Pansy! Our Cane Corso Mastiff

She gets her own page!

Pansy is a Cane Corso Mastiff rescued from the Associated Humane Society pound in Newark, New Jersey, April 2005.

pansy laughing

We found her at the Associated Humane Pound in Newark New Jersey. God only knows why we picked her. She was absolutely filthy -- encrusted, really, with dirt -- and she was so thin her ribs and backbone stood out in bar relief. The tips of her ears were fly-bitten. Her face was scarred. She had recently weaned pups, we could see, since she still had milk glands. We saw her progeny, 4 huge Rottweiler-Cane Corso mix pups down the aisle, also waiting for homes. She was a mess -- but there was something about her.

pansy full

Why even consider it?

I recognized her as a Cane Corso, but otherwise, I knew little about the breed, except that they looked a lot like pit bulls (which have a terrible reputation, especially here in the wilds of suburban New Jersey). Now Maiasaura is notoscarusually a Mastiff kind of girl, but Pansy and Maiasaura had a conversation there in the din and noxious smells of the pound. She told me that she liked women, kids and other dogs and wanted to be a good dog if she knew what she was supposed to do.

My old pal, Oscar, died early this year and we were still grieving. He was a happy-go-lucky yellow Labrador Retriever who died at age 11 of a brain tumor. God, we all loved that dog! I assured myself we would get a male puppy when we found the right one. I puppy shopped for months, but the right fit never happened. We talked seriously to Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Breeders. Finally, we looked at pet finders on the web which led us to St. Hubert's Giralda animal shelter, (here's a tip, St. Huberts--when a live one who wants to adopt a dog walks in on a Monday and your adoption shelter is 'closed' make it 'open').

It was a crappy rainy day, and my daughter and I went for a ride to share some mother-daughter bonding time. We went to Associated Humane deep in the bowels of Newark, New Jersey. On the way I was able to give my 16-year-old daughter a lesson in spotting hookers, drug dealers and pimps.

Standing out at the pound

We saw a lot of Pit Bulls, Chow Chows, Rottweilers and every conceivable mixture of the three. The place was loud, dirty, smelly and scary. If I was a dog, I would have gone out of my mind. In one of the cages I saw a big dark brindle girl with a cropped tail, looking patiently at me, as if waiting for me to get done with whatever I was doing and get around to her.

The 16-year-old daughter was not impressed. Pansy was not a flashy dog, nor was she a demonstrative dog. "Keep looking" was her seasoned advice. Nevertheless, we took her out of the cage and visited for a while and were a bit perplexed to find out that she didn't know even the basic rudiments of obedience (even with the cinnamon graham crackers in my purse.)  She didn't even know how to sit! What kind of a dog doesn't know how to sit?? She was distracted and was looking for her pups, so it was hard to tell if she would be a good dog, but my Spidey-sense was tingling, so I called Mr. Maiasaura and asked him if he would come by and check her out, too.  I needed a second opinion

.Pansy and her new friend Peaches

Pansy and her new pal, Peachy Keen on the porch of our house

She was named "Isis", was supposedly three-years old (a lie, I'm sure), and had been dumped with her pups, along with a severely malnourished female English Mastiff,  from an address in one of the worst areas of Newark. She had been kept for breeding.  Mr. Maiasaura was also not impressed. She didn't like him much, either, it seemed, but if I wanted her, go ahead and get her (oh, sure, make it all MY decision!!)

I am an experienced dog person, and have trained many dogs, so I knew Pansy would be a challenging dog. She is physically strong, and needed basic training. She also needed strong direction as to who is the alpha personality (yes, me!). She had been abused, and was sensitive and needed to develop confidence and trust in me and the family. She hadn't been allowed into the house much, although she was housebroken. She was wary of men (hello Mr. Maiasaura). Also, I wasn't 100% sure of how she would react around children and small dogs in unusual situations.  She would be a handful -- but I had lost my Oscar and I was ready for a challenge.

After testing her for food aggression (she passed),  small dog aggression (Peaches was the volunteer), spaying her (whew), microchipping her, renaming her (absolutely!), bathing her (a two-woman job), feeding her up a bit and teaching her how to walk on a leash, Pansy is now my buddy. Where ever I am, she is. She is learning to play with toys and lay on a dog bed -- both skills she somehow never acquired in the first three years of her life. She walks beautifully on and off leash. She is 90 pounds now. She looks ferocious, but is very gentle with children and other animals. Our pug, Peaches, is the alpha dog, and there have been no arguments.

The car was a problem, since she seemed to have never been in one before, and we had to lift her into it for a while before I demonstrated to her that trips to the dog park are GOOD but the only way to get there is to get in to the damn car.

And yes, she now knows how to sit.

Pansys new world

This is Pansy's new world.

Update and more pictures of Pansy from May 2006

Update and more pictures of Pansy from May 2006

Pansy keeps doing better and better. She is more confident than she used to be and she and I have a great rapport. I am the pack leader, and she is happy to let me lead. It gives her security to have someone in charge.

I have to drive around a lot during the day, and she likes to ride in the car. I have an old Nissan Pathfinder. I lay the back seats down and put a bed in back for her.  I leave the windows open and she hangs out there. When I make my rounds, people come looking for her -- Where's Pansy? She is very calm and friendly with people, and will go around to greet her friends. She has great dignity.

I work in a bad neighborhood these days. When Pansy and I walk down the street, certain people will cross the street to avoid her. We command respect in the 'Hood!

Pansy likes to look pretty. She wears a bright purple collar with a matching purple harness, both hand-painted by me. She likes to wear neck scarves, and  has some pretty, toasty coats and sweaters for winter.