Best Friends Blog

A farewell to Tug, the Vicktory dog

Tug, the Vicktory dogI am deeply saddened to be the bearer of the news that Tug, one of the dogs who thrived at Best Friends after being rescued from the property of Michael Vick, has passed away. Like many dogs rescued from fighting cases, Tug suffered from the blood disease babesia, and the toll on his body from the parasite was just too much. He was humanely euthanized this afternoon, surrounded by many of the caregivers and friends he had come to know over his years in the safety of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Tug was a dog who loved to be hugged. Bow-legged and friendly, he had an unforgettable welcome dance. Despite all he’d been through, he was a sensationally happy dog who loved golf cart rides and spending time with his friends. We’re so glad that a dog who had been through so much had a wonderful life in the end. He will be sorely missed.

It’s quite remarkable to think that the investigation into Bad Newz Kennels began more than nine years ago. The youngest of the Vicktory dogs, as they came to be known for their triumphant spirits, is now nine years old, and we’ve had to say goodbye to a few. Babesia has been one of the causes.

Babesia is a terrible disease. It is passed through blood, and is therefore more prevalent among fighting dogs. (Many of the Vicktory dogs, including Lucas, suffered from it.) It’s a stubborn disease that presents itself differently from dog to dog. Babesia can be managed but not cured, and it was not something our medical staff had encountered very often until the Vicktory dogs. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about how to manage it, but the complications and recurring flare-ups, combined with age, were just too much for Tug to handle.

Tug, the Vicktory dog, with McKenzieWe know how important the story of the Vicktory dogs has been for dogs rescued from fighting rings everywhere. As documented in the film The Champions, these dogs have forever changed the perception of pit-bull-terrier-like dogs in general, as well as dogs specifically from dogfighting cases. Everyone at Best Friends will be forever changed from having known this particular group of dogs, and when it comes to Tug, I asked some of our staff who knew him best to share their memories.

“Tug was just always the special one. He was loved by everyone and he didn’t have to do anything special for that, but just be ‘The Tug.’ He would dance for us at his gate with his bow-legged front legs. He had obsessive-compulsive quirks, like laying his tongue on a pole, like the kid in Christmas Story, and just look at us with his tongue on the pole. When you went into his room and sat with him, he was content to just sit on your lap. The world just stood still when you were sitting with The Tug. Nothing else mattered. He had a heart that wouldn’t stop and I loved him with all my heart.”
– Terry Tate, Dogtown caregiver

“Tug was an easy dog to fall for. He was always so happy to see you. He was up for anything. He was happy going for a walk, going for a ride in the car or the golf cart, or just cuddling in his room. Basically he was just a happy dog. It’s amazing that he could come from such circumstances and still remain the biggest love. Tug had a great life here and I only knew him to be happy and loving. Today when we had to say our goodbyes, the room was full of people who’ve known Tug for years and people who have only known him for a short time. He was surrounded by love. Angel Lodges will not be the same without him.”
– Julie Tasch, Dogtown team leader

Tug, the Vicktory dog

“Tug was an amazing boy. He tried so hard to pretend that he was a tough guy, but as soon as he was out of his room, he was a melty pile of mush! He loved his caregivers so very much. It was his trust of them that allowed us to care for him medically. I will always remember him barking his meaty head off at me from his room, then him being taken out and spinning between my legs so his whole body could be enveloped by me in the most awkward of hugs. He was the best. There are no words to describe the hole his passing leaves in our lives.”
– Betsy Kidder, veterinary technician

Rest in peace, Tug.

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Gregory Castle
CEO Best Friends Animal Society

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  • karyell54

    RIP Tug. You’ve crossed the Rainbow Bridge where life is good and your body is young and healthy once again. Enjoy your new life in Doggie Heaven. Someday, all who have loved you will see you again. To all of you who cared for and loved Tug, thank you and bless you.

  • legalminefield

    Tug in Heaven now. Since Michael Vick will be on the express train to Hell, Tug will ne have to see him again.

  • Melinda LaFoy Wright

    R.I.P., Tug. You will never be forgotten, sweet boy!

  • bennyshere

    While some of the Victory dogs have crossed the Bridge, their legacy will live on. Thousands of us will remember them with great fondest for many years to come.

    They were the first group of dogs used for fighting that survived and even thrived, after their usefulness as evidence was over. Someone finally said enough!! Enough of killing dogs that were placed in horrendous circumstances and forced to fight. Organizations said we think we can rehabilitate these dogs, and they were supported by animal lovers all over the world.

    Many of these dogs went on to live with families, some were therapy dogs. For myself and many others the Vicktory dogs, those that saved their lives, the trainers that worked with them, and the families that adopted them are heroes. These dogs paved the way for other dogs used for fighting to live.

    Yes their crossing is sad, but their legacy will not be forgotten.

  • Lynda Patton

    Rest in peace, sweet Tug. Your epic journey has been followed by so many people who cared about you and your friends. No dog, no animal should every have had to go through what you did. That you came out this end of it with such a happy personality is a marvel and a testiment to the quality of the breed. A monster may try to make you something you were not, but you still overcame all of that to show what you truly were… an adorable boy. Run and play now. Feel no more pain. You will always be in our hearts, Tug.

  • Snowpleeze

    rest in Peace & Comfort, sweet guy! You were loved & we humans are still angry WHY this had to happen to such innocent animals…..we will NEVER forget & hope that sicko evil thing gets his……may you find your other buddies & run & play, pain-free & in total bliss…..thank you for being so brave……always in our hearts…..<3

  • Dala Kirkpatrick

    I am so sorry for your loss. Tug knew a better life thanks to you and all who saved him and the other Vicktory dogs from that hell on earth. Run free at the Bridge, Tug and look up my Koco as I know she would love to run and play with you