Friday, November 30, 2012

Dogs Running on the Treadmill

As I mentioned in the last post and shared a video - my dogs run on a treadmill. Eventually I would like to buy a carpet mill - just can't justify spending $400 right now - especially when I have a working treadmill.

The treadmill is perfect as the rainy season has only just begun, so when it's too gross to do things outside I can just put the dogs on the treadmill. Right now I run them almost everyday. Seppel has been on one before and has been a pro almost from the beginning. Seth and LiLo took some warming up but they are both very confident running on the treadmill now.

A few weeks ago I would have never believed the dogs would be eager to get on the treadmill. Seppel is the most eager of all. I've used Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, and canned food as bait. Almond Butter is actually the best choice because it's thick and sticks to the spoon so you can feed less. Lately I've been using canned food, I split a can between the three dogs. I don't reward them as often as I did in the beginning, but I still reward them fairly frequently because that is the whole reason they want to be on the machine. When I initially started them out I put them in a harness and held them through the process... I think I only did this 1-2 times before they were willing to walk on it by themselves. As we went I just started upping the speed. Seppel got into it right away because he's clearly done this before - Seth took about a week to get really confident in the machine.

As I said in the other entry, I see a HUGE difference in Seppel when he has been on it vs when he hasn't.

Here is an update video from tonight:

Not everyone should own a gun.

Before Seppel came into my life, my Pit Bull experience was limited to dogs I've met working in the veterinary field and dogs I have met owned by people I know. I'm not sure when exactly I decided I wanted a Pit Bull, but at some point a neighbor had a litter of puppies. I remember stopping by to see how much the pups were and fell in love with a black and white puppy. It was from that point I decided someday I wanted one [preferably AmStaff], I wanted it to be Black & White and wanted to name it Dakota. I was convinced I would get one, train it properly, socialize it, and I would show the world how great these dogs can be. Such a pipe dream! As I talk with other Pit Bull people I have begun to realize - some dogs are wired wrong, doesn't matter what you do, they are what they are. I also have learned that it isn't all in how you raise them. There are many "bad" dogs out there who have not been beaten, they live leisurely lives and are well taken care of.

I have also come to see the different sides of the Pit Bull world. I went from a dog forum where everyone had to crate & rotate, they didn't believe in tying dogs outside, everyone believes in management, to a forum where everyone supports tying out dogs [if done properly], culling if necessary, where I also learned that not only is this breed not for everyone - it doesn't make you a horrible person if you cannot manage this kind of a dog. It's understandable when people are passionate about things that they get riled up. I lurk a lot on a fairly popular Pit Bull forum. One day a person came on, not really asking for advice. I think if anything they just wanted someone to say "It's okay." These people had four dogs, one was a Pit Bull. The Pit Bull was buddies with a lab mix that they had. One day the owner was standing maybe two feet away when the Pit Bull hauled off and attacked the lab mix with the intent of killing it. After that they separated the dogs. As the story unfolds the dog has had a sketchy past, the dog has been dog aggressive in the past and is also becoming aggressive with humans. The owner was posting to say "I think we're going to have to euthanize our dog." People whipped around saying "You do what you want, but this situation is EASILY managed." They got absolutely no support, instead they were treated like crap for even thinking that humane euthanasia was an option. I think it's really unfortunate that people so quickly jump to those kinds of conclusions. I sometimes wonder how many people out there are dealing with a dog they really can't handle - but are too afraid to come to these forums and ask for help. Afraid that they will be harassed and shot down for being a sub-par owner.

The thing about dog management is that it isn't easy, especially with this breed. Most Pit Bulls are high energy dogs, if you are in a crate & rotate situation you need to make sure all of your dogs get adequate exercise, if you're rotating Pit Bulls it's even more imperative that they get adequate physical and mental stimulation. I work 7:30am-7:00pm. When I get home I barely have time to eat, shower, and get to bed. If I had to crate & rotate my dogs it would add another couple of hours to my evening trying to spend time with everyone individually. I'm not saying that euthanasia is the route to go in every situation, I am not one to support an easy way out and I feel people need to take responsibility for their choices. However, on the other side of the coin, if the person is not cut out for managing an aggressive dog I feel euthanasia is a safer option vs. the dog being in a poorly managed situation - getting out - biting someone - and spending its last days in a shelter before being killed.

Before I had Seppel, I had no idea how serious this breed is. Don't get me wrong - there are some Pit Bulls out there who do act more like poodles or golden retrievers, but they are few and far between. My friend Danielle's Pit Bull Karmann is a fairly mellow dog. She has some prey drive and she has the energy to get up and go when she wants to, but she can hold still. I would say that mellow personality is more rare unless you know the lines you're buying/you're purchasing more of a show dog. Seppel's energy out-let needs are much greater than that of Seth and LiLo. I've started running all three of my dogs on the treadmill, mostly for Seppel and Seth's benefit.

Seppel was a pro at this, he's had to have been on one before. Contrary to popular belief, treadmills aren't just a tool for dog fighting - they are a way to condition your dog and burn off that excess energy. I tried bike riding with Seppel and all he would do is trot along. There's no way I'm going to ride my bike for hours just to give Seppel an adequate workout. The treadmill is AWESOME. Seth runs for about 10mins at 8mph, Seppel is now just up to 15mins at 8mph. I rotate between the two boys and try to get 20mins in for both of them. I've noticed Seppel is a lot calmer, I run the dogs almost everyday. He settles a lot better after he's been on the treadmill as well. He's never been one to pace or be anxious, but without some energy release he doesn't settle down as well and moves every time I move. I've certainly learned this is not a leisurely breed!

I was at petsmart the other day getting canned food for treadmill bait. I brought Seppel with me. The guy at the counter was all "Oh they are such a misunderstood breed!" I said "Yeah..." he says "You know, they are banned in Europe!" I'm thinking, no kidding. I own one, I know all about BSL. He then says "They are really great dogs." I looked at him and said "Yeah, they are, but they aren't poodles. Not everyone should own a gun, not everyone should own a Pit Bull."

I don't know if the guy really got it. Even as a kid I was thinking that if I raised it and trained it right, a Pit Bull could be like any other dog. Honestly - they are not like every other dog. They are intense, stubborn, intelligent, they can be dog aggressive. Pit Bulls don't just give 100%, they give 110% in everything they do. I noticed it with Seppel, I think it's the tenacity and drive that they have. They just barrel in there and do it. Even when Seppel is being "naughty" or not doing what he should be doing, he still gives it his all. It's that spirit that has made me fall in love with the breed. Seppel never has a bad day, he's never grumpy. He never looks at me as if to say "No, I don't want to do it."

I think the hardest part about owning a Pit Bull is being responsible. Making sure he can never get loose and harm another dog, making sure he doesn't knock someone over, making sure the house insurance will cover us if an accident does occur. I don't think he would ever bite a person - unless I told him to, even then, I'm not so sure. But I am leery of small animals. I think as a Pit Bull owner you have to be overly cautious because there is so much scrutiny that comes your way because of the breed. Pit Bulls are not dog park dogs - if you take them to a dog park and they get into it with another dog, even if they didn't start it - you will get in trouble. Not only is it my responsibility to keep my dog safe, but we are representing the WHOLE breed when we step outside! I think as a Pit Bull owner I feel more pressure for my dog to behave, to set a good example because when we go out we represent them all. In some cases, this pressure backfires because I think we sometimes forget at the end of the day they are a dog before they are a Pit Bull. I also think this kind of pressure can be a good thing because it helps those of us who take the ownership of this breed seriously to learn and grow and become the best dog owners and handlers we can be.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Tests

I work in a veterinary clinic. Working in that environment I see everything I don't want in a dog. It's so sad how many people get puppies and don't expect them to do much, then they wonder when the dog is 100lbs and trying to eat us why we can't get a nail trim done without sedation or why we have to muzzle their dog for a simple ear clean. I feel lucky to be in this kind of an environment because I am able to put my dogs through a lot of different things and they learn to accept it as a normal. Just coming to work everyday makes things super easy because it already makes the veterinary environment less scary.

When Seppel first arrived his nails were kind of long. Not terrible, but I am the nail trimming queen and I dremel Seth and LiLo's nails regularly. I tried trimming Seppel's nails at home. I kind of have some post traumatic stress from a friend's pit bull who was HORRIBLE for nail trims and had to be sedated. When I first tried trimming Seppel's nails I made him lay down on the floor in the kitchen. He jumped for every single nail, every single click of the trimmer he jumped. He wasn't trying to eat me - but he did not like the noise of the nail trimmers. I ended up having my friend Danielle trim his nails with me holding and he still did the same thing every time. That kind of behavior just won't work for me. I decided to try the dremel at home. The dremel my mom has isn't cordless, blows air out the side, and is a little loud. I had Seppel lay down in the kitchen and as soon as I turned it on he took off. I ended up having to leash him, hold him in the kitchen and touch the dremel to him. He quickly realized that he wasn't dying so I proceeded to try it on his nails. I would dremel a nail and then give him a treat, he did fairly well but wasn't overly excited about it. These days I dremel his nails every other day. His nails are much shorter than when I first got him, but I can only take off a small amount at a time because his quicks are grown out to the end of the nail. My other two dogs, Seth and LiLo, immediately lay down when I take the dremel out. Seppel isn't to that point yet, but he knows what the dremel is and will lay down when I ask him to.

Most who know me know I bath my dogs frequently. I've noticed Seth, my dog with shorter hair, gets stinkier more quickly than LiLo. Seppel is no different and gets smelly really quickly - especially since he and Seth play pretty hard in the yard and get gross. At work we have a tub with a ramp, I was really surprised that it didn't take much coaxing and Seppel happily climbed the ramp and got into the tub. Baths are not his favorite thing, but he willingly gets in the tub and stands in there to be bathed.  

Face to Face
Around the time I got Seppel this incident occured:
Colorado news anchor bit in face.
It kind of shocks me the amount of crap the reporter, who is a VICTIM got because she couldn't read the dog. Unless you're really keyed into dog body language, the dog didn't really give much warning. As a dog person I know not to get into the face of a dog I don't know, but the average person doesn't. In the video the owner is holding onto the dog very tightly, it makes me wonder if the dog in every day life is not that friendly to begin with. I'm not saying the reporter should not have been more careful, but more often than not I've seen people lean over dogs - they have no clue that it is not a good position to be in. All of this being said, I figured this would be my good dog test. The few times I've gone to kiss his forehead he hasn't offered to bite my face off ;)

Blood Draws
With Seth and LiLo I can draw a blood sample from a rear leg no problem. Seth and LiLo are also fine if I do have someone hold off a leg for me, they don't mind being restrained. After Seppel had been here for a few months he started getting skin infections and sneezing a lot. I decided to send out bloodwork to test for allergies - you have to draw at least 12mls of blood. I remember holding him for Danielle to draw it. I remember saying "Do you want a muzzle?" and she replied "Is he going to bite me?!" and I said "I don't know." and we proceeded with the blood draw. He didn't move an inch and didn't make a peep.

Allergy Shots
When the allergy serum came I started giving him the shots. The first few injections he was great, but one day he cried and whipped around - which freaked me out. I had coworkers do a few of the injections for me because I was spooked, but eventually I grew a pair and started giving them to him again. I give him his injections myself, by myself, and he takes them like a champ.

All in all I feel like I have tested this dog a lot. He has never once tried to bite me, he doesn't overreact to unpleasant things. He's completely adjusted to living in a veterinary clinic and he LOVES coming to work. He's definitely grown this past year in terms of accepting new things, when he first arrived he was afraid of the garage door opening and closing - now he brushes under the door as its raising in the morning to run outside. For the most part I'd say he's a pretty stable and willing dog. He can be cautious at times but I think it's better to have a dog who questions things on occasion vs. a dog who does things without thinking and pays for the consequences later.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We all learn from our mistakes, at least, most of us do.

As I said yesterday I thought I would take the opportunity to share the mistakes I've made, most have been few and far between but just the same I'm not perfect and I have messed up a time or two.

I'll preface this by saying that when I got Seppel I knew it was a serious undertaking. I think the majority of folks don't really take Pit Bull ownership seriously, I think it can be said across the board many people don't take dog ownership in general seriously. I don't understand how someone can bring a 60lb dog into their home - bred to take down livestock - and not take it seriously. That being said, not everyone has the kind of Pit Bull that I have. There are many Pit Bulls out that that are 'cold' and by that I mean they are mellow, easy going, get along with other dogs. I've also heard dogs like this to be called 'curs'. A cur by definition is a mutt or undesirable dog, it can also mean a coward. The traditional Pit Bull is what I would consider to be a 'hot' dog. The traditional Pit Bull is full of piss and vinegar. They are high energy, high prey drive, often times they are dog aggressive, these dogs are reactive, they are robust, and they are brave. To be clear, High Energy and High Prey drive do not equal out of control. I feel that Seppel falls somewhere in between. He has a lot of energy and a high prey drive. He isn't overly dog aggressive but I am very careful about other dog interactions. He can at least be around other dogs and ignore them, but he has tried to bite a dog or two while on leash. I took Seppel very seriously in my home. As I said yesterday the small squabbles he had with my other dogs really freaked me out. Seth and LiLo have the occasional tiff but I knew just how far they would take it. With Seppel, who is a Pit Bull bred for years to be dog aggressive, I wasn't sure how far he would take things.

Of course, as time goes on, you start trusting your new dog. I was no different, as time passed the dogs started being able to be outside without direct supervision. I could see and hear the dogs through a screen door and sliding glass door so I could monitor but it wasn't like the beginning where I felt like I had to be standing out there just in case something happened.

I believe it was a friday morning. I was getting ready for work. The dogs had been out to potty and had been fed and were all in the front room. I came out there after I had gotten dressed and didn't see my cat Napolean. He usually sits on the cable box because it's warm. I started to panic because I knew something was wrong, that was when I walked into the kitchen from which Seppel promptly came running out of. At the time the cat's box was in the utility room which is on the other side of the kitchen, a sliding door separated the dogs from going in there for snacks. When I peeled the door back I found my cat sitting on the washing machine, his eye and nose bleeding. I was all in a panic. I've had a cat with head trauma before. All I could think about was that Seppel had tried to pick him up by the head, I grabbed Napolean and in the midst of trying to get him into a carrier I had to pass Seppel and Napolean wigged out hissing and trying to climb away. By my cat's behavior and the fact that Seppel came running from the kitchen I'm fairly certain he did it. Napolean turned out to just have a scratch in the corner of his eye which is why there was blood coming from his nose. The incident really scared me and at that point I decided Seppel would no longer be loose without direct supervision and I moved the cat stuff into my room so I could lock him in there while I got ready in the morning.
***Today things are different. I still do not trust Seppel 100% with the cat. I crate him at night [the cat has free roam of the house at night]. I sent him to training back in October while I was house sitting and when he came back he had more interest in chewing on the cat, playfully. I keep an eye on them but for the most part they get along fine. The cat harbors no ill will towards him anyhow.

Not two days after Seppel injured my cat I took him out to the barn with me. I figured the cat incident was a direct indication he was not getting enough exercise or stimulus. I had taken him out to the barn a few times and let him run around in one of the pastures without incident. The pastures are fully fenced with 5ft no climb fencing, it's hot on top, the gates are rail and I thought he couldn't squeeze through them. We were playing in the pasture when my horse Cairo came up to the fence, she started to roll and Seppel got excited. He started barking and running the fence line, my horse got up and took off running into her pasture, he stuck his head through the gate - realized he could fit through and took off. I was mortified, running after him - thinking only that he was going to grab her and I wouldn't make it in time. Seppel's plan was not well executed, he started to bark at Cairo, she somehow managed to roll him and step on him, which sent him back past me into the pasture where we started. After this second incident, so close to the first I immediately went and bought him a basket muzzle and was even considering getting a shock collar for at the barn.
***After I had a few days to think about all of this I did and have practiced with him wearing the basket muzzle. I have taken him out to the barn with me but I leave him on leash. The shock collar idea was because I wanted to take him to the barn and have him not go after my horse, or anyone else's, but then I realized there's just no need for him to be out at the barn. He's just not a barn dog. Period. He is not a good barn dog and that is OKAY.

I don't remember the exact time this next thing occurred. Originally when Seppel came I let him ride in the cab of my truck and put Seth and LiLo in the back under the canopy. One day I tried all three of them back there. They were all fine on the way into work. When I was leaving work, I loaded them all up in the back but wanted to put some slip leads back in the building. I thought for two seconds that I shouldn't leave them in there alone - but of course I said "Oh, it'll only be a minute!" I ran inside, I don't even think 30 seconds had gone by, when I came out LiLo was screaming, I flung the side window open - Seppel was muzzle punching her. As soon as I opened the window he stopped. I said some not so nice things and squished him in the corner of the truck bed while I lifted LiLo out. LiLo was fine, but the incident seriously pissed me off, mostly because I was such an idiot for leaving them alone together. But it's also like having kids, "Seriously, I can't leave you alone for even a minute!!!!!"
***We've had to do some serious musical dogs. For most of the year Seth and LiLo rode in the back and Seppel rode in the cab with me. When I first got Seppel he was fine riding in the back of the truck, however, after he rode in the cab a few times he would reluctantly get into the back and proceed to pace and pant and act like an idiot even on short rides. Such a brat. Because the weather is really rainy and bad in Oregon and I'm paranoid I may get rear-ended I cleared out my crew cab, Seppel rides in the passenger seat and Seth and LiLo ride in the crew cab portion. I've left them alone together for short periods and so far everyone seems to fair just fine, if I'm going to be gone for a very long time I will put Seth and LiLo in the back.

The last incident I will share is Seppel trying to pick up my sister's small dog. This actually happened early on... before any of this other stuff. The basics are - I wasn't holding his leash, my sister was leaving for lunch [we were at work], she came down the hall with her dog - Seppel took off, opened his mouth, and my sister nailed him in the gut with her shoe. It totally took him by surprise and he stopped. My sister's dog was okay but since then I am cautious around small dogs. I have introduced him to a poodle/scottie mix and he was respectful but it was in a controlled environment. I do not trust him with small animals in general.

I think I'll leave this post where it's at. In the next few posts I definitely want to talk about the "tests" he passed, nail trimming, baths, letting me squish my forehead to his forehead, blood draws, and allergy shots. I also really want to talk about the differences in the Pit Bull community. Those who want to preserve the breed for what it is vs those who want them to be poodles.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Picking up Seppel... the adventure begins!

On the evening of October 22nd, 2011 I picked up my friend at her house for what would be the biggest adventure of our lives. Alright, maybe not our lives, but the biggest adventure of October 2011! My friend Danielle is also a coworker of mine. She's an amazing vet tech and is also into dogs and dog training. She is owned by an 11-year-old Pit Mix and a 2yr old Pit Bull that she adopted 4mos ago. Her and I train dogs similarly and constantly bounce ideas off of each other so I knew she would be the perfect wingman for the night. I'm so glad she came along because I dread driving around Portland and it was nice to have someone go with me that was excited to meet Seppel too.

Waiting for the plane to arrive.

Seppel's plane landed around 7:30pm. We waited in a small room while they unloaded the plane. When they brought Seppel into the cargo area I could see him through a glass window in a nearby door. I'm not a very squishy person, but sometimes I do think things are meant to be. I don't know how but it was as though Seppel knew I was going to be taking him home. He looked back at me through the glass like he knew me. Dogs are excellent at reading body language, I don't know if mine was screaming "You're coming home with meeee!!!!!" but I will never forget the look he gave me. At this point I was really glad Danielle had come with me because they wanted me to back my truck up that ramp pictured above. I drive a chevy s10, it's a manual, and I hate it. Thankfully Danielle has driving skillz and she backed my truck up the scary ramp.

I can officially say I survived a 45min drive home with a Pit Bull that I had never met before in a cramped close space.

Just quick back story on my living situation at this point. I had been living with my cousin who was facing a foreclosure on his house. It wasn't until Seppel was for sure coming that the bank decided we had to get out of the house. The 22nd was my last night in my cousin's place. 
When we got back into town I stopped at my folks to do a quick meet and greet. I locked Seth and LiLo, my other two dogs in the garage. Both of my parents were apprehensive, they do not like Pit Bulls. I brought Seppel home under the guise that I was fostering him with serious intent to find him a home. My mom said this exactly, "He can stay here for 2 weeks. No more!" If you're getting the feeling that I have used the foster card before - I totally have. I think my mom knew that was what was happening. I am very blessed that I have two parents who are willing to support my effort to repay a debt and do a favor for a friend because ultimately that is why I wanted to do this. I don't think this would have been possible if Seppel had been the man eating monster portrayed in news headlines... I'm very thankful he's the complete opposite.

That first night Sepp got to sleep in bed with me. I told him before I shut the light off that he was not allowed to eat me in my sleep. He just curled up next to me and wagged his tail every time I touched him. 

A slightly stressed Sepp.

There's something that I've heard commonly in Pit Bull circles called "The Two Week Shut Down". I had been advised by people on the board and even a few friends that I needed to do the shut down. 

In the beginning I had all intentions of using this method, but it wasn't really conducive to my lifestyle especially since I was moving back in with my folks and they would not be supporting anything like this. I chose to just let the dogs meet and wing it. The first two weeks were bumpy. Two weeks seems to be about the time it takes for most dogs to settle in, Sepp was no different. I had to look it up on old forum postings but Seppel liked to hump other dogs. Seth and LiLo were NOT having it. I supervised interactions at ALL times because they would get into spats every now and then. In the beginning I think they probably got into a growling/bumping match about once a day. They were very small spats but scared the heck out of me. I'm not going to lie, Pit Bulls are scary. I was second guessing my decision a lot in the beginning wondering to myself, "What did I get my dogs into? They were fine with just the two of them and then I brought this bully home!" I felt so bad that I potentially brought a total terror into the house. 

Because of the mild tension going on, they only went outside together supervised by me. I fed Seth and LiLo in the kitchen and fed Seppel out in the garage. At night and when I was not home to supervise Seppel was kenneled. I made it clear to my parents they did not have to do anything with him. I did not want them to handle him if they felt uncomfortable. That first week I brought him to work on his 5th day being here. The first few days there was some whining, I had to give him a little ace to calm his nerves a little bit. As the days passed the whining stopped but he started doing some growling and barking when people would walk near the cage - even if they were completely ignoring him. One afternoon, a coworker of mine tried to tell him to knock it off and it just made him even more defensive. It also freaked me out because I had  never had a dog act like this and I didn't want to be missing some big dangerous sign. I went to the same board I always went to for advice and was scolded for taking him to work so soon. I don't regret my decision because going to work is a part of my dog's lives. It doesn't matter if he goes now or two weeks from now, coming to work is his new job. As it turns out, with no help from that particular forum I grew to understand the problem. Seppel was not being naughty, I wasn't missing some huge red flag, he wasn't a man-eater.

It couldn't have been more simple really, Seppel was cage protective.

*huge sigh of relief*

I remedied his protectiveness by putting a cover over his kennel. Problem solved. As it is now he is fine with all of my coworkers and their dogs being near or around his cage. I think his initial guarding was because he still wasn't sure of what was going on. I don't know if he had this issue in his former home, it may have been more of a self preservation thing since he was in a new situation. Honestly, for a dog going from a home environment to having to accept staying in a stressful veterinary clinic everyday he took it like a champ. He comes to work with me everyday these days and is happy to go, he's quiet in his kennel and he loves everyone I work with - he has even made amends with the veterinarian that initially scolded him for barking/growling in his kennel. I think it just goes to show the resiliency of this breed, here is a dog who was flown clear across the country, he had to adjust to a new life, adjust to a new owner, adjust to a new routine and he did it. It all sounds so simple but I think it's truly amazing how well he was able to just suck it up and adapt.

Tune in tomorrow... Maybe in my next post we can talk about all of the mistakes I made, like my cat getting nailed in the face, Seppel chasing my horse in the pasture, Seppel attacking LiLo in truck, Seppel trying to pick up my sister's dog. We can even talk about the first "tests" like the nail trim and the bath. Poor guy didn't know what was coming!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hello world!

Hey there, my name is Suzanne. Admittedly I am a blogger virgin - or is that, blogging virgin? Either way this is my first blog and my first blog based post. I've decided to give this a shot, maybe this will be my only post I guess we'll see.

Hmmm so the title of this blog is 'Live, Laugh, Love, like a Pit Bull.' This blog is mostly going to be focused around the past year of my life as I became a first time Pit Bull owner, things I've learned, how life has changed etc. But it's also going to be about the things we're currently doing, not just the Pit Bull and I, but also my other dogs. Not gonna lie, if I owned my own house I would be a hoarder. I've currently got three awesome dogs and I definitely intend to talk about them all in this blog.

I'd like to introduce the Pit Bull that has inspired everything. Because of him I have taken the opportunity to meet different trainers and try different training methods, to try the sport of Schutzhund, he encouraged me to learn about the breed and expand my horizons and beliefs about dog ownership. He has opened my eyes to what the breed really is and has helped me to further accept him for what he is: A Pit Bull.

This is Seppel.

In 2011 I logged onto a dog forum that I frequented only to find out a dear friend had passed away. I wondered about her three dogs, two pit bulls and an older border collie but in the beginning nothing was said about her dogs, just that they were okay. In the weeks leading up to the dogs eventually needing a home the thought had crossed my mind "If only I lived nearby..." It was only a fleeting thought, until it became a reality. Eventually it was posted that one of the Pit Bulls and the Border Collie would be needing a home. At first I jumped at the Border Collie because she was OLD - it would be a short commitment, however, when it came to be known that she was roughly 15+yrs flying her out to Oregon from North Carolina did not look like a good option. In the midst of jumping at the Border Collie posting, a posting for Seppel appeared.

I don't really remember the pm's that transpired, but it involved me messaging the forum admin and saying if we could get Seppel out here I would take him. The thing is, Seppel's owner sent me money to pay for my late dog Sofie to get an MRI and the money she sent also covered some of her chemo. It sounds super easy to take money from someone but it was something I seriously hesitated to do - did my dog deserve it? Did I deserve it? I would never be able to pay her back. The thing is, Seppel's owner wanted to help me. She helped many people and many pets in this way. It was humbling, and eye opening. And now, in Seppel's time of need, in his late owner's time of need, I knew that the way I could repay her was to promise to give her dog a good home to live out the rest of his life. I got into contact with Seppel's late owner's daughter, told her why I wanted to offer him a home, explained how appreciative I was of everything her mother had done for me. I also explained that this would be my first time ever owning a Pit Bull, that most of my experience with them is through working in a veterinary clinic and that my parents were not big fans of the breed. Fortunately for me everyone involved felt I could offer Seppel a good home.

Through the efforts of the dog forum, and Seppel's late owner's daughter, Seppel was flown out here October 22nd, 2011.

Seppel has been here a little over a year now. I feel like I have grown so much as a dog handler. I know if he hadn't come here I would not have had the opportunities I have had now, I would not have met the people I have met, I would not understand all of the Anti-BSL stuff going around, nor would I understand how useless it is, mostly - I would have no idea how AWESOME the Pit Bull breed is.

Stay tuned for post #2, I'll get into the nitty gritty of picking up a dog up from the airport, how to fail at the two week shut down, discuss the annoyance of humping, tell you how to effectively get your anti-pit bull parents to let-you-have-one-under-the-guise-that-you-are-fostering, oh - and we'll talk about how cage protectiveness does not mean your dog is a man eater!