To My Sensei

One of Julius’s batshit crazy habits most endearing traits is his high-pitched terrier screech followed closely by his Chewbacca moan both of which he shares with us when he is overly excited.  This excitement may stem from people, or people and dogs walking past the house, seeing people, seeing dogs, or just wanting to go outside in general.  He also does it, though to a much lesser degree now when we go to class.  Last week as he was announcing his arrival, Jan observed that it could possibly stem from some anxiety which really set me to thinking.  Ray is my anxiety ridden dog that we coddle and have to work around special circumstances whereas Julius is my public dog who loves attention and affection, after all he’s my kissing booth bandit!

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But as the hour progressed and we got into our groove, I had a moment of enlightenment.  Julius probably doesn’t really have anxiety as much as I’m making him feel anxious.  I wait to be nearly the last one out of class and the first one in so that we don’t encounter others on lax long leashes, I triple and quadruple gates in my house when a foster is with us, everyone eats with a minimum of six feet and one human between them and mostly any other dog within my eagle-eye view is a potential threat to me.

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Wooo!  Stranger Danger!

So we decided to try a hands-free leash so that my anxiety wouldn’t travel the length of the lead and translate to Julius.  I have two and with all of those lovely D-rings I was in clip and carry heaven so after using it at the adoption event for Bryn, I loaded it with my gear for Julius’s pack walk.

So this morning I got Bryn up and down the street as fast as a scaredy hippo will go and then set off to the walk with Julius after promising Ray his turn afterwards.  For whatever reason upon arriving at our destination, I was immediately crabby, another dog was wound up, Julius was keyed up and I could feel my exasperation building.  As we started walking and I weighed my options I got more and more agitated as did Julius.  “I should probably yank him around and cuss at him,” said the devil on my shoulder and the weakling on the same shoulder laughed and said, “Just turn around and go home, you can’t do this.”  As I clutched my hand’s free leashes, I looked at Julius and said, “We are a team and we can do this, little man.” So I dropped my death grip on the leashes around myself and opened my arms.

 

Breathe in….get it ready.

Breathe out…let it go.

Breathe in….

Breathe out…

I consciously drew my arms up and in, then out and away…in….inhale…out….exhale…

And what happened?  My teammate relaxed.  We walked.  He pulled less and stopped whining.  We hit our stride and walked the walk.

We weren’t perfect, but we were working together as a team and at that moment in time that was all we needed.

#TeamJulius

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Rain Man Walking

With a break in the hair-raising humidity and torrential rains,  I sat out on the back patio after work to soak up some vitamin D and watch the boys play, which to me was heartwarming to see them playing so well, though the sound is certainly not for the faint-hearted.  After dinner I figured we’d settle in for some couch potato-ing but seeing them being so good and knowing that they’d enjoy it, I decided to take them each for a walk around the neighborhood.

Julius and I went out first and strolled down the streets I rarely get to walk on.  He is easy and our walk was silent and companionable.  He’s been rocking his Halti instead of his harness and it has been a game changer.  Juli is always good in his harness-don’t get me wrong- but the Halti like I said was a game changer.  He still rubs his head on my legs occasionally but there were several times I had to look to see if he was still with me because the slackness in the leash was so alarming…and gratifying.

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My Rockstar.

I love that we are getting to such a good place and that we can enjoy the quiet companionship together.

Awaiting me at home was Ray with his soft, hopeful eyes and his bouncy-cow hop.  Ray is normally fine just wearing a martingale collar for walks but Julius and I had seen Daisy, a neighbor’s dog, lounging off leash in her yard and since the said yard is on Ray’s walking route, we opted for the Freedom harness for Ray just in case we needed some extra control.

Ray is like the Rain Man on walks; he has a certain route and routine that must be strictly adhered to unless he decides it doesn’t.  Normally, we depart the driveway and make a beeline across the street to the lamp-post to leave some pee-mail.  We then recross the street and skim along our side yard to the neighbor behind us where we (Ray) pees on her corner lamp post, and continues to the American Bulldog’s house to …do more than pee.  We then retrace our steps back and walk around the next block, up the street and around the corner…past Daisy’s house.

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“The Look” gets me every time.

Tonight I’d like to sincerely thank the neighbor with the “doodle” puppy.  As Ray was preparing his poo spot I noticed they were walking toward us but still a good distance away yet also in the exact direction my Rain Man and I would be heading.  I knew the possibility of Ray losing his shit reacting to the puppy if it were coming head on toward us was a real possibility.  The next few minutes stretched on as I fumbled for a poop bag and scooped up after Ray all the while throwing furtive glances to the approaching pair trying to will them to turn away and still remain calm so that Ray wouldn’t pick up on my mood.  I began regaling him with the temptation of yummy treats in order to lure him in another direction while he stood, glancing between his suddenly crazy mom who wanted to go the wrong way and the approaching puppy.  The neighbor (thank goodness) realized what I was doing and slowed her approach and indicated the direction she needed to take to get home.  I ended up luring Ray to a yard to partake of some yummy snacks while the lady carried her doodle past us, “I don’t want him to slip his collar” she said with a smile, passing us by as if the entire interaction was completely normal. It was truly a nice change from “It’s ok…my dog is friendly” people.

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“Woooo, I say.”

As we continued on Ray’s favorite path and headed up the street towards where I knew Daisy was lying out on her driveway, my mind continued to spin thinking of ways to try to cajole my stubborn dog to make a detour I heard the sweetest sound.  Daisy’s “dad” had just turned on a dreaded leaf-blower.  Ray stopped and looked at me…”Let’s go this way,” I said, pointing in the opposite direction.  As we approached our house from the wrong direction and doubled back to another pee-mail location, I took a moment to bask in the warm glow of the realization that Ray trusts me to keep him safe from things like doodle puppies, leaf blowers and other random items of lawn equipment.  For that he earned a nice slice of dried sweet potato.

How does your dog let you know that you’re earning doggie thumbs up?

Foster Flip-Flop

As the person who approves the adoption applications for our rescue, sets up and often does the meet and greets, I have a confession to make.  I get annoyed with fosters who get so attached that they make it harder for a dog to transition.  Granted, it doesn’t happen every time  but often enough that I’ve rolled my eyes a time or two.  Other than Margeaux, my longest foster(s) were the Sugar family; Sugar Marie and her litter of seven puppies. As much as I loved the puppies, by the time they were ready for adoption I was ready for them to go.  They lived in our finished basement which meant each time they needed to go outside we were transporting baskets of puppies up stairs, through the house and out to the back.  And then back to the basement.  Other than that, we’ve had guests for a night or two, but not much more.

I pulled Margeaux on a Wednesday knowing we had an adoption event on Saturday so I assumed she would be a three-day foster. Here we are now seven weeks later and with no open applications on her accompanied by lots of pressure from her Facebook fans for us to adopt her. Believe me, we’ve talked non-stop about the pros and cons of officially adopting Miss Piggy and while she is welcome to stay here as long as it takes for her to find a home and we haven’t completely ruled out being that home, we truly believe there is a better situation out there for her.

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So the Great Debate regarding Margeaux first and foremost begins with Ray.  Nearly two years ago Ray underwent a TTA surgery on his rear left leg and he will likely need a double surgery on his rear right leg this year.  Not only might he need a TTA surgery, but we’ve always known he may need to have a luxating patella repaired as well.  Margeaux requires very little time and attention but to decrease the availability of that wouldn’t be fair to her.  Furthermore, Ray is not a good patient.  His extreme anxiety dictates so much of how we live our lives that if Margeaux wasn’t completely integrated by then I fear she would suffer the lack of companionship and while she and Ray have parallel walked, they have not physically met yet.

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Then there is Julius.  Because Julius and Margeaux had such a successful meeting I became convinced that Margeaux was super dog friendly which has proven to not be the case.  Julius and Margeaux walked then proceeded to the back yard for pictures.  After the pictures were done, Julius in his Joe-cool-chicks-dig-me way, walked away from Margeaux and she has spent the following six and a half weeks trying to gain Juli’s attention. To say he’s fairly noncommittal about her would be an understatement.  He likes being in the yard with her as long as she doesn’t actually try to interact with him. When I was in my teens, my sister who is six years younger than I, used to sit outside my closed bedroom door hoping to hang out with me.  Sometimes I’d magnanimously allow her to enter as long as she followed the rules.  The rules were that she could sit in one small designated spot with her hands folded in her lap, not touch anything and not speak.  I see a lot of these rules in play as they apply to Julius and his little adoring foster sister.

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As much as we love her and as the debate rages on, we steadfastly tell ourselves that we are her foster family and as such we are doing our best to prepare her to transition her forever home.

Full Speed Julius

If you follow the boys on Facebook, you’ll already know that Julius took a tumble last night as I picked him up at Day Care.  As he was running up the stairs to greet me, he tripped, fell and landed on his jug-head then wouldn’t put any weight at all on his right front leg.  The team at Day Care checked it out and collectively we decided that it was being held at an odd angle and given the fact that he wouldn’t try to put weight on it was concerning enough to consider a vet visit.

Even though it was not even 6:00 o’clock, I was just about to rush Julius to the emergency vet knowing we’d be able to have xrays done on the spot whereas Juli’s vet (I don’t believe) has that capability. Julius and Ray have actually always seen different veterinarians but remembering that Ray’s new vet’s office has extended hours and a lot of fancy equipment, I called and implored them to see Julius and they agreed to squeeze him in.  I had just enough time to run home and pick up my dog vet record book and make it to the office.

 

He never just lies on the floor at the vet.

 
Ultimately there were no broken or dislocated bones, so Julius was sent home with kisses from all of his new RVT friends and a bagful of drugs.

  
  This morning while he is no longer limping or favoring the leg, he tucked himself in bed in the spare bedroom after breakfast so I know he isn’t yet feeling up to snuff.

 

Brotherly TLC. last night

 
Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes and who continue to do so.  We appreciate the good thoughts.

 

“Pit Bull” Awareness Month

Yep, I’m sliding into the wan

ing days of the month with this post but bear with me, I have my reasons.  Every October for the past several years I’ve embraced the concept of Pit Bull Awareness Month and celebrated all things Ray and Julius while working towards broad acceptance of seeing my boys and all other Pit Bull types of dogs as individuals, not as lumped sums of their breed, or breeds as the case may be.  My boys are both Pit Bulls in the broadest sense of the word and yet they share absolutely no similar breed DNA.  They are individuals.

 

Sugar, Julius, and Ray

 
In light of all of the ballyhoo with PeTa joining forces with the vitriolic group that I won’t link to here I was planning to sit out this round.  I was asked by a friend and fellow Pit Bull Coalition member to help find an avenue to help spread awareness to the right people.  Here’s the thing: in person I’m pretty confrontational and blunt.  If you threaten or malign my dogs (or anyone I care about) I could very easily try to pull your eyeballs out with my fingernails while trying to figure out ways to really hurt you but when it comes to mudslinging and manufactured “statistics” from zealots, I try not to give credence in the form of attention.  Much like when you are training a dog in a positive manner, you ignore the unwanted behavior and reward the desired behavior.

  
PeTa contends that it would be best to kill all Pit Bull types for their own good to save them from the criminal element who want to adopt them. There aren’t many words in that sentence that I don’t take issue with but many people more reasonable and more informed than I have addressed such lunacy, so I won’t bother other than to point out that of course, I don’t want to see Pit Bulls abused, but I don’t want to see any animal abused.  I just don’t think that killing them all will solve the issue.

  
In the vein of positive reinforcement, I also want to take this moment to write a bit more about what you might and might not see here.  Get it?  Same message but different delivery.  I have a pretty dry and sarcastic sense of humor but you won’t see me engaging in the tongue in cheek “pit bull attack” pictures of dogs licking babies.  Here at Peaceabull we don’t “do” the words vicious, monster, attack, or aggressive even if we are describing how heartily we show love and affection and we don’t assume (well maybe we do, but we don’t verbalize it) that you are working from a point of prejudice about our dogs.  You don’t like my dog?  I’m not going to assume it is because they are pit bulls, and by that assumption I am giving you the benefit of a doubt that you are not an asshole.  (Oops!  There’s the eyeball pluckers coming out!)

Yay! Yellow Brick Home!

There were a huge number of things influencing my decision to order or not order my very own Yellow Brick Home Pet Shop Portrait. One thing is that I can be super picky and super critical, especially if I order a custom piece. I mean, I’m still upset about a special order cake from three and a half years ago and chances are I will come unglued if I have to tell that story again. The other reason I hesitated is that I knew that Kim asks questions about the pets she is about to paint. What if I didn’t do justice to the boys? How could I begin to put into words the communication that bounces between me and Ray with just a look? How do I describe Julius’s earnestness and sweetness? What if the portrait looks like two dogs that kind of look like Ray and Julius but without the soul that reflects in their eyes? What if I fail them by the limitations of my vocabulary and expression?

Well, to address the first issue, after being such a stalker an avid reader of the YBH blog I know that if there’s anyone who is freakishly attentive to the details (in the best possible way!) it is Kim, so the only roadblock would be me. Because the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition was selected to be the YBH rescue partner for the quarter I would be pretty ungrateful to not place an order. I’ve been debating on what size to order do I order singles? Do I order a joint portrait? Do I order two singles and a double? Ack! Finally I figured out what to do, so I took a deep breath, clicked, and just like the description of what happens, I soon received an email from Kim asking all kinds of questions. While I gathered up pictures and stewed over what to write about the boys, I realized that probably most YBH Pet Shop customers are just as obsessed with their pets as I am, so she could take my intensity with a grain of salt, right? I also tried not to flood her inbox with pictures-oh just one more, because this one is just so cuuuute!

Nearly Every blog I’ve ever read about the YBH experience talks about how great Kim is to work with and I don’t think I can find the right superlative to describe how great Kim is to work with. I mean, the process is so clearly defined and the communication is so good and crisp. (Have I mentioned how picky I am?) Once we decided on the “pose” she got to work on a mock up to email me so there were really no surprises and no chance for any regrets (oh, I wish we would have done this rather than that) because once I saw the mock up, I was in anticipation heaven! I wanted to shout from the rooftops how cool this was going to be and yet I wanted to keep it as a huge reveal-y surprise too.

So in the first few emails Kim was brainstorming how she might do the painting of the boys. They’re both larger in person than they seem on a screen and she had an idea of using the blog heading or perhaps just their heads, but I know these knuckleheads and I know my own quirky self so here’s what I proposed. My Ray-Ray is such a good poser. If he knows it’s picture time, he usually sits or lies on his mat and gives me his picture face while waiting for his reward.

See that blob in the lower left corner? Juli-bomb.

Julius (who isn’t that treat motivated) acts like if he doesn’t get the posing treat he will absolutely shrivel up and die! He jumps, he grabs and he budges his big head into everyone’s space.

Big, ginormous Juli-head.

He’s a notorious photo-bomber, whether he tries to or not, so that’s what we did. I asked Kim to paint a picture of Ray in his normal pose and have Julius “photo-bomb the portrait.”

Once everything was set, I was given a target date and when it was complete, I received an email with a zip file (my choice as to whether I wanted to peek at it early) and I waited a whole 14 seconds before I unzipped that sucker and SWOONED! OH. MY. GAWD!

Check. It. Out.

Check. It. Out.

As awesome as the scan is, it still just doesn’t do justice to seeing this in real life. When I received my box (stamped YAY!) in the mail, I was happy dancing all over the house. You all should seriously just take a second and look at how freaking awesome this is. When I look at this-I don’t think I’m going to describe it correctly- I feel like Kim knows what it feels like when I wrap my arm around Ray’s neck and pet his chest. She painted what it feels like to hug Ray! Let me say it again: She. Painted. What it feels like. To hug Ray. It makes me cry to think about that. Her take on Julius? Spot on. He isn’t a huge dog and he doesn’t have one of those big American Bully heads but he just has such a big buffalo head that always seems to be in the way. She got his sweet simplicity and the open earnestness that is Julius. I ran all over the house placing it and finally decided on the dining room buffet for now.

 It’s a very central room where I can see it all the time.  And let me just say, most of the guests we’ve had over have initially thought this was a photograph rather than a painting.  Yeah.

As I mentioned, The Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition is the rescue partner of Yellow Brick Home so for the remainder of this quarter, 10% of the proceeds from all orders will go to the Coalition. If you have been absolutely dying to have a portrait done of your fur kid(s) I would highly recommend you place your order with Kim as soon as possible but if you could do it  by September 30th the pit bulls of Fort Wayne would send you big, sloppy, wet, grateful kisses.

What are you waiting for?

Pits in the Park (as told by Julius)

Hi Peoples, it’s Julius here!  It isn’t often that my mom lets me post on the blog.  She says it has something to do with having to type for me and some nonsense about supposable thumbs but she said I could write all about the Julius Jamboree Pits in the Park that was last Saturday. My mom had been busy getting lots of things ready for this big Pittie Party and she even had people over to give me love and attention fold programs and load things in the van.  On that morning I was busy following her around the house and sticking very close to her legs so that she would remember that I was supposed to go with her, and yet she left the house without me!  I was sure that was a huge mistake and I was sad until my human sister, Asia, came to pick me up and she took me and Chance to the big celebration.  When we got to the park, there were so many dogs and people that I got really excited and happy to see everyone.  I saw some of my foster babies there like Diva, who used to be Godiva and Mishi who used to be Kit Kat.  They were both very cute and happy to be at the park.  I saw my buddy Bentley and his new sister Bitsy and my friend Rhino and his sister Boo.  We all walk together on the Sunday day too so we are good friends.  It was like a big party just for me and my friends, except there were so many more.

Photo by Lisa Reyes

The big surprise was I got to be in the kissing booth with my best buddy, Clyde.  We are both very romantical guys and we love to kiss the ladies (and even the gentlemen and kids and other dogs…).  Heck, we would have just given out a lot of free kisses (and we did) but our moms said we were raising money so that other Pit Bulls could be helped.


After we kissed a bunch of people, my buddy Chance and the pretty gal Eden were in the booth.  Chance didn’t really like the booth much.  He just wanted to sit in the grass with Asia and beg for pizza so Eden did a lot of kissing and whenever mom said I was getting obnoxious she put me back in the booth, because I didn’t bark when I was in there.  Then we got to walk around in a parade and show off all of our handsomes!

Clyde and I got to lead the parade because we are more handsome than everyone else The Bully Collective was given the honor and his mom is what they call a founder.

After the parade, Asia took me and Chance home while mom got to have more fun pick up trash and tear down booths. She says this is the first year that Ray didn’t get to go but that she was very proud of me and all of my good ambassador skills.

Do you have a Julius Pit Bull Celebration in your community?