Monday, January 31, 2011

The Denver Dog Killing Machine

Gruesome title, isn't it? However, it's for a good cause. Check out the Facebook group. This is a group of folks dedicated to ending the 21 year old "pitbull" ban here in Denver, CO.

Basically, Denver is the worst place in the US to live if you are, or at least own, an American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) or any dog that might possibly resemble the breed. So basically, if you have a dog with a short coat, obvious muscles, a blocky head, brindling, cropped ears or an athletic build, you'd better watch your step, because according to the BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) description here, all that makes a dog a "pitbull". In this city, if it looks like a chicken and sounds like a chicken, there's still a chance it might be a duck. And we don't take kindly to no ducks 'round these parts, ya hear?

Under Denver's definition, this Cane Corso is a "pitbull". Luckily, he has papers to prove otherwise.

Denver considers itself a "home-rule" city, which basically means they reserve the right to thumb their noses at the Feds and say "Nyah nyah nyah, you can't make me!" if they don't like or agree with some federal law. In some cases, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, when it comes to denying service dogs access to city/county limits because of their breed, it very much becomes A Bad Thing. That's right, Denver is refusing to allow even APBT's in an active service role to set one little pitty paw inside the county without wanting to immediately seize and euthanize it.

I attended a big rally downtown last week, put on by the DDKM. Right now, they're going for small steps in overturning the ban, starting with the ADA exception. There was a rather sizeable crowd gathered, over 100+. Most people had some type of sign, everything from the typical "Ban the deed, not the breed" to photos of their dogs that had been taken and killed.

 One person made sure the dogs famous for good reasons got some recognition.
 No one can really point to why Denver feels the need to have a draconian ban that rivals Ontario in it's "seize and kill" policy. There wasn't some huge, high-profile bite case. It seems it was a knee-jerk reaction to the case in California back in the 80's that sparked the nationwide trend of breed bans popping up like chicken pox. The sheer amount of funds and manpower being employed to "find illegal dogs" and "dispose" of them was staggering, especially when you consider what better uses it could be going for.

 Like finding actual threats to your children...

Now, myself, I'm a herding person. I like Aussies, ACD's, Filas, Border Collies, English Shepherds, etc. However, that doesn't mean that I don't love to play with and snuggle with the other breeds. Sawyer and I have participated in a number of anti-BSL rallys as "Friends to the Bullies".

"Please stop killing my friends."

I've had people ask me before, "you own an Aussie, why do you care what happens to some random pitbull?" Well, because BSL is not just about pitbulls. It's about Rottweilers, Dobermans, Boxers, Chows, German Shepherds, Huskies, Great Danes, etc. etc.

"But but but, those are awesome dogs!" comes the invariable response.

And that's just the point. All those breeds are awesome. They also have been, or are currently, subjected to BSL. In the 50's and 60's, Dobermans and Germans Shepherds were the "Demon Dogs" du jour. The Chows took that dubious distinction in the 70's, along with Shar Peis. In the 80's, the spotlight landed on the APBT and it hasn't shifted since. Because I'm lazy and in the middle of serious mutltitasking, I'm going to quote a note I wrote on Facebook back when the whole Michael Vick (*ptooey!*) thing hit the media.

The dog that eventually became known as the Am. Pit Bull Terrier (ABPT) did have a fairly unsavory past, this is true. However, in the process of creating a dog that would not give up in the face of adversity, these dogs also achieved a level of human tolerance never to be found in another single breed. These dogs had to be handled in the ring in the middle of a fight, oftentimes by strangers. Any dog that turned on a handler was dismissed from the fight and usually killed. No one wanted a dog that bit people. Any form of human aggression was systematically bred out of this breed, leaving it one of the most affectionate and tractable of all the terrier breeds. The ABPT consistently scores the highest on the American Temperment Test, beating out 'typical family breeds' such as Golden Retrievers and Labradors on a regular basis.

These were the dogs that so faithfully served their country during the World Wars that we have a flag from WWI depicting the APBT as the ultimate symbol of courage and perseverance. These dogs were known as "Nanny Dogs" by millions, as their high tolerance for pain made them perfect playmates for younger children prone to pulling on ears, tails or clumsily tripping over the dog during the course of play. These same dogs that would fight in a ring one day were implicitly trusted to watch over the dogmen's children that night and every day there after.

The APBT USED to be a favorite of President's, movie stars and television. Petey from "Our Gang" was an ABPT. The original RCA dog was an ABPT. The most highly decorated soldier in the history of the US Military, for his courage in delivery messages and alerting to the presence of enemies, was an ABPT named Sgt. Stubby.

However, in the last 20 years, PEOPLE have changed the breed. What started off as one isolated incident back in the 80's was picked up, sensationalized to the hilt by the media playing to the public's bloodlust and created this perception that the ABPT was a "vicious, killer dog." As a counterpoint, we are also the same country who believed that American Eskimo dogs were the carrier of rabies and in the 1800's, used to shoot them on sight in the street. This shows that the public, for better or worse, tends to believe what they are told by newspapers and TV (who have sales and ratings to boost) rather than common sense and real-life proof.

This has attracted the least savory elements of our society to the breed, who began to breed for and/or abuse for "meanness", thereby corrupting CENTURIES of careful breeding to the contrary. What was once the safest breed for people to handle has now been crossed with breeds KNOWN to be human aggressive and there now exists a few strains of APBT capable of human aggression, something not before seen and it seems to boil down to "urban culture". I am fully aware there is an element of racism in that statement, however, the facts still stand. THESE are the dogs making the headlines. No one wants to hear about an ABPT flawlessly performing his duties as a Service Dog or bringing comfort to hospice/cancer/nursing home patients as a Therapy Dog. It just doesn't sell.

We now have a country full of people who rush to the doctor to report almost ANY dog bite as a "pitbull bite", who cannot tell the difference between an APBT, a Labrador or a German Shorthair Pointer. The CDC can only report numbers that have been reported to them. The general public will find ways to brush off or justify a bite from almost any other breed out there, causing misleading statistics. Speaking of statistics, when a population contains 500 of one breed and 2 of another, with even one incident being reported for the group of 500 and none for the second, of course the numbers are going to appear skewed. Remember," there are three kinds of lies: lies, **** lies and statistics." --Mark Twain quoting Disraeli.
 Even with my lovable, adorable, fluffy Pirate Pants Aussie boy, I've run into issues. When I was looking for an apartment back in KC, I had one of those finder services turn me down because I owned a "shepherd". It didn't matter that I had an Australian Shepherd, that the biggest issue most people have with these guys is the amount of barking they tend to do, that the only thing in common between German Shepherds and Aussies is the fact that they're both herding breeds. My dog was a "Shepherd" and they just weren't going to work with me.

That's what BSL does. It causes stupid problems. It goes after EVERYONE, not just the morons who have no business owning a pet rock, never mind a living, breathing, thinking animal.

"I lurves everbody!"
 Luke, his collar and this picture are all property of Rebecca/Ella's Leads

This is a topic I could rant about for hours, if that hasn't already become patently obvious already. I'm not alone in that, even "Shorty" Rossi from Animal Planet's "Pit Boss" made an appearance and speech.

The footage they took that day will air on an episode at some point, but I don't really watch much TV outside of Doctor Who and a couple other shows, so I can't tell you much beyond "check your local listings!"

It's not just people who are upset about this. It's not just dog that are hiding.

"Are they going to come for me next?"

Disapproving Goat disapproves.

Yeah. There was a goat at a dog rally. He's a Nubian cross and just the most chill little guy ever! I've got a picture of me holding him, but you're all reading this to see cute pictures and I don't want to ruin it for everyone.

And he wants you to help overthrow BSL in your area. Because it doesn't matter what the breed, they're all dog and they deserve good owners.

Support dangerous dog ordinances instead! They focus on the individual problem dog and the idiot/oblivious owner, which is how it should be.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back to your regularly scheduled program

But first, an update on Miracle, who is truly living up to his name. He's standing on his own and eating 12-14 cups of food a day. He's still got a ways to go, but his chances are improving every day! He's gone from looking like a zombie dog to the poster child for neglect, but it's a big step in the right direction. Miracle first arrived at 33lbs and now, with proper hydration and feeding, he's up to 50lbs and walking under his own steam to go outside to potty!

If you can spare a few minutes and a few dollars, please head over to IDR+ and make a donation. The bill for a recovery like this isn't going to be small and like all rescues, any little bit makes a big difference!

Now on to slightly less dramatic happenings...

I've been participating in a group called "52 Weeks of Chazhound", where there is a different photo theme each week. It'll be interesting to see how the year pans out. 

Week Two's theme was "Black and White"

The other week, before dawn had even hit the snooze button for the first time, Engineer Boyfriend, Sawyer and I piled into a rented van provided by  C.A.R.E  and headed from Denver to Hays, KS to both drop off a gorgeous Dane boy who was going to his new home and to pick up a load of dogs that were going to be going to various rescues around Colorado to await their new homes. The Dane was too big to fit into any of the crates we already had loaded, so he rode loose. Once he accepted that Sawyer was NOT a pillow for his comfort, all was well and he spent most of the ride asleep.

Apparently I am a pillow for his comfort.

We made it to Hays just fine, forgot about the time change just long enough to order food from Applebee's, scrambled to get it To Go instead of sitting down for the leisurely lunch we had planned and hit up the rendezvous point to get the dog. It took about an hour to get everyone pottied and loaded (with some bits of french fry bribery) and headed back to Denver with 21 dogs and 5 cats. I wasn't able to get any pictures of the dogs because we were on such a tight schedule. Just imagine a whole lot of Goldens/mixes, some lab puppies, two bostons, a cocker spaniel, two akitas and two Newfie puppies.

Sawyer kept a close eye on the kitties when we stopped for fuel. They were pissed about having to ride with 21 dogs.

Surprisingly, the ride west remained much quieter than I would have thought, as long as we kept the speed up. Jake the Golden would bark his head off anytime we dropped below 65 mph, but that was about it. Kansas tends to get a bad rap about being boring, what with the whole "no mountains" thing going for it (ostentatious, much, Colorado?), but I will submit the follow photo for your consideration. 

Exhibit A--just outside of Colby, KS

Kansas does know how to do sunsets. This is SOOC. I have the whole slew of these on my Flickr if you want to see just how colorful the Plains can get.

So remember that shark Sawyer got from his Secret Santa for Christmas? The love affair hasn't ended, nay, it's gotten stronger. 

Dun DUN...dun DUN...dunDUNdunDUNdundundun (psst, that's the "Jaws" theme)...


"Dude, are you ok?"

 "I don't think he's ok."

 "Put me down! Auuuuugh!"

"Now I know how the surfers feel..."

"Fish are friends, not food! Fish are FRIENDS, NOT FOOD!"

Sharky is a little melodramatic at times. I think it's because he's resentful of being landlocked and an amputee. 

Ok, to apologize for my earlier crack on Colorado, I offer up this photo for your viewing pleasure.

Exhibit B--Buena Vista, CO

 Depending on where you want to go, you can hit up some good inner mountain action in about an hour. We decided to go the scenic route for about 2 1/2 hours to get to one of EB's friend's grandparent's cabin. Enough possessives for you? Anyway, tourists and natives alike love this state because Colorado has ostentatious stunning scenery, schizophrenic weather and lots of roaming wildlife. Except for Hank. Hank's roaming days are long gone. 

 "Heyyy you guuuuuuys!"

We were there for about two hours before Sawyer looked up and had a very classic WTF moment. 

"Wha..where's the rest of you??"

"Are you a zombie?"

"OMG it's a zombie! Alert! Alert!"

He eventually calmed down, mostly because he figured that if we were literally on the ground because we were laughing so hard, the zombie elk couldn't be too dangerous. He did keep looking up suspiciously for about another hour afterwards though, then Teva got him to wrestle with her and he forgot all about Hank.

Oh yeah, Sawyer has a girlfriend now. Teva the Golden. Teva is the stereotypical blonde--super sweet, not all there in the craniological department. 

"Yay! I haz a stick! It's my favorite!"

 Sawyer has attempted to come up with ways to enlighten Teva to the joys of higher thinking.

"Hmm, that didn't work."
 "And I go car-ay-zeeeee!"

 Teva's obliviousness doesn't extend to inappropriate biting.


There was a rather full moon, no clouds and enough snow on the ground for good reflective light, so I decided to drag along my tripod and play around with some long exposures.

 I'm rather happy with the results. 

Can you pick out Orion?

 I can't wait to play around a little more with this, especially when there isn't as much moonlight. The Milky Way is nearly tangible up this high and gets even better a few thousand feet up. So stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Miracle Needs A Miracle

I've been a part of a dog forum for nearly 6 years now, joined shortly after I adopted Sawyer and met a wonderful lady at the dog park who pointed me towards Chazhound. It's a forum unlike any other in the level of caring and support the members provide. There are, as with any large group/family, squabbles, disagreements and the like. It comes with the territory. One thing that always stands the test of time and the one thing that truly sets Chaz apart from all other forums is how we can all set aside personal differences and band together to help dogs in need. 

Like Miracle.

Miracle was found in an alley in Illinois, in the worst shape anyone had ever seen a dog be in and still have a heartbeat. If you watch "Animal Cops" on Animal Planet, you've probably seen something similar. I'm going to post a couple pictures, but be warned, they are heartwrenching. Get a box of tissues, shield your child's eyes or fortify yourself with a stiff shot of drink. 


Remember, this is NOT a dead dog. One of our members works with Doberman Rescue and alerted us to this case. Miracle is a literal bag of bones, but Miracle is fighting for each breath he takes. He's made it through the night now that he's getting 24/7 vet care.  However, this is only the very beginning of a very long journey ahead of this poor boy. Those responsible for putting him in this state may never be found and brought to justice, but there's nothing that we can do about that. 

We can, however, go to and click on "Support IDR" or mail a check to:

PO Box 435, Barrington IL 60011. 

Just note it's for the emaciated dobe from Gary Indiana. Any little bit helps, the rescue just took in another emaciated dog last week, so their funds are low already.

Don't you just want to stroke his ears and tell him it's ok?