#TakeAChance

Well, that was quite the cliffhanger, wasn’t it? I meant to finish out the Tale of the Blues and talke about “Iron’s” hashtag on Friday, but not only did scheduling not permit, but Fate intervened as well. Chance’s story was going to be about how Asia regretfully decided to let him go. She had told him during her visits that he would be coming home to live with her and ultimately with all of the newness, as well as a foster pup, she agreed to see if his true family would show up. She gave them 30 days.

August 15

On Saturday August 15th I had an urge to visit “Iron” at the shelter and as I was driving down there, I received a text that a wonderful couple were in and going to adopt Iron. As luck would have it, I was able to meet this couple and they were, in fact wonderful. 

  

In the back of my mind, I felt a little sad for “Iron.” He would be an “only dog” which may make him a little sad, but it might work out in the end. That is the story we would have published on Friday.

August 22

A beautiful day dawned full of promise and anticipation. Today our little Pets for Life team would finally be hitting the streets and knocking on doors to begin our mission of helping our neighbors retain their pets. We were going to be able to offer spay/neuter, vaccines, preventatives and food among other things all for free to this specific area. What nearly marred this glorious day was the message I received that “Iron” was coming back to the shelter. The funny thing about this, though, is that it didn’t upset me or even make me sad. It felt right somehow. 

  

The adopters were distraught to return him (along with the mountain of belongings he had amassed in just 7 days) but due to some neighboring dogs trying to fence-fight, he returned as they say “through no fault of his own” and with the feedback that he is, in fact, perfect in a home. I’m not sure why, but I just couldn’t feel upset about this return. I hugged the big wiggly lug when I saw him and I let him know that it was ok and I would always be around to look after him.

August 23

Another Sunday and another Pack Walk with The Bully Collective. As has been her custom, Lisa had arranged for a couple of volunteers to come and walk adoptable dogs. One of those dogs was meant to be Bitsy, Asia’s foster dog but as fate would have it, Bitsy had been on a two-night trial and on Saturday night we received the message that Bitsy had found her forever home. That allowed for her walking partner to be available for Iron/Chance.

  

Julius and I picked him from the shelter and left with the message that while I’d try to have him back by noon, I wasn’t going to promise. (Side note, Julius is the only dog I know who gets excited to roll up to the shelter as if we’re going to Disney.)

A nice long pack walk was followed by some impromptu Bro time as Clyde came over and the three boys had some quality play time in the yard. 

  

I loved seeing Chance waddle-trundle along after the sleeker Clyde and Julius. It was so much like a little brother trying to keep up with the big guys. As Lisa and I watched the adora-bulls play in the yard we agreed that someone in our large family of friends needed to adopt Chance. We couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing him regularly. I considered it over and over again. He and Julius got on well and Ray would be given all the time and space he needed and even the name could work. My boys are named after football players, so Chance might not work but Iron? Iron Mike, of course would be perfect!

After Clyde went home, I loaded Chance in the car and decided to make a pit stop at Asia’s house. Since she had company over everyone was in the back yard I text her to make sure Ms. Cranky (Sugar) was on a leash. 95% of the time Sugar is great with other dogs but there have been a couple that she wouldn’t tolerate so I wanted to be sure there would be no incidents. There weren’t. Asia didn’t receive my text on time and as Chance and I walked in the far gate, Sugar greeted him as if he were a long lost brother.

  

Chance played with Sugar, romped around the yard, followed the little (human) girls around and drank his fill from the water spurting out of the Slip ‘n Slide.

An hour before the shelter was to close, I called and got assurances that no one had come in to visit with him so I let them know he wouldn’t be back for “curfew” and since the shelter is closed to the public on Mondays, he wouldn’t be back until Tuesday.

There’s no mistaking the joy on Chance’s face when enjoying all of the activities of the day. Going from Pack Walk to a play date with the Big Boys, to a play date with Sugar, Slip ‘n Slide fun with three girls ranging from 1 – 5 years of age to all of the different locations in just one day back from another home would make anyone exhausted or even over-stimulated. Chance aced the day as if it was just business as usual.

Are you a believer in fate? Karma? Everything happens for a reason? The very evening that Chance was returned to the shelter Bitsy was adopted 

 

Bitsy and Bentley

 

and on Monday morning Asia emailed me, “I think he is meant to be with us. It’s been one month since I met him, I tried to let someone else adopt him, and it didn’t work. It’s a sign.” My response?

  

Okay.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way From the Front

The end of July and the beginning of  August are definitely times for reflection around here.  Two years ago a happy little “scruffian” bound into our lives and never left.  Once we decide he was going to stay with us, we had such big plans for our Julius.  He would be the ambassador that Ray didn’t want to be and he would open hearts and minds just with his sweet, open  demeanor.  Well on the way to that were some stumbling blocks like this and many more  instances of the same ilk.

Chewbacca.  

Julius started going to Dayplay mostly because whenever he’d see a dog he would go apeshitcrazy nuts to play with them.  We figured playing with a multitude of dogs on a weekly basis would cure that, but not so much.  I guess the bonus was that in the Vet’s office we usually don’t have to wait because they like to bring him in to a room quickly.  Go figure.  Then we thought that Pack Walk would  be a good way to get him used to being in a crowd of dogs without needing to be all up in everyone’s business.  After a full year, I’d say that is beginning to happen.

Leader of the Pack

Over the course of the past year, I have been going round and round about Julius and his need to be in the lead.  I don’t really believe that he wants to be “leader of the pack” as much as if he sees a dog he wants to be with that dog, so following just made him strain that much more. I was often told, he has to learn sometime that he can’t always be in front.  On one had I agreed and yet on the other hand I thought why does he have to learn that?  Was there a hidden agenda?  What  if he never learned that?

Growing Up

Well a funny thing happened to my ambassador/not ambassador dog.  He became a Foster Step Father and his behavior and demeanor grew to accommodate his new status.  Although the staff at day play always remark on how “appropriate” he is, it was wonderous to see him in action with not only the Sugar Babies, but also with Sugar herself.  He was the self appointed guardian of all things and even kept a watchful eye on his “big brother” Ray to ensure proper behavior towards our guests.  While I found this new Julius mindblowing remarkable, I didn’t realize how much so until a recent pack walk.

We had invited the family of one of the puppy’s adopters.  They have a Granddog who needed a bit of socialization and like with Ray, the early years, the more full of assholery vinegar he acted, the less I was inclined to socialize him until it became a downward spiral.

Backseat

So this handsome dog, Diesel, brought his family to pack walk and after the first five minutes there my heart went out to the family.  I had been there so many times already with Julius.  The jumping, the screaching, the all out shenanigans and the tears.  I suggested that they lead and while I thought to fall in second with our usual walking partner, I realized that if Julius could see Dahey he might be ok, so we fell into third place and had a very successful walk.  Diesel settled very quickly (faster than Juli ever did) and by the end of the walk, smiles were miles wide.

It takes a village..

It takes a village..

The following week, we fell into the same order and immediately all could see a vast difference.

The Change

While Julius isn’t done growing and maturing by a long shot, the difference in him is just astounding.  Recently I took him to my daughter’s house so he could play mediator between Sugar and the new foster dog, Bitsy.  Sugar  wasn’t a huge fan yet and through some play and supervision the girls settled into a deeper appreciation of each other but the proudest moment came when the neighbor’s little dog stood on its deck and repeatedly yapped but got no reaction from Julius (or the girls.)

Ladies love Julius

Ladies love Julius

The Icing 

Tonight, after taking Ray for his rehab walk, I decided to take Juli around the neighborhood too.  This is something I rarely do-walk Julius without Ray’s steady presence however it is impossible at the moment.  While he isn’t even close to perfect on leash yet, we did walk past several people, kids and at least 4 barking dogs and Julius kept calm and quiet.  I was bursting with pride and possibly strutting a bit. At one point, a neighbor apologized to us about his dog barking.  I wanted to ask him to video us!

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I don’t know.  At two and a half, Julius just seems to have found his stride and because of that we are walking pretty proudly. Happy Gotcha week to my Ambassador.

He Ain’t Simple, He’s My Brother

Sometimes I think that Julius, specifically came along just for Ray.  They are the perfect yin to the other’s yang and while they occasionally annoy each other like brother do, they also definitely love each other.

Take the other day.  While both boys respect the baby gates in the house (we just lean them against the doorways and they’re like kryptonite) Julius has absolutely no problem at all buffalo-ing his way through a closed or partially closed door.  Ray will not open a door so the other morning as I was off to take a shower, I left Julius lying in bed with Kevin and Ray was downstairs, so imagine my surprise when after my shower, I found both dogs on the bed!  I knew the door had been mostly closed and that Kevin wouldn’t have gotten out of bed but according to Kevin, Ray came up the stairs and sat outside the door whining.  Hearing that, Julius jumped off the bed, repeatedly nudged his big jughead in the door until it opened and once his brother was in, jumped back up on the bed.

Brotherly love.

 

As a side note, we are sending out as much love as possible to a brother from another mother, Melvin. 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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