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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pit Bulls Are Dogs Too!

Last Saturday, October 23rd, I had the privilege of volunteering at the Humane Society of Greater Akron.

It was National Pit Bull Awareness Day and they decided to celebrate it, since we have quite a few Pitties and Pit mixes there.

Ohio is, I believe, the only state that has breed specific legislation that names Pits and Pit-types in specific. The mere fact that we have this biased law acutely shames me as a native Ohioan of over 10 generations. I am going to write to all my state reps as soon as this stupid, ridiculously annoying election is over! (And there are the even stupider insurance companies! I need say no more!)

I think the Staff and the event organizers should get Huge Kudos. They had Myth-Busting Pit Facts posted all over the place, a most informational display of Pits in History and Pits Who Are Own Their Famous People.

AND the best...(fanfare, please):

Pick The Pit!

(Frankly, I think the whole display should be a permanent one at the shelter. It might answer a lot of questions as we guide guests who come on tours.)

Pick The Pit! was a wall display of about 15 breeds, all purebred, including a Lab, American Bull Dog, Dogo Argentino, a Rottweiler, a Fila, etc. I did guess a lot of them correctly but I didn't guess the Pit. Nor did most people including some staff!!! We had a prize of a raffle ticket if you guessed it right at the first crack. No one got it right the first guess!. Most people guessed the picture of the Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog as the Pit, myself included. There were a lot of bully breeds in the Pick The Pit pictures but it just goes to show. We just don't know! Appearances can be deceiving.

Until I started volunteering at the HSGA almost 2 years ago, I had had almost no interaction with Pits or the "Bully" Breeds except at AKC and UKC shows. I knew folks who had Boxers, Frenchies, English Bulldogs, etc. All I knew (and it wasn't much) was that they were strong, exuberant dogs. What training I had was from my wonderful old instructor Pat Piazza. She pretty much taught us "dogs are dogs" and she expected good behavior and focus from all dogs, from the Chihuahuas to the Rotties and Giant Schnauzers we had in class. It was from her firm tutelage that I learned to not be afraid of Rottweilers. They were my first "Bully" Teachers almost 17 years ago.

I'd read tons of dog books, watched videos, took 5 years of classes, trained and showed dogs, show them for other people on a limited basis, got CGCs, Therapy, Agility and obedience titles on my own dogs. Etc. etc. etc. Blah-blah-blah.....

When I began to volunteer at the Humane Society, I learned that all I know about dogs is Jack. These abandoned, neglected dogs have been my teachers. And since the HSGA has so many Pitties and Pit Mixes, my teachers have almost all been Pitties!

Guess what? I still don't know Jack! I learn every time I interact with the dogs, the super staff, the other volunteers.

Let me tell you what I HAVE learned about Pitties:

*They ARE strong, exuberant dogs. But so are Newfoundlands and Malamutes! If you've ever have one of those breeds jump on you at 100+ pounds, you'd get what I'm saying. I had a 28 pound dog that NEVER got the whole "walking on a loose leash" thing ever. Yes, there are some of the bigger dogs (regardless of breed) that I don't feel physically equipped to walk. But I've learned that it has nothing to do with "OMG, it's a Pit!"

* I've learned to love those ridiculously fast-wagging, whip-like, "dangerous." tails. (Yes, I've heard that, I swear!) Ha-ha! Whatever. So is a Lab tail. Just ask any Lab owner and they'll tell you The Lab Tail is a great way to clear your coffee table! When a Pittie is doing the whole Happy Butt Tail Wag it becomes a rubber pretzel of joy!

*Many of the Pitties I've met at the HSGA will try to sit in your lap and give you kisses, just like a nice little lap dog. They often succeed. They just weigh more and have bigger tongues! There is something really cool about having this wiggling bundle of love flop at your feet to get belly rubs. Or put their magnificent heads on your leg, sigh, relax, sending loving warmth through your body.

And perhaps the most important thing:

*Beauty and love comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. The Pits at the HSGA are a rainbow of colors!

Although I really love my Australian Cattledogs and I think I'd always want one or be involved with them, one of the most important things I've learned working as a volunteer at the HSGA is the "right" dog for you (or me) may be the one you least expect. It might be a Pitbull! Twenty years ago I'd never heard of Cattledogs. Seventeen years ago, I never would have thought I would be a decent Cattledog mom.

I learned that to be prejudiced about a breed or breed type (say, The Bully Breeds) makes as much sense as the attitudes I've gotten over the years because of my vision.

"My wife/husband will NEVER GET a Pitbull so forget it, I won't even look at them!" makes as much sense as: "Look at you! You read close, your eyes are funny-looking so you can't do this or that." How do you KNOW unless you let me try?

Or, "I won't let that person of color (or sex) operate on me, fix my car, be my friend!" In this day and age, we KNOW that is offensive, ignorant and bloody unfair! How do you KNOW? That person could save your life, be Super-Reliable Mr/Ms. Fix-it or be your life-long best friend.

Question: How are these things different from the Pit Mis-Judgments?

Answer: they are not.

How do you know unless you look at EVERY dog as "just a dog" that you're not standing right in front of your canine soul-mate?

How do you know if that particular Pit isn't the prefect dog for you? It's a DOG, for heaven's sake. But if we don't change the stupid laws and educate people, how will anyone be able to make an educated choice?

Here's another idiotic argument: "Well, you can't "DO" anything with a Pit! They're just fighting dogs and that's it!" (I swear, I have heard this one too!)

Boy, you need to scope out the activities in the AKC (now that they are giving Limited Status to mixed breeds) and the UKC which has AMBOR registries. You can compete with your dog, any dog, in Agility, Obedience, Flyball, Weight Pulling etc. There's Tracking, Therapy, Cart-Pulling, Back-Packing, or the ultimate: Search & Rescue or Assistance Dog! And you need to scope out the Pitties and Pit Mixes who have excelled in all these different arenas. It's all time, training and talent (the dog's), really. I personally enjoy competing in and participating in Dog Activities with my dogs. At the moment, I'm not sure I've got any dog in my house to do stuff with! Maybe my young dog. Maybe The Unknown Dog in my future.

Maybe there is a Pit in my future. I have no idea. We have three dogs now and that's plenty! But my experience at the HSGA has taught me that when I will go looking for a dog in the future, I will see if the dog is right for MY lifestyle. I will see if our energies match! And I will keep my mind and heart open to ANY breed!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The B", Oct 15th, 2010

Here's a little slide show of a weekend with my family.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Life Experience #26,762

Well, I certainly can add this to my list. Not my Bucket List, however! I've done a lot of wacky things in my lifetime thus far but this was a new experience.

Short tale. Car trouble. Pulled over on an Exit Ramp, waiting for AAA. I have to pee. I have to pee NOW. No trees or bushes except behind a fence. All open space and cars everywhere. This actually did happen to me before in Arkansas on a hot summer day but we were driving the Blazer and I could make the potty thing happen where I couldn't be seen.

I'm practically in tears I have to pee so badly. My options were few and none of them are appealing. I never should have drank that Mountain Dew!

Mr. Helpful, seeing that after all my intense preparation work and careful positioning, I couldn't "get started," began to make me laugh. I didn't know whether to kill him or kiss him. I truly hate when you really have to pee, find a convenient tree, get yourself all situated and nothing comes out. Nothing.

It took a while but finally, things got started. I can honestly say that I have now peed into a Mr. Hero Medium 12 oz. Drink Cup in the back seat of a car and didn't make a mess. Two glasses full.

Later, as we were still waiting for the tow truck to come (it took about 2 + hours for him to get there), just as a conversational piece I asked my dear Spousal Unit:

"So what do you think are the most important things in a relationship?"

Without missing a beat, he comes back with, "Well, right now I'd say a 12 oz. Mr. Hero Drink Cup."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Funny Dog Story, Part 2

A friend of mine commented, "Don't you wish you had that on tape!! THAT could win a prize on America's Funniest Videos!!"

I think we were laughing too hard to hold the camera still.

Funny thing was, we figured "Monkey see, monkey do." So we asked Elke to try it again. After a minute of watching Elke nose the purse, Jesse sighed, got up again and brought the purse to Marty. At his feet. He told her he couldn't get it and yep, she dumped it in his lap.

"OK, stupid. Where's my D**n cookie?" she seemed to ask.


Funny Dog Story

Funny story: this past weekend we were trying to get Elke to fetch my purse. She can get papers, the newspaper, a book, a remote, keys, a spoon, bring you her bone out of her crate, put one in there, etc.

Now she has had "chewing on fabric" issues from day one, which we gotten after her for. So she would nose the purse, but she wouldn't pick it up. We're encouraging her, "Elke, I can't get it! Bring it here!" No way. I can see her internal conflict.

Winger is standing there, like, "Ooooooooooooh, myyyyy, God, there is FOOD involved and they want SOMEONE to DO SOMETHING! What do I dooooo?" So very anxious to please but totally clueless. Jesse is lying down in the corner, basically ignoring the whole thing..

This is been going on for about 5-7 minutes and I'm getting ready to tell Marty to let her get something she knows, so he can end the session on a high note.

Marty is speaking in this really happy encouraging tone, "Bring it her, girl, bring it here!" when all of a sudden Jesse heaves herself up, cone and all, grabs the purse, and throws it at Marty's' feet.

Her unpsoken dialogue: "HERE!, A------e!" (Fill in the blank.)

She gives Elke and Winger a dirty look and lays down.

Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Day of Volunteering

I think I may have seen it all at my "job" yesterday. I haven't been able to go for a about a month and a half, life impeding as it sometimes does. My "job" is as a a volunteer for the Humane Society of Greater Akron. (don't ask me why the darn links aren't working.....)

I hope you'll visit the links! Sorry they're not clickable!

I watch the staff bust their butts every day. I have so much admiration for them, I can't begin to tell you. They are almost always willing to talk to you and and answer questions you might have. It's an incredibly hard job. Very physically demanding. And I can't imagine the mental strain as well. I don't think they get nearly the credit or kudos they deserve.

I think every person, especially the self-entitled ones, should work (or volunteer) at a shelter AND in food service. Both are hard and humbling and I think, make you a better human being.

I gave two tours, which I really enjoy doing. I petted some cats, helped another really brave volunteer brush out mats in in a long haired cat and talked with some of the really Big Kahuna Cat volunteer-trainers. I don't usually mess with the kittens, they're adorable and all; but everyone seems to mess with kittens.

I sat in the door of the cage of a lovely Pittie girl named Tassie. She was favouring a back leg and so, of course, I didn't walk her. She has the cutest face and she's very eager and curious. So we hung for a few minutes. Just giving and getting some love!

One the hardest moments was seeing one of the staff guys washing a black Lab-mix dog they had just gotten in. Poor old lady, she had sores on her legs, was missing hair and getting a bath. I helped dry her off. It bends my biscuit that someone just "neglected" to feed her. Yeah, whatever. There was a sadness in her eyes, a resignation, confusion too.

On my next visit to "work," one of my self-appointed "jobs" was to give some lap time to a white cat, Kiska. She just loves to be held and petted. She's no crazy kitten, just a lover.

I hung out with a special peanut of a dog, Bitsy. She is so active, but when she finally decided to give me a lap snuggle....aaaah! She's a really cool little dog! I grew up with Yorkies, so that energy is familiar to me.

I also hung out and gave belly rubs to Miss Nessie. She looks like a Vizsla with big bones! There's even a video of her at this link!!

I think the biggest lessons I've learned while volunteering at the HSGA is "all that I know about dogs is that I know nothing at all!" And how much love those dogs can give: it's amazing. I had never been around any "bully" breeds before, not really. (Closest were Rottweilers.) They are really strong pullers when I walk them --- but they are also face lickers, lap sitters and big lovers. I was not breed-prejudiced before, just had had no experience with them. Some serious love there!

I'm looking forward to helping with the National Pitbull Awareness Day coming up at the HSGA on Oct. 23rd. People need to know --- it's not the BREED. It's idiot people. Like the ones who abused the black Lab mix.

I guess stupid and cruel knows no breed. What gets me is ignorance about a breed. Get ed-u-ma-cated, people!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Singer On The Roof

OK, I admit it. I'm a big old chicken when it comes to roofs, ladders, that sort of "up high, no railings" thing. I've been to the top of the Empire State Bldg. World Trades' Center, the Eiffel Tower, etc. I did draw the line at going to the top of the Tower of Pisa for months. Hey, the darn thing LEANS! (I think I finally relented at the end of my time there, just to say I had done it. I never told Mom; she would have had kittens!)

We had to unplug the wood stove chimney. That means taking off the top of the stack. That means going out on the roof. Luckily, it's only one story and does not have a steep pitch. But it's still a roof. I managed to get out there and get the cap off, dropping part of it off the roof and over the fence (of course). At that point, my courage ran out on me. Our next door neighbor, Tanner, ended up putting the stupid cap back on. But that was much, much later.

Birds' nests throughout the whole chimney. I need say no more. Gross and time-consuming. I'm never afraid to get dirty. However, bird stuff does bother me. And to top it off, something stung me on the neck while I was trying to dislodge the mess. Marty was getting more pokey things to put up the chimney. Don't ask me what stung me because I have no idea. Could have been an aboriginal dart for all I know.

Now I ask you: Why would anyone want to sing on a roof, more or less fiddle? As long as I was looking out (not down) and not near the edge, I was fine. The minute I was on the edge, panic started to set it. I remember telling myself to stay calm and breath. Fat lot of good that did.

I am not as brave as I'd like to be. It's very disheartening sometimes.

The 2011 GP Calendar Has Begun.....

Here is the cover....

Yes, I decided that Puppies Rule! I love being The Boss!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Embarassing Moment #3,647

Marty is hugging me. We are separated by the bottom half of the Dutch door leading into our den. We're having a nice moment, when he exclaims loudly to our boy dog,

"Winger! Dude! That is some awful, bad, poo breath you have!"

Sheepishly: "That's not Winger. It's me..." (and it wasn't my breath either. The other end....)

He couldn't stop laughing for about five minutes.

Lucky for me, I laughed too.

But still....mortifying. Usually the dog gets blamed.