Forrest

So I know again postless for a few days. We were quite busy this past weekend. We spent a ton of time with our pups and helped out at the Bullies In Need nail trim at the Pet Valu in Rockland. It was a huge success so let me say thank you to anyone who came out to see us. Forrest was a perfect gentlemen at the event and had a visit with a FUR EVER HOME!! It went really well. I was amazed at how well he behaved, he was perfect. He was affectionate and calm in the store, walked well on a leash for them and even crawled into the girls arms (I’m not sure who taught him that but I’m pretty sure that was the deal sealer). I couldn’t be happier for him. I can’t lie I really have gotten attached to the little guy in a short period of time but I’m so thrilled for him. Forrest is  a loving and affectionate puppy who deserves to be a  part of someone’s home permanently. He has made amazing progress in just a few short weeks. He came in nervous and scared and is leaving happy and confident. He has worked really hard to get where he is.  He has learned his basic commands, walks well, and even started to rollerblade with me and my other guys in the morning. I can’t say enough how proud I am of him. He will be going for his trial run with them shortly. Everyone keep their fingers crossed as this puppy deserves a family!!

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If you’ve read anything else I’ve written I foster dogs for  Bullies In Need we are a pit bull rescue in Ontario. I wanted to share with everyone what an amazing experience fostering has been so far.  We got Opie at just  puppy maybe 3 or 4 months old. He is a typical story here in Ontario. Despite a BSL in place there are still a ton of pit bulls out there many unfixed and still having puppies (this is where a responsible owner law comes into play instead of just a blanket BSL). We have some dogs currently sitting on death row waiting for someone to save them (puppies too). It’s sad to think puppies like Opie are put down everyday here because of BSL. Puppies that are completely innocent never given a chance just because they look like a breed that doesn’t actually exist. Pit bulls are really a mix of many breeds. We have a few puppies right now waiting to be sprung from the shelter. They need out ASAP.  If you’re on the fence about fostering TAKE A CHANCE and do it. It will change your life for the better. I promise.

We had all the typical concerns. “What if I get too attached” or “I would never be able to give him up”. We considered our options.   We could go adopt another dog or we could foster and have the potential to help many dogs. Sure it will be sad when they leave us. We may cry. But you wont know if you don’t give it a shot and take a chance.  We liked it so much we went back for seconds and currently have Forrest a little guy out of Toronto who spent 2 months in the shelter. He was a bit timid the first few days but has really started to come out of his shell (which is certainly one way of putting it). It truly has been a life changing experience getting to foster. I’d recommend it to anyone who asks. I know when one of my guys gets a “forever home” I’ll be sad. It’s going to hurt I know it will. At that point I’ll do my best to remember why I decided to foster. Help as many dogs as I can.  Each of them has taken a small piece of my heart but I know that there are many more dogs out their just waiting for a spot on my couch to open up. Some in terrible conditions.  I ask you to open your heart open your home I promise you’ll see what I see. Here are some pics from our outdoor activates lately. We have been having a blast in the fields behind our house.

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Blood and Gore Galore

Posted: April 4, 2013 in Pit Bulls
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So I’ve had a bit of writers block the last few days. I enjoy writing posts but I don’t want to just ramble for the sake of making a post once  a day. I read an article about a young boy in the UK who was attacked and bit on the face by a Yorkie requiring quite a few stitches and has made him fearful to leave his home. Like I’ve said it’s always sad to hear of a dog bite especially when it involves a child. Sadly most will form some sort of poor opinion of dogs and carry it through life.  It left me thinking about the media and the stories they choose to report on.

I found it interesting as most of the dog bite articles I come across involve large breed dogs and most of the time they cite a pit bull or a mix of some sort. Pit bulls are my passion so it’s not a surprise that I see these stories since I pay close attention to any media coverage on Bully’s positive or negative.  Many times authors will just use the phrase pit mix as it draws readers in. In doing some fact checking many of the police reports never specifically name a breed. Just a medium to large-sized dog. So here’s an article about a small dog attack. Most of the time attacks involving small dogs are not reported because no one is seriously harmed.  In this story the dog bit a child in the face causing some fairly serious injury as well as a fear of leaving the home.

So why choose to report on this dog story? I think on a subconscious level the media has trained us to find these type of blood and gore stories interesting. Think about it pit bulls and dogs in general are doing media worthy things everyday rescuing owners and strangers, serving in our military, and being therapy and guide dogs. Though you rarely hear about it because a positive story doesn’t attract as many people as a negative one. I bet my views would go through the roof if I named this article something like “Pit Bull Mauls Man 50 Stitches Required” as opposed to “Pit Bull Guides the Blind”. I wonder what is the attraction to the blood and gore.  Turn on the news it’s all violence and negativity with a smattering of something good, with the feel good stories never receiving as much coverage.

I certainly don’t blame the media for the evil that is present in the world. Although I do hold them accountable for what they choose to report on.  The flip side of this being they are reporting on things that we show an  interest in.  Things that people will likely watch or read. I think as a whole we need to take a better interest in positive stories in the media and take the focus of the negative.

Lights Camera Action!!

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Pit Bulls
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So today I saw an interview that was recently aired on the news. They had a woman and her pit bull mix on the show to be interviewed and asked their opinion on whether pit bulls were dangerous dogs or if  the person holding the leash was to blame. You guys know how I feel on this issue. The person holding the leash is responsible period. The dog is either doing what you have taught it to do or what you allow it to.

I held my breath. The truth is a lot of people when it comes to pit bulls tend to say things damaging to the breed and the notion that pit bulls are no different from a German Sheppard or strong breed of dog. Most of the time these people are totally well-meaning it’s just the way they phrase things or a blanket statement. For instance don’t mix pit bulls with other dogs or small dogs for that matter. My small dog has lived all her life with pit bulls and has never had a problem (she currently lives with 3). Does that mean all pit bulls will tolerate small dogs, no. But I know plenty that do well with other dogs and for that matter animals in general.  I thought she did a really good job fielding the questions and answering them in a responsible educated manner. Even better was the interviewer Manu Raj who drew some pretty good conclusions. First being that any animal abused and mistreated has the potential to become aggressive. He has cats and compared it to that. If he mistreated his cats and taught them to react to humans aggressively it isn’t going to be a huge surprise when they act aggressively towards people. It was refreshing to see someone in the media not attempt to garner views by asking negative questions or tying to provoke an argument. He had an open and honest way of asking his questions, that showed he honestly just wanted to know. He had no hidden agenda. He also touched on another key subject. Kids and proper interactions with pets. Again he used a scenario relevent to his life. His young nephew liked to pull his cat’s tail. When he did this the cat scratched him. Manu made an excellent point saying it is not the cats fault but the parents for not teaching the children proper interactions with cats and other animals. So I wonder in many of these children dog bite cases in what manner did the child approach the dog? It’s a shame parents don’t educate their children more about dogs and the proper way to approach and greet a dog. I mean imagine if someone just walked up and grabbed your ears and nose. Chances are you’d react in a negative manner. Some dogs are more tolerant than others it comes down to temperament not breed. It was awesome to see someone in the media with this kind of thinking. It was also amazing to see both of them paint the “pit bull” in a positive light. So cheers to both of you and hopefully we’ll end BSL in Ontario in 2013.

 

One of my past posts “I Do” I talked about making a commitment to your dog. This is the story of my commitment to Stella who has challenged my sanity in just about every which way I can think of. I got Stella from a pretty rough situation. Now that I think about it my first and second dogs were both rescues. Bently and Stella both came from some pretty awful living conditions.

When I first met Stella or Nina as she was called at the time it was in the West end of Ottawa. I was supposed to see her at the beach but instead was taken back to someones house. I felt a bit uneasy and the scenario only got worse from there. The guy I was dealing with told me that he had to get rid of this dog and he was leaving the country the following day. I pressed him about what would happen if I didn’t take her. He replied with “Not sure. Might just have to leave her in this apartment”.

He went inside one of the town houses and returned with Stella and two people shouting at one other. I heard the female voice asking him where he was taking the dog. While the male voice angrily yelled that he “didn’t care and he didn’t want the thing there in the first place”. He brought Stella out on a short dirty pink leash and handed her to me and I walked her around a bit. She was very timid and it was pretty easy to tell that the people where she was were mistreating her. If you raised a hand too quickly she would cower it was clear they were at the least hitting her to punish her. She was pretty sweet showed me no aggression and Lilly seemed to be somewhat ok with her. My fiance walked her and Lilly a bit and then asked me what I thought. I asked the guy if we could have a minute. We both were still reeling from the loss of my first dog Bently who died in  a freak accident. We wanted to take a second and not jump into anything we weren’t ready for. We both thought that  she was being hit judging by the way she was acting but she was sweet and seemed to almost at once accept Lilly’s limits socially. We were stuck between the classic “rock and a hard place.”

I asked the guy how much he wanted for her. I forget what I paid but I think it was 200 bucks but I mean at this point what could I do.  My fiance and I being the animal people we are couldn’t stand the idea of her going back in their to face those abusive people again. We drove the kid to an ATM. I paid him, he told me a bit more, he claimed she was a pit bull, I could teach her to bite on command if I wanted (in my head I was thinking thank god I saved this dog). I mean who knows what would have happened to her if she was left there any longer. Personally my fiance and I think Stella is a Great Dane, Boxer, and some sort of hunting dog mix. She is way too large to be a pit bull. Who really knows. We dropped this guy back off at the beach and drove Stella away.

I didn’t really get to see much out of Stella before agreeing to take her. The first few days went ok then it was as if all the sudden she let her personality come out. Crate training was out of hand. No matter what we did she would scream for hours and hours. I tried everything in the book. I have crate trained many of my dogs and have never encountered anything like this. Force free, Cesar Millan, heck even  bribes to be quiet didn’t work. Finally after what seemed like an eternity she learned that her crate was just a place to relax chill out, a home away from home if you will.

That was only the start of a long list of ticks that pushed my fiance and I to the limit. I talk about getting  a dog that matches your energy. Tarah and I are on the “kinda active” side. Were not couch potatoes but we don’t run 10 k a day either. Stella we quickly came to learn had more energy than any dog we had ever had. Ok no problem we will just walk and Rollerblade more no big deal. Here’s the catch Stella was terrified to leave the drive way. She absolutely refused some days laying on the ground like a dead body. Leaving home could be a half an hour ordeal in it self. Often while rollerblading she would stop with no warning sending me flying backwards. I mentioned she had a lot of energy but it was impossible to get her to drain it. Everyone she would meet she would jump up on and tackle. Treats and positive reinforcement did little to sway her need to hug everyone she encountered.

Her bad manners didn’t stop at people. At the dog park she would guard any large ball many times leading to a tug of war show down with someone else. Other people playing fetch, nope she would steal whatever they were throwing ball stick it didn’t matter. Recalll seemed like something that was optional at the time, if she felt like it. My fiance and I often wondered what it was we were doing wrong. I am not blaming Stella. Looking back on it we had just been missing out on a connection some where. We were following the same blue print I had with Bently. Who at this point had been the exact opposite of Stella in every way. If we had people over and put Stella on her lead she would run around often close lining people and even once her self. It was as if no matter what we did to exercise her both physically and mentally nothing seemed to matter. We were at a complete loss as to how one dog could be so vastly different when we were training them the same way.

Recently my fiance and I admitted to each other that at one point we both thought that we had bitten off way more than we could chew with Stella. We weren’t sure if our efforts were ever going to pay off. We thought we were pretty good dog people but who knows maybe Bently was a fluke.  Finally Stella slowly started to make progress. First with the drive way. She started to leave and actually enjoy rollerblading. At this time I had been  taking Stella to a secluded dirt path and doing off leash work with her. I let go of my anxiety and trusted her, something I hadn’t been able to do before. This is when things really changed for me. I believe that dogs work off energy. They can feel energy and react to it. Don’t believe me, think about the last time you tried to get your dog to listen to you while you were angry. It never works as well as when your calm and collected. I truly believe that she could feel that up until then that I didn’t fully trust her and it was keeping us from properly bonding. Today Stella is a well-behaved ambassador for whatever breed she is. Most people comment on how well-behaved she is and are blown away to find out she just turned one. She is definately one of the hardest dogs I’ve ever personally owned. Stella is a prime example of a tough puppy that with hard work and discipline has transformed into an amazing dog.

Opieandbell

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StellaLilly

Foster Friday Forrest

Posted: March 29, 2013 in Pit Bulls

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Today is foster friday so I thought I’d give everyone a bit of an update on our second foster Forrest. He’s currently sleeping on my fiance with Lilly and Opie. I’m happy to say he is making great progress. We’ve been working with him pretty diligently. He has had zero food issues while being here. I have been able to pretty much from day one feed him with the rest of my pack. He has become much less tense with toys and bones when people and other dogs approach him. He’s starting to fit in and understand what is expected of him ie waiting to come out of your cage or sitting patiently to eat. He has a fair amount of energy so  I started rollerblading slowly with him. He is a bit nervous about leaving the property which I went through with Stella. Her case was pretty serious compared to him. He shows some concern about it where as she would often flat-out refuse to move. Getting out of the drive way could be a 15 to 20 min process. Thankfully we have worked through that and she happily leaves for roller blades and walks with no issues. Like I said Forrest has shown some concern so we are just going to reinforce that leaving is a good thing and there is nothing to be anxious about. We have been working on his leash skills which are getting better everyday. He’s come a long way in just under a week. He is also making strides in potty training. He hasn’t figured out how to ask for the door and sometimes still pees in his crate but his accidents are becoming much less frequent. He has started to learn his basic tricks sit, stay, lay down. Tonight we’re going to see if he’ll run an agility course to start and boost his confidence. He is a really sweet little guy who loves to snuggle. He had just spent a long time in the shelter where he wasn’t getting enough socialization with people or dogs. I can see from his behaviour he misses social cues that the other dogs are trying to give him. Like everything else he’s learning.

PIT

Let me start by saying I’m not a parent . I’m not an expert at raising kids or dogs for that matter. I am just a guy with 4 pretty well-behaved dogs (although a lot of time and work goes into making them that way).  So last night I read one article on dog’s body language and the tell-tale signs that a dog is stressed. Stress  is always a key factor in dog bites.  The other bit of media I saw was a video. The contents were horrifying but only to the trained eye. If you’re picturing sad and abused dogs your wrong. I’m not sure everyone would have seen what I saw. I tried and failed to find the video today. It was of a little boy and a Rottweiler. This child was man handling this dog. I was amazed that this baby was not bitten. He was very rough from the start with the dog and right up in his face. You could tell his parents were uneducated about dogs (and I believe child raising as well but that’s up for debate). They were encouraging this type of behaviour out of the child. The dog moved away once or twice and the child was egged on by the Mom and Dad to continue harassing or in their eyes “playing” with the dog. The poor Rotti is displaying all the signs of being under serious stress most of which go unnoticed by his owners. At one point the child is sitting on the dog bouncing up and down hard on the dogs ribs. You can see him begin to pant harder not only due to stress but he is now fighting for breath as well. Finally he gets up and leaves. The parents laugh and make it all a big joke. If their dog would have bitten their child it would have been their fault but I’m sure we would have heard how ” they had now idea what happened” or “it came out of no where”. Coupled with a slew of negative press for that Rotti. When in reality the child and his parents basically set the dog up for failure by putting it in that situation.  Like I said this dog was extremely tolerant of the child’s behaviour despite being incredibly stressed by it. He didn’t bite and did not even issue the child a growl. I wouldn’t always count on this behaviour.

We need to be responsible when it comes to children and pets. This will curb tail the amount of children being bitten by dogs not just pit bulls or power breeds. They should be taught from a young age what is appropriate and what is not. Like the world around them they need to treat a dog with the respect it deserves. Whether it be a pit bull or a yorkie. At the end of the day a dog is an animal. It does not posses the capacity to say well this child means me no harm despite grabbing my face and bouncing on my ribs for 20 mins. When approaching a new dog children should be taught to first ask the owner if the dog is friendly. Then calmly pet the dong on his back. Many dogs do not enjoy to be approached and pet on top of the head. Although I think calm  is the real key here. I remember when I had Bently he had never been around kids before so I just wasn’t sure how he would act. He had a great temperament so I assumed he would be good with them but had never been able to test the theory. One day we were at a local pet store. Sure enough before we could even get in the door of the pet store a young girl had approached him and without even asking just grabbed him by his muzzle and started excitedly putting her face in his. He calmly sat and let this little girl pull his ears, pet his face, and allowed her to be really excited with out it having an effect on him. Not all dogs will have this reaction.  Many times a child is excited to see or pet a dog and is giving off an excited energy. Dogs are incredibly in tune with energy and this type in particular usually makes them stressed or excited. Something which is not natural to them. Some dogs who do not know how to deal with this energy can cause them to release the stress in the form of a bite. Dont believe in energy just test the theory. Leave your house for a bit and come in and greet your dogs in an excited manner. Leave again and come in calmly no baby voice and big greeting, ignore them. Notice the difference! In the end we just need to be responsible and always make sure our kids are having appropriate inter actions with our four-legged friends. That way they don’t end up being a media spectacle no matter what breed they are.