Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day, Sedona!

Sedona’s Gotcha Day is April 30th.  One year ago The REAL Pit Bull brought this scared little dog to meet Rocky and Lola at our home and see how she fit in before leaving her with us.  Having come to RPB six months earlier through the HSUS and Hello Bully from the Ohio 200 bust, Sedona is one of approximately 200 dogs found penned or tied out on stakes on the property of Sherman Bell, whom has since been convicted of one felony count of possessing and training dogs for dog fighting.

Sedona is afflicted with some serious fear and anxiety issues from being "raised" in a terribly isolated situation, but this is not about the negative aspects of her life. This is a celebration of an innocent victim's journey to healing.  In a surprisingly short time Sedona has grown into one of the best dogs I have ever known.  Even though her fear of the outdoors is still very strong, she tries to overcome it, and has made great strides in accepting her new environment. She is healthy and happy, fun and funny, her temperament is rock solid, and she shows her love of life in her exuberance for the little pleasures.  If I were to interview her, I imagine it would go something like this…
Me:           So, it’s been a year since The REAL Pit Bull staff sent you to live with us.  How do you like it here so far?
Sedona:     I like it fine, I guess.  Better than a barrel in the woods, fer sher.
Me:           What’s the best part?
Sedona:     I eat TWO TIMES a day!!  YAY!!
Me:           Yes, I know that makes you VERY happy!  What don’t you like?              
Sedona:     Going outside. It’s very scary out there.
Me:           What scares you?           
Sedona:     Noises.  I don’t know where they come from, or what’s coming.  And the kids.  They are so scary, I can't even deal with it sometimes. I'm glad you are there with me.
Me:           Yes, I can see how they could frighten you.  But they’re just small people, give it time.
Sedona:     Yeah LOTS of time!
Me:           I know there’s one thing you like to do outside!               
Sedona:     I like the walks on Sunday morning with all my friends.  The car ride is okay, but I get nervous, a little.
Me:           Tell me a little about the walks.
Sedona:     Duh, you’re there, too!
Me:           Okay, tell the folks about it who are reading this.
Sedona:     Well, we drive a long time to the mountains and meet my friends to go hiking.  I like them, they make me feel good, they have dogs, too, and they are really cool.  Nobody wants to hurt me, or make me fight, or do mean things.  Everybody really likes me! At first I was scared of them, I didn't want to leave the car and I just wanted to go home to my bed. I tried to make friends with the dogs, but not all of them liked me. The people were WAY scary! I didn’t know why you made me do this. It was very hard, and I didn’t like you after.
Me:           But you got used to it.
Sedona:     Not all at once.  I got used to the people and even made friends with some, and I forgot the dogs sometimes. I was still scared of the car ride.  But once I saw that my friends were there at the end, I got happy.  Now I just jump in the back seat when we go.
Me:           Sometimes you're too happy! You get a little rude, too.
Sedona:     (blushing) Maybe, a little. So sue me! I like my friends a lot!
Me:           What do you think of Rocky and Lola?
Sedona:     Now, they are a couple of cool dogs!  Lola can be a little bitc...

Me:            Careful! 

Sedona:     ... snob, though.  But she’s okay with me bugging her.  And Rocky, he’s funny.  He makes me laugh.
Me:           Yeah, he makes me laugh, too, all the time.  Do you have any plans for the future?
Sedona:     What’s “the future?”
Me:           Sorry, my bad.  Any last thoughts?
Sedona:     When can we play?  When we eatin’? Where’s my new bone?  You said I could have cheese, where is it? What about…
Me:           Okay, that’s enough. I get it.  Say good-bye to the readers…
Sedona:     Wooo wooooo!!

* * * * *
Here is a short video of Sedona before one of her walks, and some random shots of what she loves best.  She really does love her friends!

Sedona with Dee Broton, organizer of's Sussex County Dog Walking Group
 Dee is one of Sedona's favorite people, and the Group has been her saving grace!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

6 more weeks of winter = an excuse for a new sweater

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow but Staten Island Chuck didn't. Regardless of which ground hog you believe, we think these chilly February days call for new sweaters for Pit Bulls!

Dress A Bull is a canine clothing shop which caters to Bull Breeds and mixes. Through Valentine's Day, 10% of the purchase price of your order will be donated to The Real Pit Bull. Please give 'em a visit - they have some really cute sweaters, along with super nice coats and shirts that we're sure your Pit Bull will just luv!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tragedy in Brooklyn: Nick Santino & Rocco

A few days ago we read about Nick Santino, a struggling actor in New York City, who committed suicide last Tuesday, an overdose on pills. This story was brought to our attention by a Pit Bull advocate. In fact Pit Bull advocates, bloggers, and Facebook pages devoted to Pit Bulls are all talking about this story. Why? Because Nick Santino had a healthy Pit Bull named Rocco who he euthanized just prior to killing himself.

The building Santino lived in enacted a breed specific policy in 2010, but Pit Bulls living in the building prior to that time were grandfathered in. Santino was not required to move, nor was he required to get rid of his dog. However, it is reported that Santino experienced some harassment and was being pressured by the condo board to get rid of Rocco. Under that pressure, Santino euthanized his dog. Wracked with guilt over having had killed his dog, Santino wrote a suicide letter, then killed himself on January 25th.

There are many vigils being held for Santino and Rocco, by Pit Bull organizations and advocates, in their memory and for "victims of discrimination" everywhere. It was surprising and a bit disheartening to see that many people seem to be allowing the issues of breed specific legislation and breed discriminatory policies to take center stage, the "story" being presented as such that Santino killed himself as a direct result of the breed discriminatory policy in his building and harassment he was experiencing because of his breed of choice.

Harassment or hardship experienced due to breed is something we, as Pit Bull parents, can all surely identify with; many of us have had to experience discrimination ourselves simply because we choose to share our lives with Pit Bulls. Dog parents in general often are subjected to rules and regulations in apartment buildings or condos. According to a story in The New York Post, Santino and other dog owners in the building received harassment. Rules that Santino was subjected to - such as no dogs in elevators, and no dogs to be left alone for longer than a 9 hour period at a time - were rules all dog owners, regardless of breed, were subjected to. The new policy in Santino's building prevented new Pit Bulls from coming in as residents, but it DID allow for him to keep Rocco. Santino chose to euthanize his dog. Then, according to the suicide note, Santino killed himself because he felt he betrayed his best friend.

It would be hard to doubt that the harassment Santino was experiencing was a stressor that contributed to first the euthanization of his dog and then the taking of his own life. However, was breed discrimination the sole cause of Rocco and Santino's deaths; is breed discrimination the real story here?

The National Institute of Mental Health's website states, "...suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress; many people have these risk factors, but are not suicidal."

While Rocco and Santino's deaths may be an opportunity to educate the public about the impact breed discriminatory policies can have, it is important not to allow the issue of breed discrimination to overshadow the issue of suicide, and mental illness in general, which RPB feels is the REAL issue at the core of this story.

Many people experience the effects of breed discrimination as well as a plehthora of other stressful, upsetting, and life-altering events. Most of these people will not kill themselves. NIMH's website explains a huge risk factor for suicide is "depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors." Surely Santino was experiencing a myriad of internal pressures no one will ever know the full scope of.

According to the CDC, in 2009 there were 36,909 suicides in the United States, and 666,000 emergency room visits for self-inflicted injury. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says, every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide. But suicide can be prevented. Being aware of warning signs loved ones may be exhibiting, making the public aware of the myriad sources for education on suicide , and knowing where to go to seek help if one is experiencing symptoms of depression or having thoughts of suicide, are just some of the ways to lessen its occurance.

We surely hope the tragic story of Nick Santino and Rocco will help shed light on the problematic nature of breed discriminatory policies and anti-Pit Bull legislation, but also, more pressingly, the serious problem of suicide and mental illnesses such as depression which are the leading cause of suicide.

If you are considering making a donation to an organization in memory of Nick Santino and Rocco, in order to help fight breed discrimination, please also consider making a donation to an organization that works to prevent suicide.

Our hearts go out to Nick Santino, Rocco, and their friends and family. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"I'm a Pit Bull parent, and...."

Last week we posed this fill-in-the-blank question on Facebook: "I'm a Pit Bull parent, and...."

We got such a wide variety of responses from all sorts of people whose lives are enriched by their Pit Bulls in all sorts of ways. Below is a compilation of those responses.

Lovemybully76: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and proud of it!"

Fureverywhere: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and I learn something new from my Ophie every day!"

CA Puzio: "I am a Pit Bull Parent and it has changed my life, for together we have learned to self realize and cope with the anxiety within."

Catstina: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and I'm studying to be a Psychologist."

JohnR: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and am typical of MANY people who work professionally with animals: Pit Bulls are my favorite breed of dog!"

Dlester: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and grateful every day."

Pitbullmamaliz: "I'm a Pit Bull parent, and through her I've had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people with the biggest hearts."

Wannabeowner: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and have the cuddliest, snuggliest, silliest dog EVER!"

Daves: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and my only regret is that I didn't become one sooner."

Erins66: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and I vote."

Barbara Cooper: ‎"I'm a Pit Bull parent, and Terrojax is God's gift to me. He came to me as an owner surrender and found out the next day he had parvo. I nursed him back to health and now he is an awesome 6 year old. I am hard of hearing and he is my ears. He is my best friend and companion. I love my hairy son. I was not sure of him at first because of all the publicity you hear. You just have to live with him to know. Thank you for my best friend. Terrojax momma loves you bunches."

Thérése Weiner: "I teach children with multiple disabilities and I'm a proud American Pit Bull Terrier parent. Several of my dogs are certified working therapy dogs. So you can say, we put the pits in the hos'pit'al & the bull in the reading programs at the li-bull-ary among the other venues we work."

Patti Deschaine: "I'm a pit bull parent of two of the most fantastic, loving animals I have ever known. More like four legged, speech challenged children. So connected to my pitties!"

Cheryl Clauss: "I am a pitbull parent to 9 month old Sapphira, a blue fawn, and aunt to 5 yr old Knucklehead. The depth of love this breed shows to their humans is amazing! We don't "own" pitbulls, we are their people!"

Meghan Ridings Cabalar: "I am a Pit Bull parent and my 2 Pits live with my 4 children and are around the children I babysit and provide excellent love and companionship to us all!"

Will Rice: ‎"I'm a Pit Bull parent, and a foster parent to children in need, and an adoptive parent to a son I love, and a United Methodist Pastor."

Kelly Andrews: ‎"I am a Pit Pull parent to a special needs Pit Bull who loves to be the surrogate momma to orphan kittens!"

Kevin Knabe: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and proud to have such a loving, smart, American breed of dog(APBT that is!)"

Julia Fabiani: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and I am a responsible owner who takes time to educate people who either don't know about them, or have misconceptions."

Julie Strader: ‎"I'm a Pit Bull parent, and every day is a gift of love, cuddling, butt wiggles, and clownish fun!"

Talia Miller: "I'm a Pit Bull parent, and I couldnt imagine not being one ever."

Adrea Garcia-Smith: "I'm a Pit Bull parent, and our boys Roscoe & Hendrix are just the sweetest, goofiest Pits around and are very smart!! They love my 3 girls and cuddling in bed with them!! They're big babies."

Stacey Allen Suazo: "I am a Pit Bull parent, an attorney, a professional dog trainer, a business owner, a wife and a mother. I am a responsible parent who teaches my dogs and children how to behave responsibly around others. After 30+ years of having multiple dogs in my life, my Pit Bull has been the best behaved and easiest to train pet I've ever had. He rewards me and my family each day with boundless devotion and love. My Pit Bull is neutered, well-socialized, and lives inside with our family."

Yajaira Rivera: "I am a Pit Bull parent and I am blessed with such a breed. Smart, beautiful, loving, loyal and goofy :) Diesel is his name and love him so much.... we are inseparable."

Alexandra Beck: "I am a Pit Bull parent, teacher, and guardian, and veterinary nurse. I wished and waited for a dog exactly like my Luna: sweet, smart, affectionate, loyal and kind - a true best friend. It was worth the wait!"

Cindy Tierney: "I am a Pit Bull parent and proud of it, would never get a different breed."

Tammy Gravely Townsend: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and advocate for the breed I love the most. I am a mother, a grandmother and Pit Bulls are a part of my family. Can't imagine life without Pit Bulls."

Sarah Edewaard Hamilton: "I am a Pit Bull parent w/two spoiled rotten extremely lovable pits that make me so happy when I come home and just want to be loved on and cuddled. They are sweet, extremely smart and very loyal. Oh and the most important, they LOVE children."

Maggie Van Etten: "I am a Pit Bull parent of Nina the Elderbull and volunteer for a Pit Bull focused rescue and have never met a Pit Bull I didn't fall in love with, LOL! But then again, that's easy to do!"

Brooke Watkins: "I am a Pit Bull parent to a wonderful sweet Pit Bull whom is very intelligent, smart, and loving. She is easy to train and picks stuff up quickly. She loves my boyfriend's kids and shows enormous amounts of Affection by giving tons of kisses as often as we let her. I wouldn't give her up for anything, and I love taking her everywhere with me and showing people how well behaved she is and all of the tricks and commands she knows."

Sarah Edewaard Hamilton: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and our dogs' names are Angel (she lives up to that name) & Rebel (he's 5 mo. and so much fun)."

Nola-And Tom Petty: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and wouldn't have it any other way & enjoy filling people in of the FACTS instead of all the Pit Pull myths!"

Emily Sieger: "I am a Pit Bull parent, whose rescued gamebred APBT was the favorite therapy dog of all the residents at my mom's nursing home because of his loving gentle nature."

Carol Brown Hunt: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and I have never met a sweeter or more loyal dog....It all depends on how they are raised and taken care of....and loved by their family."

Jennifer Swensen: :I am a Pit Bull parent, and I am responsible and proud to be owned by a Pit Bull."

Claudia Chain: "I am a Pit Bull parent and I am glad I didn't listen to the people who said that my dog was going to eat me in my sleep."

Ana Beck: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and I will NEVER apologize for it!! My Pit is a sweet, loving, loyal, and irreplaceable member of my family. I challenge anyone who doesn't like Pit Bulls to come spend an afternoon with mine. Watch my nephew cuddle and take naps with him, watch him play with other dogs, and watch him try to give his chew toys to my dad's Cockatiel and then say they aren't trustworthy pets. I love my Pit and I won't apologize for it!!"

Sue Stiely: "I am a Pit Bull parent of 6 girls over the years and will never be without one. I try to educate to the best of my abililty and two of my girls were certified tehrapy dogs. I have had dogs who were quite dog friendly, and some that were not so dog friendly, but I knew their behaviors, stayed aware and have never had one incident involving my dogs or others. I don't ever want to lose the oppurtunity to own the breed and do my best to improve thier reputation."

Victory Plumbing: "I'm a Pit Bull grandparent! After losing my own dog Buddy after 16 yrs, my son's dog Bailie has filled the void of the loss. I don't want anything but a Pit Bull for my next dog."

Nicholas Overturf: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and I have never had such a loving, obedient and beautiful animal in all my life. I miss you Baby Grrr..."

Susan Grattan: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and my baby girl Halo is my life. She is always there when I cry, laugh, or just need a hug or high five."

Melissa Long Truempy: "I am a Pit Bull parent, and I have a 56 pound lap dog/teddy bear/lover boy/and playmate for my seven year old daughter. He is 1 year old today, and has a 10 1/2 year old Pittie sister-who happens to be the smartest dog I've ever known! Both rescue pups, both unique, both irreplaceable."

Chelsey Johnson: "I'm a Pit Bull parent & she is the most loving and loyal dog I could ever ask for."

Amy Hendrickson: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and my dogs both have their CGC, one has his TT and he's doing great in both agility and flyball."

Perfectpit: "I'm a Pit Bull parent and I am blessed every day with his unconditional love and devotion."

Kenzie Smith: "I am a Pit Bull parent and proud of it!!"