Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Breed Bans

Recently, there was a horrific incident in San Diego County in which two unattended Pit Bulls broke through a neighbor's fence and viciously attacked a 75 year old woman inflicting catastrophic injuries.

Not surprisingly, there are calls for banning Pit Bulls in San Diego County.

I am old enough to remember a long line of Vicious Breeds.

When I was a very young child, "Police Dogs", that is German Shepherd Dogs, or Alsatians, as they are called in Great Britain, were the Vicious Dog.

Then there were Dobermans.

Then there were Rottweilers. Indeed, my wonderful Champers was attacked by two vicious Rottweilers, who inflicted injuries that ultimately resulted in Champer's having to be put to sleep at an early age.

Now we have Pit Bulls.

What is the common, unmentioned factor in the long line of Vicious Breeds?

It's humans, of course.

Having a dog as a companion is a privilege, not a right, not a "lifestyle statement". It is a huge responsibility.

If Pit Bulls are banned, the banning of other breeds will follow.

Funds and energies of authorities need to be directed toward the human side of the equation.

Currently, the San Diego Union Tribune is conducting a poll about banning Pit Bulls in San Diego County. Please register your support of holding humans responsible for the dogs in their care:

Call 1-800-244-6397, x2506 When asked by the automated message, press 2, to affirm human beings' responsibility not only for Pit Bulls, but for all dogs.

Thank you

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Monday!

The little Pom in the Devore Shelter found a foster home in time!

Many thanks to the network of caring people who made this rescue possible.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dog Training

If you look over the topics discussed in the almost two years of the existence of this blog, you will discover little--if any--mention of dog training.

The reason for this is simple: In all the years that I've lived with dogs, of all the dogs that have shared my life, I have taken only one--Champers--to a formal dog training class.

Taking Champers to Dog School--he graduated with the equivalent of the Gentleman's C--solidified our bond and made him a good example for our second Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Britches, whose only formal schooling was Puppy Affection Training, before she came to live with us. We concluded that Puppy Affection Training did not include such rigors as "sit", "stay", and "down". But Britches was a bright imitator, and soon learned what "sit", "stay" and "down" meant, although, as with most Terriers, her execution of these commands was somewhat selective.

"I know what you said, and I'm taking it into consideration."

Only once did I institute a regular dog training class at home. It was for Portia, who was so bright and manipulative, I had to do something to channel her behavior into constructive patterns.

Portia loved our classes, caught on fast, and was food motivated, which really helps with training. Had she lived, I believe she had potential to be a Therapy Dog.

Bingley, who is not at all food motivated and whose frame of reference is a mix of innate Sighthound instincts and training for the racetrack, sometimes participated in Portia's classes--enough to know that "sit" and "down" meant that he was supposed to do SOMETHING--but couldn't focus his attention sufficiently to know exactly what was expected. He liked to be given a kibble as a reward, but was likely to wander off and leave it for Portia to gobble up as a bonus treat that rewarded her breaking a command.

Shortly after Magic arrived, I attempted a training class. Bingley brightened up, "sat" and "downed" without being asked to do anything. Magic, who had been accustomed to many people food treats, snatched his reward out of my hand before he realized I was offering it to him. Chaos ensued. Class was dismissed.

Back when my dogs were Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, I explained to anyone who cared to listen that Terriers were not bred to work WITH humans, but were Independent Contractors who performed tasks on on their own. I implied that, far from lacking intelligence of Herding, Sporting and Working dogs who invariably won obedience trials, Terriers were Independent Thinkers. Their obedience--when it occurred--was therefore more valuable, because it was deliberately chosen--not automatic. I don't think I convinced anyone.

From Terriers, it was a natural step up/down to Sighthounds. Yes. There are Greyhound Therapy Dogs. I have actually met a few. As I said, I believe Portia had the potential to be a Therapy Dog. But the average Sighthound has been bred not only to be an Independent Contractor, but to be very speedy about conducting its business. Most Greyhounds can learn basic commands. And if nothing is moving within their range of vision, there is a good chance that they might obey the command. But I would hate to have my life or their lives depend upon it.

This is not to say that Bingley and Magic are untrained monsters. They are both deeply attached to John and me, and, everything being equal, they want to please us. Treats are not effective rewards for them, but praise is.

Monday morning is their favorite time of the week. It's Walk In The Park Day With Franklin and Hattie and Odie and Marilyn!!! They pick up very quickly on the signals that Today is Monday. Excitement grows. Getting dressed becomes a challenge for me with two hounds monitoring my every move, trying to examine every piece of clothing I'm trying to put on, reacting to the opening of every drawer, every door.

"She's picking up her toothbrush, Bingley! I know that's a good sign!"

"She's turning on her hair drier, Magic! This is for real!!!"

Jump! Twirl! Circle!

Three weeks ago it all became too much. I was desperate!

"SIT!!" I shouted.

Bingley instantly went into "Down"

I praised him profusely.

Magic followed his example.

I praised her profusely.

Peace reigned until I started lacing up my walking shoes.

All I needed was a respite, not a miracle. I was deeply grateful.

The last two Mondays, they have voluntarily assumed "down"--at least for a while--as I am getting dressed. Two elegant creatures, perfectly designed for movement, lying as still as they can manage, watching me with hope and anticipation in their soft brown eyes--not because they want to be absolutely still, but because they want to please me.

They really are too sweet.

And I have the walls and furniture to hold onto as I make my way to the front closet for leashes and harnesses, with Bingley and Magic celebrating their release from unnatural stillness, celebrating the prospect of a Walk In The Park With Franklin and Hattie and Odie and Marilyn!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another Day, Another Needy Pom

A ten year old, five pound Pomeranian desperately needs a foster home by the end of tomorrow (Friday) afternoon. My source was evidently so eager to get the word out that the sex of the little dog was not included.

If you can help, email me:


Monday, June 13, 2011

Gone To The Dogs

Last Thursday morning, in preparation for today's routine physical, I waited for the opening of the local blood drawing establishment with others who were there for the same purpose. One man was particularly chatty and talked about how early he had gotten up to be there.

It was just after 7:30 a.m.

I mentioned that I had been up since 5 a.m., the time that Bingley and Magic wake me for their morning walk.

The man harrumphed, "I'd have a talk with my dogs if they did that to me!"

If I have a "little talk" with Bingley and Magic, it will only be to say, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you."

My doctor pronounced me to be in Excellent Health.

I have no doubt that walking Bingley and Magic most mornings is that key to that happy pronouncement.

There is an abundance of research confirming that dog walking is among the very best forms of exercise. And as people age, it can be a life saver.

It has been found that contracting with a human walking buddy is not nearly as reliable as setting a routine for walking a dog.

Some people might be sufficiently hard-hearted to resist the nuzzle on the hand, the bright, shining eyes and wagging tail, but I'm not. And research indicates that there are a lot of people a lot like me.

So. Thank you, Bingley and Magic. I owe you, Big Time. How about a walk tomorrow morning. Say, a little after 5 a.m.?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cash, R.I.P.

Cash, a ten year old dark brindle Greyhound, crossed the Rainbow Bridge Sunday night. She was the constant companion of Dottie, a courageous lady whose lung disease ties her to an oxygen tank. But that didn't keep Dottie and Cash from taking daily walks around the retirement community where Dottie lives.

When Cash needed to visit her veterinarian, Dr. Candy Lewis, Marilyn, whose pack walks with us most Monday mornings, took Cash. If Dottie became ill or hospitalized, Cash stayed with Marilyn and her pack, and more than once, joined us for our weekly walks in the park.

But for the past month or so, Cash was unable to take walks. A spinal problem made it more and more difficult for her to walk. Last Sunday, it was clear that pain medication was no longer effective and Dottie made the tough, compassionate decision.

The deepest condolences of Friends of Portia go to Dottie, Marilyn and her pack, and all who knew and loved Cash.

In case you are wondering about Cash's name, she was rescued with a group of dogs that were given financially related names. Dottie chose not to rename her.

Typically, Greyhounds are rescued in groups, and the sheer number of ex-racing Greyhounds that need to be rescued can present a naming challenge. It would be unthinkable to just number these remarkable creatures, so typically, a group that is rescued together receives related names. There have been Valentine names, Christmas names, New Year's names, Chinese New Year's names, Rock Star names.

I'm wondering if Cash was rescued close to April 15. If she was, she was probably the best thing to come along for many people that day.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Good News!

Honey has a foster home!

If you are interested in fostering a needy dog pending placement in a forever home, please contact me.


There are always more dogs that need to be rescued.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Foster Home Needed!

An adorable 15 pound female Pomeranian named Honey--which describes both her color and her disposition--will soon be in need of a foster home. Honey was rescued from a public shelter, but it was discovered that she has pelvic injuries, probably inflicted by a car hitting her. She is undergoing surgery for these injuries and will need a foster home while she recovers and waits for her forever home.

If you can help, please contact me.