Friday, November 30, 2012

Axle is a Wimp

Yes, you read that right. Axle is built - with muscles, that is. He's strong and fast and smart. Every dog has their fears, though, and Axle is certainly not without his. After a friend of mine told me about her dog being afraid of sombreros, I had to make a list of irrational Axle fears.

1. Plastic Bags - I don't know how it started, but Axle is terrified of them, to the point that I place one near guests that don't wish for him to give them tons of Axle lovin'. He's also scared of long, flow-y skirts.

2. Tractors - The bigger, the scarier.

3. The cats' electric mouse.

4. Medical Equipment - Especially stethoscopes.

                                                         6. Lightning






























I hope that, if anyone ever breaks into our home, they don't read this. I really don't know what kind of protection Axle would offer if the robber showed up with a long, flowing skirt with a stethoscope around their neck, plastic bags on their hands, and riding on a tractor!

What is your dog afraid of?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving

It's hard to believe the year has passed by so fast, but, sure enough, Thanksgiving is upon us. In the tradition of Thanksgiving, we here at Oh My Pibbles! would like to share things we are thankful for, and welcome you to comment below on what YOU are thankful for.



There are many things that I could be thankful for - good health, a house, food on the table - but what I am most thankful for is the peace in our household. There may still be strife in the world, but, in our home, cats and dogs play and sleep together. Our cats are siblings and have never been apart, so, in many ways, it's not too surprising that they get along fabulously.



Considering the trauma Axle has been through with Otto and later Spudet, it's definitely something to be thankful for that we have Remi. Axle and Remi are like two peas in a pod - something that Axle had in common with Remi's predecessors, except that Remi reciprocates Axle's affections. The two of them get along great with the cats.

So when anyone asks what I'm thankful for, I am thankful for a peaceful household in which four four-legged and two two-legged individuals not only coexist, but love each other dearly. <3 Happy Thanksgiving to all from the Oh My Pibbles! family. :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

re(fur)bished photography

re(fur)bished photography is an animal-focused photo project that mainly centers around shelter or otherwise "recycled" pets. We try to showcase each animal's individual personality in a photo (or two...or three!).

We believe in positively portraying shelter animals, and do not condone terminology such as "death row," "urgent - dies tomorrow," etc. We also believe that humane societies have already, in a sense, "rescued" these animals. Humane societies often "save" animals from neglectful homes and/or abusive situations, then work with the animals to adopt them out if possible. We do not condone bashing animal control officers, humane societies, shelter staff, or anyone else involved in the humane care of homeless animals.

You can view a sampling of the project below (some of these are up for adoption!). The animals are located at the Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society (www.thomasvillehumane.org).











Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Open Letter: Little Bit

I left my mother when I was very young. I don't even remember what she looks like. It doesn't really matter now, anyway, because I'm dead. No, I wasn't shot like I've heard my mother was. I was given something that made me go to sleep, and I just never woke up. I guess I should start at the beginning...

My first owner was a mean, mean man. He had a lot of people coming and going from his house, but he never wanted them to go in the shop in the backyard. That's where we were, and we weren't supposed to let anyone through. I was just a pup, but the older dogs showed me what to do - find a shady spot when the man's not around, if you can, and take it easy. If you sense him near, you had better be at full attention. If a stranger approaches the yard, bark fiercely at them until the go away. I think one of the older dogs even bit a stubborn stranger once.

We're not kept on chains, but the yard is small and dirty. Anyone caught trying to dig under the fence is beat with a wooden fan blade. I've never tried to get out, but I've watched another dog try. He whimpered for days after he got caught. We're fed once a day, if we're lucky. The man throws out some dog food and whatever spoiled food he has. The older, bigger dogs always get to eat first. You're lucky if there's any left. Being younger and smaller, I'm lighter on my feet. I quickly learned that, if I wanted to eat, I should make a dive for the food the moment the man throws it out. I can usually get down a few mouthfuls before I hear a growl or feel any teeth.

One of the few people that the man brings through our yard always gives me a pat on the head when he walks by. He's not so bad, so I wonder why he's here. They always disappear into the shop for hours before they reappear, the man stopping to give me a pat on the head again, and then they leave, our owner carrying boxes of something for the man. This is what happened on the day I left my first owners house - business as usual, until it came time for the stranger to leave. He slipped a rope around my neck and took me with him. I guess I was part of the business transaction or something. My new owner said it was because I was too friendly to strangers.

************************************************

My new owners house was different. It looked and smelled nicer, and the man took me inside. This man didn't live alone. He had an entire family - a wife and three kids, two boys, one girl. They gave me baths and fed me food out of my own bowl. They never gave me spoiled food. 

When I was about a year old, they decided to breed me because I'd have pretty puppies. I had a litter of five. They kept one, a male. I had not had to share food in this new house, and I had been here a long time. When I wouldn't share with my pup, they started putting me outside while they fed him. A few times, they forgot to let me back in, and I'd have to spend the night outside. 

I got tired of being alone in the yard, so I'd wander off. They didn't seem to notice, and if they did, they didn't care. This is how I came to leave this home. 

                                ************************************************

I was off checking out the neighborhood when I saw someone coming toward me. The next thing I know, I'm in a little box and I can't see out.

When the world stopped moving, the door to the box opened. Gentle hands lifted me out and placed me in a cage. There was fresh water and food. I could hear other dogs around me, but all I was really interested in was the food.

I didn't stay in the first cage for very long. I was moved into a large room with lots of other dogs. Sometimes people would come through and stare at us, maybe stop to pet one or two of us. People would take us out once a day to clean our cages, and sometimes more if they had time to play with us. We get fed once a day, and that's definitely the highlight of our day. You have to be careful and keep your food bowl in the middle, or your neighbor might try to snatch your food.

I stayed here a while, but not as long as I did with my last owners. A woman came to take me home to live with her other dog that she said was a "pit bull" like me. I didn't know what that meant, but if it meant I could go home, I was fine with that.

When we got to the woman's house, she put me right inside with her other dog, also a female. The other dog didn't like me in her territory, and I couldn't blame her. I was another mouth to feed. I was competition for resources. The woman made a big bowl of food for me...or rather, us...right away and placed it between the two of us. Knowing how quick food goes, I dove right in. The other dog immediately tried to push me away, and I jumped on her. That's how you get fed, you push the competition away and swallow what you can, as fast as you can. The woman screamed and batted us apart.

I was back at the place with the cages the next day. So much for that home.


                                ************************************************

I spent another week in a cage. Some people took pictures of me and told me that I would find a home soon. I was tired of being in a cage. I longed to lay in the grass, roll in the dirt, just feel some sunshine on my face.

I got my wish one day when some people came in a led me out of the cages. I pulled hard, thinking I was about to have my freedom, when I found myself in another cage, only smaller. I thought about protesting, but just gave up instead.

I was in a car, in a cage. It was moving, so maybe it was headed to freedom. The car stopped once during the trip to let me relieve myself and stretch my legs.

The next time we stopped, I was put in a different vehicle. I wasn't sure of the new person who was apparently taking me home, but anywhere was better than a cage, right? The person was handed some money for my "expenses," they said.

                                   ************************************************

My new home was something of a shock. There were several other dogs there, all outside. There wasn't a fence, only chains. I was chained to what I think was a trampoline frame. I was given a dirty bucket of water, but no food. The grass was tall, and the yard smelled strongly of waste. It made me sort of miss my first home. At least there I was free to roam the confines of the fence. Here, I could move no more than a five-foot radius. The choke chain around my neck made straining against the tether painful.

I'm not sure what the worst part of my new home was...the chain? The fleas and mosquitoes that tormented me day in and day out? Being out in the weather? The hunger? The thirst for fresh, cool water? The loneliness? It was almost maddening to be restrained to that small area. I tried to entertain myself, but what could I really do but just bark? Dig? Scratch? Sleep?

Even though I'd get drenched and cold when it rained, I loved it because it meant fresh water to my parched throat. It meant puddles to play in, something different for my bored brain to focus on.

There were children at this home, but none of them ever came to play with me. There were a few dogs they played with, but somehow I just got left out.

I really thought this was it, the place I was going to live for the rest of my life. I was ready to either let myself be broken or fight my hardest to get away. I didn't have to make that decision, because some people showed up one day and took us all away. They said the people would suffer for what they did to us, and rightly so. I was terrified to see a place with cages again, but I was glad to be out of the bugs and have plenty of food and fresh water.

                             *************************************************

The last anyone heard about me, I was transferred from the place with the cages to a different one, supposedly a place where they don't put down dogs like me. Let's hope for a happily ever after. :)



Just a friendly reminder: Although some of the themes portrayed in the Open Letter series may be based on true events, the tales are fiction and should not be interpreted as fact.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Say hello to Remi!

Things have been pretty quiet in the Oh My Pibbles! household. While still working on the Open Letter series, I thought I'd take a moment to introduce our newest family member, Remi. Axle hasn't been coping well as an only dog. He's tried to make do by playing with the cats, but it just isn't the same. We knew we would have another dog one day, but we weren't sure what. We did know that we wanted a female, around half Axle's size, good temperament, and friendly. I had met a few Boykin Spaniels before, but we had our minds open to anything. I kept my eye on the local shelters, rescues, and classifieds. That's when I saw her, posted back in June, "free to good home."

We've named her Remi...well, my husband named her Remington High Brass, but I call her Remi. :) She's a 10 month old Boykin Spaniel, and such a sweetheart. According to the guy we got her from, she was his parent's dog. They got a dog when "they didn't need one," and she became "too much" for them. She is highly energetic, so I can only imagine... 

Axle is head over heels, for sure!


Monday, July 9, 2012

A Completely Boring Post

For your reading enjoyment, here's a completely boring post about life with a dog, that also happens to be a pit bull.

After reading about people's reactions to some dogs on side walks and a Sarge Wolf-Stringer post reminding us of selective journalism, I decided to write a boring post. Just in case you didn't catch it the first time I said it...

Axle and I don't go for walks in our neighborhood during the summer. The asphalt is too hot, and, even if we can stay on the grass, Axle gets overheated fast. We play in the yard some and do indoor aerobics. He also has a once a week play date.

Sometimes, we take Axle to town after play dates. This, too, is pretty uneventful and boring. Some people ask to pet him, some don't even notice him, and some avoid the "big dog" down the aisle.

The workers at Tractor Supply always try to give him treats, although he's trained not to accept food from strangers. The pet store lady squeals at him (she's in love) and Axle plays the nonchalant cool dude. The Lowe's staff usually gives him an "awwww," and that's it for our interaction.

We do have one very serious problem when we take him to town. He won't quit staring.

When Axle's in the car, he typically looks ahead between the seats. When we get next to someone, he sticks his nose to the glass and gives them a big smile, staring all the while. He's even made a few ladies blush! For others, it begins to get uncomfortable. I think he feels that if they don't immediately fall for his charm and wave, he has to stare into their soul until a smile comes out.

I've tried to break him from this habit, really, I have. It's impossible. I've tried explaining that staring is rude, but then he just shifts his eyes to me. Kids apparently love this habit of his. They'll wave and laugh and make faces at him. He smiles and waggles his eyebrows back at them.

I guess it'd hurt my feelings if and when people went out of their way to avoid my dog if a) they hadn't done the exact same thing to my spotted Heinz 57 and b)all it's common courtesy to move over for royalty. :)

Long live Prince Axle!!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Interlude

I promise I'll finish the Open Letter series, but here's a snippet about my day.

Our AC has been broken for the past 3 days. As I type, the AC guy is fixing it. I can't tell you how much it sucks to come in from the heat to a roasting house. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire! We've had fans going like crazy, mostly on Axle. Add to that the refrigerator is leaking, the yard tools are broken, the vacuum cleaner blew up in my face, and I don't have the right color paint to touch up my walls...let's just say it's not a good day.

The kittens had their s/n appointment today - a 45 min drive. You have to drop them off early in the morning and then pick them up before 5:30. Wouldn't you know, halfway there, one of them poops. They both mew and meow and roll in it. I pulled over, cleaned them up best I could, and back on the road we went. On sign in, I asked if they could get a bath. Apparently, they can't get wet before or after the surgery because they need to maintain body temperature. Duh! They did wipe them down, but they left the carrier nasty. Not very hygienic, in my opinion.

So anyway, I'm driving 65 mph down the highway, hearing two screaming cats and smelling cat poop...it was all I could do to keep from gagging the whole way. People looked at me so funny, but I didn't care. After I dropped the cats off, it was to the dentist, that most dreaded and fearful thing. The staff was nice, and I liked the dentist. I got a good report - cavity free! He did mention I shouldn't use harsh toothbrushes or abrasive toothpastes (caught me) as that will make my teeth sensitive. I'm one of those people that scrubs the crap out of my teeth. I'm terrified they're all going to fall out. I'd scrub Axle's if he would quit trying to eat the toothbrush.

The interesting things that happened today (as if the above wasn't enough) happened while waiting to drop my cats off. I was seated next to a woman with an intact male Dachshund. Cute thing, but only by 98%. The woman said that he had been bitten by a "pit bull." He had some puncture wounds on his legs and belly, but nothing too bad. She said she thought they were "playing, but the stupid pit just wouldn't let go." She went on to say how much she hated pit bulls and how unpredictable they were. I asked her more about the incident.

Here's the facts:

  • Both were intact males.
  • She never met the attacking dog.
  • She was not present for the incident. All of her "facts" were given by her son and his friend, the owner of the "pit bull."
  • The dogs were tied up with ropes within reach of each other to "play."
  • Her son and his friend were shooting off fireworks.
  • She felt the injuries were minor enough to wait 24 hrs to see a vet (without doing any doctoring on her own).
I told her it sounded like an accident waiting to happen (she agreed), and I proceeded to tell her how sorry I was her dog got hurt. She noticed my mewing kittens and asked what they were in for. I told her spay/neuter. She asked if I had used this place before, and I told her yes, actually, I had my dog fixed here. I asked if she wanted to see a picture of my dog, and she enthusiastically said yes. This is what she saw:
















Needless to say, her entire face changed to a look of oh-my-dog-I've-been-talking-to-a-pit-bull-owner-and-I-totally-stuck-my-foot-in-my-mouth. Priceless. When asked "if he, was he, oh I'm so sorry" I said, "Yes, he is an American Pit Bull Terrier. Don't apologize, you had a bad experience with a dog you were told was a 'pit bull.' Lots of dogs are called 'pit bulls,' but they can be any number of breeds or breed mixes. While my dog, Axle, is a wonderful dog, I don't leave him unattended with strange dogs, especially intact dogs. He has had some bad experiences before, and he's a little dog selective, particularly toward intact males. It could be that one or both dogs in your experience were dog selective, and one or both disliked the other. I hope you don't let this cloud your opinion of 'pit bulls,' as they are all individuals, like your own little buster here." She seemed receptive, and we parted on friendly terms. Good advocacy experience!!

On another note, there was a woman there with two Cavalier  King Charles Spaniels. They were absolutely gorgeous dogs. I recognized them from the Pedigree Dogs Exposed series on YouTube - a breed with the unfortunate genetic defect of cerebral myelia, a condition where the brain grows bigger than the space the skull allows. She had been at a low point in her life - going through a divorce, her mom dying, and then her beloved Yorkie passing...she needed some cheering up. One of the shelters she had visited called her when an older lady turned in her King Charles, and it was love at first sight. She later adopted another King Charles, who turned out to be the mother of her beloved "Angel." She talked of being interested in doing therapy work with her dogs, so I directed her toward Therapy Dogs International. It was really neat meeting a King Charles in person, and such a sweet owner!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

An Open Letter: Red Boy

I didn't realize how involved readers were with my last story until I started getting the emails with one question in common, "What happened to the puppies?" It's only fair, then, to tell the tales of the three remaining puppies.

Red Boy

The last memory I have of my mother is not a good one. Between the bars of my cage, I could see her being dragged by her owner. I watched him shoot her. I didn't understand then, but I do now. She was weak. She couldn't do the job assigned to her. She shamed her owner. I would not be like her. I would make my owner proud.

My owner often calls me half-crazy. I guess it's because my eyes always have a wild look to them, and I'll snap at anything that comes near. Truth be told, I can't hear. I know they make noises because I feel the vibrations in the air; I see the reactions of the other dogs. I think I can bark like they can, but I can't hear myself do it.

I've lived outside my whole life. I didn't get put on a chain like my mother. Instead, I was assigned a kennel. There's many of us, all sizes, all ages, all colors, lined up along the block. The floors are cement, the walls are chainlink fence. People often come and go from my owner's house, and they usually come through and look at us. Most of the other dogs have scars, missing ears, or chewed off tails. Not me. People like me because I'm still young and new and handsome. Some of the softer people even reach to pet me. They snatch their hands back when I snap at them.

I can't help it. I don't like people in my space. Other people and dogs are always sneaking up on me, surprising me, startling me out of sleep. I'm afraid of looking vulnerable. I'm afraid I'll be attacked. I decide it's better to keep them scared of me than let on I'm scared of them.

I never get to leave my kennel. Sometimes, they hose them down to clean out the stuck-on waste. I love it when they do this. The water becomes my enemy. I leap this way and that, dodging the high-pressure stream of water. Sometimes, I charge head-on and bite the water. I think the people laugh at me when I do this, but I don't care.

As time passes, I start to feel myself going crazy. Maybe my owner was right. I can't run, I can't get away from my own stench. I can't get away from the other dogs. We are all locked in these cages. I start to charge the door any time someone comes to give me food or water. All I want is out. What I get instead is a shock from the cattle prod as they shoo me back into my cage.

Finally, they decide to take me out. I see they have the cattle prod, so I keep quiet. I don't like that thing. They start walking me towards a patch of dirt not far from the kennels. This is where they take the young pups to see if they have any game, if they'll cross the scratch line. I've watched this happen time and time again. I know if I don't charge the other dog, he'll charge me. I know if I fail, my owner may beat me or worse.

They bring out an old veteran fighter. I wasn't expecting this. His eyes are wild, his nostrils flared. I know he's crazy, but there's something different...there's something...something wrong with his mouth. He can't open it. Unsure of this, I hesitate when they release their grip on me. The veteran is on me before I know it, but he can't bite me. He head butts me again and again, but his mouth won't open.

I think the veteran realizes he can't fight. I think he knows I'm his fate. His expression changes, his tail droops, and his eyes show a sense of calm. I sense his pain. I see myself in his eyes, and I snap. I sink my teeth deep into his neck and end his life. My owner's face looks happy. They come at me with cattle prods in hand, ready to shoo me back into that dreaded kennel. I couldn't help myself. I was no coward, but I ran. I ran and I ran, as far as my legs would go.

I finally understood that my mother wasn't weak. She didn't want to kill. She only wanted something from her owner, something I had to find.

I don't know how long I was laying by the road. I wasn't accustomed to running at all. When I sensed someone near me, I was too weak to react. I felt someone wrap me in a blanket and place me on something soft. We were moving, but I was too tired to look up.

When I woke up, I was in a cage. For a second, I panicked. Then, I noticed this wasn't my old cage. This one was smaller, but it was lined with soft things for me to lay on. A group of people were nearby, and one noticed I was awake. I immediately reacted when they came close, but they didn't seem afraid. They didn't have cattle prods. They waited until I had calmed down, then they carefully opened the door and slipped a leash over my head.

The leash was a new thing. I tried to eat it, fight it, anything but let it stay around me neck. I had seen too many bad things happen when dogs were wearing these. The people seemed patient, though. They let me have my fit, then, with the leash still around my neck, we walked outside. The grass felt weird beneath my paws. I was so used to the hard concrete in my kennel that this stuff felt both alien and wonderful. The people smiled when I rolled in the grass. There were so many new smells - I had to roll in them all!

The people walked me back to the car they brought me here in. They put me inside, talking to me the whole time. I could tell they didn't know I couldn't hear them. They took me to another new place, one that made me nervous. I smelled many other dogs and fear and even blood. Two of the people had to hold my leash to keep me from running again.

Apparently, we were at the dog doctor, and it wasn't all bad. The things I smelled happened there, but it was part of dogs getting better, not worse. The dog doctor looked at my teeth, my paws, my eyes, my ears, everything. I think the people were proud that I stayed calm. I'm pretty sure the vet knew I couldn't hear, because he kept moving out of my sight and then back, as though he was making noises for me to hear. I saw him show the people some hand motions, motions I'd later learn as "sit," "stay," and "come."

Before we left, the doctor gave me some tasty treats. I decided he wasn't so bad after all. The people took me back to the place with the cage with the soft blankets. This time, I wasn't afraid to go in the cage.

*********************************

I don't know how long it's been since I came to live with the people that found me on the side of the road. We've been through so much together - learning to communicate beyond sound, re-socializing me to other dogs and the outside world, and teaching me to live inside (not quite as hard as the other two!). My old life seems like a bad dream, some weird prelude to real life. I live with two other dogs and the two people that picked me up. I get all the food and love and attention I can handle. They don't treat me any different because I can't hear them, but they do respect my need to be properly awakened/approached. I walk on a leash politely now, and people are surprised to learn I'm deaf. They make my humans roll their eyes when they try to prove I can hear. Sometimes I play along just for laughs.

I love my humans dearly. They saved me when I didn't know I needed saving, gave me love when I didn't know what love was, and they gave me security when I didn't know where to turn. They often look at me fondly, and gently stroke my graying head. They still talk to me, and, even though I can't hear their words, I can sense their meaning and feel the love behind them.


*********************************


It goes without saying that not all dogs that start in the fighting circuit have happy endings. Dog fighters often have money tied up in their dogs, typically in the acquisition and betting, sometimes utilities; therefore, they're not likely to let a dog slip away so easily.

It's also no surprise that Red Boy had some initial human and dog aggression. Deaf dogs can be highly reactive if not properly socialized and desensitized. Since Red Boy's original owner didn't know he was deaf, he couldn't understand Red Boy's reactions. Sadly, deaf dogs often go without being diagnosed and get labeled as dumb or stubborn. Depending on the owner, the deaf dog might be beaten or dumped at a local shelter as "impossible to train." Red Boy was fortunate to be picked up by loving  individuals who cared enough about Red Boy's health to take him to the vet and restructure their training methods to suit his needs. They weren't put off because Red Boy was deaf; instead, they double their efforts to insure a normal, well-rounded life for him.


Check back later for the stories of the remaining two puppies. :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Open Letter to My Owner

I'd really like to know why you brought me here. Did you like me when you got me or was I just another toy? You liked me a lot when I was smaller, I think. You cuddled me and told me I was cute. You showed me off to all of your friends. You liked to tell them I was going to be big and tough and strong. I didn't care what you said, really, as long as you loved me.

You got mad when I was smaller and used the bathroom in your house. It's not my fault you weren't watching me. I wanted to go out, but I had to go so bad that I couldn't wait. You made me live outside then. This made me very sad. I could see you in your house, and I knew you needed me to be by your side. That's where I'm supposed to be. I'm supposed to make you happy when you're sad. I'm supposed to protect you and make you feel safe when you're scared, and you're supposed to do the same for me.

When I couldn't see you through the windows, I'd leave the yard looking for you. You would suddenly appear, mad and loud, and drag me roughly back to the yard. I'd wag my tail, just because I was happy to see you. You came home one day with a chain. You attached one end of the chain to my dog house and one to my collar. It was so heavy, I could hardly hold it up. I wagged my tail because you came to see me.

I got bored a lot outside. I got used to the heavy chain, but I couldn't get used to the boredom. I dug holes and chewed on my dog house a lot. I chewed my dog house so much that the water leaks in when it rains. When you would come out to give me food, you'd call me stupid for chewing a hole in my dog house. I wagged my tail because you came to see me.

One day, when I was bigger, you brought people to see me. They liked the size of my head and muscles. They were amazed at the size of my neck. Theirs would be as big as mine if they had to drag this heavy chain. They wanted to have puppies by me. They said I was pretty and big and tough and I'd throw pretty puppies. I wagged my tail because these people liked me.

It wasn't long before the people came back. I didn't like the dog they brought with them. He was cranky and he smelled bad. He was supposed to be my mate, they said. I bit him when he came close. You hit me and told me I was bad. You said this is what I was supposed to do, now sit and take it. I didn't want to be with this dog. I was too young. I wasn't ready. I didn't like him. I growled and I bit and I made a big fuss. The people got mad and went away. You fussed because I cost you money. I cost you time. I knew you were upset, so I tried to lick your hand. You hit my nose and walked away. I wagged my tail slow, because I was sad to see you go.

It wasn't long before more people came with dogs they wanted me to breed with. This time, they didn't give me a chance to react. They left me on my chain and roughly put me in a contraption, a "breeding stand" they called it. I growled and I screamed and I cried. I didn't want to be with that dog. Satisfied, the people left with their dogs. They would be back after the puppies, my puppies, were born.

I guess you liked me better when I was pregnant, when I could make you money. You visited me more often, and you brought me nicer food. I got hungrier as I got bigger, but you didn't always bring me enough food. It wasn't long before I had my puppies, but you weren't there to see it. You had left to go somewhere, and I hadn't seen you in days. The person you told to give me food hadn't come. I was hungry. My puppies were hungry. I had seven. I don't remember how many boys or girls. I couldn't feed them all. I was hungry, and they were hungry. I ate four of them before you came home. You screamed at me and kicked me. You took my puppies away. I barked and howled and tugged as hard as I could at my chain. I could feed three, I thought, I just needed to be with my puppies.

You gave me food, but you didn't let me see my puppies again. I don't know what I did to make you so mad. I didn't wag my tail the last time you came to see me. I ducked my head and turned away.
People came to get my puppies, one by one, including the people with the male dog that fathered my puppies. They came through the yard I was in, and I battled my chain to get close to them. I was mad. I didn't want them taking my puppies, any of them. I didn't trust them. I didn't like the way they smelled. As they left with one of my young puppies, they told you I had game. They laughed at me, at how hard I was fighting my chain. They said I could make him money in a different way.

You came outside one day and took me off my chain. For the first time, I felt a sense of freedom. I was away from my own waste, away from that nasty patch of dirt crawling with fleas. You put me in a cage in your truck and drove away from your house. I should have been afraid, but I was so happy that I was away from that chain. As we got closer to where you wanted us to be, I could smell blood. I was terrified. Where were we? What were we doing there? I smelled blood, sweat, and waste. I saw the people who took my puppies, all of them. I saw them standing in a circle, watching two dogs fighting. The dogs were locked at each other's throats, neither wanting to let go, neither wanting to hold on. Someone said it was a tie, that the two dogs would try again later. They all looked at you, at me. They wanted a new dog in the ring.

You took my leash off. I wasn't sure what to do. I was going to run. I was going to run far away from this place, until they put him in. It wad the first dog they tried to mate with me. I should know it wasn't his fault, but I focus on his horrid scent instead. I hated the way he looked at me. I hated his scarred features and drooping mouth. His hackles were raised, and his ears were flat. I looked to you, but your eyes were hard and shiny. You saw dollar signs when you looked at me. I charged.

I tasted blood when I sank my teeth deep into his foreleg. I should have bit him in his neck. I didn't want to kill him. I wanted to make him leave me alone. I knew if I didn't act first, I'd be seen as weak. I regretted my decision as his teeth tore into my ear, ripping it down the middle. I howled in pain. I looked to you, but you were cheering. You thought I was doing great.

My heart sank. You weren't going to save me. I wasn't the puppy you loved. I was a way to make money. I was your status symbol, some "rare" color from a "rare" bloodline. You thought I was special, but only in as much as what others saw in me. I looked at you, and I knew I hated you. I released my grip on the male dog's leg. I looked straight at you. You knew what I could do. You knew I could do damage to your tender flesh and bones. You knew I could kill you. With purpose, I wagged my tail. You had failed me. You had made me hate you, but I could never hurt you. I turned back to the circling male. It would end now. I would live or I would die.

As I lie here wounded, I hear your approaching footsteps. There are people with you. They tell you it's too bad you got a weak dog. You can try again. You can get a pup off one of their dogs, the male that beat me if he wants, since he's a champion. You call me names. You kick me and say I'm worthless. You grab fistfuls of my fur and begin dragging me out of the ring. I wag my tail because you're touching me.

You put the gun to my temple. You call me worthless again. I look into your eyes, and they are empty. You pull the trigger. I wag my...

★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

This is a fictitious story based on the very sad reality of fighting dogs and dogs that belong to backyard breeders. Dogs want to be part of your family. They want to be with you, not a "big yard" or a chain. If you can't make your dog part of the family, find a home that will. Your dog will thank you.

If you see a dog is tethered, check local animal control ordinances and report it, especially if the dog has no obvious source of water and shelter.

The photo on this blog is of CCAC 121679, an unfortunate dog that was pulled by an unlicensed rescue and later dumped at a shelter with an embedded collar and a leg injury that was severely infected...plus he was emaciated. Horror stories like this can be prevented. Spay/neuter your pets. Have your pets microchipped and keep ID on them. Thoroughly research any rescue you are considering surrendering to, donating to, or adopting from.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Axle Is and From Whence He Came

Axle isn't a pit bull. Sure, that's what his breed is (American Pit Bull Terrier), but that's not what he is. Axle isn't even a dog. In fact, we're pretty sure he's an alien.

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Axle was an afterthought, actually. We had discovered our little Otto was deaf and wanted him to have a "hearing ear" dog - a pup close to his age to hear what he couldn't. Axle came from a breeder. Yes, I know how contradictory that sounds.

Growing up, all of my dogs were older "hand-me-downs" - dogs needing new homes from moving families or the shelter. All I wanted was a puppy, someone I could snuggle and train myself. Getting Otto opened my eyes to backyard breeders and puppy mills, and a lot of other realities.

I'm not opposed to breeders. Healthy, quality dogs have to come from somewhere! What I AM opposed to is backyard breeding, puppy mills, and breeding irresponsibly. I could write a whole series on breeders, but this is about Axle.

Axle wasn't my pick. I had picked a red puppy with little white socks. Apparently, that pup was a popular one because the man's girlfriend sold him out from under us. That left us with Axle.

He was cute, but not as cute as my pick, and not nearly as cute as Otto. He slept in the bed with us that first night ...without a single accident, I might add. He and Otto became the best (and worst) of buds. I think we all know that story.

Axle was like a wet spaghetti noodle. Training time was a pain - all he wanted to do was play. I finally got him to learn...or rather perform...sit and no. He learned verbal and hand signs. If there was something he didn't want to do, he'd flop over and become dead weight. (He still does this.)

He had a nasty habit of jumping up and chomping the air like Pac Man while walking next to me. He had to be crated or he would destroy EVERYTHING.  He could open doors, so we had to lock the doors when we let him out. One day, he got so mad that we did this that he climbed the deck, got on the roof, and tried to come down the chimney. There were many days when I hated "that dang dog."

He would insist on getting under the covers, then jetting out when he "let off some steam," leaving us with a nasty smell and no covers.

He was also a pain to house train. Considering how good his first night went, we had high hopes. Instead of waking us up to go out, he would get off the bed, use the hardwood floor, then get back in bed.

He was also a thief. One day, he stole the bag of dog food, finished it off, then sat by the bag like an innocent angel. He'd steal sandwiches, chips, even grapefruit slices.

I kept working with him, regardless of my oft not-so-kind thoughts toward him. He was doing really good except for jumping and a few other minor things, so off to PetSmart we went.

The PetSmart training worked out great. Axle learned not to jump, and to be calm around approaching strangers. Maybe there was light at the end of the tunnel yet.

At some point in our relationship, Axle and I had our "moment," you know, when you look at something or someone and feel all warm and fuzzy. I thought, "Maybe he's not so bad after all."

As Axle got older, things seemed to magically fall into place - going to the door to let me know he needed out, staying calm for greetings, and walking politely on the leash. He would listen when we told him to sleep in his own bed, though he still loves to sneak back in ours around 2 AM. The next thing I knew, Axle was over a year old and had become a beautiful and wonderful pet.

I can honestly say I love that dog. Axle is so loving, even when I didn't like him. He's incredibly loyal and understanding. I wouldn't trade him for anything.

The experiences I've had with Axle have nothing to do with his breed, and everything to do with his individuality. I don't think he's aware that he's even a dog. He rides in the car with his seatbelt on, sits in chairs like a person, and fully expects to be treated like part of the family when we have company.

The things he does sometimes makes me think he's an alien. He often holds his ears like pigtails, so obviously he has an alternative way of hearing. He uses mind control to make people in stores fall in love with him. He plays referee when the kittens play too rough with each other. He climbs into the attic just to see what's up there. He puts his toys back in the basket. He touches his leash with his nose when he wants a walk. Sometimes, he even hovers in mid air for a split second while jumping from couch to floor in pursuit of the ball.

Yes, Axle is probably an alien, but he's my sweet, smart alien. Looking back now, he's always been a good dog, he just needed a little work to become a great dog. (Or alien.)


Sunday, June 3, 2012

BSL


Breed-specific legislation (BSL) recently reared its ugly head in Georgia. In Gainesville, GA, a woman called for a citywide ban on pit bulls, citing a story in which her son was mauled while running with his cross country team. The dog in question was not a pit bull. The woman has since contacted state Rep. Carl Rogers, who promised to put the issue of “dangerous dogs,” specifically pit bulls, before state legislature. Thankfully, our legislature was sensible enough to steer clear of BSL. Instead, they passed the Dangerous Dog Act, which mentions no breed and places responsibility squarely on the owner's shoulders.

BSL doesn’t work. Dog-bite fatalities are so extremely rare that not even a state could ban enough dogs to insure that they had prevented even ONE. (http://stopbsl.org/2010/10/08/new-study-explains-why-bsl-doesn’t-work/) Breed bans are under-inclusive. For example, in one community that was considering a pit bull ban, pit bulls and pit bull mixes were only responsible for 8% of bites. The breed ban wouldn’t have protected the public from the dogs that caused 92% of the bites. (http://www.animallawcoalition.com/breed-bans/article/556)

Dogs don’t bite or attack because they are a certain breed. Pit bulls are not more aggressive than other dogs, nor do they have locking jaws. Pit bulls were also not bred for fighting – they were bred to take down large game on a hunt and yet remain friendly and trustworthy as a family dog.

Did you know that there are no major animal or health organizations that support BSL? (Except maybe PETA, but they’re insane.) That National Animal Control Association states that “dangerous and/or vicious animals should be labeled as such as a result of their actions or behaviors and not because of their breed.”Just because one Labrador bit a kid’s hand doesn’t mean that all Labradors will. The American Veterinary Medical Association states that “there is no evidence any breed of dog is more vicious or dangerous than the others.” Centers for Disease Control observed in a paper that BSL does not address the reasons dogs bite. (http://www.animallawcoalition.com/breed-bans/article/556)

The UK’s Dangerous Dog Act bans several breeds of dogs, including pit bulls. Three months before the breed bans, there were 99 bites, 3% of which were by pit bull types. Two years after the ban was implemented, that number had increased to 5%. The Act did not result in any decline of dog bite incidents, and the Act was declared a failure. (http://www.animallawcoalition.com/breed-bans/article/556)

BSL is also incredibly costly. With the call for a ban on pit bulls, Georgia has a potential disaster on their hands. Remember, pit bull isn’t a breed – it’s a stereotype. That begs the question, “Exactly how much pit is too much pit?” Would mass hysteria erupt like the Salem witch trials, with people running down the street pointing at every other dog, yelling “Pit bull! Pit bull!” I already have a friend who sees pit bull in every dog she looks at, just imagine how many more people like her are in this state.

I have an American Pit Bull Terrier that is an obedience school graduate and lives inside. Will he be safe until I take him to the vet? Or will my vet records be confiscated and animal control be knocking on my door? My dog  have never done anything wrong, never attacked anyone, never bitten anyone…why should they have to die for someone else’s intense fear response? What about all of the pit bull type dogs that are certified therapy dogs?
BSL just doesn’t make sense. What is it with humans and the need to put everything and everyone in a neat little category and label them the same? Every dog is an individual and should be treated as such. The same goes for people/owners. If more restrictions were put on people with dogs running at large, people that don’t vaccinate, etc, that would help cut down on dog bites. The county I live in doesn’t have a leash law. Why can’t we make it a statewide law that dog must remain on your property unless leashed or under strict voice control? Why can’t we encourage education and low cost spay/neuter clinics?


The new and improved GA law is great, but let's still push for stricter leash laws for ALL dogs AND low cost spay/neuter clinics in conjunction with comprehensive education programs. 


Love, Peace, and Pibbles! 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Spudet



Beautiful little Spuds, she was around 3 years old when she came to live with us. She and Axle hit it off immediately. They seemed to be a match made in heaven. I have no idea what went wrong Thursday night. Everything fell apart in just moments. I've included some of her pictures here as a remembrance for her.