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

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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

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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.

The Big C Word

gus-june2014-3935What turned out as a routine senior exam because Gus wasn’t feeling good has turned our life upside down for the last couple of weeks.  Gus has lymphosarcoma.  It isn’t slow moving and it is attacking his GI tract pretty nastily.    Our vet didn’t have a whole lot of positive to say because of his age and susceptibility to succumbing if we opted to treat our beloved Elderbull with chemo.  He said that the kindest option would be management and then helping him cross the bridge when the time came – which could be sooner or later.

How did we find out and confirm our worst fears?  Blood work.  We had taken him in because his belly was a bit bloated and he didn’t want to eat his meals and was having trouble controlling his bladder.  The latter is a common problem in the older dogs but I didn’t want him ending up with issues because he had an accident while we were at work and soiled his blanket in his crate.

The results from his blood work weren’t promising.  He has hyper calcemia.  He is anemic.  His thyroid levels were incredibly low.  All of that combined with the added insult, he alsogus-april2014-2622 had a Urinary Tract Infection – the one thing we worked to prevent with his accidents.  The final blow was the lymphosarcoma attacking his GI tract and causing the bloating and unwillingness to eat.

Cancer.  It should be a curse word.  This vile, vile disease is something that takes far too many loved ones from this Earth and runs rampant through our hearts as they deal and cope with this internal Hell until it is time for them to leave us.    We’ve been dealing with it.  We’re making our buddy comfortable.  We are letting him eat whatever makes him eat and keep strength up.  He has been getting to sleep in bed or we’ve been sleeping in the dog beds with him.  We have to keep him cool since he gets uncomfortably hot even though he loves to bake in the sun.  Whatever it takes for however long he has left with us.

We started a bucket list of things to do with him before he crosses the bridge – a “like” campaign on his Facebook page, Gus the Elderbull, in an effort to create a functioning memory that helps other dogs in shelters and a place for owners of their own elderbulls to come and share their memories, going swimming for the first time with us, eating an Oreo gus-july2014-4500cookie even though they aren’t good for him, spending all night cuddling with us.

It hasn’t been easy.  I’ve cried more nights than I care to admit to.  My husband has remained stoic but even he can’t hide the pain.  We’re having to make a decision that no person wants to make.  When is the right time?  Are we being selfish by waiting?  Is Gus happy?  We’re told time and again we’ll know but in my heart, I don’t know.  It’s scary.  I never expected to lose this beautiful soul in such a short time after we adopted him from the shelter – which is currently at almost two months shy of his September 23rd Gotcha Day.  It sucks and it’s something that I could wish on my worst enemy but we will work through it and we’ll make the best of whatever time we have left until Gus lets us know it’s time.

Ten Thousand Visitors!

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I can hardly contain my exuberance in writing this post.  I never in a million years would have thought that my little tiny blog would hit the big 10K in visitors to read what I had to write.  As of this moment we’re sitting at 10,003 people who have decided to visit!

As of July 1, 2013 I was sitting at 5,016 visitors – a feat I had never expected to happen.  When the 2014 Pet Blogger Challenge rolled around, I had set a goal of 10,000 visitors and was sitting at 8,463 hits at that point.  Things slowed to a dull roar as life got in the way of blogging for a few months but here I am sitting at that goal.

What’s next?  Well, there are a lot of plans to revamp and expand Work-A-Bull into a site that will help folks who are interested in being a responsible bully breed advocate, resources for training and competing for all breeds and other things that I’d like to accomplish to make this a well-rounded resource for ALL dog owners no matter the breed.  It will still, obviously, have a heavy bully breed influence as that is what started it all but I’d like to see it go to the next step in the coming months and years but that couldn’t happen without you guys – the people who come to our page, read our entries or even just pop on over to our Facebook page.  Thank you for helping Work-A-Bull reach the next step in our goals!  It couldn’t have been done without you all!

Book Review: The Angel On My Shoulder

blog-roadtrip-rykerncadba2013I had been hunting through various dog titles on my tablet’s Kindle app when I spotted this book.  On a whim, I downloaded it thinking that if I didn’t like it I could easily return it with no harm done to my bank account (which is usually crying because of my book lust!).  It didn’t turn out to be that way.  In fact, I pretty much devoured the entire book in two sittings.  It was one of the most touching stories I have read in a very long time and shows the absolute and utter dedication of one dedicated dog loving couple and their adoration to their beloved canine companion.

The Angel On My Shoulder: Life with an American Pit Bull Terrier encompasses the journey that Jolene and her partner, Cheryl, took in their love affair with their beloved vanilla-colored American Pit Bull Terrier, Rumer, from the day they picked her out as a tiny, squirming puppy until she crossed the rainbow bridge twelve and a half years later when her family was finally able to make the choice to help her cross.

This book is the ultimate tribute to a phenomenal example of the American Pit Bull Terrier.  The beautiful pictures that it paints of Rumer, her life and the tender ways she changed Jolene, Cheryl and their entire family’s lives for the better are truly astounding.  They show that she was more than just a dog.  It shows that she was a beloved and cherished member of the family and an amazing breed ambassador and helped her family become phenomenal stewards for the breed they learned to champion with Rumer’s assistance.

The book itself flows very easily.  There are a few parts that will have you grabbing for tissues (which I admittedly cried through) in where Jolene describes the Rumer’s health issues and her declining health in the last few chapters but overall it is a must read for anyone who loves the breed and has the dedication and time put forward into loving and cherishing a bully breed dog at home – be it rescue or purebred – and shows the reason we must fight for the integrity and survival of our beloved breed.

I purchased this book via e-book format for the Kindle app on my tablet but it is also available in hardcover and paperback as well.  I highly recommend it for any bully breed lover’s collection.

Happy Belated Birthday, Luna!

Oh, wow!  Where has the time gone?  I have been so swamped with getting things done around here  since I have been granted a few weeks off from work that I’ve hardly even touched the blog except to respond to comments and keep updated on the Facebook page that I failed to upload the post in celebration of Luna’s 11th birthday!  Bad, bad dog Mom!  Well, it’s a couple weeks late but here it goes.

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luna-cobo2013-6916It’s hard to believe that eleven years have passed since this little red brindle bundle we named Luna was blessed into our lives.  She showed us the true and utter devotion in what the American Pit Bull Terrier truly stood for in life.  She, even at her age, shows that zest and love of life even on the rare day that she is a bit stiff from over exerting herself in her quest for adventure.

She has been my guiding light in my darkest hour, the bearer of all things bright and beautiful and a whole gigantic portion of my heart that I didn’t know existed until I knew a young dog’s absolute and utter adoration.  Luna has taught so many lessons and broken so many stereotypes that it’s hard to remember on many days that she is canine and not aluna-noviexpo2011-291 small furry human being with all seeking wonderment in her eyes for whatever the day’s adventures may hold.

Without Luna, I wouldn’t have married my best friend.  She helped cement that bond and because of it, we chose to marry on her birthday so that it would be a day that was always remembered even after she had long crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  She has been there with us through thick and thin while we fought to find ourselves and become what we are – with our large family of seven dogs.

Luna is a teacher and by far the best one I’ve ever known.  She never judges and always is there ready to try something new.  I truly don’t know what I or my husband would do without her.  She is our foundation.  She is our shelter from the storm of life and we are both blessed to celebrate another phenomenal year with her sharing our beds, couches and our hearts and hope to have many, many more years to come with our beloved little redhead and her never say never attitude.

Veterinary Betrayal: Where Compassion Turns To Cruelty

Cruelty in the veterinary community is becoming less and less unusual to see as awareness is toward pets as family members rises by the day.  As pet owners, there is a certain understanding and trust in one’s veterinarian that the animal in their care will receive the lou-tiercebest possible medical care that can be provided within the confines of the owner’s ability.  More often than not, this is not a difficult nor unreasonably obtained but a recent case in Fort Worth, Texas has brought concern to the forefront of every pet owner’s mind when it comes to the services their veterinarian may be providing – especially during those last, saddening moments of a pet’s life when an owner is faced with the decision of humane euthanasia.

The highly publicized case of veterinary cruelty involving a long-standing veterinarian named Dr. Millard ‘Lou’ Tierce started after a former employee, Mary Brewer, contacted Jamie and Marian Harris on April 21, 2014 in regard to their beloved Leonberger, Sid, whom they believed had been euthanized in September 2013 after being diagnosed by Dr. Tierce as having a ‘congenital spinal defect’ that would destroy his quality of life.

The Harris’ were told by Ms. Brewer that Sid had been living in a cage 24 hours a day in hissid-ftworth own urine and feces and had also been injured by another employee during his imprisonment by Dr. Tierce.  Ms. Brewer told the Harris’ that she had not come forward sooner because she was concerned for her employment and the paychecks that it provided.  Ms. Brewer quit her job, however, the day that she told the Harris’ about Sid and what he had been through.

The Harris’ sought to free Sid from his imprisonment and went to the clinic, Camp Bowie Animal Clinic.  With Jamie distracting the receptionist and a friend watching the rear entrance, Marian was able to free Sid from his cage and walk Sid out of the clinic without any apparent lameness.  Dr. Tierce followed them out of the clinic and attempted to explain bowieclinicto the Harris’ that he did not euthanize Sid because some of his employees threatened to quit if he did.

Sid was taken to another veterinary clinic after being freed from the clinic.  The second veterinarian performed and MRI and confirmed that Sid had no congenital spinal defect and had been used repeatedly for blood draws – possibly for transfusions or plasma treatments for other dogs in his clinic.  After receiving these findings, the Harris’ filed a complaint with the police and state veterinary board which lead to a raid by police and the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on Tuesday, May 29, 2014.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Tierce turned himself into the police for a charge of cruelty to animals, non-livestock and was released on a $10,000 bond.  He was also notified by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that his license was suspended because of sid1the allegations and charges filed against him.

Unfortunately, the Harris’ aren’t the only family coming forward in this case.  According to MyFoxDFW.com, Ms. Jennifer Braden told investigators that Mr. Tierce may have taken one of the dogs he is charged with supposedly having euthanized and keeping it as his personal pet.  That dog, a miniature dachshund named Temperance Bones, was taken into Camp Bowie in October 2012 after Tierce told Ms. Braden the dog needed surgery and that if the family couldn’t afford the surgery they could euthanize the dog.  He told the family that he euthanized their dog but after he was arrested, Ms. Braden went door to door in Tierce’s neighborhood looking for her dog.  One of the neighbors gave her some startling news that she had seen Mr. Tierce walking that dog only a few months prior.  Ms. Braden firmly believes that her dog was kidnapped because Mr. Tierce had taken a liking to the dog.

The state veterinary board will be meeting within the next two weeks to decide the fate of Mr. Tierce’s veterinary medical license and if it should be revoked.  He has, when asked by the media for comment, declined requests for a statement claiming that the allegations are “all a bunch of hooey” from a disgruntled employee.

Skyy: Three Years Remembered

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In less than twenty-four hours, we are making our almost annual pilgrimage to the Palmetto Pit Bull Club’s show.  This show, which is open to dogs registered with the American Dog Breeder’s Association (ADBA), has been part of our round of shows since we started travelling for the events that the ADBA put in so many years ago.  This show, however, has a far more significant meaning because of a tragedy that struck three years ago before the club moved their show from the Burke County Fairgrounds in Morganton, North Carolina to their current venue in Waynesville, North Carolina.

On April 9, 2011 a fast moving storm rolled into the fairgrounds just as the puppy classes were wrapping up – which I remember all too well since our then little Mika had JUST finished taking a 2nd place.  Dogs and humans were moved into what we thought was safety but not before a wicked blast of lightening reached out and struck a beautiful blue and white dog named Skyy, killing her instantly.  The lightning strike that took her life saved her owner who would have no doubt died if this beautiful girl hadn’t taken the brunt of its force.  The reverberating force from the storm sent nine other people to the hospital after other dog show patrons, utilizing tables as gurneys while paramedics were called, was a fierce reminder to all involved that life was too precious.

Seeing fellow dog show enthusiasts waste no time to help fellow man and dog alike despite mundane dislikes or friendships was a truly awe inspiring.  No able-bodied person failed to help in some way – even if it was as simple as making sure those injured were kept calm and as comfortable as possible while every living being was rounded up and brought into the building to ride out the rest of the storm – which included softball sized hail that damaged at least one vehicle seriously and dented many others.

Those of us who were there have formed a far closer bond and many friendships were formed because of the sacrifice of one dog’s life.  On April 9th every year, many people change their profile photos on Facebook to Skyy’s photo in remembrance for the life lost and the tragedy that was survived and healed from.  We will never forget.  Play hard at the bridge, beloved little girl.  Your memory carries on.