How We Found Our Dog: Brooklyn

By Will Pakutka, July 2018
Brooklyn, surrounded by old friends and new family: front  (left to right), Nikki Stanton, Taylor Lytle, Sarah Killion; middle, Maggie Pakutka, Kelley O’Hara, Sally Pakutka; back, Will Pakutka, Sam Kerr.

Brooklyn, surrounded by old friends and new family: front (left to right), Nikki Stanton, Taylor Lytle, Sarah Killion; middle, Maggie Pakutka, Kelley O’Hara, Sally Pakutka; back, Will Pakutka, Sam Kerr.

My wife and daughter had gone to the shelter looking for a quiet little dog. While there, they learned that soccer players with Sky Blue FC, a New Jersey–based professional women’s soccer team, were looking for a home for a stray they had fostered throughout the season. These weren’t just any players, however—they were stars: National Women’s Soccer League veterans Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle and Nikki Stanton; World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Kelley O’Hara; and Australian National Team standout forward Sam Kerr.

Brooklyn had had a rough first two years—she’d likely been used as a bait dog, if the scars on her head were any indication—but once the players took her in, she was loved five times over. Now, with the season ending and the players scattering, they had two weeks to find Brooklyn a permanent home or it was back to the shelter for her.

Brooklyn won over my wife and daughter immediately. After meeting her and the players, my daughter called to say they had found our dog. “It’s a Pit Bull,” she said. “You’re meeting her tomorrow. You better like her.”

When we first met, Brooklyn jumped on my chest. At 80 pounds, she was imposing, but pleasant and playful as long as you played what she wanted. Her quirks would not be hard to deal with. Her performance on a leash, however, would be. During a walk with Nikki and Taylor, Brooklyn jumped and bit at the leash constantly. She pulled from side to side, and went ballistic if she glimpsed another dog.

If we did adopt her, there would have to be changes. Leash-biting was out, as was eating from the table and jumping on people. We could make adjustments and figure out the small things. For the larger matters, we’d hire a trainer. But that wasn’t all. For half a year, Brooklyn had lived with five super soccer moms. Now, she would live with two people in their 50s. If Brooklyn could handle that, we were in.

All the players were there when we went to get Brooklyn. Nikki cried. Sam played a last game of “bite down hard on the rope and I’ll try to pull it away,” and we added one more thing to our list of issues. About 15 seconds into the ride home, Brooklyn spotted another dog and jumped back and forth while barking loudly. A quiet little pup, I said to myself. That’s all I wanted.

Nikki, Taylor and Sam came to see Brooklyn before they left town. We agreed to get together when the new season started, but that might be tricky; in the offseason, Taylor and Kelley were traded to Utah, while Nikki and Sam went to Chicago. They’ll all be visiting New Jersey at some point, however, and perhaps they’ll see Brooklyn.

Until then, she’ll be working on her leash manners as well as maybe, just maybe, getting along with other dogs—becoming a better team player herself.

P.S. Will and Sally Pakutka live quietly at the Jersey Shore, until Brooklyn spots another dog, which leads to all kinds of mayhem. But runs on the beach and naps on the couch with their new family member make it worthwhile.

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