Life in the Fast Lane

It’s been crazy the last few months here.  We’ve been spending a lot of time on our Facebook page and neglecting the mess out of the blog.  It wasn’t a purposeful lapse but life got pretty crazy and it was just simpler to focus on that since my jumbled brain couldn’t seem to put two fiona-may2015-5414sentences together for more than a nanosecond before that thought process was lost into the great abyss of blog fog.  It was, to put it mildly, very frustrating.

Along with life getting in the way, we managed to acquire two new temporary additions to the pack.  They both came from unpleasant situations that wouldn’t have ended pleasantly for either if left to their own devices.

Fiona the Labrador was owner give up because she was too drivey and overwhelming for a large family that had more on their plate than dealing with an adolescent, high drive Labrador with a keen sense on how to get into the most trouble in the shortest span of time possible. It’s really an incredible feat but she more than makes up for it with her intense focus when her attention is cornered on doing something that intrigues her and makes her think!

river-may2015-5390River the Shih Tzu was a foundling at a local park.  He was obscenely matted and emaciated.  When we found him, he was unable to move because of a mat that ran from the base of his tail to the base of his sheath – essentially connecting both back legs.  It was obvious he was in pain and initially lashed out until we secured him and took him to a vet to check and see if, hopefully, he had a microchip that would allow us to reunite him with his owner.  Sadly, he didn’t.  We were left with the task of fixing him up – which started with removing the mat on his bottom.  Once that was removed it revealed raw and oozy testicles and a naked backside.  He wasn’t too happy about it while it occurred but he felt far better once it was done and the area was cleaned up.

We searched in vain for his previous owners – posting Craigslist found ads, posts on local Lost & Found groups on Facebook and posters at local pet businesses near where we found him.  That was in April and he still hasn’t been reunited with an owner so we’ve scheduled a neuter, microchip and other vet work that is needed before he is able to go to a permanent home that won’t let him down again.

Needless to say, our two new additions have a few issues to work through that will be easily puppies-march2015-5210solved with persistence and patience.  A good project to keep us busy and not with our typical breed either!  There is no doubt that Fiona, who is a tiny 42 pounds(!!!), will make an amazing sport prospect with her insane food, toy and a moderate prey drive but River will likely be a good companion for an dedicated couple or a family with dog knowledge – especially breed knowledge as a cherished companion to that family.

Now that all that has happened, expect many more entries as the days, weeks and months pass because I am almost positive that the blog fog has passed as summer hits and fills up my head with entries due to time and weather that is favorable to training and competing once more is upon us.

Shelter Dog Saturday: Tiara

tiara-shelterdogsaturdayName: Tiara

Breed(s): Weim/APBT Mix

Age: 18-24 months old

Gender: Female (Spayed)

If you’re looking for a plucky young dog with a passion for toys, this is your girl.  Tiara would make an excellent dog sport prospect due to her absolute adoration for toys.  Tiara is around 48 pounds and is pretty standard as far as pittie girls are concerned in stature.

Tiara is currently very dog social and plays well with other dogs and puppies but has not been tested with kitties.  She is also incredibly kid friendly but may not be suited for families with young children due to her high level of energy and typical teenage puppy behaviors where she may tiara1-shelterdogsaturdayaccidentally knock over small children in her quest to play.  This could work in the right home with a bully breed savvy family that knows how to properly work around a boisterous young bully breed mix.

Tiara is crate and house trained.  Her rescuers have been working on her manners including sit, down, stay, come when called and general leash manners.  She responds well to corrections on a leash and loves to learn for either food or toys.

If you are looking for a darling, standard-sized gal to add to your family, we at Work-A-Bull would highly suggest you contact Sheri’s Dog Grooming by phone (734) 457-0755. Sheri’s Dog Grooming is located in Monroe, Michigan.


Dog Body Language: Preventing a Bite

It’s becoming far to reoccurring a theme as more and more photos are surfacing on social media of a child sitting, standing, kissing or generally making a dog uncomfortable with their behaviors. These photos are often taken as “cute” or “sweet” actions on the part of the child to the dog but all too often these types of behaviors lead to what is often classified as an unprovoked bite to the child despite the warning signs given by the dog in the form of a growl, stiffened body posture or other behaviors that humans often mistake as acceptance of the child’s behavior.

Recently, a photo was published by Coeur d’Alene Press on Facebook (click link here to view theunhappydog original) where the caption reads “Boston Wolfinger, 2, gives his dog a kiss. “I took the photo after Boston wanted to ‘share’ his bunny ears with his best buddy,” said Boston’s mom, Kelly Wolfinger.

The dog in it has hard eyes, a stiff posture and the obvious snarl with teeth bared. In a nut shell, the dog looks very, very uncomfortable. Many of the commenters on the thread state their concern only to be rebuffed by others who state that they’re blowing it out of proportion and it’s just a cute “smile” from the dog.

Personally, that photo and many of the others I see on a day to day basis make me cringe as both a dog owner, future parent (if Mother Nature would cooperate!) and doting aunt of a bunch of rambunctious nieces and nephews who have had me repeatedly drill how to behave around a dog into their tiny, knowledge-soaking skulls. Far too many pets are put into situations that cause outcomes that end tragically for the family and the reacting pet – typically in the form of the dog being euthanized.


Dogs bite a child or adult for a plethora of reasons. These reasons vary from dog to dog and day to day because dogs are living breathing beings that do have feelings and those feelings can mean a bad day or a good day. These reasons range from protecting a possession or resting spot, being startled or spooked or to a medical condition that causes the pet to be in pain – which will often cause a bite if accidentally (or on purpose in the case of some mean-spirited children/adults) stepped on, kicked or touched in an uncomfortable manner.


To prevent incidents like this, it is important to realize and learn the signs of what will cause a dog to bite. Below are links below show a more in depth view into many of the behaviors that are often seen prior to a bite incident that may lead to a severe bite or even a dog bite-related fatality (DBRF).

Patricia McConnell, PhD. said it best in her book “For the Love of a Dog” with this quote:

I don’t know how many times broken-hearted clients have told me that Barney had been doing so well; he’d handled the noise and chaos of the family picnic all day long, but just when everyone was about to leave, he fell apart and snapped, or nipped, or bit…If people could just see the signs of exhaustion or worry on their dogs’ faces, there’d be a lot fewer bites in the world, a lot fewer tears, and a lot more dogs living to old age.


Shelter Dog Saturday: Olivia

shelterdogsaturday-olivia1Name: Olivia

Breed(s): AST/APBT-type Mix

Age: 10-11 months old

Gender: Female

Sweet Olivia just a youngster at just under a year old. Olivia came to Mutts of Motown Rescue after being pulled from a bad situation. Olivia was originally supposed to go to another rescue, but the plans to transfer her didn’t fall into place.

When she arrived at Mutts of Motown, she came in with some food aggression toward other dogs during meal time, but with the wonderful work and training from her foster home she’s made leaps and bounds in progress. shelterdogsaturday-olivia

Olivia still has the standard issue clumsy, young puppy mentality since her life basically started during her stay with Mutts of Motown. She’s a very submissive and gentle little girl who loves all dogs and children.

If you are looking for a wonderful, medium-sized gal to add to your family, we at Work-A-Bull would highly suggest you contact Mutts of Motown Rescue by phone (586) 690-2808.  You can also see Olivia and the other dogs available through Mutts of Motown Rescue on their page or their Facebook page.


Photos Taken by OoSueBoo Photography.  OoSueBoo Photography is located in Madison Heights, Michigan.

My Dog Is A Toy Destroyer Challenge – Week Three

ryker-ruffwear-week3-4983This is the third and final week’s update on the Huckama™ by Ruffwear.  It’s been a thrilling three weeks and we thought that our hoard of hoodlums was going to do a number on this amazing toy but we were totally wrong!  Three weeks of abuse from Ryker with a handful of time by the rest of the hoard has proven insufficient on sending this toy to dog toy heaven and we can’t wait to go and get the Turnup™ and see how the crew likes this option as well.

As with the previous weeks, we were asked to send in a bit of information in regard to specifically asked questions (many of which were briefly touched on in previous weeks) and to add in any possible improvements to the toy and this is what we had to say:

Hard to believe it’s been three weeks already with the Huckama™. The ryker-ruffwear-week3-4952Huckama™ has held up exceedingly well for my toy destroying, brindle monster and I’m very, very pleased with it. We are actually going to be getting the Turnup™ to give around as well, and spoke with a few folks who were looking for sturdy toys while we were out shopping for dog food to head on over to for the Huckama™ or the Turnup™ for their toy destroyers too!

I don’t have enough time to be able to write down how much I absolutely adore this toy. It has been one of the sturdiest rubber toys we’ve had the chance to own and love. I can definitely see buying more in the future when they finally manage to kill this one (which will actually take quite some time for once!). The splits haven’t seemed to really progress any further but he’s been a little more gentle on it this week since it’s been so chilly out that he hasn’t been outside beating the orange off of it.

Durability is one of the biggest problems we’ve found with toys and we’ve tried just about everything on the market – but this toy has been a hit – not only with Ryker, but also with the rest of our hoard who he has politely shared it with on an occasion. So, along with being durable, it has had some major curb appeal even with our pickiest dogs.ryker-ruffwear-week3-4954

I really did try and find something I’d change, but other than having color choice options (it’s a girlie thing!), I’ve got nothing. This toy has the perfect shape and texture to it to be appealing and strong at the same time. The holes to stuff goodies into means I can turn this into not just a toss and go toy but also a working puzzle toy that isn’t too hard to figure out but provides entertainment none the less. It has been an absolute blast to have this toy in our house and I know Ryker will be looking forward to many more months (heck, maybe even years!) of abuse with it!

So there you have it, folks.  Three weeks of durability and product testing is done.  We have to say that this was one of the best contests we were lucky to have been selected for and would definitely recommend anyone who wants durable products to check out the good folks over at Ruffwear for just about anything they make.  An official review will be up in a few days as well so be sure to keep checking back in!

My Dog Is A Toy Destroyer Challenge: Week Two

ryker-ruffwear-week2-4922We’re onto Week Two of the ‘My Dog Is A Toy Destroyer’ challenge and things are going swimmingly well. The toy has held up to the rigorous abuse of not just Ryker but the rest of the Work-A-Bull crew (when Ryker opts to share this delightful toy!) and held up beautifully. It has proven to be an amazing addition to the toy basket and remains a top chosen toy by Mr. Toy Snob who has his favorites.

Here’s what we had to say directly to our friends over at Ruffwear for our time with the Huckama™ for Week Two:

We’ve definitely had a fun second week with the Huckama. As the time has passed and the “new toy smell” has disappeared (with it being carried *everywhere*), Ryker’s become more and more obsessed with it and spends most of his time with it in his mouth or near him in some fashion (usually under his chin if he’s resting). He has it with him pretty much all the time. It has, ultimately, become his favorite toy to the point he hasn’t even bothered to shred his sister’s stuffy toys that she covets.ryker-ruffwear-week2-4951

We’ve been using the toy lately as a reward for good obedience as an option from the ball on the string or the treats we normally use. With his intensity toward the toy, it has made for some beautiful heeling work in terms of focus – something I can definitely appreciate since it’s always a struggle to keep his focus!

We’ve been including a bit of “work” into his time with the Huckama using the Biscuit Buddy goodies we got along with the Huckama and, occasionally, a dab of peanut butter around one or two of the holes as an added tease – especially when we want him to relax for a little bit. Long after the goodies are gone, he’ll still happily chew on it.

We’ve gotten a bit of cracking going around a few of the holes from his continued gnawing but it is definitely holding up very well with his continual chewing and gnawing ryker-ruffwear-week2-4940on it – something I’m very, very impressed with as many other toys have failed once the cracking started and he took advantage of the tiny weakness – which hasn’t seemed to happen with the Huckama™!

With coming into Week Three and wrapping up our reporting time, we’ll be adding a review that you will be able to find on the drop down options at the top of the page. We expect more rigorous time with the Huckama™ and many, many more months to come but who beats this challenge will be decided next week. Will it be Ryker or the Huckama™?

My Dog Is A Toy Destroyer Challenge: Week One

ryker-ruffwear2014-4806Recently, we entered a contest with Ruffwear Performance Dog Gear contest to try out one of their durable rubber toys and were lucky enough to get selected by the folks who were choosing the winners. Ryker, along with four other lucky dogs, get to try out the Huckama or the Turnup toy for three whole weeks (and we get to keep this awesome toy if it survives!) while writing weekly updates on the durability, canine interest level and how we generally feel about the toy while providing pictures and/or videos of our dogs enjoying their goodies. It’s definitely a challenge that Ryker is going to thoroughly enjoy for the next three weeks and at the end, there will be a review made of the overall toy for Work-A-Bull readers to enjoy as well which will also include links back to these three weeks of toy destroying fun!

Ryker was selected to get the Huckama™ by the awesome folks over at Conservation Canines. Let me tell you, I was very, very excited to get this of the two options because of all of the little hiding spots I could put goodies into. Ryker, however, was even more excited and continually attempted to snatch the packaging from me while I was opening it for him to have a chance at it since we got it later in the week than the rest of the Toy Destroyer challengers.

Here is the write-up we sent over to the good folks at Ruffwear in regard to our first week with the Huckama™ toy for Week One!

“When I first opened our package, I was gleefully surprised at the Huckama. Not only is it larger than your standard tennis ball (something I worry about him swallowing if he chews it ryker-ruffwear2014-4839up!), it has holes and is hollow on the inside – which makes it PERFECT for stuffing small bits of treat into to provide additional entertainment. It’s a nice, soft rubber but it was very difficult for me to compress so I am guessing it may actually hold up to him for a while!

Ryker was extremely excited to play with the toy. He repeatedly attempted to steal it out of my hands before I was even able to get the packaging off and attempted to help me remove it from the packaging before I was ready. When we tossed it, it bounced erratically and kept him guessing on where it would go. This kept the entertainment factor up high for him and kept him wanting it more. Once he was finally out of breath from throwing it in the air by himself, I stuffed a few goodies inside which gave him the opportunity to work them out of the holes in the toy. (Even with his continued chewing, there were no teeth marks or punctures!)

Even though we got a late start on playing with our toy, I will definitely give it a five on durability and resiliency. The fun shape and added holes are allowing for lots of rambunctious play with and continuous entertainment. He definitely isn’t bored and hasn’t let any of the other dogs near it – which is mega praise from him as he doesn’t usually hoard ryker-ruffwear2014-4884toys and readily shares with them.”

Even though we got it later in the week, we made the most of it (and the other goodies we got in our package too – which included a Hover Craft™ Frisbee too) and Ryker got to help break in the new house’s yard while doing what he does best – destroying toys!

If you want to follow along with the other “My Dog Is A Toy Destroyer” challengers, click here. We wish Ari the Dutch Shepherd, Henrietta the Australian Cattle Dog mix, Dozer the Boxer and Maya the Chesapeake Bay Retriever the best of luck in the challenge for the remaining two weeks!

Breed Specific Legislation: Being a Breed Steward at a City Council Meeting


So you’ve just heard your local city, town or village is going to look into a breed specific ordinance after a dog-on-dog or dog-on-human incident causing a knee jerk reaction in an attempt with preemptive public safety measures because of said incident. This isn’t a pretty situation to be involved in no matter how you spin it. Emotions on both sides are high – both for the victim and/or the victim’s family and for the public who is being unfairly targeted due to the irresponsible actions of one individual/family who allowed their dog to run amok – especially if that dog had shown aggressive behaviors prior to the incident leading to breed specific legislation. For the reason above, one must tread carefully when considering working with a city council to find a solution that benefits public safety, satisfies the victim’s need for justice for those who could potentially be harmed in the future by potentially dangerous dogs and doesn’t single out a particular breed – thus satisfying bull breed dogs and other targeted breed owners.

Being a breed steward isn’t an easy task. Bully breed owners are targeted especially hard by those who loathe and fear the breed and one must hold themselves above reproach by those who would sink to drag the battle to a lower level that would allow derogatory remarks, unprofessional behavior and even wishing harm on the hate-filled party who spews such vitriol aimed at a passionate pet owner who is only seeking to keep their pets protected in the face of adversity.

These individuals would like to stomp any potentially non-breed specific legislation because of their fear of these dogs. It is not, however, to say that these fears from are unfounded because the sheer number of instances where a bully breed-type dog that has severely harmed or killed another pet, livestock animal or even human being is astounding and utterly abhorrent. These instances are becoming far too frequent as particular breeds and breed types rise in popularity and it is the responsibility of those who hold these breeds near and dear to their hearts to fiercely guard them through responsible canine husbandry and not let them run amok in polite society.

That being said, you must now prepare for that inevitable ‘battle’ with those who would wish your personal canine companions ill will because of the actions of another. This battle is more so a battle of reasoning and logic than it is of emotionally charged feelings. When one approaches city council one must do so as a professional on their level. Here are some tips to remember when thinking of attending a meeting in terms of presentation:

  • It is a serious social faux pas in a situation like this to come into a meeting like you’re going to the local bar on a Friday night. A pair of clean, hole-free jeans or khakis and a dress shirt or a skirt and blouse are far more appropriate attire than your favorite pro-breed shirt that reads something along the lines of “If it ain’t pit, it ain’t shit” type of phrase. All of your fellow breed stewards share the same passion but it isn’t them who you are seeking to impress with your attire.
  • Come prepared with facts and solutions and make sure you have copies for each city council person so that they are able to browse through it at their leisure. This could include a sample breed neutral law like the one that the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) has on their website (Click here for a copy of this ordinance for your files) or other anti-breed specific legislation factoids – including cost analysis, current copy of the state dog statutes, etc.
  • If you intend to get up and speak in front of city council, remember that you must be polite and professional. Speak with conviction but without emotion. (This isn’t an easy thing to do, believe me. I’ve had to learn over the years to put on a professional air despite the fact I am quaking in my boots because I utterly loathe speaking in front of large groups of people.)
  • If at all possible, have a short speech prepared that highlights the key points of interest – especially if you have done your research on the incident(s) leading up to this action. Make sure it is under three minutes in length as this is typically how long city council gives each person to speak because of the sheer volume of people that typically attend these meetings when such a heated topic is brought forward.
  • Do not, for any reason, bring your dog to the meeting. The only exception to this rule is if you require the use of a service or assistance dog. Not only is your canine companion not welcome but it could detract from the issue at hand – especially if your dog has a lapse in manners and does something foolish and out of character.
  • If you are a resident, please remember your voice carries more weight in this situation than those who are from out of town – even if they represent a business or other organization. You are, ultimately, the person or family who will be tossed into the middle of this situation and your voice must politely be heard regardless of what breed you own because it isn’t just bull breeds that are targeted in many US cities.

The above suggestions will help to provide the stepping stones away from breed specific legislation if you and your fellow protestors act accordingly and maintain your aura of professionalism. Do not allow yourself to be dragged into a petty he said, she said battle of emotions no matter how angry, frustrated or upset some of the commentary makes you. You aren’t there for a bar fight but for the right to protect your canine family member and help the city find a solution that positively impacts on all of its citizens to keep them and their companion animals safe from harassment and harm.

Life Happens

Life outside of the blog got in the way over the last few weeks.  The hard hit of losing Gus took its toll on all of our family and I just couldn’t drag up the urge to even write an entry here at Work-A-Bull.  The words didn’t seem like they could be formed no matter how I tried and I couldn’t seem to focus on anything so I did the best thing I could do – stepped away and let myself heal.  Well, it worked and Work-A-Bull is back on track along with a few updates.

Update #1: The Work-A-Bull crew will be moving at the end of September.  We finally found “the one” in terms of housing for the family.  It isn’t our dream home but it is home and it is perfect for our dogs with a super large yard that is fully fenced in with a six foot privacy fence and per-existing kennels that the current home owner is including (which we will be updating to ones we want shortly after closing).  During that time, we may experience some down time online as we get settled but I don’t expect it to be too long as I may end up with blog withdraws over it.

Update #2:  We hit a local UKC show last weekend.  This show was hosted by the Michigan American Pit Bull Terrier Club in conjunction with the Michigan Gun Dog Club on Friday.  Our wonderful boy, Ryker, managed to eek out two Group 1s and four Group 4s for an overall amazing weekend.  Puppyface Orion had some practice time learning what UKC showing was about as well and learned that he must stand still for exams – which he thought was pointless because he couldn’t slobber all over the judge.  Overall, it was a good show and the first one we’ve been to in months so the dogs all enjoyed their time.

All and all, it’s all coming back.  Expect blog entries over the coming weeks and a (hopeful) return of Shelter Dog Saturday.  It has been long overdue and I’ll make it with a little pit bull determination and my dearest and most wonderful readers.

Two Weeks Too Long


It’s hard to believe that just two weeks, three days and four hours ago, I said goodbye to a dog I had barely begun to get to know.  It seems like only yesterday an old, crotchety pit bull mix known at the shelter as Pugsley weaseled his hobbling mannerisms and dislike of any dog he couldn’t domineer and push around stole our hearts.

In the ten short months that Gus called our home his, we learned many valuable lessons – like the patience and unconditional love and trust of a dog who hadn’t always had the good life which showed through on the many scars and healed old wounds on his old body.  He allowed us to fall truly, madly and deeply in love with his aged soul with utter abandon and his passing three weeks after being diagnosed with lymphosarcoma knocked the wind out of our sails as if we had been blessed to hold him in our hearts for the thirteen odd years he had walked this earth.

Gus was a truly special dog.  He was dignified, stubborn, tenacious and all bulldog even when his body began to fail him.  He pressed on even on those days where he hurt so badly that even a heavy dose of pain medication couldn’t touch.  He always wanted to be the good dog in our house.  He strived to always be with us – as close as physically possible – at all times.  He was a good dog – even when he was being horridly naughty.

Gus was the heart and soul of what a ‘pit bull’ should be.  He loved children and adults of all walks of life.  He had never known a stranger and was as polite as a gentleman when he was asked to be – even if he encountered a rude, ill-mannered creature in our daily walks of life.  He will always be remembered for what he was and not what the cancer stole from us in those last three, short weeks as a member of our crew.  That hole will always be there where he took a piece of our hearts and the hearts of those who knew and loved him with him across the Rainbow Bridge to wait for us and teach those lessons to those who waited along with him until we are able to join him.

There is never ‘goodbye’ in Gus’s world only ‘see you later’ because tomorrow was a new adventure and a new journey on a path that will lead to something amazing.