has provided foster care and adoption for more than 80 pit bulls.
Community education about the breed is still lacking, Collins said.
She and all Lucci’s volunteers take every opportunity to educate the public.
Misinformation paints a dangerous picture of pit bulls, but aggressiveness is not a breed trait for any dog, Collins said.
According to statistics, unneutered dogs of any breed are most likely to exhibit aggression toward other animals or people.
Doing her part to show the public that all bullies are certainly not bad, Neukam often takes Izzie for car rides.
“She is the most loveable, sweet, kind dog,” Neukam said. “I love her.”
Learn more about Lucci’s House and consider donating by visiting: luccishouse.org