My Happy Place

Two years ago this month, I had an epiphany and I found my happy place and while I’m not ready to make the move yet, I have no doubt that we will try really to “end up” there.  In the meantime, I’ve had a not so secret obsession with not only the V dogs but with some dogs related to them as well and I’ve been squirreling away online auction winnings and such in the hopes that I’d one day get around to displaying my growing collection.  With the cold winter and the empty office walls, we’ve finally made some headway.

First, on the side wall is a shot I took from the sanctuary.  If I was more talented, this shot would be better, but for now I can look at it and be transported.

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The glare is from my phone.

On the wall above the desk, I gave a sneak peek on Facebook as to what was in the works and now that both Kevin and I had the time to devote to it, I’d love to share our still-in-process-but-kind-of-finished wall.  I say it’s a work in process because there are a couple of other dogs I’d like to add.

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My Wall of Fame

Here’s the overview above from left to right Handsome Dan pawtographed print, Oscar’s paw print, Little Red’s pawtographed print in her “I’m with Handsome” shirt, Jonny Justice Gund plush, below him is a selfie(!) of me and Ray, next is a pawtographed print of Cherry and to the right of him is a pawtographed print of  Halle.  Above Cherry I have my pawtographed print of Wallace who wasn’t a V* dog but who did overcome some great obstacles to shine on his own as well as the brother of Hector.

I love my prints and hope to add to my collection but in the back of my mind I feel there will be a time where I will be able to “give back” by re-donating my collection to help other Pit Bull type dogs in need.  It just won’t be any time soon, as I’m enjoying these too much.

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*True geeks know that only the 22 dogs who went to Best Friends are referred to as the “Vicktory Dogs.”

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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.

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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.”

 

I Love Lucy. (and YOU)

As I arrived here on my little stats page, I realized that this entry constitutes my 500th post on The Peace-a-Bull Assembly.  When I originally began blogging I intended for this space (which was actually started on the Blogger platform) to be a place to document my journey with my boy Ray.  Oh, I had such grandiose ideas about the direction this blog would take and the tone it would set.  Then life interfered and I believe I may write more about other dogs and other experiences than those of Ray and Julius. And I think that’s ok.

  
While I love, love, love my two characters, I feel that they understand what I’m doing.  Every time I come home smelling like another dog, they give me a thorough sniffing and I explain who it is they are smelling and how they are so sweet to give up time with their Mommy so that I can help other dogs like them find families.  And so it’s fitting that my intention to write today was yet again not about my Peaceabull boys but about Miss Lucille Ball-Ball-Ball!

  

Apart from Marley who has been in foster since December, Lucille is not only the longest current adoptable dog in the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition, she has had very little interest.  Actually, that’s not fair because I’ve had lengthy conversations by phone, messenger, email and text about her but the result is that several people have shared that they love her…but none of them have applied for her.  Help me figure this out here.  The “black dog syndrome” really doesn’t apply around here as we’ve had plenty black dogs adopted within a very short period of time.  She’s not an elderbelle by any means, having just turned two earlier this year (by our estimates) and she’s quite attractive and very smart.

  
Maybe that’s it:  She is a strong, smart, motivated, independent woman and that can be daunting.  Lucille is a quick learner and although she lives in a home with three other dogs, she may want too much to be the Queen of All Things Ball Related.  She can play fetch with a ball until your arm falls off so a Chuck-It may be in order for her adopter and although we don’t require a fence, she may be better suited to a home with a tall privacy fence. She behaves quite well on Pack Walks and is really a very good girl who deserves a loving home of her own (who doesn’t deserve that?) so I’m going to implore you to share her story and network this beautiful girl.  Talk her up at the gym and in your running club as well as at the Fly Ball Arena (is there such a thing?)  and even your local camping group.  This girl needs a home and an active family or person would be just the ticket.

Thanks for sharing and thanks for hanging with us through Five. Hundred. Posts.

Marley Monday-The Photoshoot

With the growing popularity of Pit Bull type dogs and with great campaigns like The Majority Project we see people from all walks of life who are now adopting our block heads.  Since we are such a small rescue we often spend a good amount of time with our adopters and I’ve been fortunate enough to become friendly with many of them.  I love being able to follow along with many of our pups on Facebook and celebrate all of the milestones as well as share a peek into their lives.

Recently I was working an adoption application and I remember telling the Board that I had a great feeling about this person and that was even before finding out that she is a very talented photographer.  A very talented photographer who volunteered to shoot some of our adoptable dogs and I immediately thought that Marley would be a perfect model.  We’re fortunate that we have a pretty good “turn around” time in the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition but I knew that our Divine Mr. M would be in rescue for several months while undergoing heartworm treatment.

The thing about Marley is he is one of those dogs.  He’s one of those special dogs who just immediately melt your heart and make you fall in love.  When Tara met him today one of her first words were, “Oh I love him but I don’t have room for another dog.”  He just touches everyone he meets with his joy and just one look at this handsome block head and you know that he’s a happy, sweet soul.

It was fascinating for me to watch Tara setting up all of her equipment and busily snapping away while I had the honor of stuffing Marley’s face with treats in an effort to get him to pose.

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These four from Tara Denny Images

 

On one hand, I don’t think that when the time comes we’ll have trouble placing the big lug, however…will we want to?  Will anyone be good enough?  His future is still unwritten.

 

 

“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!)

#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.

#FreeLucky

#FreeLucky

There’s no denying that Lucky and Cujo were in fact two lucky dogs and oh my goodness, if a name was ever wrong for a dog, then Cujo was it. We began referring to him as Chance; he’d gotten several by now and yet The Blues still got other new names at the shelter. Ion (Lucky) and Iron (Cujo/Chance). I’ll admit, I really never called them by their new names much; Lucky and Chance they were in my mind and my heart. These two were definitely wiggling deeper into my heart, I mean, how can you carry a dog into a clinic, wear her blood on your shirt (like a badge of honor) and not feel like you are now somehow bound together? Can’t happen.

 

Lucky is about 10 months old and presumably Chance’s daughter. She’s a stocky little low rider who wiggles into you as if she’s trying to osmose into you to get that much more loves because she’s never met a stranger and is absolutely positive that all of humanity was set on this Earth specifically to love and dote on her. She’s probably right about that.

Soon after the weekend, the pair was sent to H.O.P.E. for their surgeries where Lucky’s lucky streak continued. There’s a fabulous woman (and friend) who loves Pit Bulls has been volunteering with the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition by walking foster dogs at our Pack Walks and we’ve joked that she is a lucky charm because the last three dogs she walked were almost immediately adopted afterwards. She also works at H.O.P.E. and though she was at the June Pets for Life clinic volunteering, it was at H.O.P.E. where she re- met and fell in love with Lucky all over again prompting a Facebook campaign that had me in stitches and tears.

Ironically I had just recently had a text conversation with her partner about her level of readiness for a “large” dog and how all of their friends, especially all of us crazy committed pit bull people would be there to support them but understood the reluctance since they are newly settling into a new home.

The campaign started with this picture

Photo by Cassie

and the caption, “This is Lucky/Ion/whatever I name her. I have absolutely fallen in love with her and need her sweet love in my life forever!”

Friends, ever supportive that we are began a very low pressure, reasonable show of support for Cassie’s campaign which became known as #freelucky.

 

Photo by Lisa Reyes and The Amazing Adventures of Clyde

Comments such as “Poster dog for PFL,” “Such a proud symbol of the PFL cause,” “If there was no Pets For Life in Fort Wayne, where would this girl be right now?” (Did I mention the other mom is the Pets for Life coordinator?) “#luckyneedstwomommies” and then there was, “Sarah McLaughlin called, she wants to perform at the #freelucky concert.”

Then the one that may have tipped the scale, “…I really do think it is time for me to devote my love to another dog. I miss Oscar and he would want me to love again….she just left to go back to ACSPCA and it made my heart hurt.”

Photo by Lizz (photobombing dog has already been adopted)

Ultimately,and in record time the campaign worked and Lucky’s fate rested in the paws of the two resident dachshunds.

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

All kidding aside, how fitting that this Lucky dog found her way to these lucky women. This little dog, who in less than one year of being had been bounced from home to home, been protected at two shelters, become a rally symbol of community hope, a symbol of two women who are passionate about saving lives and giving back to their community and has made her final stop with them. I’m sure that when they look at their girl now named Eden, they don’t see a sad little story, but one of success and love written on one kissable, squishy face. #LoveForeverEden