Bruno’s “Good Dog” Prayer

 

Bruno

Dear God,

I always try to be good dog, but sometimes I forget, so I’ve now made a list of some of the things my mother tolerates but frowns upon and that I must try to remember.

  1. I will not eat the cats’ food before they eat it … nor after they throw it up.
  2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, rotting seaweed, Hadeda poop etc …
  3. The litter box is not a cookie jar.
  4. The sofa is not a “face towel”.
  5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.
  6. Sticking my nose into a visitor’s crotch is an unacceptable way of saying “Hello”.
  7. After depositing a big poop outside, I will not then immediately head inside to drag my butt across the carpet.
  8. I will not sit in the middle of the TV lounge and noisily lick my crotch in the middle of a movie.
  9. I will not sit in the dining room and emit noxious gasses when we have guests over for dinner.
  10. The cats are not ‘squeaky toys’ so when I play with them and they make a noise, it’s usually not a good thing.

If I promise to remember all of these things, when I get to heaven may I have my testicles back?

Amen.

 

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“We’re Just Pit Bulls” ~ by Savana Frame ~

We’re just pit bulls
misunderstood at best,
and we can be good dogs
just like all the rest.

Sometimes I catch them lookin’ at me,
like there was something wrong.
How long can they hum the tune
of that same worn out song?

If you’d give me the chance,
you could scratch behind my ear.
Then maybe you wouldn’t need
to go about spreading your fear.

It takes a human to teach us,
and guide us on our way.
Take the time to show us,
the right way to play.

I’m not sure why people fear us,
I think the key is within their heart.
Maybe they are the broken ones,
and they know how to play their part.

They go on rants about hating us,
and say we are too dangrous for the kids.
It makes you really wonder,
is there a brain under their lid?

If you keep doing what you’ve always done,
well, you always get what you’ve got.
We’re just saying give us a chance,
and that’s not asking a lot.

written by : Savana Frame

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Lessons & The Importance of Puppy Socialisation Classes

Steve Jobs died October 5, 2011 and left behind a legacy that we will never forget. Personally the most important thing he gave me was not the technological advancements he made and gadgets he created, but his words. In the face of adversity, he said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

CJ in our kitchen

I made a big choice this week, knowing full well that it may fail, perhaps even cause me some heartache and embarrassment in the face of great external expectations, but felt I needed to give it try in order to turn a rather bleak situation into a happy one – or at least try to anyway. The choice I made was to introduce a rescued adolescent 1 year old female Pit Bull mix called CJ that has diabetes into our small pack of two dogs and clowder of five cats (bet you didn’t know a group of cats is called a clowder!?). There aren’t many people who are prepared to adopt rescued Pit Bulls let alone one that is insulin dependent. You may not consider this a big choice, however I don’t take adopting a new pet into the family lightly, as they will remain with us and be part of our family for life.

After considerable research on the subject of diabetes in dogs, CJ’s diabetes didn’t worry me at all, as it’s a manageable condition with her twice daily shots of insulin – far more manageable than our Pit Bull Bruno’s hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and luxating patellas (gammy knees) etc … All the diabetes meant was sticking to a routine of feeding two meals a day at the same time, medication with meals, regular exercise and managing what she eats – all of which we do anyway with Bruno and Kira our female Jack Russell.

The main challenge I saw at the time was going to be with our rescued male Pit Bull Bruno who lacks socialisation skills as he only got the opportunity to start any form of basic training and socialisation from 16 / 17 weeks and is a dominant male. Kira on the other hand is the alpha female in the house and has had the benefit of puppy school from the early age of 8 weeks. I knew from previous experience however that with a bit of patience with Bruno, he would accept and bond with a submissive female – but she would have to be completely submissive for this to have any chance of success. In addition to her being submissive for Bruno and to a lesser degree for Kira, she would need to get along with cats, which included not chasing after them and in the process terrorising them.

The introduction between Kira, Bruno and CJ took place at a local park around the corner from our home. It was immediately obvious who of the 3 had received the benefit of early Puppy Socialisation Classes at this meeting. Kira remained calm, confident and playful through the entire experience. CJ and Bruno however were both tense, resulting in CJ barking loudly at Bruno setting off his trigger. It was not a good start at all. After some time, we decided to move the ‘party’ to the front area of my house and remove me from the equation – therefore taking away any protective instinct Bruno might have to protect me from this ‘intruder’ or simply just act up. The person from the rescue organisation and the animal behaviourist continued to do exercises with Bruno and CJ with me watching from a window. About half an hour later, Bruno was accepting of CJ which was great, however CJ continued to be wary and somewhat reactive towards Bruno, which I could see once I was asked to re-join them.

We later moved to the back garden where things improved further between them and the cats had now introduced themselves to the equation. Whilst CJ initially showed no interest in the cats, as soon as one sprang into action, she gave chase which was not a good sign at all.

CJ and Bruno

That afternoon and into the evening, once everyone had left, there were periods of complete calm with everyone relaxed and others where CJ would occasionally start with a low growl if Bruno came too close to her and then launch herself at him causing him to respond. As to why she took such a distrust or dislike to my boy I don’t think anyone will ever really know. During the evening after their supper he had tried to play with her in his goofy and clumsy way in the garden which again resulted in a brawl when she misinterpreted a rather hard but playful shove he had given her as threatening. Perhaps she had been attacked and bullied by other male Pit Bulls at the place she had been rescued from. We will never truly know for sure. Pit fighting is apparently big business in that region where males are typically used for fighting and females for breeding, so this theory may very well be true. At the time CJ was rescued she was chained to a pole by a thick heavy chain outside her owner’s a shack.

Following the first night, during which everyone thankfully settled and slept soundly, Bruno was miserable about being on the receiving end of CJ’s intermittent attacks without being able to retaliate as I wouldn’t allow it, the cats were stressed and wide eyed because of this new creature that kept jumping at them and giving playful, but determined chase and I was second guessing myself. Had I made the right decision? Would I ever be able to confidently leave Bruno and CJ alone without the risk of CJ turning on Bruno and him potentially killing her in an ensuing fight that I wouldn’t be around to stop? After all Bruno is at least 15kg heavier than CJ. These are individually two delightful and loving dogs whose introduction to life as young puppies was far from ideal which means both lack the finesse and interactive skills that are learnt at puppy socialisation classes.

I emailed the rescue organisation with an update in the morning that things weren’t looking very promising, although I was happy to work with CJ for another few days to see if there was any improvement on which we could continue to build. Integrating CJ into our family was going to be a full time job with risks involved and would also mean that I would be living under siege and on constant guard at home, not being able to leave the house, as the only alternative if I did go out was to separate CJ from my pack and from the cats, leaving her on her own in an unfamiliar environment which wasn’t a healthy situation for her.

A decision was made by the rescue organisation that CJ go back to her foster home. With a heavy heart I said my goodbye to CJ with the recommendation that she be homed where there are preferably no cats and only small to medium sized dogs that are well socialised – an environment in which I believe that she would fit into well and flourish.

The importance of Puppy Socialisation Classes cannot be stressed enough as seen by our experience this week, especially when it comes to having a ‘power’ breed in the home. A puppy’s adult behaviour is shaped during early puppyhood (8 – 16 weeks), during which time their brains absorb the experiences that they are exposed to – both positive and negative, which then become imprinted. Therefore if you want them to be well adjusted, confident, stable and sociable pets that can easily co-exist in the home with the family and other pets, it’s a developmental step that should never be excluded. Puppy Socialisation Classes should be attended once the first inoculation has been administered and during the most important formative period of a dog’s life (starting at 8 weeks to 16 weeks). They learn in a slow paced and fun environment:

  • how to get along with other dogs through lots of positive interactions with them. A dog that misses out on these social interactions can grow up to be fearful or aggressive around other canines.
  • to get used to the hustle and bustle of family life. Most puppy classes will expose your pup to sounds of dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, other pets, cars, hooters etc … basically all the things your puppy will be living with as a family dog. Through this early introduction / desensitization your puppy will be more likely to take all those things in his stride as an adult.

I’m extremely heart broken that CJ took a distrust in / dislike to Bruno and that I wasn’t given more time to work with her. I hope that an understanding and loving home will turn up as she has so much to give despite her diabetes – a condition that I’ve now learnt is easily managed.

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Pit Bull Terriers – Lets Talk Facts

Pit Bull Terriers score higher in temperament tests than a lot of ‘more acceptable’ breeds of dogs. Don’t believe me? I’m not asking you to, not at face value anyway.

Before we look at some factual statistics, let me explain what is meant by temperament. According to W. Handel, a German police dog trainer, in his article, “The Psychological Basis of Temperament Testing,” temperament is defined as:

“the sum total of all inborn and acquired physical and mental traits and talents which determines, forms and regulates behavior in the environment”

Keeping this in mind, the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) focuses on and measures aspects of temperament such as shyness, stability, aggression, friendliness and instinct to protect it’s handler in the face of a threat. This is done through a simulation of a casual walk during which the dog experiences visual, auditory and tactile stimuli. Neutral, friendly and threatening situations are presented to the dog, testing the dog’s reactions and ability to distinguish between non-threatening situations and those calling for watchful and protective reactions.

Let’s look at a subset of data from the ATTS statistics up to 31st March 2011. I think the results may surprise you … or not?

Breed Name

Tested

Passed

Failed

Percent

Labrador Retriever

773

714

59

92.40%

Irish Setter

142

128

14

90.10%

American Pit Bull Terrier (Pit Bull)

804

695

109

86.40%

Standard Poodle

249

215

34

86.30%

Golden Retriever

764

649

115

84.90%

German Shepherd Dog

3 078

2 597

481

84.40%

Rhodesian Ridgeback

455

384

71

84.40%

Rottweiler

5 446

4 558

888

83.70%

Dalmatian

330

272

58

82.40%

Cocker Spaniel

227

186

41

81.90%

Boxer

424

355

69

81.60%

Border Collie

271

220

51

81.20%

Beagle

72

58

14

80.60%

Belgian Sheepdog

486

391

95

80.50%

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

202

158

44

78.20%

Doberman Pinscher

1 592

1 237

355

77.70%

Airdale Terrier

102

79

23

77.50%

Afghan Hound

162

117

45

72.20%

Chihuahua

38

27

11

71.10%

These results are quite astounding if one has to take all the media hype at face value. What genuinely surprised me however was that the Golden Retriever, a breed portraid as a gentle willing sole and favoured by many families, scored lower than the Pit Bull Terrier which is commonly feared and shunned to the point of being banned in certain regions and states around the world.

Sadly it is this stereotyping that has lead to and continues to lead to the unnecessary deaths of innocent and loving Pit Bulls. There are no bad Pit Bulls … only bad owners.

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Pit Bull Terriers : Gruesome History – Awesome Dog

It is believed that the Pit Bull’s ancestry dates back as far as the Roman times in 50 AD when they were used by the Romans as fighting dogs. Sadly the Romans would not be the last to use pit bulls in cruel and grisly blood sports. When the Normans invaded England in 1066, they introduced a new sport called baiting. Baiting originated from the butchers who kept dogs to handle unruly bulls as they were herded to the market for slaughter. When a bull stepped out of line or exhibited uncontrollable behaviour, the dogs would clamp down on its nose and simply hang on until the bull was immobilised.

Like most dog owners, the butchers were very proud of their canine companions and their stubborn tenacity in dealing with the much larger and potentially dangerous bulls. As a result public displays were arranged to showcase the dogs’ abilities and grew in popularity for their deemed ‘entertainment’ value. By 16th century it is believed that nearly every town in England had its own baiting ring. Their popularity was further increased by the misguided perception that prolonged torture of the bulls ensured the tenderness of the meat.

Baiting was made illegal by the British government in 1835, however this did little to quench the public’s bloodlust thirst to watch the spectacle of dogs in fighting sports. As a result, their attention turned to a variety of other pursuits such as ratting – a practice in which a dog was thrown in a pit with a varying number of rats in a race to kill the most rats in the shortest time period. The “pit” in pit bulls comes from the fact that ratting was done in a pit to keep the rats from escaping. This in turn evolved to dog fighting. As fighting dogs needed to be more agile than those used in baiting, the fighting ‘bulldogs’ were bred with terriers, known for their unwavering focus and feistiness. Therein was born the Pit Bull Terrier as we know them today – a canine ‘gladiator’.

A little known fact about the Pit Bull is that they were bred to not show any aggression towards humans. This enabled their human handlers to enter the pit without fear of being bitten.

Dog fighting was an extremely cruel and sadistic pursuit, which sadly is still practised illegally in South Africa and around the world. The canine combatants who find themselves held captive by the thugs behind this underworld are put through rigorous training which instils in them the desire to savage their opponent and often kept in appalling conditions, deprived of normal contact with humans.

Pit Bulls that are brought up in a normal and loving home environment are well balanced, faithful and often goofy companions. As with all powerful and large dogs, early socialisation is important – commencing at 8 or 9 weeks of age.

This great video sums it up well.  WARNING: This video does contain some brief content that may be offensive or upsetting to sensitive viewers. Pit Proud: The History of the Pit Bull

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The True Nature Of The Pit Bull Terrier

A Pit Bull is very strong, courageous and powerful dog that is also very compassionate and soft. Known for their intelligence and intense loyalty Pit Bull Terriers make excellent, loving and protective companions despite the unfair press they receive worldwide.

As with any other large dog breed, they require early socialisation (normally 8 weeks of age) in a puppy class and proper training through positive reinforcement in a dog school environment. A Pit Bull is social, fearless and always up for a challenge which makes it a great dog for training and sports. So whilst they may be more of a challenge to live with than say a Golden Retriever or Maltese Poodle, they make wonderful pets in a loving family environment.

Families that understand the personality and drive behind terrier breeds and are looking for an active family pet, will love and appreciate the Pit Bull in their home – a breed that is also referred to as the “nanny dog” due to their incredible patience and good nature with children.

The true nature of a Pit Bull is not what is portrayed in the media. It is an affectionate and loving pet who deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.

Watch this beautiful tribute to Daddy who was Cesar Millan’s first Pit Bull and one of the greatest ambassadors for the Pit Bull breed of all time.

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National Pit Bull Month – October

We at PetPickings.com are honouring the Pit Bull breed in the month of October which PetPickings.com Pit Bull Dreamis the birthday month of our very own beloved rescue Pit Bull Bruno. We have taken the liberty of declaring October “National Pit Bull Month”, during which we will be publishing various stories and facts related to Pit Bulls in an attempt to provide a better understanding of this highly misunderstood breed.

 

I’d like to introduce you to our Pit Bull Bruno whose 8th Birthday it is this month. I picked him up as a lost, confused, flea ridden and frightened puppy on 22nd December 2003 from a street in an affluent suburb in Cape Town. As dozens of cars whizzed passed him I couldn’t bear the thought of just leaving him behind as a lost soul in my rear view mirror, so I stopped. As I approached him slowly and talking softly, he looked up at me with hope in his eyes and a wag in his tail, so I scooped him up, put him in the car and that’s where his nightmare ended and my education began.

My initial thought was that he was a large Staffie pup that had perhaps wondered out of someone’s  garden gate that had perhaps been accidentally left open. Judging by his teeth and his clumsy behaviour, the vet estimated he was about 10 weeks old. He was a bit thin and riddled with fleas, but nonetheless I was sure he belonged to someone, so I did the responsible thing and reported him as found to all the animal shelters, vets and community newspapers. His comic antics, soppy kisses and incredibly loving nature had crept into all of our hearts, so two weeks later when I hadn’t received a single phone call, he officially became brother to our 3 year old Jack Russell, two cats, two kittens and an integral part of our family.

With the decision made he was named Bruno, taken for inoculations and enrolled in puppy class at a local training school. Three things became perfectly clear at puppy school A:

  1. Bruno had never been properly socialised before coming to us.
  2. Bruno was a dominant male.
  3. The ‘trainer’, who was a young lass of no more than 20 yrs old, was clearly inexperienced and really had no idea what she was doing.

With my furkid leaping on the other puppies, pinning them down with joyful-sporty – puppy-playfulness whilst they yelped with fright, I decided to intervened by hauling him off and telling him a firm “NO“. The young trainer lass reprimanded me as he was “establishing a pecking order in the ‘pack’ of puppies” … in my view however he was behaving like a tosser, reprobate and social retard – behaviour that I wouldn’t tolerate and didn’t find very ‘sociable’. I’m not sure if he ever tried that sort of thing with our Kira the Jack Russell, I somehow doubt it, although he certainly wouldn’t have got away with it. She had him firmly in a subordinate place and exactly where she wanted him in the relationship dynamics of our house.

So off we went to another training school to enroll in puppy class, by which time Bruno was 14 weeks old, we had already wasted 2 weeks of precious time of rehearsed bad behaviour at the other school and were ready to work with more experienced trainers. It was here at school B that I was greeted with large dish eyes and an exclamation of “you do realise that you have a PIT BULL??”, to which my response was, “Oh, ok … “. I glanced down at my boy who was gleefully looking up at me and wagging his tail at supersonic speed. “Are you sure??”. They were apparently very sure and decided not to allow him near the puppy class without even giving him a glance or chance. So into the first big training class we went for the next two weeks, sans socialization of puppy class, until we had an unfortunate incident with an adult dog aggressively launching himself at Bruno whilst he was minding his own business trying to master the ‘sit’ command. Bruno, who by now was a teenager, snapped out of his concentrated sit and reacted. It all was over in a fraction of a second as we pulled them apart, but … as the ‘Pit Bull’, Bruno was expelled from school … yup expelled. I didn’t know they could expell you from dog school? The other dog who had started the altercation of course was permitted to stay. Our first taste of “Pit discrimination”.

Again I found myself looking for and eventually finding school number 3 that was further away, but had qualified animal behaviourists on board and seemed better suited. By this stage Bruno was 16 weeks old, an angel at home with all the other pets, great out and about … until approached by a strange dog. At school number 3 they determined he was expressing ‘fear aggression’ as a result of his bad experience at the previous school and that due to his breed we would need private lessons first before introducing him to a collective class situation. It was here that I learnt about the Pit Bull breed, general training of potentially lethal dogs (German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers etc …), Bruno’s responses to certain stimuli and how to handle them through positive reinforcement. Bruno learnt, through clicker training, to become a canine good citizen and went on to become a fully fledged registered therapy dog with his Jack Russell sister Kira.

Are we responsible dog owners? Yes, I believe that we are and have to be. As Bruno had a late and bumpy start in his most formative time as a puppy, I am aware of his limitations and make sure that I never set him up for failure when we go out in public. We always steer well clear of strange dogs and he always remains tethered to me or my husband on a leash. Our job and responsibility as his pet parents is to make sure that we don’t give anyone any negative ammunition, as it is Bruno “the Pit Bull” who will be blamed regardless of who the instigator is of the situation.

Some questions you may ask are:

Is a Pit Bull suited to an inexperienced pet parent? No I wouldn’t recommend it … but then nor is a Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Doberman etc …

Is a Pit Bull dangerous? No … only in the wrong hands … but then so is a Rottweiller, German Shepherd, Doberman etc …

Would I trust him with small children? Most definitely yes. It is our Jack Russel we have to watch around kids!!

Am I glad that we have Bruno in our lives? Without a shadow of a doubt. He is the most intensely loyal and loving dog I have ever had the privilege to know and share my life with. He has enriched our lives enormously and I would go to the ends of the earth for him, as I know he would for me.

 

I hope that you continue to follow us during the month of October and share in our celebration of this wonderful and so sadly misunderstood breed. Please also feel free to share your stories with us – we’d love to hear from you!

 

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