Sunday, February 08, 2009

the Now of Frida

One thing pit bulls are really good at is asking their people to shake off their brain-fuzz and engage whole heartedly in the present moment. Depressed? Get over it. Daydreamer? Get with it.

Frida's been all about getting us hu-mans up to speed. We've puzzled quite a bit over her, all the while she bats her big browns as if to say, "Okay. Silly people, just what are you going to do with me?"

Not the most likely adoption candidate, this owner surrendered shelter resident is a little too old, a little too weathered, a little too mischievious for most homes.

We brought her into our Ambassadog program after noting how goddam rock solid she was: crooked toothed grin, wagging widely from her kennel which just so happened to be located in a ward full of admittedly insane custody dogs at the time. Insane, as in, barking, spinning, slamming at the bars in the way really freaky dogs will do when they've been poisoned by the dark side of humanity. She wasn't part of that mess; didn't seem to notice the loud funk of the other dogs one bit. Her world was all about US: "Beloved humans, blessed two-legged soul mates. Let's go have us some fun together." That's exactly the kind of pit bull we covet. So we grabbed her up and declared her safe. For now.

Problem is, she's not the classic squishy seal faced darling that most homes flock to, and she can't romp happy in a household of well-matched dogs like so many of our crew. And no cats...No, no. This one's a grizzled old girl with an impressive seen-it-all sense of self and she can push a sparky dog's buttons from a hundred yards away - just for fun. She'll also size up a novice handler in a quick sniff and make like she doesn't know a stitch of manners. Heh. The master manipulator. BUT she's warm, wise, and wonderful and on top of all that, she's been remarkably good-natured about being kenneled all this time (Since September).

Rescuing salty dogs like Frida feels like an act defiance. "No, you are not easy-perfect. But letting you go without giving you a chance would go against everything we know and love about the rock solid soul of pit bulls." This one's so brave that I'm convinced she'd have no problem passing over to the next world in order to gift her kennel to an easier dog (believe me, we've thought about it). But to hell with that. She's here for now and we're too stubborn to let her go.

In order to help Frida become a better ambassador, her entire team of handlers has had to become better at what they do. This is the part where pit bulls excel at turning us all into better people. After discussions, we all agreed to handle Frida with the same seen-it-all attitude that she was shining on us. No freebie treats, no half-sits, no stink eye allowed at other dogs ... No, no, no. We'll only accept 100% compliance on commands, smooth, zen-like focus and relaxed body language in even the most difficult of situations. Spot a naughty dog barking wildly in Pit Ed class? - "Ignore it Frida. I mean it." And so she is, bless her heart (although methinks-that-shethinks it would be MUCH more fun to rear up and spit back a few choice obscenities.)

I heart Frida in a big way. She reminds me of my late grandma Alma - social and flirtatious but with a wicked sense of humor.

So here we are with a strong-willed sweetheart, wondering if we'll ever find her a home and trying our best to out-stubborn death. We might not, and Frida might end up telling us that kennel life is wearing her down, and if so, we hope and pray we'll be clear minded and selfless enough to hear her and let her go. But for now, we're moving forward as if she has a home out there, and she's happily teaching all of us to be so much better at what we do.

It seems that one of Frida's best lessons is reminding us all to Live. In. The. Present.

Thank you, Frida. You're absolutely right.


Unknown said...

Oh, Frida, if I didn't have my own 10-yr-old spitfire of a pit bull, I'd apply to be your guardian in a heartbeat. Older - check. Sassy- check. Soulful eyes - check. You have all the characteristics of a Very Good Dog (in my book).

I'm thinking good thoughts that you will find The One who will provide you the leadership and, when appropriate, cuddles (all the time?) that you need.

In the interim, give lots of love to your current caregivers and show off your mad skills to all those interested (there should be flocks lining up, imo). Sending very positive Adopt Me, I Rule vibes your way!

Pit Bull Ambassador said...

Before you guys have to make that dreaded decision please think about this offer .....Since you guys took one of our TAMPA BRED pitties (lil Man) maybe we can return the favor..SERIOUSLY!!

Boris said...

D, T & Frida handlers,

A "snap-to-salute" for your 'military rigor' with Frida, as acknowedgement and encouragement to stay the course. All y'all and Frida are up to the challenge. I so hope it gives her the structure she needs to stay focused. As you mention, it is going to take a home with that 'undying devotion to discipline' to sustain. Wish you had a stubborn ex-canine cop down the street looking for a companion.

"... pit bulls are really good at asking their people to ... engage whole heartedly in the present moment."

The second life lesson, right after "show-up", should be "live in the moment". Boris helped me pull out of a self-centered funk this weekend, which only took his 'pink-eye' and walking about 5 miles with him, with his reward my homemade pizza.

Challenging as it is, Frida teaches us this great life lesson. Our brilliant ones and overachievers need those 'high expectations & standards' to give them that purpose in life. And as you know, it can be so rewarding to all if we can get them to that next level. Your actions will not "go in vain" if she makes all she touches a little better and makes us realizing that survival through trials come from the tough part of love.

(Speaking of trials, are those 'burns' down here side like we've seen on the street?
She has been through so much...)

I think I saw her on my last visit. You are right about those eyes. She is like a big Chocolate Valentine waiting for that special partner... here is hoping that Cupid has some very sharp arrows to get through some thick skulls.

Boris' OEL

Anonymous said...

I have a 2 year old rescued pit bull who requires the same handling as Frida, thankfully he hasn't gone through anything bad like poor Frida. I have owned other rescued pitties, but Hershey has certainly taught me a lot & put me through my paces with his training. He is a large chocolate pit with yellow eyes, a quick smile & kisses for all, he has a huge "presence", loves life & is the biggest clown, but he sure keeps me on my toes. He has earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate & we enjoy competing in Agility. I hate to think where he would have ended up if I didn't rescue him...he definitely would have been a problem in the wrong home & enviroment. Kudos to you for giving her a chance & looking for her forever home.

Bad Rap is a dream come true for pit bulls...I salute you.

in Bermuda

Anonymous said...

She's a beauty, scars and ears and all. I sure hope you can find a home for her; she deserves it. Bet these last few months are the best she's had.

Leila said...

Boy would I snatch her up in a heartbeat, except for the siamese/tabby mix cat who rules my pittie boy with an iron (de-clawed)paw. Charlie takes no guff from anyone.

She'll find her forever home. Matches are made from the heart. When the right match comes along, MAGIC!

Plus, who can resis that grin?

Anonymous said...

Fridas story really touches the hearts of all of us who frequently have to see dogs like her be humanely let go. The question of what to do with dogs these dogs who truly deserve the good life. Finding the right match is so difficult. This gives us extra encouragement to hang on a little longer hoping for that special person to come along. Here's to you Frida, show 'em all the good stuff you got girl! You will make someone the love of their life.

Elizabeth Kennedy said...

This is one of my fave all-time BR blog posts. Beautifully written, just right for Queen Frida.

Anonymous said...

I have been so lucky to meet Miss Frieda at Pit Ed classes. The first time that she came was rough for her, but every time since, she had been amazing. She has a will to survive, and I hope she finds her forever home soon!


Anonymous said...

She'll find her special home. Or perhaps her people will find her. We're certainly glad the shelter kept our Ms. Bossy Pants around for 18 months.
Sassy, vivacious and smart. All signs point to Great Dog and Great Teacher.
Best of luck to you Miss Frida, from one spitfire to another.

Midwestern Bully Love

One voice counts said...

Oh, FRIDA. This post is better than a really good bottle of red wine on a Southern night with a full moon and too many dogs to make any kind of sense of. The human in the first picture is way cool. The photo of you in the driver's seat is a w e s o m e. I'm thinking you are one Tony the Tiger GREAT dog. And will find a home for damn sure. Am glad to know you held your ground, got what you needed and are teaching those damn two-leggeds a thing or two or three or four. I am one but I prefer the company of you guys most of the time. Now about that a little too old, a little too weathered, a little too mischievous. Hmm. I'm thinking I relate just a little too much.

Anonymous said...

I will hold on to the hope that frida finds her furever home. not all dogs are submissive souls. and frida is proof of that. so she just wants to be with people and no cats or other bossy dogs. who can blame her really. she is old and set in her ways but willing to learn some basic manners. she must know manners do go a long way when you are searching for your furever home. i would take her in if i didnt have my own two bossy bullies who require patience and supervision. good wishes frida and thank you badrap. please make sure she gets the fair shake all dogs deserve, even though she is a notch above the rest. please keep us updated on her progress.

Anonymous said...

But isn't she what "rescue" is all about? Aren't the ones like Frida the ones who REALLY need us? Bless you for taking this "Brown Eyed Girl" and helping her find her inner peace and hopefully her forever home.

Donna said...

Very true Millie. Agree 100%

The harder part is that while she's living in the shelter, new dogs that may be easier to place are not able to be saved due to space constraints. It's a constant battle with painful 'Who gets to live?' decisions that come up daily. But as awful as it all is, we're grateful to be a part of this shelter so we can have the opportunity to be able to make* those decisions for the pit bulls - even crunchy pit bulls like Frida -rather than see them all put down based on breed.

Donna said...

By the way - thanks to everyone for your encouragement and especially, for understanding how hard this can be.

Anonymous said...

[quote]resident is a little too old, a little too weathered, a little too mischievious for most homes. [/quote]

I sometimes help out at a Nursing home and we have some residents who would fit this description but believe me these are the Residents who add spice and life to what can be a very depressing place.
They are the ones who are always someplace they shouldn`t be.
They are the ones who like a little nip of something other than Prune Juice once in a while.
They are the ones who question lights out at 8pm.They are the ones who can get a little sassy at times but they are the ones who generate the most laughter.
And no we aren`t laughing at them,we are laughing with them.

Hopefully a Foster spot will open for her until someone realizes what they`ve been missing in their life.

Anonymous said...

This post made me so sad, Donna. Thank God there are strong people like you and all the others who devote their lives to compassion to these magnificent beings. I admire that because although I can write a check I don't have the guts for the constant spectre.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think words can express the admiration I have for all of you at Bad Rap and especially you and Tim. I have never met either of you, I'm just a pit owner for the past 30 years(all shelter dogs, my 3 now are my 4th, 5th and 6th) and found you on the web one day, and now check in EVERY day. Some days I wish like hell I lived in San Fran. so I could come and be a part of your group and help the dogs, and other days, like today when I read your response about those "decisions", I wonder where you all get those strong shoulders because I'm not sure I could bear it. I've tried to work with our local Animal Control as a volunteer, but I am too vocal so they threw me out (I'm a pissy old lady like Frida!!)Keep up the good work, if I ever win the Lottery, you get half!!

Anonymous said...

I was very touched by this story. I am a rescuer as well so I know full well the constant struggle to decide which dogs to help. Always knowing you should help those most "placeable" dogs as that means that many more you can help in the end, but always wanting to save these dogs like Frida.

It's not an easy call to make and I share your pain and salute you for taking on this horrible task in order to save some lives.

I do hope you stick it out and continue to try to find a way to save this one. I think there is a reason why certain dogs speak to us (maybe something to learn as suggested in the post).

But more important I think is our commitments, the promises we make to these dogs and ourselves. In a world where people put little value on loyalty it seems even more important to be steadfast in situations like this. She may not have been the best choice, but for some reason you did choose her.

Sometimes the hardest task offers the greatest rewards.

I will pray she doesn't suffer kennel stress while waiting and that maybe more folks with come forward to offer her vacations from the shelter and even a foster spot, even if that means rotations from other pets.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Frida,

I wish you such love and hope in finding your forever home. Keep strong,sassy and above all, keep smiling!!

Donna, if there are any donations you need to continue keeping her sane and happy please let us all know.


Anonymous said...

i came back today to comment again even though i have already commented once on this blog. frida has touched my heart and i will hope every day that she finds a safe haven. maybe best friends would consider housing one more troubled pittie.

Walter said...

I'd just like to say that she is such a gorgeous old girl.

Jay, Jaimison, Jaim, Jaimers, Jay-Cat, Sunshine said...

I would take her up in a second if I didnt have a housefull of animals already. what a sweet sweet girl. sounds like she knows what she wants out of life too.

What happened to her body though? It looks as if she has a very long and large scar on her side...whats that from?


Anonymous said...

Oh, Donna -
You have written so clearly and directly about the difficulties of your chosen work, and you have done us (those of us who are not in rescue) the great courtesy of being honest with us. I am not a person for whom euthanasia is a dirty word, nor am I naive enough to think that we read the whole story here. There must be tears, and soul-wrestling - all of the difficulties that poor Gary presented, for example.
Perhaps it is that damned chocolate color - (Miss AriMarie is chocolate and dog-on-dog dominant with dogs her size and larger) - perhaps it is that Frida reminds me of my mother, who died two years ago, at the age of 90, confused as hell, but cheerful, optimistic, musical and full of the divil to the end, or perhaps it is just that squunchy face, but Ms. Frida is quite a character, and has obviously made a deep impression on all.
I hope that against all reason, she finds her perfect human, and has a good life, and that you and Tim can celebrate making a good call. Miss AriMarie points out that she is 13, and looks to hang in for a while longer, so your efforts are hardly wasted.
Thank you for doing what you do, and for letting us see into it.
Frida must feel at home with you, since you are also brave.
Jean in Seaside

Anonymous said...

Oh Miss Frida is too adroable for words...and I love the dogs full of piss & vinegar - reminds me of me!!

Thank you to what BAD RAP does...ditto to what Millie had to say...I wish we had you here in Michigan.

Frida, someone is out there for you!

Tonight I will ask the big guy (or gal!) upstairs to bring you a home!

Love from Wyandotte, MI

Tim said...

"What happened to her body though? It looks as if she has a very long and large scar on her side...whats that from?"

These shelter dogs are almost always mysteries, but our guess is either road rash from being thrown out of a moving vehicle, or perhaps a chemical burn from a meth-head; these show up not infrequently.

But if it was the former, I bet the road looks worse than Frida after she hit it - tough old broad!

Donna said...

Jean - I'm so touched that you remember my Gary. He was such an important dog to us for so many personal reasons.

And I love that so many people can relate to the salty old dog that is Frida. Don't you just love it? The fresh faced youngins' are great, but there's nothing like a dog with "piss a& vinegar" to stir our love for this breed... (Good word choice Wyandotte!)

Anonymous said...

Can I donate specifically to her case. If you do adopt her out of state, I will help with the transportation costs. She is a beautiful girl, those wise mischievous eyes crack me up.

Anonymous said...

Love love love Frida. So she doesn't love other dogs? Big deal. So she forces you to stay on top of your game? Life coaches charge money for that, and here she is giving it away for free! I'm hoping and praying that she finds her human soul mate soon - she sounds like my kind of character.

Donna said...

> So she forces you to stay on top of your game? Life coaches charge money for that, and here she is giving it away for free!

Indeed! Great way to describe the incredible bonus that comes with loving dogs like Frida.

Anonymous said...

I myself have one in my rescue that has been in the shelter since Oct. she is also a love that will melt into you as soon as look at you. But unfortunately this little girl is only a year old and not good with other dogs. She is smart way too smart for her own good but Coco was pulled from someone that was trying to make this baby into a nasty girl, which she isn't only to other dogs. So I know how you feel, Coco isn't going anywhere and I WILL NOT GIVE UP ON HER.......