This is a sad story but it also shows how one dog, a pitbull at that, touched the hearts of so many even in the short time that he had. Triumph was a hero in my book because even with all that he suffered, he still taught people the meaning of compassion as he looked up with his beautiful soulful eyes and just asked to be loved. He didn’t growl, he didn’t bite, he didn’t give in to the inhuman cruelties visited upon him… he just asked to be loved…

From the Noblesville Daily times, thank you for this touching story.

Dog’s short life was a Triumph for compassion

Wednesday, 18 April 2007
By Rebecca L. Sandlin
rsandlin@noblesvilledailytimes.com

How do you write an obituary for a dog? Especially one that people knew so little about; who came into the lives of so many for just two short weeks before he lost his valiant struggle to survive.

TriumphI’m not sure I can do it without shedding a tear. But if any four-legged needs someone to deliver a eulogy on his behalf, it is an American Staffordshire terrier or, more commonly, a pit bull which was given the name Triumph by staff members of the Humane Society for Hamilton County.

When I first met the emaciated, trembling brown dog in the office of HSHC Executive Director Rebecca Stevens, he immediately came over to me and put his head in my lap and looked up at me with eyes that asked me if I please take him home and love him. I could not.

My house, which has no fence, is situated close to both a lake and a busy highway, and I would never tie up a dog outside lest it get free and get killed.

I’m sorry, sweetie, I can’t take you home, I said to Triumph as I looked into those big brown eyes and hugged him gently. Honestly, I believed he understood, and it broke my heart.

But how could an animal such as Triumph, along with eight other pit bulls that were dumped in the county to fend for themselves have such sweet, trusting and loving dispositions, given the likely horrific, abusive treatment they suffered at the hands of two-leggeds who probably used them for training & fighting dogs?

Triumph had his four canine teeth literally hacked off, leaving exposed roots that had become severely infected and swollen. I could count every rib he had, he was heartworm-positive and he had trouble simply walking. He had sores in various places on his body, but he also had numerous, cruel scars; evidence of his life as a bait dog, used by someone to train a champion for the fight ring.

Stevens explained his teeth were probably removed so he wouldn’t hurt the dog in training. But in truth, Triumph couldn’t have hurt a fly. I have never seen a dog so friendly, despite the great pain he was in. It belied the stereotype of the pit bull. No, it blasted that reputation out of the water.

But although I wrote the initial story about Triumph’ plight, I secretly wondered if Triumph was really the right name for that dog. I wasn’t sure who, or what, had triumphed in his case.

At the time, we knew Triumph was in for a lot of surgery and a long recovery. He couldn’t even eat normal dog food since his canine incisors were gone. But when the Humane Society staff noticed he was laboring in his breathing last week he was given an ultrasound. Stevens said there were two masses found one in his intestine and another near his liver.

During surgery Monday, it was discovered that the cancer had spread to other vital organs as well. That’s when the hard decision was made to relieve Triumph’s suffering and let him pass away peacefully while still under the anesthetic.

It was a very sad day for us, Stevens said. It’s hard to understand why an animal has to go
through what he has endured, to be so close to a happy ending and have it end this way. But we all feel very blessed here that we had this opportunity to know him, even for a short time.

And despite the tragedy of his life and death, Triumph indeed lived up to his name in how his spirit impacted the shelter and the entire community, Stevens said.

Donations, support, phone calls and e-mails have flooded the HSHC since Triumph’s story was first made public.

It’s just been remarkable, the amount of support that we have received for, of all things, a pit bull, Stevens added. You think people don’t care, but it’s been very encouraging, based on the support that we’ve had, that people do care.

Members of the community also worked with the HSHC to set up a reward fund to encourage someone to come forward with information as to who has been dumping the dogs in the county. The amount recently increased from $1,000 to $1,120. So far a couple of leads have come in, but Stevens said nothing has panned out yet.

In addition, there is some other good news. Eight of the abandoned pit bulls have now found adopted families another triumph for dogs whose reputation often leaves them passed over at the shelter. Stevens hopes to find homes for the remaining two dogs.

He taught us lessons on tolerance, and forgiveness and all the things that we should be, that he was, she said. He was very special.

Triumph’s body will be cremated and his ashes will be brought back to the Humane Society and the people who will miss him most.

Now as I wipe the tears from my eyes and bade Truimph a sweet goodbye, “On angels wings to Rainbow Bridge sweet Triumph!”, I feel the anger in me well up for those who made this poor dog’s life a living hell! My one wish is that people who do things like this to defenseless animals have the same fate visited on them!

I commend the wonderful staff at the HSHC for doing everything they could and for at least showing Triumph that he was loved and cared about, that all people are not cruel and heartless.

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