Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Winnie got Surgery

Finally, after waiting a few months, we made the difficult but necessary decision to do Winnie's ACL repair surgery.
Since she ruptured her cruciate ligament some months ago, we were trying to save up money for the expensive surgery as we watched her leg improve. She was walking without any limp at all, when all of a sudden (probably after joyfully romping up and down the 4 flights of stairs at Grandma's house)- she began hopping around- barely using it.

Since we have moved to central NJ- we were able to find a great vet at the recommendation of both our apartment's former tenants and the Pet Rescue of Mercer, where I currently volunteer--They both suggested Dr. Petraro at Twin Rivers Animal Hospital.

Everything went completely smoothly and the staff there kept me updated and took wonderful care of her.

Today she is even "toe-touching" -something the doctor wouldn't expect for two more weeks- which means she is somewhat comfortable with her new knee already. (Although full reovery will take 6-8 weeks).

Although she looks pretty gloomy with her cone on- she has pretty decent spirits. Now the only challenge is how to get her to take her pills-any suggestions?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Riding out Irene with the Pups

Well, Hurricane Irene barreled through last night, leaving down branches and extensive flooding in her wake, but not much else. Even though there was a tornado headed straight towards us last night- expected to hit Hightstown, NJ at 11:25, we never lost power- or even cable. We grabbed Winnie and Bruno and huddled in the tub in the bathroom- the only room in our house without windows.

Winnie and Bruno were well behaved and slept through the high winds and pounding rain.
Bruno even began cheerily helping with the clean-up of the yard this morning. :)

Unfortunately, our town of Hightstown did not fare so well- and due to flooding of the water treatment center, we can not use the water for an undefined amount of time.

Check out Main Street- once a road, now an extension of Peddie Lake.

Luckily, the canine residents don't seem to mind, watch as this adorable pooch enjoys the new-found swimming pool that once was main street...

(Video courtesy of resident uploads on,
check out all the other photos videos of the huge flood here.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Winner and Loser of the Week

Winner: Gap, Inc.

Pit Bulls in Main Stream Advertising

In an effort to "democratize fashion" and boost authenticity of its 1969 brand (launched in 2009) the Gap has gone behind the scenes- showing their offices in recent advertisements and even including their office-dog, Louie, a caramel-colored pit mix! Their new market? "Downtown, semi-hipster, artsy folk" (might I also add, Pit bull owners?)

Louie, now named the "Denim Mascot" has received mostly positive press. While 238 people "like" his commercial on facebook (below), one user wrote "I don't think a Pit Bull in a Gap commercial is a great idea for an international company as it's illegal to have them unmuzzled in public or breed from them in the UK."  (Funny thing- because this article from the doesn't seem to have a problem featuring an adorable shot of Louie in its article.) Luckily, her comments was met with rebuke and the rest of the comments were all positive.

Read more here.

Loser: Pitbull, the Rapper

Mis-using the Mis-understood

This man sadly has chosen the name Pitbull for himself.
Singer/Rapper Pitbull (aka Armando Christian Perez) is said to have chosen the name pitbull because, "they bite to lock. The dog is too stupid to lose. And they're outlawed in Dade County. They're basically everything that I am. It's been a constant fight."(Washington Post, 2004.)

All completely false. First of all, they do not bite to lock- no animal's jaws can actually lock, but they do have a very powerful bite and can hold on longer than most dogs and actually has a lower "pressure per square inch" than German Shepherds and Rottweilers. (Watch the bite force competition here.)

Also, they are not "too stupid to lose"- they are dedicated to their owners and will do what they are told when manipulated with drugs, starvation, and lack of companionship. They are in fact capable of many things other than fighting. writes, "The truth of the matter is that the Pit Bull is one of the most versatile of canines, capable of excelling at just about any task his owner asks him to complete. This breed is routinely used for: obedience trialing,  conformation showing, weight pull, Schutzhund (a German sport which requires dogs to perform in obedience, tracking and protection phases of a competition), agility, and have even been known to participate in herding trials, search and rescue work, and a variety of other tasks including police and armed services work. But fanciers will argue that the task this breed performs best of all is that of beloved companion."

The long and the short of it? Buy Gap and not Pitbull's music!

Rescue Spotlight: Pet Rescue of Mercer

So as you may remember, we moved to central New Jersey recently so that the fiance could get to law school and I could stay working in NYC. So far, so good. The dogs love the new place and our commutes are going good.

Sadly, moving means leaving behind a few things in New York, like volunteering at Animal Haven- which I haven't been able to do in a long time.

 Luckily, I found an amazing group in Hamilton, NJ called Pet Rescue of Mercer (County).

I begin with my orientation this Saturday and cannot wait to meet some of the beautiful dogs (many of them Pitties!) that they are helping to find good homes. Just take a look at Dutchess,  baby Gizmo, handsome Pooh Bear, Kelsea, and others.

Save a Life... Change your own.

I wish they could all get home, but it is so inspiring to see that so many have found happiness- snuggling up on couches, wearing new collars, and packing on the much needed pounds.

When you rescue one of these dogs, your life changes forever- you know what it means to give life and to receive love, trust and loyalty in return.

Save a life today (and forever change your own)-visit Urgent Part 2 on facebook.

Also, please sign this petition to force the NYC - DOH to build the shelters they were court-ordered to years ago. Read more about it here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pit-themed Goodies...

As you all know, not only do I love pit bulls- but I love Etsy and I love deals- so here are some fantastic pitty-themed goodies I've found and have to resist buying-- lest I become the crazy pit bull lady (if I am not already!!) Use and wear them with pride!

From Olvier Blu Designs, for your child's burgeoning literary collection....
And this oh-so-cute outfit for baby with customizable fabric patterns, $20

A tiny silver pit bull necklace to keep that smile close to your heart, $28

From BullyPaws, A canvas tote to keep your pups' leashes and treats, $18

A vinyl pit bull decal to stick to your laptop (or anywhere!), $12.99

And this eco-friendly re-fillable note pad featuring shelter-pitty, Cole, $12

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

pho-DOG-raphy for a cause

Melissa McDaniel, a Philadelphia-based photographer and creater of the Photo Book Projects, such as Deaf Dogs and Rescued in America, is producing a Pit Bull Photo Book with some of the proceeds going to help shelter animals. When i heard about this upcoming book, I was very excited because Melissa's Photography really shoes the inner light in each and every dog. Showing Pit Bulls this way could really encourage people to start thinking about them differently.

The star of the book is this handsom boy, Jonny Justice- a former Vick dog rescued through Bad Rap.

For these reasons, we wanted to get involved! Bruno and Winnie will both be featured in the book, as two out of 81 pit bull portraits! Here are some of the beautiful shots that were taken during our session.

 The book will be shipping in early November, and I can't wait to give them as Christmas Presents!

You can read more about the project on Melissa's blog, here. And you can pre-order the book here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vacation with the Pups

This past week Chip and I took the pups to the Thousand Islands for Vacation.

Here they are peering over the side of the boat, enjoying all the new smells and sounds...

They enjoyed the weather, the open space to run around off-leash, the family and new friends they got to meet, and all the comfy spaces around the house for them to lay on.

They did NOT enjoy the water as much as we had hoped.

Bruno and Winnie both have extremely webbed feet so we had hopped they would both take to the water naturally and swim with us.

Winnie had learned to swim a bit last summer, and while she still doesn't like to swim- she loves to lay on rocks and let the cool water wash over her.

Bruno, however, it seemed didn't even know how to swim. When we did put him in the water (much against his will- but in a life-preserver), he simply thrashed about- using only his front two legs to swim.

Luckily, all of the open space to run and play was much appreciated and they ended up tuckered out most of the week, looking like this...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

American Shelter Dogs

This is Peter, an American Shelter dog sent to show you how easily a well-mixed dog can be mistaken for a pure-bred mix.

The American Shelter dog is a type of dog that is too well mixed to assign a predominant breed with any degree of certainty. Recent research has shown that shelter workers are wrong in identifying a mixed-breed dog's component breeds 87.5% of the time.

Many shelters (such as The Lewis & Clark Humane Society, The Humane Society of Charlotte, The Animal Welfare Society, Kitsap Humane Society, Multomah County Animal Services and Second Chance Pet Rescue) have recently begun to use the term because of how often they are simply guessing about a shelter dog's lineage-which can have unwanted consequences whether the label is desirable or not.

MCAS noted that a dog described as a Lab Mix may let down his potential adopters when they discover that he or she does not retrieve or enjoy water, but simply looks "labbish". In addition, this family may overlook a dog that does actually likes to swim and retrieve because he or she is labled a pit mix.

At Kitsap Humane Society, this exact situation did happen. Hershey was labeled a Chocolate Labrador Retriever (which is very likely, take a look!), but he was not a pure-bred lab. His family, expecting a lab in looks and behavior was surprised when he exhibited behavioral issues and returned him. Only then did the shelter do a DNA test on Hershey which showed that he was part Staffordshire Terrier (or Pit mix) which would require more diligent and specific training techniques than a regular lab.

While shelters may feel that they can get more pit-mixes adopted if they claim they are shepherd, terrier, or lab mixes-- they are actually contributing to a high return rate. Adopters need to know exactly what they are adopting based on the dogs' personality and train-ability- not on its looks.

So to reduce the number of returns, shelters have replaced the term "Mutt" with ASD (American Shelter Dog). The director of public relations and development at Kitsap said, "The ASD is our way of saying 'You can't judge a book by its cover.' When people come in to adopt an animal, they need to be focused on what's the best dog for their lifestyle, not what is the breed known for."

The point is not to mis-label pit mixes as ASDs, but rather to label pits as pits when they are clearly pits, and to refrain from calling a dog a pit-mix when it simply has a square-ish head, or a long-haired dog a German shepherd mix.

So far, the program appears to be working. The return rate at Kitsap has dropped from 5% of all adoptions to 3%. At Lewis and Clark Humane Society, they are even developing personality profiles to take the place of "breed" to help potential adopters find the right fit for them. They say, "So, instead of introducing you to a Pit mix, we will show you a brindle American Shelter Dog who is a bit introverted, but very playful. Or perhaps you would be interested in the medium-sized black American Shelter Dog with an agreeable and extroverted personality?"

Here are some American Shelter dogs available at participating shelters across the US for adoption:




Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shelter Dog Photographer's Blog

This blog entry by prominent photographer Traer Scott really touched me, and I decided to share it with you all.

Parvo and kennel cough are horrible illnesses that live in unhealthy conditions of packed and poorly-managed shelters and can sweep through shelters quickly - learn more about parvo in shelters here.

Death on Our Shoes

Sasha"It is no secret that the dogs who end up in shelters are the unlucky ones. These are not the dogs that get to nose open Christmas stockings, or who trot down the street with designer collars. They are not the dogs who sleep under the crisp bed covers at night or ride gleefully with their heads hanging out the windows of cars. More times that not, these are the dogs  who are viewed as being expendable by their owners. They are the ones who get loose or get dumped and no one comes to look for them. Many shelter dogs have rarely seen the vet...or been given a simple $20 vaccination that protects them against Parvo. Their bad luck however,  is the only way in which these dogs are inferior. They are just as smart, just as loving and just as beautiful as any other dog. Sometimes, more so.

Last week, a quiet, faceless enemy swept through the shelter where I volunteer. This time the antagonist wasn't time, but a faint trace of bright red blood in the dogs' stools which became proof positive of Parvovirus. So far, the outbreak has left a body count of 21, all Pit Bulls.

Every single dog that I nurtured, named, photographed, wrote Petfinder bios for, played with and taught skills to, is now dead. The staff who fed, watered and cared for  these dogs all day, every day now goes to work in a quarantined facility that is oddly quiet yet full of ghosts.

There are so many things that make this devastating, not the least of which is the fact that at least 3 of these dogs had been at the shelter for almost 4 months, while myself and the staff tried desperately every week to place them. The trio survived several culls for space, almost constant confinement, a severe lack of mental stimulation and a level of stress that most human beings can not even fathom. They triumphed over all of this- just to be taken out by a virus that spread silently from one infected carrier...a virus that is almost 100% preventable.

When I first heard that the shelter was closed due to Parvo, my heart fell into my stomach, but I had no idea how widespread the infection would be. The next day, I received a list with ten or more infected dogs on it, the following day, another 6. One by one, all of these lives which we fought so hard to save, were extinguished.  All of this from a virus that hung in the air, clinging to our shoes and our hands, spreading evasively since late June.

I am so saddened and angry at this needless loss of life. Angry because these dogs didn't deserve to be there in the first place and even angrier because if any one of them had been current on their shots, they would still be alive.
Over the past 15,000 years, we have succeeded in domesticating and thouroughly dominating a species that now is completely dependent upon us to survive. The gray wolf, which the dog was once domesticated from, hunts for it's food, breeds autonomously, possesses natural immunities to disease and lives a life completely free of and in fact,  antithetical to, human existence. Dogs on the other hand, have been bred for millenia to serve humans: as companions, workers and protectors. They are utterly subservient to our treatment and rely entirely on us for food, shelter, affection, amusement and good health.

All they really require is the most minimal of care and compassion and we continue to fail them.
We allow them to breed rampantly and then kill 4 million every year in shelters because there isn't enough space; we make them into designer breeds like Labradoodles and Cockapoos because it's a charming mix while 30% of the homeless dogs in shelters are pure breds; we abuse them, neglect them and even fight them until the death.
Don't we owe these ancient companions more respect? We show more reverence and good will to the very least and most despicable of our own species while constantly using and abusing the faithful creatures that have been at our side for centuries.

I write this in memory of Sasha (pictured), Huckleberry, Bandy, Tiger, Summer, Damon and all of the dogs who were needlessly lost last week due to public enemy #1, ignorance."


We would like to announce some other new news. Chip and I were recently engaged to be married- meaning our sweet puppies will no longer have unwed parents!
Also, as you know--we love Etsy and we even found my ring on Etsy! It was made by a Canadian artist & we absolutely love it- see her shop here.

New apartment!

Well, we finally moved out of the city- and the dogs love the freedom of long retractable leashes, fresh smells of grass, and a huge park right around the corner from where we live.

With a long hall-way that runs through the length of our new apartment, Winnie has taken to doing her zoomies through the whole length of the house-from the living room in the front, down the hall- past the kitchen, past the bathroom, past the guest room and through the bed room and back again. Bruno follows her- lagging a few feet, but keeping up the whole time - barking in a voice that I assume is saying, "Hey stop! You're going to fast and you're going to get in trouble!"

For the first week, they have to stay in the house more than we would like because Chip and I are commuting to NYC before he begins law- school in Philly and adopts a more flexible schedule. These long hours alone made them extra excited to get out when we got home.

The first time we came home late- they flurried past us and ran out into the street- which shocked and terrified me, as we now need to be super-aware of the busy traffic outside and realize that we no-longer have a quiet hallway, an elevator, and a lobby between us and the outside world. Luckily a new neighbor was gardening across the street and caught Winnie as she ran over to meet him.

I am so glad nothing horrible happened and we are going to be much more careful from now on.

From the first moment we moved in- Winnie already claimed her spot- a spot that originally was meant to be my new reading chair in our new den- but quickly became our little Queen's throne. We figure she chose it because she can see almost everything in the house from there, including the drive-way to see who is coming and going.

Our new den- featuring some of my favorite deals- Two linen-arm chairs from, one faux-leather ottoman from, and a faux-sheepskin rug that the doggies love to lay on from Ikea. Over-all we converted what was to be a wasted room (a dining room we would never use) into an inexpensive and comfortable reading room for our new law-school student in the family, and a good perch for our "watch dog" - aka, Winnie, who really just likes to sleep where she can see things - just in case her boring parents do something interesting- like say, offer her human food from the kitchen in the next room.

Also, so far we have seen lots of great dogs in the neighborhood- including another pit mix and a big white boxer, so we think the neighbors will be friendly towards our pittie mutts! We will keep you posted!
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