PITTSFIELD -- At the Berkshire Humane Society shelter, three special dogs are looking for three special homes.
None of the three are pit bulls, but since they have facial features associated with pit bulls, they carry the weight of the reputation pit bulls have garnered over the years.
According to shelter officials, all three dogs have difficulty finding a forever family because of it, and they tend to be stressed out by life in a kennel. With new dogs constantly coming and going in the cages next door, a sensitive dog's life can get pretty hectic.
So when prospective owners come in, they have difficulty seeing the canines' charms in one visit.
But how they act in a kennel and how they act in a home setting can be very different.
"A couch is better than a cage," said Brett Dalzell, a canine adoption counselor at the Berkshire Humane Society. "It can take up to two months for a dog of any breed to truly settle into a new home. About 99 percent of the time, it works out really well."
Lexi, 3, is a retriever/terrier mix who has been a shelter resident for a year and three months. Like many shelter dogs, she has had a tough past. But she gets along well with her friends at BHS. She loves attention, snuggling and fetching a tennis ball.
According to Dalzell, Lexi's future home will be a quiet place without other animals or children. She likes to be the center of attention. She knows all her commands and is known to be affectionate and playful.
"She is the most intelligent dog I've ever worked with," Dalzell said.
According to adoption counselor Lindsay Hermanski, Lexi is "very eager to learn and to please. She can be apprehensive at first, but on the second introduction you really start to fall in love with her."
Lexi is the longest tenant at the shelter right now and longs for a human companion, Hermanski said.
Bella, 9, is a mature female boxer mix. She is sensitive to newcomers but loving and attentive to old friends. She enjoys going on walks.
"She's older, so not as high maintenance as some younger dogs," Hermanski said. "She's really just looking for the perfect retirement home."
Mocha, at 7 months old, is a Staffordshire bull terrier. She is new to the shelter and still under evaluation. Watchful of strangers, she has plenty of puppy energy for playing and walking.
Hermanski said the shelter staff is working with her on obedience training and social skills.
"She is very nice when you get to know her," Hermanski said. "She loves to play with tennis balls and needs a home where she can keep her active lifestyle."
But all three do resemble what they are actually not.
"Pit bulls are really great breeds of dog," said John Perreault, executive director of the Berkshire Humane Society. "They are very good family dogs, but they've gotten a lot of bad press."
The pit bull label is a generic term frequently used to describe a number of breeds, including the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier.
Like many dogs, canine specialists note, some pit bull-type dogs react badly to people or other animals if they have had a lack of socializing and training or if they have been victims of neglect or mistreatment.
But like most dogs, with frequent socialization and proper training, pit bull-type breeds have a tendency to be intelligent, energetic, playful, social, affectionate and loving to their human family members, Perreault said.
Since 2012, Perreault said, the Berkshire Humane Society has successfully placed 37 pit bull-type dogs in loving homes.
"They're just tough to place, but most people who have them really love them and swear by them," he added.
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