Sunday, October 19, 2014

PBRC Volunteers and Their Dogs: Karen and Jackson

In honor of Pit Bull Awareness Month, Pit Bull Rescue Central's volunteers are sharing the stories of how their pit bulls became part of their families. PBRC envisions a compassionate world where pit bulls and pit bull mixes reside in responsible, loving homes and where their honor and positive image is restored and preserved.

After the Panic: An Adoption Story, by Karen Stein

While sitting in the lobby of the veterinarian office down the road from the shelter, waiting for the dog I’d just adopted to get the rabies shot that would allow me to take him home, I flipped through breed books to get to know more about what to expect from this American staffordshire. When I saw the classification “pit bull” screaming at me from the page, I may have stopped breathing in a flash of panic. I knew nothing about pit bulls at that time—including, clearly, that American staffordshires were among them—except for what I’d heard on the news, and I had no idea what I was supposed to do with this dog that (in my mind) had the potential to be a monster.

While still at the shelter trying to find the dog I wanted to take home, I'd thought him to be particularly odd as we sat in the shelter’s greeting room and tried to get to know each other. While the other dogs I’d met were bouncy and licky and jumpy, he just sat quietly and stared at me intently, as if he were waiting for me to say something hilarious or otherwise entertain him. I handed the leash back to staff and told them I wanted to keep looking. But every time I paged through the binder of doggie profiles, I kept pausing at his photo before I realized it was that same extraordinarily mellow dog from earlier. Finally I accepted that I had to see him again. But this time when he came sauntering back into the room, he was carrying a bowl in his mouth—apparently the thing he always did when let out to play. This time his weirdness was so endearing that there was no way I was leaving without him.

For a fleeting moment in the vet’s waiting room, I had the thought that there was no way I was taking him home. It’s easy to become angry at statements like that, and of course I wish I'd known then what I know now, but at that time I'd never known anyone who owned a pit bull, and never interacted with one as far as I knew. My knowledge of pit bulls had been shaped entirely by the anti-pit bull media noise machine.

I did take him home, though. Admittedly, for the first month or so I was acutely aware of how leery of him I was. He played rough—his kind of play was to do an airborne 360-degree spin into a hip-check into me, to whip his plush toys all around and against the ground until the squeakers and fuzz came flying out and left a toy duck murder scene on the living room floor—a kind of play I’d never seen in any dogs I’d owned previously.

After hearing the inevitable suggestions that I take him back—“he’s going to snap, and you’ll be sorry”—I rejected them, knowing that returning him to the shelter would not make me a better person nor, more importantly, him a better dog. I knew there was nothing wrong with him, I just didn’t understand him, and in that way I was failing him. I became a member of the pit bull listserv managed by PBRC volunteers to get information and advice, share my experiences, and trade funny stories. I enrolled him in obedience classes. I quickly learned that the dog park was not a place where we could succeed, where we would both be comfortable and welcome, and so I stopped taking him there. But for as much as I hated each sidelong glance or utterance of distrust directed at my dog based on no more than his body type and the structure of his face, I enjoyed witnessing just how much he was letting down these people by not meeting their behavioral expectations of him.

He’s just a goofy little kid (so little that I’m often told “he’ll be so big when he’s full grown” by people who don’t realize he’s 7). He nearly insists that everyone who passes says hello to him. He waves goodbye. When he’s not whipping the stuffing out of them, from time to time he arranges his toys. He follows the sun around the house until it is just his front paws in the day’s last bits of warmth.

I adopted Jackson in 2008, and he has since become my heart dog, a 40-pound mix of energy and empathy. He went with me when I moved from Chicago to Mexico and then from Mexico to Michigan, and all along the way, he has done what he does best—change people’s minds about pit bulls.

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Visit PBRC for more information about the work we do.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PBRC's Volunteers and Their Dogs: Amanda, Samantha, Syndey, and Murphy

In honor of Pit Bull Awareness Month, Pit Bull Rescue Central's volunteers are sharing the stories of how their pit bulls became part of their families. PBRC envisions a compassionate world where pit bulls and pit bull mixes reside in responsible, loving homes and where their honor and positive image is restored and preserved.

A Crew of Therapy Dogs, by Amanda Clase

In June 2009, I was suddenly introduced to the world of pit bulls. My mom was driving to work and saw a huge black and white pit bull sitting on the side of the road. We already had four family dogs between the two of us so she passed by hoping someone else would stop for the dog. Her heart got the better of her however and she returned to the spot about 40 minutes later to find the dog had not moved an inch. She seemed to be waiting for someone. When my mom invited her to come home, the dog jumped into the back of the car and waited to be chauffeured into her new life.

We decided that since I only had one dog living with me, that the one and a half year old pit bull would stay with me until her owner could be found. She and Samantha, my 9-month-old ‘pitador’ (lab/pit bull mix) instantly became fast friends and I fell completely in love with her before the first day was done. Not surprisingly, her owner who had likely dumped her on that road never came to claim her and Sydney became a permanent family member.

I knew nothing about the breed and made no attempt to do any research since I felt all dogs were basically the same. This blissful ignorance came crashing down on me, however, when later that year I decided to move to Denver, Colorado, to go back to school. Talking to a Denver cab driver on the way back to the airport, I was devastated to learn that pit bulls were illegal in Denver. Back home I started doing my research and learned the horrors of breed-specific legislation. I had already accepted the studentship in Denver but quickly made arrangements to live in the neighboring city of Aurora so I could legally keep my dogs.

After a few years, I decided that therapy work would be a great way to showcase pit bulls in a positive light and joined a local organization that held training classes in Denver. I couldn’t bring Sydney to the classes, but Samantha looked lab-enough that I could sneak her in. The organization also didn’t agree with the breed ban and agreed to let me train Sydney at home and the evaluator would come outside of Denver when the time came for the girls to take their final exam. Both girls passed with flying colors and we were all ready to start visiting.

The organization had an agreement with a hospice facility outside Denver city limits but before I was able to start visiting, my father passed away unexpectedly and the hospice facility felt it was unwise for anyone to volunteer if they’d had a recent loss of their own. Soon after, I finished my education and moved on to Montana to further my career. I also decided to make another addition to my family and adopted Murphy a 9 week old pit bull puppy. Over the next year, I trained and socialized Murphy as much as I could and again decided that it was time to pursue therapy work with the dogs.

In July 2006, I drove an hour and a half to a Delta Society evaluation with Samantha and Sydney, now 8 years old, and 18-month-old Murphy. Sydney was the first to be evaluated and after we finished the last test, the evaluator turned to his volunteer helpers and said “Now that is what a pit bull is supposed to be like! Next time you hear anything bad about this breed, remember what you saw here today!” Samantha and Murphy also passed with flying colors that same day. We spent the next couple of years visiting a local retirement home and Murphy visited the University of Montana for their “Stress-Less” events for the students.

I will never forget our very first therapy visit. I had made arrangements with the retirement home to start their therapy dog program. Since they never asked, I didn’t offer the breed of dog I’d be bringing; I just gave their Delta qualifications. One can imagine their surprise when I walked in with this huge black and white pit bull when they were expecting the more typical “family” dog. The residents were waiting in the lobby for our first visit and Sydney immediately planted her huge head in the lap of the first person she saw. The woman was ecstatic and laughed and petted her, much to Sydney’s delight. Suddenly Sydney looked behind her and as I turned I saw a woman leaning forward from her wheelchair to pet Sydney’s back. She never said a word and only made that single stroke, but I saw tears in the eyes of every staff member in the room. I was told later that this woman had been at the home for five years and had never once made any effort to reach out to anyone until she stroked Sydney’s back.

All my pit bulls were welcomed there from that point on. Sadly, over the next few years, Samantha and Sydney’s health deteriorated and by 2010, I had lost both of them. Murphy continued on their great work for seven years. He was a favorite at the Virginia hospital we most recently volunteered at. In the emergency room, he had what was dubbed “The Murphy Effect”: big macho EMT’s would fall to the floor squealing like little girls at the opportunity to pet and play with Murphy. I can’t begin to count all the times patients or visitors have told me “This is the first time I’ve ever petted a pit bull”.

One evening while passing through an empty waiting room, we heard a door open behind us. I didn’t think anything of it until Murphy suddenly turned and was determined to go back. A woman was coming out of the restroom obviously very upset. The sight of Murphy heading her way caused a small smile and she knelt down to greet him. She sat on the floor for several minutes with him in her lap (all 65lbs of him) talking to him and stroking him, rarely saying a word to me. Eventually, her tears started again and embarrassed she hid her face in his neck and kissed him before getting up to leave. Murphy absolutely knows who needs his special kind of therapy the most and this woman definitely needed him at that moment.

Murphy’s comical, joyful expression and the little socks he wore to provide him traction on the slick hospital floors enticed folks to invite him over and gave me the opportunity to educate people on the reality of the breed. However, it is his personality and love of his work that has changed more minds than I ever will.

Monday, October 13, 2014

PBRC's Volunteers and Their Dogs: Jeanne and Annie

In honor of Pit Bull Awareness Month, Pit Bull Rescue Central's volunteers are sharing the stories of how their pit bulls became part of their families. PBRC envisions a compassionate world where pit bulls and pit bull mixes reside in responsible, loving homes and where their honor and positive image is restored and preserved.

Annie: My Joyful Spirit Guide, by Jeanne Posner

In June of 2011, I found myself in a dark place. In one year, I had a near fatal heart attack and had to say goodbye to both my sweet boys, Odie and Junior. I found myself browsing Petfinder.com as looking at dogs always lifted my spirits—at least a little—that June. A good friend suggested I check out the section of Rose Hope Animal Rescue on Petfinder, a wonderful rescue group in Connecticut. So, I started looking through their photos. Honestly, I wasn't sure I was ready to embrace a new dog yet, but my life and home surely felt empty without a fur baby. I found that I was specifically looking for pit bull. I had fallen head over heels in love with them while volunteering at the Humane Society near my Connecticut home.

A photo appeared and I stopped and stared at it for at least 20 minutes. I couldn't stop looking into this dog's eyes (she was looking right at the person taking her photo so it appeared as if she was looking right into my eyes as well). I went back to that photo at least a dozen times, so it became clear to me that I wanted to give that dog with the piercing eyes a home. I filled out the online application form and a month later Rose Hope informed me that I was approved. I was excited by this news! So, in July 2011, I went to meet Annie.

I walked into the adoption event and gave my name and said I was there to find out if Annie and I were a match. They said, "She's right there—why don't you walk her around the store?" (The event took place in Petsmart). I wasn't sure where the woman was pointing, so she took my elbow and walked me the approximately two feet to where this gorgeous pittie mix was wagging her entire body. I knelt down and Annie curled up in a C shape against my body and started kissing my face. I was in love—but didn't yet realize I had hit the adoption jackpot.

Annie was rescued from people who were using her as a breeder dog. They took her from her mama much to soon, and bred her too soon as well. They didn’t' love her or treat her well in any way—she was a commodity to them. I asked the Rose Hope volunteer how Annie could be SO full of joy and love...she replied that Annie had been with a wonderful foster mom for several months who helped her come to trust people again. So, Annie and I went home together.

Every day since, she has proven to be the most joyful spirit I've ever known—human, canine, any kind. Her zest for life inspires me every day. She holds no bitterness toward anyone for the way she was so mistreated during her first two years of life. She is still a bit fearful of certain other dogs (why wouldn't she be?) although she instantly loved her sister Darla in our new home in Vermont. Having the honor of being Annie's human guardian led me to get much more involved advocating for pit bulls. It also helped lead me out of the dark place I had been stuck in for a long time.

Of course, I will always miss all the dogs and cats I loved and had to say goodbye to. But Annie—who charms everyone she meets—is a special soul. She touches me in a deep place and makes me laugh every day. As I said, I hit the jackpot. And I will fight with all the energy I have to stop loving pitties from being misrepresented, misunderstood and abused. I will fight—with Annie by my side—until they all have a home.

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Visit PBRC for more information about the work we do.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

PBRC's Volunteers and Their Dogs: Stephanie and Wilbur (and Moby!)

In honor of Pit Bull Awareness Month, Pit Bull Rescue Central's volunteers are sharing the stories of how their pit bulls became part of their families. PBRC envisions a compassionate world where pit bulls and pit bull mixes reside in responsible, loving homes and where their honor and positive image is restored and preserved.

Moby (hearts) Wilbur! —by Stephanie Feldstein

When I brought Wilbur home, I didn't know he was the one. The local humane society had called and asked if I'd be willing to foster him. They adopted out pit bulls, but had a limit on how many could be up for adoption at any one time. They were already full and had at least half a dozen young, friendly pit bulls waiting for their shot at a home. This one was older, and he had some cuts on his face that might deter adopters.

I agreed to meet him. I brought my pit bull Moby with me to the shelter. My three girls—two shepherd mixes and one pit bull—had been through dozens of fosters with me over the years, so I knew they could handle the new routine, whether this one fit into the household or had to be rotated with other dogs. But I'd had Moby for less than a year and wanted to get an impression of how they'd react to each other.

When we arrived at the shelter, I put Moby into an outdoor playpen and waited for them to bring out the hard-to-adopt dog. Two volunteers emerged from the kennels, each with a separate leash around the dog's thick neck. The dog, a nameless stray at the time, trotted along with his tail wagging, oblivious to their tension. I knew I had to get him out of there. He and Moby greeted each other well, played a little on their leashes, and I took him home.

I started taking Wilbur to adoption events with a local pit bull rescue group. When adopters checked him out, I was happy that he was getting the attention—he really was a good dog and deserved the second chance. He listened well and adored people, an older dog who was still playful. He was good with my dogs and cats, and had plenty of silly pit bull charm. But at the same time, I started to wonder if these potential adopters could handle him -- especially his separation anxiety and small but powerful destructive streak when left alone. I found myself rejecting them before they even applied...but it didn't matter, because even though a few people said they were interested, he never got any applications at the end of the day.

Wilbur was well-behaved in his crate at events, but started breaking out of his crate at home. At first it was kind of funny— I'd wake up to find him standing proudly on my bed, happy to see everyone. But then one night I came home from a movie and he was trapped halfway out of the wire door. That was the last time I left him alone in a crate. Instead, he had his own room in my house when I went out, which wasn't that often since I worked from home now.

About four adoption events into his foster care, something had changed in my house. Moby had decided Wilbur was the one—and I mean The One. They spent their days following each other around and finding new creative ways to cuddle to get as close as possible.

I tried to imagine the perfect adopter for him. Someone who didn't have to leave him for long periods and could deal with his separation anxiety when they did go out. Someone who would be consistent with him and could manage him—he was a strong dog, and the more he settled in with my dogs, the less he liked new dogs. And, of course, it had to be someone who loved him.

It occurred to me that I kept describing my situation and my home as the perfect place for him, so I stopped taking him to adoption events and took down his PBRC listing. If he wasn't right for me, I would've kept him listed, but Wilbur had grown on me by then, more than previous foster dogs. And there was no way I could tear him and Moby apart.

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Visit PBRC for more information about the work we do.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

PBRC's Volunteers and Their Dogs: Nikki and Reggie

In honor of Pit Bull Awareness Month, Pit Bull Rescue Central's volunteers are sharing the stories of how their pit bulls became part of their families. PBRC envisions a compassionate world where pit bulls and pit bull mixes reside in responsible, loving homes and where their honor and positive image is restored and preserved.

The Story of Reggie—by Nikki Halip

I was not looking to adopt another pit bull. I still wasn't doing well after losing my best friend even though it had been well over a year. However, after leaving L.A., I moved to a small beach community to start another chapter in my life. I decided to volunteer with a local rescue group that partnered with a pet store that held adoption events. As I entered the back of the shop, all I could hear were dogs barking, crying and howling. As I made my way around, I noticed one particular dog that just sat there looking very stoic; no barking, no fussing, no jumping. I wanted to take him out for a walk but was advised it would not be a good idea because he was a rough, tough, uncontrollable boy who had absolutely no training. I wanted to know, then, why was he at the adoption event? I was told it was just a way of getting him out of the kennel because he had already been there 2-1/2 years waiting for a home but sadly was always overlooked because of no training and how formidable his looks were.

I learned he was tossed out of a truck on a two-lane highway. A lady watering her garden saw the incident and called the police/rescue group, advising them that the dog was frantically running down the freeway after the truck. The rescue took almost three days. The husband/wife team who finally found him in the bushes named him Reggie after the NFL player Reggie Bush.

I insisted on taking him out. I noticed a bench, sat down and asked him to join me. He laid his big body against me and let out a pitiful sighed. I knew he was emotionally shutdown. He never wagged his tail nor did he ever make eye contact. I can't begin to describe how I felt but knew he needed to get out from under, and I made a commitment to him on the bench. I was so surprised when he gazed up at me. He knew. I was confident that together we could make this work because I worked from home which would enable me to be with him. House check and adoption application were approved.

The day I picked him up at the kennel is a day I will never forget. He remembered me when they brought him out and he literally dragged the guy towards me! He still had the raw sores on his face and I asked what they were from. Apparently, since his ball was his only source of comfort all those years, when he got to go into the gravel pen, he just ran and ran after his ball, hence the open sores on his face. Talk about a tough guy! As I he pulled me to my car, I told him he will never see a kennel again.

I took him to the vet the day after and was told he was underweight, his tail was broken in 3 areas, both ears were infected, and he had kennel cough and tested positive for giardia. The vet also told me his teeth were either filed down or they were worn down from gnawing on the kennel bars.

Reggie Before

It took me almost a year to fully house train him. It was an incredible challenge but I never gave up on him. Little by little, he came out of his shell. I put him on the “no free lunch” program, which worked wonders. Because Reggie was so food motivated, he caught on real quick and really enjoyed our training sessions. Although he still has loads of issues with other unfamiliar dogs, he is such a gentleman with my grandchildren. He loves all people. After two long years, he started vocalizing, running around the yard, doing zoomies in the house, throwing toys up in the air. Finally there came the day he wanted to cuddle on the couch. To this day, his ball is always beside him.

He truly is my best pal, and I often wonder who saved who. Reggie has given me such joy and happiness that words can never express.

Reggie After

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Visit PBRC for more information about the work we do.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Photo Submissions Open for Happy Endings 2015!






PBRC Is Now Accepting Photo Submissions for the Happy Endings 2015 Calendar!
 
Do you think your rescued pit bull was meant to be a calendar girl or boy? Can you picture your pup as Mr. March or Ms. May? PBRC is offering the chance to share your rescued pit bull with the world!

We are opening submissions for PBRC's 2015 Happy Endings Calendar! Since 2002, PBRC’s Happy Endings calendar—our all-dog calendar—has filled 12 months with wonderful color photographs of good-looking, charming, and active rescued pit bulls along with accurate breed information and heart-warming stories of rescue!

PBRC is accepting photo submissions now through August 31, 2014.

What kinds of photos are we looking for? 

 
Here are some examples of pages from the 2014 calendar:






 

 

 

 



Photo Requirements
  • Minimum 150-300 DPI 
  • Minimum 1725 X 1350 resolution 
  • Scanned photos must meet the same DPI/resolution requirements as digital photos.
  • High-quality digital images of RESCUED dogs only.

 

Selection Criteria

  • Rescued pit bulls depicted only
  • Clear, focused pictures with good contrast (sharp, clean edges; not blurry or dark)
  • Colorful background (for example: flowers, beach, forest, snow, tapestries, flags, parks, etc.)
  • NO "red/blue flash" eyes
  • Color photos (however, exceptional black and white photos may be accepted) 
  • Nice, friendly expression (like a big pit bull "smile")
  • Horizontal/landscape orientation preferred (exceptional vertical photos will be accepted)
  • Dogs that were selected for the 2014 calendar are not eligible for the 2015 calendar.
Entry fees are as follows:
1 photo: $7.50
3 photos: $15
6 photos: $25
 



Number of Photos

Thursday, May 22, 2014

PBRC's People's Choice Calendar 2015 Now Accepting Submissions!









Hey, Pit Bull People!

It’s time to dust off all those pit bull pix in your photo files and see which ones would you think were destined for a calendar page!

PBRC is now welcoming submissions to our annual People's Choice Pit Bull Calendar online photo contest. PBRC is looking for photographs of your pit bull, be it an action shot, a funny moment, a handsome pose, or a contemplative photo in the midst of some beautiful scenery! Submit photos that show your grinners and goofballs, your clowns and camera hams, in action or at rest—whether by themselves, with people, or with other pets.

There is a minimum entry fee of $10 per submission. You also have the option to donate more to PBRC with each submission.  

Submission close date is June 29. Voting closes June 30.

This $10, $25, or $50 donation—and the funds raised from voting ($1/vote)—supports PBRC’s listing and screening services to help pit bulls find loving, responsible homes; our spay and neuter fund; and our financial aid fund for life-saving medical treatment.

All submitted photos will be viewed and enjoyed by thousands of voters who will select the favorites. The 13 most popular photos will be published in the 2015 People's Choice Pit Bull calendar—and the photo that gets the most votes will be the cover girl or boy!

PBRC’s work is performed by volunteer staff that works 365 days a year to provide free information that educates the public, encourages responsible dog ownership, and helps promote a compassionate world where the positive image of these dogs is restored. The People’s Choice Pit Bull calendar is just one way we promote the positive pit bull qualities.

Visit the 2015 People’s Choice calendar page for more information about the contest. For more information about Pit Bull Rescue Central, visit PBRC online. More questions? Send us an e-mail.

Keep an eye out for the call for submissions to PBRC's 2015 Happy Endings Calendar. We will begin accepting photos soon. The Happy Endings Calendar—an all-dogs calendar published annually since 2002—contains breed information, heartwarming stories, and 12 months of beautiful color photographs of rescued pit bulls!