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Over the weekend, we discovered an incident that left us feeling sucker punched: the trailer for our Get Your Fix! spay/neuter program was stolen.

ARLP's double-locked trailer contained all of our GYF materials: from tents and cones to microchips and vaccination supplies. Unfortunately, despite working together with local authorities and the property management company to reclaim it, there is little hope for its recovery.

This is a huge loss for a small nonprofit like ARLP, which runs on little more than the tireless work of our volunteers and the small group of big-hearted, generous supporters who toss spare dollars toward us whenever they can.

Our feelings of loss go beyond the physical 'stuff'. Not only have the individual(s) responsible caused great harm to an important community program, but worse: they have deeply violated a group of people who mean the world to us: YOU.

You see, when Get Your Fix! was just beginning, when it was small and not yet polished but every bit as full of heart as it is today -- and when local animal control facilities were forced to euthanize hundreds upon hundreds of homeless pit bulls each year due to shelter crowding and overpopulation -- you believed in us. You saw the work that needed to be done, and you helped us do it.

Because of the way you uplifted our program with your donations, encouragement, and help getting the word out, GYF has held 16 fairs and many more followup events, resulting in almost 1,000 pit bull spays/neuters plus twice as many vaccinations and microchips in only 4 years. All of this was provided at no/low cost to the local community. GYF has made a huge difference in overpopulation at our local shelters -- as the supervisor of St. Paul Animal Control said last year, GYF is preventing "friendly, healthy dogs [from being] euthanized without cause."

If there is a silver lining to be found within this week's setback, it's the fact ARLP's supporters have always been there for us with grace, generosity, and an outpouring of help for local animals in need.

If you've ever thought about donating to ARLP or Get Your Fix!, now is the time. We've leaned on you in the past to make GYF the stunning success it has been over the past 4 years; now, we come to you again with humility and gratitude, and the confidence that it is you who will help build us back up.
That's what this community is all about - lifting each other up. And you can bet we will pay it forward to the local community of pit bull and Rottweiler owners who have come to depend on and trust Get Your Fix to lift them up, too.

Our first 2015 GYF fair is right around the corner and we need your support now more than ever to ensure that Get Your Fix can continue to make a difference in our community.

You can contribute here.

Not in a position to donate? We would appreciate any help you could offer in spreading the word about ARLP and Get Your Fix. 

Additionally, if you are able to put us in contact with anyone from the media who might be interested in helping us spread the word about this incident (which could lead to information that could help recover our trailer), please email michelle@arottalove.org.

In the mean time, we are doing everything we can to minimize the effects of this event on the services we provide to the community. Follow us on Facebook, visit our website, and check out this GYF video to learn more about the ways in which we, together with your support, create a better world for pit bulls and Rottweilers.

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by Jen L.

Many of us celebrate our dog’s birthday these days. If we adopted an adult dog and don’t know their actual birthday, we celebrate their Gotcha Day, the day we signed their adoption papers and brought them home. We buy them a special treat or let them pick out a new toy at the store. Sometimes we throw an actual party, bake a cake, and invite our friends and family. At our house, we are celebrating an even more important day this year: Lloyd’s Freedom Day.

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Lloyd belongs to a special group of dogs. These dogs have been rescued from lives of abuse, neglect and exploitation; a previous life so appalling that we shake our heads and ask ‘How can someone treat another living creature that way?’ We will never know exactly what he went through the first year of his life, but in early April 2013 that life changed forever. While police were investigating a triple homicide in Oneida County, Idaho, they found over 60 pit bulls in what appeared to be a dog-fighting operation. Most were chained up and living out of barrels. They were underweight, malnourished, sick, and injured. The Idaho Humane Society took in the dogs and started the process of feeding, caring for, and evaluating them.

Our friends at BAD RAP helped IHS evaluate the dogs and decide which ones would benefit the most from going to a rescue group such as A Rotta Love Plus. ARLP rallied our troops and soon Lloyd (fka Dayton) and Crash (fka Tennessee) made their way to Minnesota and landed in two of our fabulous foster homes. The boys spent time learning about the world that was past the end of their chains, continued to put on more weight, and became healthy. I snatched up Lloyd for keeps soon after he was available for adoption, and Crash is still on the market.

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Life off the chain is great. Lloyd thinks food is by far the coolest thing in the world; playing with his friends at doggie daycare is probably a close second. He has two canine brothers to play and snuggle with at home. He runs errands, goes to training class, and even comes to work with me on a regular basis.

We have our bumps in the road to work through. Lloyd was terrified of the kennel for several months. If I even looked like I was maybe, possibly going to ask him to go in it, he would run as far as he could from the kennel and pancake in the corner. Thanks to our favorite thing in the world, FOOD, he now goes flying into that thing so fast that I usually have to push it back into place once he is in it. We are working through some general anxiety when outside or in new places. The world is a big place and many things are still new for him, but we are learning not to worry so much. He is doing great settling in to new environments when we are indoors, but the looong cooold winter didn’t help us work outside very much, so we are now playing a little catch up on our training program outdoors. Hopefully by the time the snow flies next season, he will be able to take a walk in our neighborhood and not think twice about it. We will get there together and enjoy the ride. We have the sun on our backs, food in our bellies, a roof over our heads, and each other. Life is good.

Today, we celebrate the day his life would never be the same. The day that a warm place to sleep, regular meals, companionship, and love would become the norm. The day that none of the dogs would ever again be forced to fight for somebody’s entertainment.

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This year is twice as special though – I get to celebrate Freedom Day with more than just Lloyd. A few weeks ago Crash needed a new place to, well, crash. I said he could bunk with us until we were able to find him a new foster. He has been a wonderful house guest. He is respectful of eight-year-old Monte with his bad hips and gentle when playing with 14-lb Jax. Crash is easy to take everywhere and is a great walking partner. He is a goofy, floppy clown of a dog and has brains to boot. He has loads of training under his belt, is crate trained and house trained, walks nicely on leash, is dog- and people social, and is very handsome. He will make a great buddy for someone; they just haven’t found each other yet (view Crash’s bio and adoption info here).

Even though we aren’t celebrating their actual birthdays, I thought it was best to keep with traditions and let the boys each make a wish on their Freedom Day.

Lloyd wishes that Crash will find a forever life as great as his.

Crash’s wish is for Lloyd’s wish to come true.

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HAPPY FREEDOM DAY to our fellow Oneida bust peeps across the country. Yuk it up today kids, you’re living the good life!

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Deviant Art: Dispelling Myths is a benefit art show put together by Sarah Thornton of Lintu Art to raise awareness and funds for ARLP and its programs. Our sixth (and final!) Deviant Art will take place at the Northrup King building in Minneapolis on Saturday April 5, 2014 from 3-9 pm. Deviant Art is a FREE event where you can experience Rottweiler- and pit bull-themed professional artwork, enjoy food and beverages, and meet some sweet therapy dogs. For more information on Deviant Art, visit the website or RSVP on Facebook.

Deviant Art is quickly approaching, and this year we are delighted to be featuring Sarah Ernhart of Sarah Beth Photography in this year’s show. In anticipation of the event, we asked Sarah to tell us a bit about herself and what “Deviant Art” means to her.

Sarah Ernhart

ARLP: What made you want to get involved with the Deviant Art: Dispelling Myths show?

Sarah: I'm a huge supporter of rescues in general, and I really love the people and mission behind A Rotta Love Plus. The Deviant Art: Dispelling Myths show is such a great way to bring people together and experience a wide variety of beautiful artwork, depicting often-misunderstood dogs in a positive light. I'm excited for the opportunity to join the other artists, and share my own experiences and images to help further this cause.

I think “Deviant Art” is a great name for this show, not only because of the subject matter, but for the type of work that's been showcased year after year, spanning so many different genres. It's a platform for deeper thought and discussion about ‘deviant’ breeds, and seeing them through the eyes of some very talented artists. From photographs and paintings to scratch art, sculpture, textiles, collage, found-object pieces, and more, there are as many different ways to make art as there are interpretations…. just like there are as many different dogs as there are perceptions of different breeds.

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ARLP: Who was your first pet growing up?

Sarah: Technically, my first pet was a house cat named Missy, but she passed away when I was 3. We had just moved to a farm at that time, and I do remember picking out Toby and Sheri, who would be our first two barn cats. That same summer, our neighbor down the road had a litter of black Lab/Springer Spaniel mix puppies, and we brought Sam home. We soon grew our little hobby farm to include sheep, horses, chickens, geese, rabbits, cows, and pigs.

ARLP: How would you describe the piece of art that was chosen as the featured piece for Deviant Art, ‘Frankie’?

Sarah: Frankie was a sweet, 11-year-old pit bull, whose best friend was a 13-year-old Basenji. We had a lovely summer evening for our session, and I think this image really sums up his personality…the bright eyes, inquisitive ears and slight smile on that earnest face… such a sweet boy! I love the contrast between Frankie and the grass, and the almost-abstract shape that his body is making against the background.

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ARLP: What are some of your personal experiences with real-life pit bulls and Rottweilers?

Sarah: I've had a number of clients with pits, pit mixes and Rottweilers from rescues, and I'm always so impressed with their capacity to love after experiencing abuse. Rottweilers in particular have been some of the most calm, sweet subjects; they are very connected with their owners, especially kids. (Unfortunately, many of those have been Joy Sessions, as Rotts seem to have such a high rate of cancer.) The pit bulls I've photographed are generally a little more active, and it's really fun capturing their HUGE smiles!

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2013 was another year of growth for ARLP’s PRIORITY Paws program, which brings therapy Rottweilers and pit bulls to youth in order to promote humane attitudes toward animals and people. Programs such as PP are what ARLP is all about: not just pulling dogs from shelters one at a time, but also working hard in our community to make sure the next generation of dog owners has the tools and knowledge to do things a little differently. A little better.

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The dogs bring smiles to [the kids’] faces, and it's so rewarding to be a part of that.” – Sarah L.

ARLP’s supporters and volunteers enabled PRIORITY Paws to serve roughly 340 youth in crisis this year. That’s 340 youth who will face their future with a new respect for dogs – especially our beautiful breeds – and for themselves, as custodians of animals they encounter in the future.

Being a part of PRIORITY Paws brings me happiness…[We’re] sharing our life book with one another, learning how to trust.” – Harmony G.

The past year saw new partnerships and new supporters. We began partnering with Ain Dah Yung in February in order to serve St. Paul youth ages 5-18, which led us to new and innovative teaching methods that were both fun and informative.

I also remember an older youth who was very tall and seemingly tough who was afraid to be near the dogs.  At the end of the session, he asked if he could give Mercedes a treat.  He gave her a treat and asked to give another for a trick.  I told him how brave he was to overcome his fear...Sometimes we can't reach the youth, but the dogs can!" - Laurel B.

In August, our other facility – the Bridge for Youth in Minneapolis – received a grant that provided funding for PRIORITY Paws and enabled us to boost our services to twice weekly instead of once. This funding is very exciting for ARLP as it also comes with formal evaluation of the success of the program, which we hope to share with our supporters next year.

Tally wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the compassionate action of many people...Serving as a therapy dog team for PRIORITY PAWS lets us pass on all that love and compassion to kids at the Bridge. I find it sweetly appropriate that Tally, who went so long without a safe home of her own, can bring a bit of comfort to kids [in a similar situation].” – Ruth P.

And in September, we were honored to be included in the ABCDOG golf event, which raised a large amount of money to ensure PRIORITY Paws’ continuation.

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At this time of year we also reflect on the outstanding new teams that have joined us this year, each of whom bring exciting new skills and stories to our groups. And of course, we remember the teams who have retired from PRIORITY Paws, whose gifts will be sorely missed.

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As we look forward to continuing our humane programming in 2014, we want to say – simply but sincerely – thank you to everyone who has supported PRIORITY Paws in 2013. Your support means the world to ARLP and those we serve!

These kids are amazing the way they process negative experiences and for a large part have gained insight and wisdom (at an early age) from those experiences. I suspect they have a good shot at being even more amazing than they already are. [Sometimes] I suspect I walk away with more than I brought.” – Seth W.

For more information on PRIORITY Paws, contact Kellie at education@arottalove.org.

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At ARLP, we know it takes a village to not only match the right dog with the right forever home, but to provide ample support after the adoption takes place to ensure that each 'match made in heaven' lasts a lifetime. The hard work of our volunteers that goes into our adoption process is SO worth it when we receive emails like this one from Tom and Kerry:

Dear ARLP,

Today is the 1-year anniversary of us adopting Lucy from ARLP (her gotcha-versary?). We wanted to send a thank you for matching us with such a great dog. Rachel, who generously spent time with us to determine if another available dog was the right fit and, months later, responded that they'd heard about a dog that might be The One (she was the one!).

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Susan and Amy, who took Lucy in as your first foster, gave lots of loving and care for her crooked hips, and still managed to let her go. And have continued to share the occasional play date with their own dog, Beau.

Laural, who coordinated us meeting Lucy, offered expertise and reassurance, and who we look forward to seeing on Pack Walks.

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Jen, who provided tons of guidance through multiple Rott n' Pit Ed classes, not to mention visits to our house to help us work with Lucy's challenges at home.

We are such better dog owners, breed ambassadors, and advocates for ARLP because of each of you.

Thank you! Keep being awesome:)

Tom and Kerry

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This post contains some of the thoughts and sentiments expressed by several different ARLP volunteers, and represents a reflection on the impact Max had on us all. Thank you to everyone who assisted with this essay.

We named him Maximilian, a dignified name for a dog who deserved a little dignity in his life – Max for short. He had been found wandering in a local park. “Emaciated” was an understatement for Max; a dog that should have weighed between 50 and 60 pounds entered animal control weighing 30 pounds. It was clear that his condition was not a result of living for many months on the street. Instead he must have been left to starve in a basement or a crate, and then either broke his way out or was dumped. The black collar that at some point surely fit his neck nice and snug, now hung at least 4-5 inches loose, but it was still clean – definitely not the collar of a stray dog.

Six days after entering animal control, he had lost 5 pounds and now weighed only 25 pounds. His lymph nodes were swollen, he had trouble swallowing, and his body was shutting down. The animal control vet authorized his early release before his stray hold was up.

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Somehow, someway, when we opened his kennel run and put the leash around his neck, he found the energy and strength to pick himself up and walk out on his own. Once outside, he did all of his business. He was house trained. At one point, he must have lived as a pet.

Max went to the home of a very special foster. He was fed a small meal of chicken broth, canned food, and Nutri-Cal. He gladly ate up what he was given. He had fluids administered. A jacket was put on him to keep his little body warm. He was then gently set into a cushy bed.

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He leaned into his foster’s arms for love, and as if to show appreciation. After receiving scritches on his tiny forehead, he settled into the dog bed and buried his head under the blanket. He had food in his belly, his body was warm, and he had a soft place to lie; now he rested.

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This is the part of the story where you are waiting to read how he improved day by day, regained his strength and energy, and today lives with a wonderful adoptive home. And I wish that is what I could have written. But Max didn’t get that. Instead he passed away nine hours after leaving animal control. His poor little body had just had enough. He went peacefully and without suffering.

In cases like Max’s, we must adjust our definition of a happy ending. Humans may have failed Max, but in the end, kindness won. Max’s last memory was not that of a cold animal control kennel. He was safe and warm and delivered from this earth in the arms of someone who loved him.

Max is one of the precious, gem-like memories that we hold against our hearts when everything wrong with the world seems overwhelming. Loving acts are never wasted. Max will not be forgotten.

Max

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Blog post by Laura M.

She didn't have a name when the puppy and her sister were dumped at a construction site, so the ARLP volunteer who found them in June 2008 named her "Katie." Katie was an adorable little black puppy, and it didn't take her long to be adopted.

Kate's new family renamed her "Lexis." Lexis grew up into a lovely dog. She was sweet with all people, but she particularly loved children. She gravitated toward the little ones like pit bulls to peanut butter. She also loved balls, and would play fetch until she fell over, preferably in some sort of water. Her new family taught her important things like sit and shake and to walk nicely on a leash.

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But as she got older, Lexis became "aggressive" with other dogs. While she continued to get along well with her family's other dog, she started lunging and barking at other dogs on walks, and her family had difficulty managing her. One day while Lexis and her canine sibling were being walked by a friend of the family, the two of them lunged toward another dog at the same time and pulled their leashes out of the person's hand. The two dogs attacked the other dog, and in the process of separating them, the boy who had been walking the other dog received two punctures - a dog bite.

Animal control was called, and Lexis's family sent her to the impound facility for quarantine. While she was there, her family determined that they were unable to handle Lexis’s issues, so they contacted ARLP as instructed in their adoption contract. They asked us to please find a new home for her.

ARLP doesn't typically take in middle-aged lab mixes with bite histories, but that is what Lexis grew up to be, and we take care of our own. So ARLP’s exceptionally talented intake team went out to animal control to do a temperament evaluation on Lexis in order to better understand what her options would be.

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Lexis breezed through her temperament eval with grace and aplomb. She seemed to be a biddable, eager-to-please, well-balanced dog who adored both people and food. The animal control officers who worked with her had come to like her. They hadn't had any trouble with her around the other dogs at the impound facility. They felt, and ARLP’s intake team agreed, that Lexis deserved another chance, even if that chance was just a warm bed, a full belly, and a little love before she was euthanized as a compassion case.

Here's where I come in - because, as Tyrion would say, I have a "tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things." And Lexis came to my house a very broken dog.

She wasn't aggressive or overly anxious or behaviorally challenged; she was lost. She would pace around the house, looking out windows, scanning rooms, looking behind furniture for something - or someone - she could not seem to find. I would call her to me, and she would cheerfully come, receive some scritches, and then trot to the door as if to say, "Okay, can I go home now?" I didn't have a way to tell her that she wouldn't be going home again, and it was one of the most heart breaking experiences I've had in nearly fifteen years of rescue.

But there was more broken than just hearts. It took me about a week to realize that there was just something wrong with the way this dog moved. Her back end wasn't put together like my other dogs; she had an odd, short-strided gait in her rear. So we packed her up and went to the vet where she received a tragic diagnosis: severe hip dysplasia.

So now we have a five-year-old, large, black, mixed-breed dog with a bite history and a severe health problem. On paper, from an ethical standpoint, she is unadoptable. But her statistics do not even come close to describing the dog she is.

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We renamed her Marnie, because that is what she told me her new name would be for this next chapter in her life, and I don't know how to argue with that. She has the softest mouth. She loves, loves, loves to play with balls, even though the vet said that a dog with her hips shouldn't be able to stand steadily, let along run and play - no one told Marnie that her body was broken. She can be left alone in the house and not chew stuff up. Her behavior is normal and predictable. Her whole body lights up with joy at meal times. She is more social, better on a leash, and better behaved than the majority of my own personal dogs.

And Marnie is not dog aggressive. For the first few weeks at my house, Marnie completely ignored my dogs - she wouldn't even look at them. Thanks to the Two Week Staycation, Marnie learned that she did not have to interact with the other dogs if she did not want to. You see, Marnie likes other dogs, but she is worried that they will hurt her. While she can still run and jump and play on her own, having her hips bumped and jostled by other dogs hurts her. So she became defensive toward other dogs. Once she figured out that she could interact with dogs on her own terms, both at home and on walks, Marnie began enjoying interacting with the other dogs, and even solicits play.

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Marnie in person is a very different dog than Marnie on paper, and her case lies in the hazy grey area between "unadoptable" and "should be euthanized." Is she a good candidate for adoption? Well, no. But it is hard to say, once you meet her in person, that she should be put to sleep for being born black and with bad hips and for behaving like a normal dog during a dog fight.

So ARLP has made the decision to fight for Marnie. Thanks to a grant from the University of Minnesota, she will be having surgery on her hips this month to relieve her pain and get her ready for adoption. Marnie will also attend training classes, go for walks, chase balls, and get to do all the other normal activities that dogs enjoy while she waits for the right family to come along.

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Interested in following Marnie’s story as she gets ready for surgery and searches for her own home? You’re in luck! Marnie has her very own Facebook page.

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On Saturday July 20, A Rotta Love Plus was on the west side of St. Paul holding our second Get Your Fix! fair of 2013. That day we provided 18 free spay and neuter surgeries to dogs whose owners may not otherwise have had the financial means to get their dogs fixed.

To ensure that each dog made it to their appointment that day, a wonderful group of volunteers stepped up to provide transportation to and from the appointments when owners did not have their own transportation.

In addition to the spaying/neutering  services, ARLP also provided 40 DHPP vaccines, 38 rabies vaccinations, and 25 microchips, along with a collar leash exchange for dogs who either did not have a collar or leash or whose collar or leash was old/broken.

GYF! fairs also allows ARLP volunteers the opportunity to converse with dog owners about myths they may have heard about spay and neuter. One myth that we heard over and over in St. Paul was that in order to be healthy, a female dog must have one litter of puppies before being spayed. In truth, there is actually no medical or behavioral benefit for waiting until after a litter of puppies is born or even until the first heat cycle. In fact, each heat cycle that a female dog experiences increases her risk of developing serious medical conditions.

One of the things that our volunteers enjoy most about our fairs is seeing repeat customers! One dog owner and her dogs stood out at the St. Paul fair. Zeke, Nightmare and their mom all came to us last year to be neutered and vaccinated. They came back this year to update their vaccinations and to get microchips. The owner let us know that she tells all of her friends about our services and how much she enjoys bringing her dogs to the fairs and entrusting them to our care. She also said that one of her dogs in particular has become much calmer and better behaved since getting him neutered, a fact that she also shares with her friends when the subject comes up. She said that before her dog was neutered he never would have been able to wait in line in public at a place like GYF, but he was so well behaved in the vaccination line this year, which she attributes to his neuter surgery.

One repeat customer, all grown up!

It’s making connections like these that allow ARLP to have a meaningful impact on the lives of the dogs in our community.

A HUGE shout out goes to Del Monte Foods/Milk Bone for sponsoring the vaccinations, microchipping, and collar/leash exchange. It was because of their generous donation that we were able to provide these services to the community. 

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It wasn’t ever my intention to keep him. Really, it wasn’t. If you go all the way back to the beginning, he was going to come to my house for just a week or two. Because he had had such a traumatic past I said that I would take him for the short term, ‘to feel him out and decide whether we want to place him with a foster (and who that foster would be) or do a compassion hold.’ Some dogs can recover from being starved, beaten, and neglected. And some can’t.

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I stretched those one or two weeks to a month. Once we made the month, I negotiated with Brian that since we’ve had him for a month, why can’t we just keep him until he’s adopted? For some reason he agreed with me. This was a major thing as in his heart of hearts Brian really only wants one dog. It says a lot about this little white dog, he was special right from the beginning.

When I foster, and subsequently adopt out my fosters, my standard is that I want my foster dog to go to a better home and a better life than I could give them with me. No, that’s not some sort of impossible standard where by default I get to keep all of the dogs. I know my limitations, I know the limitations of the dogs who already occupy my home.

The little white dog received a lot of adoption applications. There were even a handful of good applications. There were people who could have easily loved him and given him a good life. We did a few meet and greets with these people. And as we moved forward, I kept coming back to the raw fact that no one out there could love him like I did. The simple reason being that no one knew him like I did. The world may see an outgoing, bouncy white dog that occasionally shies away or startles at loud noises, but for the most part he recovers quickly so it’s hard to see that he’s not ‘normal.’

What no adopter could ever see was:

  • The little white dog that had to be carried into my home because he was too afraid to walk in on his own. The little white dog who sat on the floor next to the three of us that afternoon as we talked about him, dog rescue, and life in general. And when he had an accident, Brian went to get the paper towels and the floor cleaner. Upon using the last paper towel, the little white dog was handed the cardboard roll to shred. The little white dog took off at a mad scamper across the room to crouch in fear of being hit by said cardboard roll. Humans were not to be trusted and sticklike objects were items that humans used to hit the little white dog.
  • The night about 3 weeks in, when we took him upstairs to our bedroom to sleep in the bed with us. If you’d seen him that night, you’d have thought that he had morphed back into the terrified little white dog that he was the day he came to us. Any progress that he had made over the last few weeks vanished. He froze at the top of the steps. The ceiling fan was certainly going to come down from the ceiling and eat him. The bed, well he had no idea what to expect when we lifted him up and set him on the bed. We made it through that night with the little white dog curled up (or frozen in fear) on the pillows between the two of us. And when he did finally fall asleep, we smiled at his little snores in our ears.
  • The first day at doggie daycare….By the time I made it to work, sat down at my desk and brought up the webcam after leaving him off, he had shutdown. The little white dog was huddled in the corner, next to the gate. I had tears running down my face. What was supposed to be a happy, fun, socializing experience was too much for him. I wanted to leave work to get him and take him back home where the world was safe. I called another ARLP volunteer for support and reassurance and to talk me out of running to save the little white dog from his day at doggie daycare. I wanted, and needed to hear, that I was doing the right thing by leaving him there. That if he never leaves the comfort and safety of our home then he will have no opportunity to grow.
  • Then there were the dates. The little white dog was terrified of entering new places in the beginning – new homes, new shops, new offices, and any dog friendly place that you’d want to take your dog. So we set up dates to go visit ARLP volunteers’ homes. We’d spend about an hour going in and out the front door, checking out the house, exploring each room, making our way to the back door to go in and out. Once the little white dog was comfortable, or as comfortable as he was going to get, we’d call it a day and head home. When we had (mostly) mastered the concept of going into new places then we turned the dates around and had people visit us because for a while, new people at our door were very scary things for the little white dog.
  • And finally, there was the month or so at the beginning when the little white dog was actually more of a shedding stink bomb with four legs. It took him forever to work the crap of the first 18 months out of his system. The results of this process were white hair everywhere and a stinky stinky dog. I’d sweep and the next day we’d hair white hairballs scattered throughout the house. We’d find white hair in places that we had no idea how it’d gotten there. And if you touched him you’d have to wash your hands as the stench would then be on your hands. We’d give him a bath, put him to bed in his crate, and the next morning his blankets would smell again.

These, and so many more things, are all the things that an adopter could never know. And no matter how much explaining I did, they could never understand what we went through to get to the little white dog that throws himself in joy into a person’s arms. Or that 90% of the time will walk through a door without being carried or coaxed. Or that bounds into doggie daycare happy to see his dog friends.

It’s not necessary for an adopter to know all of the details of a dog’s past in order to give him a good and happy life. Heck, I don’t know the beginning stories of two of my dogs and we’ve done just fine over the last years. But the little white dog isn’t your normal dog. This world has already failed him tremendously. By some great testament of his temperament and his character he made it out the other side with only shadows of the past that sometimes lure their heads into his now life. He may not realize it, but he’s lucky. Really lucky. His yard mate for the first 18 months of his life was not so lucky. She didn’t make it.

A dog that can come from a tragic past and have such an intense desire to be a ‘normal’ dog and to still believe in spite of it all that the world is good and safe, that dog deserves a one hundred percent guarantee that the world isn’t going to fail him again. So…going back to my standard of a home better than mine, well, I know that I can promise the little white dog that. That no matter what it’s going to be okay, he’s going to be okay. Life will be good, it’ll be more than good, it’ll be amazingly fantastic.

And in return, even though he has no idea, he makes my world okay too. On those days when the rescue world can be overwhelming - the need so great, the options so limited, the people either so selfish or so cruel - I am comforted by the snores of the little white dog sleeping on my couch. And in that moment, in my heart and in my mind, everything is okay. Having him be okay makes everything else okay for me.

The journey with the little white dog has been heartbreaking. It’s been amazing. It’s been frustrating and fun all at the same time. And after the journey that we’ve been on, I guess that you can say we’ve come too far to let him go. When I told Brian I was writing this little announcement to the world, I asked him what I should call it. His reply, ‘To Squish or Not to Squish, That is the Question.’ Our answer - we’ve decided to ‘Squish.’

Squish

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Deviant Art will take place at the Northrup King building in Minneapolis on Saturday April 6, 2013 from 3-9 pm. There will also be a preview show the evening of Thursday, April 4. Deviant Art is a FREE event where you can experience Rott- and pit-themed professional artwork, enjoy food and beverages, and bask in the attention of a number of therapy dogs. For more information on Deviant Art, visit the website or RSVP on Facebook.


A Rotta Love Plus
’s popular annual art show, Deviant Art: Dispelling Myths, is right around the corner. Started in 2009, Deviant Art is a benefit art show put together by Sarah Thornton of Lintu Art to raise awareness and funds for ARLP and its programs. Not only will the event feature talented local and national artists, but we also have some canine "star power" this year: Wallace (World Champion disc dog) and Hector (former Michael Vick dog turned therapy dog) will both be in attendance!

Given the pit bull "celebrities" joining us for Deviant Art, it's particularly fitting that the talented Featured Artist for the 2013 show is Clara Yori, a painter from Rochester, MN who also happens to be these famous pups' mom. Clara, who holds a degree in Studio Art from Saint Mary's University, uses rich layers of acrylic paint to bring out the life and love behind her favorite subject: dogs, of course! Check out Pet Portraits by Clara for more information on our featured artist.

In anticipation of the event, we asked Clara to tell us a bit about herself and her inspiration for Deviant Art’s featured piece, Dapper Hector.

 

Dapper Hector

Dapper Hector


ARLP:
What made you want to get involved with the Deviant Art show?
Clara: I have attended the show several times and was very impressed with the level of talent and the passion that went into the event and the pieces themselves. It never occurred to me to be a part of the show. I was merely an admirer.

ARLP: Tell us something about how you approach the topic of “deviant” breeds. What does “Deviant Art” mean to you?
Clara: My husband and I have a couple of pit bulls who are often in the spotlight. We have reached a lot of people by showing them that our dogs are both extraordinary but also very normal dogs. I think that's important: These "deviant" breeds are regular dogs with individual personalities and, if they're lucky, loving homes. "Deviant Art" to me means doing my best to show the goofy, fun, sweet, serious, and expressive side of each individual dog.

ARLP: Who was your first pet growing up?
Clara: My first pet was a guinea pig named Katie. I had two more guinea pigs and collected all kinds of amphibians, reptiles, and insects before I finally got my first dog, Heidi, a beagle/sheltie from our local shelter. I was in love with her and I remember doing a lot of drawings of her.

Wallace at the Pet Portraits by Clara studio

Wallace at the Pet Portraits by Clara studio

ARLP: How would you describe the piece of art that was chosen as the featured piece for Deviant Art, "Dapper Hector"? What feelings do you hope that it evokes in your audience?
Clara: The painting is of my dog, Hector. I love that it sums him up for me, dressed for the spotlight while remaining a big, happy dork. I hope it makes people smile.

ARLP: What are some of your personal experiences with real-life pit bulls, Rottweilers, or other “deviant” breeds? Overall, have these experiences led you to believe that these breeds are sinister, sweet, or somewhere in between?
Clara: My first real experiences with the "deviant" breeds was when I worked at a dog shelter after college. I was naive to the negative perceptions about certain dogs so I really had no fears going into it. What I met was a rotating group of dogs of all shapes and sizes who all had different backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses, but they all wanted the same basic things: food and water, playtime, and someone who really cares about them.

ARLP: How do your current pets inspire your work?
Clara: I did a painting of each of my pets when I finally decided that I wanted to try painting. It was no pressure, just working at home, them watching me, while I pretended to be an artist. Those paintings gave me the confidence to continue and I'm so glad that I did.

Wallace and Roo Yori

 Wallace and Roo Yori, who will also be at Deviant Art
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