Category Archives: Stewie

Personal space? What’s that?

First a brag, then an explanation…

Brag:

One of my favorite Web sites that I visit daily, Draw the Dog, used a story about my Stewie as inspiration for one of their daily cartoons that are inspired by real dogs. Check it out!

Explanation:

Bless his heart, Stew-pot has no concept of personal space. He LOVES people, and must get as close to them as physically possible. In fact, hubby and I joke that if he could talk, he’d say (in his best Ron Burgundy voice), “I wanna be on you.”

Back to the cartoon… every morning the hubs gets up earlier than I do, at which point the dogs are invited up onto the bed. Maggie, my lab mix, usually curls up by my feet. You know, an appropriate spot for a dog. But Stewie, my pittie, has to be as close to me as possible, which, depending on the position I am laying in, means curling up with me in the spoon position, laying halfway across my back, or even parking himself between my legs. One particular morning, as I was sleeping on my back, he apparently decided my face looked like a good place to plop down. And that’s what inspired me to submit my story to Draw the Dog.

In addition to climbing on top of us in bed, Stewie’s other favorite pastimes include accompanying us to the bathroom (you know, in case we need any help or are plotting to escape through some secret passageway), sitting in our laps at the computer, and crawling into our (or our guests’) laps on the couch.

One particularly embarrassing (but funny) habit he’s picked up is kissing guests on the mouth when they walk through the door. He knows he’s not supposed to jump ON guests, but that doesn’t stop him from making a vertical leap to face level -*slurp*- and then landing on his feet. Let me tell you, the dog’s got hops. Even the tallest of hubby’s friends get kissed by Stewie as he leaps 6+ feet in the air with the greatest of ease.

Yeah, it’s something we’re working on…

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Stewie

Ketchup!

Last night I had a dream that I was competing some championship swim meet. I was up on the starting block pulling my goggles down over my eyes when it suddenly hit me that I haven’t done this since high school – what am I doing here? I’m not prepared for this! I won’t mention just how long ago high school was – or how long it’s been since I’ve been in a pool for that matter – but I think that dream was a metaphor for the chaos that has been my life lately.

Yes, I’ve been busy, as is probably evident by my lack of blogging. Actually, busy is an understatement. But most of the things that have been keeping me busy are great blog fodder, so my New Year’s resolution is to blog more. You like how I’m just now getting around to making my New Year’s resolutions and it’s almost February? Welcome to my world.

In addition to being busy at work (yes, I do have a day job – despite the fact that I would much rather spend all my time rescuing dogs, that doesn’t pay the bills), my involvement with rescue has pretty much occupied any remaining time outside of work. I’m cranking up the mileage on the car running transports and doing meet and greets, running up the minutes on my phone screening potential adopters and staying up late almost every night answering emails. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I fear this post is going to get quite long, so I’m going to break it out into chapters with big bold headlines so you can skip anything you’re not interested in….

Chapter 1: Update on the bust dogs

What an emotional roller coaster that situation was. It really opened my eyes to the horrors of dog fighting in a very personal way. Of course I have always thought dog fighting was terrible, and if the Philadelphia Eagles ever come to play the Seahawks, you know I’ll be the first one outside the stadium letting Vick know exactly what I think. But getting to know so many of the bust dogs, knowing very well many of them would never be adopted, really hit me hard. I fell head over heels in love with so many of those sweet souls, and in the end, we were only able to save 4 out of the 22.

That sounds like a terrible outcome – and in many ways it was – but the important thing to realize is that those are 4 dogs that would never have been saved if we hadn’t stepped in. Pierce County has never before even evaluated fight dogs – they were always held as evidence until the trial and then destroyed. And it’s not that the other dogs were vicious. They were just broken. Broken by human hands, through no fault of their own. I hate people sometimes.

The hardest part of the situation was knowing that many could be rehabilitated, if only we had the resources. But the shelter where they were being held probably puts down 10-20 healthy, adoptable pit bulls every week, since we are a small group and can only save as many dogs as we have foster homes for. Sure, we could have taken in more fight dogs and spent 2 years rehabilitating them to ready them for adoption, but how many “regular” pit bulls could we have saved during that time? Unfortunately the dark side of rescue is that it’s often a numbers game, and you have to weigh which option has the best odds. It’s really hard, because it’s often the sad cases that really tug at your heartstrings.

I still want to cry when I think of all those sweet dogs who are no longer with us, but it helps to know that even though they spent the last few months of their life in a shelter, it truly was heaven to them. They were inside, and they had nice people stopping by to give them treats and love on them every day – compared to their previous lives of being chained up outside in the cold, forced to fight each other in hopes of pleasing a master who never showed them the approval or affection they craved. For their last meal, they all got cheeseburgers. I like to think they left this world happier than they ever had been in their lives.

But you have to focus on the positive in this line of work, or you’ll go crazy. So to end this chapter on a positive note, here’s a link where you can follow the progress of the survivors. They are doing great!

Chapter 2: Foster #2: Gracie Lou Who!

At the beginning of this month, we unexpectedly ended up with our second foster dog. We were technically supposed to be on a foster hiatus, as the hubby wasn’t quite ready to foster again, but one of our previously adopted dogs came back to us and we had nowhere else for her to go. So after much begging and pleading with the hubs, we took in Gracie. We had two good leads on her for permanent homes anyway, so I convinced the mister it would probably only be for a few days.

Gracie was an absolute doll, and I quickly fell hard for her. Unfortunately, my boy Stewie did not. Thus, we were quickly introduced to the world of crating and rotating. Let me tell you, I have tremendous respect for people who have been forced to crate and rotate as a way of life, and make it work. It’s exhausting! (Mental note: crating and rotating would make a great future blog post)

Gracie’s presence with us really tested my emotions. The fact that I had to pretty much force my husband to even take her in in the first place, coupled with the fact that we had to keep her separated from Stewie created a lot of tension in our home. When the first adoption lead fell through, I was heartbroken. I was so sure it was going to be a good match. So I convinced the hubs that it would only be another week with her while I worked on the second lead. The next weekend, the second meet and greet went really well so we tentatively planned to send her on a trial run starting the following weekend (me to hubby: “okay, just one more week”). About halfway through that week, though, the adopter got cold feet.

Crap, now what?

I had already pushed my luck with the hubs, and if I wasn’t careful, I’d turn him off to ever fostering again. But with no other adoption leads in sight and nowhere else for Gracie to go, we were at a loss. The reality of the situation is, we can only save as many dogs as we have foster homes for, so if we don’t have a foster home for Gracie… I didn’t even want to think about that.

You see, Gracie had already cheated death once before. In fact, Gracie is the very reason our rescue formed a partnership with one of our local shelters. That particular shelter had a “no pit bull” adoption policy. Not because they thought they were inherently vicious, but because they were so hard to adopt out and they were already a high-volume shelter. Gracie was found as a stray and taken to that shelter a little over a year ago. She was actually on the euthanasia table, and the shelter worker flat-out refused to put her down. She was just too nice of a dog. So he called up the board and told them if they wanted this dog euthanized, they would have to come down and do it themselves. That sparked a discussion with our rescue, and they worked out a program where any pit bulls they received would be evaluated by us and taken into our program if there was room. They would still spend their days at the shelter to get exposure to the public, but would go home with foster families at night to learn manners and sleep on a warm bed. All applications would be handled through our rescue, not the shelter, so we could adequately screen them.

Long story short, Gracie had come too far and been through too much for it to end now. So I called up the adopter with the cold feet and talked to her about why she had changed her mind. She said she was in love with Gracie, but she was worried about how her cat would do with her in the house. After reassuring her that Gracie had lived with cats before and would probably be fine, we agreed to do a week-long trial run. I am happy to report the adoption was finalized last weekend! Gracie did awesome with the cat (as I knew she would), and everyone seems really happy.

I will end this chapter with a few photos of sweet Gracie, AKA Gracie Lou Who, AKA Gracie Lou Freebush (Miss Congeniality reference).

Chapter 3: Josie Update

Speaking of foster dogs, remember that super cute blue brindle puppy I had for a while? Well, that “puppy” is now a year old and about 70 lbs! That means she’s bigger than my Stewie. To put that in perspective, here’s a picture of her when we first got her, next to Stewie:

And here’s a picture of her now:

Look at the size of that head! Such a pretty girl, still. She is just thriving in her home, and I love that I get frequent updates on her. I love that “little” girl, and she is a big reason I do what I do.

Chapter 4: “The Kids”

As swept up in the rescue stuff as I get, I can’t forget my own two dogs! Maggie and Stewie are doing great. Stewie still chases his tail on occasion, but we seem to be able to manage it for the most part.

Having been through the crating and rotating phase when Gracie was with us also made me realize how good I have it, and what a perfect match Maggie and Stewie are for one another. Dogs are funny – like people, sometimes they just “click,” and sometimes they just don’t like each other for whatever reason. Maggie and Stewie are like soul mates. They bring out the best in each other. Maggie was really shy around other dogs before we got Stewie, and she has really come out of her shell in the last couple years. Stewie can be a bit of a butt head around other dogs sometimes, but he totally looks up to Maggie and does whatever his “big sister” says.

Sometimes I get applicants on our rescue dogs who are set on one particular dog and don’t like to hear me tell them it won’t be a good match for their family. But I really wish they’d just trust me. When you have a multi-dog household – especially with pit bulls – having the *right* match makes all the difference in the world!

They are lazy and like to wrestle laying down

Best friends

Leave a comment

Filed under Humans, Josie, Maggie, Misc., Rescue, Stewie, Training/Behavior

Update…

I have not been very good about keeping up with this blog lately. So, here’s sort of a mashup of what’s been going on in my life…

Josie is doing great in her new home. My cousin and her husband have been sending pictures and keeping me updated, and it’s so great to know she’s doing well. I am thrilled that it worked out that I got to keep her in the family. Here are a few pictures – she and her big brother Moses are just the best of buds!

photo6photo5

photo4

photo3

photo2

photo

In other exciting news: I was just voted onto the board of directors for our local pit bull rescue! I have been volunteering with this rescue for about a year and a half now, and have slowly been getting more and more involved. I’ve been very impressed with the rescue and consider it a huge honor to have been asked in the first place. As a board member I’ll become more involved with the events and media outreach I’ve already been doing, and will also start doing some of the adopter screening and dog evaluations.

This past weekend I went to hear Donna Reynolds, the co-founder of BAD RAP, speak at the Pacific Northwest Animal Care and Control conference. What an amazing experience. First of all, BAD RAP is pretty much the holy grail of pit bull rescue (they are the ones responsible for saving all the Michael Vick dogs). Donna shared some amazing stories about programs they’ve implemented and partnerships they’ve formed, and then everyone broke out into groups to talk about the problems pit bulls are facing today, what our main goals are for improving these problems, and how we plan to get there. Though there were a lot of different points of view in the room and at times we didn’t all agree (the group consisted of private rescues, shelters, trainers and animal control, to name a few groups), it was really interesting to hear everyone’s perspectives. We were also able to share quite a bit about what our rescue has been doing, and I think there are a lot of ways that we can help these other animal organizations through partnerships. At the end of the session, Donna actually told us how great she thinks our rescue is – which was a huge compliment, considering the source! We’ve certainly modeled a lot of our programs after the success that BAD RAP has seen, and to receive that recognition was quite an honor.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…  Stewie’s tail chasing has been improving. Ironically, the day I called in the prescription for his medication was the day he quit chasing his tail in his crate. He still does it occasionally – mostly in the mornings when I’m getting ready for work. But the crate thing was the biggest issue since we couldn’t stop him from hurting himself. At least when we’re home and he does it, we can physically stop him from spinning and/or redirect him to a bone or toy. I think we’ll hold off on the meds for now, but it’s nice to know we have access to them, should we get to a point where he needs them again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Humans, Josie, Misc., Rescue, Stewie

Recap – Pit Bulls on Parade!

(I’m realizing that I’m sorely remiss on updating the blog, so you’re getting two posts in one day… maybe more if I don’t get too busy with, um, actual work.)

Last Saturday our rescue held a fantastic event and fundraiser – Pit Bulls on Parade. We had a fantastic turnout, and even though it drizzled just a bit in the morning, the sun came out in the afternoon. One of our rescue members posted some great photos on Smilebox if you want to take a look.

For every pit bull or pit mix that passed the Canine Good Citizen test, we received $150 through a generous grant from Animal Farm Foundation. I’m not sure of the total number of dogs passed, but I do know the testing arena was full all day and we had 7 of our rescue alumni pass! Congrats, Ella, Zoe, Mia, Romeo, Piper, Layla and Emmie. I wanted to test Stewie but he still needs a little work on his leash pulling. Next year!

In addition to CGC testing, the event had demonstrations in disc dog, agility and shutzhund. For anyone who’s ever seen a shutzund demonstration, it’s truly incredible. While some might argue that having a pit bull  run at and bite someone’s arm is scary and not necessarily the image this breed needs, the control and focus these dogs maintain is just phenomenal. With a simple and calm command from the trainer the dog would go from tearing and biting at the padded burlap sleeve, to a perfect sit-stay. It was like they had just flipped a switch and the dog went from excited and intense to completely calm and relaxed. The way the trainer explained it, the dog wants to chew the sleeve, not attack the person. In real police dog work, the dog is never actually in a state of aggression – they’re just biting the arm where the sleeve would have been. It’s fun for the dog, but scary and painful for the bad guy who is not actually wearing a sleeve! After the demonstration was over, the dog got to chew and play with the sleeve on his own as a reward. Very cute.

The other thing that was really fun about the event was the weight pull demonstration. They even let other dogs try it out! Stewie was a natural, and pulled 120 lbs (twice his weight!) across the arena. Below are a few pictures. All in all, it was a really fun day!

First, the pro shows us how its done

First, the pro shows us how it's done

Now its Stewies turn to try - you can see just how focused he is on me here.

Now it's Stewie's turn to try - you can see just how focused he is on me here.

He did it! Good boy.

He did it! Good boy.

Here he is talking to me afterward. :)

Here he is talking to me afterward. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Rescue, Stewie

Update on Stewie

You may remember my previous post about Stewie’s OCD issue. Well, last night we saw a behaviorist, and I’m cautiously optimistic. We still may need medication, but we’re going to try some behavior modification first. I was prepared for the behaviorist to tell me he needed more exercise (I’m definitely guilty of not walking him as much as I should, even though he gets plenty of wrestling exercise with Maggie — and Josie, when she was with us). He did note, though, that while walking may not tire him out as much as wrestling does, it’s “structured” exercise, which exercises his brain more. He also said that Stewie probably needs more mental stimulation in general, because dogs with obsessive-compulsive tendencies basically have overactive brains — that his day is too routine and he needs an outlet to stimulate his brain or he’ll find a way to try to do it on his own (i.e., tail chasing).

It all makes perfect sense, and as much as I claim to know about dogs, I’m ashamed to admit that I never thought of the mental stimulation part of it. The behaviorist suggested playing hide and seek at mealtimes as a way of stimulating his brain — make him stay and then go hide his bowl and make him work to find it. So I tried that this morning. I made it pretty easy for him to start out with, and he actually found Maggie’s bowl instead of his own, but they eat the same food/same amount, so that was no big deal.

Another thing he taught us is that when Stewie starts to chase his tail and we tell him to stop, we’re just giving him attention (albeit negative) and inadvertently rewarding the behavior. He suggested we simply walk up to him and grab his tail – not pull it – but simply get it out of his mouth or get him to stop spinning without making a big deal about it. We’re also supposed to just touch his tail a lot to make him realize it’s actually connected to him and is part of his body. Sounds strange, but some dogs don’t quite realize their body parts (legs, tail, etc.) are actually a part of them. Have you ever seen the video of the dog attacking his own leg? It’s kind of like that (though not quite that bad, thank God!).

The behaviorist also thinks that he may have injured his tail in the past, and that the memory of the injury somehow triggered an oral fixation on his tail, or that the injury itself still bothers him and he goes after his tail to essentially lick/chew/soothe it. Hubby did accidentally close it in the car door about a year ago (ouch!), but in his defense, the tail chasing started before that.

Bottom line, there are any number of reasons or combinations thereof that could be causing this. The great thing about this behaviorist is that he only charges for in-person appointments, and once you meet with him, you have unlimited access to him via phone calls and emails at no charge. He wants us to check in in a week, after keeping a journal of Stewie’s progress, and depending on his progress or lack thereof, possibly come up with plan B – which still could include medication if we’re not seeing any progress. I’m not opposed to medication if that’s what he really needs, but I’m also hesitant to medicate if he doesn’t actually need it. At any rate, here’s hoping!

3 Comments

Filed under Stewie

My “special” boy…

Stewie 6-7 006 (2)(sigh) Poor Stew Pot. He just wont stop chasing his tail. He does it when he’s bored, excited, stressed out, or seemingly, just because. What’s worse, he’ll actually catch it, at which point his eyes sort of glaze over while he sucks and chews his tail. He drools profusely when he does this. We try to get him to snap out of it when we see him by telling him “no” or “leave it” – and he’ll eventually drop his tail (and then wag it, flinging slobber all over everything). We adopted him about a year ago, and it seems to be getting progressively worse. Lately he’s even started sucking his tail in his crate while we’re at work (he never used to do this in his crate), and by the time we get home he’s completely soaked all his bedding with drool. He’s also started to lose the hair on his tail from chewing/sucking it.

I don’t think it’s a lack of exercise. Even after a long walk, the first thing he does when we get home and take the leash off him is to start spinning. He plays with our other dog and our foster dog constantly, which you’d think would wear him out as well. It doesn’t seem to matter how tired he is – unless he’s actually sleeping, he’s likely to start spinning.

A vet diagnosed him with OCD a while back, and we’ve talked about possibly starting him on medication, but I’m hesitant to do so because I don’t want to alter his personality. He’s such a great dog with the sweetest disposition and I don’t want to turn him into a zombie or a walking vegetable. But it’s gotten worse lately so we’re going to start exploring our options. We saw the vet again this morning and he referred us to a behaviorist to see if there’s anything else we can be doing in the behavior-modification department before drugging him up. I emailed the behaviorist today, so we’ll see what happens…

2 Comments

Filed under Stewie

Boat Dogs!

The Pacific Northwest has been slammed with record-breaking temperatures this week. In fact, yesterday Seattle had the hottest day EVER in history, with temperatures reaching 103. Now, some of you in other parts of the country probably laugh in the face of 103 degree temperatures, but let’s not forget that hardly anyone in Seattle has air conditioning. Combined with the fact that the temperature normally hovers somewhere around 75 in the summer, and you can see how we’re not handling this heat so well!

The dogs especially have been taking the heat wave a little hard. I’ve had fans blowing on their crates and have been freezing the water in their dishes, and they’re still pretty miserable. So yesterday, in an effort to cool us all down, hubby and loaded the dogs into boat and headed out onto Lake Washington. It was still hot, but much more bearable and we enjoyed a nice swim and the breeze coming off the water. The dogs seemed to enjoy themselves as well, even if they did fall in a few times. My back is killing me today, though – I must have pulled something after hoisting them back in the boat when they would slip overboard. Here are a few pictures of the dogs enjoying themselves (excuse the poor quality – they were taken with my camera phone).

5611_130020742789_670517789_3189195_3730729_n

Dogs checking out Hubby on this weird floaty thing

5611_130021662789_670517789_3189199_4335329_n

"OMG, I'm so glad you're back in the boat!!!"

n670517789_3189194_5758958

Enjoying the view, the breeze, and ... the taste of the windshield?

n670517789_3189311_890222

Stewie attempts to find his sea legs

Leave a comment

Filed under Humans, Josie, Maggie, Stewie