Unveiling our new look!

Taa-daaa!

Okay, so if you’ve always read this via email or through a feed, you may not even notice the difference. But, to me, it’s huge! A new layout, a new header, a new sidebar (which still needs work), and super sweet mobile-responsive coding. Woot!

When this blog was just a beautiful bouncing baby, I didn’t want to spend any money on it because, at the time, that felt outlandish! Who knew if anyone would read? Or if I could keep motivated? So, I downloaded a free template and went from there. A year or so later, I switched to another free template and another before purchasing a pre-made version that was like $50 – seemed SO crazy at the time – to make some customizations.

But it never felt right.

I could never get the logo right or the colors right or the font right. The header was wrong. The sidebar was wrong… I just couldn’t get it right. Then, for Emmett’s road trip, I got the incredible silhouette of him in the bowtie and that propelled me into doing things right. Finally!

I guess at this point, this blog, my baby, has grown up and is heading off to college. Instead of tuition payments, though, I hired a designer to code my vision. This is the result. I really hope you love it as much as I do. There’s still a smidge of work to be done, and please let me know if you encounter any hiccups or issues – I want to address any problems as quickly as possible. It’s also made me realize that I finally need a camera! Crappy cell phone pics on such a pretty site just won’t cut it. I’m in the research phase, so hopefully better pics will be coming soon!

Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you for being here, for reading, for sharing your dogs and experiences with this community. I’m blown away every single day at how kind and supportive this group is, and I’m so grateful to be a part of a dog-savvy, animal-loving community. Thank you, thank you!! I would never have taken the plunge on getting a “real” design up and running without YOU! So, again, THANK YOU!

Happy weekend, everyone! 

We ARE the majority! #TheMajorityProject

This post is sponsored by The Animal Farm Foundation and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the The Majority Project, but OMD! only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Animal Farm Foundation is not responsible for the content of this article.

AFFLogowhite3

I love my three dogs to the ends of the earth. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them, and it’s my job to take care of them, keep the safe, fed, trained, and loved.

Two of those three dogs happen to be pit-bull-type dogs, and I discovered very early on that it’s also my job to defend and advocate on their behalf. There are just so many myths about “pit bull” dogs, and many people don’t take the time to learn the truth. We were having dinner with a colleague and his wife, and he said, “Oh, we’re both terrified of pit bulls.” But he wasn’t sure why. He just knew what he heard about them on the evening news.

In an effort to challenge the negative stereotypes about “pit bull” dog owners, Animal Farm Foundation created The Majority Project, a photo collection illustrating how countless “pit bull” dog owners make valuable contributions to their communities and families every day. Animal Farm Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation, which has been rescuing and re-homing animals, as well as making grants to other humane organizations, since the mid-1980s. It is Animal Farm Foundation’s mission to secure equal treatment and opportunity for “pit bull” dogs.

Plus, Animal Farm Foundation partnered with actor and “pit bull” dog owner, Jon Bernthal to create a video about the project, which you can check out below!

The Majority Project with Jon Bernthal from Animal Farm Foundation on Vimeo.

We jumped on the chance to participate because those of us who love and care for these dogs need to stand up and give our dogs a voice. Emmett was the first pit-bull-type dog we welcomed into our lives, and he’s been challenging stereotypes since day one. In one of the very first training classes we took with him, a woman asked us if we’d put him down if we had kids. Since then, Emmett has trained and worked as a therapy dog – around kids of all ages, sizes, and ability. He’s traveled around the country, stayed in hotels, been on photoshoots, napped a whole lot, met people and dogs and even a couple more cats. It’s important to me to take him with me whenever it’s somewhere he’ll have fun and be safe because, well, I like having him with me, of course. But, more importantly, he spreads joy and love, and he changes hearts and minds.

We were thrilled to take part in this campaign, although I probably should’ve planned better! We didn’t snap this pic until after Cooper had spent the day running, jumping, and playing at doggy daycare. As you can see, he can hardly hold his head up, the little dear! (Yep, another myth busted: “pit bull” dogs can and do thrive in group play sessions like doggy daycare!) Emmett, on the other hand, pretty much always looks relaxed.

We ARE the majority!

But, then Newt corrected me. She reminded me that SHE is the “pit bull” dog owner around here. So, we let her be a part of the campaign, too. (Another myth busted: “Pit bull” dogs can be in families with cats and other tiny animals! Newt and Cooper are best buds and spend a good chunk of their afternoon wrestling with each other.)

Newt is the majority

As dog owners – no matter what kind of dog you love – we need to treat them all as individuals and empower pet owners to be responsible. That is the only way to create safe communities – NOT by targeting a specific dog breed. Creating and enforcing non-discriminatory Responsible Pet Ownership laws is the most effective path to building safe, humane communities. Reckless dog owners cannot be correlated with any particular breed or type of dog; the only factor reckless dog owners have in common is their problematic behavior resulting from a disregard of public safety and animal welfare.

“Pit bull” dog owners: Help change public perception of the average “pit bull” dog owner by disproving existing stereotypes! Join The Majority Project by visiting themajorityproject.com, printing and personalizing an “I am the MAJORITY” sign and submitting a photo with YOUR dog! And join them on Facebook or Twitter!

We ARE the majority!

Being responsible for a reactive dog

Today I’m writing about Responsible Pet Owners Month as part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Rubicon DaysCascadian Nomads, and Tenacious Little Terrier.

When you have a reactive dog, there are inherent responsibilities. Of course, there are tons of responsibilities for even the kindest of souls, but it’s heavier when your dog poses a risk for another person or dog.

Lucas is so handsome
Who? Me?

A couple years ago, all three dogs were standing at the back door. I was chatting on the phone with my mom. John was out of town. It was a beautiful day, so I let them out and continued my conversation. I heard Lucas start barking. For a few seconds I tuned it out – he barks a lot – but this little flag went up somewhere in my brain. I told my mom to hold on.

I listened.

He was barking – furiously – but it wasn’t in the yard. It was far away.

I dropped the phone and ran outside. Our gate was open.

Now, having Lucas, when we moved here in 2008, we promptly locked the gate and put the keys in the house. Some time later, because of significant erosion, the latches no longer lined up so we secured it with zip ties. On this particular day, I discovered too late that the zip ties had snapped.

All I could see were all three dogs careening down the middle of the road, straight toward a landscaping crew. The three guys were flipping out. I don’t blame them. At all. Here are three HUGE dogs barreling down the road at you? I’d flip out, too! One was brandishing a leaf blower, which was causing Lucas’ barking frenzy.

I yelled and asked the guy to grab at least one of them – he yelled back “NO!” – so I called Emmett, Mr. Reliable, who about-faced and tore back home.

I called Cooper, who hadn’t gotten as far as the other two yet, and he turned around and ran back, but he turned too soon – instead of into our yard, he barreled straight down the line between our fence and the neighbor’s house. I didn’t realize that right away because I was sprinting after Lucas.

My dog-reactive dog. My dog-reactive dog who once attempted to bite a stranger in the very park he was running toward. My dog-reactive, bite-attempting dog who is terrified – TERRIFIED – of noise-making lawn equipment like leaf blowers and mowers and trimmers.

All of which he was running toward, barking his face off.

And then… by some miracle… the Dog Gods were watching over us… he got distracted by something exciting on a porch a couple houses down. Instead of continuing toward the landscapers and toward the park and far, far away from me… he veered… he stopped… he sniffed.

At which point, I said his name in Firm Tone. Called him. He didn’t come. But that distraction gave me just enough time to grab him.

By the time we were heading back – all of this happening in one barf-inducing minute or two – Cooper had realized he ran the wrong way and circled back. I brought Lucas into the yard with the other two. Closed the gate. Called John and told him to buy steel bike locks.

Then, I sat in the grass and cried.

Truly, it took me several hours to fully calm down. My hands shook. My heart pounded. Tears flowed.

And then I realized how miraculous the whole thing was. We live in a dog-heavy neighborhood, a mere block from a park. There are kids, dogs, bikes, walkers, joggers, anybody you can imagine out all the time. There wasn’t a dog to be seen. They were running down the road, and there were no cars.

But what would’ve happened that day if someone HAD been walking a dog past at that moment?

I honestly can’t even think about that. What would’ve happened. It kept me up at night for a long time.

But this whole long story is to say: Being a responsible pet owner is so incredibly important. But no matter how hard you try, no matter how vigilant and diligent you are, accidents happen. I am the person who won’t let Lucas walk into the garage and jump in the car without holding his leash because what if – WHAT IF – a dog is in the alley?

I live my life with Lucas expecting there to be dogs everywhere. Everywhere. I plan relentlessly. He has his harness and his leather buckle collar. We have trained and trained and trained. And when we took all the classes at one facility, we found another and took their classes. We take cheese everywhere. We walk him where we have good lines of sight. He’s improved tremendously – more than I ever hoped for him, really – but despite that improvement, Lucas is still a dog-reactive dog.

And I am responsible for him.

I know this isn’t a helpful post. It’s not useful, and there are no tips or tricks or how-tos for being responsible for a reactive dog. But people with dog-reactive dogs are so hard on themselves. I read posts and articles where people question themselves and their decisions and “what if” situations – just like I did with this one – until you feel so down, despite making progress with your dog!

The bottom line is what I know you all already do: Just do your best. Have the right equipment. Train as much as time and money allow with force-free methods. Skip walks if they’re unsafe. Be grateful for how wonderful your dog is – even if the rest of the world doesn’t get to see it. We all make mistakes. The trick is to try to stay calm, learn what you can, then move on.

And buy saw-proof steel bike locks for your gate.

Siblings

For the past few days, I’ve altered my work habits immensely. I’ve had a cold and, being a huge baby about it, moved all my work under covers and blankets. And I’ve noticed something that is both sweet and peculiar: Among these siblings, they are nearly always paired up for a snuggle. Usually two of the dogs with the third off in a bed somewhere. Sometimes Newt gets in on the action. But they’re never in a big bundle! I started looking through old pics, and the pattern holds.

On occasion a threesome will pop up…

Em, Coop, Newt

 

But the rarest of pairings… almost never spotted in the wild…

Lucas and Newt

I wonder why this is? Those of you with multiples, do yours tend to bunch up together for big love fests? Go off singly? Or do you have iterations like these?

Things that *could* be considered crazy

I wish I could remember which post it was so I could give proper credit, but recently a comment left by one of you fabulous folks really stuck with me. It was something like: “Oh, the crazy things we do when we have animals!”

The funny thing is, after I read that comment, I found myself thinking as I performed various tasks throughout the day, “Yep. This is probably one of those crazy things.”

In no particular order, here are 10 that I’ve noticed that may or may not be entirely un-crazy. (And, obviously, I’m dying to know what yours are, too! Please, please share in the comments!)

  1. Every morning, I pick up the throw blankets and pillows from the living room floor, which Lukey knocked off in the night. I fold them and place them back on the couch.
  2. When I collect Lucas and Cooper from doggy daycare, I barrage them with questions. “Did you have fun? Did you run and jump and play? Did you make any friends?” Despite knowing, of course, they can never tell me… I still like to ask.
  3. I save the last bits of yogurt containers for Emmett.
    Emmett cleans the yogurt container
  4. Before I make lunch, I pick up the throw blankets and pillows from the living room floor, which Lukey knocked off during his late morning nap. I fold them and place them back on the couch.
  5. Sometimes when I snap a particularly cute pic of one of the herd on my phone, I like to show them my phone. “See how cute you look here! Aww!”
  6. In the afternoon, I like to make a snack and cup of tea. While waiting for the kettle to boil, I pick up the throw blankets and pillows from the living room floor, which Lukey knocked off during his afternoon nap. I fold them and place them back on the couch.
  7. Whenever we wash the dog beds, we make a big pile of them – which we call Super Beds – so they can each get a chance to nap on a huge stack.
  8. We spend all weekend shopping and cooking for Cooper. After making him lamb, salmon, quinoa, mixed veggies, steamed apples, and boiled potatoes, we’re too tired to cook anything else. And usually just get takeout. (Even Newt gets involved… see her on the counter? She thinks she’s so sneaky.)
    Cooking Coop's meals
  9. Lucas eats faster than his brothers. Emmett and Cooper both eat from slow-feeders, so as soon as Lucas is finished, he comes over to the sink to lick off the cat food spoon before it goes in the dishwasher.
  10. Every night before bed, I pick up the throw blankets and pillows from the living room floor, which all three of them knocked off while we were settled in reading or watching TV. I fold them and place them back on the couch so that Lucas can paw, circle, twirl them into his preferred sleeping arrangement that, apparently, includes knocking them all on the floor at some point in the night.

I’m not the only one, right?? You guys do some potentially, possibly nutty things throughout the day for your herds? Right?! I’d love to know what they are!! Please share your routines in the comments!