Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pit Bull Service Dogs Get Noticed!

Two Pit Bull service dogs made the November issue of California Employer Update, a publication of the California Chamber of Commerce. Chako fans will likely find the two dogs very familiar -- one is our very own ambassadog Savvy. The second dog is named Idge and belongs to a Chako volunteer.

The article discusses the issue of animals in the workplace -- from pets to service dogs that assist persons with disabilities. In particular, the article notes that any breed of dog may be a service dog pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. To highlight that point, the article includes a photo of two Pit Bull/Amstaff service dogs laying calmly side by side during a public outing.

Download the entire article as a PDF. Reprinted with permission from the November 2010 issue of California Employer Update, published by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Leaving Lucy

Well, we're packing up on our last day in Santa Clarita. Saturday, we drove from Sacramento to Agua Dulce with three dogs and three people to drop Lucy off at Villalobos. Roland, one of volunteers, was with us with his Villalobos rescue dog, Dulce. He wanted Tia to see her since it's been years since he adopted her from Villalobos.

The trip was smooth and seemed shorter than I thought it would. Lucy got a little ancy in the crate toward the end of the trip, so we made a final stop to let her potty and stretch her legs. Of course, when three Pit Bulls pile out of an SUV that has big orange "Chako Pit Bull Rescue" magnets on each side, people notice. A number of people stopped to pet the dogs, and one couple in particular loved little Lucy.

After that last stop, we made the final leg of the trip to Agua Dulce. Tia's directions were perfect, so we found it with no problem. We delivered some donations that a shelter volunteer up here had asked us to pack (those took up the very last bit of room in the car). Tia met Lucy, and I gave her the whole spiel on Lucy's history again, with some more details about what I've observed of her temperament since she's been in my custody. Tia graciously let me go back to the kennels so I could see for myself what accommodations little Miss Lucy would have, at least during the transition to their new place.

Then, we took a few photos (since dog folks are notoriously camera-happy about anything and everything they do with their dogs), and left. I have to admit I got a little teary-eyed on the way from Agua Dulce to Santa Clarita. I really wish I had a spot for Lucy myself, but all of our foster homes are full. I know Lucy is safe, and that's a lot better than being euthanized.

We checked into the very dog friendly La Quinta Inn in Santa Clarita. Our plan was to spend the next day in Santa Monica to take the dogs to the beach. Well, Santa Monica is not, apparently, a very dog friendly town. Not only do none of the patio restaurants we encountered allow dogs on the patio (except for the dive stands), but none of the beaches allow least none that we could find. So, we ended up having to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway until we could find a place that was a little less crowded and didn't have any life guard towers.

Finally! We found a little place near a Vons and Chevron and took the dogs to the beach. We put them on long lines and let them chase the tennis ball. Vinnie got rolled in the waves a few times--butt over head--but had a blast trying to catch the tennis ball in the rolling waves. All three of the humans got pretty soaked, too, and Roland's phone might not ever recover.

The dogs pooped out when we got back to the hotel. I don't think they stirred all night, though Vinnie didn't feel very well. He probably swallowed too much salt water or maybe got a touch of vertigo, but he's much better this morning.

Now, we're off--cleaning up the hotel room, packing up, and heading down for the continental breakfast. I've got tons of video to work through and edit when I get home, and then I'll be posting Lucy's trip to Villalobos on our YOUTUBE channel. So, stay tuned!

In the meantime, I've uploaded a few seconds of the dogs' beach fun (yes, we dog folks reallly are camera-crazy). A little girl walked up to Roland and Dulce on the beach and said Dulce (who is mostly white with a few black spots along her fur), looked like a Dalmatian. Roland kind of nodded and said, "Yes, she does look a little like a Dalmation" to which the little girl replied, "You know, Dalmations are not good with children."

Roland got such a kick out of that statement, I don't think he mustered a reply. Fortunately, for the little girl, Dulce is not a Dalmation. She's a Pit Bull, and Pit Bulls by and large are very good with children. Dulce and Vinnie in particular are true to their Pit Bull heritage in that aspect.

Vinnie gained a fan, too. A father from Iran and his little girl watched us play with the dogs. The father asked what kind of dogs they are, and we told him they're "Pit Bulls." He commented that Pit Bulls are dangerous, and we did a bit of polite educating. He watched us a short while, and then asked if his little girl could throw the ball for Vinnie. Of course, we agreed, and Vinnie made two new friends that day on the beach.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Two Pieces of Equipment Every Dog Owner Should Have

I'm often asked what's the best collar and leash to buy for a Pit Bull. Every dog is different, so there is no one "best" collar for every dog, but there is one collar and leash style that every dog owner should possess.

Martingale Collar

A strong, quality martingale collar is an essential piece of equipment for just about every dog owner. A martingale collar is a collar with a chain or fabric/leather loop that constricts a little so that the dog cannot back out of the collar. (See: Wikipedia for martingale photo and full description). This collar is wonderfullly functional when used by itself for dogs that walk well on leash or as a back up to a training collar, training harness, or head halter. When fitted properly, the martingale should just barely slip over the dog's head, which will prevent the dog from being able to back out of the collar because the collar will tighten when tension is applied to the leash. The collar does not, however, choke the dog in the same way as a traditional slip collar. Martingales, like most collars, should not be left on unsupervised dogs.

European Training Leash

This lead has a clasp on each end (rather than on only one end, as with most traditional leashes). It also has one or more stationary or floating D rings along the length. Alternative names for this leash are police leash and six-way leash. (See an example of a European training leash online). This is the must-have piece of equipment for every dog owner. It is a versatile and secure leash that will allow you to attach one end to a primary collar or harness and the other end to a backup collar. You can also loop it around your body for a hands-free set-up or even use it as a temporary tether when out and about with your dog.

We talk about these pieces of equipment and others in our Pit Bull Owner's Guide, a short E-Book that covers a broad range of topics, from equipment to homeowners' insurance and beware of dog signs. Order it online. Your purchase helps us to continue our work !