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.


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.


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!


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.

Doggy Date

For those of you still here, thanks for sticking through the laziness and lack of posts.  We’ve not had a lot of time for the blog lately with the holidays and a wedding here at the Peaceabull Assembly but hope to get back on track in the New Year.   Sometimes our boring lives just don’t create opportunities to blog but we have some things coming up that might be fun to talk about so stay tuned.

While I’ve been working on shoving lots of Christmas cookies in my pie hole eating healthier in December, I haven’t been very good with an exercise routine which means that by association the dogs suffer as well so I wanted to make sure Julius got to have a super fun play date with his buddy Clyde.  They are Pack Walking buddies and have gone on a couple of non pack walks together so Clyde’s mom and I thought we’d give them an opportunity to have some off leash fun to see how their friendship develops.

Getting to know you...

Getting to know you…

We decided to meet at a park and went on a nice squirrel hunt two mile walk to get the boys a bit more tired out and give them a little time to reacquaint before heading over here to let them play in the yard.  For a first time playing together, I couldn’t be more pleased.  They spent sufficient stretches of time absolutely ignoring each other, balanced by doggie racing and competitive peeing.  Having a friend like Lisa helps in that neither of us “lets them work things out” too a large degree so all play remained pretty low-key for the most part.  At least as low key as you can get with two adolescent boys.


Clyde and Julius really had a nice time together and I love the “air” that Clyde can obtain!

Air Clyde

Air Clyde

If you’d like to see more pics of this fun day or just to get an eyeful of more handsomeness in general, check out our Facebook page or that of The Amazing Adventures of Clyde. Peace out!

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.


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.

The Bully Collective-Clyde’s Story

As we’ve progressed through our Sunday Pack Walks, I’ve been trying to keep you up to date on our successes as well as our learnings because both are so important to not only our development as a pack, but as dog owners in general.  In honor of not only Adopt a Shelter Pet month, but Pit Bull Awareness month, I’ve asked the founders of our Pack Walks to share a story about their dogs.  This week, Lisa Reyes, has agreed to talk a bit about her dog Clyde (click and go LIKE him on Facebook…we’ll wait)  and how he came to be hers. 

I wasn’t looking to adopt.  As a matter of fact, it is my job to find homes for adoptable animals. I work part-time, for my city’s Animal Care and Control, as the off- site adoption Coordinator. When I had an event at our local Petco, I chose a Pit Bull mix named Loki to take along with 2 other dogs.  He was cute, had green eyes and about 8 months old. I like to take our Pit Bull and Pit Bull mixes so the public can see that the shelter has them in our adoption program.

Everyone loved Loki. He was pretty calm for a puppy and was gorgeous. Unfortunately, he did not get any applications at our event. I decided to take him to the next event to see if we had any luck, again he went without any serious interest. Pit Bulls tend to spend a longer amount of time at the shelter, because we have stricter rules for adopting.  Loki was going on a good month or longer in the kennels.

Photo: Lisa Reyes

Photo: Lisa Reyes

I couldn’t stop thinking about this well-behaved little guy that had such a rough start to life. It seemed that his previous family was evicted from their home and did not take him with them. He was rescued by one of our Officers and came into the shelter with a good case of mange.

I knew I was serious about adopting him after I realized I was constantly thinking about him, but I hesitated. I already have an 11-year-old Boxer /Lab mix named Adeshka.  In her aging process, she has become less tolerant of other dogs and I didn’t want to stress her out. I wasn’t sure she would even like having another dog in the house after being the only one for the last 6 years.

My reason for hesitation was the fact that Loki was a Pit Bull mix.  I wasn’t concerned about the breed and all the nonsense you hear about them being inherently aggressive.  I had worked with and around enough of them through the years to know that they are good dogs.  My concerns were more practical. I am a renter.  I live with a friend that owns his home now, but I will be moving out in a year or so. How will I find a home? I am not in the position to buy a house and it is hard to find a place that allows Pit Bulls. Will I end up in the “worse” part of town? Will I end up adopting a dog and find myself homeless next year? Can I afford the renters insurance that covers Pit Bull/mixes?

My other concern was general ignorance. Like so many pet Moms/Dads, I’m protective of my fur babies.  How will I respond to prejudice?  Will I be able to hold my tongue and be a good Pit Bull owner role model?  Pit Bulls tend to get a bad rap, but let’s be honest, there are a lot of really poor Pit Bull owners out there that don’t represent the breed well.  I don’t want to be one of them.

So, it took me about 2 weeks to decide if I was going to adopt Loki. I got in touch with our local Pit Bull coalition and asked about housing. I talked to several friends and colleagues about Pit Bull parenting. I felt confident that I would be able to do this. All the while, poor Loki was still sitting in the kennel waiting for a family. I called the shelter on a Friday and said “I want him”! The response was, “Oh, sorry, he got 2 applications today. He will probably go home on Monday”. Wow, my bubble burst. I figured it wasn’t meant to be.  I told myself that the only thing that mattered was that he had a good home and didn’t spend another day in the kennel.

Monday came and I had to head into the shelter to do some work. My colleague said that the people were there to meet with Loki and another little Pit mix, so they could decide which dog they wanted to adopt. Apparently the other people who put a hold on him did not follow through. I prepared myself to say goodbye to him.  It was a bittersweet day.

Did I mention that Loki had mange? Well, the people that came to see him decided that they didn’t want to put the money into treating him and decided to go with the other dog. Loki could be mine!! Now, I just have to see if my dog and my roommate got along with him.

Adeshka came in to meet him and it went as expected. She pretty much ignored him.  My roommate thought he was great. It all worked out. I could take him home the next day.

I picked him up in the morning and we started our new journey together. First things first, Loki was not his name. He was too calm, kind of an old soul. He is Clyde. Yes, an old man’s name for a little boy who has already lived through too much.

Clyde has since come out of his shell. He is a wonderful, spirited, affectionate, snuggly, tail thumping, face licking boy. I feel lucky every day to have him in my life. He is a true ambassador for his breed. He is not perfect. We are still working on manners and training. He is still young and I am still learning myself. I took for granted how easy my girl, Adeshka, is. She is so well-behaved and very low maintenance.

I’ve been lucky not to have had to deal with much prejudice so far. I am thrilled that I am able to take Clyde to work with me. Most of our clients look forward to seeing him and the staff treats him like a king. Surprisingly, the neighbors behind me had a Pit Bull for 14 years and he was loved by everyone. My neighborhood, considered to be in the “nice part of town”, has several Pit Bull’s/mixes. I love that the face of the Pit Bull guardian is changing into someone just like me and you.


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.


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.


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.