Monday, January 21, 2013

Making the Cut

Within reason I understand why competitive people in both the dog world and the horse world sell animals and strive to purchase the best prospect for whatever sport they are competing in. To be competitive you need an animal that can go the distance and has the talent and drive for whatever sport you are pursuing.

However, animals are not pieces of equipment. They can't just be cast aside only to be used for later. They are living and breathing and require care.

As I've gotten deeper into the dog world I am realizing that people who want to be competitive, go through many dogs trying to find "the one". I know getting a talented dog can be difficult, but I also feel if you are patient and have the money, the right dog can be purchased. Too many times I feel like people want a certain look or a certain pedigree when the reality is you should be looking at a dog who has the ability and drive to do the job you want them to do. I know genetics can be a predictor of what your dog could be, but all too often you see dogs who do not live up to their dam/sire's ability.

When I've had people tell me they want a certain dog breed, or ask what the best dog breed would be for them, I often think - it's not about the breed. You should be looking for a dog that fits your lifestyle in personality and temperament, looks and breed should be secondary.  If you want to shoot for a certain breed that's fine, but you need to find the DOG that is going to be perfect for you. At the end of the day they are all DOGS and you need to find one that is the right fit.

I am of the mentality that you take care of your pets for life. You keep them until they die. Granted, I did not get Seppel with the intent of pursuing a particular sport. Now that we are working towards the sport of Schutzhund even if he's not the best at it, even if we try for a title and fall short - he's a good dog to start with. We've been able to get our feet wet, I can handle what he brings to the table so maybe someday I could handle a dog that is "more dog". The reality of my situation is I don't have endless amounts of money. We'll train and trial as I can afford to. That being said if I had wanted to purchase a dog for this sport, I would still be okay with a dog who was just "okay" at the sport. There's still so much I have to learn it only makes sense that I should find a dog I could learn with that wouldn't be too much for me to handle. A dog who can compete and get me there, but maybe needs more work and time.

I just don't think I will ever fully understand how someone can just get rid of a dog because it isn't meeting their expectations. I guess I ultimately wonder, why did you purchase this dog in the first place? You had high hopes and thought this dog was going somewhere, and now you've decided it isn't working out? Rehoming animals is so hard. It's hard to find dedicated owners who will be committed to the dog, for its lifetime.

I'm really not trying to condemn people who can easily get rid of a dog to "get a better one". Coming from the horse world, I have had friends, and I know people, who flip horses like it is going out of style. I guess I've always felt a little differently about horses because they are so expensive to care for - surely you can't be feeding or training an animal that won't take you where you want to go. In many cases with horses people buy them, train them, and sell them, without a second thought. Horses and dogs are a little different. The cost to keep them is very different, with a horse in most cases you have to pay to keep it somewhere, where a dog is only taking up space and food in your home.

I guess I will have to agree to disagree. I will never be someone who can move a dog because they fall short of my expectations. Maybe my opinion will change if I ever am able to be that super competitive person... but as it stands right now I don't envision my dogs ever being sent down the road because they aren't good enough. I certainly hope I don't become a person who views them as property over companions.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year, New Goals?

Well, a whole year has gone by and then some. It's now 2013 and I thought I would share some of our goals. I don't really believe in resolutions because I believe they are easily broken. I would rather set some goals and hope we can accomplish - or at least begin working on them.

Let's start with registry goals. I have yet to register Sepp with any organizations. I want to register him with UKC's limited privilege program and also the ADBA's limited privilege program. I think I printed out a form for AKC but I haven't even done AKC events with Seth so I don't see a need at this point.

For Seppel I want to continue working on Schutzhund, but I also want to try UKC Rally-O with him. This year I really want to get serious in our obedience and get him working and focusing better under pressure/distractions. I would also love to try our hand at weight pull through ADBA. The biggest goal is still for him to get his 'B' this summer.

For Seth I want to continue onto URO2... and hopefully get a leg or two on the title. This means off-leash work. At home he's great because I have food, but in the ring he's not as enthusiastic and is overly intent on seeing the judge which means disaster for me :p

I want to try to walk the dogs more often. It's something I slack on because they don't get a good workout doing it - but I think it's good for the mind to get out now and then, and it's good for me! I need to get video but Sepp needs to get out on walks more too because he's always over-thinking everything and his tail isn't tucked, but it's down. It's not that I think he doesn't enjoy walks, but I do think they stress him out because we're walking in new environments and there's so much to focus and watch and see. When we actually work and do some obedience on a walk he is happy to work and happy to get food, but just walking he concentrates too much. I always feel like when we come home he's relieved to be home. It makes sense when you consider he didn't go a lot of places in his old home, but I want him to gain confidence when we are out and about.

 I may add to this list, but this is kind of our list of goals for this year :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013


"Fearless in the fact that this dog has only seen 3 people in his life and he is willing to be your friend and not be afraid... I agree with that. I take dogs that have never been off the property or on a lead and take them to dog shows. They have a blast... that's really brave to me." Said by Joanie of Tatonka kennels, on Ultimate Pit Bull Forum.

This quote is rather dear to me. Fearlessness and bravery are what sets the Pit Bull apart from any other breed of dog. What Joanie is saying is that she can take a dog from her yard - who has been living in her yard, doesn't go anywhere or do anything specifically, and she can take it somewhere and the dog can interact with people no problem. If you think about people fighting dogs, larger operations operate in the woods. Their dogs live on chains or in kennels in the woods, they don't interact with people on a daily basis, they don't go through half of the socialization that most 'pet' pups go through, yet they can accept a human they only just met.

That is amazing.

I know I wrote about the moment I first saw Seppel when I began writing this blog, but I'm going to revisit again because I feel like the above quote completely fits him and our situation.

When Seppel arrived at PDX he had no idea what was going on. He had been put on a plane some 9 hours earlier, who knows what the flight was like - I imagine it was rather stressful and scary. When he got off the plane he didn't have to be friendly. It would have been okay for him to be freaked out, not knowing who or what to trust. But Seppel wasn't afraid at all. When I saw him through the glass it's like he knew me. There's no way to really explain the depth of that moment, when I saw him and he saw me. It's something I still remember like it was yesterday. When we went to pick him up the guy at loading said we could take him out of the crate. He didn't bolt out like I would have expected, I was able to catch his collar and put his leash on him. He was happy to see us and happy to be out of the crate. He was especially happy to see me. It was so weird - I swear, he knew.

Everything I have thrown at Seppel he has taken in stride. It blows my mind that he came from another state, another home, he left everything he knew and was able to adapt and be a part of my life. If nothing else, this is why I absolutely love my Pit Bull, and why I have fallen in love with the breed.

They are fearless and they are brave.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The hardest part of having him, is keeping up with him.

Haha I feel like the title of this post is meant for someone who is talking about a child ;)

Honestly, if someone asked me what the hardest part about having a Pit Bull was, I would totally say "Keeping up with him." This dog has so much energy!

I actually witnessed a few nights ago what I would consider hyperactivity behavior, when I told him to lay down he did, but proceeded to fidgit. I was not going to put the dogs on the treadmill because it was really cold. I'll be honest, I was also tired and wanted to be lazy. After seeing this behavior I realized that he needed some exercise and ended up putting him on the treadmill anyway.

I know several people have their fair share of couch potato pits, but in my humble opinion, that doesn't mean their dogs are well kept. I think most Pit Bulls are totally underexercised - as I feel most dogs are in general.

Seppel doesn't stop. Even after 15mins, running 7.5mph, he's ready for more. I think he would run himself to death on the treadmill. I'm coming to learn this is a thing with the breed. They will go above and beyond, they will keep going, even if it kills them.

Sometimes I think Seppel would be better off in a single dog home, with someone who runs 10miles a day. But he lives with me, so I try to keep him as busy as possible, play with him, run him etc. to keep things interesting. A tired dog is a happy dog and all three of my dogs are better for it.

When I got Seppel, I really had no idea how much exercise he was going to need. We went many months without the treadmill just playing with toys and going on walks, but I realized mid 2012 he needed a lot more. Since we've been using the treadmill I see a dog who can settle down more quickly and actually relax. He's never been one to pace or do anything weird like that, but he's one that would move if I moved and wouldn't really settle down in the evenings. Since we've been using the treadmill he definitely settles down more. I've also noticed a big improvement in his behavior when we work on obedience, he seems to be a lot more focused and able to take on the task at a hand. We now use walks for 'bonding time' and 'learning time'. I am not a fast walker, we'd have to walk all day for him to burn off any energy. I don't expect walks to tap into anything at all. We do play some games with his toys - he likes jumping in the air for his rope toys and playing tug, I view that as a decent energy outlet also. But by far - the treadmill is what works best for him at this point. I'm hoping as it gets warmer out to try biking again, but I don't hold out much hope that he will run with the bike.

Keeping up with Sepp is a lot of work, but I am up for the challenge and enjoy his crazy antics and tenacious attitude!