"The free isn't the best part of it. It's the offering." - Arikha Jay of Oakland
Monday, March 31, 2008
This big girl was so suave and handled the chaos like an old pro. Her handler followed suit. Oh - and she was already spayed.
One of the main goals of the quarterly Shots Fairs has been to get word out about the East Bay SPCA's free spay/neuter program for pit bulls (Pit Fix) and the low-cost surgeries for Non-Pits. When we started doing these fairs 3+ years ago, you rarely saw a fixed dog in the crowd. Now, they're a regular thing.
Already neutered and soon to be joining the Pit Ed classes. Very nice dog. This sweet family adores him beyond belief. We know the feeling.
What a cute kid. His dog was as bubbly as he was.
Voluntary Spay/Neuter Efforts are alive and well in the SF bay area ... Well, in the east bay, anyway.
Special thanks to Pet Food Express for the wonderful leash and collar donations for this season's fair.
Friday, March 28, 2008
The staff at the busy Tampa-area shelter that I keep blabbing about (Hillsborough County Animal Services) have been losing sleep over their custody dogs for awhile. They traveled to the bay area last year to attend Pit Ed Camp and to learn new ways to keep kenneled dogs happy. The trip included a visit to see Corinne Dowling's Give A Dog A Bone project for fresh inspiration. Less than a year later, they pulled together enough funds and community interest to create a big happy playground just for the dogs waiting out long-term jail sentences.
This may seem pretty basic, but it's actually revolutionary - especially when you consider how dogs like Spyder might've grown up right in the head had her shelter had similar resources. Photos courtesy of Hillsborough County Animal Services
This 30lb sweetie was awarded to the HCAS by the courts and will be going up for adoption. They look for the same qualities that we look for in our BR dogs, so if you're shopping for a new pit bull in the Tampa area, high tail it over to see this munchkin, a female named 'Pheebee.'
Ding Dong the Bill is Dead! Florida's HB101 - the bill that would've permitted BSL in the State of Florida - is dead! Congrats to everyone who worked so hard to bring it down.
High fives to BR volunteer Roxanne Alden and her pit bull Jackson, who were recognized by a local paper (Sonoma Index-Tribune ) for earning their AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate. Roxanne's winning quote in the article, "Jackson is not an exception to the breed norm, he's an example of it." ...Word!
In South Carolina three of eight dogs taken from a fight bust were moved into foster care and have been receiving training in preparation for adoption We just love when shelters buck the system in favor of helping the animals. In Pima AZ, the authorities finally charged the six pit bull owners with dog fighting. Their dogs will be available for qualified rescue groups soon, although with over 100 dogs-in-need, it's certain that only a small number will find help.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
1. (Stuffed) Kong Balls
Big Bulldog Thanks to Teacher Lisa Jackson's 6th grade class from Sablatura Middle School (Pearland, TX) for your AWESOME donation to the Vick dogs. You guys are the best ....The dogs love their kongs!
2. First Dates
Teddles and Dutch. "Nice to meet you." Play sessions = Da best fun eva.
3. Study Time
Jonny Justice hits the books in Pit Ed class. He's an Honor Student, of course.
4. Run Baby, Run
No, he's not running from Ingrid ... Uba here is blissing out on the treadmill. It's his brand new favorite toy. Sleep well tonite, sweet Uba!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Life in Pit Bull Land is full of smiles and happy surprises. ...Updates on the way...
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I'll just get to the meat of things: Spyder is a little bit screwed up.
Not from fighting, but from her early life in the shelter that took her in after the Vick bust. Her home for six months was in-no-way-ready to have 17 fighting dogs dumped on them. And being understaffed and ridiculously under-resourced, they were ill-prepared to help puppies grow up right in a gawd-awful-crazy kennel environment. While some animal welfare orgs solicited buttloads of money on the backs of Vick's victims, this little place saw penny-zero and couldn't afford an office chair, much less extra kennel help (Literally, they didn't have an office chair!) The two (count: 2) guys that worked there were in over their heads from Day One. They were, essentially, as screwed as the dogs they were supposed to be caring for.
Six Virginia animal shelters took in Vick dogs after the bust. Some were fantastic and the dogs shined in their care. And some shelters, not so good. We're not placing blame...We're just sayin.' When housing abused animals, resources matter.
So, six month old puppy Spyder and her littermate Frodo grew up in a loud, dirty echo chamber with no comforts and no one to take them outside. And yes, it caused permanent damage. Dogs like our Ernie came from this same shelter, but because he was already a stable (and well socialized) adult when he entered, he was better wired to endure the intense stress of confinement.
Suckers-R-Us, our hearts hurt for these funny little yearlings when we met them back in September. We wanted to give them our best, even if that meant they wouldn't be able to be famous or 'normal' like Jonny Justice, Hector, Ernie, Teddles and the rest. So when the courts granted us the opportunity to take dogs home for interim foster care weeks early (designed to prevent stressed-out dogs from deteriorating further) we weighed our options and put the pups on the bus along with the Rock Stars. It was only right; hogging all the Stars when other groups were stepping up would be wrong, and we had room for the siblings, so why not.
Fast forward to Now. Amazingly, Brother Frodo seems to be doing 'okay.' He's no lion-heart, but he's participating in the real world and trying his best to be brave. As stunted as he is, he's full of joy and hope and will be protected and loved by his circle of supporters in BR. But his sister?...Not so okay. Spyder enjoys the world in small spurts. Dogs are her biggest happiness and her play manners are wonderful. She loves her crate, her ball and FOOD - Ohmagod. Food is good. But in total, the world outside is a very scary place for Spyder.
After several months of home care and minor victories, it became clear that city life was causing her more fear than joy. And that's just not fair; We didn't get into this project to cause more stress.
So now comes the good news:...As of yesterday, Spyder went to live at Best Friend's Sanctuary in Utah. The world is smaller there; quieter. A 10x20 pen is her new kingdom with toys and sun and no city noises to rattle her nerves. She'll be able to play with other dogs and smell the fresh air and watch the Utah weather and bark at coyotes and go for walks with her new 'family' - a small circle of people who've committed themselves to her care. In our heart of hearts, we believe she'll be truly happy there.
We certainly considered the option of putting Spyder to sleep. We do our share of 'culling' dogs that aren't right for this unforgiving world and we knew no one would blame us for this sad task. But doing this does take a piece of your soul away each time. We've seen it turn seasoned breed people bitter and ill-tempered towards everything and everyone. I imagine demanding perfection in an imperfect world can have the same negative accumulative effect as living in a small cage with no light or fresh air. So maybe in part for selfish reasons, to protect our hearts from hardening to the point of no return, we voted for Life for Spyder. Thank you Best Friends for giving us the opportunity to make that choice for her. Above: John Garcia of Best Friends greets Spyder.
Vid Clip: Frodo and Spyder (in red collar) Saying Good Bye.
Here's a quick clip of Spyder getting loaded up for her trip to Utah. Big day! Plane Ride Home .... Later, I'll tell-all on the Best Friend's V-dog that came to take Spyder's place in CA. The adventure continues.
PearlI wanted to post a tribute to Pearl (blog below). She graced our Katrina Survivor Calendar cover last year, running like happy gangbusters on the beach in her new land. I was floored by Nicole's initial interest in rescuing Pearl from a sea of pit bulls in the rescue station of NOLA way back when. When asked why she wanted the black scarred up girlie with swinging teats, protruding vulva and chopped ears, Nicole stated matter of factly, "Because this is the dog that everyone else will leave behind." You so rock, Nicole.
God speed Miss Pearl...The beach is all yours now. Off leash, at that!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Pearl tried to make a friend of everyone she met.Sometimes people weren’t interested…like the man who yelled at me last week on a public sidewalk for not having a muzzle on her…Pearl continued to wag and smile at him while he berated us. Heartbreaking and so completely infuriating at the same time. Maybe some people have been so conditioned by what they read and see on TV that they fail to think for themselves and are unable to recognize the reality of what is right before their eyes.
And heartbreaking too, to think that there are thousands of other perfectly wonderful dogs just like her who are exterminated each year because they were unlucky enough to be rescued from the property of a dog fighter. Strange to think that Pearl was luckier to be caught up in a hurricane than to be rescued by some animal welfare agencies.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Vick Dog BlogIf you haven't already, check in with the Rebel Crew at their own Bloggity Blog ... Note: Sped Baby Frodo is still learning his way around the world, much less the keyboard. But Ted is on the ball. And we were happy to finally hear from the ever-sassy too-cute-for-her-own-damn-good Grace.
KC Dog BlogBrent is right to puzzle over SF's new claims that they possess the magic cure for pit bull euthanasias. Is it working? We're scratching our heads over the claims too and will be back with our take on the numbers game. BSL/MSN in SF
National Canine Research CouncilWe can't pimp this site enough. Karen has taught us worlds on the realities of canine aggression. We look forward to seeing this website's information get to where it needs to go. NCRC
The top dogs on the property are so unimpressed (read: bored) with foster dogs that they make the perfect role models for impromptu training sessions thru-out the day. What would we do without our patient crew of old timers? They remind us that dumb manners are only temporary ----> ---> ---> COOKIE TIME VIDEO
Looking for tips on DOG-DOG MANAGEMENT? Start HERE.
Tomorrow marks a bittersweet moment for (V-dog) Frodo's sister, Spyder. She's leaving for a new home in a far-away land. We'll get back here and update asap.
The threat of more BSL in Florida is raising its ugly head again. Heads Up!: HB101
Countering the insanity of Florida's BSL are our celebrated friends at Hillsborough County Animal Services. They can boast being one of the most proactive shelters in the country for going after animal abusers. Instead of pushing ineffective legislation, they're all about enforcing existing laws. Thank dog somebody in FL is setting a good example. Best quote in the article, Hillsborough on top on animal cruelty cases....
Dennis McCullough, is a former Secret Service agent who points out that he is neither a vegetarian nor a member of PETA. McCullough sees the protection of animals as nothing less than patriotic. "Part of the American way is that we defend the weak and defenseless," he said. "And this is just another example."
It's a funny world when the good guys have to make sure and distance themselves from Peta. What's Peta up to, by the way? ...What else? They're pushing for the breed ban in Florida. With a $30 million dollar annual budget that's obviously being used to hurt innocent animals, friends don't let friends donate to the crazies.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Okay, maybe the cold weather's not so hard to take after all.
The best news of the day: Our hosts, Minnesota Tri-County Humane Society, announced today that they're ready to put ambassadog pit bulls up for adoption. Tim's been talking with these good folks since his presentation last year piqued their interest in giving the bullpups a try. This news is gratifying, to say the least. Rachel and her crew from A Rotta Love helped us select a few dogs to evaluate in front of the crowd today. And while we hate putting dogs on the spot in front of 200 watchful eyes, the pay-off was that two did so well that they earned their way into two new adoption program. Huzzah!
This video shows a glimpse of a little brown monkey faced DARLING who will soon be Tri-County's first breed ambassadog. She tested beautifully: Warmly connected, cheerful, highly motivated to please and allllll about people. We wish her and her advocates well ... They have important work to do and we know that they'll be brilliant. Monkey Girl Kennel Clip
If you live in MN and are starting to think about adding a love machine to your family, pls check out Tri-County Humane MN (and don't tell'em I said so, but if you like designing websites, I bet these guys would love some help with a major website make-over to showcase their animals).
We fly to WI tomorrow ... Where I'm guessing it's still cold.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Lady Luck decided to mess with our heads recently....Like a wacky theme party, no less than three hopeful Adoption Pending homes all decided that having a second dog was more work than they expected (Contrary to some odd Internet rumors, most of BR's adopted dogs end up enjoying permanent homes with other well-matched pets.). We were surprised when Harvey (Linda's dog), BooBoo (Tim's dog) and, more recently, Texas (my dog) all bounced back into the program. Their people all gushed about the pups but blamed the work involved. Multi-pet management definitely looks sexier on paper. We understand ... Flying furniture from indoor zoomies can get old, tripping over tie-downs is a pain and adjustment periods can be trying. That's why we call it a trial. But, still.
Weeding out window shoppers is tricky and admittedly, our facilities look like a country club to folks that are weighing the option of riding out a tuff adjustment period or going back to 'normal life' pre-pooch. Some homes even feel guilty about taking dogs away from our program. ('Please!' we explain. 'Get that dog out of here and give him a life!') Each of the recently returned dogs came back with a cheerful "we just know you'll find him/her a wonderful home right away" mention. ...Ahem. Clearly, we're making this adoption business look too easy. Or we're not offering enough Reality Check up front, or something. Or more likely, this is just the way it is. Sorry dogs.
Josie Kat (above) was not a return, but she did just miss out on a recent home with a really great seven year old kid when Dad decided that our weeding process was too intrusive (His Reality Check became my Reality Check!) We felt bad for the kid, tho.' J-Kat was kind enough to mimic my pms-inspired mood with this photo above. Nice.
So, taking Josie's lead - here are some photos to celebrate the orphan crew. Josie, Deja Blue and Texas at Pit Bull Hall - with a cameo from Elvez (who has a hopeful home ......or does he?)
Slideshow of PBH Dogs on a de-stuffing mission.
Josie Tug Movie
Texas Coy Clip
Somebody - Adopt one of these amazing dogs. Good lord.
Josie in a State of Pure Bliss. Which reminds me, when you thrift shop this summer, remember to pick up that $3 bag of stuffed toys for the crew at Pit Bull Hall. Watching our dogs de-stuff is as therapeutic for US as it is for them!
Five 'rare' pitbull pups stolen
And a story on a sad theft and some of the biggest suckers on the planet. Rare blue-eyed pharaoh pit bulls? That is for to laugh (or cry, depending on the day you're having) PSHAW!
Monday, March 10, 2008
With ten thousand things going on, she still manages to pull and place a handful of great breed ambassadors thru out program each year. This recent case is extra happy.
In her words:
One Year, Six Months, 8 Days
Believe, me. I've been counting, and worrying (just a little).
She's an exceptional dog. And she's also a high drive, working style pit bull. Like so many terriers, she's full of bravado and she's not likely to back down from a challenge if another dog pushes her. But with training and management from her smart and patient foster home, she's the perfect dog and she exudes what I love most about this breed. Pit bulls like her are often the sweetest and most people-focused dogs you will ever be lucky enough to meet; willing to do just about anything for their person. But it can also take a long time to get to their happy ending. The working dog community typically avoids the rescue dogs (preferring a pedigree on their dogs) and pet homes usually want dogs with a little less moxie, so gems like this get left out in the cold. Even so, we pull the best of the best of these pit bulls from the shelters when we have a ready foster home because we know and appreciate the amazing animals that are packaged up with that endless drive.
But, back to counting days. I'm no longer worried, not even a little. Want to know why? Check out our Happy Endings page in just a couple of days! - Linda Chwistek
We Gots it!: ...... And at last, we have the LINK to the Rachael Ray Show with her segment about the Vick dogs, and, Jonny Justice's 15 minutes of fame. WOOF!
RR Show Link with Jonny
(Thanks Tom Becker)
Friday, March 07, 2008
Lil Leprechaun Dutch here hasn't had as much air time as the other Vick dogs yet, but this may be his Lucky Weekend.
The wee thing is full of spirit, so will be auditioning for a role as an agility dog with two dog-shoppin' trainers who've been putting impressive agility titles on their dogs. Air time - indeed!
Wish da little guy the Luck of the Pit Bull!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
We really can't believe the breed's good luck these days - all the positive press seems almost surreal! Is the tide finally turning for our bully pals? We have a good feeling about it.
Since I was feeling lucky and festive, and since both those things go along quite nicely with St. Pat's, I got motivated and asked crack designer Amy McMillan to come up with some fun pit bull t-shirt designs for the Bad Rap shop.
The first one one isn't a sentiment that would have rung true on last St. Pat's, but these days it works.
Don't worry - we also made some shirts for the dogs (of course!) that can be worn all year round, particularly if you have a nice lil' rednose red.
(The complete line of St. Patrick's Pit Bull t-shirts is here - we haven't quite updated the shop navigation, so they're hard to find without a direct link.)
So on St. Pat's, do be sure to raise a glass in thanks and a toast to continued luck from the Bully Gods.
Because, as we all know, pit bulls do love to party! And a raucous day like St. Pat's is most definitely a pit bull's kinda party day.
Oh - boring details:
If you want a deal on these shirts, you can save $5 off $50 with the coupon code STPATPITBULL.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Shown here with Bouncer now Leo, a fantastic example of the breed - destined to be a working dog (and quite likely related to Hector). Leo has a way of making toys out of anything he can get his big fat mouth on, and after demolishing a plastic garbage can for sh*ts and giggles, we knew that flying him home in a vari-kennel might cause a little bit of a problem (!) So without a second thought, Nicole raised her hand to do another coast-to-coast drive, this time solo - except for her special passenger, of course.
During the long and difficult dogs days of the Vick ordeal, Nicole learned that her three year old nephew Charlie was diagnosed with leukemia.
As you may imagine, our family was rocked by the diagnosis and the reality that came with it. Hospitals…procedures…tests…needles…chemo…all scary stuff, and bad enough when an adult is faced with these things, but try explaining the necessity of all of this to a child. Charlie has been a real trooper during his treatment. Initially of course there were battles over medication, but those are few and far between now. He understands that there are “bad guys” in his blood and the medications and healthy food are going to make them go away. (Letter from Nicole)
So what do you do in that situation besides rack up the cell phone minutes and frequent flyer miles?
What else. You shave your head in solidarity for the little guy who lost his hair.
On March 15, Nicole and Steve will be going chrome-dome as part of a St. Baldrick Fundraiser to bring attention to kids with cancer, and to raise funds for research. Cancer is the #1 disease related killer of children under the age of 14 years and currently, one in every 330 children in the United States develops cancer before the age of nineteen.
Nicole's whole family is in on this and have formed 'Team Noonie.' Noonie is the name of Charlie’s beloved softie that accompanies him to all hospital visits. If you'd like to pledge a little something to support this family, I know they would love it. Team Noonie Pledges.
Monday, March 03, 2008
I couldn't find stats for # of daytime telly viewers that tune in each day, but according to her magazine's Media Kit, nearly half of RR's audience are men...Huh! The median age is 44.7 (Damn. I picked a good time to be middle-aged.) Over a quarter are college graduates and working professionals. I'm hoping a good chunk enjoyed what they saw. At least, they were smiling warmly at us when I was wrestling Jonny into a 'relaxed' pose (ha!) on the sofa with a crew of jack-rabbit-fast producers buzzing around.
SHOW LINK HERE.
We're really grateful to the folks who took the time write with their feedback. This is one of my favorite letters. From a guy named Al:
To whom it may concern,,
I just watched on a tv program, how pitbulls are being saved and retrained by your org, and I am inpressed to say the least.
I am 53 years of age and have known people who have raised these dogs for just what they were bred for..and I have never agreed with this behavior..I always believed that the owners who treat animals this way are the ones who are commiting the crime, not the dog. I would also like to say that I never thought that pitbulls could be trained to do anything more than fight. I was wrong..Thank you for what you are doing for these animals, they do need your help..I have never agreed with punishing the animal fot the owner's behavior. They have suffered enough. Keep up the good work. - Al
Head's Up. We can't celebrate for long without remembering the pit bull owners who're looking in from the BSL hell of the Ontario ban. Like Mac's Gang, who comes to this blog almost every day for a tiny dose of sanity. BAD things are happening in Mac's world, and it's not getting better.
Let's let Luisa (Lassie Get Help) do the telling in her blog post Toronto's Gulag for Dogs
Hang in there Mac's World. And Caveat. And pittymomma. Your dogs are our dogs, and their time will come.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
I thought of it today while I washed five - yes, five - dogs. OK, I didn't wash them all at once or anything, but seriously - too many dogs in that tub consecutively made for one tired (and very wet) Mom / Foster Mom.
Four of the five are seen here on what used to be the couch and is currently known as The Best Dog Bed. I figure after torturing them all with a bath, the least I can do is throw a sheet over the cushions and let everyone (everyone who will stay still in a picture that is...) chill out and stay warm.
The "Dirtiest Dog" award went to Millie, who has a habit of throwing herself onto her back and wiggling for any other dog or human that she wants to show that she thinks they're pretty great. The "Most Compliant" award went to Pandora, who hops into the tub of her own accord (looking appropriately pathetic and martyr-like, of course).
But the "Most Pathetic" award went, paws-down, to Hector.
Hector really hates baths, and from the way he pouts may think that I'm doing this for the sole purpose of tormenting him. After two failed escapes and a few more obvious motions toward the edge of the bathtub, he finally settled in and realized that this bath was going to continue with or without his blessing... oh, poor Hector!
Keep in mind that this is a Vick dog with a rock-solid temperament who shows no demons from his past and seems to just enjoy living in the present with no regrets or worries despite his previous abusive conditions and months in custody... that is, unless the living in the present includes the dreaded bathtub.
So Hector has his own strong opinions about baths, and since he has his own blog now with his other Vick Dog pals he decided to share them.
Anyway, 5 clean dogs makes for 1 dirty human, so after all that I decided to give myself a shower (since I wasn't up for cleaning the bathtub).
I was asked at Pit Ed class today what the hardest part of having 5 dogs around is, and I said "feeding time." I'd like to officially retract that statement - I forgot about bath time! Phew.
Anyway, everyone's clean and smelling lovely, and now we have some cute pictures of some very clean dogs to remind us that Cleanliness is next to Dogliness... but not without some human elbow grease.
And a lot of dirty towels.