The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Pit bull gets a new life
Rebecca Grove recently listened to a song by her new pit bull’s namesake—the late jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.
Django—the dog, not the musician—was with her on a couch. Her pet’s head shot up at the sound of the music, she recalled, and he started tilting it from side to side the way curious dogs do.
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“It was a reaction we hadn’t seen before,” said Grove, who, along with her husband Chuck, adopted Django in February from the Fredericksburg-based nonprofit Bully Paws Pit Bull Patriots.
She suspected and later confirmed that his foster guardian, Alex Baliles of Culpeper County, played Reinhardt’s music around Django.
“It was really cool,” said Grove, who recently moved from Charlottesville to Cumming, Ga., near Atlanta. “He’s a pretty awesome dog.”
Django the musician and Django the dog share more than just a name—both suffered severe burns. Reinhardt went on to live an influential life after his injuries, and Grove expects the same to happen to Django.
The Free Lance–Star last year ran a story about Django and Baliles, who has fostered other neglected pit bulls with his wife, Cari.
Grove wants people to know that story—of how Django was found abandoned in Spotsylvania County with raw, red tissue running down his back from neck to tail.
She wants Django to be an ambassador for what she considers a misunderstood breed, a breed that she calls cuddly and lovable.
Django is sweet and forgiving, not violent, Grove says.
He sleeps in a king-size bed every night with the Groves and their other two pit bulls. The first time Django hopped onto the bed, Grove said, “He just curled right up there in between our pillows. He shares one of our pillows every night.”
Django is the second pit bull fostered by Baliles—a Bully Paws volunteer—that the Groves have adopted. The other is Clancey, who was found severely malnourished.
The Groves started a Facebook page called “Clancey and Django—Survival of the ‘Pit’est” with pictures and video of their three pit bulls and two other dogs. A video shows Django running around with Clancey, who is struggling to keep up, in his new family’s large, fenced backyard.
Last summer, the Groves made a $500 donation for Django’s care in Clancey’s name, with the message: “Tell Django, from someone who knows, that everything is going to be OK now that he is in safe, loving and healing hands.”
Bully Paws ended up raising $6,210 for Django’s care.
Baliles said the Groves continually asked for updates on Django while he was healing.
“They just knew that Django was theirs, you know?” said Baliles, who considers them good friends.
The Groves first met Django at a Maryland pet expo in January.
His burns have healed, but he doesn’t have any hair on the scar tissue down his back. He wears a shirt most of the time, and the Groves apply coconut oil on his scar a couple times a day.
They also rub baby sunscreen on his back before he goes outside.
It’s unclear exactly how Django was burned, but a vet said she thought he was a victim of neglect or abuse, or both.
In addition to being a breed ambassador, Django could have a career ahead of him in dock diving—a dog sport in which canines jump off docks, competing for distance or height.
His new brother, Duke, is No. 6 in the country, the Groves said.
In fact, the couple travels all over the country for dock-diving competitions, which will allow Django to meet plenty of people.
“Our goal with him really is to just introduce him to as many people and as many new things as we can,” Grove said.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402