My Time with Ryder

There’s a new dog in my life and his name is Ryder. Although he is not a foster, he is the focus of my free time and volunteering, and I love him.
Ryder 5

Since we foster failed last time and Sarge became a permanent member of our family, our fostering days are over for now. But I still wanted to help dogs in need. I have also wanted to find an organization here in Maine that doesn’t import more dogs into the state, but that helps dogs who need homes here. Luckily, I came across Buddy Up Animal Society whose mission is to help last chance dogs in shelters right here in the state. I contacted them and then met Ryder.

Ryder, like so many other ‘rescue’ dogs, has had a rough beginning to his life. I will spare you the details, but he has had some issues with other dogs, which has made a foster arrangement difficult. He has been in shelters/rescue for over two years. Right now, he is in boarding at a local daycare facility. He loves people so much that being kept in a kennel for most of the day is not ideal for him.
ryderflyer

Because of his lack of a consistent schedule and owner, Ryder really needed a brush up on some of his manners. That is where I came in. He and I enrolled in a six week obedience class geared towards bully breeds, called “Good Bully.” Every Friday night I picked up the handsome boy and we drove down to Finish Forward Dogs, a training studio that is extremely generous in helping train rescue dogs.
ryder class 2

The first night was a little bumpy. He was figuring me out and I was trying to understand him. I could see he had major potential and an eagerness to please, he just has had no rules and boundaries to live by. It was clear that he craves attention from people…and chicken treats! As the weeks went by Ryder’s personality and intelligence shined. He already had a solid sit, but we worked on down, down stays, leave it, place, and leash manners. I really looked forward to our time together each week. It felt like a partnership, and we were progressing together. He was learning manners, and I was learning how to teach manners, both with an end goal of finding him a forever family.Ryder class 5

By the end of the six weeks we had really bonded. I could tell he was happy to see me when I picked him up from boarding. Over the weeks I learned that he could get a little worked up in the car when he’s been in the kennel all day, so bully sticks became a weekly treat for the ride. He really loves food, treats and toys and I was happy to find any excuse to give him some!

To ‘graduate’ from the class Ryder had to pass several tests that included:
Leash Walking– Check, he followed me like a pro!
ryder class 1
15 foot Recall– Check, that boy will follow his people anywhere!
ryder class 4
Sit with no food– Check, he is a pro at this!
ryder class 3
Down with no food– Check, we worked hard on this one!
Stay while another dog walks by– Check, again, as long as you are in sight, he will do whatever you want!

He passed with flying colors and REALLY enjoyed picking out his stuffie at the end! Watch the video, it’s super cute!
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Ryder is really a wonderful dog. He charms everyone he meets, and the staff at the daycare and the trainers at Finish Forward have only great things to say about him. He’s snuggly and affectionate and so very handsome! Although in his past he’s had some issues with other dogs, he’s been improving and I don’t think he absolutely has to be the only dog in a household. Just look at him hanging out with other pups before class:
ryder class 6

It is all about finding the right home with the right dogs that will be the right fit for him. But, boy does he deserve it. He is such a love and has been homeless for way too long. He has so many less ‘issues’ than several of my previous fosters (ahem, Anna) so I can’t figure out why he is still without a family.

He and I are scheduled to take the next installment of the bully manners class, “Better Bully” this month. He is such a good boy and this next class will surely help him improve even more. After another six weeks of training I can only imagine how prepared and ready he will be to find his forever home!

Here is Ryder’s petfinder profile. If you know of anyone looking for an amazing dog to add to their family, please share Mr. Ryder. For more information, contact Buddy Up at info@buddyupanimalsociety.org.

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Sarge’s DNA Revealed!

When we sprung Sarge from the shelter, we were told that he is a pit bull/boxer mix. Of course, knowing that pit bull is not a an actual breed, unless it is referencing the American Pit Bull Terrier, we were not convinced. Nola is part boxer and that is pretty obvious just by looking at her, but with Sarge I wasn’t so sure. He does have a massive block head, so that could come from several different breeds that make up the ‘pit bull’ label so many shelters use. But, what about the one ear straight up one ear down, the black skin underneath the fawn colored fur, his short but stocky body, the long, thick tail?

So *drum roll, please* according to his Wisdom Panel, Sarge is an:
American Staffordshire Terrier, Bulldog, German Shepard, Staffordshire Bull Terrier Mix.

sarge_breeds2One of his parents was an American Staffordshire Terrier/Bulldog mix and the other was more of a mutt, but with German Shepard and Staffordshire Bull Terrier genes detected. Just as I thought, he is definitely not a boxer. I do think the bulldog is spot on. The size and shape of his head is definitely similar, minus the brachycephalic nose. The German Shepard could be where his pointed ears came from!
DSC_0966So, it seems as though the Mr. and I now have a bona fide pit bull as part of our family. I was a bit disappointed when Nola’s test came out with no trace of pit bull breeds, so I am happy that Sarge definitely is. He is a great example of a friendly, easy going, snuggley, handsome, rescued dog that is also a pit bull. Now when people ask me what he is I can proudly tell them that he is a pit bull and a great dog! Because above all else, he is a dog, and we love him regardless of what his genes are. And now, I can proudly display this sticker that I’ve had for months!
pitbullfamily2Anyone surprised by the results? Have you had your dog DNA tested?

*As a side note, I do understand the controversy surrounding the accuracy of dog DNA tests. In no way do I think they are 100% accurate, but for someone who was just plain curious, these tests are fun and interesting and do not hurt the dog in any way.

The Definition of Food Motivated

If you look up “food motivated dog” in the dictionary on Google, the first thing you should see is a picture of Sarge. He is epitomizes the phrase “will work for food.”DSC_0562The phrase I would use to describe Sarge is that the way to his heart is through his stomach. He is the happiest when he is eating or chewing something.
DSC_0490Half of the pictures I have taken of him have a Kong in them.
DSC_0381DSC_0574Whether it’s a treat dispensing toy, just plain old cheese, or a scoop of peanut butter this dog will do ANYTHING for a morsel.
DSC_0442You know what Sarge would do even with no food? LOVE YOU. If you are interested in adopting this amazing elderbull, please fill out an application with BURN.

Why Crusies are Like Pit Bulls

For two weeks before, and still two weeks after vacation, I have been dealing with all the negative comments people have about cruises. They watched the news and saw the horror stories of ships breaking down recently. They said to me: “It must be so awful being confined on a ship like that,” or “I would never want to go on a cruise,” or “Bring a poop bag for the ship!” All of the people that made theses comments have never even been on a cruise. How could they judge something that I love with no previous experience or knowledge on the subject? Why were they letting a few stories in the media influence their opinion and then feel the need to tell me how horrible they are? I’ve been on 5 different cruises and can say I have never had a bad experience. Why won’t people give cruises a chance?
cruiseAs I was sitting in my doctor’s office this morning, again defending my reasons for choosing to take a cruise for vacation, I had an epiphany. Cruises are just like pit bulls.

When you Google ‘Carnival Cruise’ here are the headlines you get:

  • Man sentenced to 20 years for gang-rape of teen on cruise
  • Are Cruise Ships Safe? Carnival Cruises‘ Triumphant Fall From Grace
  • Carnival Triumph Adrift: Cruise Ship Breaks Loose In Mobile, Alabama

When you Google ‘Pit Bulls’ here are the headlines you get:

  • Pit bulls removed from slaying site headed to Boise
  • Boy, 7, dies four days after being savaged by pit bulls
  • Teaching pit bulls to be nice

See any similarities? Because the media focuses on negatives, you never hear positive things in the news. Bad, scary things are news. Good, happy things are boring. Media outlets don’t report on fantastic cruise vacations just like they don’t report on ‘pit bulls’ who are therapy dogs and wonderful family pets. While it is true that some cruise lines have had issues, and for the people who were stranded for days with no power on a ship it must have been horrible, but that is the minority. Not all cruises are bad, just like not all pit bulls are bad. It is wrong to label the whole cruise industry after a couple negative incidents, and it is the same thing people have been doing to pit bulls for years. The entire breed is not viscous and dangerous, just because individual dogs might show these characteristics.
IMG_3441I have been defending pit bulls for the past several years, and cruises for the past several weeks. What I’ve learned with both topics is that it is easy to get frustrated when you feel defensive about something you love. It is hard to change the mind of people who have no experience with whatever you are defending. I like to have a few points in my back pocket that I can count on if you get into a discussion about something. But what I’ve found is that you aren’t always going to get the results you want. It is hard to change someone’s uneducated opinion. If more people would read about the positive pit bull stories or give pit bulls a chance in person, I believe they would change their opinion of them as being scary aggressive dogs.
side by side couchBut, not everyone will do that, just like not everyone will give cruises a try. All you can do is love them and change people’s opinion by being a good example.