Posts Tagged ‘foster dogs’

Yes, Janie liked to play.  But more than that, she invented her own game, involving the two of us! (more…)

Janie was, as a gambler in Vegas, always a player.  But in her case, there were no losers, only winners…and a great deal of  laughter.  Oh, yes…and Janie was a dog. (more…)


The living room looks so big without the extra crate and dog bed, no chew toys scattered on the floor, our younger daughter’s bedroom even larger without the prison crate.  There are no food and water bowls in the kitchen any longer.  It’s so quiet.  But even more obviously missing is the extra bit of joy that Annabelle brought into our lives for these last several months. (more…)

Tonight we take Annabelle to her next foster home for a visit so that she’s a little used to the people, the person , and the dogs before she moves there in the next day or two.  It’s a difficult moment. (more…)



Besides what I learned just from fostering a dog, (previous post), these are things I learned from fostering pit bulls. (more…)

Your dog loves you.  Period…unless you do something to break that bond.  And even then, she’ll probably love you again anyway or at least try to. (more…)

Anabelle and her person

When I was growing up, I dreamed of living in Denver, near the Rockies so I could go into the mountains whenever I like, skiing in the winter, enjoying the fresh mountain air in the summer. That was before I found out that Denver has a lot of pollution these days and also before I found out that Denver is being run by bigots.

They’re not bigoted against people (at least as codified by law); they’re bigoted against pit bulls. And there’s a lot more of bigotry going on in the United States. Besides Denver, Miami, Cincinnati and San Francisco (tolerant of virtually anything known to man), all figured prominently in the new documentary, “Beyond the Myth”,

From the web site:
The documentary intelligently explores the contributing factors behind the public’s generalized fear of ‘pit bulls’, and examines the conflict existing between advocates and opponents of breed discriminatory laws, commonly referred to as breed bans.

It investigates the myths associated with these breeds, challenges the idea that they are inherently vicious, and presents eye-opening research regarding the media’s role in influencing people’s opinion on dog attacks.”
Some of these cities have killed over a thousand pit bulls since their laws went into effect. It was heart-rending to see a picture of a pile of dead pit bulls, all killed simply because of their breed, not because of anything they’d done. There was a lot of sniffing going on in the darkness of the theater.

It was depressing to find out that if a pit bull was involved in an attack, the words “pit bull” and “attack” were usually in the headline of the newspaper article, which was also more prominently placed in the paper than any articles on dog attacks where no breed specified because the attack wasn’t by a pit bull. The film pointed out that boy killed by pit bulls in San Francisco, Nicholas Scott Faibish, (whose mother was later cited for child endangerment, as she left him alone with two dogs, one of which had bitten him earlier in the day) was cited hundreds of times while the story of a girl, Kate-Lynn Logel, killed by the family’s malamute was hard to even find. For more information on how the news media slants news stories on dog bites, see CHAKO’s website,

I would never trivialize any attack on any person by any dog. I don’t put animals ahead of people. But as a Christian, I believe that people should treat animals as God’s creation. If you don’t want to take proper care of a pet, don’t have one. If you have a dog, you need to care for it, train it, restrain it when necessary, make sure it gets along with people, give it something to do, don’t let it run loose around the neighborhood, don’t leave small children alone with a dog and certainly not with several dogs, etc. Yes, there are some dogs of every breed that are just mean, even dogs are predisposed to fight. But most dogs, treated well, and with the realization by their owners and others that they are animals, not people, just want to love and be loved.

My state, Ohio, until recently wasthe only state with the dubious distinction of having breed-specific language state-wide. Thankfully, that’s changed.  This is from the American Veterinary Medical Association,

On February 21, 2012, Ohio HB 14 was signed into law by the Governor. This bill removes pit bulls from the definition of “vicious dogs” in state statute. Prior to the adoption of HB 14, Ohio was the only state in the nation to have state-wide breed-specific legislation enacted. The bill also revises the definition of “dangerous dog” and “vicious dog”; makes changes to the requirements that owners of dangerous or vicious dogs must abide by; and provides penalties for violations of the act.

While dog-bite prevention remains a priority, breed-specific legislation does not address the problem. Proper socialization of dogs, and proper training for both animal and owner, are important steps to prevent dog bites. Additionally, breed-specific bans create a host of other issues for animals and pet owners, including the risk of abandonment of the animal.

This is a great piece of legislation and I am happy that the Ohio legislature, Governor, and Ohio Veterinary Medical Association worked to get this adopted.

The bill becomes effective 90 days after signing.”

However, cities can still have breed-specific laws as does Cleveland Heights, a city next to ours and self-proclaimed “nuclear-free zone” and a supposed bastion of tolerance and diversity. Here is part of the laws regarding dogs… well, some dogs…not quite in line with all that tolerance and love, but typical of the belief that all pit bulls and pit bull mixes are inherently vicious dogs, without any sort of proof:

• “Pit bulls and pit bull crosses are considered vicious dogs (505.091). (See below.)

• Animals may be impounded if in violation of Cleveland Heights Animal Control ordinances. A fee and all kennel charges must be paid in order for the animal to be released.

Vicious Dog Ordinance

Cleveland Heights Ordinance #71-1987 added Section 505.091 to the Animal Control section of our Codified Ordinances and deals specifically with vicious dogs and Pit Bull Terriers. The owner of a vicious dog has a great responsibility to neighbors and the public. In order to meet that responsibility, regulations have been established that must be followed. It is believed that dog owners who follow these requirements will reduce the likelihood that their dog will be involved in a bite. In addition, neighbors and people who pass by the dogs when the dogs are in the yard or are being walked will be less likely to feel threatened by the dog.

The city defines a vicious dog in three ways:

1. Any dog with a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, to cause injury or to otherwise endanger the safety of other human beings or other domestic animals;

2. Any dog which, without provocation, attacks a human being or another domestic animal;

3. Any pit bull terrier, which shall herein be defined as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pitbull Terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed of Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier by a qualified veterinarian duly licensed as such by the State of Ohio;

(Notice that these dogs are automatically labeled vicious without having met #1 and # 2 above!–my insert.)

If you have a vicious dog, the following is necessary to comply with the law:

(For the rest of the ordinances, please go to

In general, the saying “There are no bad dogs, only bad owners” is true. Cities must realize that they need to do their research, not just react and certainly not just kill. Hard to believe that there are places in this country where practically anything goes, where the police can come into your house, take your dog and kill it, just because it’s a specific breed, no matter what that dog’s even done or not done. There are lots of people working to change this but until then, maybe I’ve just helped your decision about where to work and live easier by eliminating some cities from your possibilities. You can thank me later. And thanks to Libby Sherrill, writer/producer/director for making this eye-opening movie! See it if it comes to a theater near you.

Three weeks, a (foster) home, love and a new name. Instead of Crazy Mama (wishful thinking, from what I can tell), our dog sports the new sobriquet of Annabelle, in a nod to the South where she lived so unhappily. When I walked in a few days ago, she came to meet me, friendly but not leaping up; happy to be petted, but ready to go back to our daughter, her one constant in these days of adjustment.

Doubtless because of her former life,(fighting or as a bait dog, we don’t know), she has separation anxiety issues. Twice while our daughter was at class, Annabelle managed to push hard enough on her crate, not to pop the door open, but to create a small space where she somehow shoved her rather large head through, followed by her still a bit too skinny body. Once she tore the bottom of the crate. Fortunately, both times she neither damaged herself, except for some scrapes, or much else once she got out, although my Guinness hot pad, a gift from our older daughter, direct from Ireland, fell victim.

After the second time, our daughter and a friend covered the edges of the crate with colored zip ties, frustrating her latest escape attempt. Now, part of Annabelle’s work consists of being left briefly in the closed crate, while our daughter closes the door, standing outside the room, then coming back in to reward Annabelle for not getting too excited. She made it close to a minute today. Progress indeed. Once she realizes that when we leave, someone will come back to let her out, she can relax.

During Japanese lessons, Annabelle curls up on her sleeping pad. Mrs. Saito (and everyone else) loves her. She’ll be a good companion for someone who wants a friendly, loving dog that doesn’t require athletic training to keep happy. She knows how to sit and lie down; we’re working on “Shake”, an always popular trick. Sometimes when we go into another room, she can’t figure out immediately where we are and she trots from room to room, a panoply of wrinkles on her forehead, puzzling it out. Her feet mostly stay on the floor, even under the intense provocation of food smells. She likes to sit on a lap, pushing her head into the object of her affection, or to curl up in her round pad in an impossibly small space. Often, her head lies on the edge of the pad, squashed into a definitely non-feminine but unquestionable cuteness.

Yet this dog and thousands like her, suffer from breed discrimination all over the United States. In Denver, for instance, “It shall be unlawful for any person to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport or sell within the city any pit bull.” Section 8-55. A pit bull owner even has to obtain a license to transport a pit bull from outside the city, through the city to destination outside the city of Denver. There’s a separate section about dangerous dogs. So pit bulls are even below dogs that have to be demonstrably vicious!! Welcome to Denver, city of discrimination (and not in the positive way), a place that, when I was growing up, was where I wanted to life at some point! I’ve re-thought that idea and not just because of the pollution caused by inversions.

Welcome to a brave, new world, Annabelle, one where some places and people hate you without even knowing you. Given a chance, one loving dog at a time and lots of vocal owners, perhaps this will change. Until then, you can keep the Rocky Mountain high.

Bernie was another rescue dog we were privileged to know. His owners moved, leaving him locked in the garage. Somehow he chewed his way out, was found by a neighbor and returned to the garage. He got out again and Shana, founder of For The Love of Pits, rescued him. But she and her husband already had a number of dogs at their home so Bernie was living in the their garage.

The weather was cold and although Shana provided heaters for the garage, she was concerned about Bernie and since Janie was no longer with us, asked if we could take him for about a week, until his new owner was ready for him. We said yes and went to their house to meet him.

Bernie was actually poised between life and death at that time. Shana was concerned because he tended to jump up, hitting a person in the head if you weren’t careful. When you have a rescue devoted to pit bulls, every dog you sent out comes under intense scrutiny, both as a representative of the breed and for the credibility of the rescue. And if you have a dog with a head the size of a small child and that dog’s likely to jump up into someone, that’s a problem.

Since Bernie’s part dog de bordeaux, he’s not a small dog and he has a large, hard head. He didn’t get a chance to be out much during the day, so when he got out in the fenced back yard, all he wanted to do was chase down and bring back the ball. He would fly over the grass, grab the ball or, if he didn’t get it right away, run madly after it, then tear back with it in his mouth. \Naturally your simple but necessary job was to throw it again. And again. And again. And….well, you get the idea. But when you bent down to get it or if you didn’t throw it right away again, he might jump up, something you didn’t want to happen. We thought that he was just jumping up in excitement, encouraging whoever had the ball to throw it, not out of meanness, so we said we’d be glad to take him.

Bernie was a great dog but he had a few disconcerting quirks. The first, more easily remedied, was that he had no sense of personal space but did have a huge love of being near people. Consequently, whenever we sat down, there came Bernie’s large, hard head trying to get right into our laps, where he could gaze soulfully into our faces and put thoughts of things geared to doggy enjoyment straight into our brains. Only one thing to do. We immediately began to sit with the leg nearest Bernie either up on the other knee or outstretched so he had to respect our space.  At first, he’d just drop that big old head on our leg, but he quickly began to get the idea.

But the quirk that caused the most difficulties was that he obsessed about squirrels. I’m not talking about a casual interest! He was obsessive-compulsive about squirrels.  Whenever he’d see one, he would try to stop and he would stare intently at it. He would then put his considerable weight into the leash, straining toward the oblivious squirrel and then he would start making sounds. They would be quiet at first but eventually he’d be almost screaming at the squirrel which, in true squirrel fashion, would either ignore him or seem to taunt him, knowing full well that unless Bernie was loose, not a thing was going to happen.  It was quite a sight…and sound!

Janie was reactive to other dogs, but you can generally see another dog coming and either turn around or take appropriate, distracting action. But with squirrels? No way! They’re everywhere and worse still, we had a family of about seven of the formerly little, now full-grown, rascals who resided in the trees in our yard. Hey, it’s home and they were not leaving for anyone!! After all, now many dogs can climb a tree.  So when it was time to go out for a walk or bathroom break, we’d peer out, hoping that no squirrels were in sight and either wait or slip out as quickly as possible, depending upon the what we saw.

But Bernie was a master at squirrel spotting. As soon as he got outside, he would scan the yard. OK, that’s normal. But if he didn’t see any in the yard, he would transfer his gaze to the trees and look all around for squirrels there. I kid you not! This was a squirrel-obsessed dog who was willing to put his all into the quest for his quarry.   While walking, he did the same things and even though he liked treats, we never found a treat sufficiently enticing to work at distracting his attention from a tempting squirrel.

There are people who think that putting a dog in a crate is mean.  But dogs tend to like crates.  They like small, cozy spots that have soft, cushy blankets in them and if they’re really lucky, also some sort of deliciously stinky bone.  Not all dogs like to go into their crates, even though they enjoy them once they’re inside.  But Bernie loved his crate and during the day would  go in, lie down and sleep, sometimes in hilarious positions.  It was his spot and he loved it.  He also enjoyed, just as Janie before him, lying under the counter in the kitchen right in front of the heat vent.  No dummies, they.

Although the first foster didn’t work out, Bernie eventually found a home and had his name changed to Satchmo, maybe for his singing the squirrel song. Who knows? He’s living happily in his forever home and we’re richer (and have more good stories) for having known him even briefly.