Sunday, January 30, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Being only 8 weeks old, Tiga (a "pit bull" according to his owner) hasn't had time to eat any faces yet. He's more into licking them. Owners brought him in to get vaccinated and to x-ray his front paws, which are growing funky.
That's it. Ho hum.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Gracie is owned by one of the vet techs here at work. Her breeding is unknown, but she is obviously a "pit bull type" dog. She has the most woeful looks. In this photo, she is having her anal glands expressed, so the look is justified. She seems to like all people, even after they poke their fingers in her bottom. She is always happy to come to the clinic and say hi to everyone. She shares her home with another dog, and they get along alright, despite Gracie being food and toy aggressive.
Somehow, she's managed to never kill or maul anyone, despite being a "pit bull" under adverse conditions such as those pictured above.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Sometimes I just feel like it.
Ten Things I've Done That You (probably) Haven't:
1) Went to Disneyland during the LA riots. The lines for rides were very short.
2) Held both of Linus Pauling's Nobel Prizes in my hands (solid gold is very heavy, btw).
3) Made authentic Scottish haggis from scratch, starting with a live sheep.
4) Shook hands with an 800-year-old mummy (at the suggestion of the crypt's curator).
5)Visited the same English castle 5 times in a 6 month period.
6) Lived in a university dorm originally built in the 1930's to house a mental hospital.
7) Discovered one of only a handful of known specimens of rare conk (while helping a botanist. search for a different rare species of conk in a remote wilderness).
8) Chopped off 18 inches of my hair in one sitting.
9) Drove through the middle of a forest fire to pick up a paratrooper firefighter and bring him to the Forest Service basecamp.
10) Flew over my university campus in a 1920's biplane.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I met Sissy a couple years ago. She was a 2ish-year-old, 35 lb, spayed female "pit bull type" dog (her cage card read "lab/pit bull mix") that I walked several times at the shelter. She liked people. Not very cuddly, but definitely friendly with everyone she met. She had a lot of energy and liked to play fetch. Pulled on the leash pretty bad. She got out twice a day, but being in a kennel most of the time probably didn't help.
All in all, a very average dog. She was adopted by a family. Kind of a boring story, huh? Guess that's why these sorts of stories about pit bulls don't make it to the media.
Monday, January 17, 2011
The neighborhood I lived in for several years while I worked at OSU had a lot of dogs. First and foremost, was Tango, who I always think of when I picture the ideal family dog. He is around 5 years old, neutered, and about 70 lbs. He is one of those mellow, well-behaved dogs that sort of becomes a background fixture; part of the soul of a neighborhood. He is often found lounging off-leash in his family's front yard, yet he never runs loose or causes any trouble. He just likes to survey his kingdom. He's good with all people, children, and other animals. He adored Zelda. He was one of the many reasons I was sad to move away from that neighborhood.
He is unequivocally a "mixed breed", yet in may cities with BSL, he would be labeled a "pit bull type". Other dogs with similar looks have been targeted before.
Number 6 is Baby. She and Tango are a study in contrasts. When I knew her, she was about a year old, maybe 40 lbs, unspayed, and completely untrained. Her owners lived several houses down, and for some reason thought that she'd stay in the yard, even though she was a untrained puppy and there was no fence. She used to run all over town, and learned quickly to run from people because they'd catch her and spoil her fun. I was one of those people, but I used Zelda as bait and lured her into the house and caught her multiple times. Once caught, Baby was very friendly and loved attention from people. She wasn't great with other dogs, and she and Zelda had words more than once, but nothing serious. I don't know what happened to her.
Number 7 I have no photo, nor did I ever learn her name. She was a muscular "pit bull type" dog that a family got as a young puppy. Maybe once a week the kids would play with her, which she absolutely loved. But she spent most of her time chained to a tree in the backyard barking at everything. She once got out of the yard and ran at me and Zelda as we were walking by. She didn't seem to know what to do; she barked, growled, cowered, play bowed, rolled on her back, sniffed noses and butts with Zelda, and otherwise acted unsocialized and under stimulated. She mostly ignored me except for a sniff of the hand and a brief wag of the tail. Then the owners came out of the house and hauled her back to her tree. That was my only interaction with that particular dog.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
My friend's dog, Emma, is a 3ish spayed female pit bull/cattle dog mix adopted from a shelter. She hasn't come into the clinic I work at. She's just one of the many "pit bull type" dogs that I know that just act like... dogs. She's a joy to be around, very goofy and cuddly. An excellent pet.
She loves all people. Dogs, she's not so great with. Not too bad, but not great. She has her favorites that she likes to play with, but she and Zelda just sort of tolerate each other when we go on walks together. Things can get tense when both dogs are in one or the other's house, but there have been no serious scraps.
This is a 3-year-old, spayed female American Pit Bull Terrier. Her family brought her to the clinic for annual exam and vaccinations. Nothing remarkable. She acted very outgoing and happy. She didn't complain about being stuck with needles.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
This 70 lb, 2-year-old intact male "pit bull type" dog (we later learned he's a lab/pit bull mix) escaped his fenced yard, was hit by a car and brought into the clinic by a good Samaritan. Though luckily no bones were broken, he had a concussion and road rash all over his body. Despite acting confused, fearful, and painful, he never showed any aggression as we poked, prodded, and manhandled him. Luckily, he and his owner were reunited the same day and he went back home with his family. The owner says he's a great, mellow, family dog and loves his young daughter. He said he was so worried when he came home to an empty yard and was very grateful to have his pet back.
For an explanation of what I'm doing here, read this.
Inspired by my recent discovery of the assinine policies of my neighbors to the north, I've decided to start a new series on this here blog. I think I'll call it "The Anecdotal Pit Bull". I'll snap a cameraphone picture of a "pit bull type" dog, and describe its behavior while in the clinic.
I've encountered so many pits and pit mixes in the dog park, while volunteering at the shelter, and now at work, that I keep forgetting how bad their reputation is out there, even among people who ought to know better.
Pit bulls are just dogs. Not monsters. Not angels. Dogs. Despite the diversity in dogs as a species, (and despite the face that we all have our favorite breeds that we like to convince ourselves are unique), they are all of them, as individuals, more alike than they are different. If breed looks and behavior were drafted on a ven diagram, it would be a haze of overlapping circles, no clear definitions anywhere.
Lazy thinking, media bias, and reactionary, self-serving politics lead to some breeds being characterized as practically another species. Super Dog, or something. For various reasons, "pit bull type" dogs are the most popular to hate-on currently. This angers me. I don't even particularly LIKE pit bull terriers or Safforshires. They're fine dogs, they're just not in my top ten favorite breeds. Though I certainly wouldn't mind having a pit or mix as a pet someday.
No, I feel the need to defend them because I like all dogs in general. I also dislike busy-bodies, sloppy thinking, poor science, politicians, and racism. Which are, of course, all the things that breed specific legislation is all about.
Stories like Sadie's piss me off. A lot.
In that light, here's my first post on pit bulls that I encounter. Sadie.
Sadie is a purebred American Staffordshire terrier. One of the breeds often included in breed specific legislation. She's a "pit bull type" dog.
Sadie was raised in a family environment, but somehow ended up living with a scumbag the last couple years. He abused and neglected her until recently when my friend took her away from all that. Despite that, she still greets strangers happily, even eagerly. She was brought into the clinic to treat her skin allergy and dirty ears. This involved strangers manhandling her onto her side and holding her there for over 10 minutes while her ears were cleaned. She showed obvious signs of discomfort and resisted being laid down (as most dogs do). At no point did she act aggressive, or even fearful. The best description is probably "annoyed but resigned".
Sadie's just a dog, one of many I encounter on a daily basis. She was easier than average to work with. And she's a pit bull. Whoop-dee-do.
I really hope this series doesn't overwhelm my blog. I deal with so many pit-looking dogs I probably have enough fodder for every day of the week. (They're popular pets in this area). I may have to start doubling up.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
My friend and coworker recently rescued Sadie from abuse and neglect. Like many dogs in her situation, she'd had a good start in life, but had fallen into ignorant and non-dog-savvy hands the last couple years. Hands that hit her and threw her against walls when she acted too "hyper".
Not able to keep her herself, my friend put up an ad in Craigslist. Like many dogs in her situation, Sadie still, for some reason, loved all people she met, especially children. Within a few hours, she had an email from a family that sounded perfect. Big fenced yard, kids to play with, a mom who had grown up with pit bulls and loved the breed (who had, in fact, been searching Petfinder and Craigslist for months looking for just the right pit bull for her family). My friend arranged a meeting and it went wonderfully. Sadie loved the kids, the kids loved her; the mom said this was exactly the dog they were looking for.
A perfect, happy ending for a nice family dog, right?
Two days later the new owner, being a responsible pet owner, took Sadie in to get licensed by the city. It was then she was informed by an animal control officer that the city she lived in has special rules for dogs with short hair and big heads. The family was required to post a "dangerous dog" sign in front of their house. Sadie would have to be muzzled at all times when outside the home. Including in their own, fenced, yard. They are also never allowed off-leash; even in her own yard, she'd have to be muzzled and leashed or in a kennel not to exceed 6'x6'.
"And yes," the ACO told her, "we do keep tabs on them."
"Maybe," he added, "you shouldn't keep a face-biter around your kids anyway."
The mom called up my friend in tears and asked her to take Sadie back and find her a different home.
"I just can't stand the thought of confining her all the time like that. She can't even play in the backyard with my kids."
Good work, breed specific legislation. I'll sleep better tonight knowing I'm safe safe from a friendly family dog.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
It was fifteen minutes to closing time. Dr. M had been in the surgery room for 2 hours trying to set pins in the puppy's leg. It wasn't going well. An external fixator is difficult enough to set when the dog is an adult with a clean break. This was neither. Really, the owner should have taken the slightly more expensive option and taken her to a specialist to have the bones plated, but it was too late for that now.
He tried one more time to screw a pin in the tiny space of unbroken bone below the elbow joint. There was a soft but ominous crunching sound. Dr. M set down his tools, took off his gloves and left the room. I glanced at S, who had been monitoring the puppy throughout the surgery. I had just come into the room a few minutes ago to check out the surgery. All the end-of-day chores were finished a few minutes ahead of schedule and I was curious. "He going to call the owner?" I asked.
Dr. M returned in a few moments. "They want to euthanize."
S nodded and left to draw up the Euthasol.
"Why don't they just amputate?" I asked. "I've met quite a few perfectly happy three-legged dogs."
"So have I." He said, "in fact I even knew a three-legged working ranch dog. But this owner said he couldn't bear the sight of a crippled dog. He also said he's afraid the other dogs will pick on it."
S returned with a syringe filled with pink death, and a small body bag. She went to the end of the table and lifted the surgery drape to find the puppy's IV line. A soft, black nose appeared. Spotted around the edges, rounded in that way that 3-month-old puppy features are. Eyes shut, slow breaths fogging the tube. S started to insert the needle into the port. "Wait." I said, and turned to Dr. M. "How much would it cost to amputate?"
He raised his eyebrows. "Probably around a thousand, all told. Why? You thinking of buying yourself a dog?"
I bit my lip and looked at the spotted nose. "Yeah. Let's do it. Tom said he wanted a puppy anyway."
Dr. M grinned, "I'll call up the owner again."
An hour, eleven hundred dollars, and a bottle of Rimadyl later, and I've got myself a puppy.
I've known for a while that Tom and I would end up with another border collie. They're the kind of breed that becomes addictive. I never imagined the circumstances, though.
I gave Tom the honor of naming her. He chose "Samus", named for star character of the Metroid video game series (third most popular Nintendo franchise after Zelda, btw). In Metroid, Samus has a bionic laser canon instead instead of one of her arms.
We'll wait until Sammy is full grown before we fit her with her own laser canon. Those things are expensive. For now, she'll have to make do with her Border Collie Puppy Control Stare Of Cuteness(tm).
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Realizing that I've lived here nearly 5 months now without even so much as visiting the local shelter, I made it my 2011 goal to start volunteering again. So, I trolled Petfinder and sent out a few feeler emails to local rescues that looked promising. You know, variations of, 'hey, I'm new in town, I work full time and can't do much, but I can do x, just let me know, etc'.
Thirty minutes later, I got a reply from one that was basically: "Funny you should ask: we have urgent need for temporary foster home."
And I was all, "Sure, when?"
Me: "Um... OK, why not?"
So, the day before New Years Eve, Tuffy showed up at my door.
All I know about her history is that she's a 6-month-old Yorkie mix who's been in foster for 3-4 months. She's a very nice little dog. Quiet, sweet, cuddly but not too clingy, bold enough to play with Zelda, who tends to intimidate other dogs, but doesn't try to kill the cats.
We had a rough first night; Tuffy cowered under the couch and growled when we approached. We kept the dog and cats away and let her sit there for awhile, occasionally tossing treats which she ate eagarly enough. Eventually, I forced the issue and we had a gentle but firm discussion about how growling and nipping were not acceptable (during which she realized that these new people were not, in fact, going to eat her), and since then we've gotten on great. She is supposedly more shy of men, but has taken to Tom (it may have something to do with the bacon he keeps slipping her). I've been feeding her rice, ground beef and cottage cheese which she gobbles down. No stomach issues so far.
Not surprisingly, Tuffy already has several applications in to adopt her. The rescue is just waiting for her to get spayed and a few days to recover.