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The perks of a pet – Great infographic

Perks of having a pet. If you’re a pet owner, chances are your Fluffy or Fido is one of your best friends in the world. Pets can definitely make your life a little bit sweeter, but what you may not realize is that they can also make your life a little bit healthier. If your health is important to you—and it probably is—then you might think about picking up a new furry best friend. Depending on your health needs, either a dog or a cat can prove equally beneficial in many ways. Need a little more exercise in your life? Dog owners walk, on average, nearly twice as far as non-dog owners do in a given week. Or if it’s a cat you crave, your feline friend can drastically reduce your stress levels. People who have owned pets in their lifetime actually tend to live longer than those who haven’t. If you’re pursuing a degree in healthcare, chances are that when you enter the field, you’ll be able to tell a difference between the states of health of people with pets and those without. The following infographic takes a look at just how having a furry friend makes life happier, healthier, and a whole lot better.

This graphic is provided by MastersInHealthcare.com

Perks of Pets Infographic

If you like this article, you may like our post about Dog’s improve your health.

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Articles Get informed and educated Health Pet Care

Lost Dogs: Hows, Whys and Lowering the Risk

A dog that loves you can still run away!

Barley, the German Shepherd next door, loves his owner. It’s not uncommon to see him jump on his daddy, give him a great big kiss, then sit dutifully at his side.

It’s also not uncommon to see Barley unattended, in the street; or as he was just three nights ago, wandering up our driveway.

“Barley!” I yelled out the window, driving very slowly into the carport. “What are you doing?”

He jumped on the side of my car, all 100 pounds of him, to say Hello. Fortunately, he’s friendly, so I was able to lead him up to our landing, where my neighbors and I were able to leash him and call his owner, who showed up minutes later. The talking-to we gently gave him about the frequency of this game is another matter, but the fact remains, Barley likes to run.

Dogs, given the slightest chance, will get lost. Yes, there are dastardly sorts out there who will steal dogs, abandon them, do anything but preserve their well-being, but aside from that (and I understand that’s a big “aside”), dogs are hard-wired to roam. They can be our most loyal, most loving friends, but it’s important to remember that even our most attentive dogs can be prone to exploring. It’s nothing personal. It’s instinct.

Walking around our neighborhood, Ringo and I see signs for “Lost Dogs” all the time. Here’s what else we see:

  • Dogs enjoying the outdoors – in inadequately fenced yards
  • Dogs without visible ID tags (to review a great post on the subject, read Tag your dog!)
  • Dogs walking alongside their owners – offleash (I don’t care what anyone says, I think this is a bad idea)
  • Dogs walking in and out of doors without supervision (there’s this one chihuahua that actually comes out into the street to bark at us whenever we walk by; to me, this is no different from letting a toddler walk outdoors at his own discretion)
  • Unaltered dogs – which increases the chance of wanderlust (literally!)

A break in a fence or a casually opened door is an invitation for a dog to go exploring, hunting, maybe even running if a dog gets scared for any reason. Remember, dogs are descended from wolves, who find great rewards in scouting away from their home base… and just like their ancestors, our dogs aren’t immune from getting distracted or even bored. There’s a whole world out there, and it’s tempting.

Talking about this to an online community of PackPeople, I realize I may be “preaching to the choir”… but there is no harm in overstating the obvious, even if only to share it outside of our circle, to get more people aware of the precautions they need to take with their little friends.

Maybe we can get those who are mere “dog owners” to start thinking about the attentions their dogs need, to get them to that next step of thinking about the relationships they have with their dogs.

Together, we can lead them to their packs… and help them stay together!

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‘Original Sock Dogs’ made from scratch – Interview with the founder

I saw a link on a website which transferred me to another website and then another website. I lost track of what I was actual looking for, and somehow I ended up on http://www.sockdogs.com. This is one of the cutest hand crafted ideas I have seen this year. “Original Sock Dogs”… the name says it all. Artisan Stacey’s idea arose after a visit in Taiwan where she met a stray dog. In honor of this special dog. and to support her local Humane Society Organization, she started making original sock dogs from scratch.

Read our interview with Stacey, the founder of Original Sock Dogs, and see how an individual can make a difference in animals’ and people’s lives, by doing what she loves to do.

Original Sock Dogs by Stacey

Specializes In: Handmade Collectible Plush Art

Interviewee: Stacey Hsu – Kansas City, Missouri.

How and when did the idea for your business with handmade sock dogs come about?

Every year, my local shelter, the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, holds a silent and live pet-themed art auction called Art Unleashed. In the past, I donated small paintings and illustrations, but I wanted to make something different in 2005. I found a great book called, of all things, Stupid Sock Creatures (John Murphy). Instead of making “sock monsters” I decided to make sock dogs to fit with the pet-themed auctions.

What is your background as an artist?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and drawing. When I was 8, I sat in my room and practiced drawing Garfield and Snoopy day and night—mostly to impress my friends and family. I enjoyed drawing so much that I kept up with it, and eventually branched out to other art forms like sculpting, character design and animation.  I have a degree in Advertising, but chose to follow a different path, and worked as an editor, producer and director at Hallmark Cards for 10 years. Now I’m taking care of my kiddos and running my own business from home. (Thank you, Etsy!)

Can you describe to us the material you use for the sock dogs, and the work that goes into making them?

They really are made of socks! (All brand new socks, I might add. I’ve been asked!) Most Original Sock Dogs’ noses are made from big black buttons—there’s just something about those big dog noses! Lately, most of the dogs I’ve been making are customs based on people’s pets. Each one is a new adventure! I learn a little about the dog before I start (personality, etc) and take a good long look at their photos. In a way, I suppose I meditate on all of that before I begin sewing. I want each custom Original Sock Dog to represent the real dog not just in appearance but also in spirit.

What do you love most about handcrafting sock dogs?

It’s so exciting to see a bunch of raw materials transform into a real character. Although the basic elements are the same on many of the sock dogs, they each take on their own shape and attitude. I can’t wait to add the finishing touches and see them spring to life.

Do you also create other animals?

I do! I’ve made seagulls, bunnies, bears and cats out of socks. I also make collectible artist bears from mohair and plush when time allows.

I checked your picture gallery on www.sockdogs.com and your etsy shop on http://www.etsy.com/shop/originalsockdogs. You are an amazing artist – every single sock dog is unique and absolutely adorable (smiling puppy faces)! I have already found my personal favorite. Do you have a favorite sock dog?

I don’t have one single favorite, but there is something really meaningful to me about the Sock Pit Bulls I make. I’ve worked with quite a few Pitties while volunteering at the shelter and they are really amazing, devoted, loving dogs. I’d like to think that I’m helping to soften their image a little, for people who fear or misunderstand the breed.

You offer many different sock dogs as well as custom dogs. If I want you to create a sock dog of my dog, what do I have to do?

To order a custom, all you need to do is visit my etsy shop, purchase a custom listing and email me photos of your dog. All customs are $85 plus shipping.

On your Facebook page people can follow your sock dogs/cats. I read you are fully booked for Christmas 2012 – and congrats! – but you can still do some of the itty pitties, right? And what are itty pitties?

Yes, I can still work in a few itty pitties! They are small (3” high) needle felted Pit Bull puppies that are posable and of course, each is one of a kind. Needle felting is a process of using a very sharp needle to poke and shape wool and other natural fibers. The end results are so cute, I don’t even mind occasionally stabbing my fingers while making them!

For a unique holiday idea, you offer gift certificates. How long does it take to finish a single custom sock dog and how much does it cost?

From start to finish, a custom can take anywhere from 4-12 hours. It depends on the complexity of the markings, the type of coat the animals has (long or short) and other distinguishing features or special requests. The time it takes to have it ready for a customer also depends on how many orders are already on the schedule—it’s first come, first served!

What is the secret of your success? Do you have any ideas, tips or advice for the next talented artist who might want to start a business like yours?

You have to love what you do. If you don’t have a huge passion for your craft, you just won’t stick with it. I have a 5 year old, a 2 year old, a husband and 4 pets that need me, and even when I’m dead tired at the end of the day, I still look forward to heading into my studio and designing and sewing the dogs. If you have a love of what you do and make, it will show in the finished product.  You might also consider donating a portion of your sales to a non-profit or mission that is close to your heart. It keeps you going, knowing that you are helping someone other than yourself!

You are an animal rescue supporter, you volunteer at your local no-kill shelter, and you donate 10% of your sock dog sales to the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. Why are volunteers important for animal shelters and what have you learned through your work at the Humane Society?

Volunteers are absolutely essential to shelters. They are the glue that holds all of the shelter efforts together. They help coordinate events, help garner donations, take dogs out for adoption days, and spend one on one time with cats and dogs that need socialization, love and affection. I started volunteering to get my “dog fix”—I didn’t have any at the time. Now I have two dogs and two cats—all from shelters. So if you decide to volunteer, get ready to fall hopelessly in love with the animals you meet.

I saw the cute Johnny Justice Sock Dogs on your Facebook Fan Page. Can you tell us a little about “Johnny Justice”?

Jonny is one of the Pit Bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting kennels. He was adopted by a loving family and has been certified as a service dog. He has worked in libraries, helping kids learn to read, and is a goodwill ambassador for his breed.

Can you describe an experience that has particularly moved or inspired you?

During a trip to Taiwan in 2004, my husband and I came across a stray black dog with an injured front leg. She was being bullied by the other strays—chased away from food scraps, snapped at, it was awful. She basically attached herself to me and followed me around all morning. My heart seriously broke that day.

This is the cute dog Stacey met in Taiwan.

I wanted so much to just fold her in my arms and take her with me. But we were traveling by train, and not knowing the country or the language very well, I felt helpless about the situation. We bought her a warm meal at a street vendor and sat with her while she ate, to protect her from the other dogs. I cried the whole way back on the train, and for days after. I vowed to do something to help other dogs like her when we returned to the states, and that’s why I started volunteering. I’ve always loved animals, but I think that sweet girl gave my compassion levels a huge boost—ever since I’ve been dedicated to finding ways to help the animals, through sharing my time and my art.

In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?

If you are looking for a companion, someone to love who will love you back unconditionally—please adopt from a shelter. There are so many animals waiting in shelters for loving homes. And every time a dog or cat is adopted from a shelter, space opens up for another homeless animal who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to find a forever home. I also believe that shelter animals know they have been “rescued” and possess a special kind of gratitude toward their people.

If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?

Love them while they are here. Their lives are so short—never take them for granted.

Do you have pets of your own?

My two dogs, Lolly and Ava are both from the shelter where I volunteer. They are black dogs, which are very often overlooked in shelters. They are also two of the most loving, devoted, goofy, wonderful girls ever. Our two cats, also from shelters, think that they own us!

Which websites or pet-related books would you recommend to PackPeople?

I would definitely recommend that everyone check out their local shelter or rescue’s web site. Get to know what they are about, what they need, and how you can help out. There are so many ways, big and little, to pitch in and make life better for these wonderful dogs and cats. I’d also recommend taking a look at bestfriends.org and gentlebarn.org.

In terms of print publications, I am a big fan of The Bark Magazine. Great articles and a pro-rescue point of view.

Website: http://www.sockdogs.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Original-Sock-Dogs

Etsy-Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/originalsockdogs

Original Sock Dogs is also a proud member of HeArtsSpeak.

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Advocacy and Activism Animal Stories Articles Pit Bulls

What’s it like having an ‘outlaw dog’?

I almost forgot to write about this interesting meeting between my dog Red (Rednose – American Staffordshire Terrier Mix) and an unenlightened human, at my hair dresser’s about 2 months ago.

I was late to my appointment and couldn’t drop off my dog at home, so I called the hair dresser and asked if I could bring my big dog with me. She said, “Of course you can bring your dog.” Red and I walked into the hair salon and he showered everyone who came near us with kisses, his tail constantly wagging for 10 minutes, and he loved the attention and affection. Before I sat down in my chair I asked everyone if they were comfortable with me having my dog nearby. No complaints, so I placed Red right in front of me on his blanket. He laid down and watched the people, calm and super sweet as usual. Everything seemed to be perfect and everyone enjoyed Red’s friendly attitude.

Red at the beach

I was getting my hair cut when the customer to my right was finished and left. A new customer, a tall blonde lady, sat down. Red was excited to see the new woman and tried to get her attention by being super cute and staring at her. He got her attention, and she called him to come over. I let him go, and he was all over her, licking her face and trying to get as close to her as possible. He laid next to her and she patted him for awhile. Then, she asked me about his name and what kind of dog he is.

I said, “Red is a Pit Bull Mix.”

The woman (in her early 40’s, dressed in a business suit) stopped patting him and looked at me, repeating “A ‘PIT BULL’? I mean a ‘PIT BULL,’ PIT BULL?”

(*”Pit bull” is NOT a breed. It’s a generic term often used to describe all dogs with similar traits and characteristics known to the public as “pit bulls.” When we use the term “pit bull” here, it should be understood to encompass American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and mixes of those breeds. Source: Pit Bull Rescue Central).

I said, “YES, he is an American Staffordhshire Terrier and Rednose Mix, he probably has some other breeds him as well.”

I explained to her what a PIT BULL is and she listened, interested. She: “Oh my god, really? I can’t believe it. He is so sweet, loving and well behaved.” Her voice was not excited anymore – it sounded more like she had dry mouth and needed a glass of water. Me: “I know, he is a total sweetheart and an absolutely perfect dog.”

I could feel I was talking to someone who was totally prejudiced about Pit Bull-type breeds. The woman: “You know, I’m an attorney and I just heard of a case where a Pit Bull attacked a neighbor’s child. The child needed 14 stitches and we can be very happy that the dog did not rip the child apart.” Me (in my dry-German way): “Oh really? Why did the dog attack, and what happened to the dog?” She: “I don’t know why he attacked the innocent child. They took him to the pound and he got what he deserved.” Me: “What he deserved? I’m very sorry to hear that. What kind of experience have you had with Pit Bulls until now?”

Lilly & Red

I had second thoughts – should I start a heavy conversation with her or just ignore it?

She: “I’m usually not a dog person (I DISLIKE), but I kinda like your dog. I still can’t believe he is a Pit Bull. I hope he won’t go after your kids one day. My friend is a firefighter and he told me some ugly stories. What is it like having an outlaw dog?” I was not surprised she used the word “outlaw”… I mean, as an attorney she needed to do that. This is the point where my eyes and the eyes of my friend and hair dresser met in the mirror. I smiled and said: “It’s great. We love it. He is definitely an enrichment in our lives.”  I turned around to her and said: “You should read more about this type of dog, educate yourself and meet more Pit Bull-type dogs, if you are interested in dismantling your prejudices.”

Now my hair dresser, another friend of hers and two customers got involved. A very interesting conversation was engaged by this woman. In the meantime, Red was busy licking the woman’s hand and legs, and being an ambassador for Pit Bull-type mixed breeds. I knew I was not with “dog-people” who knew a lot about dogs, and I had to handle this differently than the talks I have with rescue friends, dog advocates or dog lovers. I listened for the first 20 minutes and then I started asking questions, and educating them about Pit Bull-type dogs, their needs, temperaments, and of course about responsible dog ownership. I also told everyone about some really good resources where they could learn more about this (of course I mentioned PackPeople). The conversation ended at a nice point where everyone agreed to look at a dog as an individual and not to discriminate against an entire breed, with all the negative publicity surrounding it.

Pit Bulls and their cousins can be great in a multiple animal household, if handled properly. Please contact us for more details.

The responsible pit bull owner is aware of the heritable attributes of their breed’s behavioral makeup and recognizes that pit bulls have an inescapable genetic history. Pit bulls make wonderful and loyal family companions. Like all dogs, they require intelligent, responsible and dedicated ownership.

Bottom line of my visit at the hair dresser and the hour-long debate between hair dressers and customers: I got an awesome cut, and no one really knew the facts about Pit Bull-type dogs. Today, I know much more about this type of dog than I did 2 years ago, because I educated myself, did not discriminate, opened my mind, heart and view.

When I adopted Red I fell in love with his personality, and didn’t care about his look or his heritage.

Many Pit Bulls are waiting in U.S. shelters and animal rescues. Search here. Please always adopt never shop! ~ Thank you.

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Adoption Advocacy and Activism Animal Stories Articles Get informed and educated

When Animal Lovers become Animal Hoarders

Where is the fine line between the act of ‘loving animals and  ‘hoarding animals? When does a case become extreme?

The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), defines an animal hoarder as someone who:

  • accumulates a large number of animals;
  • fails to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care;
  • fails to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals (including disease, starvation and even death); and
  • fails to act on the deteriorating condition of the environment (severely overcrowded and unsanitary conditions), or the negative impact of the collection on their own health and well-being.

Legally you are allowed to have 3 dogs in one household in the city of Los Angeles. 3 dogs – I think that’s pretty fair. I don’t know many people who own more than 3 dogs and are able to responsibly take care of 3 or more dogs and full fill their needs. It’s very tough and challenging to organize 3 or more dogs in between work and daily errands.

I have a friend who owns 5 dogs and does a great job, the dogs are all happy and healthy and live a fulfilled life with him and his wife, who works from home. They own a huge yard, go on long hikes and work with their huskies. Of course, I would love to have a ranch, stay at home and have a bunch of dogs running around and offer them a healthy life of freedom and fun, but unfortunately that’s not the reality by common urban living standards. Most people are totally swamped with the needs of just 1 dog.

I have heard many stories about hoarders. A friend of mine is working on a smaller case, where a woman keeps 15 dogs and 12 cats in a 2 bedroom house with a small backyard. It is very difficult to convince these people – most of whom are suffering from a Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – to give some dogs or cats to the care of other rescuers or people. They harbor a fear that if they seek help the animals will be euthanized, my friend told me. Hoarders justify their behavior with the view that the animals are surrogate children and that no one else can care for them. Many of the hoarders begin on a mission to help animals that somehow gets out of control. After they become overwhelmed, they find they can’t stop, and they often don’t know what to do, so things continue to deteriorate. Some even pose as rescue groups or legitimate sanctuaries.

A so called “animal rescue/shelter” in Southern California. Photo taken by a former worker – over 150 dogs live in a warehouse type facility in Riverside.

As the number of animals in their care increases, they are unable to keep up with the care and veterinary attention needed.  Still, they often see themselves as the animals’ savior, even as the pets suffer. Individuals insist that all animals are happy and healthy—even when there are clear signs of distress and illness. According to Hartford Hospital, compulsive hoarding is a problem that often accompanies other mental disorders, including depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and certain anxiety disorders, among others. Hoarding is thought to be a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Cats are the most hoarded animal, followed closely by dogs. Animal hoarders are usually well-intentioned and believe they are helping the animals in their care. They often cannot see the situation as it is and have a disconnect from the reality of their pets’ desperate need for basic care and medical attention. Approximately 72% of animal hoarders are women.

I don’t know if you have heard of the Victims Of Spindeltop Raid – where over three hundred pit bulls were seized by law enforcement on Tuesday, July 17, 2012, in an alleged animal hoarding case in Montgomery County, Texas.

If you suspect someone of hoarding animals, don’t hesitate to alert the local authorities to the situation. Because hoarded animals are usually in terrible condition, the sooner they can be rescued the greater their chances of recovery and survival, and of finding people who will care for them properly. The ASPCA recommends calling both a local animal rescue, shelter, or welfare group, as well as adult protective services or other government health agencies.

Have you had an experience with an animal hoarder, or do you know someone you want to help? Let us know.

If you see a typo, please let us know at info@packpeople.com. If you have a story idea that you would like to share, please drop us an email ~ Thank you.

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Interview with ‘Pinups for Pitbulls’ – Advocacy and Artwork

Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Dors, Rita Hayworth… once posted in the lockers of G.I.s during World War II, today Pin Up Girls are taking new directions and themes. One of these exciting new directions comes from an organization I discovered a while ago. It’s Deirdre “Little Darling” Franklin’s organization, Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc.,  founded in 2005. I stumbled upon ‘Little Darling’s Pinups for Pitbulls’ 2013 calendar cover picture on Facebook and I loved the art work, and of course, the dogs. After browsing through the pictures and reading the mission and vision of this organization I wanted to learn more about it and contacted this terrific, creative non-profit group. They got right back to me and were pleased to participate in our ongoing series of interviews.

I have never met Deirdre in person, but can say that she is a pleasure to work with and a lovely person. She is a dedicated animal lover, an advocate with the mission to reestablish the defamed reputation of Pit Bull-type dogs as America’s premier companion animal, war hero, and therapy dog.

Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. works to educate the public about the history and temperament of the American Pit Bull Terrier and pit bull type dogs, to raise awareness about Breed Specific Legislation and Breed-Specific abuse. Read the interview and see for yourself how Deirdre started her non-profit charity, learn about Pit Bulls, and don’t forget to order your 2013 Calendar early and support these beloved bully-breed friends. Shipping will begin at the end of this summer.

We also want to mention that Carla Lou, Deirdre’s beloved 18 year old Pit Bull (cover pic) passed away from cancer last week. RIP and thank you for your service.

How did the idea for Pinups for Pitbulls come about?

I was frustrated by all of the pit bull-type dogs that I witnessed being pulled from the streets of New Orleans/Baton Rouge post-Katrina. I was there doing animal search & rescue work with the HSUS and In Defense of Animals. I realized that since I had a great following of my Pin Up modeling work and those same people helped me raise money to pay for my flight to New Orleans to do my rescue work that I could do something with the attention I had and the faith that people had in me.

What is your background?

I have a B.A. in Film Production and Screenwriting and am nearly finished with my Masters of Science in Public Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I’ve worked in various fields of employment from burlesque performances to credit counseling and foreclosure mitigation. I have an eclectic resume for sure!

What do you love most about educating people about Pitbulls?

I love watching the wheels turn in people’s minds and seeing how things start to make sense, especially for those people who truly believed the negative stereotyping. Once people understand that pit bulls are dogs and that all dogs are individuals that can only be judged by their individual behavior, it helps quickly transform the ignorant into the converted. We can’t change everyone’s minds but it is really gratifying when we can. Knowing those people are going to share the knowledge that they gained means we can get closer to removing the stigma attached to the term “pit bull.”

You and your team of dedicated volunteers and animal advocates are active in over 20 states in the U.S. What does a regular seminar organized by Pinups for Pitbulls look like?

We have only held one seminar thus far, but have been invited to speak at Law Schools in Philadelphia and New York. In the seminar that we hosted, we had Drayton Michaels (Pitbullguru.com) and Don Cleary of National Canine Research Council present. At our gala last November, we had Katie Bray (Legislative Attorney for Best Friends) and Anthony Barnett (Founder of Game Dog Guardian) present to our guests. We do our best to keep our approach positive and focused on the dogs. We are submitting our first round of grant applications so that we can bring our seminar series on the road. In the meantime, we’ll continue to speak from our table at various tattoo and comic conventions. We can reach broad spectrums of people in both arenas and have great success educating the public at both.

Calendar 2013 – Doron Petersan and Lucas – Photos by Celeste Giuliano Photography
Hair by Raina Frank Clarke / Make-up: Kirsten Sylvester

You also offer an annual calendar with beautiful girls and dogs, posing for a cause. Who is in this year’s calendar — and would you give us a sneak peek about your calendar for next year?

I can provide the cover image of the 2013 calendar. This year’s calendar features Pin Up girls from all over the U.S. Each year we host a contest that includes an essay and this year, we have many girls who won that contest and will be featured. Although the calendar has been shot entirely, we are still laying it out. The theme this year is the human-canine bond celebrated through the Norman Rockwell and Gil Elvgren’s styling. The calendar was shot exclusively by Celeste Giuliano Photography that included her make up and hair team, Kirsten Sylvester and Raina Frank Clarke. Our new Pin Ups are from CA, FL, NC, GA, and many other states. We are excited to have new energy on our team in these regions and beyond.

Why Pitbull-type dogs? And how would you describe the temperament of a Pitbull?

I personally had two pit bull-type dogs. One recently passed away from cancer at the age of eighteen. I’ve had her for nearly 17 of her eighteen years. Baxter Bean is my other pit bull-type dog, he’s 7 now. I never thought I’d become a pit bull advocate, I just fell in love with my own dog, the late Carla Lou and knew I’d have to defend her good name for the duration of her lifetime. Insurance companies, landlords, people of all kinds discriminate against them based on fear and media reporting, and I wanted to make sure I could keep her and her kind safe. They are our family and I know they are the family to everyone who advocates for them. They deserve to live as much as any other kind of dog.

The temperament of a “pit bull” is not an easy answer to supply. For starters, there is no such breed as a “pit bull” which is why I refer to them as pit bull-type (meaning AmStaff, American Pit Bull, and these days, shelter mix). However, most pit bull-type dogs are typically physically strong, emotionally tuned into their people, and are nurturing much like the majority of dogs out there. They just want to be loved, fed and feel secure, like any other dog (and lets be honest, just like people want as well). I would describe them as gentle, noble and devoted dogs but they are still individuals first.

What should people know before adopting a Pit Bull? Is there a “perfect candidate” to adopt a Pit Bull?

People should be aware that dogs are individuals. If they’re adopting a rescued pit bull-type dog, they are getting a mixed bag genetically, but 80% of what they will get out of their dog will be what they put in. Some are high energy and some are extremely lazy, many will be in-between. What you should have is the ability to tolerate negativity from ignorant people who will make assumptions about your dog and you will need the inner fortitude to represent your dog and others like your dog in a positive light. People need to know that all kinds of people love these dogs and all kinds of people will be positive role models. Screaming at a stranger on the street who crossed over the road because they were fearful of your dog is not going to help advance our cause.

What are the most common myths about Pit Bulls?

There is no such thing as a locking jaw. There is not truth behind the theory that pit bull-type dogs can tolerate pain more than others. There is no truth in the idea that all pit bull-type dogs will react a certain way to another dog, a person, or a bunny rabbit. Some will adore cats and others might not. Treat them as individuals and train them with positive reinforcement methods.

Calendar 2013 – Rachel ‘Love’ Robison and Itty Bitty – Photos by Celeste Giuliano Photography
Hair by Raina Frank Clarke / Make-up: Kirsten Sylvester

What do you think are the reasons that this breed is so misunderstood in the U.S.?

I know that the reason is largely due to media hype and the excitement and fear that people feel when they talk about “pit bull” stories in the media. Studies have shown that if the words “pit bull” are used in a story that the story will circulate 300 more times than if it merely says “dog” or another type of dog. It’s ridiculous and it costs almost 6000 pit bull-type dogs their lives in shelters every day.

Pit Bulls and many other innocent dogs get euthanized every day. I read that 200 Pit Bulls are killed every day in Los Angeles County alone. In your opinion, what should, or has to, change?

A lot needs to change. I can tell you that it has to be more than 200 killed per day, but perhaps not. 1 being killed a day is upsetting enough, but the amount killed each day across the U.S. is an embarrassment. I believe that No Kill is something that can be achieved and after talking to Nathan Winograd about how to achieve No Kill in my case study, I can tell you that it will take a long time and a great deal of fortitude. Dogs have a marketing issue. People do not typically think “lets go to the shelter” to find their dog, they still seek out breeders. People who do go to a shelter may have pre-conceived ideas about the types of dog they do or do not want to bring home. It certainly doesn’t help that they are singled out on many leasing contracts for renters. All of this adds up. We do a decent job on our Facebook wall to advocate daily for dogs across the country that are in need of a home. We have gotten dogs adopted weekly, nowhere near in the numbers that we would hope, but saving one does help. We are so grateful to the people who follow our page and circulate these dogs in need. We are happy to have many successful adoptions through our page, especially since we are not even a rescue.

You also collaborate with rescue groups and support pet adoption. In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?

People should adopt through a rescue or through their local shelters. We believe that supporting the people who are giving these dogs a chance is ideal for many reasons. Adopting through a rescue can allow you to get history on a dog who may have been in foster. Rescue groups will often take back a dog if the adoption does not work out. It’s hard work being in rescue or shelter work, and it’s noble work. I have the utmost respect for people who give their personal time to help advocate for all creatures.

What do you need the most for your mission — and how can people can get involved in Pinups for Pitbulls’s efforts?

We need funds and events to be hosted across the globe. Additionally, we need street team volunteers who are willing to receive a packet of fliers/info from us and post it wherever they go, especially places like coffee shops and restaurants with the ability to post information. This helps get out word out to people who might not be looking for our kind of group or who may feel helpless and really want to help support a cause, but may not know where to begin. We love when our volunteers can feel the personal satisfaction of knowing that they are affecting change, and we try to make it easy for that to happen. We’ve done all of the legwork (literally).

What kinds of things do you do to raise awareness about your organization and your work?

We have tables at tattoo and comic book conventions, we host fundraisers, and we have resources available through our website and Facebook page to help people advocate on behalf of dogs in their own time. I’ve also recently lobbied Washington, D.C. for the first time in my life and was successful in getting Representative Andrews (NJ) to co-sponsor the amendment to H.R.2492 — Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2011. We are actively seeking grants to help us further our mission through hosting seminars across the nation, and eventually the globe.

If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?

Do not shock, choke, or use prong collars on your dog. Please use positive reinforcement methods and an easy walk-type harness with a martingale collar. Keep your dogs safe and never set them up to fail. Ok, that was more than one piece of advice…

This is Carla Lou – shot by Ivy Darling of Wandering Bohemian Photography

Do you have pets of your own?

I just lost the love of my life and the reason I started Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. this week. Her name was Carla Lou and she was eighteen when she passed. She was buried on Monday in a pet cemetery amongst K-9’s who died in the line of duty, WWI & WWII dogs, and more. She is in good company.

I also have a pit bull mix named Baxter Bean (7), a Harrier named Zoe (12), and a Lab/Shepherd mix named Lexi (12).

Do you have any upcoming events?

All of our events can be viewed on our website, http://www.pinupsforpitbulls.org

Our upcoming events include tattoo conventions in Greensboro, NC; Metairie, LA; and many more.

Which websites, pet-related links or books would you recommend to PackPeople?

Pitbullguru.com

Gamedogguardian.com

Nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com

Books:

Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes by Doron Petersan

(Doron is a “pit bull” mom, an amazing baker and is on our board)

Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls–One Flying Disc at a Time by Jim Gorant and soon to be a book about Carla Lou’s legacy

Twitter: @Pinups4Pitbulls

Facebook: Pinups for Pitbulls

Categories
Articles Health Pet Care

Hike or bike?

Not every dog is good for biking, consider hiking instead!

Get some great exercise with your dog outdoors. A long hike or a bike ride? Which one is the best choice for you and your dog. All dogs love to walk and follow you every where you go. Spending time with you outdoors is on of the most important things for your dog. Outdoor activities will bond you with your dog and keep you healthy. Sun, rain or snow. Let’s go!

Categories
Animal Stories Articles Pet Care

The Elegance of Gymnastics and Dog Training

Guest article by Julie Stack ~ Thank you for submitting

I always look forward to the Womens’ Olympic gymnastics sports competitions. The Olympic gymnasts are mesmerizing to watch as they tackle each apparatus with such grace, artistic ability, strength, and flexibility.  A gymnast must have complete focus, strength and coordination to perform well, especially on the balance beam.  As I watched the Olympics this year, I wondered if there are similarities between gymnastics and the world of dog training.  For one, it takes time to learn and practice whether you’re a dog trainer or giving that dazzling gymnastic performance.

I have always been in awe of the balance beam, since it requires not just technical ability, but strength and timing can make or break you.  Consider the careful steps one must take and the timing it takes to always land on the balance  beam after each back walkover or giant leap in the air; if you misjudge the distance, you will fall.  As I train with the shelter dogs, I often think about that fine line one must walk with the dogs and its similarity to a  gymnast walking on the balance beam.  Just as with gymnastics, you need to hit that mark each time or deliver your dog treat on time when teaching a dog  “sit” or  “down” so that the dog understands the association. In gymnastics the goal is to always stay on the balance beam without losing balance, and in dog training you need to keep your balance also, and stay focused on your dog so he does not get distracted.  Becoming a world class gymnast requires rigorous training hours and discipline to achieve Olympic dreams.  Dog training also requires discipline and focus and trying to help the dog you are working with achieve greatness, so they have a stronger chance to be adopted or make progress during training classes.

Several active star canine athletes are Prince and BeeBee at the Washington Humane Society. They are roommates also, and I really enjoy their company when I volunteer. BeeBee has a beautiful brindle coat, and is definitely the one who wants to be taken out first, and she is very confident and wants to go out in the yard to work on training or run around with her friend Prince. BeeBee is a whirlwind, and if she were a person, she would be a world traveler! She has very attentive sits that would score her a perfect score in the Olympic games!

The other great guy, Prince is very charming, and has a warm presence, he looks to you for confidence and is polite and really wants to be a part of your home!

Please consider fostering or adopting Prince or BeeBee. They are located at Washington Humane Society www.washhumane.org , 1201 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC, 20002. If you would like to do anything extra to help Prince or BeeBee, please contact Danielle Bays at dbays@washhumane.org

Categories
Adoption Animal Stories Articles Pet Care

AYLA – PackPeople’s new foster dog is waiting for the perfect home

Update: AYLA got adopted 08/12/12, YAY! 

This is AYLA, a Corgi/Shar-Pei Mix rescued from the North Central Animal shelter on Sunday 07/29/12.

I went to the shelter on Friday to take pictures of adoptable dogs — I know that the North Central Shelter doesn’t get a lot of public attention when it comes to pictures and networking the dogs. Since I live close to the facility, I made this city shelter my new project.

At the shelter, I started handing out my little treats, one after another, to these adorable dogs, small, medium, big. After walking through every single kennel, I discovered this little, super-funny looking white dog, yelping for attention. I kneeled down to see what type of dog she is… and I just saw a very funny-looking dog. She immediately pressed her body against the bars trying to lick my fingers, so I passed her some of the juicy treats I had brought with me and realized that something was wrong with her skin. I asked one of the kennel volunteers to take her out, so I could take pictures of the dog without the bars in front of her face.

Ayla with one of the workers at the North Central Animal Shelter, the day she got out.

Her name on her ID card was “Gretta.” I did not like it, and I named her AYLA. I already committed myself to this dog by giving her this new name, I knew it, but tried not believe it. She was hyper, jumping, running and trying to get out of the kennel area. I really liked this dog and she reminded me of our French Bulldog – very silly. I took a few pictures and asked questions.

I know the staff isn’t really informed about the dogs and barely know anything about them, but I liked the guy who showed me the dog, a very friendly volunteer. Her kennel card said, “Found as a stray, came in microchipped and spayed in July.” Nobody claimed her of course.

A Corgi/Shar-Pei mix? Indeed she had the shape of a Corgi, but she looked more like a Pittie/Husky mix to me. We played a little and I petted her dull fur. Half of her coat was already gone and you could see the pink skin. All itchy, dry and red. She had a serious demodex mange going on and smelled really bad.

After 20 minutes with AYLA I left the shelter with my pics and I tried to get her out of my head… NOPE, did not work. The next day I visited her again. I wanted to know if I could put a hold on her for a few days, and try to find a boarding facility before taking her home. They said they wouldn’t take holds but they would give me 24 hours before putting her down. She was on “the list,” one of the first ones who would get killed, because she is a medical case.

Ayla with one of the volunteers.

I talked to my husband and we got her out on Sunday morning before I left to go to work. With the help of my friend Ingrid, I was able to place her at Pacific Coast Dog Rescue until I could get her to the vet for an exam and start treating her skin condition. She was in our care, our responsibility and I was happy. Happy for this little silly dog, and that she made it. AYLA. We visited the vet, she got her bath and her first treatment. After the vet visit, we walked through the neighborhoods and I tried to take some more pictures of her clean fur.

After 5 days of boarding we picked her up today to ease her into her new home with her new foster family (us) and her new friends Lilly and Red. She is sitting in her crate and watching us closely. After a while of whining she relaxed and fell asleep.

Please follow Ayla’s healing process and apply for her if you think that you are the perfect match. She needs medical care for her skin condition. We are covering her medical bills right now. We started the treatment and the new family needs to continue until she completely heals.

AT HOME!

I’ll update information about her disposition and character very soon! AYLA GOT ADOPTED:) Her hair is growing back and she loves her frisbee.

Categories
Advocacy and Activism Animal Stories Get informed and educated Pet Care Uncategorized

We had to take down our article 08/02/12 about Toni Eakes and “A wish for Animals”

Why Toni Eakes should not be involved in animal welfare – A true story about ‘A Wish for Animals’

After Toni Eakes lawyer contacted and threatened us we needed to take down the article temporarily.

I had a blog post here recommending that people not work with Toni for a variety of reasons and I got an email from her lawyer to take my post down.

Shoot me an email if you want to share your experiences or insights at info@packpeople.com or leave a comment here. ~ Thank you!

UPDATE: Please read this update post about Toni Eakes