Last summer, Toast the pit bull had the bad luck of being in the way during a drug bust. He and another dog were shot full of tranquilizers by police.
“Thankfully, they used tranquilizers and not guns,” Anya Kopchinsky tells The Dodo. “Both dogs woke up immediately wagging their tails.”
Toast then had the good luck of going home with Kopchinsky, who fosters pit bulls at her home in Connecticut. It turned out to be lucky for her as well.
In the last five years, Kopchinsky has fostered 67 dogs, all pit bulls.
Toast started off as a foster, too, through Cat Assistance/Pit Stop, the nonprofit that got him out of Animal Care Centers of NYC, New York City’s public shelter, where he and the other dog wound up after their police encounter. (The other dog was adopted right out of the shelter.)
Kopchinsky nursed the dog through pneumonia he’d picked up in the shelter, and in the process fell in love. So hard, that Toast is her first foster fail.
Now, Toast helps out with the still-steady stream of other foster pups – like little Sasha Fierce, who landed in a Connecticut shelter with bad burns on her back at just a little over a month old.
“That was the first time I’d seen him with another dog. He was a little bit of a bulldozer with her, but was incredibly gentle for his size,” says Kopchinsky. (Sasha Fierce is all healed up now, and has been adopted.)
Toast initiates each foster dog into the good life in a house by flinging toys in their faces, and “giving them no choice but to play with him,” says Kopchinsky. “Toast has taught each one how to live with another dog, and he even shares his bones with them.”
Toast also takes a little something for himself out of life.
That little something, lately, is a nightly wrestling match with a bean bag couch.
“I remember when Toast first arrived at our care center with his wiggly butt and little grunt noises he would make,” Amanda Beadle, from the New York City shelter, tells The Dodo. “It’s so great to see our pups in their new home.”
But even with his bean bag chair shenanigans, Toast is being helpful.
Kopchinsky’s current foster, Mac, was severely abused. He’s normally too scared to interact with anyone.
He likes to watch Toast and the chair, though, “and it has slowly made him more comfortable since Toast is so goofy,” says Kopchinsky. “Finally, he has started bringing Toast toys to play with.”
Seeing Toast with his foster pals, and wrestling his bean bag chair, Kopchinsky says she’s grateful she was able to save him. She’s loved being able to give this dog a wonderful life, and now he’s helping do that for the dogs who follow.
Toast helped Kopchinsky get through something bad, too. When she began to foster him this past summer, Kopchinsky had been planning on moving in with her now-ex boyfriend, whom she describes as abusive.
The guy told Kopchinsky she couldn’t bring a dog to the household, and “I just knew it was a sign,” she says.
Toast “is almost 100 pounds and a total sloth. He has feet bigger than my hands! It’s so funny to me that he was used to protect drugs – the dog couldn’t have any less protective instincts in him,” says Kopchinsky.
And yet, she says, “Toast saved my life. He rescued me.”