Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010: once in a blue moon

Once in a blue moon, we come across an opportunity to participate in a point in history that's so special, it changes who we are as individuals and as a culture. We are so very grateful to have connected with so many animals lovers in recent months as we walk into a brand new era together. Author and anthropologist Mary Elizabeth Thurston signals this new era in her musings, below. Wishing Happy New Year to all our friends and the creatures they hold dear.

The Path to a New Ethic

"History tells us that the welfare of the individual - humane or canine - is irrevocably tied to the welfare of the community. Now we have studies showing that children who care for dogs are more likely to mature into emotionally healthier adults, and that canine companionship prolongs the length and quality of life. Capable of remarkable love, the dog gives us what we crave most - a sense of belonging.

Throughout our shared history with dogs, it has been the spark of love between one person and one pet that became the catalyst for social change. That this canine "ephiphany" is now happening with increasing frequency points to a revolution in our concept of ourselves - our growing acceptance that we are part of the community of animals, not above or separate from it. With overpopulation, urbanization and habitat destruction threatening our personal links to the natural world, the role of the dog in bringing us to this new awareness cannot be trivialized.

Pet keeping is now one of the Western values being exported to cultures where animals have traditionally been viewed as consumable resources. With only the affluent in these countries able to afford keeping dogs for pleasure, pets again are becoming emblems of prestige, just as they were in nineteenth-century Europe. So we might ask, as the far reaches of the globe are transformed by a second wave of industrialization, whether the human-dog relationship in these developing nations will follow the same evolutionary pattern. Will the camera again document a canine pilgrimage from slave to soulmate as these societies grapple with concepts of self-determination and a compassionate ethic that embraces us all?" - Mary Elizabeth Thurston


With all the new traffic to our site, our server bills have gone thru the roof! So while we migrate to a new server today, BR's website and corresponding images on the blogspot, etc, will be playing hike-n-seek.

Bookmark ... No more "www" in our url.

Thanks for your patience as we re-figure ourselves for the New Year! ... (the year of a website re-design wethinks!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Announcement: Pit Ed Class Switch

Muggy and Lola's sweet mugs show up at many of our adventures and events. They're a steady fixture on the sidelines of Pit Ed classes, always wearing those classic "Woe is me" faces and luring visitors over to get them some lovin' while their person stays busy teaching two back to back training classes. Smart dogs!

Their person Donyale is a popular instructor with the steady stream of new dog handlers that file in each week. She's got a knack for helping people learn their beginning skills with her down to earth style, her endless enthusiasm and happy sense of humor. Donyale understands how new handlers feel - She started out as a shelter volunteer herself, taking Berkeley shelter dogs through class and helping them get adopted. She showed so much natural ability that we snagged her for a new role as class instructor for the Beginner and Novice Drop In classes and we've been humming along ever since.

Class members may not always realize that Donyale comes to a good number of classes right off of a 48 shift at her 'real' job. She's a SF fire fighter and does a lot of shift trading so she can be there for the dogs on Saturday mornings, with or without a full night's sleep. A true pit bull junkie - she painted Muggy and Lola on her station helmet to keep their bully spirits near when she's on the job.


Starting THIS coming weekend, to accommodate a busy seven week stretch in Donyale's work schedule, we'll be switching our classes off of Saturdays and running them on Sundays instead. Beginning and Drop in classes will run on Sunday from 11:30-12:30 until February 14 when we go back to our Saturday schedule. Linda's CGC Prep Class will also switch to Sundays starting January 10.

Are you on BR's PIt Ed class wait list? It's currently taking 6-8 months for people to get in once they register for classes. We're so sorry about the long wait! We're looking at ways to move things along so we can help you with your dog. Don't give up!  Registration

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Happy New Era" - Anti-BSL Statement from the A

We can't think of a better way to start a new year - a new era! - for pit bulls:

ASPCA Position Statement on Breed Specific Legislation

" light of the absence of scientific data indicating the efficacy of breed-specific laws, and the unfair and inhumane targeting of responsible pet guardians and their dogs that inevitably results when these laws are enacted, the ASPCA instead favors effective enforcement of a combination of breed-neutral laws that hold reckless dog guardians accountable for their dogs' aggressive behavior...."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Gotcha Day, Aberfoil

Aberfoil was such a clownish punk when we first met him at Oakland Animal Services, that we even caught our ever-patient trainer Sara counting to ten on some days. He was determined to jump jump jump, so she taught him it was okay to use the springs in his legs as long as he avoided using human body parts as a launch pad. Fine! Aberfoil became highly skilled at impersonating a kangaroo and would hop hop hop in front, next to, and around people as high as possible with the biggest "Lookit ME!" grin he could muster. Good lord Aberfoil!

We used to wonder who would ever fall for the Dorkish Wonder, but Carol and Hank put that question to rest. They've been wonderful for him since he went home on a pending adoption contract and it's been a joy to see him morph into their perfect dog. The trio went full adoption this past Saturday and we couldn't be happier. There is definitely a CGC in Aber's future with this devoted family.

Sir Aberfoil! Our shelter memories of you will always make us slap our foreheads, roll our eyes and break into giggles.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Home for Christmas. One bust dog's little miracle.

Chapter One: This is the Story of Ernie, now known as Monkey. He was one of the 500 or so dogs swept up in the same seven state dog fighting raid that's been filling blogs with excitable chatter since July. He's home for good this Christmas, and I wanted to tell you why that is such a miracle....

We were fated to meet Ernie at an Iowa shelter (Animal Rescue League) during one of our visits to the midwest this past summer. Our job was to evaluate him and his kin of canine victims, file our recommendations and then, court-willing, sort the dogs out for whatever responsible rescue placements we could find.

It's a difficult job, because giving every dog the best opportunity involves making as honest an assessment as you can muster within a tiny window of time under less-than-ideal circumstances (oppressive heat, for one!), then brainstorming the most appropriate placement options to ensure each dog's long-term success. Then comes the task of locating those fabled placement options before the dogs go absolutely nuts in their kennels. With so much at stake, and so many deserving dogs vying for so few qualified foster homes, it's one of the most emotionally taxing jobs a dog lover can sign up for. I'm sure Ernie would say that he feels the same way.

Every dog has a different set of needs, of course. No such thing as a one size fits all bust dog. Some are shy but resilient like Frodo, so need very patient homes. Some are confident like our Vessa and need dog savvy leaders. And some, like Linda's agility contender Audie, have uber-energy that will need to be channeled for the rest of their lives. What kind of dog was Ernie?

Our hearts started thumpin' the minute we saw his tiny self bunny hopping around in his kennel, although he presented some bigger challenges right from the get-go: Great dog, but he was a committed

He exploded out of his kennel in such a hurry that we needed rodeo-star lasso moves to snag him with our slip-lead. He was wired for sound throughout most of his out-time, he practically flew through the air at a toy (including a copper pipe - yum!), he tried rearing up and spitting fire at a dog, and generally did what he could to wriggle right out of his skin in hot pursuit of a good Par-tay.

What fun! - What work! We loved him. He is a performance style staffordshire bull terrier (SBT), meaning, he's a little working dog - smart as all get-up, with drive to spare. Awesome fun and incredibly trainable, but oy-vey, what a handful to most dog homes. With so many dogs in need, this little stinker was going to need a good dose of Santa's magic.

Right: Lara Peterson from A Rotta Love Plus wrangles the wild man during evals.

Below is one of Ernie's 'screen tests' during our get-to-know-you eval in Iowa. Yee Haw! This clip captures the moment we all fell in love.

We knew we better get busy with searching out a spot for the irrepressible Ernie even before the courts made their ruling. Not easy - explosive little brat-dogs aren't exactly an easy sell, and most rescues had already committed themselves.

Thank dog for internet friendships - our last shred of hope came from a staffy bull owning friend who'd been watching with sadness as more and more SBTs were finding their way into the hands of the bad guys (several of Vick's dogs were SBTs as well as TugTug from the Kay County OK bust).

Kristi Johnson (right) was dialed into the SBT world through her own two gorgeous show staffys, but a call for help to her circles bounced back with dead silence. Damn. Letting this little monkey dog go seemed painfully impossible.

Just when we were getting worried, Kristi wrote to say that a talented dog trainer had shown some interest in the funny little bust dog. She liked fast dogs and wanted to see his evaluation videos and learn why the pit bull people were making such a big fuss about him. (Don't you just love how the Internet is making these kinds of connections common place?) Ernie's videos hurled thru cyberspace and not long after, along came the words "I'll take him." We did the happy dance all over the house, then anxiously waited for news of their first date. (In case you missed it, this video shows Ernie with Kristi on jail break day!)

Chapter Two: Lynn Silvis, Ernie-now-Monkey's new person, explains how things looked from her end....

"When the email of a little staffy named Ernie came over my desktop, I nearly hit delete. I just nursed my 10 year old pit mix through a serious immune disorder that left me rather raw and drained my bank account to zero and a earlier this year I got my other dog through cancer, so the timing felt very wrong. While I have been entertaining the idea of adding in another dog a year or two down the road (I wanted a dog to learn Mondio with), I thought the last thing I needed right now was another dog. I kept the email, but resisted opening it for a few days. A second email came and again, I didn't open it. Finally a co-worker who had received the email as well pushed me to at least take a look.

Once I opened it, I knew my resolve was sunk. I went from saying "I do not need a third dog" to, "Why am I thinking about a third dog?" ... to, "I want this dog!" in a few short days.

The more I learned about this little dude, the more I knew he was right for my pack. Bit by bit I received videos of his temperament testing and was very impressed. I was falling in love.

On October 19th, he came home. The first few days I vacillated between intense love and a feeling of, "What the heck am I doing?" He has pretty significant kennel aversion and would wail and throw himself against the kennel in a panic, sometimes shaking the whole house. When he would come out of the kennel he would jump into my arms and wrap his front legs around my neck and tuck his head into my chest and shake.

He was like a little monkey and the name stuck -- "Monkey," silly yet somehow fitting. We spent weeks working this through and now goes into to his kennel on command and while he doesn't exact love it, he will settle down quickly. He obviously had never lived in a house and his explorations were a joy to watch. He nose bumped everything and behaved like a pup -- everything a chew toy! The first week he spent on leash to make sure he was successful with all the rules of indoor living and with my two canine girls. We went slow since we had nothing but time and I wanted him to be adored by girls as much as I adored him.

Ruby, the red pit mix, was the first to accept him -- a play bow was all it took for her. Kya, the black pit, is little tougher to charm as she is more of a people dog than a dog dog, but he was wise enough to approach her slower and snuggled next to her on the couch. She has been in love ever since! I have also been fostering a toy poodle he is friends with --even changes his normally boisterous play style to more gentle and less "bully" when they play. Within two weeks he was sleeping on the bed with all of us like a normal dog and has quickly become a snuggle junkie, spending most of the mornings on my lap while I answer my emails.

Unfortunately, his vet check gave us bad news. He tested positive for heartworm. Luckily, the vet felt it was an early infection, so he would not likely have any lasting problems. My vet was incredibly wonderful and discounted Monkeys treatment by more than half price! The next 8 weeks were a challenge! Trying to convince the busy boy that he needed to be calm was a constant struggle. We spent the weeks learning house manners and basic obedience skills. He loves learning! The more I challenge him, the more he amazes me!

He came though treatment early December with no lasting effects of the infection and was given the go ahead to be a normal dog! Our first night off restriction we spent at one of our training facilities playing unbridled with his girls! I've never seem such a big staffy smile!

Life is good now for the little boy. Now that he is off restrictions, he will start formal training and I will decide what his talents are so we can start him on his way to become an ambassador for the breed and for fight dogs. Whatever we do, I am confident this little guy will be up for anything! His positive attitude is inspiring to all who meet him. The first email I received on him told me he was a special guy and you were all right!

I want to thank all those who help my little Monkey along his journey and helped him find his way to our family. My life is incredibly richer with him here and I already can't imagine life without him! We all love him so much!

Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!" - Lynn Silvis

Are ya kidding, Lynn? Thank you for sticking your neck out for a goofy little bust dog. Huge thanks also to Kristi for responding when we screamed for help. We just know that Monkey is going to make everybody proud, and we look forward to hearing about your happy adventures together for many years to come.

Merry Christmas to the Miracle Monkey!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Endangered media. And, we meet a hero

News Cycle reported last week that over 15 thousand journalists were canned in 2009. After suffering more than two decades of character assassination of pit bulls in the news, some might be tempted to say "Bah humbug! Who needs'em!" ... But the worrisome part of this trend is that it threatens to rob us all of whatever ethical journalists might still be out there, while opening the door to yet more tabloid bombers who steamroll over facts in a hot hurry to file shocking headlines and crap reporting.

At a time when pit bulls have reached a tipping point with widespread positives in the media, we really need the good guys to stick around. We're all too familiar with damage done by the fear-chasers. Brent Toellner ran a fascinating series of blog posts recently about David Gardner's book The Science of Fear, which includes some discussion of the media's role in paralyzing the public with demonic, media driven stereotypes - which includes pit bulls, of course. KC Dog Blog. Brent's research offers solid 'know thine enemy' kind of reading.

BR members have had more contact with the media than we ever thought possible over the last two years, and despite their history of ick and our own initial fear and prejudices, our experience with journalists has been overwhelmingly positive. It wasn't just that we had a winning story - victimized dogs resurrected, and all - how can you lose, really? But the people writing their stories were ... fabulous. Warm. Thoughtful. Where have they been hiding all these years? And now that we've found them - or rather, now that they've found the dogs - are we going to lose them completely to this downward spiral in the news industry?

Nearly every single writer we've met has relayed some concern about losing their jobs during our get-to-know-you conversations. That includes John Glionna of the L.A.Times (above), who is just the kind of reporter we want on the dogs' side. He made several personal visits to learn about his subject, even allowing our dogs to swarm him during his interview for this flattering article that makes pit bull rescue - important. (John has since starting covering stories in Korea, by the way. He may be far from pit bulls, but we were glad to see he's still using his pen for important animal issues)

One of the biggest voices for pit bulls in the news media came to the SF bay area last weekend for a visit. We were thrilled - thrilled! - to finally meet her.

Cheryl Wittenauer, writer for the Associated Press, introduced the Vick dogs to the world in this precedent setting article that was launched to hundreds of media outlets around the world the minute the last defendant in the Vick case was sentenced and we were free from our gag order. Not only did she keep her word and honor our request for strict confidentiality during her research, she wrote her piece with so much compassion for the victims that she turned the previously reported 'Menacing Dog' business on its heels and set the tone for the avalanche of positive media that would follow. During the time that she interviewed our crew for the story, she held a curious and objective mind, and avoided baiting us with fear-fetching questions. She later went on to write some of the more compassionate articles about the dogs from this summer's big bust in the midwest. She's truly one of the most important media voices for our breed right now. Left: Cheryl nuzzles Vick dog Zippy, who is held by her foster mom, Berenice Mora-Hernandez.

I hope people like John and Cheryl find a way to ride out the lay-off storm so their curiosity and professional integrity can continue to benefit the animals. It's one of the main reasons we always have to remember to thank the editors when their publications run a good piece. Not only are we ensuring that positive press continues, but we just might be helping to secure the job of the writer so they come back to do it again.

Below: Cheryl spent the afternoon with six Vick dogs and their people during Pit Ed Class last Saturday, including Daisy (bottom right), one of the survivors from the big seven state dog fighting bust. It's been almost two years since her celebrated Vick dog article came out, and this was her very first time meeting the dogs. We had a blast!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Calling all SF Bay Stage Mothers - Showcase your Pit Bulls!

Pet Food Express has been helping us re-shape the image of pit bulls every day of the week for the last two and a half years. They've been doing it by giving customers a ginormous blast of adopted pit bull faces on posters that hang on walls and windows in stores around the bay. We especially love the 51st and Broadway location for its wall full of BR alumnae. These posters are HUGE and they grab everyone who walks in or by the store.

FRESH FACES WANTED! Are you interested in adding your dog's portrait to this fun collection? From now until December 31, PFE is lining up fresh talent to showcase bay area pit bulls while they help us with our barn-raising. Top right, Carolyn Pettigrew's boy Booker. Below, Sheri Cardo's girl Sally.

How does it work? When you donate $250 to BAD RAP, Pet Food Express will have your dog's photo taken by a professional photographer, blown up to a giant-sized poster and placed in your favorite PFE store.

AND THEN they will match your donation and give $500 to BR for our barn. Holy moly! Thank you Pet Food Express.  Left: Donyale Hoye's Muggy and Lola.

Our dogs Sally and Honky (right) joined the first campaign, and we just loved the time and care the photographer took to capture their personalities. She came out to our house and made it all very easy and fun with the best assortment of squeakers and treats. Posters hang in the store for two+ years. After that time, you have the opportunity to buy it back for keeps. (Ours is going in the BR barn, natch.)

We'd love to see as many BAD RAP alum as possible waving their colors in PFE stores around the bay. (Come'on now. There are hundreds of you!) Non-BR dogs are warmly welcome to participate in support of BR. This is such wonderful way to showcase our beloved pit bull companions.
For questions or an application to join this campaign, please contact Sheri about: PFE Portraits.
Last day to sign up: Thurs, December 31.

Left, Owen, owned by Debbie Goldberg.

Thank you stage moms! And big thanks to Pet Food Express for supporting BR's work and, especially, for helping us put such big, bold, BODACIOUS images of cherished family pit bulls in front of so many eyes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Squeek Power

This photo showed up in my inbox just when I needed a little blast of Squeek Power.

The wee dog you see here came into Oakland Animal Services during an especially busy week a few months ago. An especially busy week means fewer kennels are available, which means dogs with minor behavior quirks are much less likely to make the cut during evals. When we first met this girl-who-was-not-yet-named, her kennel card had a '4' circled, which meant she was not long for this world.

Besides being friggin' adorable, she was clearly under-socialized and a little timid. Not bad, but not great. She was one of those grey area dogs that twist our stomachs in knots because they just aren't popping a flashing green light for 'sure-bet-shelter-adoption,' but they're almost impossible to walk away from. After spending some time scratching our heads over her, we marked her as a BR dog to save her life. She was young, she was impressionable, she loved to be touched, she was great with dogs. Issues? Very likely, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. As is so often the case with this work: "Plug nose, Jump in."

It wasn't too long before our impressionable little girl was feeding off of the stress in the shelter and picking up some way-naughty lessons from her neighbor dogs. While taking her back to her kennel one day, she reared up, pulled her lips back and SQUEEKED out a roar at a dog who dared look at her funny. Cute, but not exactly the path we wanted her to take. So Squeeks got VERY lucky and scored herself a foster home who volunteered to help get the quirky little pit bull out of the shelter and on to the right track in the real world.

Her foster mom (Cindy) reported back when Squeeks squeeked at a scary stranger and again when she spit at a dog, and Rep Linda worked out gameplans and protocol to help guide them both along. Cindy did the long drive every week to smooth out leash manners in Pit Ed class and she exposed her to a world full of people scary and not so scary. Squeeks enjoyed her first ever stable home that included a big sister dog to emulate, and she learned about chase-n-tickle games with her foster dad Neal.

Our project pup finally realized that she wasn't going to get eaten in this big new world, especially by the likes of Jeremy and Gaytha, who fell in love and wanted to make her theirs. They had a hell of a time with their landlord on this one, but that's a whole other story. Long story short, they were victorious over the landlord's jitters and Squeeks is home for good. Her photo with Jeremy almost makes it all look so very easy.

My favorite part of this story, besides her happy ending of course, is that Squeeks was saved because a handful of people including and especially her foster mom and Rep Linda were able to get her out of a situation where she would have disintegrated into a stereotype, and right into a setting where she could blossom. It worked. Once timid stray is now a flirtatious ambassador for her breed. And just as her original humans were once responsible for making her a creature to be wary of, a whole new set of humans were responsible for making her a treasured Daddy's girl.

Top Photo: Snapped by Squeeks' adopter, Gaytha Watley

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shop This! Good vibes from the Unexpected Pit Bull Calendar

You gotta love the tender photos of the yearly Unexpected Pit Bull Calendars. Photographer Laura Moss has a special gift for grabbing eternal moments between gorgeous pit bulls and their devoted families. More than just a pretty face, the calendars are designed to raise money for pit bull rescue and advocacy projects around the country. We've been blessed by organizer Jyo O'Har's vision in the past with a most generous - and unexpected! - gift after the sale of her calendars (thank you Jyo!).

Today Only: Any orders that come in on Thursday, December 17 will be upgraded to Priority Mail at no extra charge. This offer ends at midnight. Shop those puppies!

The Unexpected Pit Bull Calendar

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anonymous Santas heat up the barn raising

Santa must be a pit bull fan, because he's been sending some of his power elves to help us build a barn for the dogs. The 5K double matching gift challenge that we launched last month was MET within 30 days time by the extraordinary kindness of BR blog readers. That means donors brought in a whole $15K in one month's time. HUZZAH! I don't even know what to say anymore ... the generosity of people towards dogs they may never meet just stuns me.

November's anonymous donor made the double matching gift in honor of their pet Maggie (above). We're guessing the little sprite wants to stay anon, too. You know who you are, and we thank you from the bottom of our best puppy's toes.

We were doing well with Maggie's challenge, but found ourselves short by $1,070 as the deadline loomed. Anonymous elves have magic powers, though: That last chunk was soon covered by another anon-friend and we met our goal! I've never had so much fun doing photoshop as when I pump that donation bar up on the Petey graphic.

What next? ANOTHER matching grant promises to kick us into the field goal zone. The same anon-angel that helped us meet Maggie's challenge went ahead and pledged 5K more for a brand new matching challenge. Are you following me?... that's a brand new 5K challenge!

This recent pledge is given in honor of three special pit bulls: Tiki - left - who passed on last year, Juliet - right - who was rescued from Pet Rescue Center, and a very special dog-in-need named Azure.

Azure is a beautiful blue who is currently at the Pet Rescue Center waiting for her new home. She was stabbed seven times by her owner's boyfriend with a sword back in January. This Best Friends link describes Azure’s plight well. What a story. We sure hope she's able to find her home soon. If you have ideas, please contact Pet Rescue Center.

Matching this gift in the name of Tiki, Juliet and Azure will bring us up to $97K ... Just inches from our final goal. I can't believe it - we're almost there.

Build it, baby - BUILD IT!

As the fundraiser gathers steam for the last big 10K hump, our work crew is starting to put the walls up on the barn. This view shows the beginning of the porch/breezeway where dogs and volunteers will both seek out shade and ice tea breaks on hot summer days.

The windows will go in once the walls are complete. Then comes the doors, the floors, insulation, electric, and sheet rock. Whoever said building a kit barn was fast work?

We're all big-time recyclers around here, so have been shopping salvage yards to save some dough and to give the barn an old world homey look. These sweet frames came from Urban Ore in Berkeley.

The guys there have been rooting for us as we do our weekly hunts for materials and have given us some great deals.

This super size window on the left lived in Tim's woodshop while he refurbished it over the thanksgiving holiday. It will be set right across from the kennels, in a spot that will allow the dogs to see the sunrise over the Oakland hilltops.

It's important to us to give dogs that have been living in dark confinement as much natural light as possible so they can begin to get back into rhythm. The barn will also have four skylights for the same purpose.


Our deepest thanks to these recent givers: Erich Horat & Nancy Groom, Roma Dakini-Alexander, Mark Paul, Margaret Zechlin, Naomi Tamayo, Virginia Yeisley, Kate McLoughlin, Dale & Peter Demy, Melinda Shaw, Bob Gardner, Cindi Massei, Amy Leduc, Lisa Holway, Brandon Abell, Amy Ponsetti, The Magnificent Miss F., Leslie Van Auken, Melissa Goan, Esther Shir, Maureen Marsh, Ethel Dunham, Carol Cohn, Sally Rees, Jennifer Goff-Roby, Andrea Ives, Gail Santos, Susan Foster, Joan Farabaugh, Lilith Jones, Wendy Mayerson, Jennifer Thomas, Susana Cruz, Diane Androvich, Deborah Malmberg Smith, Christina Roberts, Michelle Quiroz, Natalie Grimmett, Barbara Lauterbach, Lisa Neely, Melissa Puso, Lisa Dornell, Sara Lindorf, Ashley Sousa, Adrian Machado, Erica Grover, Mary Salyer, Deassa Binstock, Sheri Pederson, Eric Thomas, Suzanne and Peter Coaltz, Nancy Epstein, Deborah Hornstra, Patricia Luchak, Scott Leete, Blake Facente...and to Tim's mom Margaret Holden (you shouldn't have!)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Interview with Laurie Adams: Lessons from the custody dogs

Shelter workers can tell you that there's nothing more painful than watching a nice little dog deteriorate after being kenneled for several weeks or months without relief. In the past, a long-term custody dog's mental state was a non-issue since most were hidden out of sight and eventually euthanized.

But as rescue and adoption efforts for pit bulls especially gain acceptance, we're obligated to take a close look at how dogs are being treated while they wait for their outcome. Even those dogs that are too behaviorally unsound for the real world deserve our efforts to keep them as comfortable as possible during their confinement.

Laurie Adams - Animal Control Officer for Indianapolis ACC and volunteer with Casa del Toro pit bull rescue - caught our attention with the work she did organizing a team of volunteers around the needs of over 100 dogs seized in a massive dog fighting bust in Indiana this summer. Her quiet behind-the-scenes devotion is impressive and earned her an award from Partners in Shelter Services for her environmental enrichment work. Anyone who cares for groups of pit bulls knows that keeping dozens of terrier-minds from going bonkers during lock-down would be no small feat. We've been fascinated by what she's been doing and what she and her team learned from this experience, so we asked her to tell us her story in this interview. (Make sure and click the 'Read more' prompt below!)
"No longer should it be acceptable for them to just sit there and deteriorate. Some of these dogs, given some enrichment, just may find themselves in a position of being given another chance at a brighter future with an adoption." - Laurie Adams

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sally needs a new home

Gifts to the dogs show up in the most interesting packages. We never would've guessed that a bike named after our best girl Sally would be making an appearance in time to help run the barn raising plans over the finish line, but here she is....

SuckerPunch Sally. To be honest, our Sally hasn't sucker punched a dog in a long, long time. But when she did - back in her teenage bad girl days - she did it with gusto. You can't blame a girl for having a little attitude. This bike has all kinds of attitude and she wants to be owned by a responsible sort who gets what she's about: Road trips and plenty of smooth, happy adventures.
(above, logo graphic from

How and Why? A most wonderful wants-to-stay-anonymous donor gifted Sally to us and asked that she be auctioned off so we could get some dogs in that darned barn already! How amazing is that?

Ebay Auction

If we find a buyer, 100% of the proceeds will go to finishing off the barn. Here's the sales pitch:

The Sucker Punch Sallys Swinger is a modern suspension bike done in the tradition of a mid 1950's Harley Davidson FL; low stance, big fat fenders, spoked wheels and custom pinstriping. She's powered by an 88 cubic inch RevTech V-Twin with a 2-into-1 exhaust for easy cruising, channeling power through a 3 inch belt driven primary and a Baker 6 speed transmission. She features Harley Davidson controls and a 4.2 gallon split tank for long highway rides. The bike currently has 905 plus miles on it. The only minor defect is a little discoloration of the exhaust pipe. Other than that, she is flawless.

Oh yeah, baby.

If you know someone who's ready to upgrade their bike and who'd like to help out a bunch of pit bulls while they do it, please tell them about our auction. Happy travels!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

happy fuzz. thank you party people!

What a great night! Thanks to all you beautiful people who trekked out to Berkeley to join us for our big ten benefit party. It was a pleasure to make so many new acquaintances while connecting with old friends. Everybody looked gorgeous!

A few quick highlights .....

Right: Jennifer Long and bandmate from Thee Merry Widows taking a break between sets. These girls ROCKED. Thank you ladies!

Above, a favorite image from the show: Missouri bust dog survivor - the irrepressible Gigi - was there in spirit to remind us how much has been accomplished and how far we still have to go. This photo was donated by Andre Hermann Thanks again, Andre!

Left: Donyale, Aaron and Ana turn a toast into a fine opp to vogue.

(Are these photos fuzzy, or is it just my brain? Hmm. A little of both.)

Thanks to sponsors: Lagunitas Brewing Co., Fosters Wine Group and Drake's Brewery for the libations. Right: Our ever-cheerful servers Suzanne and Peter.

The dogs always steal the show. Cris Cohen chaperones the very popular Muggy, Jonny Justice and Lola. I think some busy dogs had a sound night's sleep after a long exciting evening soaking up the limelight.

Iowa artist and breed advocate Steph Fitzsimmons donated this painting of Grace, who seems utterly delighted with the likeness .... (or maybe someone has a cookie on the other side of that camera?) Thank you Steph! Photo below: Cris Cohen

Thanks to everyone who came out to help us ring in a new decade of adventures, and to all the out-of-towners who sent well wishes. It's hard to imagine what the next decade will bring, but it's bound to be interesting.

Three cheers! Salud! Huzzah!