Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pass the Pup Update

Our Pass the Puppy Program is going very well. The pups were happy to see us this week with wagging tails and smiling faces. The pups seem to like this Pass the Pup thing too! Dr. Dexter also got to work some of his magic with the little ones. We leave our shoes outside the door, put down a clean blanket, wash our hand...s (they're still getting their shots) and just love them up. We're sure to pass them around, touch them everywhere and talk to them. As we mentioned in a couple of posts back the pups came in at 10 days old and lost their parents. So we decided to get some folks together once a week to socialize them and set them up for success.
Thanks to all who are helping with this. Thanks to the fosters for bringing them to the shelter for social time. We'll post if we need more people after the 1st. Enjoy these lovely, lovely photos taken by Christine D.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Free Day Leo!

Lots of talk about Michael Vick lately. The thing I like to focus on the most regarding this subject are his former dogs. We also stay focused on dogs that are still victims of cruelty in similar cases. Today it's been 3 years since we took Leo into Our Pack as a rescue. Later I officially adopted him. Happy free day Leo! You've brought the best to us and taught us so very much so we could help others! Look how peaceful, confident and wise he looks in the pic. I love my Leo. <3

Friday, December 10, 2010

Our Pack Year in Review

Our Pack's year in review. See what we've been up to including our story of Bernie, a victim of cruelty that's teaching kids about humane treatment of animals. We'd like to include here a HUGE thanks to Animal Farm Foundation for their great support and help in getting Bernie to us! Thanks for seeing the therapy dog in... Bernie and your continued tireless help for the dogs!! We love you. See their site at
Here's our newsletter with an amendment below that was missing:

Rescue is not our only function. Our main focus through Our Pack is to try and help create a community where rescue won’t be necessary in the future. Through our 2 prong program including 2 days/week of socializing and 1 day/week of focus training for the public as well as adopters through Our Pack we’ve been very successful at helping people continue to keep their dogs by teaching them leadership skills, management, training and socialization. We not only rescue dogs but also provide education and guidance for the community . It’s an ongoing 24/7 job that we all absolutely love. Changes in community awareness and responsible ownership is what we are trying to achieve so that our dogs no longer have to suffer, be abandoned, abused, fought and most of all, profiled. Thanks to all the generous people who donated to Our Pack this year and helped us not just rescue but make better lives for our dogs. Your continued donations to Our Pack help us achieve these goals. We are a 501c3 non-profit organization so your donations are tax deductable. We truly appreciate your continued support and help…so do the dogs!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pit Bull Mix is National Dock Diving Champ!

We love to highlight positive Pit Bull news when we see it! Check out this story from yesterday's San Jose Mercury News about Aries, a rescued Pit Bull mix who is making headlines as a national champion dock jumper:

Formerly lost San Jose mutt now a national champion of little-known sport of dock-jumping

By Sean Webby

Three years ago, a troubled, traumatized pit bull mix puppy with the coloring of a Rorschach test was picked up by the San Jose Animal Care and Control. He had been abandoned or became lost leaping after squirrels through the streets of San Jose.

Last month, Aries -- now considerably mellowed with St. John's Wort and the gentle stewardship of his new owner, Ursula Kinley -- raced down a slender dock at a Las Vegas pool, soared through the air and splashed down just shy of 30 feet away. With that astonishing leap, Aries became a national champion -- for the second year in a row.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pack Walking

For some training fun, get some dog friends together and practice walking your dogs in a group. Over the years we've practiced pack walks like this in the Sunday Our Pack classes just for fun and to help the dogs to relax. It's good to change directions to get the dogs used to staying calm while walking towards other dogs, while keeping a comfortable distance.

Here's a video from the Sunday Our Pack class:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Your Pups Featured in Our Pack Calendar!

We'd like to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who submitted photos for the 2011 Our Pack calendar! We had a great response to our call for photos, and we loved reading your stories about what your Pitties have meant to you. We wish we could have included every photo! Thank you for sharing your photos and stories with us, and thank you for your tremendous support!

Get them now! Our Pack 2011 Calendars are available here:

We received lots of photos! Unfortunately, not all of them could be used. Some tips for submitting your photos for next year's calendar:
  1. Make sure the photo is in focus. We received some darling shots that were too blurry to use.
  2. Set your camera to its highest quality settings. In order to look good in print, photos need to be as large and high resolution as possible.
  3. Try to avoid "green eyes" when using flash and shooting in overly dark environments indoors. Outdoor shots tend to be best for capturing those cute Pitty faces!
  4. We can only use photos you possess the rights to; professional pet portraits must be submitted by the photographer or come with a written release.
Thanks again everyone and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It's best to have your pup around lots of people that provide positive experiences early on and dogs that can set good examples. Of course sometimes even when we do all the right things issues can still come up. Dogs do have a better chance with good social structure and management set in early on. Nice video of some ...calm relaxed behavior.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Join Us for Pit Bull Awareness Day!

Come join us in celebrating our favorite dogs this Saturday, October 23rd for Pit Bull Awareness Day hosted by Our Pack at Humane Society Silicon Valley! Ask questions, meet Pit Bulls, talk about Pit Bulls and get lots of info about our favorite dogs! We'll have some handouts, brochures and some pups to pet. We'll be at HSSV from 11:30 - 1:30, at 901 Ames Ave., Milpitas CA. See you there!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cross your fingers for Ted

Ted went off to his foster (with intent to adopt) home last night. He was a bit undersocialized when we first got him but he's doing great now. Eric, Christie and baby Jake took him home after Ted and baby Jake fell for each other. I'd like to thank Judy for fostering Ted and giving him the best of everything! Here's a showing the beginning of a life long love affair between Jake and Ted.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Lost Dogs on the NY Times Best Seller List!

Leo has an announcement to make! The Lost Dogs is #10 on the New York Times bestseller list! The list will be in the paper on October 10! Congrats to wonderful author Jim Gorant! Thank you for being a voice for the dogs who all along have deserved to be heard. Still available at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Meet Bernie

He's a victim of cruelty. He came from a dogfighting raid out of state. We've worked with many victims that have come from similar places and one thing we see is that many times they don't know how to live in homes. They don't know what a couch is or toys. We know one thing, Bernie LOVES to be loved as you...'ll see here and he's getting lots of that! Welcome Bernie to Our Pack and stay tuned for his progress. Here he is in this clip checking out what a chair is.....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Leo, Former Vick Dog, Featured on CBS

Our Pack’s Leo, the former Vick dog who is now a therapy dog, was featured on KPIX, the local CBS station, last night. Thanks to Len Ramirez for the great interview and footage of Leo at work! Watch the video here:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Former Vick dog Leo with staff after visiting patients

Leo the therapy dog soothes patients after visiting patients in the oncology center.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dexter gets an award...

Dexter's super happy because he won an Achievement Award from Animal Farm Foundation for his work at the Children's Library. Dexter sits while kids read to him to gain confidence in reading. Video: To find out more about how you can win an Achievement Award for working with yo...ur partner go to They're awesome!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The future of our dogs....
For people in Santa Clara County, California:
County Supervisor Ken Yeager is trying to get an ordinance passed that Pit Bulls must be spayed and neutered. This will be presented at the County meeting on tomorrow August 10th. If passed, this would apply to unincorporated areas of Santa Clara county. While we believe spaying and neutering is important to keep down the number of homeless pets, this ordinance will make it difficult for low income families to comply to this who can't afford these services. This brings about the potential for people to lose their dogs in addition to the fact that it's breed specific legislation, isolating one breed. Education on socializing/training and low/no cost programs for spay/neuter are far more helpful.
I feel that this was a knee jerk reaction to the Concord incident. Here's why I have a problem with that. Issues in the Concord situation:

1.Dog/child supervison seemed to be lacking.
2. Male dogs not neutered contained in a garage.
3 .Level of socialization was questionable in this case due to the fact that they were in the garage. Well socialized dogs are living in homes with their families...not the garage.
4.The man knew his dog was uncomfortable around kids.
5. In his interview from jail he specifically stated that his lack of knowledge about dog behavior is what caused this. That is apparent.
= not a specific breed's fault.

Another thing that bothers me is that I'm a dog trainer by trade. Just this last month there was a German Shepard that damaged a 17 yr old boy's leg. I'm assuming if he was 2 he would have been killed. This never made the papers and the boy's father was forgiving in this situation.

Another case this month was a Golden Retriever that bit a child in the arm damaging tendons causing disability. I hate to bring these things up but this was also never reported in the papers.

I see cases like these and the situations have similar circumstances such as above in all cases. NONE of the items have anything to do with breed......but species....humans.

Please contact:
Supervisor Don Gage - District 1

Supervisor George Shirakawa - District 2

Supervisor Dave Cortese - District 3

President/Supervisor Yeager - District 4

Supervisor Liz Kniss - District 5

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kemo's Home

Here's Kemo smiling and happy leaving for St. Louis. He arrived at Mutts N Stuff yesterday from Oakland Animal Services to start his new life as a therapy dog and working with kids. We helped to coordinate Mutts N Stuff of Missouri and OAS in rescue efforts to help this sweetheart of a dog start anew. M...utts has a house called Pheonix House for blind dogs. We posted the article a couple of days ago - have a good life Kemo! We miss you already! See video of Kemo leaving California Original article here: More

Monday, August 2, 2010

Groups coming together to help dogs

Nice article on groups working together to help dogs. Director of Oakland Animal Services told us she was misquoted in the last line in the article however. (Click on the Heading to read the full article)

Goes to show what groups can do when they work together.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More of Dexter at the Paws to Read Program

Dexter was working at the Children's Libray again this weekend. In this session, Dexter was facing the girl and the book initially then turned around. Our student began scratching him as she continued to read and then he could hardly keep his eyes open!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Continuation of a Theme

To continue with the same theme of socialization, it occurred to me today after speaking with a person who may have to give up their dog that there is more to this story. I don't truly believe that people get a dog thinking that they will have to give them up after a period of time due to housing or any other issue that comes along without warning. But maybe we should think about that at the beginning. The gentleman I spoke to today has a 4 yr old dog. She has lived with children and loves them - yeah..she is up to date on her shots, licensed and spayed - double yeah!!!! But she is protective of her yard and territory, doesn't like people messing with her food and isn't thrilled with strangers. They have managed her well and have adjusted to her quirks. Sometimes we even encourage those quirks because it's easier for us to adjust than to work with the dog on some of their tougher behaviors. Now they are under the impression that if they take the dog to a shelter it will be put down if it fails even one test. I work with enough shelters to know that one thing alone isn't a death sentence but a combination of behaviors that we have allowed to continue certainly could be. With the current economy many shelters are over run with dogs that have been surrendered. They don't have the space, time, money or personnel to work with a lot of troubled dogs. Rescues are also filling up and foster families are hard to come by. So maybe we should take on a dog with the thought that it is temporary and we spend the time with them getting them ready to be the best that they can be? Help them to become a good doggie citizen, no matter what the breed or mix so that heaven forbid something comes up that we have to find another home for our beloved pet they have a much better chance? Prepare them for the world. Socialize them with all kinds of people and critters in a controlled setting, encourage good behaviors with positive feedback. Love them, cherish them, even spoil them, but let's help them to be the dog that not only we love but that can be loved by many!
ok..just my ramblings for a Monday evening

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where it all begins......

There's a lot of talk about genetics influencing behavior and yes behavior has something to do with genetics but if a behavior is not reinforced by the environment to occur or occur again and again then behavior is really less dependent on genetics. An example is this pup shown here... - Ted. He was brought into the shelter with a foxtail stuck in his mouth that swelled up quite a bit. He was an only pup at least from what we can tell. He's with Our Pack, literally, working on being a social little guy. During the first 12 weeks it's so very important to heavily socialize your pup with dogs, people, kids, etc. Of course don't stop after that, continue with socialziing. I have seen genetics be the blame for undersocialized dogs. While it's true that some dogs may be too damaged to be helped, in most cases we see our dogs turn around nicely with good socialization and training. And yes, sometimes even with good socialization and training dogs may still have some issues. I would however like to see prevention of dogs coming into shelters because of behavior problems. If folks work with their dogs early on in life we may see less dogs being surrendered to shelters and that would be a good thing!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dr. Dexter at Work Again

We took in this pup to see if Dr. Dexter Canine Counselor can help this little guy learn good doggie manners. He somehow missed the early lessons on how to bite softly while playing. Dex had to let him know a few times that his manners were not what we're looking for in this camp. Our guy changed his body language a little bit since then and seems to be doing a good job of obeying Dexter's instructions on how to play nicely and keep friends once made! Let us know what you think!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Smile and have a happy and safe 4th of July from Our Pack!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dog DNA to Help ID Abusers

You may remember that Our Pack worked with the Humane Society of Missouri last year on the dog fighting raid mentioned in this article from the NY Times. Several of the dogs were brought home to Our Pack with the help of our friend Gale Frey from MuttsnStuff. She is quoted in the article:

Effort Uses Dogs’ DNA to Track Their Abusers
Published: June 25, 2010

ST. LOUIS — Scientists and animal rights advocates have enlisted DNA evidence to do for man’s best friend what the judicial system has long done for human crime victims. They have created the country’s first dog-fighting DNA database, which they say will help criminal investigators piece together an abused animal’s history by establishing ties among breeders, owners, pit operators and the animals themselves.

Called the Canine Codis, or Combined DNA Index System, the database is similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s digital archive containing the DNA profiles of criminal offenders. Scientists say that by swabbing the inner cheek of a dog, they will be able to determine whether the animal comes from one of several known dog-fighting bloodlines.

Read the rest of the article here:

Here is a video with photos of some of the dogs from the Missouri bust. Beautiful photography courtesy of Lynn Terry.

To see Our Pack dogs available for adoption, click here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dexter at the Children's Reading Program

Dexter was an absolute gentleman and stayed on the floor with this cute little girl while she read a book to him for an hour. The Children's Reading Program is designed to help children gain more confidence in reading. Dogs aren't judgemental so it builds confidence when a chi...ld reads out loud to a dog vs a person. Other children were also reading to other dogs in the very large room we were in so it's hard to hear her reading but she did great. The city we were in can be a bit misunderstood on the Pit Bull breed. However, when we left the library the children and the mothers were impressed with Dexter's calm and happy behavior and came up to pet him and mentioned how sweet he was. He was invited back to be a permanent reader at the library. My hope is that more and more people will see that these dogs are born for this work. This program is really wonderful for kids. It's so nice to see kids reading, building confidence and getting connected to dogs. It's great to help the dogs and children at the same time!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Alfie the Therapy Dog Intern

Here's Alfie, our latest therapy dog student. Our newest Our Pack member (soon to be up for adoption) came from the Oakland case a couple of months back. Well, his life is turning around. Last week we brought him to an oncology center so he could apply for a job as a therapy do...g and visit patients and put smiles on their faces. That he did! His foster person Gloria is doing a fantastic job of training him on obedience, teaching him to be polite while on leash and socializing him with appropriate dog friends and lots of people. Thank you Gloria! It's paying off because he didn't flinch once at beeping medical equipment, nurses walking with IV stands, people walking unsteadily or petting with shakey hands. Alfie was very calm, friendly and seemed to fit right into his surroundings. Therapy work is often a reward in and of itself for our dogs because they love to be touched and goo-goo'd over. Patients appreciate it so much and are often thankful to have a dog to visit with. Hopefully this way we're not only helping dogs but we are also helping people at the same time.

Also see Alfie the Therapy Dog Part 2 Schmoozing the Nurse!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Our little brown guy on the right seen in this pic sitting with my dog Posie, came from the Oakland case a couple of months back. He's doing pretty darn good and will soon be available for adoption, unless of course some lucky person snatches him up before that (we will start accepting apps) for this cutie pie, he's therapy dog material for sure!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bella Got Adopted!

Bella came from the very large raid in Missouri last July where 500 dogs were taken to shelter. Our Pack rescued her in November. We just finalized her adoption yesterday, adopted by Robert, Vanessa and their two children! Yes! We are so happy for this wonderful girl. She's in the best place. Our Pack will continue to give training and support througout Bella's life. We'd like to thank the Humane Society of Missouri for their hard work in helping to save these wonderful dogs. Thanks to Christina Aquistapace and her husband Tony for their great jog they did fostering! We'd also like to thank Gale at MuttsNStuff for getting our girl out to us and the continued help and support. It really takes teamwork and rescues/shelters working together to save dogs. Thank you!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kolbie and Ralph

I'd like to thank Jeff and Andie for sending this great pic of Kolbie and Ralph along with their nice words about training....."We already see a big difference with Kolbie!" It makes a big difference living with your dog when they have manners. Some dogs like Kolbie here change quickly (change after one session) and ot...hers take more time and that's ok. Some dogs have tougher stuff to get through.Info on classes at

Monday, May 31, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Our Pack Patio Party was a Smash Hit!

If you went to the Our Pack Party last night, you might look like this today!
124 people arrived and we made almost $6400.00. The best part was the heartwarming support from friends and loved ones of Our Pack. Thanks to all......
Many Special Thanks go to Rebecca MacDonald for working her magic with Promotions & Registration. See her blog, Cogent Communications Blog: Thanks to Julie and Tom Heijza who organized and ran the Silent Auction and Raffle. And Julie, thank you so much for serving folks too! Thanks to Christine Rivera of Destino Spa for providing items for auction and parting gifts and bringing along Emmanuel for the lovely photography.

Thanks to Sherri MacDonald who promoted & donated.Thank You to Kevin Riley, Alicia Nachman and Anna Morey for handling our registration table and nicely greeting people at the door.

Thank you to Mary West for being such a great all around help. Thanks Mary Campbell, you're always there...always!

Thanks to Stephanie Lam for her help promoting & donating your fantastic artwork. Thanks to Michelle Wise for getting drinks to the folks when needed. And Thanks to Humane Society of Silicon Valley ( for their outpouring of support, as well as Society Dog , Beschoff Mercedes

Thank you to the good folks of Santa Cruz Shelter, Oakland Animal Services and Humane Society Silicon Valley for coming and showing your support. Thanks to my good friend Gale Frey of MuttsnStuff for coming and making us laugh and sharing your wisdom with us.

I'd especially like to thank Mitch and Tracey Cutler and all the staff of La Fondue for hosting this fantastic and heartwarming event. Couldn't have done it without you. I hope I haven't missed anyone. Thanks to you if I did....we love you!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Puppy Stuff

Sometimes when pups don't get early socialization they can be missing communication skills they need to be able to confindently interact with other dogs. Without confidence dogs can become defensive. One of the things we do is help dogs that have missed this early interaction with dogs. From what we learned this pup possibly missed a lot of his much needed early pup on pup play. With remedial socialization he has come along way. When we met him he really wasn't sure what the heck to do. He's now enjoying play and positive interaction with his friend seen here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Training Tip

When walking your dog or doing any training at all with your dog stay relaxed as much as possible. When your dog is relaxed much more learning can take place. Sometimes in our Pit Bull Manners class we tell people to get their dog to walk with them by stopping and standing still if he pulls or gets anxious. Wait for him to calm down before moving forward again. Relax yourself as well though. Try getting your do to BE WITH you by just nicely, calmly moving forward and let him follow that nice energy. Your walks my be a short circle for awhile. That's ok. If you have goofy young dogs it's all normal for them to pull on the leash and bounce around. That's what pups do. Let him be a pup and try and stay relaxed and reinforce only the calm behavior. If he's not calm stand there until he is. Don't talk to him which will create more arousal sometimes. Just stand there. Ok, so when you dog is a pup then your nice walks might be mostly "stands". :) Hope this helps. Here's a short clip of "Pit Bull Church" on Sunday.
Marthina McClay, CPDT

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy - Thanks Animal Farm Foundation

Thanks to Animal Farm Foundation for sponsoring us! Our Pack offered some comps for some wonderful pups that were dropped of at Humane Society Silicon Valley several months ago.

Here's Willow with her person Joe. She is one of the pups the just passed the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy class and test. Give them a big hand. It's a nice accompishment. She's off to go for her Canine Good Citizen now! Please see Animal Farm Foundation's site at they're an awesome support for our dogs!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dexter's Corner - On the "Look" Command

Dr. Dexter here. I've had some requests to come back to my column for a quick training tip. So here ya go.

I'd like to talk about the very simple "look" command that most owners have their dogs do to keep them focused. It's done in all training arenas and is really simple to teach. Actually, it's a basic. I learned this in my kitchen when I was just a baby coming home from the shelter years ago.

Many of you know this but here it goes. Try working with your dog in a very low distraction environment. Wait until he looks at you then give him a "yes!" then treat. The difference here is that you're waiting for your dog to do it not prompting it. It's sort of his decision to do what's going to get him the best stuff not that you directed him to the behavior. Sure makes me feel smarter this way! Hey maybe that's how I got so smart.

So instead of prompting by pointing to your eye and saying "look" or "watch me", wait, then when your dog looks at you make a big deal of it. This way when you're in an environment where you need your dog to stay focused on you it's more of an automatic thing for us to do rather than you having to instruct us to do so. Of course there will be times that you'll need to say, "look" or "watch me".

Then later on you can increase distractions by working in front of a friend's dog while on leash for instance. Wait for the look, then reward. After a while with some work, looking at another dog or some other distraction can actually become the cue to look at you and not the distraction.

Hope this helps guys.

Dr. Dexter

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our Pack Training Article Featured in Bay Woof Magazine

Pleased to Meet You

Managing Successful Dog Introductions

By Marthina McClay, CPDT

Our Pack has a training article featured in this month's Bay Woof magazine! This is the second time we've had an article featured in the magazine's "Good Dog!" training column. The article focuses on how to set up and manage polite dog-dog introductions. Here's an excerpt, click on the link below to read the full article:

Imagine you are out walking your dog around the neighborhood, when around the corner comes a neighbor with her dog. As the new dog spots you, its ears shoot forward, its gaze locks onto your dog, and it lunges to the end of the leash, pulling its owner across the street toward you. "It's okay, he's friendly!" she calls.

As the neighbor's dog rushes forward, your normally calm, laid-back dog freezes, emits a low growl, and maybe fires off a few warning barks. Your neighbor, looking shocked and slightly offended, drags her dog away.

What just happened?

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Playing and Talking

I get asked a lot as a trainer from students if it's normal for their dogs to groan and growl while playing. It is normal. Dogs vocalize quite a bit while playing. All normal. Always make sure their bodies are lose and relaxed, no hard staring, fear or stiffness.
Here's our guys goofing it up with lots of vocalizing.
Here's our handout called Your Pit Bull and Other Pets that might be helpful.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

I remember while living in Kansas for a couple of years (was born there but raised mostly in Calif.) I had done a lot of pole bending and barrel racing with my horses. On Earth Day I rode my horse to school which was 2-3 miles. My dad followed as best he could in the car. How cute was my dad (still alive at 91)! It was important to him to make the statement that Earth is to be cherished as are animals and the gifts that they give. I remember as an older teenager in California going barefoot with my dog and he followed along and we were like family.We somehow just belonged togehter. I would like to go barefoot again with my dogs and feel the dirt under my feet free of pesticides and chemicals breathing fresh air that my dogs can breathe too. I don't want to forget Earth and what she's given us and the prosperity of her inheritance is not to be simply thrown away. Dogs remind me of the beauty of nature and what a perfect thing she is......thank doG for the grass that's still green! Here's Kevin with his buddy Rocco on the beautiful green grass at training. Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Join Us for a Party on the Patio at La Fondue!

Please join us for cocktails and La Fondue's legendary cheese & chocolate fondues, meet other Our Pack friends and supporters, and groove the night away to 80s dance music! There will be chances to win great prizes and bid on some very special items in our silent auction.

: Wednesday, May 26th, 6-9 pm
Where: La Fondue
Why: Our Pack Fundraiser

Register Now!

75% of proceeds will be donated to Our Pack!

Space is limited, register now to reserve your spot!

Advance Tickets: $30
At the Door: $40

Ticket price includes cheese & chocolate fondue, drink ticket and raffle ticket. Additional raffle and drink tickets will be available for purchase at the event.

Due to space limitations, we ask that you please leave your four-legged friends safely at home.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Save the Date!

La Fondue & Our Pack are hosting a Party on the Patio!

Where: La Fondue Restaurant
When: Wed., May 26th, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Why: Fundraiser for Our Pack Pit Bull Rescue

Come out and enjoy cocktails and La Fondue's legendary cheese & chocolate fondues, meet other Our Pack friends and supporters, and groove the night away to 80s dance music!

We'll be raffling off some great prizes, and unveiling some very special Pit Bull artand other prizes in a silent auction.

Stay tuned for more details!

The Fruits of Education

Vivian Chen came to interview Stephanie Lam of Our Pack while doing our monthly presentation on Pit Bull basics at Humane Society Silicon Valley. Vivian was doing a high school film class project and included Stephanie in it. I think Vivian will make a great filmmaker. Also, her sister Melody helped on the project.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Training Student's Success Story

Here's a wonderful and supportive story from one of our students. Thanks Lark!!

Confessions Of One Confused Dog Mom & A Thank You Letter To Marthina & Our Pack Trainers

I just want to say thank you so much & I don't even know if I can voice the gratitude I feel. I have had Lola almost 4 years. I took my 2 required training classes ( not from Our Pack) and we got our basic training certificate's. I knew we didn't deserve them. Basically we just finished the course. I was very confused when it came to training Lola. We were a spectacle every where we went. I convinced myself it wasn't our fault. That Lola was lovable but a major spaz and maybe just too neurotic to be to trained. I justified myself saying it's ok because Lola is not dog or human aggressive. The thing is when you own a large dog and in my case especailly a Pit bull mix, people DO NOT believe you when you say "Oh she's a good dog, she just gets excited." It was very important to me for us to be good breed ambassador's but I was so confused and frustrated on how to get there. In the mean time I spoiled Lola to the point where she ruled our house. Bad manners galore.

Now to the Thank You part. I was tired of looking like the crazy lady with the out of control dog. So I called Marthina and she came for a house visit. OH BOY! Marthina told me what to work on and to come to the next Sunday class. I came home from the first 2 classes discouraged. Then in the next class Lola did better. So I was like YAY! Then we had a set back Lola would not listen or look at me during our training outside of the house. This went on for a week. Frustration mounting, I blew up. I was done. There was no way I was ever going to be able to train my (baby) dog. I e-mailed Marthina and told her I give up......

What Marthina emailed me back changed our lives. Marthina told me to relax. Stop rushing. If I was trying to train Lola while I was frustrated then Lola was going to pick up on that. She said that it was ok to go back a few steps and to stop taking it personally, Lola was not trying to make me mad. A lot more was said. I read the e-mail about 10 times and I got it, it just clicked.

Now we love training class. I love that the Our Pack training instructor’s takes the time to answer my questions. I have a lot. They really want all of us to succeed. I also know when they tell us we are doing a good job, they really mean it. They don’t blow smoke if you know what I’m saying. I don't rush myself or Lola. We are a team and we have fun. Some day's Lola has an off day. Now I know how to gently but firmly get her to focus and if she can’t we take a break. I now keep my bad day's out of our training too. We have a long way to go but now I have the confidence that we can do it.

Lark McIntosh & Lola

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thank You Jennifer at Dog Examiner San Francisco

Jennifer Zhang did a follow up on the Len Tillem show and posted our educational events in her article.
The dates and locations are: April 24th at For Other Living Things in Sunnyvale at 10am and April 25th at Humane Society Silicon Valley at 4 pm.
Here's Jennifer's follow up article.

Oakland Dogs Examiner

Apparantly Tillem has apologized.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

KGO810 what are you thinking?

Please check out this article regarding a talk show on KGO810. I think we need to get some letter writing started right away....unbelievable!
The link to the radio show is in the article and it's at the 48 min mark.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Don't Forget to Say, "Good Job."

How do you get someone to keep doing a good job when they are doing a good job? You tell them that. Let them know that they are doing well. It's so easy for us to be negative and we tend (I hate to say) to be a punishment driven society. I think this is in all of us to some degree, myself included. It's so easy to point out when someting's wrong. But what about when something is right or someone is doing a good thing?

When people get too much of, "this is wrong", "that is wrong", "you didn't do this right" they get sort of beat down or disinterested in interacting with that negativity.....right? It seems to me no one would want to continue working at something when there is no win at the end or that there is no end.

I think it's probably the same with dogs. When it's no, no, no, no, no, sit, sit, sit, sit, and there's no "good job!" or "good dog!" to say great, you did it, it can cause the behaviors you want to actually disappear rather than to happen again. For a behavior to continue there must be some sort of reinforcement either through the environment, from other dogs, people or the handler of the dog.

I know you guys all probably know this but this is just a friendly reminder to reward your dogs, they aren't trying to misbehave they may possibly lack reinforcement for the correct behavior (or maybe reinforcement for the wrong ones inadvertently - that's another article). Of course other issues can be going on in any situation. As a trainer one common thread I see in common unwanted behaviors is no or little reinforcement for proper behavior. It doesn't necessarily have to be a treat but it can be. It can be a toy or just a head scratch, snuggle or a soft, "good boy". It's best if it's right at the time of the behavior as well.

Not that we all go around telling our loved ones how screwed up they are, of course but I think it would be fun to just go through the day and just notice something good that someone is doing and tell them that they are great.....not even just our dogs but everyone we know and love.....not just in training but just as a way of life. I'm certainly working on it!

Check out this handsome guy waiting to hear how great hear how great he is for being to patient and calm.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oakland Bust

We went to the Oakland shelter today and looked at the dogs from the recent bust. We selected this sweet, playful female. She's a bit shy as most likely she was not well socialized.She was very willing to connect and interact with us in the nicest way during testing however.
We've seen this with bust dogs as you probably can guess these guys don't take their dogs to puppy socials. She's a nice, sweet dog in spite of everything.
She's grooving in right now.....we have an idea for a name but would love to hear your ideas on a name for this sweet girl.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Train for Everything

Train for Everything...

Training is an interesting sort of thing for dogs. They don't learn the way we do. They learn behaviors in particular settings. Then when the settings change it may seem as though they didn't learn the behaviors at all or that they forgot, they're suddenly stupid etc. For example when you teach your dog a down-stay only in the living room he's less likely to do it elsewhere until you teach him to do it in other places.

I think this is also true for temperament conditioning. It's great that a dog loves his people at home but it's best if he's good with everyone, not just his own folks. There's nothing better than being able to take a dog out as a pup then as an adult to places where there are lots of people, kids etc and your dog enjoys it as much as you do. So much of this has to do with your dog's happiness and how you can provide that for him.

To help with temperament I think everyone knows to socialize your pup early, often and continue this thoughout his life. I've written many blogs on the subject. However, I think it does need to be said again and again as the problem with dogs in the shelters is lack of training, socialization and of course the crucial "teenage" age that they're at.

We work with adult dogs a lot. Folks come to us when they've been there, done that with their dog. Or they've just adopted one of the above type dogs from the shelter. We try to add things into our classes that are real life like. Even dogs that are great in most settings can be a bit touchy about seeing a small boy go by on a skate board while saying "weeeeeeee!" for instance. But hey, this is part of life. So what do we do? We desensitize the dogs to this by exposing them in little increments and reward them for calm, happy behavior. Before you know it, most dogs are getting that all is ok with skateboarding youngsters.

Here's a picture of our favorite boy Darian, super, fabulous skate boarder, helmut and all! Some dogs were a bit concerned at first when he whizzed by and after a short period of time they were focused back on their people, happy, calm and not a care in the world.

Sometimes we provide "the Odd Man" or we have a firefighter etc.

It's best to our dogs so they know the world is safe. Pit Bulls generally have such stable temperaments and good optimism. However, no one can stay happy and well adjusted when they haven't been socialized to their environment, and that goes for anyone of any breed or species. Unfortunately Pit Bulls have been blamed for behavior when was a people problem in that they didn't make sure their dog was well socialized to attain the confidence needed to live a happy, well adjusted life. I know you guys know this but I just thought I'd reiterate this life saving point. Dogs are more likely to be put down due to these problems in shelter than diseases.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Something Uplifting

Here's Georgia from a Georgia raid passing her medical facilty therapy exam. Thanks Noelle for your good work and fostering.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Paco Collars is Helping Dogs!

Paco Collars are awesome! They're beautiful and so well made. They have a certain style and look to them I love. They are so durable even for my rockin' out hard playin' gang. I want to also thank Paco Collars for donating part of their profits to Our Pack! Here's how it works:

To order one of these rockin' collars go to
On the Paco Collars site, use the code CAOU01 in the Coupon Code area. On the Fetching Tags site, use the code in the "Note to Tagmaker" area until further notice - a coupon code area is being worked on as we speak.

Either way, any order that's made using this code, 20% of the purchase will be donated back to Our Pack!

Thank you again Paco Collars for making such beautiful collars and helping dogs too!! You guys ROCK!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Got this in an e mail....

Here's Cynthia one of our fantastic fosters who worked with Charlotte from a dog fighting raid out of Arizona the day she passed her therapy cert.
I got the following in an e mail. When will some folks realize that Pit Bulls are born for therapy work with their people loving personalities.
Here's the e mail --
Saturday, M...arch 13, 2010 ~
Original posting at

Denver and Aurora denies Veterans- and
Denver lawsuits
News hit the airwaves on this
Friday morning regarding Denver and TWO major lawsuits they are
facing due to their so called "Pit Bull" policies.Denver and
Aurora were both been informed Friday March 12th, of a class
action lawsuit to be filed in U.S. District Court, state of
Colorado for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A restraining order was also requested and and an order granted
(3/11/10) to prevent either city from discriminating against
disabled persons having service dogs of a banned breed in their

One person named in the lawsuit is a disabled gulf war
veteran whose service dog is a registered UKC American Pit Bull
Terrier.Doug Kelly, Manager of Denver Animal Control, refused to license
the dog and told the owner he could either get rid of the dog or
move out of Denver. The dog was licensed in previous residences in California
and Arizona as a service dog.

Another veteran who owns a house in Aurora had his pit bull mix seized by animal control as a banned breed, despite his pleas that it was his service dog.The dog was
only released from the pound upon his agreeing to send the dog out
of the city of Aurora and pay fines. This person can't afford to sell
his home and move, but he needs his service dog with him. A friend
is keeping her east of Aurora but this veteran has been denied his right
to his service dog in his home. He must depend on friends to help
him and visits to his service dog to try and keep his life stable.
Both these veterans have written prescriptions from their VA doctors for
the dogs. Another disabled person who wanted to stay in Denver
with her American Pit Bull Terrier while visiting her sister in the
city and attending UKC events in the area was told by Doug Kelly,
Manager of Denver Animal Control, in no uncertain terms that he
would not be issuing her any permit for her service dogs.
TIME TO WAKE UP Denver and Aurora! You cannot deny people their service
dogs no matter what breed they are! Denver and Aurora are violating
FEDERAL LAW and karma's coming back to get them! What does this say
about Denver and Aurora that we haven't already said?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Leo in Ladies Home Journal

Leo was written up in Ladies Home Journal for his work!

Also, here's the blog we did on Ruth, one of his patients who's mentioned in the article.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Two New Our Pack CGC Stars

Peachy came to Our Pack from a dog fighting raid in Georgia last year. She was adopted from us by Tom and Julie. They are just such fab folks for our Peach and have been such good dog managers and trainers for her! She just passed her CGC test this weekend. What a good girl she is and what good people she has!

You've all already seen video of Tyeson and his cat buddy sitting for treats. Here's the link in case you missed it Well, Tyeson also passed his CGC test. Yay Tyeson! Dawn has done a fantastic job with him. Mr. Tyeson used to be Mr. Leash Crazy Man.

Congrats to all! We love you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Fabulous Student

Another Fabulous Student

This is Janie with her Pit Bull Eleanor. What a great job she's done with her.

I say that because Eleanor came to class like a bull in a china shop. Rude, lunging, barking and staring at every dog in class. Whew, she was a little sassy thang!

After 2 weeks in class she's now one of the best dogs in class. Eleanor got the idea very quickly about what to do and not what to do while around other dogs on leash. It's common for dogs to come to class and turn around fast. Some dogs take longer, that's ok too.

Ok, so before folks get the idea that lunging, barking etc toward other dogs (leash reactivity) is just a Pit Bull thing, let me tell you that this was in my all breed obedience class. The German Shepard across the circle in class from Eleanor was VERY happy to engage in some wild party stuff like barking and lunging toward her as well. That's fine. Unfortunately it seems to be a different perception publicly as a general rule when Pit Bulls act out on leash vs a German Sherpard. Strange, in the 60s it wouldn't have been!

Soooooo, our beautiful German Shepard friend is now in our Leash Manners class on Sundays in addition to the ob class learning appropriate behaviors while hanging out with other dogs on leash. Funny eh? This is what it's all about......dogs!
Thanks to Sheila Gibson for the great photo!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Multiple Dog Homes

I am one of those people who has “always” had dogs, and multiple dogs, and never thought of the need to separate them when I was away – They love each other, they’re buddies. I really believe that I was lucky. Now that I actually share my life with a pit bull and a schnauzer I always keep them separate when I am not home, AND I manage their play when I am at home. They get along great. They play together when they want to and ignore and share their space when they are not in the mood to play. They are respectful of each other but I also know that it could happen. Jax – the schnauzer is generally the instigator of rough play and although he certainly isn’t a fragile dog he is the smaller of the two and after having him on crate rest for 6 weeks after his determination to be the stronger tugger of the two and hurting his neck, I really do have to keep him in check. The other day it became very clear why I stick with the crating when I’m not here. Something got Hanna’s attention outside – she is deaf, so it’s hard to say what got her going but she can be very vocal and focused on whatever it is that has her riled up. As she was barking Jax came up to see what the ruckus was about and for one quick minute she turned to bark at him – now nothing happened as I was right there next to both of them but I know my little bugger (Jax) and I know that he is not a shrinking violet so if challenged he would easily snap back. How would that have played out if I hadn’t been there? I never want to find out.

If you click on the title of this post it will take you to the Our Pack article on Pit Bulls and other pets which has some great information.

I don’t really have a reason for posting this now, just something I’ve thought about for a long time and wanted to share with those of you out there who thought like me – it can never happen – it’s just not worth the risk. And now Jax who has had the run of the house for the past 5 years is the first one to go in his crate on his own – even after 6 weeks of having to be there. He is the one who runs in there for his alone time! So don’t think that they can’t adjust to a crate – I know they can!

Here is the proof, that they clearly do get along - and that Jax is NOT timid

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Tribute to a Beautiful Friend

We are so incredibly sad to say that we lost a very good friend, Anne Krevet. Our thoughts are with her two beautiful dogs Ben, Charlotte, (Charlotte seen here in this picture with Anne) her husband Oliver and their families.

She was our dear friend. We will never forget Anne and how wonderful she was...ever. I have the best memories of Anne and her dogs.

It all started 4 years ago when Anne and Oliver adopted Ben. They already lived with Emma who was a very old Pit Bull girl that wasn't really that interested in goofin' around with other dogs.Ben respected Emma's boundries and they lived well together until Emma passed on of old age in 2007.

Believe it or not Anne was afraid of Pit Bulls initially. She's from Germany where they're banned. On top of that, Ben has this funny, cute look. He looks right at you like, "ok, so what do we do now?" When Anne was first living with Ben in their foster period he would look at her this way and then, well, she would look back at him. He would keep looking at her and she would keep looking at him. She would call me almost everyday at times for support and sometimes just ask me with her beautiful German accent, "why is he looking at me?". Of course I would have to tell her, "well,because you're looking at him!" "He's wondering why the hell you're staring at him!" "Oh", she'd say. She loved him and was learing how to understand his language in the cutest way ever.

Life went on with Ben, Oliver and Anne. Ben went through a stage that dogs go through of being goofy, jumpy, nippy etc. He became leash reacitive around other dogs as well. They also had a hard time with his teenage behaviors and goofiness in the evenings after dinner. He pulled on the leash and was just a bit of a bugger at times. This is completely normal adolescent behavior for dogs and it can sometimes be very challenging.

One day Anne and Oliver expressed to me that they had doubts as to whether or not they were good people for Ben. I didn't think there was any place better in the world for him, they just needed some guidance. So Anne, Oliver, Ben and I went to the park for an afternoon to do some training on handling him with other dogs around on leash. Luckily there were 6 small Chiuauas at the park that day so the training was tough for them at first! Then something clicked for Anne that day on what to do with Ben in these situations. Then it also clicked with Oliver. It seemed that there were no issues with Ben after that day. Anne often reminded me of this for a long time to come. One of the many things I loved about Anne is that she took this and ran with it. Ben ended up being the BEST trained dog! Anne was such a good person for Ben. She learned so quickly about what to do for her dog, it was amazing.

A short time later Ben acheived his Canine Good Citizen cert.....and he passed it just beautifully. A short time after that Anne, Ben and I went into rest homes to test/train Ben for therapy work. He then passed that with flying colors.

Recently Anne visited a Parkinson's clinic regularly with Ben and unselfishly helped people feel better with her beautiful Ben. She often talked about how much she loved him and what a great dog he was. She proudly told people how she used to be afraid of Pit Bulls but wasn't anymore. She wanted others to learn from her.

Anne and Oliver kindly fostered Charlotte for Our Pack who came from a dog fighting case then adopted her from us in 2008. Charlotte (also a registered therapy dog) and Ben are just good buds and live together happily due to having such a good home. She sent me many pictures of them snuggling, being silly or just hanging out.

I'm so proud of Anne and Oliver for their dedication to their dogs and sticking it out as some people don't through that teenage period....I'm just so damn proud of Anne. She grew through her dogs and they were her life. She would want us to keep up the brag about them!

I love Anne with all my heart. She was my friend. She loved scary movies like I do. We had so much fun watching the spooky stuff. I loved the way she would look at me at times when I would instruct her on a doggie issue like, "what, are you crazy?"

I want to publicly thank her for being her. She was generous and helped Our Pack tremendously. She helped her dogs live a lovely life and gave them heaven as a home. She helped sick people to feel better and forget about their illness for a time with her therapy work. She had the biggest heart and was always so willing to help. She was such a good person with an honesty I will always admire. She did so much that was good. She was truly amazing and she will be dearly missed....always.

Anne is now with her beautiful Emma....we love you....

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Moment of Silence

....for all of the people in Chile who lost their lives and loved ones.....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dexter's Corner

Dr. Dexter here to talk about how people seem to see dogs lately. My person was working with a Pit Bull owner today and the owner had been treated in another training class as though her dog was a "problem" - as though the dog was a species from another planet. Her dog was jumping excessively and trying to engage rudely. This is a 10 month old "teenage" dog! That's what teenage dogs do.
I undertand newspapers, media etc over report and the public can get the wrong idea but when the trainers of dogs can't see the difference between CANINE issues and PIT BULL issues it scares me. If we can't have teachers of the people understand dogs what do we do?
People used to live and work very closely with us dogs. Dogs were outside a lot but so were people. Then work moved inside, the dogs didn't necessarily (and that's another blog). People seemed to understand us animals AND it was OK! It was ok that we were animals. Now (possibly due to movies like Lassie, Beverly Hills Chihuahua etc) dogs are suppose to not have drives or have any senesitivity to other dogs (God forbid) and they're suppose to be very well trained already as a puppy. If they're jumping and acting goofy AND they're a Pit Bull like me well then's a big problem.
I think folks need to get what we are and normalize to themselves real canine behavior. I work with the dogs at the shelter all the time. I don't think there's anything wrong with them, I just try to send the right signals to get the right response. It's not that dogs need to BLEND into the people world, it's that people need to GET the dog world and understand that it's up to them to help us make the best of ourselves, to set us up for success. When we see someone acting goofy in a pack we don't blame and judge them because they're Foo Foo or such-and-so breed we give them a signal of some sort to help.
Try sending your dog some signals to help him calm down if he's having that issue. Sometimes it may be just doing nothing when he's goofin' too much.
Here's some ideas on calming signals that some of us dogs use with each other. Good luck.
Dr. Dexter
Add a caption
Dr. Dexter here to talk about how people seem to see dogs lately. My person was working with a Pit Bull owner today and the owner had been treated in another training class as though her dog was a "problem" - as though the dog was a species from another planet. Her dog was jumping excessively and trying to engage rudely. This is a 10 month old "teenage" dog! That's what teenage dogs do.
I undertand newspapers, media etc over report and the public can get the wrong idea but when the trainers of dogs can't see the difference between CANINE issues and PIT BULL issues it scares me. If we can't have teachers of the people understand dogs what do we do?
People used to live and work very closely with us dogs. Dogs were outside a lot but so were people. Then work moved inside, the dogs didn't necessarily (and that's another blog). People seemed to understand us animals AND it was OK! It was ok that we were animals. Now (possibly due to movies like Lassie, Beverly Hills Chihuahua etc) dogs are suppose to not have drives or have any senesitivity to other dogs (God forbid) and they're suppose to be very well trained already as a puppy. If they're jumping and acting goofy AND they're a Pit Bull like me well then's a big problem.
I think folks need to get what we are and normalize to themselves real canine behavior. I work with the dogs at the shelter all the time. I don't think there's anything wrong with them, I just try to send the right signals to get the right response. It's not that dogs need to BLEND into the people world, it's that people need to GET the dog world and understand that it's up to them to help us make the best of ourselves, to set us up for success. When we see someone acting goofy in a pack we don't blame and judge them because they're Foo Foo or such-and-so breed we give them a signal of some sort to help.
Try sending your dog some signals to help him calm down if he's having that issue. Sometimes it may be just doing nothing when he's goofin' too much.
Here's some ideas on calming signals that some of us dogs use with each other. Good luck.
Dr. Dexter

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Daddy Dies at age 16

There are varying opinions about Cesar Milan's method of training dogs. But whether or not you agree with Cesar or not his dog Daddy was awesome and a great ambassador for the breed.
RIP Daddy.
Here's the article.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bonding and Training

Part of training is having a dog that is bonded to you. One that likes working with you. So at the end of every training class we like to have our bonding massage time. This way people can tell their dogs how much they appreciate their work and bond. Also, this further reinforces the relaxed behavior around other dogs ...- "it's ok to lay down, relax and get a soothing massage by my person around strange dogs" sort of thing. Here's Josie with her dog Daphne relaxing after class. Daphne is actually cute.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Annie and Training

We think training for dogs should start very young. Socialization should start as early as possible and is just as important if not more than training. Here's Annie about 5 months old at training even with a handicap. She was hit by a car before coming to the shelter and as a result one of her front legs unfortunately had to be amputated. Annie is now being fostered and she's in good spirits in this video working with her wonderful foster dad who's volunteerd from Humane Society Silicon Valley to take her to Our Pack classes to give her the best start possible on good manners and leash skills around other dogs. Better to prevent behaviors now rather than correct them later!.
Annie ended up stealing the show with her fancy hot pink coat and of course her post surgery e collar (ya know, they're really more like lampshades). Her face is adorable poking out of the lampshade!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Michael Byant is quoted as saying, “We shouldn’t have these animals on civilized streets.”
Let's look at Posie's face in this pic full of soul and say this is a sane statement! See article.

Speaking of Training

Speaking of Training....and Management

This is Dawn one of our wonderful students who brought her sassy, starting to be leash reactive Pit Bull pup to class. Wooooo hoooo was he a goofy-pants!

Patiently Dawn started work her lil guy in our classes. He came around very quickly. At first he didn't really get this being quiet and not staring at all the dogs in class stuff.

After a while though he began to realize how nice it is to go to class and have fun without being a big dweeb.

Tyeson has grown since then a bit and now we see a more mature, handsome, VERY well behaved teenager. This is so rewarding for all of us, especially Tyeson. He's actually so much happier having Dawn as a leader to show him the ropes and he's much more calm walking on his leash nicely around other dogs.

Dawn also has applied much of the management techniques and continues to manage him around her other animals at home. Here's a video of Tyeson and his sister cat.
Note: these animals have been properly introduced over a period of time and know each other well. They know each other's limits and most importantly Dawn is a good manager. We love you Dawn!! Keep up the good work.
For more info also see

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Training Tips on Dog Manners in Public

Dogs will do what we set them up for. We set the stage for good greetings, bad greetings, fights at dog parks, snarks on the street on leash OR we set them up for good greetings, no fights and no snarks on the street on leash.

The first thing to do is cut the "phone line" when your dog begins to communicate to another dog from a distance or across the street. The problem is is that he won't be able to greet the other dog appropriately the way dogs normally would so a frustration begins on the leash. He may exhibt behaviors such as lunging, whining and barking. After a while this is what he has learned to do while on leash around another dog. He's not born this way.

Setting the stage for a calm interaction would be to have your dog focus on you and give lots of praise, treats or take out a toy. Be interesting to your dog.

Many of you already know this and it's probably old hat. But sometimes it's good to review, stay practiced and have it nice and smooth. Many times I see that timing is off. One thing that is important is to make sure your not waiting for your dog to be in the "I don't hear anything or care about anything because I'm making a stink right now" mode. It's too late to ask for your dog to come back to you and focus on you at this point. Try it BEFORE he gets lost in this.

Check out our Dog Aggression vs Leash Reactivity article on our site and our Dog to Dog Introduction article for more info.

Here's one of the very simple exercises done at our class to help with these issues among others. Notice that the dogs completely ignore each other as communicating in this setting without greeting sometimes causes the above frustration we talked about. These dogs are taking direction from their people and not the other dogs in class. Gomer by the way started out a bit leash reactive and loved to have a good fence snark when he was at the shelter. Here he is being a perfect gentleman. And of course Bella is doing very well too as you see - hint, hint they're both up for adoption!!

I'd like to thank Anna in this video. She's one of our certified trainers who's done a great job with our intermediate class! Thanks to Judy, Christina and Thad! Great job to you guys as well.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Toughest Souls

The Toughest Souls

Working with dogs that come from abuse cases is very rewarding. It can also be very heartbreaking. It's hard when you work with a dog and the dog seems to be better. Then one day there's regression. (Which by the way is part of healing). Sometimes, not always, impingemnet has to occur for recovery to take place and for a dog to completely get better he as to be ABLE to RECOVER. It's not just getting over the ONE thing. It's the ability to get over THINGS. It's the ablility to recover that needs to be regained or gained.

Sometimes though we see dogs that have just been so damaged they've somewhat lost this ability to recover and they need that extra boost or the extra amount of time to realize that "nothing bad's going to happen".

So we go on..... But......what about the damaged people that are damaging the dogs? Have their souls been so tormented by life that they must carry it on? We see people that come from homes that are great and sometimes those people don't do that well. We see people that grow up in abusive homes that come out fine. Are they just tough souls?

We see the same thing with dogs. They are so individual in how they respond to environments. Some come out of abuse cases like the world is working just fine. Others take much time to get over what has happened to them. Some never get over what happened. To me, all of these types are tough, tough souls. The weak souls are the people involved in abuse cases.....the people who hurt the animals. Hurting animals is not tough though, it's cowardice. True blindness in my opinion is a society that turns it's head to these activities. What if we just keep letting these things happen, won't we end up with people who can't recover? People with no remorse left for much at all because they are so desensitized to the idea of pain being inflicted on animals? This is a scary thought to me.

The toughest souls from my experience have been the ones that are in our dogs. To be able to go on and love and work and play after everything that has happened is true courage and strength, EVEN when scared and fearful about the adventure of a new life without abuse.

We usually like to have positive fun stories and pics but I feel that these issues are improtant to look at too. Sorry if this is a bummer but animal abuse has GOT to stop. I know I've said it before but at this time maybe it can't be said enough. I do know it's being said already but.......

Thanks so much for the tough souls here and out there that support animal rescue!

Thank God for the toughest souls that keep us going on.... and that's the dogs!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pups, Pups, Pups

Here's Dexter again, now with Hailey with the pups from Humane Society Silicon Valley. Stay tuned for more info on how Our Pack will offer to help the 'lil guys as they grow.

In the meantime...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Link to Paradise

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." - Milan Kundera

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tug With Our Pack Alumni

One nice thing about adopting from a Pit Bull rescue such as Our Pack and many others like it is that you get to know like minded folk that also have Pit Bulls. In this pic you see some Our Pack Pit Bulls having a tug of a time.

We believe in continually socializing your dog with dogs that have good chemistry with your dog. Chemistry is a big thing between dogs. It's just like with people. Sometimes you just don't hit if off right away with someone. Maybe you can't even say why or put your finger on it, something just doesn't feel warm and fuzzy with that person. It's the same with all dogs.

Things also go much better when the humans act as leaders and manage things properly, especially when dogs are first introduced. First impressions are everything! See

The dogs in this pic have had long term play with each other and know each other well as well as mind their manners while playing. They also have great chemistry with each other.

Note that some dogs don't do well with tug and it's a good idea to not allow this game on the very first date. Through our advanced exercises at our Pit Bull Leash Manners class we teach you how to help your dog to be more under control while playing tug. Sometimes this is all that's needed is an installation of an "off and on switch". However, remember that some dogs like to play this game with their owners only. That's cool too. Huh, you don't even want to see me when I'm losing a game of Scrabble!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Pit Bull Saved My Life

This story came from one of our adopters who is also a fan our Our Pack. This story is about Ben. He's a regestered therapy dog. He helps people every day but this time he saved a life.
Ben the life saver......
Last night I was making tomato soup from scratch and was heating up olive oil in a pot.
I started cutting onions and just wanted to check up on the recipe on line....that's when I lost track of time. All of a sudden Ben nudged me with his nose, initially very gently but since I ignored it he did it stronger and stronger. At that moment I realized what had happened: because of my stuffed up nose (I have a bad cold) I didn't smell the oil that was about to burst into flames - the whole house was full of smoke!

So Ben actually saved my life - or at least the pot - since the oil was so hot it was about to go up into flames.
It was clear he was going to spend the night with us in our bed!
I love my dog he's smart and full of love.