9 things that petrify my pit bull

Folks who have never owned a pit bull nor had much experience with the breed often consider the dogs — and any mix that includes the breed — ferocious forces to avoid at all costs.

I own a pit bull. Well, a pointer-pit bull mix. One of my earliest posts here related the story of how/when/why we adopted the injured babe twelve or so years ago.

pit bull puppyMickey, soon after we adopted the fella.My husband and I weren't positive what we were in for at the time, but in the years since, we've learned our Mickey and others of his kind are far from ferocious — unless owners teach the animals to be that way, as is the case with any breed.

In fact, despite his maniacal barking that makes him seem tough and terrifying when he notices bicyclists, motorcycles, dogs, rabbits, and plastic grocery bags caught in the wind scooting down our street, Mickey is anything but ferocious. He's a chicken of the chickenest sort.

Mickey quakes, shakes, and shivers at...

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Seeking practical, finding poignant

The latch on the door to the cabinet where I keep my kitchen garbage needs repair. It won't stay closed. And though I know it won't stay closed without me fiddling and finagling the broken latch to keep it shut, I open the darn thing each time I need to throw something away.

With Jim still as broken as the door — hobbling about on crutches and currently unable to help with even the smallest home repair — I'm determined to fix the thing myself.

"Why don't you just switch the garbage to the other side?" one of my daughters asked... after she'd opened it when I warned her not to as I had just finagled the thing shut... again.

It doesn't work that way, I told her. I've opened that door a billion times to throw something away. Moving the garbage can to the other side won't change my habit of opening the current side. I have no doubt I would still open the darn broken door out of habit, still have to fiddle and finagle the door to stay shut.

The other night I told Jim I was going to run to Lowe's to get a new latch. "Don't!" he said. "I'm pretty sure I have another in the garage, in one of those drawers."

Unable to go through any of "those drawers" himself, I headed out to the garage yesterday morning to look for the spare cabinet latch.

After an hour or so, I came back with this...

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Rest in peace, Lyla girl

In 2009, our youngest daughter, Andrea, adopted a frightened little stray from The Denver Dumb Friends League. The little girl — about two years old, they guessed — had roamed the city streets on her own most of her life, it seemed.

Andie took in the black lab/shepherd mix, fittingly named her Lyla — which means "black as night" in Persian — and gave her a happy home and lots of love.

black lab/shepherd mix

Then Andrea gave her to us, months later, when it was clear Lyla needed a yard to run in and Andie's apartment didn't provide that.

Lyla had issues, to say the least. Psychological ones, likely...

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Dog treats, plus GRAND Social No. 183 link party for grandparents

Dog treats

I hope each one of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones galore. Turkey day at my place featured dogs galore!

five dogs 

Andrea and Brianna made their day with treats for one and all.

And, no, they aren't...

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Beyond the pits: Grand kids and good canines

Once again, the tragedy of a child having been bitten in the face and disfigured by a dog has made the news. And, naturally, it's a pit bull that did the disfiguring.

The "naturally" isn't commentary on the nature of pit bulls; it's commentary on the nature of the media. Dogs of all breeds attack and maim children and adults at an alarming rate—4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year per the CDC—yet it's those stories featuring pit bulls as the bad guys that make the news. Every time.

The recent horrible story locally involved a nine-month-old baby and the pit bull owned by the baby's grandpa. I have an eight-month-old grandson. And I have a pit bull. Well, he's only part pit bull, the other part seemingly pointer, but it's the pit part that freaks everyone out. Naturally. And it's the pit part in the dog that recently bit that poor baby that likely, sadly, influenced the decision to euthanize the dog.

LylaI'm not going to tell you pit bulls are the sweetest and most misunderstood of dogs. That can be the case, but as is the case with all dogs, much is attributable to an animal's upbringing and environment, not just their supposedly inherent traits. I will tell you, though, that my pit bull, Mickey, is the least likely of our dogs to hurt one of my grandsons. Our other dog, Lyla, because of torture the poor rescue dog suffered, torture which we'll never know the details of but that clearly messed up the mutt's mind in oh so many ways, is far more cause for concern around my grandsons just because she's so skittish and unpredictable.

Regardless of predictability or pedigree—and I've said this here before—kids and dogs, especially dogs that are not used to kids, are not a good mix. Should not mix. At all.

That's a hard thing for grandparents, I think, because we dearly love our canine babies who reside in our home day in, day out. When the grandkids visit, we want the grandbabies to get to know our canine babies, play with them, become friends with them, love them like we do.

It's not that simple, unfortunately.

I recently wrote an article for another publication on this exact topic. Here are some of the points from that article in hopes it might help prevent a tragedy similar to the heartbreaking one—for the baby and the dog—now getting top billing in the local media:

  • Baby gates are key. As a long-distance grandma, my grandsons visit my house only a few times a year. When they do, we make use of baby gates. Lots and lots of baby gates throughout the house, separating our human babies from our canine babies. It’s not ideal, but the alternative is to have no dogs at all, which doesn’t sit well with this pet-loving grandma.
  • Pets should be provided a quiet, out-of-the-way room during gatherings with extended family. Though some pets may enjoy socializing opportunities, others will be overwhelmed by the excitement. Be sure yours has access from his quiet place to his bed, toys, and water.
  • Don’t allow grandchildren to give animals treats without you helping out. Kids often don’t understand or follow the standard treat-giving protocol, and dogs may be skittish or overly aggressive in nabbing the goodies.
  • Be sure older grandchildren—who may be tempted to sneak sweets and treats to the family dog—know the rules of what foods are or are not acceptable for sharing.
  • Try to limit the disruptions to your pet’s eating, sleeping, and exercise schedule as much as possible. Animals thrive on routine; throwing things off only adds to their excitement and confusion.
  • Never leave kids and canines together unattended. Your granddaughter and Fido may both be sweet as can be, but all that can change in an instant if your granddaughter decides to dress Fido in play clothes, ride him like a horse, or worse.

Sure, your dog is your best friend and may be saddened or jealous or confused about little visitors taking your time and attention. The most important thing to remember, though, is this: Grandchildren take priority. So regardless of your dog's hurt feelings, it’s always best to err on the side of caution—the side that protects your beloved grandbabies above all else.

Today's question:

What is your No. 1 tip for keeping grandbabies safe and canine babies happy when under the same roof?

Kids & canines

We didn't have a family dog when my daughters were little. For most of their early years, we lived in a rental house that didn't allow dogs, so our first family dog, Moses, didn't join the family until the girls were all over 10 years old. We did, though, have a couple cats and tried owning—but quickly ended the relationships with—fish, a hamster, and a couple parakeets.

Cats and the other creatures don't bond with kids quite the way dogs do. Having missed out on witnessing my baby or toddler daughters bond with a beloved canine, I'm continually delighted to see such with my grandsons and their dog.

Roxy was Megan and Preston's baby long before Bubby and Baby Mac came along, and despite having to relinquish her spot as most loved and adored to first one then another human kiddo, Roxy has always been a patient, dedicated, attentive, gentle, and entertaining buddy to the boys.

Golden retriever with baby.JPG

You couldn't ask for a better family dog.

I'm sure that Bubby and Baby Mac couldn't imagine their home without goofy girl Roxy.

In all honesty, I couldn't either.

Today's question:

What dogs—or other creatures, if no dogs—hold a prominent spot in your family's story?

Five points for moving along

As I walked the dogs yesterday morning, I saw through the trees ahead a buck of substantial size. I often see deer along that road, but rarely bucks. Each time I see deer (or fox, sometimes even squirrels, birds, butterflies. leaves blowing across the road) it's a struggle to keep the dogs—Mickey in particular—under control. So I swiftly crossed the dogs to the other side of the road in hopes they wouldn't notice it as we passed it by.

Naturally, that's right when Mickey saw the buck...and the second it was bounding to meet up with. I tugged the yelping dogs in line and did my best to keep moving along.

"I can tell from that yelp that your dogs have seen the buck," said a gentleman—refined and eerily akin to 60-year-old Anderson Cooper—as he stepped from behind a bush. A bush he'd been working near, plucking weeds from his yard, not a bush he'd been lurking behind for unknown nefarious reasons. I think.

Me: Yeah, he certainly did.

Gentleman (clearly in awe): Five-by-five there.

Me (thinking WTH? Size? Must have to do with size): Oh yeah? It is big. I've not seen one that large yet this year.

Gentleman: I haven't either, but those are two five-by-fives and one four-by-three.

Me (using my infinite conversational skills): Three? Wow! I only saw two.

Gentleman: Oh yeah, there's three.

Me (pulling on dog leashes and itching to move along): Wow!

Gentleman (slowly shaking his head in disgust): Yeah, two five-by-fives. And I'm a bow-hunter and there ain't nothing I can do about it.

Me (in pseudo similar disgust): Yeah, you gotta just wave as they go on by.

Gentleman (in resignation): Ha...Yeah...

Me: Well, you have a good day.

Gentleman: You, too.

The gentleman gazed across the road at the three bucks ambling toward the ridge, lust and longing palpable as he slowly shook his head.

The dogs and I moved along as I resisted the urge to shake my own head...for a very different reason, to be sure.

Photo: stock.xchng...since I didn't have my camera with me.

Today's question:

Thoughts on bucks, city hunting, or neighbors lurking behind bushes?