I lost Paula Pitbull last week. She was 17. Even though she had a blessedly long and happy life, the grief, the missing, is profound. She was my little beloved.
She came to me at the end of 1997, at about 8 months of age, a rescue from the New York group "For Pit's Sake." They had found her running around the Bronx. I took her back to my tiny apartment in Soho, she jumped up on my bed, and as I went to sleep that night she curled up under my right arm. That's how we slept for the next sixteen years. My relationship with Paula was the longest of my life to date.
It was also the snuggliest. Pit bulls are known as "leaners" because they will never just sit or stand next to you, they have to be touching. Paula was no exception. I did have to warn strangers about her though, telling them not to put their faces too close: She was an indiscriminate kisser and liked to stick her tongue in.
In 1999 I met Jim, and he moved me and Paula, along with her adopted brother, Buster Dawn, out to California. I started working in animal rights, focusing on media, and Paula soon became a celebrity pit bull, an ambassador for her breed. When the Los Angeles Times featured us in their story, "Pit Bulls Out of the Doghouse" it was surely the picture of Paula, hanging out of my VW Beetle and looking fabulous in a pair of Doggles, that landed the article on the front page. Yes, Buster and I are in that photo too, at least in the version of it that appeared further back in the paper. Paula always liked to have us around -- as back-up to the star. It's a darn shame I never could explain to Paula that she'd made the Los Angeles Times front page; if I'd been able to, she surely would have died an even happier dog.