Pearla, A Year Later

Feb. 13, 2010, Pearla came to my home as my foster. And today, Feb. 14, 2011, she is still in my home! Has it really been a year?

Let’s review:

The first few weeks, Pearla hung out in my kitchen, while she acclimated to the household pulse, and the resident dogs acclimated to her presence. All fosters follow this schedule, called the Two Week Shutdown. It works wonders for all family members and I’d highly recommend it to anyone bringing a new pet into the home. Pearla learned our schedule of meals, playtime, work time, and quiet time. She learned how to potty outside. And I learned Pearla is highly interactive, very bright, and eager to please. All these attributes make training with Pearla a real joy. If anything, her attentiveness can be aggravating because if her reward does not arrive fast enough, she’ll run through her various tricks and learned behaviors in no particular order.

What a wonderful problem to have—a dog that wants to work with you, and may be faster in her repertoire than you’d expect!

Once the shutdown was over, and our household pattern adjusted to include her needs, we ventured into more rigorous, structured training. Pearla attended Rott N Pitt Ed, our ongoing introductory training available to all the program dogs, foster and adopted alike. She also took a few Canine Good Citizen classes, and passed both the CGC and therapy dog tests. She attended a tricks class, called Tricks for Pitties, just for fun! To keep her leash manners sharp and expand her doggy horizons, Pearla continues to attend RNP today, and what a great reason to adopt from A Rotta Love Plus! One of the many benefits of a relationship with ARLP is ongoing training support after you’ve taken your pooch home. I find this support a tremendous value, especially in the coldest months when training outside the home can be a real challenge in Minnesota. One of Pearla’s RNP Ed graduation days was televised as the backdrop for a local dog oriented cable show, while our Vice President, Lara Peterson, was the show’s special guest with her ARLP alum, Mo-Bits.

Over the next several months, Pearla attended many of our favorite ARLP events. Pearla attended the Deviant Art: Dispelling Myths Art show in the Northrup King building, as one of four special four legged guests. She went to three sessions of Get Set to be a Vet—one at the Edina High School and two others at the Science Museum. She danced her way through Minneapolis in the Gay Pride Parade, and her smile and constant wagging tail charmed everyone who met her at the Pedigree Adoption Event in Como Park. She also went to several summer school programs, where young kids were able to touch her scars, learn about Rottweilers and pit bulls, and improve their dog safety skills.

In the fall, Pearla was selected for the ARLP 2011 calendar (her calendar pose was featured in a short article in the Southwest Metro Community Magazine later in the year)! She attended her photo shoot in the west metro, where we learned Pearla does not like heights of any kind. Even a few inches off the floor makes her uncomfortable, which has provided a new training opportunity in the home. Heights are still challenging for our little pearl, but she has learned the soft comforts of the arm chair can be very nice, even at 18 inches off the ground.

This winter Pearla enjoyed special attention at Twice the Gift, a non-profit seasonal store where ARLP has twice been selected to sell handmade crafts to raise funds for the program dogs. Located in the Crystal Court, ground floor of the IDS Center, TTG is only open during the holiday season. Pearla charmed so many passersby on her Saturday appearance, that she was invited back for a second attendance later in December. What could be more indicative of how special this little dog is, for her to be invited to represent A Rotta Love Plus a second time, in the same shopping season, in downtown Minneapolis!

After the holiday season and the deep freeze in January set in, exercising Pearla proved a big challenge. While her health is stable, her allergies remain a challenge, so her food type remains the same, but I should’ve reduced her portions when weather forced us to cut back on our time outside. She remains a huge fan of fetch, retrieving all her toys every time you throw them, but the basement is not as long a retrieve as the back yard. With the limited exposure to daylight, the dark skin on her thinly furred scars has reverted back to healthy pink, as has her muzzle and the crown of her head.

Many times, I have thought about keeping Blondie Bombshell, and failing fostering for the second time in three years. There are so many positives about having Pearla in the home—she has that incredibly cute snaggle tooth smile, her tail is always wagging, and her desire to please is only slightly behind her desire to play. Since she has already passed all the required tests, she can represent her breed in all kinds of education, therapy, and dog-specific celebrations. All of these charming attributes make Pearla a wonderful breed ambassador, and a fantastic addition to the right home, including mine. But the cold hard truth, is there are many more warm hearted, smiling pit bulls out there, waiting for a place to relax, unwind, and learn how to become a fantastic breed ambassador, like Pearla. If I selfishly kept the Blond Bombshell, I would never have the chance to help those other dogs in need of a temporary home. In fact, had I kept the last foster, I’d never have experienced this wonderful year with Pearla.

So where are you, Forever Home? Pearla is looking forward to meeting you.

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