October is Pit Bull Awareness Month

I can’t say that I’m any more aware of Pit Bulls or Pit Bull type dogs in October than I am during any other month, and I’m not big into celebrating things just because someone tells me to but would rather celebrate little things with my guys just because.  That isn’t to say that I don’t love the idea of a month dedicated just for the block heads.  I think they deserve it as does every breed, style, make or model of dog.  We should celebrate our four-legged friends often.

When reading about the situation in Montreal, I can’t help but feel bemused that some of the pro-BSL folks are contending the “millionaire pit bull lobby” (google it, I won’t link to it) are trying push their agenda that BSL doesn’t work.  Yet on the other proponents of BSL contend that criminals and dangerous people are the ones who are attracted to and wish to own Pit Bulls.

I am neither a millionaire nor am I a criminal but I do like to fancy myself a dangerous person in the “don’t fu@k with the tiny middle-aged Korean” sense.  Do I have a lion tamer complex?  I do not.  I rather see myself as someone who loves her dogs and revels in the fact that they love me back just as whole heartedly.  I love my avocation of helping to place these wonderful dogs into loving homes where they fulfil their obligation to hog the sofa, snore like pigs and love with hearts bigger than their heads.

There’s no point to this other than to reiterate that my dogs, like all dogs are individuals and I will continue in my self appointed role of protector  and defender of these fat heads until I can no longer draw a breath.

 

I’ll leave you with this: today I met this big lug head of a guy.  All 83 pounds of him just stood and wagged his tail at me while I bent to pet his snout and he mimiced my movements till he was lying at the fence to kiss my finger.  He and I went for a short walk where he tried his best to show me his good leash skills until a squirrel would happen by.  Luckily for me and my arm, I’m an old squirrel spotter from way back and have some impressive skills myself so we struck a happy balance for the duration of the walk.  We walked just far enough for me to fall madly in love.  If you are interested in adding the biggest mush bucket to your home, visit the Allen County SPCA and ask to visit with Abel.

Ups and Downs and Highs and Lows

The difference between volunteering at a bustling shelter and an up and coming rescue is vast but no matter what the rewards are great.  If you see my Facebook at all you know that in the past year and a half or so I’ve become more and more involved with the Pit Bull Coalition and that definitely has caused a shift in my so called free time.  That’s completely fine, though because I’m doing something that I believe in and it’s something that I feel passionate about.

We ended last year with having done 109 adoptions and as of the end of August this year have done 124. My not so secret goal is to reach 200 but if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen.  I won’t push an adoption to reach a numeric goal but we will just keep plugging away at it and one of the things I stress with adopters is that once you adopt from the Pit Bull Coalition, you are family.  We are intrusive in the best possible way, of course.  Naturally we do follow ups and love seeing pictures of our alumni in their happy homes.  I’m honored to be Facebook friends with numerous adopters to see them out and about at events and to be “real life” friends as well.

Occasionally we get an especially touching case and Kya was just such a case.  She was about 7 years old last fall at the time of intake and she had lived with a couple who then had children therefore relegated Kya to the in-laws home where she was cared for but not necessarily doted on.  She had the basics but eventually was given to us in hopes of finding her a better life.

I had been working with a lady who eventually became dubbed “The Crying Lady” because, well, she had recently lost her dog and was quite emotional when meeting our adoptables.  She was well balanced by her stoic hubby and they were just the nicest couple.  After seeing Kya’s picture, TCL called me and I answered the phone to hear only sobbing.  We knew Kya was the gal for her and for the following months, Kya was treated like a princess.  She became the beloved puppy that she never got a chance to be and was completely doted on.

12645084_886826574749388_727009054068616624_n

As often happens with these stories, we learned just after a month or two after her adoption that Kya had cancer so her adoring parents set out to make the next few months the best ever for her.  When it became apparent that her time was winding down I met TCL and the Stoic Man at the vet to lend support as they sent her off to romp pain free at the bridge.  She was hugged and stroked and comforted every step of the way and as her last breath left, we applied some red lipstick to her nose and made an impression.  TCL left the lipstick on Kya to send her off to the bridge looking pretty.

We are family.  When you adopt from us, you adopt us for as much or as little as you want us in your life.  We don’t just adopt animals, we adopt family members.  We adopt love.

I’m not an overly demonstrative person and I try to keep my emotions pretty tightly bound.  In my mind that helps when I lend this support in times like this.  I hope Kya knows how adored she was.  I think she knew and I think she sent me a sign.  Feeling pretty solemn after the morning but soon, so very soon, I received a sign…a sign possibly from Kya signifying life goes on…

IMG_8910

I got to pick these two little nuggets of love and bring them into rescue.

Thanks Kya.

 

14233008_10210295509041261_6762136668116761673_n

Kya

Unforgiven

We all have flaws and while we don’t all always see our own image as clear as possible in the mirror, we have to hope for some semblance of self awareness and also that this self awareness will result in growth. Maybe “flaw” is a strong word.  At work we talk about strengths and opportunities, so maybe that is a better characterization. When it comes to my dogs first and pit bull type dogs in general, I know that my strength and opportunity lie in the fact that the propensity for them to be unfairly judged for anything  is real and abiding and yet I know that I will go to any length to defend them, thus nearly every reaction stems from how it may affect me or my dogs. It also tends to make me more unforgiving towards other dogs.

img_6430

Recently we were at a fundraiser which was held at a local bar with a “paw friendly” patio.  The fundraiser was for a cause very dear to me and while the weather was hot, the evening promised to be chock-full of fun.  As dog lovers filtered through the outdoor patio with their pooches in tow the evening seemed to be headed for one of laid-back joy and fun.  As I stood just inside the gate listening to the speech, welcoming us and explaining the mission of Pet Promises for whom the fundraiser was benefiting, a lady walked in to stand just behind and beside me with her little red cattle dog.  The man sitting behind me immediately engaged this woman in conversation as he apparently owned a blue heeler, who was, of course, “the best dog in the world.”

I glanced at them a couple of times throughout the speech that was being given as they weren’t quiet and were certainly drowning out some of the speech, at least for me.  As often tends to happen during speeches, people are acknowledged and others applaud.  As I was trying to balance a drink in one hand and do my best to offer more than just a golf clap, I soon, adjusted my arms and at the appropriate time offered up some applause.  At that exact moment, the little red cattle dog sprang from her sitting position nearly 5 feet away and nipped my arm, but good.

The woman was horrified and immediately regained control of her dog, apologizing the entire time but to be honest, the numerous emotions and thoughts that coursed through my heart and head would have none of it. The very first thought through my head (besides “ow”) was “If my dog did that to anyone, they’d be screaming about a Pit Bull attack.”  My skin wasn’t broken but it was certainly bruised for several days and while I know that the lady was “sorry” and upset, I couldn’t bring myself to utter words of forgiveness or consolation.  Less than 10 minutes later she and her dog were leaving and I knew in my heart that while it wasn’t anyone’s fault and that she must have been feeling horrified, I could not, would not offer any clemency by word or deed. I could not forgive her or her dog for an act that, had it been done by one of my dogs would have been magnified tenfold.  (Note: not by those who know and advocate for my guys but just in general.)

 

So to you, I ask, what do you say when someone says “I’m sorry” to you and the last thing you could possibly utter is, “That’s ok.”

 

Ray’s Legs Redux

Or in this case, redux is a little bit of a stretch.  Originally when I made Ray’s appointment, he was to be brought in Tuesday the 5th but Kevin and I had some maneuvering to do with our vehicles and thus decided to reschedule for today which would make two trips in two days to the office.  Juli’s annual visit was yesterday and he completely rocked it.

As is customary the office called yesterday morning and left a voicemail reminder about Ray’s appointment and upon hearing it I began to shake.  They clearly didn’t “get” what I was trying to accomplish so after I calmed a bit I called the office.  Ray was not  coming in for an exam and a possible x-ray.  Ray’s anxiety at the Vet’s office was so high that I couldn’t subject him to that type of waiting and anticipation.  Fortunately, the office manager answered the phone and got me in touch with a staff member who knows Ray.  Knows him well.  She and I talked extensively about what has been going on with Ray and since he really has been walking better since the two incidents and is newly on some new arthritis supplements we decided to refill his Rimadyl and cancel the x-ray for now.

img_5680

I obviously keep a very close eye on him and all manner of how he walks.  I don’t take his legs, his health or his pain levels lightly so with all of that in mind, we are in a holding pattern for now.  We will resume his walks and slowly build back up to where we were.  He is still dropping some extra weight so that should help to alleviate some joint stress and for now we will just continue to live and love as ever.

 

Thank you, everyone for all of your good wishes and for checking in.  I can’t express how touched we are for your friendship.

Ray’s Legs

The saga of Ray’s legs continues. As you may remember, last July after the Sugar family was adopted, Ray went in for his TTA surgery to help repair his ACL. Due to his high anxiety levels and my anxiety over his anxiety, I waited longer than I should have to schedule this surgery and going into it we knew that he had advanced levels of arthritis is both legs for a dog as young as he is. Fortunately the surgery was a success which was doubly confirmed in March when Ray went in for his annual vaccinations and exam.For a dog like Ray I’ve just learned to do a lot of this medical in one fell swoop. At annual exam time, Ray has a dental cleaning, is vaccinated, has his nails trimmed and this year had his leg x-rayed –all while he was anesthetized. This most certainly is not ideal. Who wants to have their dog anesthetized every year? Not this gal, but I also don’t want him thrashing around screaming and injuring himself or staff at all either.

img_7281-1

After Ray got the all clear in March we loosened the reigns a bit and allowed him to romp more around the yard. He’s pretty reasonable when trying to chase squirrels or the world’s fastest dog Julius around the yard so we haven’t worried too much. Besides walking has really helped with not only strengthening his leg but with is overall mental happiness. A lot of what he does is he bounces about like a happy cow and pretends to chase Julius as Juli zips by only to stop and wait for the next pass.

IMG_5166

Then about a week and a half ago, I let the boys out for their last potty break, and after a very short time heard the worst sound I could imagine coming from our back yard. For a split second my world stopped as it sounded like the boys were in an all out fight. Screaming and guttural growling filled the night air as I ran outside fearing the worst only to find that they had crossed either over or under the temporary fencing we had put up across the side (the whole yard has a privacy fence) where Kevin is trying to grow some grass-a temporary fence they had never before challenged-and were leaping at an opossum that was balanced atop the fence hissing at them. Julius and Ray were both leaping in the air with varying degrees of height (Juli can reach the top, so I’m thankful he didn’t this time) and screeching at this poor creature who finally departed to the neighbor’s yard. I got the boys back into the house and we all retired to bed after my heart finally stopped its frantic racing.

img_7781

Sometime during the night Ray left the bed to lie on his mat and when we all got up in the morning, he did not want to get up for his morning potty break. I let Juli out and encouraged Ray to come when I finally saw that he wasn’t putting any weight at all on his leg and didn’t want to walk, so I helped him back to his mat, gave him some Rimadyl with his breakfast and left to help man the Pit Bull Coalition booth at Pet Expo. Ray has extraordinary holding powers so I knew he’d be alright until I returned, and he was. I helped him go outside in the afternoon, and kept him mostly immobile for the remainder of the weekend. He’s been relegated again to sleeping on his mat on the floor and had seemed to be healing just as we hoped. Until the following Friday. Last Friday I was sitting on the patio with the boys when Ray heard Kevin pull into the drive. We went inside to greet him after having been gone the week and all was normal yet again until about an hour or two later when Ray again wouldn’t put any weight on his foot.

IMG_4668

Kevin and I have agonized over this since Friday. We hate to put him under just for x-rays again but in reality we can’t not do it because we need to know the extend of any damage, but do we subject him to another TTA? Do we try TPLO? How acutely does the arthritis factor into the equation? Can his pain be managed medically? Lots of questions right now and no answers…but he knows we’re talking about him.

Twist of Fate

The sad truth about rescue-any rescue- is that as of now, try as we might, we still can’t “save them all.” The number of requests we receive on any given day far exceed the number of spaces we have available because we generally have zero availability. Generally the moment we have an adoption, we have some soul who is waiting to fill that foster spot. But fosters take breaks (as they should) and our intake might require a specific type of foster for the arriving dog or being a breed/type specific rescue we may not be able to take your Chihuahua or any other numerous reasons may prohibit us from a specific intake.  

That type of situation recently presented itself in that our feeds and messages began blowing up over a pair of dogs-(the owner says they are 100% full pit bull) who had been abandoned in a trailer due to an incarceration. Family members were aware so had been entering to feed the dogs but realized this couldn’t go on interminably.

 In such a small group as ours, we all help each other with our rolls but for the most part have our own “boxes” that we stay in and mine isn’t intake so when the “what can we do” messages began rolling in to my personal inbox, I gave the best advice I could. We first of all can’t break into the trailer to get them, so local law or animal enforcement would be a good start. Failing that, if someone could go to the jail and get the owner to sign over the dogs that would be helpful and even then a foster must be secured and then the dogs would need to be assessed behaviorally. Armed with that advice, things began rolling and the dogs were on their way to safety through another group and I all but forgot about them for a few hours as I went about my business.

Their living conditions


 

One of my “boxes” is that I facilitate the adoptions. I review and check applications, call applicants and set up meetings, so imagine my surprise when I called to let an applicant know she was approved and was told that she unexpectedly gained two foster dogs the previous evening. The trailer dogs had secured a foster with a potential adopter. She shared her worry about how to raise funds for the vetting that would be needed and how best to network these boys. In light of the new curve ball, the Pit Bull Coalition Board voted to help cover the cost of vetting and neutering, evaluate the dogs and if possible place them in our program. The only new snag is that these dogs are far from being very pit bull at all. They are sweet and friendly, good with kids and other dogs, but definitely your average mixed breed pit mutt.  


 Tanner is almost a year old, neutered, up to date on shots and housebroken. He’s sweet, gaining confidence and would thrive in a home with another dog. 
 

Rufus is approximately 3 years old, neutered, up to date on shots and housebroken but for an occasional oops. He too is sweet and seems to be the caretaker. His foster mom says he makes sure that her beagle and Tanner have food and are eating before he eats. 


 He and Tanner both take treats very gently though Tanner eats them Rufus generally drops them. In a perfect world, they would be adopted together but ultimately they need good homes and could be separated. 

 
If you think they may be a good fit for your home, please fill out an application at http://www.fwpbc.com or if not, please share their story.

Reminiscing

I admit that I’ve been feeling overly emotional for the better part of the last few weeks and although Marley’s official adoption was impactful it was also almost anticlimactic since this was the goal we had been working toward and it wouldn’t be fair to anyone to have let it drag out. Also recently the Vicktory Dogs have been in the media feeds a lot.  It was recently the anniversary of their confiscation from the chains that bound them at the house on Moonlight Road and to commemorate that a private mass tree planting ceremony took place on those grounds.  The photos from that day evoke a sense of hurt and healing that I can’t even fathom feeling.

 

IMG_1720

Pictures of Lucas hang in the Dogtown lobby.

Also this week The Champions was released on Netflix and of course I had to watch it. While I expected to feel a sense of sadness and certainly renewed outrage over what these dogs had been through, I surprisingly felt much less of both than I expected.  While I hesitate to use the phrase because of all of the stalker-y connotations, I feel like a Superfan of these dogs.  I haven’t exactly followed their story from the beginning but after having read this article, I can honestly say my mission and the course of my life have been dramatically and irrevocably altered. I follow every known Facebook page of the former V dogs and can probably recount snippets of information that should have long sunk in the depths of memory.  I also have a small collection of pawtographed prints and other items from past auctions that I still haven’t found the proper place to display and toy often with the idea of donating them back.  But I digress.  Viewing The Champions with my own Ray-Ray snuggled at my side felt more like watching home movies of people and dogs that I’ve come to love and admire. “Oh, look Ray, that’s Georgia!  Oh look! Lucas’s picture!  Look there’s Meryl!  Oh that’s Donna Reynolds talking.  Aw, look, it’s Jewels!”  Yes, some of it was heartbreaking to watch but it really was so well done.

10940556_10205686768705633_9145051661568360279_n

Ray the Vicktory Dog

 

It also came to my attention that today is the first anniversary of the passing of Ray the Vicktory dog. Ah, the little brown dog.  For several years I had had it in my mind to visit the Best Friends Sanctuary in Utah and hopefully meet a Vicktory dog.  It was they who inspired me and without their story I most likely wouldn’t be an adopter, foster, advocate, protector, defender, dog mama, volunteer, rescuer, or any other tag that might fit and because of that I wanted to just meet them, see them, pay tribute to the way in which the direction of my life changed because of them.  When Lucas passed away I snapped out of my want to-wish to-hope to phase and sprang into action planning our trip as 2007 was fast fading and these dogs weren’t getting any younger.

 

Remember those snippets? I knew that Ray and his mama went to get the mail everyday at Angel’s Café, so I made sure Kevin and I were parked outside as early as possible after our volunteer shift and we waited in our rental car for the pair to arrive. Arrive they did and I watched, petrified, as they disappeared into the building and sat fidgeting as they were inside and then sat again terrified as I said, “There they go.”  Kevin immediately told me to get out of the car and I sprang into action by flinging open the door, dropping my camera in the red dust and falling out of the car causing the pair to stop and stare at me in shocked silence departing the car in a calm manner and asking if that was, in fact, Ray.  Jacque was very nice and as we gently stroked Ray’s back and ears we chatted about Ray’s small size and the smallness in general of all of the V dogs.  I was struck by the normality of Ray.  He was a quiet little dog who leaned against me as I stroked his soft hair and absorbed the attention. He wasn’t standing there as One Of The Dogs Who Changed The Lives Of Many Former Fighting Dogs, he was just Ray in the sunshine. We were invited to come back to Parrots and pick Ray up for a car ride which was both thrilling and terrifying in the responsibility of transporting this dog but in the end, we didn’t wreck the car at the 5 miles per hour rate of speed, we didn’t get lost and returned him in one piece.

 

There’s no special point to this post exactly, just a bit of melancholy and a bit of reminiscing and a need to relive that day in my mind.