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.

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