Counting Completed #GivingTuesday

December 2014

On Thanksgiving afternoon, I posted a video wishing all of our beloved readers and lurkers a Happy Turkey Day.  During that video, I issued a “challenge;”  for every “Like” this blog received between Thanksgiving Day and midnight on Giving Tuesday (December 2), I would donate $1 to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA).

Soon, I had readers reaching out through Facebook to let me know that they wanted to “Like” the post but they were being prompted to sign into WordPress to do so.  That felt rather inconvenient for them, so I extended the challenge to Likes in WordPress AND Facebook.

And then I sat back and waited.  I might have accidentally-on-purpose allowed a couple more days to go by.  This is the season of giving, after all.

Well, the final count is in.  Over that long weekend, 64 people liked the post.  That means $64 to AWLA.  I am so thrilled you liked me.  I mean, literally, you LIKEd me.

But I thought about it some more.  $64 didn’t feel like enough.  So I’ve been doing some thinking and some internet research.

Remember this little face?

photo credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington

photo credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington

 Almost four years ago, this was the picture of MJ that snagged our hearts and took us to AWLA’s door.  She’s been a handful and a riot, and we couldn’t imagine our family without her.  And because of her, we’ve met incredible volunteers and families through AWLA; our community has grown.

If we were to head over to AWLA today to bring home another puppy (puppy=younger than 6 months), our adoption fee would be $200.  For us, it was 100% worth it.

And so, dear readers, with your clicks and support, Peanut Butter & Cheese will be making a donation to AWLA for $200.  It’s not a lot, but it’s food or treats or toys for those furbabies waiting on their forever homes.

On a related subject…please!  If you’re thinking about gifting a pet to a friend or loved one this holiday season, remember: that kitten grows into a cat.  That dog may have accidents while he’s adjusting to home life. That guinea pig will need her habitat cleaned.  A pet is more than just an unveiling moment of suprise and wonder.  It’s for life.

Adopt, don’t shop.  But please adopt responsibly.

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving from our little family to yours!

#UNselfie #GivingTuesday

Today we took a walk…

August 2014

…and we left our prong collars at home. And it was the Worst. Walk. Ever.

A little background:
During our training at Old Town School for Dogs, both dogs were put on prong collars. The collars were left loose. The prongs are rubber-tipped. Yes, prong collars are controversial. I’m not interested in an argument; please don’t engage.

Since we’ve completed the training, when we gear-up for a walking adventure, the prongs go on. They’re so loose they may as well be necklaces. We refer to the collars as their bling. They sing rap songs when they wear them. Ok, I do. It’s charming. Trust me.

Bygones.

The point is, the dogs walk like angels when they’re wearing them. They strut nicely beside each other, heel like champs and respond to our cues on the first call. The moment I take the collars off, it’s mayhem. Crossed leashes, pulling, lunging… The collars serve as a reminder of what they’re supposed to do, and the treats and praise that follow successes.

But last Sunday, I attended an Animal Welfare League of Arlington Breakfast with Bullies session. We learned about Good Canine Citizenship certification and the types of therapy dog opportunities in our area.

Our dogs are awesome. They’re great with people and children. They’re silly and loving and sweet. They make us happy. They’re more entertaining than television. And we can share them with people who could use a little laughter.

And so, over the next year, we’re redoubling our training efforts. We’re trading in our prong collars for harnesses. We’re going to push their limits and our own as we lock in our recall, our “Leave It”, and as we increase our tolerance for sudden noises and distractions. They’ll train separately and together. With both parents at the end of the leash.

Buy your stock in Kraft American Cheese and Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs. We’re training for gold.

Giving back

May 10, 2014

As you know, we rescued MJ from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA).  They provided us with tremendous support and love as we brought home our second furbaby. They helped prepare us not only for life with a puppy, but for life with other people’s opinions about owning a pit bull.  MJ has become our most notorious family member and a true ambassadog for her breed.  It’s because AWLA set us all up for success.

Each year, the AWLA hosts an annual Walk for Animals.  From their event website:

The Walk for the Animals demonstrates the way pets enrich our lives and generates funds to help us sustain community programs and services offered through the League, such as our low-cost spay & neuter clinics,” said Neil Trent, president/CEO of AWLA.

But it’s really more than that.  It’s an opportunity for the AWLA extended family to gather together to raise funds and awareness for homeless animals, and the incredible work the AWLA does.  Alumnae and neighbors come together for a 1 mile stroll or 3 mile walk to celebrate animal rescue.  Dogs are welcome to attend, and cats and small companion pets are honored on t-shirts, stickers and posters.

This was the first year our little pack was able to attend (finally).  We joined the AWLA Pit Crew Team, set funding goals, and practiced our loose leash walking around the neighborhood.  A very, very special thanks go out to Chris, Kathy, Mark and Margaret for sponsoring us!!

On May 10th, we were more than ready!  The night before, we set out our gear.

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And in the morning, with a very special guest, we piled into the car and headed to the park!IMG_1316

We registered, toured the swag booths and met up with the pack.  We were all to wear black, red and grey.  Zo wore his picnic-inspired bandana and MJ wore a Bacardi kerchief because that’s the only other red bandana we could find… she is a “woo” girl and it was nice weather, so it sort of made cosmic sense.  Then we hung out and waited for the walk to start.

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MJ opted to wait on a table, because the princess must be above everyone. She then fell off the table, because I’m a terrible parent and took my eyes off of her for two minutes to admire another dog.

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It’s cool though, because my mom came with us (special guest) as another set of hands and chief photographer.  MJ found respite and much belly-rubbing after her tumble with mums.  PS:  Miss is totally fine.  She landed on all four feet like she meant to jump down.

That's my mom.  You can tell we're related because she has purple in her hair.

That’s my mom. You can tell we’re related because she has purple in her hair.

The walk started… we opted for the three mile walk, because we wanted to get everyone good and exercised.  And we also promised that we’d get as far as we could until someone had a melt-down and it was time to go.

Of course... you could go both ways.  Volunteers directing walker traffic!

Of course… you could go both ways. Volunteers directing walker traffic!

Along the way, there were watering stations, baggie drop bins, volunteers with cheers and pets, and your friendly local law enforcement to help these chickens safely cross the big road.IMG_1326

 

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The pups did really well, and we made it through 3 miles without hurt feelings or “please pick me ups”.  We reinforced some of our on-leash skills, which haven’t received too much attention because we rarely get out in very populated, high foot-traffic areas.  We also reintroduced our “3 second greeting” rule: say hi, sniffsniff, keep trucking.  It’s good for humans and furries alike.

And when it was over and we were home and clean, everyone tucked in for a well-deserved nap.

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Note from James:

We learned today the the Walk attracted 700 people, 200 dogs and raised nearly $90,000 for AWLA. We’re happy to have been a small part of that, and look forward to doing it all again next year! Speaking of, they have announced the date for next year as May 9th, 2015, better put it on my calendar…

Happy New Year

January 1, 2014
This year, I resolve to do the following:
1. Spend more one-on-one time with the dogs.  They’re such a bonded little duo-pack, and we’ve had a busy few months, much of our walks are a tangle of leashes and our snuggles are a heap on the floor.  They deserve individual attention.  And while we’re (sort-of) on the topic…
2. Have more on-leash adventures in new places.  Be more frequent participants of the AWLA Pit Crew Bully Walks.  Embrace dog-friendly happy hours, ball games and outdoor activities.
Pit Bull Crew, Alexandria, VA Oct2013

Pit Bull Crew, Alexandria, VA Oct2013

3. Take more pictures of humans than of MJ sleeping.
Example:
Less of this

Less of this.

More of this.

More of this.

3.5. Similarly, I hope to have a family picture that’s not blurry or harried for our 2014 holiday card.  Maybe we’ll wear matching sweaters.  Challenge. Is. On.
4. Practice deepcleansingyogabreathing when Zozo loses his cool at the UPS driver.  Again.  Even after he accepts a treat from the beleaguered delivery man.  I mean, sheesh Pupper, he gave you ‘bits, stop yelling at him to get off your porch.
5. Engage the Little Girl with more appropriate play behavior when she pouts because we won’t let her on the couch/bed/counter.  Otherwise, I suffer through this:
She knows exactly what she's doing.

She knows exactly what she’s doing.

6. Read more, share more, and be more verbally appreciative of our PB&C readers, repost-ers and cheerleaders.  I am more thankful than I can really express.

Dear readers: do you have any NY Resolutions you’re willing to share?

“He needs someone else.”– this is a long one…

June 2013

Our house feels like a circus. Some days, the furbabies stick to their corners and behave in a perfectly civilized manner. Other days, fur and slobber flies, furniture is rearranged and a playful bark and grumble soundtrack underscores our lives. It’s on those occasions when James and I look at each other, sigh, and break out the bully sticks for time out. Recently, we’ve had a lot of coming-and-going, so routines have been interrupted and no one is particularly on his or her best-est behavior.

But it’s home, and we wouldn’t trade the noise, chaos and drool for anything. They’re good dogs. They look out for us, they protect the fortress of home, and they certainly keep us entertained. We’re lucky to have them. When we’re late getting home from work or we over-schedule ourselves and end up spending less time with the dogs than we’d like, when a week goes by since they’ve been for a walk on-leash because we’re feeling too lazy to adventure beyond the yard, I tell myself it’s ok– they certainly don’t care– and I’m not failing them. Things could have been much worse for them.

A little over two years ago, we brought MJ home. I’ve written about her marking me at the shelter. She was one of 8 puppies dropped off from a litter. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) kept four and sent the rest over to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Two puppies from the Arlington location were snatched up right away. The other two, MJ and Freckles, had some health issues that needed to be addressed. We ended up with MJ, and Freckles found a home, too.

MJ settled into the house, announcing her arrival as princess, alpha and snuggle-bug. She didn’t get as big as we expected, but her strength more than made up for her more-compact stature.

Freckles grew into a 75 lb. goofball. Unfortunately, Freckles was kept outside for the first two years of his life. If he was mistreated further, I don’t know and I honestly don’t want to know. I can’t handle that.  He was surrendered back to the AWLA, which is the best thing anyone could have done for him.

We began following Frankie’s story shortly after the 2012 winter holidays. He’s great with people. Kids? No problem. He’ll sit on your lap or sleep at your feet. This is a pup who needs to be a family dog. For months Freckles looked for a furever home. Late this spring, we sighed in relief when someone came forward and finally adopted Freckles, now Frankie.

A couple of weeks later, he was back at the shelter. I found out about his return to AWLA through Peace, Love & Fostering’s blog. I reached out to the blogger, asking her questions about Frankie. What’s going on? How come he’s back? What’s The Problem?

Maybe we can foster him…

That’s a huge step for us. We felt particularly pulled toward Frankie’s journey since he was right there, round and silly, beside our baby girl when we took her home. I know we could never have handled two puppies, but my head starts down the “but what if…” path. The least we could do is welcome him into our home while he waits for the right person or family. Could I really, truly welcome a new furbaby into my life and give him up when the time came? Would I become a foster-failure?

We were put in contact with a member of AWLA’s staff, who answered our questions. Great with people. Settles well. Basic manners: check. His Big Issue is that he doesn’t always play appropriately with other dogs. He’s not aggressive, he’s just … rude. We scheduled a date to bring MJ and Zozo by to play. If that worked, we’d try an overnight. If that went off without a hitch, Frankie would come hang out with us for a while.

I had visions of the siblings meeting and running towards each other, crashing together with love and sniffs and kisses as they remember the other from their early days. Everything was soft-focus and pastel-ly in this dream.

That’s not how it happened. MJ couldn’t care less about the dog on the other side of the fence. We brought them together in a play yard, and things got a little heated. Frankie tried to play, MJ told him to back the hell up. We did a lap of the yard to let everyone settle. We tried again. Same outcome.

It wasn’t going to work for them.

Out of curiosity, we ran the same drill with Zozo, with absolutely no issue. Zozo was calm enough to let Frankie do what he needed to do to assert his dominance and begin playing.

We agreed with the shelter staff. It wasn’t the right fit. Someone else is out there for him, and he just needs to be a little more patient.

I got a little weepy on the way home from the shelter, shedding tears of frustration and disappointment and heartbreak. I didn’t need to be a hero, but I thought that maybe we could help. We tried. That’s all we could do.

Except I write this blog and, as of June 20, 2013, Frankie still needs a home. He’s wonderful. He’s charming and silly and snuggly. Peace, Love & Fostering has several excellent posts about Frankie and his winning pupsonality. He deserves a great home with a seasoned dog owner who will praise his successes and give him a safe place to learn to work on his impulses. Most likely, he needs to be The Only Dog unless your dog is a pup who just “gets him”.

If you, or anyone you know, is looking for a lap-sitting, adventure-loving sidekick, please contact AWLA and schedule time to meet Frankie.  You won’t regret it.

and now, I humbly descend from my soapbox.

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NOTE: The photographs featured in this blog post were taken by Dirty Paw Photography for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA). The photos are featured on Frankie’s adoption page on th AWLA website.

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry

July 2011

Our little girl is coming along nicely.  Yes, she’s bull-headed and pushy and choosy with her crate-training.  Yes, she can leap clear over the top of her baby gate and make herself comfortable on the couch.  But she’s sweet and loves to snuggle.  She barrels into closed doors at the right speed and oomph to pop them open so she can investigate the happenings on the other side.  She wags her entire body.

And Zozo is amazing.  He’s patient and kind and ignores the little girl until she needs to be yapped into line.  He shows off his cues and proves to be a great big brother and occassional alpha.

Individually, they’re wonderful.  Together, they’re their own little wolf pack.  It’s delightful.

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We’re excited to introduce MJ to the people and places we love to take Zo.  We call to schedule her for a bath.

“How old is she?”

“Oh, almost 8 months.”

“Weight?”

“32lbs”

“Breed?”

“Catahoula/Pit mix.”

“…Hold on…. (hold muzaq).. I’m sorry, we don’t groom Pits.”

“Oh, but she’s very sweet and has never shown any signs of aggression.  She loves kids-“

“Sorry, no Pit Bulls.”  Click.

This happens with the daycare we like to take Zozo to.  The Yappy Hour.  I begin noticing people avoiding our pink bully as we puppy-lurch down the road (our leash skills could use some work).  MJ doesn’t understand; she just wants to shimmy and play and give kisses.

I find myself shying away from admitting she’s Pit-mixed.  “She’s Catahoula with some kind of American breed– boxer maybe.”  It’s a lie no one falls for.  She may be gloriously speckled, but her snout is all Pit. 

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And I feel like a coward for betraying her heritage.

Gradually, when I call to make plans for spa days, daycare, boarding and training, I start the conversation off with the following phrase:

Do you have breed restrictions?

The question becomes part of our vernacular.  The answer? Unsurprising: can’t, no pit bulls. 

We became one of those families.  We’re young, living in the suburbs.  We have two rescue dogs.  One is a Pit Bull.  Obviously we’re dangerous drug dealers or thugs and criminals, and she’s vicious. 

And that’s when I get mad.

 

 

Why MJ is the best puppygirl in the world. By MJ. Naturally.

Y’all: Mama said I could use this as an opportunity for y’all to get to know me. She spends way too much time focusing on Doodle and not enough time on MJ. And I say it’s about time for me.

Here am I, Southern belle and one tough cookie. I’m part leopard, part bull, part puppy and all internet sensation. That’s a lot of awesome. Here’s my selfie:

It's ok.  You can tell me how cute I am.

Mama and Daddy say it’s a good thing I’m so cute, because I’m a menace. What do I menace? Thank you for asking: squirrels, birds, Mama, Doodle, Daddy, the cat.

I also steal the blankets (allegedly):379897_2749150640878_72146328_n

Let’s see… my absolute favorite things in the world are Kraft American Cheese slices, giving kisses, wiggling, chasing squirrels and running in circles around the tree, being stinky, and sleeping on squishy human things (beds and couches… now, now, I’m a lady). I may or may not have a tattoo on my belly.

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Oh, I also love running zoomies and biting Doodle’s rear right leg. And Direwolves. I luv me some Direwolves.

I’m a good girl. I’m a sweet girl. I’m a pibble ambassapup.

 

 

Lessons Learned by New Fur Parents, Part II

 April – May 2011

1.  Adopting a puppy is the perfect excuse to get Lasik eye surgery.  This will really hit home the first time you stumble outside in the middle of the night for a pit-stop (get it?) without glasses and the puppy bolts into the darkness of the yard after a squirrel/bird/shadow/you couldn’t see it anyway. Blind whisper-shouting-hunting in the dark doesn’t get anything but nasty, passive aggressive comments from the Suburban Vampire Neighbors the next day.

2. Helpful hint that the Monks forgot to mention: when you have to wake up the puppy for an outting overnight, it’s time to push the alarm back an hour.  One whole, glorious hour.

3.  Know a good time to get hardwood floors installed?  When you bring home a puppy.  The floors go from looking new to weathered in a week.  PS: If you would like to borrow our dogs for a weekend to break in your new floors, just let me know.  They’re helpers, really.

4.  If the puppy doesn’t like where you’ve positioned her crate along the back of the couch, she’ll move herself.  Or, Fur-shui.IMG_0136

 5.  If the puppy doesn’t want to be in her crate, she will find a way to break out of it, after moving it and her brother’s bed across the room first.  You can also bet that the cat is hiding under the bed or on top of the fridge in response to this jailbreak.

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6.  If it’s raining, you will have to carry the puppy out the door because she does not like getting her feet wet.  Also, do provide an umbrella over her delicate, princess head while she does her business.  If you don’t she’ll fake squat and wait until she’s back indoors and in her crate before relieving herself.  Annoying  Clever. Girl.

7.  This puppy will also get the “good dog discount” at the vet’s office.  Even when she’s a complete basket-case.

8.  Embrace chaos.  It’s sort of fun to live in squalor and mayhem.  Eventually the puppy will get a little more on-program (right?) and the older-brother-who-should-know-better will settle himself down (right?).  And in those moments when you think, “What have I done? I can’t handle this madness,” the little snout wakes up from an epic snuggle-nap on a lazy Sunday and looks at you like this…

"nap nose"

“nap nose”

We’re in so much trouble.