When Oogy was four months old and weighed thirty five pounds he was tied to a stake and used as bait for a Pit Bull. The left side of his face from just behind his eye was torn off, including his ear. He was bitten so hard a piece of his jaw bone was crushed. Afterward, he was thrown into a cage and left to bleed to death.
I am not a religious man, but I can only conclude that at that moment God turned around and paid attention. The police raided the facility, found Oogy, and took him to Ardmore Animal Hospital, where Dr. Bianco stitched him up and saved him.
This coincided with the last weekend of life for our cat, Buzzy, who was 14 at the time. My sons and I had taken Buzzy to AAH for his last visit. The staff had gathered Buzzy in when out comes this pup that looked like nothing more than a gargoyle. He covered us with kisses. The boys and I fell instantly in love with him.
Life goes out one door and in another. ‘This is one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever met’ Dr. Bianco said. ‘I can’t imagine what he’d be like if half his face hadn’t been ripped off.’ Then, Dr. B said, ‘I am not going to tell you the things this dog has been through.’ Dr. B’s assistant, Diane, took Oogy into her home for several weeks to foster him and make sure he was safe and to crate-train him.
Once Oogy came into our house, for my sons, then 12, it was like having a little brother. Whatever they did and wherever they went, there was Oogy. Oogy had to get involved in whatever the lads were doing. He became known as The Third Twin.
Dr. B thought Oogy was a Pit or Pit-mix and would get to be about 45 pounds.. By the time of his first checkup, Oogy weighed 70 pounds. When we walked in the door for the visit, one of the women who works at AAH exclaimed, ‘That’s a Dogo!’ I asked, ‘What’s a Dogo?’ She said, ‘I’m not sure.’
We went online and learned that the Dogo Argentina is bred in Argentina to hunt mountain lion and boar. Oogy can run about 30 miles an hour, all four legs off the ground like a Greyhound. His leg muscles are so strong that, when he sits, his butt is a half-inch off the ground. Dogos hunt in packs. Dogos hurl themselves against their prey and swarm it.
Oogy has a neck like a fire hydrant to protect him when he closes on his prey. He is built like a Pit Bull on steroids, with white fur as soft as butter and black freckles. Fully grown, Oogy is 85 pounds of solid muscle, but he does not know this and sits on us. He absolutely craves physical contact. He is full of kisses and chuffs like a steam engine when he is happy. He has a heart as big as all outdoors. One of the traits of the breed is that they fully accept anyone their family does. It is not unusual to come home and find three teenagers on the floor playing a video game and Oogy sprawled across their laps like some living boa.
Oogy hated the crate, and would bark and bark whenever we put him in. This puzzled me because I had been told by people with crate-trained dogs that their pets love the crate and feel secure in its confines. When Oogy was about eight months old, we hired a trainer who also happened to be an animal ‘whisperer.’ We introduced her to Oogy and she sat on the floor for a full five minutes talking to him. We could not hear a word she said. When the trainer lifted her head her eyes were brimming with tears. ‘Oogy wants you to know’ she said ‘how much he appreciates the love and respect you have shown him.’ Then she asked about his routine. I started by showing her where he slept in the crate. She said immediately, ‘You have to get him out of that box’. ‘Why?’ ‘Because he associates being in a box with having his ear ripped off.’ It was a smack-myself- in-the-forehead moment. Oogy never went back in.
Given what Oogy endured and what he is bred for, people are constantly astonished that he loves animals and people as much as he does. Walking with Oogy is like walking with a mayoral candidate. He has to meet everyone. A number of people we encountered in the neighborhood early on told me they were afraid of Oogy because when they would walk or jog by the house, Oogy would bark at them and trot parallel to them, and given his size and looks… But everyone falls in love with Oogy. By the end of their initial encounter they are rubbing, petting, even kissing him on the nose. Oogy kisses them back. Because of the way he looks, when people meet him for the first time they almost always ask if he is safe. I tell them, ‘Well, he has licked two people to death.’