Today my attention was drawn to a letter to the editor in today's Star Tribune.

Dangerous dogs

Latest pit bull attack highlights policy issue

Dogs are supposed to be household pets -- not attack animals. The vicious attack on a Minneapolis postal carrier by two pit bulls once again emphasizes the need for legislation regarding dangerous dog breeds ("I had no fight left in me,'' July 29).

The postal carrier was fortunate to be a strong adult who was able to ward off these vicious animals until help arrived, even though he suffered numerous bite wounds. Fortunately, another defenseless child wasn't brutally and viciously killed by one of these dogs. Enough already. I will be writing my representatives and supporting any legislation that forces training and licensing for owners before ownership of these breeds or, hopefully, a full ban in Minnesota on dog breeds that are potentially dangerous to the community as a whole.

(name intentionally omitted),  BROOKLYN PARK

So I guess this is what I have to say 'bout that:

Response to Dangerous Dogs: Latest pit bull attack highlights policy issue

I can more than understand concerns about dangerous dogs. It is a valid point: Dangerous dogs are a public safety issue. However, I would like to point out that there really is no such thing as dangerous “breeds” of dogs. A dog is either dangerous or not and that is more evident by its behavior and actions than by its breed. A dangerous dog’s breed will vary just as we humans vary in so many ways - nationality, personality, intelligence, and so forth. Additionally, we, as rational beings, must consider the petri dish of this argument. There are many dog attacks in this country but the only attacks we hear about are the “sexy” attacks. And unfortunately for the pit bull they are by far the sexiest. Matter of fact animal control officers across the country have told the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that when they alert the media to a dog attack, news outlets respond that they have no interest in reporting on the incident unless it involved a pit bull.

Consider what the National Canine Research Council found:

August 18, 2007 — A Labrador mix attacked a 70-year-old man, sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Police officers arrived at the scene and the dog was shot after charging the officers. This incident was reported in one article in the local paper.  August 19, 2007 — A 16-month-old child received fatal head and neck injuries after being attacked by a mixed-breed dog. This attack was reported on twice by the local paper.  August 20, 2007 — A six-year-old boy was hospitalized after having his ear torn off and receiving a severe bite to the head by a medium-sized, mixed-breed dog. This incident was reported in one article in the local paper.  August 21, 2007 — A 59-year-old woman was attacked in her home by two pit bulls and was hospitalized with severe, but not fatal, injuries. This attack was reported in over 230 articles in national and international newspapers, as well as major television news networks including CNN, MSNBC and Fox.

If the only dog attacks we hear about are those involving pit bulls then of course it would appear pit bulls are doing the majority (if not most) of the attacking. No wonder people are afraid them. A popular “study” breed ban proponents always drag out is the Merritt Clifton study. Mr. Clifton’s data sources are media reports; press clippings – so to speak. If only certain attacks are brought to the public’s attention via the media than surely we can all see how a report based on this data is unsound, unfounded, unacceptable. It is sadly disappointing that this kind of work is so widely used to target a specific breed.

If we begin to narrow the scope of our concern to select breeds we will miss a lot of dangerous dogs. We will also give our communities a false sense of safety. The CDC’s Dr. Julie Gilchrist, regarding dog attacks, argues “the breeds involved are going to vary. The more encompassing way is to deal with dangerous dogs so that every dog and every owner is covered all the time”.

Now I will confess that I love “pit bulls” (a generalization much like, say – nurse). They are by far the most comedic and forgiving of the abuses of humans than any other breed of dog I have met and/ or worked with. No other breed has caused me to question more the compassion of humans. They are by far the most abused breed of dog on the planet. They are worthy of our stewardship not our hatred. I like to say – when children run amok the first thing we ask ourselves is “where are those parents?”. We call into question the upbringing of the children and save our disdain for the humans responsible for bringing them into this world and not caring to raise decent human beings. Tell me, why we cannot afford that same courtesy to a dog whose only shortcoming is being at the mercy of humans?

Minnesota has more than adequate statutes and laws in place to deal with people who create dogs who have the potential to harm or have harmed another dog or person. What Minnesota does not have is the adequate funding and community support to staff our animal control facilities as they should be. Instead, animal control facilities across the state are cutting their hours and staff. How does that help anyone?

It’s a messy job placing blame. Let’s make sure we do it responsibly.

Humans are responsible for dangerous dogs. Period. And those dangerous dogs come in all shapes and sizes just as the humans who create them do.

Lara Peterson, Minneapolis, MN

Will they publish me too? I don't know. But if this individual in Brooklyn Park is going to be writing their legislators that means all of you who know better need to do the same. Drop your representative a line too, our pit bulls need you!



Blog post by Josie's mamma Sara N.

Josie will be tested for her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification tonight.  For those of you unfamiliar with the CGC certification, it is basically designed to tell the world that your dog will consistently display basic good-doggy manners while faced with various distractions.

For Jo, the CGC is a stepping stone to achieving the Therapy Dogs International (TDI) certification, which will allow her to participate in various aspects of the thriving ARLP Education Program.  It is also just one more stop on her journey from former Iowa bust dog to Therapy Dog and Pit Bull Ambassadog Extraordinaire.  This is what I believe she was born for; as ARLP president Rachel once said, Josie is “love, tenderness, and compassion personified in the fur.”

However, before she can fulfill this destiny, she – along with her dedicated but novice and slightly neurotic owner, yours truly – will have to pass the test.  And I am nervous.

Conversing with a close friend about the upcoming assessment, I rambled on anxiously about the steps of the test, explaining that while most aspects would be a piece of cake for her, others might pose a challenge (e.g., her tendency to express heartfelt enthusiasm toward approaching strangers, or as Josie calls them, “new BFFs,” in lieu of following my instructions).  As any good friend would, she listened patiently as my imagination ran wild about my potential to be an utter failure as the guardian of this very special dog.  And, as any good friend would, she reassured me.  “Don’t be nervous,” she said, kindly.  “If she doesn’t pass this time, there will be other chances.  It’s just a test!”

Despite her gentle (not to mention admittedly accurate) reassurances, in that moment, “just a test” sounded a bit like the famous poem, “Just a Dog:” “If you, too, think it's ‘just a dog,’ then you probably understand phrases like ‘just a friend,’ ‘just a sunrise,’ or ‘just a promise.’”

Similarly, to me, tonight’s “just a test” is “just a responsibility” that I have to the lovely Josie, who underwent so much suffering at the hands of her previous owners before being handed the lucky ticket out of that world by her Iowa and Minnesota rescuers.

It is “just evidence” to the world that a dog born with the literally deadly combination of bad breed reputation and bust-dog upbringing can be an extraordinary gift to, rather than a burden on, the community.

It is “just gratitude” to everyone who had a hand in Josie’s bright future before I even met her – the Iowa shelter workers and ARLP volunteers and donors whose countless hours, dollars, compassion, and patience brought this amazing companion into my home.  And it is “just respect” for the tears they shed over the many other dogs that they tried to, but ultimately could not, save in the same way.

Finally, it is “just an indication” that I am doing my part, however small, to make sure their efforts will not go to waste.

Josie, of course, has no idea what the meaning of tonight’s test is, aside from another opportunity to prance around in front of a throng of people, ears stacked proudly on top of her head like a crown.  As for me?  I can’t help but feel that it means something more.

Update: Josie did not pass this round but she'll be re-testing on the 19th and trying her hand at the TDI test at the end of the month.

She wants to know when the official "look cute and investigate all interesting surroundings" test is. She says she totally would have passed that one.



Artwork by Abby Cline

Deviant Art is a benefit art show for A Rotta Love Plus.

Over twenty artists, vendors, youth and adult groups' artwork!

Meet some ARLP program dogs, current and past, including Josie, Pearla, Jana and Mo-Bits.

Mingle with ARLP volunteers and dog lovers, experience the artwork, make your mark with the community mural, sample the food, and support ARLP!

Free to attend

Northrup King Building Gallery 332
1500 Jackson Street NE, Mpls., MN 55413

Saturday, April 10, 2010
3:00 pm - 9:00 pm



Hey All. Its me, Zoza. I thought I would give ya’ll an update on my situation. Well, a while back I posted about needing a forever home. Good news, my blog post obviously reached the right people cuz I have been adopted!!

Funny story.

My foster momma helped me to post my plight and get the word out I was looking for my forever family. And we waited and we waited and I tried to be patient… Well one day, my foster momma asked my foster dad, “what if?” I pretended not to be listening and feigned disinterest. On their little conversation went.

Foster momma said, “what if Zoza was adopted? Could we live with that?”

Whoa lady, back up that horse- was my response, what did she want, me to be in limbo for the rest of my life? To always be a foster and never have a forever family? Now that didn’t sound fair. But I sat and listened as they continued to discuss something called pros and cons. Then they talked about the f word. The f word? Whatever that is.

Anyways, this conversation started happening about once a week. Then my two legged foster sister showed up and we played and snuggled. One day she told my foster momma that “Zoza is my dog!” Then the f word got talked about every day. The pros, the cons, blah blah blah. Foster momma talked into her little crazy machine that rings- that’s where her sister lives - and they talked and talked-all the time. Did I mention she likes to talk? Well on this continued.

Then one night, while we were all sitting on the couch relaxing she told me. She told me that I wouldn’t have to look for a forever home anymore- that I was going to be adopted! Now I was excited, this was big, BIG news. But I was a little sad, you see, I really love my foster family, they do fun things with me. Training, walks, fetch (or as I like to call it, throw the ball and chase), snuggles and Foster Momma even makes me homemade puppy treats. I snuggled in close to her as she talked to me and my foster daddy and she said that she would be my Momma and I wouldn’t have to call her foster momma anymore. Cuz they failed and I would be with them forever. WHATEVER! How could keeping me forever possibly be a fail? Silly Momma.

Obviously my blog made my Momma start asking herself, as she says, the hard questions. She says that she could not imagine not having me in her life- yeah, I have that affect on people. She said that I fit in and that I am not only awesome with my two legged sister, but great and gentle and everything they could ask for. So to all you peeps out there wondering, I found my forever home. Lara even came out to make it official and Momma ordered me a new collar and I get a license. How cool is that? It feels real nice to be adopted. So for all you pups out there waiting. Be patient, cuz its worth the wait- promise and once you are in your forever home, man is that a sweet feeling.



A few days before Christmas, Santa blessed the Dizzy Herd with a new mouth to feed: a nine week old corgi/ pit bull mix puppy named Allister. He was a wonderful puppy. The first three days in our house, he had only one accident inside. He knew sit, down, shake with either paw, high five, sit pretty, roll over, and too many other endearing tricks to list. He loved people like a pit bull, but respected person space like a corgi. At fourth months, he was a demo dog for the level one obedience class - a class he skipped entirely when he advanced straight to level two. He loved his crate, loved his home, and loved his mama with abandon. Plus he had the biggest ears and cutest spotty nose on the planet.

Please note my use of the past tense.

Today Allister is six months old. He humps things; things like shoes, other dogs' heads, and the air. It's like watching an accordion be amorous. He barks - oh Lord! does he bark! He barks at people, he barks at dogs, he barks when he's frustrated, he barks when he's happy, he barks at tiny air molecules only he can see. But, in a move I can only assume he does purely to confused me, Allister does not bark when people come to the door.  He's gone from playing nicely with the cats to body slamming the cats. He pees. On everything. Including people who pick him up when he's really excited. And his nose isn't even really spotty anymore!

Where did my cute little puppy go, and how much do I have to pay to get him back?

What happened? Well, hormones happened. Just like people, dogs go through puberty: they get lanky and uncoordinated, become sexually aware, and start making no sense at all to us wiser beings. Because puberty is triggered by the pituitary gland in the brain, even dogs who have been spayed or neutered go through some form of mental and physical changes. Depending on the breed, these changes begin somewhere around six months and last up until around two years. During this time, dogs become fertile and capable of creating puppies, although - just like with human teenagers - they shouldn't be allowed to breed at this age due to the physical and mental burden involved. Just because they can make babies doesn't mean they should, no matter how much they try to convince you otherwise.

Go into any animal shelter in the nation, and a large portion of the dogs there will be between the ages six months and two years. Why? You guessed it - they're teenagers, with all the accompanying behaviors. Not to mention all the behaviors that were cute as puppies that became less cute when the dog grew up. For example, jumping up and giving kisses was cute when the little lab puppy was the size of a bunny rabbit. It became less cute when the lab grew to be eighty pounds. It was down right ugly when "kiss" got replaced with "hump grandma's leg." And so the little lab puppy became the big lab teenager and landed his butt in doggie jail.

So how do you avoid this all too common outcome? The key to training a teenager is consistency. The rules that applied to puppies (and puppies should have rules - they won't be cute forever!) still apply at six months and at twelve months and at eighteen months. Consistency is important because a teenager's brain is not the same from day to day. What may have looked one way today may look entirely different tomorrow to your dog. Even if it's the same person in the same place with the same command, the dog may have developed new neural pathways in their brain that allows them to see the command with a different perspective. Essentially, it's like having a different dog every day. This is why it's so important for the dog to learn that "no" means "no" and "sit" means "sit" every day, every way, no matter what has changed inside the dog's brain and body that day. Even if you have to speak slowly and use small words.

Piper Ann was a miserable teenager. She turned nine months and her brain melted and oozed out of her ears. She decided that house training was optional and "come" meant "run as fast as you can in the opposite direction." She wasn't being intentionally malicious (all evidence to the contrary); she was just being a teenager. She was at an important stage in her development where she tested her boundaries and needed to learn that "no" means "no" and "sit" means "sit" - no matter how she was feeling that particular day. How did I respond? We went back to basics. I started house training over again with crates and tethers and frequent potty breaks. She no longer got to run off leash, and we went back to work on basic recalls. It may have seemed redundant as I had already taught her these things, but she was a different dog at nine months then she was at four months. As the parents of human teenagers will tell you, you have to repeat yourself a lot when your kids are this age before they understand.

As I work through this phase with Allister, my biggest consolation isn't some great training revelation. It's patience and experience. I know that this, too, shall pass. Today, Piper Ann is a phenomenal dog. She is a certified therapy dog who brings comfort and peace to people from all walks of life. She holds titles in both obedience and rally, and she has a reputation for being an extraordinarily well-behave and stable dog. Even the infamous Maus, who hit the two year mark in November, has become predictable in his old age.

I can see the light at the end of this tunnel wherein Allister becomes a confident, happy, well-trained adult. I know that this is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Provided Allister and I don't kill each other first.



I don’t have a tale to tell of my birth or the early days of my life. My story really begins at Minneapolis Animal Control where the kindness strangers (3 lovely ladies from ARLP) made all the difference for a little pup found on the wrong side of the tracks.

Little did I know when these strangers came to visit that a few days later I would find myself in a safe and loving home, where I will be cared for until they find the perfect family for me. Yup that is what they promised, my very own family to love me– pretty cool huh! My new foster momma tells me I am her little Blanche Dubois dog.  I am not exactly sure what that means but she is nice and gives me lots of love and takes care of me so it must be a good thing.

Well foster momma says that I need to “share” a little bit about myself so all of the peeps can get to know me a little better. So here goes:

I am a pretty, little white pittie. I have really long legs that remind my momma of a colt and what Auntie Lara calls a lanky body. When I say “little” I really mean skinny – I am about 4 months old but apparently someone forgot to feed me on a regular basis. Momma is making up for it now and I get regular meals, treats and this super cool thing she calls a Kong filled with peanut butter and homemade biscuits. Yum! I am living the good life now.

The shut down

I had to do this thing called a shut down with my momma. For some reason she said I needed to chill out and adapt to my new digs. I wasn’t allowed to play with the other dogs in the house for a whole week. Really I didn’t mind all that much as I was so happy to get my new momma all to myself. She said she was supposed to have me leashed to her for the week – but found that after a couple of days she didn’t need to as I wouldn’t leave her side for anything. I know a good thing when I see it and I wasn’t going to let her out of my sight.

What’s in a name?

I bet you are wondering what my name is…well so was my momma. She said she wanted to pick a name that would be perfect for me. She finally decided that I was so special I needed 2! So she named me “Maggie Moon” aka "Moon Doggie".  I like it - classic with a twist and it fits my personality. I am definitely a wiggle butt. I love the people ….if I see a person I get super excited. I wag my tail really fast and want to leap up on the person and give them kisses. Momma tells me this is rude and I need to learn some manners. I don’t know what this rude thing is but she makes it sound bad – but how can it be wrong to want to share the love?

Gosh there is just so so much I have to tell you! My momma says I am a little spitfire and that I am very well adjusted and confident for a puppy. I love to play with my foster sister Miss Ella and while I try to play with my foster brothers they aren’t having any of it quite yet. My momma says I need to give them some space and mind my manners. Gosh this manner thing again – I guess I am really going to have to learn what that is all about.

Well I could go on and on but Momma said that is plenty good for now.



Ya, I am a playa’. I love everyone and I will show them!! Now, my foster mom told me that someone called me slutty. She didn’t think that was the right word so she looked up the word slut in the dictionary and the definition is “slovenly woman”, she said that I am a playa’ instead. Must be the boy version.

My foster mom has a cat! Did you know that? This is a big gray ball of fur but sadly enough he won’t play with me, don’t know why he just won’t. Dennis told me about this cat before he left for his forever home, but being the playa’ that I am, I figured he wouldn’t be an issue. He is.

I kinda like it here. I get two squares a day, a game of tug with my foster mom or my foster sister Biloxi and I get treats like crazy. But, I always have to do something for them; she doesn’t just give them to me. I either have to sit or lay down and now my foster mom is trying to get me to look her in the eyes. But hey it’s for food. No biggie. Oh and get this – she makes me WAIT for my dinner!!! She puts the food in the dish and she makes me sit and wait until SHE says it’s okay to eat. What the heck is that all about?

Thursday I got to go to an office. Who cares what it is called; there were people there! I kept hearing words like snuggly and adorable. I think these are good, right? There is this guy named Jim that works there and he said that he didn’t like Pitbulls……CONVERT!!! He couldn’t keep his hands off of me. Must have been the snuggles I gave him. He even took a picture of me. Score!

Wednesday I got to go to the vet. What nice ladies! They gave me treats and I didn’t have to do a thing, just be my very cute playa’ self. I overheard my foster mom telling someone that I got shots (I don’t think this a fun thing) and I didn’t even know it! I probably didn’t notice because one the nice ladies was giving me treats – just giving them to me!!

Oh that kennel thing, let’s chat about that for a minute. Do all foster dogs have to go into this contraption? Just whose idea was this anyway? Okay, so I go in and I get a treat. Big deal, she closes the door and I am stuck there! Then she started putting really stinky treats in my kong, big deal, I eat them and they are gone. Then…………….I am stuck there!!! I tried crying, whining and barking. Nothing works; there I am until she lets me out. Don’t tell anyone, it really isn’t that bad. It has a nice comfy blanket and my kong.

I have one other problem. I L.O.V.E. to snuggle. My foster sister is not a snuggler, she does allow me next to her from time to time, but she isn’t happy about it, it’s like she is doing me a favor. So I take advantage of it when I can, but I have found out that my foster mom is a snuggler. Ahhhh. Maybe this isn’t a problem after all. I have to think about this.

All things considered, life here is good. Thank you ARLP ladies for letting me out of the cage and into this nice home (even if my foster mom does make me wait for my food).

This sums up my first week as a foster dog…..more tails to come!! (get it?)

Albert the Playa’



Waiting for Adoption

By Zoza, aka, Wozie, Zozie, Woza

It’s not bad, being a foster dog that is.  I get 2 squares a day and treats.  I get to go for walks and on adventures to Pet Smart where all the nice ladies dote on me, and pet me and put more treats into my belly.  Its not bad living with my foster parents either.  They love me and cuddle with me and help me learn manners.  They compliment my progress and are patient when I am still learning.

It’s not bad at all.  But there is a rumor out there; I saw it on the ARLP forum.  There are other dogs finding their forever homes.

Now for me, sure a forever home would be nice.  No more temporary people with a temporary home, but hey a temporary home is still a home.  I mean, it’s good for a dog like me, right?

I don’t really feel sorry for myself, like I said I have it pretty cake and all.  But you know I am a very pretty lil pittie who loves, loves, loves people.  I am a happy girl and pretty low maintenance- I know when to go outside and take care of business, if you know what I mean.

Now don’t get me wrong, those ARLP ladies know what they are doing and take in only the Pitt of the litter, (or rott) so we are all awesome pups to adopt, but have you seen me??? I am just an awesome girly and my foster parents think that I deserve the bestest.  Ok, so maybe those dogs that were recently adopted found their “right” home, the perfect match so to speak.  And my foster momma has promised to keep me for as long as it takes, and yeah, I am a little special.  So what if dogs scare me- I am awesome with kids and would love to be YOUR dog.  Do you know anything about pitties; cause let me tell you, I am an exceptional pittie.  Alright, I am being biased here, and in truth, we are all exceptional.  But what does it take to find perfection anyways?  I mean, my forever home has to be out there right?

Oh, and if you are considering adopting me, let me help sway you…

Do you ever come home from work and just wish someone was smiling at you? Well that’s me.

Do you ever wish you had someone to cuddle you and give you sloppy kisses? Me again.

Do you ever wish that someone would love you in spite of the holiday weight you put on? Guess what, I don’t care what you weigh.

How about an exercise partner and motivator? Well then I am your dog.

Got kids who need an awesome playmate- Gosh, that sounds like me too.

Need someone to play dress up with? Have you seen my bio- cuz I have been everything from a bee to a turtle.

Need someone to listen?  I am a great listener, I could listen to you talk all day.

Have a yard and you need someone to run around and act silly with?  Well, I am a pittie and its well known that we are all silly clowns.

All your friends bragging about their two and four legged kids? I can give you lots to brag about- I am not only beautiful, but smart too.

Hey kids, don’t like your veggies?  Shhh...I don’t mind sharing and it will be our little secret.

Puppies not your thing? Great, cuz I am a full grown lady- who can play like a pup at a moments notice.

Live in an apartment, house, townhouse? Perfect cause I am not picky, so long as you have the right insurance then we are A-OK.

Need a lifetime friend?  I will be your life long companion.

Only looking to be a one dog house hold? Great I have enough love that you won’t need another pet, I will love you forever and unconditionally, promise.

Ever feel like something is missing? Me too.  I am looking for you and waiting as patiently as possible, cause my foster momma keeps telling the best things are worth waiting for-so if your looking for me, I am available for adoption and would make your home complete.  My name is Zoza and I am ready to be yours!


I first met Haley in September of 2009. She was one of the 35 dogs seized in Iowa. Iowa was one of the states involved in that big ‘ol crap storm in July of 2009.

In Iowa Haley was my introduction to what was going to be. The first dog of 35 we were going to be evaluating for the US Marshall who would then present our findings to the presiding federal judge.

Haley was lucky. She had Rita, the US Marshall who worked tirelessly to find someone, anyone, qualified to evaluate pit bull temperament. Rita had a plan. She wanted to be in a position to cognitively appeal to the presiding judge on the dogs’ behalf. To Rita, there had to be a place in the world somewhere for some of these dogs.

She was right there was.

There hasn’t been a lot about Haley on our forum or this blog.  Life outside of the shelter was a scary thing. Haley has needed time to adjust. Lucky for her she scored a spot with ARLP treasurer Amy and her dude, disc dogger, Larry. How awesome was that?? Together they have worked to introduce Haley to a world that she would want to be a part of.

As Haley began venturing out of her shell Amy and Larry noticed that Haley was having issues with one of her legs. When some R&R failed to improve the condition they brought her to ARLP’s veterinarian, Dr. Rahimi. X-rays revealed that our sweet little Haley had a luxating patella. This occurs when the groove at the bottom of the femur in which the patella (knee cap) slides up and down, is too shallow.  The knee cap slides from side to side instead of sliding up and down, and jumps out of the groove - or "luxates".   When the joint is luxated, it causes the leg to go lame or limp - not to mention it is very painful.  If left untreated, the groove will wear down and the joint will become arthritic, causing permanent swelling, poor mobility or total lameness.

Last week Haley had surgery to repair the patella. It went well! And we are all hopeful that Haley will make a full recovery. The hardest part now will be keeping her still. For in true pittie fashion, Haley feels she is good to go. And why shouldn’t she? Life is good now. No more dogfighters, no more rotating knee caps, no more scary things.

Here is some video footage of Haley. Haley remains uber camera shy but we will do our best to get photos to document her progress.

As you can imagine, Haley's surgery was expensive. Even though we are only a lil' bitty rescue operating on a shoestring we didn't think twice about whether or not to make this repair. Haley has come too far to start hitting snags now.

If you would like to help A Rotta Love Plus with the cost of the surgery and follow-up care by making a donation, please click on the donate button at the top left of this page.




No this isn't a pit bull, or a Rottweiler for that matter. It is a poodle though. A poodle I am calling Mugs.

Mugs was seized by Animal Humane Society from a Minnesota puppy mill.

The mill dogs have a special place in my heart. And when the call came for help I couldn't say no. After all we have a cat on our available dogs page why not a poodle? Mugs was not at all what I expected he would be. Initially at AHS he shut down, would not be handled and was all whale eye.

I was fully expecting to put some work into Mugs with the hope he would eventually be adoptable. I thought six months was a realistic guess.The moppet was afraid that is for sure but he wanted my attention even though he was afraid, a really good sign. I brought him home and sequestered him in the living room fully prepared for a dog that possibly would want nothing to do with me.  Especially after I bathed him.

Mugs was foul. He was so matted there wasn't an area with single hairs anywhere on his being. His rear end looked like 6 Brillo pads had been smashed and glued onto his back. Into the tub he went. I like to use lavender scented baby soap for the new stinky dogs that come into my home. What better way to wash the stank out?

This is what the bathtub looked like afterward. Those are mattes floating in the water. Keep in mind, Mugs is a 7 lb dog.

Mugs survived the bath. He actually didn't mind it as long as I let him stand with his front paws on the side of the bathtub with his face in my chest. I was smitten immediately.

Once the little bugger dried he looked like this.

Once he was clean and the additional dog was removed from his body it became only too apparent that this was one HAPPY dog! Just a nut box. And, well, I love me some nut boxes. When they say that dogs don't carry baggage there isn't a dog who I have met that serves as a better example of that than Mugs. I wish all puppy mill survivors and rescues could be so lucky.

Mugs is two years old. The first two years of his life were spent in a puppy mill. Right from the git all Mugs has wanted to do was interact with me. He was all about this woman who brought him to this new place, tossed him into a bathtub of water, cut the mattes away from his body and massaged him with lavender soap while whispering sweet nothings into his ear. I guess a little slice of heaven in his frame of reference.

Mugs is curious. He is smart. He is sweet. Which is why dealing with the fact that he will piss and poo at will and doesn't know what stairs are that much more bearable. It is fun working with Mugs because Mugs throws himself into all with gusto. Yes, that includes going outside into the cold and snow to potty even though he doesn't know that outside is the only place potty belongs. Just coz you be little doesn't mean you can't potty outside, right Chi?

Let me tell you it does a body good. Chi, who like Mugs, spent the first two years of his life in a puppy mill, will never be curious. He will never let anyone but me see the quirky happy dog he has become since coming to live with me three years ago. It took Chi almost a week before he would even approach me. He would stare at me from inside his kennel intently. Waiting, ready to run if necessary.

And that is ok. Chi has taught me many valuable lessons, something all dogs can do if we stop long enough to listen.

The world is Mug's oyster. And I feel lucky to be a part of this initial exploration of life beyond kennel bars.

Special thank you to Stacie and Micaela at Central Bark in Eden Prairie for donating their time and grooming services to Mugs.