Adopted Pitbull’s Joyful, Openhearted Nature Inspires his Family to Give Back

When Sofia and her family opened their home to an adopted dog named Rusty, his love and happiness led them to open their hearts to other dogs in need.

Sofia + Rusty

For Sofia and her family, a Pitbull named Rusty was the best friend they needed most. Rusty’s loving, happy, compassionate personality shows his joy for life wherever he goes—and inspires his family to help other pets in need, too.

"Rusty taught us how to let go of the past and live a fun, bright future."

After we lost our last dog, my family felt like we would never be able to love another dog again. The house felt empty, and our hearts did too. Then we saw a picture of Rusty, a large, strong, handsome brown Pitbull, and we immediately fell in love. He was quite photogenic and before we knew it, we were driving to pay him a visit. 

The first thing Rusty did when he saw us was jump for joy (literally). We had grossly underestimated his size and were met with a hyper 85-pound giant. But that hyper giant changed our lives. Rusty had moved from shelter to shelter and at one point was going to be euthanized. Now he runs freely in our backyard and eats sweet potatoes. There was nothing more amazing than seeing him snore on a queen-sized bed, surrounded by toys. 

Rusty has brought so much joy and love to our lives—feelings that we never thought we would have again with a pet. Besides his passion for being naughty, Rusty taught us how to let go of the past and live a fun, bright future. Every day, he shows us how you can always find a reason to laugh, whether it’s at him vacuuming up his dinner or jumping like a horse while playing fetch. He is a puppy at heart and underwhelms his own size (he swears he’s a lap dog). 

Rusty showed us that despite having a difficult past, we can all still be loving, compassionate, goofy, and happy. Rusty finds the brightness in everything—even going to the vet. For him, he’s just making a ton of new friends. He never had a home to call his own, but now he has that and so much more. Because of Rusty, and guidance from his trainer, my family and I realized that our hearts never closed after our previous dog, Troya, passed away. Our hearts actually grew with more and more love for dogs, especially those who are in shelters and are given bad reputations because of their breeds. 

In fact, our hearts grew so much we decided to foster Sailor from I Stand With My Pack; she and Rusty were best friends at the trainer’s house. Now the two of them get to play together in a backyard, go for walks together, and yes, eat sweet potato together (very big fans). We are forever grateful to shelters and trainers who do so much for these dogs and give them second chances at life. 

Some may question why we decide to love dogs who have had difficult pasts and perhaps need a little more TLC. My answer is: because we can and because they deserve that and so much more. Thank you, Rusty and Sailor, for making our home and hearts bigger.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Sofia won I Stand With My Pack in Sherman Oaks, California a 2021 Love Stories award.