Tongueless Pit Bull Teaches Resiliency and Forgiveness

4172 days ago.


Photo courtesy of Cafe Press.

The longer I live, the more amazed I become by both the cruelty of humans and the resiliency of animals.  This is a story that relates both in equal measure.

Meet Rico, a pit bull who was raised and trained by a man (if you want to call him that) who wanted him to be a fighter, a desire commonly seen among the morally bankrupt as a sort of depraved status symbol.  This ignorant man would force Rico to go for long runs with heavy chains wrapped around his neck.  However, one day Rico’s endurance gave out and he collapsed to the ground in the middle of a public beach in Mexico, exhausted and unable to continue.

Furious, the ignorant man began shouting at Rico to continue his run, but could not force compliance this one last time.  In a fit of rage, this person took a knife to Rico, cut out his tongue in full view of onlookers, and threw it in the ocean.  Fortunately, the police were called immediately and a veterinarian was rushed to the scene.

It was a touch-and-go situation, as Dr. Villasenor had to make the difficult decision of whether or not Rico would be able to survive having his tongue forcibly amputated.  Imagine how much harder your life would be without your tongue.  Now imagine this complication affecting your ability to eat and drink, the way it does for a dog who cannot use his tongue to lap up and swallow food.

Despite the blood loss, Rico was rushed to surgery where a team worked to repair the horrific damage to his mouth.  Hours later, he woke up with a wagging tail, seemingly no worse for wear for having gone through this meaningless assault.

Rico soon began another regimen of training; but this time he wasn’t forced to endure hours of abuse at the hands of a monster.  Instead, he learned to obey simple commands, walk on a leash, and most important, how to play without fear.  In short, he was learning to be a companion.

Thanks to Give Some Life Foundation, Rico quickly adapted to his new physical circumstance and learned how to eat by tilting his head to swallow food.  He mastered the trick of drinking through suction, which is an impressive feat, given the structure of a dog’s snout!  He even adapted to a new way to show affection by gently sucking on the chin of whomever he wants to give love to.

Rico is currently looking for a permanent home, and is in the loving care of the Even Chance Pit Bull Advocacy, Resources and Rescue.  President and co-founder Nicole Edwards writes: “One year after his terrifying incident, Rico is thriving in his San Diego foster home and is eagerly awaiting his forever home.  We are working hard to try and change the negative perception the public has about pit bulls and help them see how loving and useful these dogs can be”.

It’s a truth that bears repeating:  Personality isn’t simply a matter of Nature vs. Nurture.  As much as I want to write off the demon that mutilated him as nothing more than evil, I have to believe there is still a chance at redemption.  In many ways, that’s what is all about.  Nothing is set in stone, and habits can change for the better.  Like Rico, we must be resilient and forgive those who do wrong – as impossible as it sometimes may seem – because there is a chance (be it slight) for them to do right.

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Lisa actively supports Stray Rescue of St. Louis and anything related to animal rescue. She would like to travel to Germany one day to research her ancestors that came to America during World War 2.

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