Dogs as Art

While I do have some dog-centric art in our home, I don’t feel like there’s too much or even enough yet. (The hubby might disagree). The thing is, until recently I had lots of photos of other dogs in our home.

2015/01/img_0933.jpg

Recognize any of them? This is a portion of a collection I’ve gathered from participating in fundraisers, whether it’s been for Handsome Dan or Strut Your Mutt or even smaller fund raisers for blog dogs.

Well, I finally found some frames I like and made some prints of the Peaceabull boys to adorn my shelves and will be planning to commission some more art this year.

Hmmm…is this post s hint of some sort?

The Bully Collective

Pibbles, Pitties, Pits, Pit Bull Types, Pit Bulls, Bullies, Bully Breeds, Big Head, Block Head, you name it, we’ve heard it or said it ourselves. Every one has a name they prefer to use and everyone has a term they absolutely hate. Personally, we tend to use “Pit Bull Types” as we feel most comfortable with it and rarely use the term Pibbles, although it is kind of cute. I used to feel more adverse to the term “Bullies” specifically because of all of the anti-bullying campaigns and wouldn’t want a(nother) negative connotation associated with our boys.

 

When our pack walking group formed I was a bit leery of the new name, The Bully Collective, but knew that the vision and spirit of the group would overcome any negative association that came with the B-word.

 1453276_10204154523377764_5221489388668874432_n

Collective: shared or done by a group of people: involving all members of a group; marked by similarity among or with members of a group. (Merriam-Webster)

 

We, the members of The Bully Collective are a group of like-minded individuals who love our dogs and seek a safe, nonjudgmental forum in which to walk and socialize them. We are from all walks of life and our dogs are all individuals-some with physical attributes that might be found in Breed Specific language- but others are spaniels and shepherds and such who are also individuals.

 

Last week a neighbor whom I’d seen occasionally, was walking her dog and called out a welcome-to-the-neighborhood to us. Seeing her beautiful dog geared up in her Freedom Harness, I of course approached and engaged her in a chat. Her dog, she said was people friendly but wary of other dogs and they were just taking a walk during half time of the game. I invited her to a pack walk and assured her that it was a no-contact group and that we’d love to have them join us. A full week passed and I kind of forgot about it until the neighbor appeared at the door this past temperate Sunday morning and asked if the offer was still open. Delightedly I gave her the details and we met up at the walk location.

Photo credit to Rachel

Photo credit to Rachel Hoening

 

We had a smaller group and along with Neighbor-lady there was another first timer. Most of the dogs seemed spunky whether it was because of the warmer temps, the energy of two new dogs, or the skipped week, but as we trod the path we all eventually began to settle in and hit our stride. The morning was gray but warmer and we enjoyed a leisurely pace capped off by one of our new dogs diving belly first into a large mud puddle to cool off!

 

At the conclusion of the walk, our neighbor thanked me for inviting her and said, “This is the best thing that’s happened to us all year.” Then later followed up with a text about how she had been praying for a path to help socialize her dog and was happy to have found us.

 

In reality, none of the dogs in The Bully Collective are perfect. Some certainly have better manners than Julius others but we’re a Collective. We all come together for our dogs and week after week we see an improvement or at least a glimmer of light ahead. We support and encourage and celebrate victories great and small while sharing thoughts and bagging poop.

In the Interest of Fairness

I’ve known that PetSmart had BDL pretty much ever since I had Ray, so close to three years.  While I know it is wrong, I didn’t really give it too much thought for two reasons.  One, there isn’t a PetSmart doggy daycamp near us and even if there were, we wouldn’t use them.  We are so in love with the care, attention and socialization that Julius receives at Paw’s-n-Claw’s that we wouldn’t go anywhere else.  And two, it’s hard to get past the fact that PetSmart does a lot for homeless animals.  Even for homeless Bullies.

Proud to be a Pit Bull

Proud to be a Pit Bull

There’s a huge push this week to urge PetSmart to rethink their policy to reflect a more open admission that is based on temperament and not on breed/looks.

DSC_0008

After all, people look at these two and think “they look the same to me,” but they are as individual as a fingerprint with their own personalities, likes, dislikes and behaviors.  Neither is better or worse than the other, but they are different.  A passive solution would be to boycott PetSmart but to be honest, I don’t shop there very often at all.  I’m there more often to participate in adoption events and there have been only two instances that I have not handled a “bully” at these events.  Would PetSmart notice if I discontinued shopping there?  Nope.  Will I continue to handle dogs at adoption events held at PetSmart?  Yep, however I won’t be spending money there nor am I asking you to boycott, that is a personal choice for everyone to make individually.  I am asking you to voice your concern if you believe that all dogs should be seen as individuals.

Discrimination is discrimination and whether you would take advantage of their day care, or Pet hotel  or not, I urge you to stand against this by posting your pictures to the PetSmart Facebook page with the hastags #SeparateIsNotEqual #WhyCantIPlay #EndBDL #PetSmart

 

Happy Howl-oween

Naturally since Juli’s day care is so much fun, I knew there had to be some great festivities planned for Halloween and I wasn’t wrong. I had a couple of ideas for costumes but then like a shot it hit me.

IMG_1867.JPG

Julius was going to don a wig and dress up as one of his day-play buddies, Jack the black standard poodle.

IMG_1869.JPG

I’m pretty sure he nailed it. Do your pooches dress up for Halloween?

Ray’s Rebuttal

So, my little brother thinks he’s sooo smart, eh? Here are some examples of why I disagree. He’s always goofing off when Mama tries to take pictures of our my handsomeness.

Derp Face

Derp Face

And he gets these looks on his face that just seem so…simple.

Simpleton

Simpleton

And he has no dignity.

Really?

Really?

But I guess even though he’s silly, he IS my little brother and I love him a lot I guess we might as well keep him.

20130811_200251

6141_507829346001328_954868858_n

20130819_204740Because like Mama says, we are yin and yang.  He puts himself out there and meets people like a good ambassador so that I don’t have to.  I prefer to take my time and hide behind my Mama for a while, so we suit each other just fine.

Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang

 

As Told by Julius

Hey there blog readers, Julius here.  I recently discovered that my big brother Ray had been invited to write on Mama’s blog in the past and Mama has even allowed other dogs to write for her.  Sometimes I hear the family say that I’m simple and just overshadowed by my brother who is “very, very smart.”

DSC_0005

But Mama and I have a little secret.  She says, “Ray, you’re so smart and Juli, you’re so sweet,” but then she whispers in my ear, “Juli, you’re smart too.”

If you ask me, I’m the perfect, well-rounded dog.

I’m handsome and suave.

DSC_0020

I’m also friendly and a good role model and when I volunteer for the Allen County SPCA Mama brings home foster dogs I welcome them and show them a good time.

DSC_0063

I also get to go fun places like doggy day play where I play with other dogs and am what Mama calls an Ambassador.  Does Mr. Bigshot Ray get to do that?  I don’t think so.

Kitties love tolerate me and I’m good with babies.

IMG953107-1 20130831_153043

20130818_092547

I also get to go to Pack Walks on Sunday morning not because I need to learn better manners or because Ray’s legs hurt but just because I’m the special one, I’m sure.

And let me just leave you with a couple of nuggets to mull over.  Fifteen months ago I had decided to get the heck out of my neighborhood and into a warm home with fluffy pillows. so  when I found my Mama wandering the streets with Rapunzel I made up my mind to blow that lemonade stand and see just how far my charm could take me.

DSC_0032a

So, I ask you…simple or simply brilliant?

The Bully Collective-Making Strides

Each week I find that I learn something new about my dog or myself. We also offer a walk on Wednesdays for anyone who can make it and last week I brought Ray. He knew he was going for a walk and was pretty excited but when we pulled up to the meeting spot and I got him out of the van, he immediately barked at the other members and as I looked at him I noticed a piloerection. (Yeah, I couldn’t resist). I never have to use much equipment with him anymore but decided he might need not only his Thundershirt but also his Freedom harness. I doubted it but I decided not to be caught with less equipment than needed again. I loaded him back up and got his gear on and we had a wonderful time.

10314644_642246722559589_657082570706928542_n

My learning is that he was undoubtedly not expecting to exit the van and see so many dogs nearby and was a bit startled. My learning is to ease him into the crowd rather than just spill him out to the sidewalk without a buffer.

 

This post, however is about another member who has been making huge strides in the last three weeks. Ray’s littermate, Dahey, has been joining the walks with his very talented mama and he has definitely been blossoming on these walks.

1453276_10204154523377764_5221489388668874432_n

When I first spoke with his mama about joining us, she was worried that it might be too overwhelming, but when assured that we are a no contact group, they joined. For their first week, Dahey was visibly nervous despite looking dapper in his well-fitting Thundershirt, but very good in the pack. It was he and his mama who ended up coming back to keep me and Juli company during our walk of shame. Last week as they fell in behind us, I turned to spy Dahey with a huge smile on his face and some relaxed body posture. After the walk, he and his mama sauntered past several of us and after he was in a sit at a safe distance, we lobbed tasty morsels of treats at him. What a brave boy.

Dapper Dahey

Dapper Dahey

This week? This week Dahey took treats from two of us. Took treats from our hand! The great thing about a pack walk is the sharing and support one gains from the group. Yeah, we’ve had a rough week before and after nearly every walk I come away thinking about something I can improve on, but man, having a place where we can discover things and work on them is priceless. For a walking team who had doubts about participating and after only three weeks is taking treats from people? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

Go Bully Collective.

De-Myth-Tify

The interwebs are full of information about nearly anything you want to educate yourself on and you can very easily find both sides to any story if you dig deep enough. Being that we are, of course, Pit Bull advocates I tend to read articles more geared toward how wonderful my chosen companions are.

DSC_0034

I love those articles that debunk myths that keep circulating which further inflame the BLS propaganda. For instance, Pit Bulls do not have locking jaws, though a friend has told me this year that their vet told them otherwise.

DSC_0012

But the myth I really, really want people to stop sharing is the one about the Nanny Dog.  Although there are scads of pictures from back at the turn of the twentieth century with children and their Staffies, there is no written reference to these dogs being bred or raised to be nanny dogs.

DSC_0013 - Copy

In fact, anyone who would leave their children in the care of a dog-any breed of dog-really needs to think long and hard about the consequences.  Children and dogs are some of the cutest things on the planet but while you can often predict what certain behaviors will occur in a dog, I know for a fact that a two year old is a loose cannon.  Our human baby absolutely loves her “goggies” and all of the visiting dogs from the shelter, but believe me, she is never left unatteded with any of them.

DSC_0056

Julius, who is very social and good in so many situations, knows he can just get up and walk away when he’s had enough “baby time.” Ray, who tries so hard to be socially appropriate, will let the baby sit with him, but often nervously licks his lips or rolls over. We keep the interactions brief and safe for Ray so that they stay just as safe for the Muffin.

1795614_541474889303440_1880801622_n

I love my dogs and I trust my dogs, however I know that they are dogs. Nothing has happened in our home to spur this post and everyone is fine but while I’d love to say, “yeah Pitbulls are so awesome that you can hire them as baby sitters”, but that would be irresponsible and ridiculous. Until they learn to speak words and tell us they don’t like something, I need to be their voice and keep them safe.

Walk of Fame

Oh what a difference a week can make.  Actually, what a difference one week, a lot of support, a blog post, more support, a pack order, a Halti, and more support can make. 

 

After last week’s debacle of a walk and all of the uplifting comments we received, including some learnings for the group as a whole, we had a most enjoyable and very successful walk to date.  Others acknowledged that the previous walk felt rushed and there was an air of “let’s get through this” of which I admit I was feeling the same of.

 

Freedom Harness

Freedom Harness

Each week we’ve been meeting at a different location.  This week I made it my mission to be at least 10 minutes early and subsequently made it on time, though we allowed for the new location and waited several minutes longer.  We took the time to do verbal introductions again and then fell into our newly assigned pack order.  Juli took up the lead with his buddy Clyde (you’ll be reading more about him in the future) and a head Halti that he borrowed from Dahey, Ray’s littermate (!).  He hated the Halti, but only enough to keep him from screeching. About a quarter of the way through the walk, I adjusted the clip to the leash and Julius seemed happier with the slighter bit of freedom.

We trod a path that was a nice mix of nature and civilization so we encountered several dogs, bikers, joggers, walkers and such with a lot more success for the entire group.  Knowing we were all supportive of each other really was a difference maker in the tone and feel of the walk.

If  you happen to live in the Fort Wayne area and are interested in joining this great group, check out the link and fill out an application.  We’re a young group and still figuring things out, but there’s always room for more!