Dog spent one year of her life locked away in a basement—rescuer now brings her on adventures

After years of abuse, a dog can turn fearful, and it can take a lot of love and healing to recover from that. This pit bull, who had been locked in a basement and abused daily, became afraid of almost everything. It took a change of scenery and a life-loving new owner for her to finally bounce back.

Penni the pit bull had been a prisoner in the basement of a drug house for the first one and a half years of her life. She had been subjected to physical and verbal abuse every day. When she was finally rescued, she had become afraid of just about everything, from people and places, to inanimate objects.

Little did she know her life was about to change, as she was about to meet her new human dad, Blaine DeLuca.

DeLuca had been looking to adopt a dog from a rescue shelter for a while. When he came across Penni, he was warned that she was incredibly shy, but, perhaps fortuitously, she walked over, licked him, and sat down right in his lap. And that was how DeLuca knew it was meant to be.

It was not going to be easy, however, as she had a lot of emotional healing to do. “You could see it in every inch of her demeanor,” DeLuca said. “She was absolutely terrified of everything under the sun.

“It was awful. It was an uphill battle for quite a while. I couldn’t even get her to walk. She would just sit in the corner with her head down. Six months, no eye contact; she was a full-blown disaster at that point.”

DeLuca tried to create a better environment for Penni by having his friends and their dogs over. He even moved in with roommates who had dogs so that she would have company. But it seemed what Penni really needed was a change in scenery, as life in New Jersey reminded her too much of her hurtful past.

That’s why DeLuca eventually decided to take Penni and move to Las Vegas, where the weather is warmer and not so harsh. Penni’s owner began to introduce her to hiking.


“At that point I could really start to see her demeanor change. I realized how much she enjoyed being outdoors. We’ll sit inside and she’s just a normal dog, but as soon as you open the door to go outside, even if it’s just for a walk down the sidewalk, she just bolts into pure happiness,” DeLuca said.

Penni’s demeanor has changed. She became less fearful and much happier.

DeLuca shared how much he appreciates his new best friend’s company. “On the days I’m wanting to go do something and I maybe can’t find anybody to go with me, it’s awesome to know that I’ve always got her,” DeLuca said. “There’s not one time where I’ve ever taken her out where she wasn’t excited, wasn’t ready.”