Friday, July 29, 2011

Rescue Spotlight: Ramopo-Bergan Animal Refuge

When you walk into the adoption floor at Ramopo-Bergen Animal Refuge you hear a strange sound...
The sound of complete silence. I was baffled and asked myself, "Where are all of the dogs?" No large pit bulls were leaping to greet me, no scared dogs were curled up in balls on dirty blankets in the corners, no dogs made any sounds at all!

As I continued walking in, I saw that the dogs were not actually missing- but laying peacefully on beds or in crates, enjoying the lazy afternoon warmth streaming through the windows. (Yes, this shelter has actual windows, not to be found in even the best city shelters.) Noticing me approach, they each calmly came to sniff my hand and wag their tails. Later on, barking only seemed to accompany the daily feeding time.

Ramopo-Bergen Animal Refuge is a no-kill shelter in Oakland, New Jersey that saves and re-homes up to 1,000 dogs a year. Like most privately-run shelters, they take in plenty of pure-bred dogs and puppies because these are in the highest demand and fetch larger sums which keep the shelter running- but they still make space to save some pit bulls from euthanasia shelters and even are dedicated to taking in all the pit bull puppies they can. This is a wonderful policy because it opens more homes to pit bulls that might not have otherwise considered them.

By contrast, because NYC-Animal Care and Control is filled with pit-bulls and geriatric dogs- many people do not even visit. (More adoptable dogs are quickly rescued and saved from inevitably catching kennel cough.) Due to the variety, desireability and healthy condition of the dogs at good shelters like RBARI and Animal Haven, pit bulls at these locations are viewed by more potential adopters and may have a better chance at finding a good home.

The facilities at RBARI were clean, quiet and well-staffed with dozens of volunteers-including many high-school students receiving volunteer credit. The animals at this shelter are extremely lucky and well cared for. Just look at the clean spacious corrals filled with blankets, toys, and large clean bowls of water! If only every shelter was this well-run.

I came upon this adorable little pocket-pittie named Petunia. She came from a kill-shelter when she was a tiny baby and has been waiting 2 months so far for her forever home. She is a little older than 8 weeks old and is good with other dogs and children.

I enjoyed playing with her a bit outside. She has plenty of energy and will need proper socialization, exercise and training, but is so completely adorable- how could anyone pass her up!?

 Don't let her long wait worry you though- every pit bull at RBARI is given the time, resources and dedication necessary to find a proper placement.

Beautiful Nessie has been at RBARI for a year, but gets plenty of walks and stimulation. She is trained well and everyone who walks her maintains her training so that she knows to sit whenever exiting a door.

Nessie is a sweetheart with a big heart and a waggely tail. During my visit with her she loved being out-doors and smelling the flowers and approached strangers with friendliness and a wagging tail. She is not great with other dogs but  focuses her attention well on humans and is extremely trainable.

Another Pittie at RBARI was able to find her first home when she was a puppy but was brought back after a conflict with the other dog of the house.

Because RBARI was unable to find her a home, they have placed her with a pit-specific rescue where she has a better chance of getting the training, exercise and potential adopters she needs.

This is what Tootsie looked like as a pup and now.

RBARI also recently found a home for this special pit-bull named Hooper.
Hooper was rescued the day before his impending-euthanization from a kill-shelter.

He was a stray with an extremely mal-formed paw. Despite this- the people-loving pit found a good home very quickly who brought him to an Orthopedic specialist who is now dedicated to getting Hooper surgery to fix his paw.

RBARI is raising funds to help Hooper- if you would like to help, you can call (201) 337-5180 or e-mail

To see all of the happy, healthy, wonderful dogs (including small breeds and puppies) check out petfinder.

RBAR's website also suggests you visit these great pit bull resources:
Bad-Rap, PBRC, and SPBR.

Please Help!

This book can change hearts and minds, plus Bruno and Winnie will be in it!
Help by pledging on kick-start and you can have the book sent to you when it is published!

Pittie of the Week: PUPPY WEEK

Yes, I know I always advocate rescuing older pit bulls because puppies are more adoptable, but even puppies need homes!

....and Smilin' Pit Bull Rescue is filled to the brim with them!

If you have some spare time and want to spend it scrolling through pages and pages of adorable puppies, check out this page where SPBR features all the puppy litters they have raised and found homes for since 2004. THAT IS A LOT OF PUPPY PICTURES! And while I am tempted to show you all of them...I will just stick to puppies that SRBR has adoptable right now... I will only show you an adorable selection....

Puppies in packs....
 Puppies with wrinkles...
Cuddling puppies...
Puppies in Boxes....
Puppies in snow...
Puppies with blue eyes...(available now)

Puppies in beauty shots...
....and Puppies in purses...

Adoptable Puppies can be found here- There are 23 available now!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pit Bull Art: Gone to the dogs...

Randy Grim with Stray Rescue of St. Louis has been trying to rescue and revitalize the breed through his art. His message is very clear in the various pieces on display now in the Saint Louis University Museum of Art. Some of the pieces were even created by pit bulls themselves (with paws, tails and teeth.)

This art is very inspiring to pit bull lovers because it shows how many creative ways there are to spread the message about this down-trodden mis-understood breed. Words and pictures, blogs and articles, advertisements and public appearences- all help change minds. The more people hear and see both the sad side of the pit bulls' plight as well as the happy side of family life with a pit bull- the more homes these brave animals can have.

I love seeing new and interesting ways to affect peoples' consciences about these dogs and I love what Mr. Grim was able to do with his art.

Read more here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Doggy Photo Shoots

Surprise surprise- months ( yes months.. close to 4) after getting Bruno and Winnie's photos taken by the Picture People at Petco, their CD finally arrived. Coincidentally enough, it came on the same day Winnie & Bruno had their photos taken for Melissa McDaniel's new photo book on Pit Bulls. (See her projects here, more about this later!)

For now, enjoy these shots of our two babies wearing their beautiful collars from Pecan Pie Puppies. Their new shots will probably be ready in a few weeks. Can't wait!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pittie of the Week: Fiona

Look at that smile!!!  Fiona is a 2 year old adoptable Pittie in Tampa Bay, Florida.

 She gets along with other dogs, kids and people, but not cats.

Fiona is deaf (as many white dogs can be)- which may be why she has been at the shelter for over a year - but she doesn't seem to know it!

She is a super sweet happy girl who loves to swim and play. (She even puts her nose under the water! Check it out in the video below!)

How can you live without a pittie smile like FiFi's??

This happy girl has basically grown up at the shelter- and while she's had a lot of fun and great experiences, she really needs a home forever.

"I iz seerius bunnee"

"I's famoose pibble"


Alshie Burke writes about FiFi :

"This is Fiona. She turned two last October and has been in our rescue, Pit Stop Bully's Rescue, since she was 10 months old. People pass her by due to her deafness. I know, because I took a poll. With the right pack leader she can be in a h...ome with numerous dogs. During pack play at my house she's in a pack of 10-12 dogs at any given time. and loves her time with them. She's not so great with cats. Fiona may be deaf but she's smart as a whip. She's crate/house trained, loves her baths, and LOVES to swim. She even swims with her head under water (pics of this in above video). It's time for her to find a family of her own. She's growing up in rescue becasue she cannot hear. I envy her. I envy the fact that when I walk into a room of barking dogs, Fiona peacefully sleeps. I love that when she wakes up and realizes you're there it's like Christmas morning every time. Thank you for sharing our Fi-Fi and being so obsessed with her. We are to :)"
To learn more about Fiona and other adoptables, please visit Pit Stop Bully's Rescue.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Trade Pet-Services with your Neighbors!!

You may remember a few months ago I told you about Pet-It-Forward, well it is finally up and running and people in my area have already begun requesting help from neighbors and friends for their pet-care needs.

As I said at the time, "I am really excited about this site; it connects pet owners with other pet owners in their nieghborhoods, makes booking and paying for pet-care online quick and easy, and can save us up to 50-100% on pet care..." like feeding, house-sitting, walks etc...


Now that I get to use the site, I see how I can offer others a helping hand by offering to walk their dog or watch him over-night. I can earn points by doing this and use those points to have my dog walked in return. You can be a net reciever or a net provider (and actually earn points and cash out) or you can break even and share responsibilities with others.

You can also use it as a tool to meet new people and set up play-dates for your pets. I love this part! I sent out a request for a weekend play date for my two pitties because they are often unwelcome in the dog park but love to play and make friends.

This is what my play-date request looked like:
And when someone replies to your request- you can check out what their dogs and owners look like and see if it might be a good match! (Notice a play date costs 0 points!)

I think it is a great way to find other pet owners who will be willing to trade services. For example, I'd love to watch another pitties on the weekend and give Bruno and Winnie someone to play with, but it'd be hard to set that up with your neighbors without a site like this.

This is how the circular exchange works:

Hope you enjoy and make use of your neighbors! It ends up being a lot cheaper than using a boarding facility or a dog-walker because you use points which are equivalent to lower costs. (For example, $10 for a dog walk rather than $20.)

If you enjoy watching other people's pets- there may even be some money in it for you! Read this funny blog-post about a woman who watches other's pets on the side- and finds it very rewarding despite the strange things she has sometimes had to do!

You can also search for other dogs that are the same breed as your dog by joining a group. Bruno & Winnie are in the pit bull group, so hopefully we can find some more pitties for them to become friends with!! 

You can sign up for free here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Coat Color: Genetics

I've always wondered where Bruno's stripes came from. Many pit bulls can have brindle coats - and so can other breeds like Plott Hounds, Great Danes, French Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Boxers, Corgis and lots more.

(Bruno at the dog park)

However, some people have a bias against brindle-colored dogs, and that may lay in the genetics. For example, it is difficult for Mastiffs with brindle coloring to compete against Apricot and Fawn colored Mastiffs. My boyfriend's grandmother automatically disliked Bruno when she met him because of his "ugly Brindle coat." 

I decided to learn a bit about the genetics behind the bias:

First of all, many animals have stripes. It is generally agreed that stripes occurred over millions of years of evolution for camouflage purposes, however, dog coats can evolve must faster due to special extra genes that can mutate faster with human breeding.

 (see how well I can blend into my surroundings?)

Dog coat color, shape, and length genetics are based in 16 specific locations of the geneome.

The basic color loci are:
Agouti Locus (A), Brown locus (B), Dilute locus (D), Extention locus (E), Harlequin locus (H), dominant black locus (K), Merle locus (M), and Spotting locus (S).

Brindle is mostly determined on the Dominant Black (K) locus. In many brindle breeds, fawn is a recessive trait - so dogs need two recessive genes to be completely Fawn colored. Dark is the dominant trait and Brindle occurs when the pup recieves a dominant and a recessive gene.

If a pup recieves "K" and "kbr"- he will be black or  dark, and if he recives "kbr" and "kbr" he will be brindle. Also, if he recieves "kbr" and "k"  he will be brindle, but he will be light or fawn if he has "k" and "k."

In other words, if one parent is Black, chances are no dogs will be brindle because the "K" will be dominant, much like brown eyes in humans. Brindle is dominant over non-brindle- so if one parent parent is brindle and is bred with a dog that has no brindle ancestry- the resulting pups will be between 50% and 100% brindle. (100% if the brindle parent is not brindle recessive.)

Some brindle dogs will have a black face mark in the "eumalanin" color (sometimes also on the ears). This is caused by the presence of an "Em" gene on the Extension-locus.
The differences in color are controlled by pigmentation genes, but most brindle dogs' have "eumalanin (black)" stripes on a "phaeomelanin (red)" base. The wide diversity of brindle colors in the pit bull population is due to interactions between the B (brown) and D (dilute) loci which can result in black brindle, blue brindle, brown brindle, and fawn brindle.
Of course, Pit bulls and pit bull mixes can have extreme varieties in coloring from pure white, to piebald, to blue, to red to any mixture of colors.

In the past, "blue" pit bulls were seen to be very rare. Currently, back yard breeders use this precieved "rareness" to attract buyers, but there are actually a large number of blue-nosed pit bulls. This is so because the homozygous recessive alleles that cause blue-ness are (dd), so any dog with a (D) would not be blue. To increase the number of blue pit bulls, breeders had to breed blue pit bulls with other blue pit bulls which results in 100% blue or fawn/blue offspring.

See examples of each color pit bull here.
Read more about discovering the genetics of your dog here.


Monday, July 11, 2011

The History of the Pit Bull

Enjoy this Dog Files Documentary on the Pit Bull...
Share it with your friends, your families, your co-workers.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pit bulls on Craiglist

My pittie-of-the week prompted me to check out Craiglist - and I'm completely disgusted.

One man is trying to swap a pit bull puppy for an i-phone (Only an i-phone 4), really?

I feel so bad for these babies- I wish I had a bunch of i-phones and a home for each one because sadly I can't see good things in the future for these babies:





And then there is this sweet baby pit bull (originally bought for $800) being sold for $1 because this man and his wife are fighting.



 Please don't support Back Yard Breeders on Craiglist or any other website- check out this debate on Craigslist-Pets here.

Pittie of the Week: Stella/Sally


Stella (Sally at the shelter) is a baby, only six months old. She wondered away from home and was brought into Animal Care and Control last Saturday (July 2nd). She was rated Mild during her behavior test, but caught a cold and was set to be euthanized today. Click here to read more.

Luckily, someone matched her photo with that of a missing dog on Craigslist and called the family- only to find out they now didn't want her back.

Poor Stella must be so confused about her present circumstances- even though luckily she has no idea how close to death she really is. 
If she is not adopted, she will surely be on the euthanasia list again tomorrow and may end up like her almost-twins - Sally and Nina (pictured here) who were put to sleep for having colds in the last two weeks.

(Usually I post dogs that have already been rescued and are waiting for homes on Pittie of the week- but this little 4-6 month old sweet heart caught my attention. )

They look so much like Bruno- who I kiss goodnight each night- thankful that he is with me. It is so sad to me that they can't have all the life-long happiness he will enjoy. Sally is too young to die- please save her!
I promise, when you adopt a shelter pittie like Stella or Bruno-- you won't be disappointed!

Sally was rescued by ReeFuge Animal Rescue! Here she is leaving the shelter and is at a foster home on the upper east side! If you are interested in adopting her, please contact ReeFuge on facebook (link above.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Science & Dog Facts- Did you know...

Did you know?

1) When humans and dogs interact, both release "oxytocin" - also called "the hormone of love" which reduces stress. It is the same hormone that women release when they are breat-feeding. Scientist postulate that this is the reason why people with dogs are less likely to have heart-attacks and more likely to survive a heart-attack.

2) It only takes 25 years to create a new "breed" of dog.  For example- the Dogo Argentino was created over 25 years to take down boars (without killing it) while able to be around children.

3) Dogs can have huge vocabularies. While humans know 60,000 words - most dogs know around 150 words. However, Chaser the border collie from South Carolina knows 1,022 nouns, understands verbs and categories and learns up to 40 new words a day.

4) Dogs, like humans, read facial expressions from left to right (because we make expressions a-symmetrically). However, dogs to not read eachother's faces left-to-right and no other animal has been discovered to read faces in this way.

5) Studies have shown that dogs do not feel "sorry," but rather are expressing submissive behaviors in reaction to our reprimands. (For example, control groups of dogs also so "guilt" or submissive behaviors when they hadn't done something wrong.)

(look at that guilty face)

6) Dog-owners are able to tell the difference between six different dog barks (separation, strangers, hunger, playful etc...)

Source: Podcast, "Does your dog really love you?"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pittie of the week: Aldus

Aldus is an adult apricot and beige red-nosed Pit Bull.

"This stunning red nosed Pit Bull Terrier is Aldus. His cropped ears give him a sharp elegance that is definitely eye catching. Aldus found himself as a stray on the streets of Manhattan and ended up at the shelter. No owner came looking for him, and no visitors at the shelter looking to adopt, considered him. Many people are intimidated when they see a bully breed dog with cropped ears, which is like the old saying "judging a book by it's cover." If they had just given Aldus a chance like I did, they would have experienced a dog that is both affectionate and well mannered.

He is firendly and enjoys being pet, resting his head gently in your lap as you do so. My feeling is that Aldus doesn't have any expectations from people, because I don't think he's really ever experienced the love and committment of an owner.

His condition would suggest that no one cared much about him in his previous life. Aldus was thin at 51 pounds, and should be closer to 60-65 pounds. He had skin irritation around his muzzle and on his tail, as well as an ear infection. All those are signs of poor nutrition/diet and simple neglect. Well, he's on to bigger and better things now. I have him in a foster home with Kelly and her boyfriend. They absolutely adore Aldus, and are impressed with his intelligence. He was treated for his ear infection and is now getting regular meals and with a good quality dog food his skin and fur are healing and becoming shiney. Kelly has taught him the commands Sit, Down and Paw and walks very well on a leash. He is also housebroken.
Alldus is dominant (confident) in nature initially with other dogs, more so because he is unsure of their intentions. However, once he realizes they are friendly, he enjoys their companionship and playing. A home with a large friendly submissive female or male dog would be the best fit for him. He has not been cat tested, so at this time I think a home without cats is probably best.

 This is a dog that is going to make a great companion for someone that loves the bully breeds. With continued training and love, Aldus is going to thrive in front of your eyes, and become an ambassador for his breed. If his handsome boy has captured your eye and you would like the opportunity to give him the loving home and life he deserves, then please visit our website at and fill out one of our online applications, making it out to my attention (Nanette.) Aldus has been neutererd, and is vaccinated for rabies, distemper and bordetella. He is heartworm negative and microchipped."

Aldus seems like a good boy who would be so grateful to be given the affection he hasn't been given all his life. If you or someone you know would love to support a fantastic rescue and end up with a loyal new friend, please email Nanette. (direct: )

To see other dogs available through Waggin Train- please click here. There are so many amazing pit bulls that have captured my heart and will capture yours (Including these adorable puppies!)

Prepare your dogs for July Fourth.

The Fourth of July may be an exciting holiday for humans, but our canine counterparts dread the flashing lights and banging noises that they can never understand.

Because dogs can hear at a range of  40 Hz to 60,000 Hz (while humans can only hear 12 Hz to 20,000 Hz, the noises of fireworks and thunder are very terrifying for them.

These frightening sights and sounds drive many dogs from their homes or owners in search of a safe place to hide. When they eventually end up at the local shelter, they displace many dogs that are already there.

In 2009, Salt Lake County Animal Services- 
which usually takes in 5 dogs a day- took in 73 dogs in the days after July 4th.
Sometimes the consequences can be worse than a night's stay at the shelter. A few years ago, my boyfriend and I were in the Thousand Islands for July Fourth when a family member's elderly Wheaten terrier named Caramel was let out at dusk to do her business. When no one could find her a little later, no one was concerned because the house we were at was surrounded by water and Caramel wasn't very mobile at this point in her life. Blind and somewhat deaf, she usually bumped into things and stood in corners for long periods of time because they were safer.
Later that night, after the fireworks, we feared that she had gotten lost in the woods nearby and went searching with flashlights. Unable to find her we waited till sunlight.
The next morning, family members circled the islands in boats and climbed through the woods. Finally, a neighbor on a neighboring island said she heard barking. We ran to the reeds where the water met a portion of the wooded island and found her in the water, clinging to some brush. She had yelped not 15 minutes earlier so we jumped in, pulled her out and carried her back to the house where we laid her out in the sun.
Somehow, despite her arthritis and age, she was able to swim to a safe spot and tread water all night, only to die when we got to her. She was bleeding from her nose from exerting so much effort, so we knew she had just recently passed. It was an extremely difficult sight to witness for Caramel's family- whose children had grown up with her.

Later that day we buried her among the wild lilacs, knowing that her time was coming soon but sad that she passed with such stress and anxiety. Other stories include a dog who had a siezure and died during the fireworks, and another who tore up the whole house in panic-causing himself to bleed. (Read here.)

To prevent these kinds of tragedies and the unfortunate influx of family pets to already crowded shelters- please keep your dog somewhere safe and quiet on Monday night.

First of all- do NOT take your pet to the fire works display. It is NOT fun for him or her- trust me, your pet wants to be at home, in the dark- in their crate or under a blanket. My parents' Wheaten terrier even tries to climb into the refrigerator to hide when fireworks or storms are rumbling outside.

DO NOT leave them outside, especially without identification.

DO NOT wait to go to the shelter if your dog is lost. With the large influx of animals, some shelters may not wait as long as it takes you to find your family member.

For more tips on keeping your dog safe, click here.
Thanks for reading---Good luck and enjoy the holiday weekend!
Winnie loves the water- this seems like a pretty safe depth to me!
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