Monday, January 30, 2012

Being a "Dog Mom"

Not too long ago, I overheard a conversation concerning dog parents. (For the sake of this blog, I'm using my experience as an example. The same could apply to dog dads and so on.) One person had just called themselves a mom, and the other person was "educating" them on what warrants the title "mom," and they certainly didn't think furbabies qualified one for that title. So...what's being a dog mom all about, anyway?

1. Dogs don't wear diapers. Maybe you've succeeded at this task, but I never did. Even with crate training, there were still many accidents..and sometimes it took awhile to find them!

2. Dogs don't wear shoes. When your kid gets to where they can run outside and play, what do they wear? Shoes. What happens when you come inside? Shoes come off. Not with dogs! If they were walking in it outside, guaranteed they're tracking it in on your floors. Possible solutions? A good, absorbent rug at their point of entry or teaching your dog to wear shoes...and take them off at the door.

3. Dogs can't talk. No matter how much we love Mishka from YouTube, dogs can't really speak our language. You have to try to read their behavior and body language to figure out what's going on in that head of theirs. While your 2 year old kid can tell you their head hurts, your dog can't.

4. Dogs never get old enough to be left alone. Wasn't it great when your kid got old enough to stay home by themselves all day? Well, even if your dog is a teenager in human years, you can't leave him alone for an extended period of time. He needs to be let out to use the bathroom, have exercise and some serious you time.

5. Dogs have bad dreams. Dogs do dream - I've witnessed it - and sometimes they have bad dreams. They can't tell you about it, so when they jump on your bed in the middle of the night for a snuggle, just give them a reassuring pat and let them know it's okay.

6. Dogs will always do gross things. While your kid grows out of picking their nose and sticking boogers on random strangers in Wal-Mart, your dog will always lick their butt. ALWAYS.

7. Dogs need social time. Dogs, like kids, need to be socialized with all types of people and animals in a calm, comfortable situation.

8. Dogs need good food. Would you raise your kid on Chef Boyardee and Ramen Noodles? No. So don't let your dog eat crappy dog food.

9. Dogs go to the doctor. Just like your human kids, dogs have to go to the doctor for a yearly physical and booster shots.

10. Dogs need ID. Your kid can learn their address, phone number and how to dial 9-1-1 but dogs need something else. Microchips, collars with embedded tags, dangle tags, GPS tags and the list goes on... Always be sure to have a recent photo (or 100) of your dog in case he does get lost.

11. Dogs are subject to fatal discrimination. Your kids will never meet a description that requires them to be sterilized, surrendered to a facility or put to sleep. No one will ever demand that you muzzle your child in public or keep them in the privacy of your home for the "safety" of the public.

12. Dogs can be dognapped. You worry about your kids being kidnapped...well, I worry about my dogs being dognapped. People take dogs to sell them, because they like them, to use them in fighting rings or for other sick purposes.

13. Your dog never gets old enough to clip his own nails, bathe himself, or otherwise care for his personal needs. He will ALWAYS need YOU.

14. Being a dog parent is like being a single parent, even if you have a partner. You have to play so many roles at once - leader, nurturer, trainer and so on.

15. Dogs live on borrowed time. Although tragedy can strike at any time across the board, dog parents are only granted a fraction of time with their beloved dog kids.

None of this is intended to belittle the job of being a human parent. That is a difficult and tiring job, and I commend those that take on that responsibility. This is simply meant to give credence to calling ourselves dog parents...because that is what we are.

Love, peace and pibbles.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pibble Pretty!






What about those dogs?

In lieu of the recent shut down of our local humane society, I'm writing this blog to help you figure out what to do with those "unwanted animals."

If the dog/cat is an animal you found:

Approach the animal cautiously. Watch their body language. Most lost animals are scared, but welcome human comforts. Try to coax them to come to you and into a safe zone - like a kennel or a fence. Check for ID tags. If the animal has one, call the number listed. Otherwise, call your local animal control office. If they are available, they can tell you if they have any reports of that particular animal missing and scan for a microchip. If they are unavailable, take the animal to your local vet to be scanned for a microchip and so they can compare the animal to lost ads. If the animal does not have a microchip and does not match any of their lost ads, leave your name, number and a description of the animal in case the owners call. Call any other vets in the area, along with local shelters to let them know what you have found.

(Normally, you would probably turn the animal over to the shelter; however, our shelter is currently closed due to an outbreak of canine distemper, so we're exploring the other options.)

Do you have room to care for another animal? If you can, think about fostering the animal until you can locate his/her owners. You can post ads on www.craigslist.org or other neighborhood sites, as well as post flyers around your neighborhood. If you can't locate the owners, think about fostering until you can find the animal a good home.

If you don't have room or have animals that wouldn't take to a newcomer, ask friends if they would be interested in fostering. You can also check with local rescues to see if they can take the animal in.

If the dog/cat is one that YOU are saying goodbye to:

Consider keeping the animal. Think about the reasons you got the animal in the first place - what has changed? Is it because you're moving? Consider finding a place to move that will accept your animals or speak to your landlord. Is it for financial reasons? Consider letting a friend help you out financially or by keeping the animal for a little while until you can get back on your feet. If you absolutely HAVE to say goodbye, ask around your neighborhood and your friends to try to locate a good new home for your animal. If you post to www.craigslist.org, think twice before you say "free to good home." You don't have to charge an adoption fee for you dog, but saying free can attract a lot of people that you don't want getting your animal.

A final word: Follow your heart. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Putting Things Into Perspective

Yesterday,  Love and a Six-Foot Leash posted a new blog about advocating for pit bulls, and it struck home. I didn't always love pit bulls. I was raised to fear them and expect them to be unpredictable and turn on me. A big ol' sloppy kissing, tail-wagging black and white American Pit Bull Terrier named Fino changed all of that for me. I was hooked. Four years later and Axle came home with me.

When I got Axle, I had to accept strange looks, mean comments and general recoil...and that's when he was a little puppy. I started reading everything I could about American Pit Bull Terriers and pit bulls. I was so upset that people continued to discriminate against a group of breeds based on ill-gotten information. You could even say I got hot with righteous anger. I started following pages and groups like BAD RAPThe Unexpected Pit Bull and Pinups for Pit Bulls. I read about dog fighting and poor dog ownership in general. I started looking at everyone with a "pit bull" and wondering if they were really taking care of him/her. I started to look at EVERY dog owner this way.

I began to feel that the world was covered with horrible dog owners. Everywhere I turned, someone was trying to get rid of an "accidental" litter of puppies, trying to find another dog to breed their dog with, asking for veterinary advice (for potentially serious things) instead of going to the vet, and so on. People referred to their dog as "guard dog," "yard dog," and sometimes, just "dog." It was really getting me down. Why would they treat their dogs this way?

The blog post put that all into perspective. Just because someone isn't treating their dog like they should doesn't make them a dog hater. On the contrary, a lot of those people love those animals...they are simply ignorant.

I wrote a post not too long back about someone that had put a tattoo on their dog. It really disgusted me, but they saw no problem with it. Why? They would do the same for their human kid. Does that make it right? No, but it puts it into perspective. Will telling that person just what I think about putting a tattoo on a dog help? No, it will turn their ears away and close their minds. How can I make it better? I could talk to them about it, let them know my concerns that doing that could lead to a trend, and not everyone would take their dog to a vet (however shady that vet may be) and have a tattoo put on their dog. What about poisoning and infections? I wouldn't be making them feel bad about what they did, but maybe I could bring up a point that would encourage them to tell others not to do it. I can also lead by example, which speaks louder than any words.

A three-legged intact Bassett mix crossed out of my yard and into the road, where he was nearly squashed flat by a huge truck. I called him out of the road. He didn't have a collar, no one had reported him missing, and, when I took him to the vet, he didn't have a microchip. His rear end was nearly bare of hair and the skin was scaly. His tail was chewed up and raw, and I'm pretty sure I saw a flea or two. Animal control picked him up from my house, and, somehow, the owner was located. He's apparently an older man that feels his dog is a "yard dog" and has a right to wander. The dog lost his left hind leg due to a prior run-in with a car. Somehow, a note from the man made its way onto my front door. It read, "Looking for 3 colas beago dog His missing Left Leg ReaR From Pine Park area Please caLL _____________ at ____________ Thank You!" The man had told animal control that he had lived at his current residence for several years and had never had any problems with letting his dog(s) roam free. I haven't called the man, but I will today. From his poorly written note and the condition of the dog, I believe he is ignorant to how to treat a dog. Do I think he beats the dog? No. Do I think he loves the dog? Probably as much as he knows how.

We're not immune to ignorance. There are many subjects I'm ignorant about, and pit bulls used to be one of them. What does that mean? Everyone can LEARN, just as we all have. We are not a select few with a special knowledge and understanding that is unique; we are a select few here to educate the many with kindness and leadership, so that the few can become the many.

I was raised in church (another story for another day), and I do remember one particular verse from the Bible that a "soft word turneth away wrath, but a harsh word is quick to anger," or something like that. If we run at people with judgment, we won't make any progress. Jesus, as a teacher, sat down with the poor, the "sinners," the prostitutes, the dirty, to teach them his message. Do you think Gandhi or Mother Teresa would turn her nose up at these people? No, they would try to talk to them on their level and show them a better way. Sometimes, even kindness can get turned away, but don't give up!

You already have something in common with most other dog owners - a love for animals. I know we all want to see immediate change, see the dog off of the tie-out and in the house, see the Ol' Roy replaced with decent dog food, see the dirty dog washed clean again...but real change, change that sticks, takes time to cultivate. If you want people to change, you have to show them that they WANT to change. Maybe it's as simple as showing them the bond you have with your own dogs, or maybe showing how their dog responds to new and better things.

As a firm dislike-r of PETA, I can't believe I was beginning to think so much like them. I was so wrapped up in wanting to do good that I was losing sight of how to do it. Treat other dog owners with love and respect, and you'll be much more likely to get your point across and make a difference. I know, the guy down the road with the dog on a chain pisses you off. I know, the family across the road that breeds their dogs pisses you off. BUT - putting hostility in their faces about their actions won't help the dogs, and it won't change anything.

Let's all make a promise to ourselves (and our furbabies) that we will do better. We will educate the public through being an example, with gentle persuasion and genuine interest in their relationships with their animals.

Love, peace and pibbles. <3

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pibbles and Kids

On our Facebook page, we asked for you to give us topics to write about - and you gave us kids. Are pit bulls great with kids? Yes. And no. ?? Let me explain. Pictured is Axle with my (at the time) 6 month old nephew. He and his mom, also pictured, stayed with us for about a month. Axle LOVED kiddo. He gave him kisses and watched over him like a mother hen would her chicks. My other dog, Otto, an American Bulldog/Bull Terrier mix, also loved the little man. I know the kid is wearing the bib saying sloppy kisses...but I really think the dogs have him beat!

So when are pit bulls and other bully breeds NOT good with kids? Well, pit bulls and all dogs are like people - they are individuals. Not all dogs like kids. Not all kids like dogs...and the list could go on. Would I let an excitable pit bull (or other larger dog) go run amok with small children? No. Their exuberance could lead to some bumped heads and skinned knees...and a whole lot of tears. Never leave children unsupervised with ANY dog! Just because you know how your dog behaves and reacts to things doesn't mean your child does...and they usually don't.

Teach kids from an early age that a dog is much more than a furry playmate - they are part of the family and should be respected. You don't tug ears, yank tails and ride them like horses. You don't scare them or tease them. You love and respect them at all times, and they will give the same to you.

Pets are part of family planning. If you already have children, I recommend waiting until they are older before introducing a new pet to the family. You will have more time to spend training the dog, and your kids will have a better understanding of what they are being taught. If you already have dogs, don't worry - I have an answer for you, too. If we were to have a baby, Axle would probably abandon our room for the nursery because that would be "his" kid.

How do you prepare your home and your dog for the newcomer? Start by teaching your dog to respect the nursery. I wouldn't allow the dog in there at first. This teaches them that there is something different about that room. When you let them in, reward them for good, calm behaviors. Before you bring the new baby home, bring home some of his/her clothing or a dirty diaper in a plastic bag (gross, I know) for your dog to check out. This will get the dog familiar with your baby's scent. Haven't you ever seen Lady and the Tramp? Yeah, it pretty much happens that way...only there won't be any rats...we hope.

So what's the bottom line? Dogs, of any kind, can do great with kids as long as you follow these simple rules:

1. Know your dog.

2. Never leave ANY children unsupervised with ANY dog.

3. Teach your kids about boundaries and to respect dogs, as well as all other animals.

With a lot of love, patience and common sense, your dog can have a great relationship with children. :)

Love, peace and pibbles!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dog Park Publishing

Super excited about this website. They have everything ador-a-bull for pit bull lovers!

Dog Park Publishing:

'via Blog this'

Pibbles and Treats

For some reason, we humans tend to associate showing our love for our dogs by giving them treats. We are probably doing them one of the worst disservices possible. They love them, yes, but if given too many, it can lead to obesity and other health problems.

It is good to show your dog love and affection - and what better way than to give him/her your time? Play with them, snuggle with them, pet them, and so on. A great way to keep them interested in toys (without hurting your budget) is to only keep so many out at a time. Every few weeks, gather up a few of the toys you've noticed they aren't playing with as much and put them away. Bring out a few toys to replace them from your toy box, and they'll act like the toys are new all over again! Now, I know that, like me, you'll still want to give your dogs treats, if for no other reason than that little bit of peace and quiet. Let's talk about some good treats for your dog, particularly pit bulls and other heavy chewers.

Pit bull jaws don't lock, but they do have very strong jaw muscles. This means that just any toy or treat won't do.

Bones - Hard, weight-bearing bones like femurs are great for teething pit bull puppies, but I don't recommend them for full grown dogs. They can crack a tooth and the bones will splinter.

Chews - One of my favorite chews is Nylabone Healthy Edibles. They are all natural (gluten-free and no preservatives) and long-lasting. They are also made in the USA. Nylabone (and Kong) also make great toys and chews for all life stages of your dog. Do NOT give your dog anything meant for a puppy - puppy products are softer for teething puppies and can harm your adult dog's teeth. Adult dogs can also destroy puppy items quickly and choke on the small pieces. Bully sticks and antlers are also great chews for your dogs. Make sure you buy the bigger bully sticks because they can easily choke on the little ones. Ears contain too much fat and rawhide is definitely a no no! Many dogs, including pit bulls, aren't prone to chewing up things they want to eat, and rawhide is easy for them to choke on. It can also cause digestion problems that could lead to surgical intervention!

Training Treats - Look for natural ingredients. If you wouldn't feel safe eating it, don't give it to your dog. The grossest thing my pibble eats is Snausages. I've posted the ingredients below. It's not horrible, but it's not good, either. I use them in moderation because it's the only thing (short of cheese) that I have found that he will accept as a training reward on difficult commands.


Nutro Natural Choice Crunchy Treats - They come in carrot, apple and blueberry with no wheat, wheat gluten or corn. I used the blueberry with my deaf dog because the smell was so strong! Always check the ingredients of the treats you are thinking of using. The packaging can look great, but the ingredients may be horrible!

Toys - Back to the toys...almost any toy is okay for your dog as long as it is not small enough for them to choke on and doesn't have lots of tiny pieces that can come off for them to swallow. Make sure you supervise them with any and all toys, and take away toys that have been damaged.

Number 1 Rule - Moderation. Treats are just that - treats. They aren't a substitute for play time and/or training time, and they aren't to be used to "make up for" not spending enough time with your dog. Too much of even a good thing is a bad thing!

Another Number 1 Rule - Avoid China like the plague. I know it's hard, but don't buy your dog any treats or toys from China. Haven't you heard about the Waggin' Train problem? Waggin' Train makes their treats in China, and there have been many reports of dogs getting sick, even dying, from eating these treats. Guaranteed, anything made in China is substandard and shouldn't be given to your pet.

Do you have a great treat or toy that you've discovered? Share it below!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Large Yard Epidemic

As a dog lover, I follow a lot of groups and websites about dogs. As a shopping lover, I follow shopping/swapping sites like Facebook groups and www.craigslist.org. I've noticed a very scary trend - the "I have a large yard" trend. I know it's nothing new, but I don't think people understand the issue with it.

Hundreds of dogs are advertised for sale, for trade and for free on the sites I've mentioned and those like them every day...I'd even venture to say by the hour. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3Daz6_pWLo Watch that video...it includes many of the popular excuses - not enough time, the dog grew bigger than expected and so on. Without even meeting the dog and seeing if it's meant to be, people vie and fight over these poor little critters. A popular phrase when replying is "I have a large yard so he/she will get plenty of exercise."

Wait. Are you telling me that's all I need? A large yard? My dog will run, leap and play all on his own and come in all tired and calm? Wow, that's amazing! If only it were true. Dogs are intelligent animals that require stimulation. They love toys and large places to run, yes, but they need YOU. Dogs that are under-stimulated will be hyper and bored. They'll more than likely dig lots of holes in your yard and chew up lots of things you don't want them to. Will throwing a ton of toys out for them solve the problem? No. Does throwing a two year old child a bunch of toys every day keep them from getting bored? No. They need human interaction. Dogs, which have been said to have the intelligence like a two year old child, are the same way.

I don't care if you have 1 acre, 5 acres, or 100 acres, your dog still needs you. They need walks with you, play time with you, training time with you.

We live on a 1 acre lot with 1/4 acre fenced for the dogs. They are walked and played with every day. (They stay inside except when I'm home and let them out.) I do this plus work a 10 hour day and take care of household duties, so "I don't have time" is never an excuse. You ALWAYS have time for the things you care about.

I have met dogs that live in "large yards" and, in comparison to mine, they were incredibly hyper and their owner was pulling their hair out about the holes the dog was digging and all of the things he/she had chewed up.When I would suggest walks and play time, what I got was, "Oh, we don't have to do that. We have a large yard. He/she is just a bad dog - I'm hoping he/she grows out of this chewing and digging thing. If he/she doesn't, well, I guess he/she will just have to go to a new home."

Really? You'd give up your dog when it's actually YOUR fault? They make so many great things now - doggie puzzles, treat dispensing toys and super squeaky toys...all things that can help keep your dog's attention while you're away/busy. You should still devote about two hours to spend with your dog every day. It's really not as hard as it might sound, especially if your dog is indoors. I'll use Axle as an example:

When I get home, I change clothes while he goes outside to use the bathroom. We go for a 3 mile walk - it takes 45 min to an hour. When we get back, I let him rest and walk Bo for about 1 mile (he hasn't worked up to longer walks yet). We get back and Bo goes back outside. Axle gets training time - about 15 min of going through basic commands. Then, the two of them follow me around inside while I clean, cook, etc. When evening comes, we all relax on the couches and watch TV. Somewhere in there, we'll play chase the ball (they don't fetch very well), do some crazy agility exercises (jump over the couch, now freeze!) and just relax together.

See, it's really not hard. When your dogs are a integral part of your life, you'll spend way more time with them than you realize. I spend almost every waking minute with mine after I get home from work. I'd hate to imagine if my dogs had ended up living with someone that had just a "large yard."

Is your dog living in a "large yard" situation? Now's the time to change it! Take your dog for a walk when you get home, throw a ball for them, or just play around. They'll be happier, you'll be happier, and your bonds will grow stronger! :) Love, peace and pibbles!

A Lump of Pibble

This morning, there is a lump next to me in bed. It's all wrapped up in my covers...and that's why I'm awake - I'm cold! It's the house pibble, making himself right at home in my bed. He's burrowed underneath the covers and literally rolled into a pibble burrito. I'm not sure which end is which, either. Want to know what got him out? This video:

I think it's so adorable! Ha ha, I just watched it again for the heck of it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just a Pibble Moment...

Axschmel, as he is called when he is stinking up the couch, has stolen my favorite throw yet again. He stole away into the kitchen while I wasn't looking and licked the pan clean of the remaining eggs. That's why he is Axschmel for the night...and it's going to be a long night, for sure.

He's getting extra comfy for the new episode of Grimm that we're watching tonight. As part of his therapy dog training, I'm going to start reading to him - Grimm fairy tales, of course!
Bo, taking up the other half of the couch, is hardly pouting that Axschmel has all of the throw on his side. He has just recently made his permanent move indoors, and he is quite satisfied with the bare leather. So far, we haven't had any accidents. He also hasn't tried to chew up anything, so things are really looking up for Bo! Who's to say a 4 yo shelter baby can't learn new tricks?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pibbles and PETA

PETA wants to kill my dog. Why? Because he's a pet and he's and American Pit Bull Terrier. 

Do you know how PETA was founded? By liars. The face of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, is insane. She was a poundmaster in the 70s and testifies to euthanizing thousands of animals as a way to "rescue them" from people. She firmly believes people shouldn't have pets because you shouldn't "own" animals. So what, let the dogs and cats run amok in the streets, just make sure we spay/neuter? That's crazy! She's anti-fur, anti-meat, anti-by products (milk, cheese, eggs)... 

I believe the American Indians had it right. They killed only what they needed, both plant and animal. They thanked the Spirits for what they were given. They ate for strength rather than pleasure. They took care to give back, rather than just take and take. They respected Mother Earth. 

A plant is a living organism, just as animals are. There are studies that show plants react to words like "cut" and "I hate you," just as an animal would. Newkirk certainly has no problems eating plants. 

What else is wrong with PETA? Look here at the number of animals they kill each year: http://www.petakillsanimals.com/proof/

PETA rooted for the death of all of the dogs rescued in the Michael Vick dog-fighting incident. They said the dogs should all be euthanized, and that there was no hope for rehabilitation. Fortunately, groups like BAD RAP didn't listen. You can read the Vick Dogs stories here: http://vickdogsblog.blogspot.com/

Although PETA didn't advocate for the dogs, they sure attacked Michael Vick. They sure attacked him, though. http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/tags/Michael+Vick/default.aspx

In case none of the above enlightens you, here is further proof of Newkirk's insanity:

From PETA's website, here is her Last Will & Testament: 

DIRECTIONS FOR THE DISPOSITION OF THE REMAINS OF INGRID NEWKIRK

As someone who has dedicated a part of my life to the alleviation of animal suffering in various parts of the world, it is my wish that upon my death, my body be used to further that same goal. It is with this purpose in mind that I make the following directions and designations relating to the disposition of my final remains. I make these directions and designations after thorough consideration and pursuant to my firm belief in the purposes for which they are made.
1. Upon my death, it is my wish that my body be used in a manner that draws attention to needless animal suffering and exploitation. To accomplish this, I direct that my body be donated to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510, to be used in whatever manner it chooses in order to accomplish the specified purpose, with the hope that most of my body will be put to use in the United States, with parts also dispatched to awaken the public consciousness of governments and citizens in the United Kingdom, where I was born, in India, my beloved childhood home, and in Canada, Germany, and France.

2. While the final decision as to the use of my body remains with PETA, I make the following suggested directions:

a.
That the “meat” of my body, or a portion thereof, be used for a human barbecue, to remind the world that the meat of a corpse is all flesh, regardless of whether it comes from a human being or another animal, and that flesh foods are not needed; 

b. That my skin, or a portion thereof, be removed and made into leather products, such as purses, to remind the world that human skin and the skin of other animals is the same and that neither is “fabric” nor needed, and that some skin be tacked up outside the Indian Leather Fair each year to serve as a reminder of the government’s need to abate the suffering of Indian bullocks who, after a life of extreme and involuntary servitude, as I have seen firsthand, are exported all over the world in this form;

c. That in remembrance of the elephant-foot umbrella stands and tiger rugs I saw, as a child, offered for sale by merchants at Connaught Place in Delhi, my feet be removed and umbrella stands or other ornamentation be made from them, as a reminder of the depravity of killing innocent animals, such as elephants, in order that we might use their body parts for household items and decorations;

d. That one of my eyes be removed, mounted, and delivered to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a reminder that PETA will continue to be watching the agency until it stops poisoning and torturing animals in useless and cruel experiments; that the other is to be used as PETA sees fit;

e. That my pointing finger be delivered to Kenneth Feld, owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, or to a circus museum to stand as the “Greatest Accusation on Earth” on behalf of the countless elephants, lions, tigers, bears, and other animals who have been kidnapped from their families and removed from their homelands in India, Thailand, Africa, and South America and deprived of all that is natural and pleasant to them, abused, and forced into involuntary servitude for the sake of cheap entertainment; 

f. That my liver be vacuum-packed and shipped, in whole or in part, to France, to there be used in a public appeal to persuade shoppers not to support the vile practice of force-feeding geese and ducks for foie gras; 

g. That one of my ears be removed, mounted, and sent to the Canadian Parliament to assist them in hearing, for the first time perhaps, the screams of the seals, bears, raccoons, foxes, and minks bludgeoned, trapped, and sometimes skinned alive for their pelts; that the other ear be removed, preserved, and displayed outside the Deonar abattoir in Mumbai to remind all who do business there that the screams of the cattle who are slaughtered within its walls are heard around the world;

h. That one of my thumbs be removed, mounted upwards on a plaque, and sent to the person or institution that, in the year of my death or thereabouts, PETA decides has done the most to promote alternatives to the use and abuse of animals in any area of their exploitation;

i. That one of my thumbs be mounted in a downward position and sent to the person or institution that, in the year of my death or thereabouts, has gone against the changing tide of societal opinion and frightened and hurt animals in some egregious manner;

j. That a little part of my heart be buried near the racetrack at Hockenheim, preferably near the Ferrari pits, where Michael Shumacher raced in and won the German Grand Prix; 

k. That anything else be done with my body that PETA believes will serve to draw attention to and so abate the plight of exploited animals.

3. As a resident of Virginia, and pursuant to Virginia law, including 
§ 54.1-2825 of the Virginia Code, I designate PETA as the “person” who shall make arrangements for carrying out the directions contained in this document for the disposition of my remains upon my death. If, at any time, PETA is unable or unwilling to carry out these directions, I designate, in the alternative, Daniel Mathews as the individual who shall make arrangements for carrying out the directions contained in this document for the disposition of my remains upon my death. If Daniel Mathews is unable or unwilling to carry out these directions as required, I authorize either of the two listed “persons” in this paragraph to designate a third party to make arrangements for carrying out the directions contained in this document for the disposition of my remains upon my death. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What does it take to have a good pibble?

In the rescue and education world about "pit bulls," there is a lot of fuss about making your dog a therapy dog, competing in sports, etc. There is such a push for it I fear it may deter some people from getting a pibble because they are unable to "do enough."

Here's the way I see it:

Labs don't have to be therapy dogs to be the nation's most beloved breed. Poodles don't have to compete in agility to get ooohs and aaahhhs from all the ladies. In fact, there's a Pomeranian that doesn't have to do anything but have a crazy haircut and the world goes nuts about him. (I find him incredibly creepy, but you may find him cute. Check out "Boo" on Facebook or YouTube.)

I think there are 7 basic ingredients to having a good pibble, given that you have the time and resources to serve ANY dog.

1. Lot's of love and attention. Love is sometimes tough - you have to love your pibble enough to correct that cute little puppy when it chews on your shoe. You have to restraint to withhold your attention when it would be harmful to the dog - such as petting them when they jump, nip, etc.

2. Play time. Play time is important. It's a great bonding experience, and it helps you teach your dog basic obedience in a fun environment. Make things like sit, fetch and "go crazy and freeze" into a game. Your dog will be happy to oblige for his favorite toy, a treat or praise.

3. Training time. Here's where things leave the playground and get serious. During training, you should use a business-like tone. You can't coo your dog into obeying you. You have to be business-like to show him you're pack leader, and it's time to listen to you. Even if your dog will never be more than your house pet (which is a lot!), your dog should know the following commands and follow them without fail:
  • Sit
  • Down
  • Off
  • Sit/Stay
  • Down/Stay
  • Watch Me
  • Heel
  • Take it/Leave it/Drop it
  • Sit for greeting
These are basic obedience commands that you should use to create positive experiences for your dog in otherwise awkward/unpleasant/new circumstances. Sit for greeting should be used for every time the dog greets you or another person. Down/Stay should be used for meeting unfamiliar dogs on walks or wherever you go. Take it/Leave it/Drop it can be a lifesaver if your dog picks up a pill you have dropped that could be fatal to him. Watch Me teaches your dog that it's not only okay to look at you, but it is PREFERRED that he ALWAYS look to you for guidance and do frequent "check-ins."

4. Time for basic needs. Your dog is like any other - he needs to eat, sleep, poop and exercise. Make sure you feed your dog good, quality dog food. Use www.dogfoodadvisor.com as your resource for researching and choosing the right dog food for you. Your dog needs a good place to use the bathroom - a fenced backyard is preferable, but not always feasible. If you don't have a place to let your dog out on his own, make sure you take him out frequently and clean up his waste. You don't want anyone complaining about that "pit bull poop." Exercise every day! See above play time/training time.

5. Spay/Neuter. I remember when we first got Otto and Axle...we were hesitant about neutering them. We were so stuck on how much we loved them and enjoyed them, and thought they would basically make little clones of themselves for us to enjoy all over again. I'm so very glad we came to our senses, because we would have been part of a growing problem, rather than the solution. Yes, if everyone in the world spayed/neutered, the dog population would indeed die out. That's not what I'm saying. I'm pushing for a breeding reform...you shouldn't breed just any dog. You should only breed to improve. Check this out http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/476. It's one of many breeding checklists that give you an idea of the requirements you should meet before deciding to breed.

6. Good health. Make sure your dog is update on all of his vaccinations. Minimally, he should receive all of his core vaccinations as a pup, then an annual booster along with his rabies shot. He should also be on a monthly heartworm and flea/tick preventative. He should have a yearly examination to check for any new problems.

7. Research. Never stop reading/learning about your dog and other dogs. Reading and researching dogs is a great way to learn more about your dog, dog behavior and other important pieces of information.

All in all, you can have a great dog whose greatest feat is getting off the couch to greet you in the afternoon. You don't have to have a therapy or otherwise trained dog to have a great family pet that will be a beacon for pibble advocacy.

Yes, the therapy dogs and the pibbles competing in sports are making headlines for being the "unexpected pit bull," but a loving family pet that knows how to greet a stranger sends just as powerful a message.

Peace, love and pibbles!