November 9th, 2009 by Christy Griffin
Mike Massucco and Trese Biagini are drawn to the abused, scarred, ill, and old—a mosaic of the not loved enough. Outcasts all. The tan and white Pit Bull puppy with the white blaze on her forehead and stockings on her short front legs was found walking along a highway and didn’t fit the usual bill. With her good looks, coquettish smile, and her tail-wagging, fervor-for-life character, Gigi was nearly perfect.
After I pulled her from the local humane society through the marvelous Any Dog Rescue group, the pup found accommodations at IDA office headquarters, where she earned the saucy name of Gigi. IDA Founder and president Elliot Katz took her to his home in the evenings. And then Leather Leone, former rock singer, now vet tech at the Sausalito Animal Hospital, and guardian of the delightful Pit Bull Franca, sent word that Mike and Trese were looking for a young dog.
I drove Gigi to the meet the couple. Mike was waiting outside of his San Francisco home, sitting beside a big bear of a black dog, a blind Chow called Wally, and a three-legged Pit Bull named Peg. They explained how their brood began with a blue budgie flying into Mike’s home office through a sliding glass door. They tried to locate the budgie’s family and, after a time, named the little bird Lila and got him a companion, Sponge Babette, along with a larger cage. And then the dogs started coming…
The couple’s first adoptions were a one-eyed, broken-jawed Chow with a shaven face, and the other, an older Rottie, whose abdomen was hanging, which turned out to be liver cancer. Mike approached the Rottie, who was in an outdoor kennel, and who like all Rotties, was a leaner, and as she sat on his foot and leaned against his leg—the subtle things one notices immediately—that was all it took. He called her Lucy. Inside the cement indoor chain link kennels, the one-eyed Chow was sitting quietly. He was on the euthanasia list. Decision made. Mike and Trese called him Wally, and Lucy and Wally were adopted that day.
Within a few months, Lucy had lost her mobility, so Mike purchased a wagon, a Radio Flyer, and built an umbrella stand so she could sit in the shade. “I was the only one at Fort Funston with a dog in a wagon and its own umbrella stand attached to it.” On one of his trips to Fort Funston, he ran into an older, emaciated, mange-ridden dog, alone, with a note attached asking someone to take her. She was a Blue Healer. Because of Lucy’s condition, he couldn’t take the stray home so he drove her to Animal Care & Control. When Lucy died a few months later, in her honor, Mike and Trese returned to adopt Betty, the Blue Healer, who was about ten years of age, afflicted with Cushings Disease. But they couldn’t leave with just one dog. Housed with Betty was a three-legged Pit Bull who was dumped after a man having an argument with his girlfriend stomped on her leg, which then had to be amputated. Mike and Trese called her Peg and the two girls were adopted together. With the beloved Betty now gone, and despite robust health, Gigi was taken in and will share the comfy house, dog beds everywhere, with Wally, Peg, Lila, Sponge Babette, and Pako the parrot, who arrived less than a year ago. Pako needed a home—he had bit someone. And now the bird who bites sits on Mike’s shoulder as he walks around the garden in the morning. Pako also joins Mike and the three dogs in the car when they pick up Trese after work—Pako standing atop Mike’s shoulder. Trese’s car is now referred to as the ark, and Mike and Trese, the guardians of the home of the jettisoned.