Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Cofounder of Best Friends Animal Society
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
In this spirit, I recently took my dog for a walk on a local trail to practice. As you can see, he is not a Pit Bull. He is a big, fuzzy retriever mix who is still learning how to behave on the leash, and he benefits greatly from the classes. On the trail, I kept him on a short leash, and was using high-value treats to keep his attention focused on me, just like we do in class. Things were going well, and we had passed several dogs without incident. Then, I spotted a young girl coming from the opposite direction with a large, husky type dog wandering back and forth across the trail in front of her at the end of its leash. This is the kind of thing that makes my dog nervous, so I decided to play it safe and pull off to the side to wait until they had gone by, rather than pass too close to the oncoming dog. We got as far off the trail as we were able, and I put my dog into a sit, facing him to block his view of the trail and the other dog, and got him focused on me. I was doling out the treats and he was responding well. I was really proud of him!
Suddenly he barked and lunged forward. I heard a gasp from behind me, and turned around to see the young girl pulling her dog back across the trail, looking horrified. While I was facing my dog, the girl had allowed the husky to cross the trail and approach from behind my back to “greet” my dog, in spite of what I thought were my obvious attempts to avoid them. The husky’s nose was just reaching forward to touch my dog’s when he finally decided he’d had all he could take and snapped at him. I jumped a mile and yelled something we won’t print here, and the poor young girl at the other end of the husky’s leash backed away, dragging her dog with her.
Bear, retriever mix, takes the Our Pack training class.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. Yes, the husky’s owner shouldn’t have allowed her dog to approach like that, but the handler was a young girl, she didn’t know any better. I turned my back on the other dog, focused on my own dog, and trusted that my actions would let the other owner know not to approach. I guessed wrong. And as you can see from the pic, my dog isn't a Pit Bull. He is a big, fluffy retriever mix, which the husky’s owner no doubt assumed would love to meet her dog!
What’s the lesson here? If your dog is leash reactive, you must practice "defensive dog walking". Similar to driving a car, you look all around from one side of the road to the other confidently. We are responsible for our dog as well as others' dogs. What should you do in this situation? It’s okay to stop to get control of your dog, but face the other dog, with your dog beside and behind you. Use your body language to take charge. If your tries to come forward, block him or her with your body, keep a firm hold on the leash, and claim your space, calmly and confidently. Let them know in no uncertain terms that they should keep their distance. Don’t be shy! And don’t assume the other dog’s owner knows what to do, regardless of how obvious you think the situation may be. YOU are responsible for your dog, and that includes protecting your dog from unwanted advances by other dogs and their well-meaning handlers.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The dogs we take in from local shelters, as well as the dogs from across the country that have suffered in abusive situations, give us what amounts to a huge college education. We learn so much from all of our dogs. They teach us that hope is inside of you, not outside. That hope is something you have to try out first, test, see if it's there and then go for it. They teach us that life is precious, not something to waste or destroy. They also teach us that optimism and hope is a state of mind, and can prevail even in the worst of circumstances. Wise ole souls, these dogs!
We are still helping to coordinate rescue for the very large recent HSMO bust. I just know, as we've already seen, that there are those sentient feeling beings there with hope that they will get a spot in a foster home so that their souls can begin to heal. The miracle in this work is that our souls begin to heal when theirs do.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Just a reminder to get out and have some fun with your best friends this weekend!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
How did you know Leo was cut out for therapy work?
I knew Leo would be good for this for all of the above reasons. When I first saw Leo, I could see that he had been in a kennel for a while. He had no manners and he wanted to just bounce around and be a big untrained goofball. However, although he was a goof, he was also very people-connected and affectionate. He was just rude about it. So if your dog is from a shelter, or like Leo who lived in a kennel and is from an abusive past, your dog might still be a good candidate for therapy work. All dogs are individuals, so assessment of the dog, rather than their past, is key.
Key tests are designed to reveal whether or not your dog is happy to be touched by people, all kinds of people. Then he or she must tolerate – or be socialized to if needed – wheelchairs, canes, people walking around with equipment like IVs, elevators, stairs, slippery type floors, etc.
What kind of training should I focus on to start?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Our respect goes to Leo, the former Vick dog who turned his life around to become a therapy dog.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
We need FOSTER HOMES to take these dogs in while we work with them! If you are interested in fostering a dog, please see our foster page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
I, Smiley King the dog you see in the pic above with my special Pooh Bear, went through this process myself and it was scary at first being in a new place but my friends at HSMO made me feel at home right away. In the meantime, my brothers and sisters from this bust are experiencing their first toys, peanut butter, friendly hugs and kisses from humans, and fresh bedding. I wish I could talk to them to let them know their lives made a major change for the good and they will never have to fight again.
Well heck, Zoe got adopted into an awesome home, they have toys, Kongs, balls and all the stuff that makes life wonderful! I know this is possible for all my buds out here too! Everyone should have a Pooh Bear, very comforting.
I heard that after the big bust other abused dogs outside of this case here were surrendered because their enslavers felt the heat of the FBI and HSMO. Since these dogs were owner surrenders they were able to go into rescue. But hudreds of my brothers and sisters are still waiting. Right now, I have a picture of an FBI agent and HSMO Investigator on my wall. They are my heros.
Thanks for listening,
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
April Hughes of 400 Orange Drive, Apartment 2, was also cited with harboring a dangerous dog because this is the ninth time Cruz has bitten someone, police said.
Police allege Ms. Hughes left the boy alone with the dog in the apartment and he was attacked. The boy needed 60 stitches for a head wound, police said.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Many of these dogs came into class with no leash skills, and look at them now! You’ll see pit bulls (and other breeds, the class is becoming very popular!) learning to walk together calmly, focus on their owners and relax around other dogs. The class is run by Our Pack's certified trainers and is held outside every Sunday, where we can simulate real-world situations. Best of all, it's free for Our Pack adopters, foster families and volunteers. For more information, email email@example.com.