Training is Fun Time

Contrary to what some people think, I think all dogs love learning. Training is a great bonding experience because I get to spend time with my people and I get their undivided attention (oh, and the treats are always a nice addition!). 

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I was recently asked why I enjoy training, and as I thought about it, there are quite a few reasons:

  • I gain an understanding of how to interact with my people in a way that makes us all happy
  • Training enables me to go more places; businesses are open to having well-behaved dogs, meeting visitors to the home, exploring new adventures is easier too.
  • It keeps me safe from dangers that I might not see or understand.
  • It’s fun time to hang-out with my people. People are busy with work and other demands on their time. Carving out time to train means that I get their undivided attention and we have happy bonding time.
  • It challenges me mentally, and sometimes physically, which keeps life interesting
  • Training means that I can eventually participate in competitions and/or help other people as a therapy dog. 

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There are a lot of great training resources on the internet. One of my long-time favorites is Cesar Millan (who also happens to be a big fan of pit bulls 🙂 You can see some of his free training articles and videos here: http://www.cesarsway.com/channel/dog-training 

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Pitbull Playtime at BadRap

This video was filmed at BadRap’s “Barn” where many of their adoptable pit bulls live while awaiting Forever Homes. I love this video because it highlights the playful nature of pit bulls – that they can be dog social, play well with each other and interact with people.

I love going to the dog park because I get to meet other dogs and run around with them. It’s great fun. Most of the time, the people at the park are cool when I show up. But every once in a while some human will make a mean and uninformed comment about how just because I’m a pit bull, I must be viscous. I want to ask those people – because you’re ignorant, how can you live with yourself? But I’m better than that, so instead I play very nicely with other dogs – big and small – and people will learn by my actions that I’m not the monster the media makes me out as. After all, who can resist a smiling pit bull?

There are so many great rescue agencies. BadRap, located in the San Francisco area, has been helping find homes for pit bulls since 1999. Their website has a lot of great information about adoptable dogs and pit bull references. Check it out 🙂

http://www.badrap.org/home

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Interview with Dog Rescue Around Washington (aka DRAW)

I recently spoke with Violet, one of the founders of Dog Rescue Around Washington.
 
What was the impetus to start DRAW?
All of us in DRAW had had considerable experience in working with animals and rescue to varying degrees. After spending time with other rescues we found each other and found how much we shared common goals so formed DRAW to work together for the dogs.
 
With so many dogs needing help, how do you select dogs for your program?
This is the hard part. All of us have a special love for seniors and special needs AND bully breeds..so I guess sometimes it appears we just choose the most unadoptable dogs haha. BUT, we also pull dogs with proper temperaments and that will fit into existing dog packs and space available in our foster homes.So we start with lists of dogs having the greatest need and go from there. Making space as often as possible.
 
Why is it more difficult for some dogs to find Forever Homes?
For Pit Bulls the answers are fairly obvious. They have a horrible stigma, it’s challenging to own them if you rent or live in an HOA. They are banned or restricted in many places. Many home owners insurances don’t allow them. The list of reasons they are hard to place is nearly endless. Add to that the fact that some need to be only dogs or only pets? It is definitely a challenge. Other things that make dogs difficult to place are age or special needs. People don’t want to bring home older dogs that may not have a long time left. Or want to take on needed medications or special dietary needs. Simply put, average adopters want pet ownership to be easy.
 
For the harder-to-place dogs, what are some of the reasons that you think people should give them a second chance? 
Oh..to me there is an endless list of answers. Just the love the dogs shower us with is enough for me. Do it for the smiles. For the licks to the hand on a hard day. For that look of adoration in their eyes at the end of the day. For so, very many reasons.
 
Please share a success story.
There are so many to choose from. Your sweet Truffles was a special one. We have Neville who was banned in Ontario Canada who came to DRAW and ultimately became the first Pit Bull used as a bomb dog by the Washington State Patrol. Saydee, who was found as a stray in Tacoma and six months later was certified as a Therapy Dog and a Service dog for an owner with a seizure disorder. Freddy Meya who was a headline as a vicious dog who is living happily ever after, spoiled and fat, with people who adore her. To us, every dog saved is a success story. Right down to the scruffy little old dogs who do nothing more than bring smiles to their owners faces every day and leave us broken hearted when they go.
 
To view DRAW’s adoptable dogs, visit: http://drawrescue.webs.com/adoptabledogs.htm
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Adoption considerations

To the human perspective, bringing a dog home is an easy thing to do. To help you make a better – and informed – decision, I would suggest that you consider some questions before deciding on a dog.

  • Do you have an active or a sedentary lifestyle? In the now sense of the word. If you’re currently sedentary, that’s okay. But don’t pick an active dog to coerce you into an active lifestyle – you’ll just end up resenting the dog.
  • Do you have children? If so, consider the personality of the dog and how it behaves around children of your own age. Arrange for the children to meet the dog in a neutral setting.
  • Do you have other pets (especially dogs or cats)? If so, how will the other pets react to another new pack member? How does the potential adopted dog interact with other animals? If possible, arrange for a meet-and-greet for the adopted dog and the existing pack prior to finalizing the adoption.
  • Financial considerations. Dogs aren’t cheap. We eat, we need supplies, and we need medical care. If you go out of town, someone needs to take care of us. Depending on the size of dog, the costs will vary.
  • Lodging. Will your residence allow pets? If so, is there a fee/deposit required to allow a dog into the residence?
  • Do you understand the breed characteristics? Different breeds of dogs have different traits, some of which will likely be more amenable to your unique lifestyle than others.
  • What age should the dog be? Puppies are cute, but they need training and attention – and, of course, they grow up. Adult dogs usually come with some basic training, although if they had a hard early life, may need some additional TLC. Senior dogs probably have it the hardest since few people want to adopt a dog that has relatively few years to live. But senior dogs tend to be low-key and great for more sedentary homes.

The list could go much longer, but these are a few items to get you thinking about what you want in a dog. My adopted parents knew that they wanted to rescue a pit bull that was a young adult (I was 2 years old when we met), and that was a sappy, easy-going girl. Lucky me! I fit the bill perfectly 🙂

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Dog Parks

Dog Parks

I love running around in dog parks. Today, I was lucky enough to go to a nearby dog park and there was a little white fuzzy dog that I ran around with. After the little dog left, my adopted mom threw the tennis ball for me lots of times until I got tired. But I’m too proud to let anyone know that I’m winded, so I pretend to be fascinated by the scents in the park, drop the ball and walk off. Works like a charm every time! Mom goes to get the ball, and then lets me sniff happily.

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My friend, London Dee-Oh-Gee

My friend, London Dee-Oh-Gee

My best friend is a rescued pit bull named London Dee-Oh-Gee (but we call him London for short). He looks mean and tough, but he’s a softie at heart. London is kind of a reserved guy, so I decided to interview his adopted-mom to see what his story was. In her own words, here is how she came to adopt London (and am I glad she did!).

London’s adopted mom: “London was found wondering the streets of West Seattle down by White Center with no identification. Seattle Animal Control packed him up in the back of their vehicle for the long ride to the Seattle Animal Shelter. His origins are unknown, however, he understands some Spanish.

When London arrived at the Seattle Animal Shelter he was provided a name “Simon.” He was checked for a microchip and one was found, but it had expired. He was temperament tested, fixed and put in one of the pens on display for all the potential adopters. He was on display for quite awhile, 30 days and the Shelter was about ready to send him to a foster home so he would not have to stay any longer in the stressful environment of the Shelter.

Close to the 30th day he had been incarcerated I walked into the viewing room and looked at all the dogs. I asked the Shelter volunteer to see another dog, Biscuit, first and took him out to the play area. He was very playful and energetic, but I was told that he had separation anxiety and whined constantly when no one was home. In a condo that would not be acceptable, so Biscuit went back and I started walking down the line to see other dogs. I came across Simon (London) who puffed up and started barking and growling and I said to the Shelter volunteer, “I’m not sure.” She said, “why don’t you take him outside, where it isn’t so stressful.” I did and Simon (London) promptly crawled under the little ladder toy in the center of the outside area and wouldn’t come out. The Shelter volunteer said, “see he’s just scared. He’s really sweet to everyone here.” Needless to say I was skeptical and told them I would see how it went if I could take him home for a trial period.

When London came home he was a different dog, he was sweet, crawled into my lap and didn’t make a peep. He even made friends with my grumpy old cat Jo Jean-Claude Baptiste, even after Jo made a vicious attack on London. In that instant I knew London was a keeper. He is a great snuggle buddy and is always there when I have a tough day. When I say “hugs” he jumps up and gives me a huge hug.

London has been on many adventures going on 10 to 15 mile hikes, packing in his own gear. He loves to go swimming in the ocean and Puget Sound. His favorite activity is going on long car rides, he just kicks back with his head out the window enjoying the various smells.

He now lives with two goats, multiple chickens, two cats and a Shih Tzu. He has made fast friends with everyone, except for the goats who find it funny to headbutt him. He still tries to make friends with them because that’s just the kind of companion he is, a gentle giant who wants to make friends with everyone.”

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My Story

My Story

Hi. My name is Fido. I started my life in a happy home with other dogs. But when the economy got bad, my family moved without me. Unable to fend for myself, I went from a healthy 75 pounds to just 55 pounds of skin and bones before the nice people from the local shelter found me.

At the shelter, everyone was so nice, but it was noisy and I was scared. I didn’t know where my family was, nothing smelled familiar, and there were no cushy couches. But I had food, water and shelter and I started to put on weight again.

As luck would have it, a lovely rescue agency took me into their program and I was placed with a lovely foster family that had other dogs for me to romp around with while I interviewed prospective Forever Families.

I met several families, but nothing worked out until I met this couple and they took me home to see if we’d all get along well. It’s been nearly three years since that couple became my Forever Family and in that time I’ve learned to relax and trust them, show them my clown side, and enjoy life to its fullest.

My experience has helped me understand the plight of other dogs that have not yet been so lucky as I have. There are great dogs out there looking for Forever Homes, if only people would give them a chance.

I hope that you’ll follow my tales of dog adoptions and that you will encourage others to consider adopting a dog.

With Love,
Fido

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