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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Flowers and dogs

I originally planned a rant-filled post for today to talk about my terrifying experience walking my dogs on Tuesday, the day a stray dog—yes, a pit bull, but let's not go there as my Mickey is part pit bull—attacked Mickey, Lyla, and myself as we headed home. Mickey took the brunt of it...no, all of it. I was going to show you pictures like this (graphic and hard to look at) one of my poor Mickey when he returned from the vet after the attack: 

And I was going to climb atop my soap box to <cuss> and complain about irresponsible dog owners who don't keep their dogs restrained as they should, tagged as they should in case they do escape, and cared for as they should. I planned to note that not doing such things is especially irresponsible for pit bull owners—who, if they're going to have pit bulls, should do right by them and the public!—and when a dog is obviously a nursing mother with babies somewhere. I was going to complain about the injuries to my dog, the injuries to my pocketbook because no owner has been found to reimburse me for vet bills, and the injuries to the abandoned puppies and the nursing/attacking mother who is now held at the Humane Society until May 21 and will be euthanized if not claimed by her owner before then. I've called; she's not been claimed. Despite what she did to Mickey, that breaks my heart.


Instead of telling you all that, I've chosen to focus on something more positive today since I can't do diddly about what happened to Mickey. My more positive focus? Flowers.

Below is a slideshow of flower photos I've taken over the past month. Some are from Megan's place in the desert, some are from my place in the mountains, many are of the blooming beauties Jim and the girls gave me for Mother's Day.


As the slideshow feature tends to cut off parts of the photos to fit the box, feel free to view the full photos HERE.

(PS: Mickey is doing a bit better. The vet promised a difficult time for the next 10-14 days and so far he's been right—but it's getting easier and less painful...for all of us.)

Today's question:

Flowers and dogs? Thoughts on either?

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?

Pit bull pairings update

Sweet CarlyAs most of you know, Jim and I were contemplating adopting Carly, a three-legged Boston Terrier/Pit bull mix, to be a buddy to our sweet pit bull, Mickey. We met the incredible bundle of energy Saturday and loved her to pieces -- and she loved us, it seems.

But after some serious soul-searching, we've decided it's not the best thing for Mickey ... or for Carly.

It was a difficult decision and a difficult e-mail to write the foster parent. Because I just wrote that e-mail, it makes more sense to just post a copy of it here, rather than rehash it for those I promised an update.

(Note: When you local readers have finished reading it, if you're interested in adopting the little gal or know of someone who may be, please let me know.)

Good morning, XXX and XXX:

We had discussed my getting back to you by the end of this week with our decision regarding adopting Carly, but I think it's only fair to give you as much notice as possible that Jim and I, after some serious contemplation, have decided it's not the best thing for either Carly or Mickey.

Carly is an amazing bundle of energy and is so sweet and so smart, but I don't think she and Mickey will meld at this point. She needs a buddy who will happily participate in the puppy tussling and such, and Jim and I honestly can't see that being something Mickey will allow. He loves to have a friend, but he definitely enjoys parallel play more than true physical interaction with another dog.

As part of our considering Carly, I had my mom bring over her (hyper) Shiba Inu on Sunday to see how Mickey would do meeting an unfamiliar dog. Although he did surprisingly great, that dog didn't spend much time tussling with Mickey; they each did their own thing and that was sufficient "play" time for both. I can't see that happening with Carly as I think she needs a friend who will be just as into wrestling together as she is.

I think with some proper training, Mickey and Carly *could* be mates, but at this point, Jim and I just don't have the money to cover the obedience training that would require. So we're going to make a concentrated effort to socialize Mickey better without having to pay a trainer, then look at bringing in another dog in a few months -- one that is a bit more like his last pal, Moses. It's probably not fair to replace Moses so quickly anyway, especially when Mickey (and we) have not sufficiently mourned him, I think, since putting him down just last month. Carly just seemed so wonderful when we heard about her and saw her photo, that we may have gotten ahead of ourselves a bit.

Jim and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to meet Carly, and we hope you understand our reasons for choosing not to take her. If we had no other dogs, there'd be no hesitation whatsoever. She's a great little gal and we hope you have no problems finding new parents for her.

Again, thank you for letting us meet Carly and giving us the time to seriously consider how she might fit in our family. I wish you the best in finding someone for her -- I think once folks meet her, they'll fall in love with her.



Any takers? I feel really bad about this ...

Grandma got won over by a pit bull

I never in my wildest imagination thought I'd be someone to own a pit bull. Horror stories abound of the vicious canines terrorizing innocent people and there was no way I'd even consider having such a dangerous dog around my loved ones.

Until I met Mickey. And until I learned that the majority of horror stories about pit bulls are just that -- stories ... stories based on unfounded fears and an unfair bad rap.

In 2005, the animal quota in our house was met. We had our black lab/collie mix Moses, a tabby cat named Abigail (Abby) and a goofy sorta calico/sorta black Halloween cat with a crooked tail and a bizarre way of drinking water (by dipping her paw in the bowl and sucking the water off) named Isabel. We didn't need any more animals.

Then an e-mail went out at work about a dog who needed a home. A little brown and white puppy who, at 6 weeks old, had his back legs stepped on by his mentally challenged owner, breaking both back legs. That owner couldn't afford to repair the pup's legs and requested that he just be put down.

The vet couldn't do it. She kept the dog, placed pins (LONG pins!) in each of his back legs, and searched for a home for him.

After seeing the photo, I couldn't resist "just looking." And once we met him, Jim and I together couldn't resist just taking him home.

We were responsible for keeping the recuperating patient from walking for several weeks, carrying him out to go potty then returning him to his kennel. He was on a schedule to slowly return to activity, and because of his sad eyes and penchant for snuggling, we agreed to it -- despite the vet telling us that she "thinks" he might have some pit bull in him, along with something else, possibly pointer.

We took the little guy home, kept him kenneled, and kept him calmed with a CD of lullabies for dogs. We allowed Andie to choose his new name: Mickey, short for Macchiatto because his coloring was similar to carmel macchiattos, her favorite drink at the time. (No, I didn't let my little girl consume caffeine; she was a young adult, in college!)

Within months, Mickey was good as new. And in no time, we learned to question all the scary reports about the horrors of pit bulls. I can honestly say he's the sweetest animal we've ever had -- and the biggest baby. He runs around the yard like a maniac all day, chasing squirrels and making up for the time he lost in his first few months of life. But he regularly makes pit stops on the deck or patio for some treats and tummy rubs. His most feared enemy: Brianna's little Hunter, the Chihuahua/Pomeranian mix with a Napoleon complex. Oh, and the ear drops I have to put in his ears occasionally; he shakes and cowers and crawls between Jim's legs to hide from me when it's time. But he always gives in and sweetly turns his head for me to administer the medication.

Mickey is one of THE best animal addition we've ever made to our family. Everyone who takes the time to get to know him -- rather than succumbing to the sensationalized stories of dogs gone bad; stories that could be true of ANY animal trained to be vicious -- absolutely loves Mickey. He truly is the sweetest dog ever.

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a friend about a dog who needed a home. The e-mail included a picture of "Carly," who was recently found by an animal control officer and placed with an animal adoption organization. One of her front legs was severely injured and required amputation (done by the same vet office that rescued Mickey, by the same vet that recently showed incredible compassion when Jim and I had to put our Moses to sleep). She's now recuperating with a foster family until a new owner can be found. Reports are that she's sweet as can be and she loves to snuggle.




She's also part pit bull.


Jim and I are meeting her on Saturday.


I'll let you know what happens.