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Rosie "The Diva"

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Pet Spotlight

Kathryn Coffey

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Four years ago this spring, Millikin English professor Dr. Carmella Braniger welcomed an American Terrier Bulldog mix—more commonly known as a pit bull—named Rosie into her life. Before being rescued from the Humane Society, Rosie had lived a relatively rocky life. She had been used for breeding for several years before being set loose in Rock Springs.

The experience left her with a bad gash on her head, which later revealed to be a tumor, and a couple weeks of rehabilitation before being welcomed into the Humane Society. From there, Rosie stayed there another few months for operations on her head.

A way that she has exhibited her life of trauma is through what is known as nervous licking. It’s a habit where dogs lick their paws constantly as a coping mechanism. As nail-biting is a common habit for humans, for dogs it’s licking. At times, the areas the dogs lick can turn raw, especially if the dog gets extremely nervous. Braniger said she and her daughter work hard to help Rosie with correcting that behavior. They try their best to make sure Rosie isn’t put in a stressful situation that could trigger her habit.

Furthermore, another unfortunate side effect is her attitude toward men as well as other dogs/animals. Braniger assumes that in her past, she had a horrible experience with a male handler. If she chooses to adopt a cat, which they won’t anytime soon, Rosie “would just eat the cat.”

However, she has shown to get along splendidly with women and children. And she is even well-behaved during her vet visits. With all that time spent on operating tables in the Humane Society, she has become comfortable being handled for check-ups.

On top of which, Rosie is a sixty-pound lapdog. Nicknamed “the Diva” by her family, Rosie would use her dead weight to lay down and not move.

“Once she sets [herself] somewhere, she just won’t move,” Braniger said.        

A more positive way Rosie lives through her early life is when she chases squirrels or rabbits. She hunches herself and is extremely focused on her target. Braniger assumes that she learned to hunt when she was living on her own in Rock Springs. However, it’s that and napping on the family Chaise lounge that brings joy in Rosie’s life.

“It’s the body language she emits when she’s chasing,” Braniger said. “She has a bit of a hunter’s presence when she chases rabbits and squirrels.”

More importantly, in spite of starting off as an at-risk dog with a hard-knock life, Rosie has proven to be a lover and not a hater. She likes eating fat from steaks and peanut butter. She also loves it if you let her lay down with you in any position anywhere.  

She also likes playing around with stuffed animal skins after ripping the stuffing out of them and rope toys. A funny thing she will do is chase her tail in a circle dance, indicating that she wants to play.

With that in mind, she is very lazy. She knows no special tricks other than lying around and being adjusted to a comfortable lifestyle. However, Braniger can’t really blame her considering the type of life Rosie endured, and therefore, she deserves the rest.   

Now most people might think twice about adopting pit bulls because of how they’re portrayed as a scary dog breed. But with Braniger, while she acknowledges the prejudice, it still doesn’t change how much she loves her. Rosie is very protective and loyal to her owner and will do whatever it takes to keep her family safe.

“Most people get a stigmatized reaction to them,” Braniger said. “[But] she’s very gentle and sweet and loyal.”    

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