His survival has defied the odds. His condition was so drastic when he was first brought in that putting the emaciated animal to sleep might be the most merciful response. But something in his eyes made members of the staff pause. It was a long shot, but they took it. Patrick became the miracle pit bull because the odds were against his survival. The chance that the one year old pit bull, starved nearly to the point of death, put in a plastic garbage bag, and thrown 19 floors down a garbage chute in an apartment building in Newark, New Jersey would even be noticed or found is incredible in itself. Now he is strong enough to investigate the grounds of Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, New Jersey when taken outside on his leash—and even to give the leash a tug as he veers towards a nearby tree. He looks up at the faces of his small audience, and then seems to search the sky for a second. He has no idea that his audience is much larger than those gathered around him, that around the world there are thousands who are following his story. His story encompasses the worst and the best of human capacities. On the one side is the capacity of a person to abuse a helpless creature and then throw him out like garbage to die. On the other side is the staff who saw, beneath the protruding bones and sores, beneath the nearly lifeless body, the spirit in the eyes looking back at them–and responded without qualification, with all that they knew and had trained for. The impulse to rescue life, to protect it, to nurture it in its vulnerability, is the best of human qualities.
To see Patrick now in photographs and videos, touched and fed by human hands, is to watch hope come to life. We will probably never know for sure what his daily life was before, and for Patrick, this new world into which he has been almost literally born must seem like a dream. Once abused and ignored, he is now the subject of concern and interest and interviews with the veterinary staff who have cared for him.
There is something archetypal in Patrick’s story, and it is a story we all know, the story of the scorned or the rejected one who finds love, the lost one who is found, the story of rebirth. For me his story has a particular arc; it hit me very hard when I first heard it and wrote about it. There is a lot of difficult news in the world, but this bit was so unnecessary; with all the suffering in the world, why deliberately inflict it? It still hits me hard, but Patrick’s story has also helped me to feel a connection with thousands of strangers who experienced the same anguish over the story and who have the same desire to see Patrick well and whole. In some way, we all stand there with the maintenance worker who opened the bag and looked inside. What to do in a world like this? Thank goodness this man called for help. Those caring for Patrick have said that in spite of all that he has suffered, he is gentle and trusting. Sometimes it takes a dog’s spirit.