It soon became clear that the primary thing on Ursula's mind was being with me. She would desperately hurl herself against any door that separated us. It turns out that it took years for Ursula to feel comfortable being left alone, even with my family members. She literally wouldn't come out of the dog house if I wasn't around. I realized Ursula and I had connected and I was committed to rehabilitating her.
I contacted the Rottweiler Rescue in Los Angeles and met Beverly Berger, an extraordinary woman who focuses her rescue work on rottweilers and Doberman pinschers. She invited me to bring Ursula over to her house so they could meet. I was worried about Ursula's general condition, especially her mangy coat, but Beverly reassured me that if I just kept her clean she would be fine. With good food and frequent baths, Ursula has had beautiful fur ever since. She also offered to have Ursula spayed, which I gratefully accepted. I've kept Beverly informed of Ursula's progress through the years.
Ursula and I spent most of our time at Patrick's house in Huntington Beach. I'm very thankful for the patience both he and his eleven year-old Labrador Toby showed us in the initial months. Ursula was reassured by her safe surroundings and liked the presence of another dog. Patrick's dog training experience proved invaluable. He showed us the basic principles of obedience training, and Ursula learned to come, sit, and lie down. The abuse she had suffered in her early years left deep emotional scars though. I was imprinted on her mind as her true love, and it took Patrick longer to gain her trust. To this day she still keeps a watchful eye if you have a garden hose or broom in hand. I'll never understand how anyone could be cruel to such a sweet creature.
Patrick and I took the dogs on as many outdoor adventures as we could. It was wonderful to watch Ursula experience things for the first time. If she was unsure, she would watch Toby and emulate what he did. She looked with wonder at the wide ocean and sparkling rivers, and then following Toby's lead, would wade tentatively but with obvious pleasure into the water. She is a little afraid of heights but can make easy approaches to rock climbs and has learned to wait at the bottom of routes without making too much of a fuss. As with most dogs, she simply likes to be with you as much as possible. Over the years she's learned to trust and has become much more affectionate with strangers. She'll now sidle up and lean against anyone that will pat her. People seem surprised that a rottweiler can be so gentle and loving.
Ursula and I have now live in Ventura, California where I work for Patagonia. She must be around twelve years old now, but she still enjoys her walks on the beach or around the neighborhood. I just bought an old Craftsman house and my new neighbors have come to know the familiar sight of Ursula surveying the street from the front porch. She lies there quietly watching the world go by and keeps an eye on me as I scrape paint and work in the garden. People are curious to meet my large, pretty dog and she still charms them with her affections.