In the heartwarming world of rescue stories, few tales are as inspiring as that of Calista, the brave bulldog who defied all odds and found a loving family. Calista’s journey from a battered and earless victim to a joyful and cherished companion is a testament to the resilience of animals and the boundless compassion of humans.

The Shocking Discovery

Four years ago, in the bustling streets of Phoenix, Arizona, a police officer made a startling discovery – an injured female bulldog, left to fend for herself. The sight was heart-wrenching; the dog was emaciated and covered in ticks. Jeannette, the woman who would later become her savior, described the animal as unrecognizable, mistaking her for a brown dog due to her filth and swelling. Moreover, her ears were missing, hinting at a grim past where she might have been used as a bait dog in dogfighting circles.

A Lifeline Extended

The police acted swiftly, rescuing the distressed bulldog and taking her to a shelter. However, her fate took a turn for the better when the Mayday Bullfighting Rescue Team stepped in. They approached Jeannette and her husband, seeking help to foster the dog. Without hesitation, they agreed, and Jeannette’s husband rushed the dog to an emergency vet.

The vet’s prognosis was grim – they believed the dog wouldn’t survive. She was battling severe tick-borne illnesses and was anemic. The rescuers were confronted with a sight they described as unimaginably dreadful. The dog, despite her suffering, displayed a glimmer of hope in her eyes. She was terrified but remarkably forgiving.

The Road to Recovery

Days turned into weeks, and Calista’s fighting spirit never waned. The connection between her and Jeannette’s family grew stronger with each passing day. They were determined to provide her with the stability and care she deserved. With numerous reconstructive surgeries and intensive therapies, Calista made a remarkable recovery. It wasn’t long before she was heading home with Jeannette and her husband.

At the time, the couple already had another dog, Zazu, and they had initially committed to fostering Calista. However, as months passed, Jeannette had a change of heart. When Calista became available for adoption, Jeannette couldn’t bear the thought of parting ways with her.

A Bond That Transformed Lives

Calista’s journey with her new family was marked by transformation. Zazu, the resident dog, played a pivotal role in helping her adjust to life as a cherished pet. He taught her the ways of being a dog, from playing to facing her fears. Calista’s ongoing battle with mastocyte cancer and lingering health issues didn’t dampen her spirits. She exuded happiness, relishing every moment of her new life.

Jeannette affectionately shared, “She enjoys life. She enjoys eating. She is a kind soul who adores other creatures. She occasionally grapples with fear due to her past experiences, but she’s nearly overcome it.”

The Tale of the Drumming Tail

One of Calista’s unique quirks is her “tail drumming.” The family’s wooden floors turn her tail-wagging into a rhythmic beat, a joyful reminder of the happiness she’s found. Jeannette fondly says, “She is genuinely the happiest dog I’ve ever met.”

Calista’s story is a testament to the incredible resilience and capacity for forgiveness that dogs possess. Her journey from a bait dog to a beloved family member showcases the remarkable transformations that love and care can bring about.


Calista’s incredible journey reminds us of the power of compassion and the remarkable resilience of animals. Her story stands as a beacon of hope, inspiring us to extend our hearts and homes to those in need.


  1. What is a bait dog in dogfighting? A bait dog is a defenseless dog used in dogfighting as a practice target for other fighting dogs. They often endure extreme abuse.
  2. How can I support organizations like the Mayday Bullfighting Rescue Team? You can support these organizations by donating, volunteering, or adopting rescued animals.
  3. What are some signs of tick-borne illnesses in dogs? Symptoms may include lethargy, fever, joint pain, and loss of appetite. It’s essential to consult a vet if you suspect your dog has been exposed to ticks.
  4. Are there any breed-specific rescue organizations for bulldogs? Yes, there are many rescue organizations dedicated to specific breeds, including bulldogs. These organizations focus on rescuing and rehoming dogs of a particular breed.
  5. Can I adopt a dog with health issues like Calista? Yes, many dogs with health issues make wonderful companions. It’s essential to be prepared for the extra care and medical attention they might require.

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