Tag Archives: love of dogs

Hartley, My Heart.

11 Feb
My Heart.

My Heart.

I have loved animals all of my life. I always loved my family dogs, I loved horses and horseback riding as a kid and I always wanted to work with dogs when I grew up. Everything I thought I knew about loving dogs all changed when I saw Hartley’s face on Petfinder in February of 2009. I knew I HAD to have this dog. I was 21 years old and living on my own. This was going to be MY first dog. I filled out my adoption papers 20 minutes before someone else tried to adopt him. It was meant to be.
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Hartley was a 12 week old Lab-Mix puppy. My vet declared right away that he was probably a Pitbull-mix. That was fine with me, I’d been in love with Pitbulls for the past 5 or so years. No wonder I fell so hard for his picture.

So Snuggly.

So Snuggly.

Hartley and I instantly fell in love. I was 21 and had a pretty busy lifestyle so I simply brought Hartley with me. Everywhere. Hartley came to friends houses with me, Hartley came to my parents houses with me (even though he wasn’t invited). Hartley came grocery shopping with me or to school with me if I had a short day. He loved being in the car and I loved that I could walk him during my breaks. Hartley and I spent our time camping, at the cabin, or hiking. I was so much more active than I’d ever been before. We even played outside at night which would have scared me before.

Can I come with?

Can I come with?

Before I had Hartley I used to have terrible sleeping problems. I was always scared at night and I could never just FALL ASLEEP. When Hartley was about 7 months old I stopped making him sleep in his crate and let him sleep in bed with me. Every night he slept in the crook of my legs with his head on my legs. Suddenly I wasn’t afraid anymore. I listened to, and felt, him breathing and I fell asleep.

My life changed when I brought little Hartley home. I loved that I was responsible for his life. I loved coming home after work because that was Hartley and Chelsea time. I loved that he made me active and I loved that, with Hartley, winter was fun. I couldn’t just sit indoors anymore.. Hartley needed to be exercised. I learned that if I bundled up, playing in the snow was actually fun.
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My dad was always so amazed by Hartley’s attachment to me. He used to say that Hartley orbited around me. Even off leash he rarely went more than 50 yards from me. He would chase me on the four-wheeler no matter where I went.

Me and My Baby

Me and My Baby

This was the first time in my life that I had experienced THIS kind of love and devotion. He was my whole life, my whole heart and soul. Nothing made me happier than Hartley did. And he also made me fall in love with Pitbulls even more. The love and devotion that this little Pitbull gave me was more than I ever could have dreamed of. He was my best friend and the love of my life.
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One year after I brought little Hartley home and into my life he got really sick. He was throwing up and very lethargic. It turned out that he had ingested rope from a rope toy, and the next day he died in surgery. His intestines were completely shredded and there was nothing they could do to save him. He was in so much more pain than I ever knew. The night before he died he didn’t act like he was in pain. He just wanted to be with me. I didn’t even say goodbye. I was so relieved that he was going in to surgery because I was convinced it would help him. I didn’t get to say goodbye until after he had died. He would have done anything for me and I completely failed him.

Hartley died 3 years ago and I still can’t believe he’s gone. His death wrecked me. I still can’t think about the last couple of days that I had with him without crying.

I love Mylo and Chase with all of my heart but Hartley will always be MY HEART. Hartley changed my life and opened my eyes to real undying devotion. He gave me my strong passion for dogs and gave me an unwavering commitment to Pitbulls.

I’m now overly cautious with my dogs, and I worry ALL the time. I don’t want to ever go through that pain again. Saying goodbye to his lifeless body was the worst moment of my entire life. But, I am thankful that I had one year with Hartley, my angel, and I will always have unwavering affection for the dogs in my life, because Hartley would want me to.

I thank Hartley for showing me what is important in life. He died three years ago yesterday, so this post is for him.
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Harltey, I hope you’re having fun over the rainbow bridge. I miss you every day. I’m sorry we didn’t get more time together, but thank you for sending me Mylo and Chase and all of my fosters to bring me some comfort, and some more love.

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Passions and Participating

7 Nov

It’s pretty clear to anyone who knows me that my passion is Pitbulls.  I believe that they are incredibly sweet and loyal dogs who have been mistreated and taken advantage of.  Because Pitbulls don’t have very good English skills I choose to do their talking for them.  (I almost wrote that they don’t have a voice.. but Pitbulls are notoriously vocal dogs, so that’s most definitely not true.)

I choose to stand up for them when people put them down, whether I’m at a wedding, the grocery store or the bar.  I may not change anyone’s mind, but maybe they will learn something.

I choose to make sure that my pit-mix is an excellent example of the breed.  I’m aiming to get Chase therapy certified, but until then I make sure he’s always on his best behavior at the vet, the parks, or anywhere else I take him.  I get no greater joy than seeing someone come up to Chase asking “Is that a Pitbull?” with trepidation, and then finding him to be a calm, gentle, loving giant (at 80 pounds he’s a big pit-mix).  Again, this may not change anyone’s mind, but maybe, just maybe, somewhere down the road they will remember their good experience with a Pitbull-type dog.

I choose to foster Pitbull’s.  I choose to help save lives.  I choose to be an available safe home when a Pitbull needs to be rescued.  On top of helping save lives, fostering Pitbulls gives me more ammunition when I argue with drunks at the bar.  Drunk: “Pitbulls are terrible- why would you let them in your house? They’re going to bite your hand off.”  Me: “I have yet to have a mean Pitbull in my house.  As a matter of fact I find them to be much more well-rounded than many other breeds”.  Drunk: phpphbbb.  (It’s hard to argue with drunks.)

My most common arguments.

I do these things because I’m head over heels in love with this breed.  I STRONGLY believe that they shouldn’t be judged simply because of the way they look.  Have people learned nothing in all these years?  Dogs are no different than people (except for their lack of opposable thumbs-which makes them useless when I tell them to do stuff for me).  They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Their behavior differs from dog to dog, not breed to breed.  There will always be some similarities between dogs of the same breed; but there will be many differences as well.

I don’t expect everyone to share my passion.  I don’t expect that everyone I know will instantly fall in love with Pitbulls simply because I tell them how wonderful they are.  And that’s fine with me.  Everyone I know has their own issue to be passionate about.  I know people passionate about politics and people passionate about the environment.  I have friends passionate about children with disabilities and family members passionate about educating our youth.  Without all of these different passions the world wouldn’t go around.   What is most important is that these people are PARTICIPATING.  Regardless of whether they share my passion or not they are getting out and doing their part.  They are standing up for something, educating anyone they can, and taking part however they can.

There are many different ways to get involved no matter what you’re passionate about.  In the animal welfare and animal rescue world alone there are hundreds of ways to get involved. Some of the people that I admire most have dedicated their lives to help rescue, and educate about, Pitbulls. Check out Ashley Owen-Hill from Lucky Dog Rescue (luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com) or the founders of Bad Rap rescue (badrap.org).  Read about people who started programs like Priority Paws, a program right here in MN that brings Therapy Pitbulls and youth groups together (http://www.arottalove.net/blog/), and learn about the founder of MN Pitbull Rescue (mnpitbull.com).  These people are incredible.  They make me feel as if I’m doing practically nothing.  These are people for me to look up to as I continue working with Pitbulls.

What these people do is amazing, but they couldn’t do it alone.  Many people who are very dedicated to animals aren’t able to dedicate their whole lives to saving them.  However, choosing to participate in even the smallest of ways helps programs like these survive.  There are many seemingly small gestures a person can make that will make a world of difference in the big picture.

People volunteer their time.  These volunteers are the core of any good rescue/education program.  I feel like I have so little time to give, and yet here these people are walking shelter animals, working at an adoption events, helping rescues with their administrative duties, helping train rescue dogs, taking their personal dogs out to classrooms ect. The list goes on and on.

People get involved with fundraising. Not everyone wants to be out in the cold walking dogs or volunteering to clean kennels.  Fundraising can be a fun social event and is a totally great way to help save lives!

Many people who don’t actively participate in animal rescue donate!  There are some incredibly generous donators out there and there are many others who don’t have a lot to give but still donate what they can to causes they feel strongly about. Every dollar counts. I know rescue groups with more than 20,000 friends on Facebook.  How amazing would it be if every one of those friends donated just a dollar a month?

If money and time are short for you like they are for me look in to fostering! I feel like it’s such an easy way to participate because one: I already have dogs, so it doesn’t take any extra time, and two: it’s free! The best part about fostering is that even if you foster fail you saved a life!  What could be better than that?

For Pitbulls one of the most important things a person can do is to make sure that THEIR Pitbull is a good example of the breed.  Every positive experience that people have with the breed is another step in the right direction for the breed as a whole.  This doesn’t involve being involved with any rescue group, it simply requires people to be responsible Pitbull-type dog owners.

Sometimes a person’s actions at home are enough.  Loving the pets you own and treating them well is enough in my book.  That’s one, or two, or three less animals to worry about.

So, you can see that there are many ways to get involved, each as important as the next.  I greatly enjoy sharing my love for Pitbulls with such an incredibly passionate, strong willed group of people across the US and throughout many other countries.  We HAVE to be so passionate about our love of Pitbulls because the people discriminating against them are just as passionate about their hate.  I know that this is how other people feel about THEIR passions and I feel incredibly lucky that their are people out there sticking up for the underprivaliged children, the environment, farm animals ect.

Whether you are passionate about Pitbulls, like me, or something else I suggest that you find a way to get involved and participate. Sometimes the smallest things make all the difference. 

Foster Brothers to the Rescue

5 Oct

When I started fostering I was so excited to get involved, and so excited to get my first dog, that I didn’t think about all the things that would be hard about it.

Granted, I knew it would be hard to let go of the fosters, and I knew that dogs with behavior problems could be trying, but I didn’t really think about how much it would affect the rest of my family.

Our Family

Every day of my life I am incredibly thankful that I have someone so supportive that I’m able to bring home stray dogs, disrupt our lives, and receive help with the day-to-day responsibilities of having three dogs.   I feel SO lucky that I get to do this, and I think it’s important to realize and appreciate what everyone in my family contributes to this group effort.

Meet Mylo and Chase.

Mylo

Mylo is a 3 year old Labrador Retriever, and Chase is a 2 year old Pitbull-Mastiff mix.  Mylo was a rescued from abandonment shortly before he starved to death as a 6 month old pup.  Chase’s mom was tied to a tree, left for a week, impregnated, and almost put to sleep pregnant before she was rescued.  She had the puppies but was too young to be a mother, and started attacking her litter when they were 3 weeks old.  Because of this we received Chase when he was only 3 weeks and 6 days old.

Chase

I feel very fortunate that my dogs don’t have abandonment, anxiety, or social issues from their dramatic puppy-hoods.  I am UNBELIEVABLY fortunate that they not only DON’T have any of these issues, but to this day they have always been extremely well behaved with any and all of the dogs they meet.  In fact, I used to work at a boarding facility and I frequently used my dogs to test other dog’s socialization levels.

When I started fostering I knew they would be great foster brothers and I never thought twice about it.  However, now that I’ve fostered for some time I definitely feel that I need to redistribute the credit given in our household.  What must it be like for them to have new dogs on their turf all the time?  Initially, for the first hour or so, I think they find it fun.  They have a new playmate for the day! But then.. The dog stays over.  They are here for breakfast the next day.   They start sitting on the couch and stealing mom and dad’s attention.  Next they chew on their toys and try to get in the bed.  Sometimes the foster gets to go special places, or they get to eat special food.  I can only imagine that Mylo and Chase feel overshadowed sometimes.

Sharing the couch with one of our favorite fosters “Reddie”

In general they enjoy playing with the fosters, and they are perfectly fine eating in the same room and coexisting in the same house, but it seems to hit them hard when the fosters get brave enough to steal the couches, or try to steal their human’s laps.  It’s easy for me to see their jealousness,  but they always behave themselves, and usually adjust eventually.  Eventually they usually figure out that 3 dogs and 2 humans DO fit on the couch together, so long as no one cares about being squished, sat on, or kicked.

Fuzzy pic. It’s hard to take pictures with all three of them on top of you.

Then, after ALL of this adjusting, throughout the fosters entire time at our house, the foster dog is adopted and leaves never to be seen again.

Sometimes I wonder if my dogs can understand a foster’s sad past?

Maybe they feel special to help teach the fosters how great life can be?

Sometimes I wonder if my dogs are afraid they will be sent away next?

They see so many dogs come and go from our house, what’s to keep them from thinking they might be next to go?

Sometimes I wonder if I’m over-reacting and just THINK my dogs are jealous and pouting.

This is usually Gene’s opinion.

Whatever may be true about the whole situation, I know that not all dogs could do what mine do.  They have had nine foster brothers and sisters in less than a year.  They have put up with, adjusted to, and lost nine foster siblings.  And they keep letting new ones in.  Keep wondering where they go and if they have to be worried.  They share their toys, food, leashes and let them come on their outings. AND, as if that’s not enough, they share their humans.

Sharing treats with foster brother Bubb

I think Mylo and Chase may have the most difficult positions in our little foster family.  Gene and I are aware of what we are doing. We know what to expect, and we know that no dogs will replace ours.  I try to find ways to tell Mylo and Chase this, (For example only Mylo and Chase get to sleep with us in bed- One: there’s no more room. Two: I feel like they need SOMETHING that is always there’s no matter how many dogs we have in the house) but I think they just have to learn with every new foster that they will not be the next ones given away.

I always worry about my dogs, but I know deep down that being foster brothers is a great experience for them as well as for us.  They are incredibly well-rounded dogs now.  They are used to many things that they weren’t used to before. They have a lot of confidence in new situations.  Most of all, I have a TON of confidence in THEM.

Mylo and Chase.  Mommy loves you. Thank you for helping her help others.

Me and my boys.

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