My Head is Spinning

One of the blogs that I have been following is Play Hard, Bark Often. This site is written by Monica and Theresa and centers around their two beautiful Pit Bulls Rosie and Simon. Please check out their blog for some great articles and pictures of their dogs. I have followed Monica and Theresa through many trials and stories of discrimination against their beloved family pets. Their post from six days ago “In Response to : “Breed Specific Protection” has weighed heavy on my mind since I read it.

The article written by Theresa is a thoughtful, insightful and heartfelt piece in response to PETA’s support of banning Pit Bulls. (Here’s a link for more information on PETA’s position.) Since reading the post, I have searched and read countless articles about Pit Bulls. My goal was to write a well-balanced and well-researched piece on the breed. Instead my head is spinning with information and with the preponderance of misinformation swarming around on the internet and in the media.

I read some very scary statistics on DogBites.org that made me want to lock my doors and never venture out again. This was followed by reading several articles about the “lies” and misinformation spread by DogBites.org. (There is even a facebook page for Stop dogbites.org). I read articles about how until the 1980’s Pit Bulls were considered “nanny” dogs. Then I read articles on the “myth of the nanny dog” designation for Pit Bulls. I am not sure which side is more credible. I did find an article “Larger-Than-Life Lap Dogs: Pit Bull Myths Debunked” on the Martha Stewart site, which gives some food for thought-

Pit bulls not only have been trusted to care for human infants, but large companies — and even countries — have branded them as “spokes-beings” for their products and causes! Their professional portfolio includes serving as the face for Radio Corporation of America (RCA), and they were America’s choice to convey loyalty and integrity on WWI and WWII campaign posters to enroll troops.

President Woodrow Wilson’s best friend was not only a pit bull; he was also a war hero. Canine Sgt. Stubby served our country in WWI and was reportedly wounded in action twice. Stubby actually captured a German spy and succeeded in saving his entire platoon by warning them to retreat from a poisonous gas attack. If that doesn’t define “man’s best friend,” what does?

Original caption: Washington, DC: Meet up with Stubby, a 9-year-old veteran of the canine species. He has been through the World War as mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division. Stubby visited the White House to call on President Coolidge. November 1924
Original caption: Washington, DC: Meet up with Stubby, a 9-year-old veteran of the canine species. He has been through the World War as mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division. Stubby visited the White House to call on President Coolidge. November 1924

So what went wrong!

It seems that the breed’s history may be their very downfall. One thing most articles agreed on is that these dogs were bred to fight. Unfortunately, they are still being used to fight. Something that was highlighted by the Michael Vicks case in 2007. Here’s a link to an uplifting story of the successful adoption of many of the dogs rescued from his home.  Vicktory Dogs.

This quote is from an article on Cesar’s Way that highlights the unfortunate roll of Pit Bulls –

For one thing, despite being illegal in all fifty states, dog fighting made a comeback in the 80s, and the pit bull is the dog of choice. It is also the preferred guard dog for drug dealers and gangs, with a hugely publicized attack in 1987 in which a pit bull guarding a marijuana crop in California mauls and kills a two-and-a-half year-old boy.

And so the moves to ban Pit Bulls started. Despite information from credible sources that these bans do not work, they continue to this day. An article on the ASPCA website discusses the ineffectiveness of breed specific bans. Here’s a summary from the article –

BSL carries a host of negative and wholly unintended consequences:

  • Dogs go into hiding Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of highly regulated or banned breeds often attempt to avoid detection of their “outlaw” dogs by restricting outdoor exercise and socialization and forgoing licensing, microchipping and proper veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery and essential vaccinations. Such actions have implications both for public safety and the health of these dogs.
  • Good owners and dogs are punished BSL also causes hardship to responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised and well-socialized dogs who happen to fall within the regulated breed. Although these dog owners have done nothing to endanger the public, they are required to comply with local breed bans and regulations unless they are able to mount successful (and often costly) legal challenges.
  • They impart a false sense of securityBreed-specific laws have a tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. When limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, without regard to behavior, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making our communities safer: dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, anti-tethering laws, laws facilitating spaying and neutering and laws that require all owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed.
  • They may actually encourage ownership by irresponsible people If you outlaw a breed, then outlaws are attracted to that breed. Unfortunately some people take advantage of the “outlaw” status of their breed of choice to bolster their own self image as living outside of the rules of mainstream society. Ironically, the rise of Pit Bull ownership among gang members and others in the late 1980’s coincided with the first round of breed-specific legislation.

After reading many articles,  with all the sensational headlines and with PETA supporting a ban, I understand why some people fear Pit Bulls. However I think concluding all Pit Bulls are dangerous is a leap too far.  I firmly believe that you should not judge a book by it’s cover. You should not judge an individual dog by the breed’s rep.

Due to the discrimination against Pit Bulls, the fact that they are often the result of “backyard breeders” and owners caught up in the machismo of owning an unaltered male dog that has a bad rep, shelters across America are overflowing with Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes needing good homes.

cute pit bull
Click this adorable picture for more cuteness!

As always, I am advocating adopting your next pet and as always I am stressing choosing a dog that is right for you and your family. It may or may not be a Pit Bull, but make that call based on the individual dog.

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The Vulture – Monday’s Finish the Story for Oct 26th

The  Mondays Finish the Story challenge is to write a short story (100-150) words that contain the first line provided and is related to the photo provided. Here’s mine for this week. Enjoy!

The Vulture“I watched the vulture looking at me hungrily as I lay on the ground bleeding and injured.”

“What a fine kettle of fish you’ve got your self into,” I thought. Why must I always run the fastest and farthest? It always ends in disaster. No wonder my owners calls me Rufus the Dufus.

boy and dogI think about Trevor. I’ve known the 10 year old all his life. I followed him, ready to break his fall, while he learned to walk. I was his one true companion when the boys in the neighborhood were mean. I would make him laugh, when I knew he was sad. What would happen to Trevor now? I wish I was looking up into his eyes not this vulture’s. Overcome by sadness I let out long low wail.

“I hear him, I hear him,” an excited Trevor screamed. Climbing over rocks, he spotted the crumpled black and white form.  With a screech of happiness he bounded towards his best friend.

Thank you Barbara for hosting this challenge. If you would like to take part, click the link above!

A Truce Has Been Called

Moe and Willa

Do my eyes deceive me? Is this Moe and Willa sitting together peacefully? There was a time when I did not think this was possible.

In my post It’s Mine I have written about Willa’s tendency to believe that everything belongs to her. Her herding instinct leads her to “gather” all toys and treats then guard them. This instinct has made life difficult for Moe. Willa will ruthlessly steal any treat or toy from him. As such, Moe gives Willa a wide berth. Over the years they have been quite content to ignore each other, easy enough to do when we had four dogs.

Alas we lost our beloved pack members Taz and Tasha last year. Almost instantly this changed the dynamics in our house. An truce has been called. Episodes of Willa stealing from Moe have become less and less. Now when Moe is playing with one of his toys she will simply leave the room. Moe, who in the past has brutishly guarded his food, can now be seen eating beside Willa. Now we watch nervously as the eight year old, 100 lb, Moe play fights with the 47 lb Willa, who appears more and more fragile now that she is 13 years old.

It is not a perfect truce. Occasionally the peaceful co-existence is shattered. Like a young child tattling on another, we hear Moe barking in a high pitched staccato manner. He is telling us that once again Willa has stolen a toy from him and he fully expects us to get it back.

Into the Dark Forest – Monday’s Finish the Story Flash Fiction for Oct 19th

The  Mondays Finish the Story challenge is to write a short story (100-150) words that contain the first line provided and is related to the photo provided. Here’s mine for this week. Enjoy!

Into the Woods

“Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest.”

Strange events had been plaguing him. One morning he had found his chickens roaming freely; the door to their coop hung askew. At night his cow and donkey were restless, lowing mournfully. Betsy, his loyal mutt, refused to sleep in her usual place by his bed, instead she stood guard emitting guttural growls.

A few steps into the forest he heard movement in the bushes behind him. Cursing himself for not bringing his gun, he turned to face his foe and locked eyes with a quivering black dog, one paw held aloft, bent unnaturally. He watched as it shuddered into an unconscious heap. Scooping the dog up into his arms, he shook his head at how light it was; how he could feel it’s ribs. Cradling the dog gently, he smiled with the knowledge that his menagerie of lost souls had just increased by one.

On the Road to a Full Recovery
On the Road to a Full Recovery

How Do We Mend Moe’s Broken Heart?

Here’s what lead to the heartbreak.

We live in the Phoenix area, however, when the universe is kind and the stars align we are able to leave the blazing heat of Arizona and spend our summers at our place in Central Alberta. The respite for this year has ended and we are now back in our home in Arizona.

It had been a great three months up north. Long summer days ended with the sun slowly sliding into the horizon around 11:00 pm. With the exception of a few days the daily highs settled nicely at 75-80° F, while the cool nighttime temperatures of 50-65° F encouraged deep restful sleep for all of us.

Moe Hidden in Bushes

Our rural property consists of five nicely tree acres. For the first time we had our dogs, Moe and Willa, on radio collars which allowed them to roam freely over about one acre of land surrounding the house. Each morning was like Christmas morning, Moe and Willa would bound out the dog door eager to discover who had visited the house during the night. Each would spend hours nose to the ground tracking smells. When the explorations had been complete Willa would come back in to sleep for a while. Moe would settle under some bushes or on one of the decks to sleep. Moe also discovered some pesky squirrels that would torment him from the bows of the spruce trees; always out of reach but never out of sight. Occasionally deer, coyotes and rabbits would emerge from the forest and Moe would have to vigilantly bark to ward off each intruder.

Desert Yard

Sadly our vacation came to end. Back in Arizona we have been assaulted by daily highs of 90-100°. Much too warm for the Big Brown Dog and his thick fur coat. A quick inspection of the small yard turned up no evidence of deer, coyotes, rabbits or pesky squirrels. The gecko’s darting across the fence haven’t interested Moe at all. Moe has sought refuge in the bathtub in the master ensuite or the dark of the small walk-in closet. We have tried to entice him with his treat dispensing toys. All attempts have been met with indifference. He is eating and drinking  fine and otherwise appears healthy, so we are convinced he is depressed. He misses his yard and the animals from our northern home.

We are going to set up a sandbox in the yard where we can hide toys and rawhide chews. Hopefully this will spark some life back into our listless Moe. Do you have any other ideas of what we could set up in our small desert yard to entertain Moe?

The Life of Riley – Monday’s Finish the Story for Oct 12th.

The  Mondays Finish the Story challenge is to write a short story (100-150) words that contain the first line provided and is related to the photo provided. Here’s mine for this week. Enjoy!

Life nof Riley

“Now this is living the life of Riley.” Chester thought to himself.

Life had not always been easy. The Ryan’s had taken Chester, an adventurous kitten, into their home, a surprise gift for their daughter. With wide-eyed wonder he had stared at the little girl as she clutched him tightly. He felt loved.

As time passed, Chester wondered how he had offended the girl who would no longer pick him up. He was left neglected, like the dolls now pushed to the back of the dark closet. When Chester found himself in a long row of cages, he cried out for the girl; she would not appear. His cries mingled with those of the other cats and dogs, too numerous to count.

Many days passed before the young woman with shining eyes took him from his cage. With wide-eyed wonder he observed his new home. Once again he felt loved.

Thank you to Barbara Beacham for hosting this challenge.

This week’s story is a cautionary tale. As the Christmas gift giving season approaches it is important to remember that pets of any kind may not be a great gift. Pets are a responsibility and require a huge commitment stretching over many years.

 

Castle Island – Monday’s Finish the Story Flash Fiction for Oct 5th

The  Mondays Finish the Story challenge is to write a short story (100-150) words that contain the first line provided and is related to the photo provided. Here’s mine for this week. Enjoy!

Castle Island

“Few knew about the castle hidden inside the island.”

King led me down the narrow cavern to his court hidden in the bowels of the craggy island. Spears of English Springer Spanielsunlight shot through the rock bathing the worn surface of his throne in golden tones. From this noble perch the King ruled his land with swift justice. A piercing bark would banish all wayward creatures. Only a favored few were allowed to grace his presence.

A small noise from some rocks shattered the quiet. King sprang into action. His powerful legs pumped. The mouse found a small hole and escaped. With a whine, King pawed at the opening. I soaked in his excitement, joy and frustration. Soon our weekly visit would come to an end. Visiting this island gave my English Springer Spaniel a chance to escape the confines of our apartment. A chance to be a dog and to be a true King for a day.