Author Archives: Paige

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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Copper, that's who!

I asked my vet how long it would take a dog to starve to death. Her best estimate, not knowing what I meant by “previous condition”, was about 2 to 3 months. “Previous condition” is the big unknown, meaning the dog might start out at a healthy weight, might start out as overweight, or…might start out already thin.

So what’s a hungry dog to do? Starve to death? Scavenge? Eat whatever it finds?

Winter came early in the fall of 2009, and by January 16, 2010, 25 inches of snow was already on the ground in Minneapolis. The overnight low was 16 degrees, which is quite balmy, for the coldest month of the year.

Jessica found Copper in a dumpster. How he got there is speculation, but it is possible the staff of the store where Jessica first saw Copper, had put him there. Copper had crawled into the store, likely seeking shelter, but more likely seeking food. It was closing time, late on a Saturday night, and the staff thought Copper was scaring the clientele. Jessica was not scared of Copper, she was scared FOR Copper. She went home to gather support and supplies to help him, and returned to search, finding him after an hour of looking.

It took convincing, as well as several Good Samaritan parties with yummy food, to get Copper safely out of the dumpster and into Jessica’s care. Jessica and her family took him in, keeping him safe while his injuries were assessed. There was the imprint of something long and broad on his back, like someone hit him with a board. Doused with pain medication, Jessica estimates it took Copper 15 minutes just to lie down in his abbreviated manner—Copper slept in her chair with his hind quarters elevated. Besides the injury to his back, surgery would answer why he needed his belly elevated in order to be comfortable.

Now, my fine readers, the next few graphs will call for strong stomachs and stiff spines. Copper’s first surgery amputated his tail. Cause unknown, but Copper’s tail had been split open in a straight line, almost down the center. Likely due to MN weather temperatures, not to mention filth, and no medical care, Copper’s tail was full of gangrene, well beyond repair. Second to his damaged tail, chemical burns on his genitals suggested deliberate placement, causing his skin to fall off—Copper was neutered.

Copper’s next surgery removed the bundle of non-digestible items from his intestinal tract. These items included bottle caps, plastic, a pencil sized solid metal pipe, and the top of a can with a serrated edge, as you and I would have from opening a can of tuna, or olives, or soup. Any one of these items could have blocked his intestines, and killed him. All of them combined, were causing his excruciating pain—by the time he arrived at the vet only morphine silenced his screams.

At rescue time, in mid-January, while Copper had all this medical help, his emaciation bears some discussion. Copper was near starvation when Jessica met him. It took some time for him to that point, when she saved him. By the vet’s estimation, it may have taken Copper 2 months to get to this level of deficiency. Rescued in January, it is possible Copper survived most of November and December, fending for himself. Can you imagine? In Minnesota?

Maybe he was locked in someone’s basement or garage, or some type of shelter, and not out in the elements. Wherever he was, Copper was deprived of the basic elements all of us need to survive, but he made it on his own.

Look at Copper today. He weighs 74lbs. He will be an incredible companion. He’s a comic with his toys, fetching and playing with you as long as possible. With some training, he could be a great agility competitor, or maybe disc, or possibly flyball. He has a very gentle demeanor, when he is not charging around the yard at top speed. The only remnants of his past are in the photos and memories of those who know him. Though he was shy of men while he regained his health, Copper is now a polite puddle of love to complete strangers. He’s a leaner, leaning into you to better feel human contact when you stop to pet him.

There are so many people to thank, who supported Copper in his fight for life. Several rescues as well as Good Samaritans donated time, money, medication, mileage, phone calls, and caring, to get Copper to his present state of good health. But at the top of that list is Jessica, who took the time late on a Saturday night to involve her friends and family to find Copper, and save his life.

Would you like to help Copper in his next chapter? Copper is available for adoption. His celebrity status as a classic example of how these wonderful dogs can be so forgiving will go with him to his forever home. Is there room in your heart for Copper?

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Haley enjoys her celebration cake


07-08-09 sounds like a young child practicing its counting, instead of a date. It's an important date in the pit bull rescue community. July 8th of 2009 marked the date of a multi-state raid that netted over 500 dogs and 26 arrests--the largest dog fighting ring bust, in US history.

There are lots of news stories of heroism where those officials taking part in the raid recognized many of the dogs welcomed their saviors, shoving aside the insulting living conditions, abhorrent human behavior they'd previously experienced, and showed their pittie roots by grinning their greetings and wagging their tails. There are plenty of horrific pictures showing the results of abuse, neglect, starvation, and fights. On this anniversary, I would like to celebrate the dogs and the heroes who liberated the dogs, by showing where the ARLP Fight Bust dogs are today.

On July 8, 2010 we celebrated with Josie, Maverick, and Haley. The celebration was coordinated by Rachel Anderson, current President of A Rotta Love Plus.

Josie was adopted by Sara and Andrew on February 14, 2010. She's already passed the Canine Good Citizen test, and is working towards becoming a therapy dog. When not showing off her shape-shifting-melt-into-you skills, Josie enjoys her 4 legged brother, her large yard with its new fence, and lots of quality time basking in the sun.

Haley (pictured at the top) remains in foster care with Amy and Larry. She had surgery to repair a luxated Patella on Feb. 5, 2010. With lots of care and support, she spent the next several months recovering, while learning how to be a young dog in a safe environment. Fully recovered now, Haley has lost much of her camera shyness, and eagerly awaits her forever home.

Maverick remains in "foster care" with Mike and his family and two other dogs including Catherine, an ARLP alum. Maverick has had some health issues as well, though he looks great now, and it is rumored he has a Forever Home!! There is much hope that his adoption will become final very soon.

We had a really great evening eating some great food from the grill, watching the guest stars open their anniversary presents, and laughing at the way they devoured their cake. All of this fun, as well as the good will spread by these charming dogs, was made possible by the brave law enforcement and legal community involved in the 07-08-09 Fight Bust. Thank you to the officials who have continued building the new view of fight dogs as victims, not simply evidence awaiting destruction at the end of a court case. Thank you to all the volunteer and support staff, and everyone else who had a hand in caring for, transporting, communicating (blogging, tweeting, calling, emailing), and otherwise helping the dogs, and their cause.

Happy Freedom Day, to Josie, Haley, Maverick, and all the other 07-08-09 Fight Bust Dogs.

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Like Winston, Pearla is looking for her forever home. She's a little older than Winnie, getting closer to four than three--I can't believe she's been in my home for four months already! It's sure been an active time--getting her all spit-shined with proper manners and basic obedience--but four months? Really?

Let's see, what have we done:

Potty Trained  
Basic Obedience  
Canine Good Citizen Class  
Passed the Canine Good Citizen test  
Passed the Therapy Dog test

Represented ARLP at the Deviant Art Show  
Suffered through many photo shoots while I learn how to use a camera  
Attended various Adoption Days  
Attending Trick Training - coming soon!!

Soon Pearla will be participating in the ARLP Education programs, helping kids of all ages learn about dog safety, compassion, and fun doggy facts. I can't wait to get started! Unless, of course, her forever home finds her first. Pearla is so people oriented, she has a hard time deciding who to lick first, when presented with multiple options. And in her enthusiasm, the pit bull nature comes through loud and clear - her favorite thing in the whole world is to be with her people. She is a world class snuggler, but I think her most endearing habit is to rest her head in your hand. When calm, she will sink her head into your hand and stay there as long as you allow. Even while being bathed in the bathtub, if you present your hand as a chin rest she'll take the proffered support.

Weighing in at 49lbs, Pearla is a stout little lady. Due to her build, high impact athletics, like agility or fly ball aren't really her thing. HOWEVER! Pearla is a FANTASTIC candidate for rally, as she has such great focus on her trainer. Dogs of all breeds, mixed breeds, and backgrounds can participate in rally; are you interested in learning what it's all about with Pearla? Do you want to see her awesome patty cake as she awaits her next move (or her next treat)?

A quiet dog, Pearla had been in my home for two months before I heard her bark for the first time. With her high prey drive, she may be best as a single dog, but she's done well with my male, and the hospital where she spent months regaining her health tells me she did well interacting with other dogs when she was on the clinic's roster. Just like we teach in our Education classes, we evaluate each dog on their own merit, and Pearla's forever family will be evaluated with the same careful assessment.

All our program dogs are special--that's why they were accepted by ARLP. And surely each of the foster homes believes their foster dog is the best, most special companion. So I say with a slanted view, that Pearla is a fantastic little pittie with enormous potential. She has all the right ingredients to develop into a wonderful member of a very lucky family, while also representing how forgiving this breed can be, of the terrible insults thrust upon them by bad humans.

So where are you, Pearla's Forever Family? She is missing you.

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Poodle

Remember the delightful day, when you brought your dog home for the first time? You were so excited to introduce this new family member to your home, your routine, your daily chores (okay, maybe not the chores). There was a reason you chose this dog-or perhaps the dog chose you.

Maybe your Fido is a purebred, with papers and champion parents, cousins, uncles and aunts. Maybe your Daisy is a rescue dog (yay!) who looks like a pure bred, or maybe your Spot is of mixed parentage, with no clear features of any particular breed.

Whether you chose your dog for its past (saving a life), its future (this future agility champion is going to bring lots of blue ribbons), its looks (what a cutie!), its lineage (my Collie is related to Lassie), or all of the above, chances are you now have a pretty good idea of its personality. But what happens when Fido is startled, frightened, or otherwise challenged? Maybe you don't yet know how he will react, when it comes to some situations.

Does your pooch do well in doggy day care, and going to the vet? Has your dog ever been in a position to defend you from what it perceives as a threat? Will your dog recover from a frightening sound (thunder, anyone?) in the manner you expect? Does your dog shy from strange people, strange footing, and strange happenings? The answers to these questions can all be addressed in the Temperament Test, given by the American Temperament Test Society.

This test is not the type of test that necessitates training. Bring your dog just as she is! Passing the test gains Daisy a TT after her name, along with a certificate. Why, you ask, should I bother to temperament test my dog?

The initial answer is simple-this test is designed to evaluate your dog's reaction to stimuli in a controlled environment. Taking the TT may help you determine whether or not doggy day care is in Daisy's future, or how she may react in visits to the vet. Obtaining a TT may help you with future insurance needs, convincing a landlord to rent to you, or asking your manager about bringing your dog to work with you. The longer answer is how Daisy helps her fellow dogs, in preventing breed discrimination.
There are current breeds under intense scrutiny, with bad reputations today. Which future breeds will receive the same treatment? In Fairfield, Iowa, any dog over 100 lbs is banned, regardless of breed. I've met 125lb labs in my life-has anyone else? Breed Specific Legislation passed in Italy bans 92 breeds, including the Collie and Corgi. What breed will be banned in your neighborhood? Is it the breed you have in your home?
You are supporting your breed by participating in temperament testing, as the responsible owner of a stable dog. But you are also supporting all dogs by passing the test, because your Spot becomes a positive statistic. Should your breed become the next fashionably frightening breed, you have already done your part in saying no to lumping all dogs of any breed, into one negative category.
Please temperament test your dog. The evaluation can help you better understand how your dog reacts to situations, while putting a win in the column for all dogs. The more dogs we test, both purebreds and mixed breeds, the better off we all are as a responsible dog owning society.

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2009-04-03 BishopDSC_7076Bishop is our foster dog. He's been with us for just over a month now, and we've learned a few interesting things about him. There is a minor health footnote; he has two inverted nipples that, some time in his past, became infected and developed scar tissue around them, so they'll require frequent cleaning for the rest of his life. There is his lack of exposure to social situations. And there is his prey drive.

Bishop's prey drive is phenomenal. For the lucky family that takes this dog into their home forever, channeling that drive into something productive will take life long daily training. And yet, while out on a daily walk yesterday-some good one on one time for Bishop and me-a squirrel ran out right in front of us, and Bishop barely looked at it. Sure I could suggest this was due to our constant practice on re-directing his attention, but I really think his body language showed he had no interest in pursuing the small moving object. WTH! I'll take these small gifts as they come, but in no way do I think that means we should let up on our focus of helping Bishop learn his manners in the real world.

For more work on his manners, we've been visiting the local Chuck & Don's. We've been so often now, that on Saturday one of the staff behind the counter complained she'd not seen Bishop for a whole week. Most of the employees get down on the floor to hug him. He's such a massive dog that hugging him sometimes feels like you're hugging a horse (not really, but you get the idea). On occasion, while we walk the aisles of distractions, individual patrons at the store ask about him. Some seem surprised to learn he is a pit bull. Others show stark amazement, that such a ‘dangerous dog' is allowed out in public (once they learn he is a pit bull). One elderly gentleman asked what I was doing with such a dog. I didn't lecture, didn't preach, didn't chastise the attitude. I simply said I was helping Bishop find the loving home he deserves.

Back at the ranch, if given enough time, Bishop will find a way to rest his head in your lap while standing at your feet. Or if you've joined him on the floor, his famous Salamander head will wiggle up to your knees, seeking a good belly rub. The Salamander head is so named because Bishop flops over onto his back, then wiggles his way around by waving his feet or hunching his shoulders while sashaying his hips, all the while his upside-down eyes imploring you to reach out to him. Upside-down, he looks like a salamander. It is one of our many goals to have Bishop be so relaxed at our various outings, that he greets the folks who visit him by flopping over to show his Salamander head.

We are a little behind in his obedience training (human accident is limiting hand use), but I've maintained the house rules during this set-back. We've extended his sit/stays for a meal to 10 minutes. If anyone has trouble visualizing how much a large dog can drool in anticipation of dinner, imagine a folded umbrella drip drying. His wiggle butt (I've learned to place him where the rhythmic tail wagging merely sweeps the floor, instead of banging on a crate or wall or garbage bin) and sing song voice keep me company during those 10 minutes, but he has done it. And he's improving!! I won't say he's mastered self control, but he is making huge strides in that direction.

Bishop will be at our next Adoption Day, Saturday April 25, at the Plymouth PetSmart. He may not stay the entire time. If the constant stimulus prevents him from putting his best paw forward, we'll step outside or return to the ranch, or possibly both. Either way, we are working daily towards finding that special home willing to take on Bishop's eager attitude towards life.

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The ATTS is coming to MN! This is big news. At last count, there are only 37 test dates/locations throughout the US in 2009, and A Rotta Love Plus is hosting two of them on June 6th and 7th, at the Burnsville High School in Burnsville. This is just 2 and a half months away—mark your calendars!

The American Temperament Test Society was founded in the late 1970’s to provide a standard examination of a dog’s natural disposition. Every dog takes the same test and subtests, nationwide, and results are scored on a 0 – 10 scale. 0 = failure, 10 = superior. Living environment, breed, weather, and age/sex/status (altered or intact) are all factors that weigh into each dog’s scoring.

Why is this big news? Evaluation of the dogs who take the test can be useful for breeding programs, as well as pet owners interested in their dog’s instincts and thus reaction to stimuli. The test can also be useful in fighting breed specific legislation (BSL).

BSL targeted four dog types in MN—the Akita, Pit Bull (not a breed as we know, but a slang term to cover a variety of bully breeds and mixes), Rottweiler, and Chow Chow. I did not include wolf hybrids, which were also targeted in the MN BSL.

The ATTS web site has breed statistics through December, 2008:
Breed Total Passed Failed Percent
Akita 492 365 127 74.19%
Chow 94 67 27 71.28%
APBT 665 567 98 85.26%
Am.Staff Terrier 570 478 92 83.86%
Rottweiler 5097 4228 869 82.95%
Totals 6918 5705 1213 82.03%

It looks like the Rottweiler clubs across the country, more so than most other breed clubs, are hosting lots and lots of ATTS testing days – 10 of the 37 of the scheduled tests (so far), which includes our two dates. From the dog numbers above, almost 4 times as many rotties have taken the temperament test, as opposed to the listed bully breeds (the full listing by breed can be found on the ATTS site at here).

Want to join the fun? Want to bring your dog out for its 12 minutes of fame in the sun/rain? There will be more information posted about how to sign up as the dates draw near.

What does the temperament test entail?

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DSC_0242 the crew

It was my fault. It is always my fault.

In the last few weeks, I have been working more than 65 hours per week. Had I not been so tired, yet still working to keep the dogs on a regular exercise schedule, I might have noticed something was wrong. But no. Somewhere, somehow, and sometime along the way, Marshal managed to mangle one link in his pinch collar. I don't know when or how it happened. He wears his pinch collar often, as I work to desensitize him to it. I put it on before he eats. I put it on for no reason at all. I put it on for walks. He wears it to purchase dog food, toys, treats. I never leave it on him when he's out of my sight-that's just asking for disaster. This means it was mangled somehow, someway, within my sight. I didn't notice.

We walk every morning it is warmer than 10 degrees. This means lots of walks recently-yippee! Two of the three dogs wear pinches-Marshal and Paisle-while the antique (Ansel) wears buckle collar only. We do a lot of running on the normal route-Ansel LOVES to run and as the senior, he sets the pace. On our normal route, we sniff all the fire hydrants, piles of shrinking snow, any new items along the way. We greet few people-not many are out at our early hour-by sitting to the side of the sidewalk, giving the oncoming traffic a clear path, and the option to pet the heads if desired. We stop at every intersection, sit, and wait for the go ahead (from yours truly) to proceed. We also sit every time someone poops, and remain sitting with dropped leashes in plain pooch sight.

We walk most afternoons, but not all. This is one of my many dilemmas-the afternoon walk is not at a repetitive time. As a single income household, hours worked takes priority over afternoon pooch exercise. Some afternoons the dogs go out in the yard to work off their afternoon zoomies, and sometimes we go for a walk. Lucky for us, a few days ago, we went for a walk. We sniffed fire hydrants. We peed on shrinking piles of snow. We did see a few people, and approaching one of our normal street corners, in broad daylight and lots of traffic, as our running pace slowed to a walk I looked down to see one leash lying on the sidewalk and Marshal completely naked of collar/lead. He was still moving in line with Ansel and Paisle.

I gave our group command, "Everybody sit," and they did-all three of them. I dropped the leashes in sight of the dogs as I always do, picked up the errant collar from the sidewalk, and upon examination, found the crushed link. I'll never know why the collar remained on Marshal as long as it did-at least a mile--but the prongs of the crushed link were so far out of whack I had to remove the link completely, to get the collar to close. It was snug around his neck, no doubt about it, but I had no other way to attach Marshal to me, short of wrapping the leash around his neck. We walked the rest of the way home, without additional incident.

Once home, with the dogs in the yard chasing ice cubes and rabbits, the possibilities of what might have been, came home to roost. This was a life issue. Common sense tells me it was our routine, capped with Marshal knowing what is expected of him, that averted a near-terminal, or terminal, event on the busy, four lane avenue and adjoining streets. Had Marshal decided to take off in his naked freedom, I had no way of stopping him, much less chasing him down while towing two other dogs. If he made it through the traffic, Big Boy has a microchip, but without any collar, he may have been picked up by unkind strangers, who may or may not have taken him to a vet for scanning.

Like any parent, my mind went wild with all the negative possibilities, playing the "what if" game. But none of those disastrous possibilities happened-Marshal sat when I asked him to sit. In the flurry of the moment, I don't recall if he looked at the leash on the ground, or gave any indication that he knew he was naked. It doesn't matter, now. He sat. Now I check their collars, and leashes before our walks. And we continue to walk daily, though now we also wear our identity collars, and I carry two extra pinch collar links.

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