Monday, April 28, 2008

Three Amigos: Living with a Pack

When I tell people I live in a zoo, I'm only half kidding.

At the moment, the current count is 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 hamsters, and a 100 gallon fishtank. I've always surrounded myself with animals and I suspect when I finally move it will be to a farm (I have my eye on a pig, goats, and miniature horses). I mean, who doesn't adore being followed to the bathroom? Or constantly tripping on chew toys? Or waking up with something furry asleep on your face? My idea of heaven, really.

So when I decided to add Miso Luvlee, my beloved Pit Bull, to my existing pack of two - Harley the Pug and Chubby the French Bulldog - I figured I would be tripling the fun. And tripled things have, although it's definitely more than fun I'm getting extra doses of!

I've heard people say 1 dog is easy, and 2 is fun, but 3 is work. While there's definitely some truth to that, I think it depends on the combination of dogs you have too. With certain breeds come certain challenges, and as you can guess, it's been quite a challenge training and managing my.....Pug.

That's right. Of all three dogs - Pug, Frenchie, Pit Bull - the one with the glaringly difficult issues is the wee Pug. (Please don't tell her I called her "wee" - I'll get an earful for weeks).

On any given day, I can be heard yelling for one or more reasons:
1) Somebody is trying to scrape the flesh off my legs, begging for breakfast to come sooner. Honestly, what kind of kitchen is this?
2) Somebody peed on the couch leg. Or my favorite blanket. I mean, gosh Mom, you just LEFT it there.
3) Somebody eats a turd. Don't ask.
4) Somebody chases the cat. Apparently the Triple Crown for pet dogs is fast approaching, and speed is everything.
5) Somebody barks their head off. The dogs next door have wildly fascinating things to say, and conversations must be kept at full volume for the benefit of the neighborhood.

But that "somebody" is not Miso! Of course, any dog can develop bad habits. I fully accept my complicity in rendering my first furry child a spoiled brat. (And honestly, for as much as I complain here, I truly adore ALL three of my dogs). But gosh, it sure is nice to have a Pit Bull.

When I yell, "QUIET!" the Pit Bull is the first to stop barking.
When I demand the kitty pursuit cease, the Pit Bull turns around and comes back to me. Apologetically.
When I catch my wolf-pack devouring the dirt in my potted plants, the Pit Bull somberly comes back into the house (with the Frenchie in tow, and the Pug still head first in the pot).
I have yet to have a potty accident on my favorite blanket or elsewhere from the PB.

It's not that Miso is perfect. But, true to her breed, what I think of her matters to her. A LOT. In fact, my boyfriend and I have a running joke about our Pit Bulls. Scold them and they'll be needing to call their therapists. I mean the regret and remorse is absolutely tragic, dahling. They practically can't keep on living in such shame. The miserable look on their faces, the pathetic slump of their dejected bodies.....somebody fetch the leather armchair, quick!

But that's a Pit Bull. Cuddle they must, scold them they bust!

Granted, I'm responsible with my pack too. Everybody is crated when I leave, no valuable treats or chew toys are left on the floor, everyone eats in their crate, I keep tabs on their play, things like that. And yeah, it can be a hassle sometimes. But the payoff is HUGE. Who wouldn't want their life filled with this much cuteness?? ~ Stephanie Lam, Our Pack volunteer

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dog Loving

One of these days I hope the word "fighting" will no longer have to be associated with Pit Bulls. Despite their lineage, I don’t see Pit Bulls confiscated from fighting rings as "dog fighters." "Animals abused by cowards" would be more like it.

In March, Leo came with me to the Alternative Placement Academy ( One of the things I mentioned to the kids was that only cowards fight their dogs, NOT brave men. “If someone wants to have a fight, so be it. But don’t have your dog do your fighting for you - work it out.” Their supervisor wrote me a few days later and said, “….any information we can give the cadets regarding how bad dog fighting is and how animals should be treated is so important. I thought it was great when you told them that cowards have their dogs fight for them. Thank you for all your help.”

The people who teach and lead our children see the importance of putting a sense of humanity back into our society. They see the downward spiral that can occurs in a society that engages in and endorses barbaric, abusive activities like dog fighting. They understand that it’s not the dogs’ fault - it’s the human being’s (lack of) responsibility.

In doing rescue, I've found that dogs that come from fight busts do astonishingly well in homes, make great pets, and some (like Leo and Zoe) have even become therapy dogs. It's not because we're transforming them into what they could become, it's that we're unearthing who they truly are. A positive, well-managed environment and good training brings their inherent human-loving trait out. It's no surprise these Pit Bulls seem to be born for therapy work.

Ultimately, it's about who is guiding the dog. Dogs are not doctors and lawyers for a reason! They don’t make executive decisions, we do. They depend on US for guidance. So what THEY do, we are responsible for…..period.

I think this picture shows how these dogs just bring the love out of someone. Hopefully putting these kids on the right track towards love, respect, and most importantly, responsibility for the life of an animal.

While one might say I'm simply defending Pit Bulls, I'd have to disagree. There's nothing to defend as they are not guilty. (Any guilty parties are the people involved, not the dogs). But it is a plea for folks to recognize the real root of the situation - the cause and effect that people have with dogs.

Marthina McClay