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Monday, May 14, 2012

American Pit Bull

Having a Pit Bull is one of the greatest experiences of my life. These dogs are not for everyone and it is a good idea to educate yourself on the breed before making your purchase or adopting. This video is a clip from the discovery channel that showcases the American Pit Bull. They are truly a strong tenacious breed that requires patience and lots of love. They are painted by the press as demon dogs, however we are quick to forget they are a part of the American fabric.

The video shows the history of the breed. Many people do not understand how important they were to Americans. they also talk about the negative press and breed bans in different cities. I like the way they present the breed, except when they talk about snapping. They touch on responsible dog ownership and the importance of socialization at a young age. the video also shows the anatomy of the Pit Bull. This was interesting how they develop their jaw strength. I really enjoyed this video and the positive messages about rescuing Pit Bulls from shelters.

Our Story

My partner is not in love with my dog as I am. About two years ago while in a transition in my life I decided that I wanted to have something to take care of. I knew that I could not handle a baby at this point in my life, so I decided I wanted a puppy. Besides we lived in the most dog-friendly place around and I felt the neighborhood needed another member.

A friend of mine had told me about a litter of pit-bulls. They were from a good local breeder that she was interested in. The breeder was trying to get rid of the litter and had reduced the price dramatically, and if I wanted one. When I arrived at the breeders house there was one puppy, which was the runt on the litter staying away from the pack. I knew when I saw her that she was the puppy for me. She came up to me and picked up her head and looked into my soul. I couldn't resist, I had to have her. She was just the cutest little thing you have ever seen. The first thing she did when I picked her up is take her paw and put it on my cheek. I took some time and discussed with the owners the whole process of growing the puppies and the temperament of the parents which were there on the premise.

However, there was one problem, I lived with partner who did not want a dog and had told me on several occasions that we should not get a dog because we are never home. Plus, we lived in a one-bedroom condo and there was no space for a dog to stay. I put his advisement to the side and decided to bring this puppy home anyway and deal with the ramifications later. I had always grew up with dogs and I felt was financially secure and had a good home to offer. She would be my little princess. I would need to go shopping and made a list of supplies to pick up on the way home.

1. Puppy Food - I decided to keep her on the puppy food the breeder had started her on, so I wouldn't upset her tummy.

2. Toys - Puppies like to chew so I decided to get her a couple different Kong Toys.

3. A crate - I purchased a large crate (puppy apartment) with a divider so I could adjust as she grew. My thought was she was going to grow fast and I would not have to keep replacing the crates.

4. Puppy Wee-Wee Pads - This would be so she would have a spot to go when we were not home.

5. Carpet Cleaner- An absolute must if you have carpet, just make sure it is safe for puppies.

6. Fleece Blankets - I picked up some extra blankets to keep her warm that were only hers. I made sure they were washable.

7. Flea and Tick medicine for puppies - I also purchased a bottle of puppy shampoo.

8. Food Bowls - I bought small ones for food and water.

9. Collar and Leash - I wanted her to get used to a collar as soon as possible, and walking on a leash.

10. Nail Clipper and File - Puppies nails grow fast so I wanted to be prepared.

I put my new puppy, which I named Mischa in an old cat carrier and set on my journey home. When I arrived home my partners car was already there and my heart started to pump. I was scared that he would make me take the dog back. So I went inside to see what kind of mood he was in and found him asleep. I thought great, this was my opportunity to get the dog inside. i brought her in and put the carrier in the kitchen where I could set up some training pads and gates.

When he woke up he was like “ What the hell is this....”. When he is mad he calls me by my last name, he was mad and I must have heard my last name a million times. He told me to get the dog out of the house. I fought him for about an hour before I said I would take her back. Well I figured I would soften him up over time and we would be able keep her. He likes to act stone cold sometimes but, I know he is a big teddy bear.

One day I saw my partner and Mischa playing on the floor. At that moment I knew that Mischa would be a part of our family forever. He eventually came around and realized we should have done this earlier. He likes to take her out in the car and to the park. Mischa comes everywhere with us, she is such a good dog and really likes to run the roads. She is perfect for our busy lifestyle, and we love her more and more every day. And while I am writing this he is out walking Mischa happy as can be.

If Mischa could talk....

If Mischa could talk she would tell me I love you everyday. Instead of using those desperate eyes, trying to communicate what she wants, she would start every sentence with "Mom, can we...?" I know every evening she would tell me after our walk that she wants to go for a ride in the car. She would tell me that she wants to go for a hamburger at the local drive-thru. Then she would tell me that she wants to go to the park to visit her friends from play group. She would tell me she likes to play with the funny looking donut toy and teasing her friends.

Every morning Mischa tries to communicate me, if she could talk, it would be easier for her. She does a good job trying to tell me things with her suggestive behavior. In the morning before I leave for work and right after our morning walk she sits in the hallway with those sad eyes, just looking at me. When I grab my keys she picks up her head in hopes I say let's go to work. If she could suggest that everyday was a good day to go to work. She would also convince me that she would be on her best behavior.

Before bed, she would request something to chew on like a meat bone. Sometimes I think that she would tell me to be quiet because she has to rest up for the next day. She might even complain she is a light sleeper and suffers from sleep apnea. Mischa snores so loud the neighbors can hear it. She would also request a quick tummy rub before retiring to her bed for the evening. You have to love dogs!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Find Maddy!

Home on a Monday and I had just let Mischa out on the porch to eat her bone, when I heard my neighbor yelling out for her dog, Maddy. I had hoped she would find Maddy on their back porch, sitting there waiting to be let back in the house. The calls within seconds were becoming louder and more frantic, when I heard my neighbor say to Mischa on the porch “help me Mischa, find Maddy”. I knew that moment it was different from the others and called Mischa inside and told her to “find Maddy!” We went outside and immediately began to walk the neighborhood calling out for the lost little beagle. Mischa was walking and sniffing the ground and ignoring the other dogs around. When I went to turn up the hill Mischa pulled back on the leash. I thought she was being stubborn, but little did I know she had a plan to find her friend. Mischa began to walk in the opposite direction towards the property fence. There was an old door in the fence that was cracked open. Mischa led me through the fence into my neighbor’s yard.

She kept walking and sniffing the ground for about a mile while I called for the missing dog. Then out of nowhere I heard that distinctive beagle yell. It was Maddy! Mischa walked all the way to the end of the street. Just then a man came walking out and asked if I was looking for a dog. He said he heard the dog barking in the back and allowed me access to his property. Mischa and I walked all the way to back of his property and called for little Maddy. We did not hear anything, but Mischa kept pulling into a patch of dense woods where I could not go. I was afraid to let her off the leash in fear that she would lose herself. I pulled her back and said let’s go.

I thought Maddy had moved once she heard us calling her, so I returned to the main road. Once we were up there we heard her again, by this time I had called her owner to meet me and she had arrived in the car. We went down to where we heard Maddy, back to that man’s property and she was found only about 15 feet from where Mischa had been trying to pull into the woods the first time. Maddy’s leash was stuck on an old stone wall and she was immobile. Maddy was about a mile away from the house when she was found. Mischa had never been trained to search and rescue, but that day she understood what she needed to do. Once we were back in our yard Mischa began to run around with a big smile on her face as to tell the world “I found Maddy and she’s safe!” I am so proud to be a pit bull parent….

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Interview with Animal Farm Foundation Volunteer

For this interview with an Animal Farm Foundation volunteer I wanted to explore the experience of helping out at the Foundation and gain knowledge of the process and techniques used. The reason I chose a volunteer is I hope to inspire others to take action and to volunteer with shelter dogs, especially Pit Bulls.

The truth is many organizations could not survive without their faithful volunteers. Many times volunteers out number the paid staff. It is important to remember that volunteers do their work out of good will and deserve much respect. While many Executive Directors receive the credit for excellent work, it is the actual volunteer/workers that are the true hero's. They are truly an asset to any organization.

The way I connected with volunteer Vivian is through the Foundation. She has been a top volunteer for a while and has a lot of experience working with Pit Bulls. Previously, I have discussed the Animal Farm Foundation in my blog and wrote about their website and work they do with Pit Bulls. To view the blog on the Foundation click here. Below is the interview with Vivian. Thanks to Vivian for making time to educate me and you on the process of volunteering at the Foundation.

If you are interested in volunteering for the AFF after reading this interview, please click here.

Q: How long have you volunteered for the Animal Farm Foundation?

A: From March 2009 to September 2011

Q: What was the process you went through to become a volunteer?

A: Filled out an application

Q: How long have you been volunteering?

A: I’ve always done some sort of volunteering on and off in my life.  I think the first volunteering I did was as a teenager for Meals on Wheels.

Q: How do you feel about the volunteer program at the Animal Farm Foundation?

A: I think they have one of the better volunteer programs that I have dealt with.  They foster a relationship with their volunteers by providing training and education and giving acknowledgement and praise for the services volunteers provide.  They work with the volunteer as an individual to make the best use of that person’s time and abilities.

Q: Can you explain your role as a volunteer in the dogs training, life, adoption, etc?

A: I began volunteering at AFF as a way to use my community service leave by spending a day per week over a few months. During that time I did a lot of dog walking!  I would walk 4 dogs a day, one at a time for a mile or so each, giving them the opportunity to get out of the kennel, have some leash training and human companionship.  I also did some computer work for them consolidating and updating contact lists, etc.  They also hold training classes for the shelter dogs and I would work with one of the dogs in the class.  Lastly, if I had extra time, I would spend some snuggle time with one of the dogs.

After spending time there and getting to know some of the dogs I discovered that one particular dog had been there over a year, probably because she needed to find a home without other animals.  I had a particular fondness for this dog, as did many of the staff, and asked if I could begin to bring her along to work with me one day a week to give her time away from the kennel and work on her training in an environment that would give her more exposure to people.  Not long after that she was adopted and I continued bringing a dog to work one day a week.  At first it was a different dog each week which was more difficult because it was an introduction to something new for them each week requiring more time and energy from me, taking me away from my work.  I then requested to work with the same dog each week until they were adopted and that worked better. I also fostered dogs at home some of the time.

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer at this organization?

A: I was interested in Pit Bull rescue, they are conveniently located, and they were willing to work with my skills and availability.

Q: What best do you like about the volunteer work?

A: I like the satisfaction of knowing that I can lend a helping hand to someone whether they are human or animal. 

Q: Did it require special training, classes, or certification to work with the dogs?

A: I didn’t have to go through formal training, but I chose to learn their methods of working with the dogs so that the dogs had consistency.  AFF also invited the volunteers to attend any programs for other organizations and the community that were held at their facility.  It also helped that I have a lifetime of working with and training dogs.

Q. Do you own your own Pit Bull?

A: Yes, and he is a rescue from Philadelphia.

Q: What has been your experience with the dogs from the Foundation?

A: They have all been great dogs to work with and on more than one occasion it was difficult not to adopt one for myself.  I have never worked with a dog that made me uncomfortable, but I have worked with some dogs that had some issues to work around.

Q: Where are some of the places you take the dogs?

A: Mostly to work. Some of the dogs that we fostered at home went hiking with us and joined us when we were out in the community.

Q: What is the most challenging about the volunteer work at the Animal Farm Foundation?

A: Dealing with my allergy to dogs.

Q: Do you have any advice for Pit Bull owners or important things to know as an owner?

A: I personally feel that every dog owner, not just Pit Bull owners, should have a well mannered, well trained dog.  A dog that has a job and knows what their role is in the household is a happy dog.  Having a well mannered dog is even more important for owners of Pit Bulls because of the exploitation these dogs have had to endure.  I encourage owners to strive to have their dog be an ambassador to the breed and work to end discrimination against these dogs.  I’m not trying to say that every dog will be the socially perfect, but if you have a dog with less desirable traits for social situations then owners need to be sure that the dog isn’t put into a situation that makes him uncomfortable or where other people or dogs could be at risk.

Pit Bulls are great dogs but they are not for everyone, as with any other breed of dog the personality of the owner should be compatible with the personality of the dog.  Each dog should be looked at as an individual.