Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lucy, the Dog That Would be Dead Today If...

...Chako had not pulled her from the Sacramento Shelter. Lucy was one of our Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training candidates at the Sacramento shelter. During her time in the shelter, she went from being a sick, lethargic dog to a happy, wiggly, healthier dog. As her health improved and days passed without anyone adopting her, she began to exhibit aggression toward other dogs. She'd bark and lunge at them as she passed kennels. She would even bark at dogs that were on leash elsewhere.

But she was and is a total sweetheart with people. Because of her developing dog reactivity, the shelter staff pulled her out of the adoption area and put her into the "isolation ward." She was slated to be euthanized. The shelter emailed us, but it pained us to tell them we were completely full. We couldn't take in another dog.

We put out several calls for help. In a last ditch effort, I contacted Tia Maria with Villalobos. I know she's full, but it never hurts to ask. Tia agreed to take Lucy, so Rachele and I went to the shelter and bailed Lucy out of doggie jail.

While Lucy waits for her transport to Tia, she's staying with me. She's borrowing Savvy's comfy indoor-outdoor run (he hardly uses it, so he doesn't seem to mind as long as she doesn't start decorated his bachelor pad with girlie stuff). So far, she has been a perfect little angel.

She hasn't snarked at a dog since she's gotten here. In fact, she seems to want to play and even had a very nice on leash introduction to Savvy. At one point, she was nose-to-nose with the cat and gave the equivalent of a doggie shrug as she sniffed briefly and then moved on. She doesn't "do her business" inside the kennel (she does it in the appropriate outdoor area). She walks well on leash. She comes when called. She sits. She stays. That CGC training really paid off! She even laid down quietly inside for some crate time. She doesn't chew up her bedding. She doesn't tip over her water bowl. She doesn't try to climb out of the kennel.

About the only thing she does, occasionally, is whine and bark when she sees one of us outside and tries desperately to make us let her out of the kennel (which I do about three times a day for play/walks). Poor gal. We'd love her to find a home where she doesn't have to spend most of her time in a kennel, but alas, this is the only temporary spot we have for her while she waits for her transport to Tia (and her spay, which is tomorrow).

Lucy wouldn't be alive right now if we hadn't been able to get her out of there. It amazes me that such a wonderful dog almost didn't get a second chance at life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Forgotten Dogs

There's been lots of celebration about the Vick dogs finding homes and happy endings. Such joyous stories help to warm my heart, but there's a much greater sadness that wells inside me for the many other dogs who aren't finding happy endings. There are no news camera for Lucy, Pickles, Coconut, Charlotte, or Sharky. There very likely won't be a happy ending for dogs like Lucy -- a tiny Pit Bull "Terrier" gal (maybe a mix) with bat-like ears and the face of a gremlin. She's a total love bug with people--submissive, eager to please, and affectionate.

However, she's a terrier, and true to her terrier heritage, she's a little hot head around other dogs. So, she's scheduled to be euthanized--humanely of course--because of course the shelter cannot adopt out a dog that is dog aggressive. They don't have the resources to put individual attention into dogs and to screen homes and take the time to find an experienced, responsible home who will be Lucy's perfect match.

And, of course, Chako, like many other rescues, is full. We do NOT euthanize dogs (unless they pose a danger to people, and since we are so picky about that when we take in dogs--knock on wood--we haven't had to euthanize a dog for over 12 years). So, that means, when we are full, we stay full until we can find one of our dogs (like Pickles), a new home.  If I did continue to take in dogs beyond Chako's capacity, I'd end up on the news as one of those "hoarder" ladies who really had "good intentions."

Lucy only has until the end of the day, today. Then, her hope of a happy ending vanishes.

She's not the only dog out there in need of a happy ending, but if you have space in your life for a dog reactive little gremlin who loves belly rubs, let us know today, as soon as you possibly can. And if you don't have room in your life for a dog like Lucy, then we urge you to consider Pickles, or Charlotte, or Coconut, or any other Pit Bull who hasn't had the benefit of news cameras to help them find their happy endings. Hopefully, the forgotten dogs in shelters and rescue will be someone's adoring companion soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Responsible Breeding - Is there such a thing?

Chako Pit Bull Rescue does not oppose RESPONSIBLE breeding. We believe that, although there are a lot of rescue dogs in need of homes, we understand some people have specific desires to show dogs and be involved in the show community. Some people want proven "working line" dogs (recognizing that that's no guarantee a puppy from such a line will be working quality). We also recognize that responsible, thoughful, and purposeful breeding is the only way to preserve purebred dogs with consistent breed temperament and structure.

Of course, we're not saying that purebred dogs are any better than mixed breed dogs. But we recognize there are people who are true breed fanciers and want to preserve the ideal of their beloved breeds. However, we feel it important to let people know that we believe responsible breeders only breed dogs that meet the following criteria:
  • Have obtained a working, obedience, or show title;
  • Are structurally sound and mostly conform to the breed standard (recognizing no dog conforms 100% to the ideal breed standard);
  • Have passed all relevant health tests (hips, elbows, thyroid, cardiac and any breed specific genetic tests); and
  • Perhaps most importantly, have demonstrated the proper breed temperament
Responsible breeders must ALWAYS take back dogs that do not work out in their homes -- and that includes the breeders on both sides (sire and dam). Breeding a pup is a lifelong commitment to that pup. So, technically, a dog should NEVER end up in a shelter since all dogs are the result of breeders, at some point (either that dog or a prior generation was produced by a breeder). Breeders should NOT breed a litter unless they have suitable, responsible homes lined up in advance of the planned breeding.

Responsible breeders breed limited litters. They do not churn out litter after litter after litter. Those that do are called "puppy mills."

Responsible breeders avoid inbreeding close relatives and only engage in line breeding or outcrossing after much research and consideration.

Every breeder should ask the question -- WHY am I breeding? The answer should be "To better the breed" not "I need extra cash." In fact, if you breed responsibly, you will never make a living off breeding. Most responsible breeders breed not only to better the breed, but because they also want to take a puppy themselves from the planned breeding. That's different than the pet owner that wants a reproduction of "fluffy." Responsible breeders know that breeding will never yield you an exact reproduction of either parent.
Remember that when you breed, you are deliberately bringing several lives into the world. Your duty to those lives continues until each of those lives end. That's a 10-17 year commitment, generally (times however many puppies you have produced).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Going Beyond the Myth

September 25th is the premiere of Beyond the Myth, a documentary about Pit Bulls and Breed Specific Legislation. It will show at The Guild Theater in Sacramento. Doors open at 6:30 and the film starts at 7:00 (and tickets are available in advance).

I've had the pleasure of meeting Libby. She flew out to California to interview me in person way back in September of 2007 (I'm pretty sure it was 2007, but it might have been 2008). I took her to an AKC dog show and we toured San Francisco, interviewing various people about the effects of San Francisco's anti-Pit Bull ordinance. We knew we were kindred souls when, on the drive back from the show in the bay area (with my Amstaff, Savvy, in tow), Libby asked me if I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer (hey, we didn't always talk about dogs).

Heck, yeah! Gosh, I used to love watching that show. Libby said one of her favorite episodes was the musical. Well, wouldn't you know it, I happened to have the musical available to listen to in the car. So we did. And our inner geeks were released, to Savvy's dismay. (I don't think he's much of a Buffy fan, but it's hard to tell since he's perfected his nonchalance act so well).

Anyway, it's been three years (I think), and now finally the film is complete, and we get to see it on the big screen one night only in Sacramento. Don't miss it. I'm sure going to be there!