January 29th 2009 10:30 am
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There are several reasons why I believe that I deserve to become Daddy's Valentine (again). As his Valentine a couple of years ago, it gave me more exposure to help spread the word that every dog, regardless of breed, is a simple reflection of its owner's choices. Also, isn't getting a dog about making a 100% commitment to that animal, just as you would to any new family member? By choosing me again, Daddy is showing the value of staying commited to the same ideals over time.
I am an American Pit Bull Terrier rescued from www.badrap.org out of Oakland, CA. An urban town with dog fighting issues, Animal Control Officers believe that I was used as a "bait" dog, or a dog without fighting gameness used to bring out dominance in other dogs. Most dog fighters don't kill their bait dogs a la Michael Vick, but simply evict us to try to make do on the streets, alone.
Animal Control Officers in the area believed this to be the case with me since I turned up in a neighborhood with known dog fighters who also breed for my color (called blue in pit bulls although it's more of a taupe/charcoal). Described by the shelter's vet as "severely emaciated" and only 37 pounds, I quickly filled out to a robust and rather brick-like 53 pounds. Mom feeds me a raw food diet, sometimes called prey model and sometimes called BARF, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food & now my coat gleams and my energy level is way up. I just know that she makes me do training before I get to eat, so I learn a lot in that 5 min each day before mealtimes.
Having never known friendly humans, during my first few weeks with mom, I rarely came out of my cage (never locked) and would hide underneath my dog bed and stuffed animal toys, hiding like E.T. in the closet of toys. Eventually I started venturing out for meal times and for 5 and 10 minute spurts. A true isolation case, upon experiencing anything new, I would immediately "check out", get vacant eyes and cower on the ground with my tail between my legs & sometimes wetting the ground. This happened upon every single encounter with something new like walking on a leash, hearing dogs bark, city noises, stairs, cats (still working on that one - they're scary!), elevators, meeting people, going to the beach. . .
. . . but as most know, LOVE can cure anything, along with consistent daily exercise and training. In just 4 months with mom, I aced both the AKC's Canine Good Citizen test as well as the far more rigorous Therapy Dog test. As a working Therapy Dog, I get to visit our local hospital & a seperate retirement community weekly. The pediatric ward is my favorite and I love to lay upside down with folks in the hospice center too as I'm a natural cuddle bug. Some of the older people even weep as they hold me because it's oddly similar to cradling a sleepy toddler. I stay very limp and love to make sleepy eye contact and contented bulldog snores.
Watching me blossom into the happy, wiggly bundle of fun and joy that I am now has rejuvenated my mom's heart and spirit. My very wide smile makes most everyone who sees me smile back. While occassionally people will say mean things to mom because of my stocky appearance and the terrible media stories that abound about pit bulls, most people help me build confidence by encouraging me. At the beach, strangers will root for me to swim just 8 or 10 feet! Not to brag, but I just learned how to swim! My lab friend, Bodhi, helped me get over my fear of the water - here's a 25 second video of us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ56L-8n6ZY
Most importantly, now I've got the support of my team behind me including my everpresent mom, my grandparents, vets, my many "aunts" and "uncles", etc. Plus, mom arranges daily supervised doggie playdates for me, so I wake up each morning with something to look forward to, even if it does take me about 2 hours of luxuriating, stretching and cuddling before I'm ready to get out of bed.
To those in favor of breed specific legislation, I say that any dog is simply a reflection of its current owner. Look at how differently I acted before and after being in my mom's care. Two of Michael Vick's dogs are also Therapy Dogs now. Places like Denver will mandatorily euthanize any "pit bull type" dog, even those passing through the area under the care of non-residents. Ontario, Canada and the state of Ohio have similar laws that punish the wrong end of the leash.
It's every dog guardian's duty and responsibility to raise us right. Luckily, the unlimited joy and enormous smiles that we bring to every activity makes it well worth the daily effort.
The time has come to showcase the silent majority of pit bull owners who provide structured, consistent and most importantly, LOVING homes and have dogs who reflect that. I would appreciate you highlighting one of us!
To see the object of my affection who brings out all this emotion in me, check out Daddy here: http://www.dogster.com/dogs/456424.
January 2nd 2009 12:13 pm
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I sent this newsletter submission to the company which Daisy is certified through to act as a Therapy Dog. Enjoy!!!
My rescued American Pit Bull Terrier, Daisy Mae, and I visit our local hospital weekly. We always do the Pediatric Ward and often I dress Daisy up in her many costumes. This season, it has been in her holiday finery comprised of red velvet with marabou trim and lots of jingle bells, making her very popular with the kids.
Last night, we stopped by the room of a usually headstrong 3 year old I’ll call Molly. She has been battling a very aggressive and cancerous stomach tumor since August and we’ve been visiting her weekly since then. Often, when we see her, she is connected to a sort of kiosk on wheels that she’s attached to by myriad tubes. She rarely lets that or her rounds of chemotherapy slow her down though and enjoy visiting nurses all over the hospital, especially those on other floors. Even in our large hospital, most everyone knows her and smiles and waves as she makes her rounds, chattering away as always. Her mother spends most nights in the hospital although they live 2 hours away and enjoys our visits as a rare 10-minute respite from watching an active 3 year old.
At any rate, she had gotten surgery the day before to remove her tumor and sported a long, fresh, angry red scar zigzagging up her stomach. When I arrived she was huddled in a ball, screaming and crying into her mom’s chest while a nurse encouraged her to walk. After any abdominal surgery, the doctors want you up and around as soon as possible afterward as it will only hurt worse the longer you wait.
When Molly heard and caught sight of Daisy Mae and her off-kilter jingle bell antlers, it surprised her enough to stop the racking sobs so she could get a deep breath. The nurses explained to us that her pain would lessen if she would stand up or walk, even a shuffle, and that the hysterical crying was hurting her tummy more.
Molly spent about 20 more minutes petting Daisy (whom I had put in a Down-Stay) but was adamant about not standing or walking. Finally after much negotiating, her mother and I told her that if she stood up, she could use Daisy as a crutch. I gave Daisy her command to stand up, “Up and Around”, and she stood slowly. Molly screwed up her face in concentration and put her hands on Daisy’s back. She squinted her eyes closed and ever so slowly, with her mom supporting her middle, pulled herself up while Daisy stood patiently. Being of bulldog descent, Daisy Mae has many wrinkles of loose skin around her neck and enjoys getting them tugged on and scratched. Once Molly got herself to a standing position & with tears still all over her face, she continued to clutch Daisy’s back with one hand and grabbed on tight to one of her many folds of neck skin with her other hand. She then shuffled herself 4 or 5 small sideways steps to her bed while Daisy waited patiently, turning her head only to look into her face. The nurses and I clapped for Molly and told her good job and she said, “I only did it ‘cause Daisy helped me”.
Needless to say, I was moved and proud. Molly’s mother was relieved and mouthed me a quiet “thank you”.
On Christmas Day, our hospital encourages all the Therapy Dogs to visit as one big pack, so we will see Molly again tomorrow. Hopefully the sight of so many dressed up doggies will take her mind off her pain again and even draw a smile!
Thank you TDI, for giving me the opportunity to explore such a rewarding volunteer experience for not only the patient, but also the patient’s family, the hospital staff, Daisy Mae and me – often we all work together as a team.
July 28th 2008 4:04 pm
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I celebrated my 3rd birthday and my 2nd anniversary in my forever home this weekend! Mommy invited 10 humans and 8 dogs over on Saturday. All the dogs have been on walks and outings in differenct groups and all the doggie parents were there, so things went very smoothly. The doggies wore party hats and engaged in lots of wrestling and flopping around for sure. I have playdates every day, but never with all my friends at once! I didn't know where to run or who to slide under first.
Check out some photos of it above. I wore pearls and a headband with a big ribbon on it to start with, but only my pearls lasted. Mommy even threw 5 stuffed animals into the yard at once for a major tug o war. Mommy made pigs in blankets as an appetizer for the humans and each doggie got a goodie bag from Petco for being so nice to me all year long. Since I was an emotionally vacant rescue dog at first and have blossomed into a bouncy joyful Therapy Dog, Mommy had a lot of thanking to do. Surrounding me with balanced people and dogs has changed my entire personality. It takes a village, right?
I collected presents and cuddles from every single person and doggie at the party, then as soon as the last guest left around 4:30 PM, I promptly went to bed for the night. Mommy let me snore away on the big bed for a few hours too!