Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ambassadog Spike

Everybody loves Spike. Now even more people get to love him, as he's earned the title of Indy Pit Crew Ambassadog.

IPC has some events, like the Pet Expo, that we are able to bring dogs to. A couple of months ago, we built a "Kissing Booth" for this event, to help showcase the true nature of pit bulls- extremely affectionate and friendly dogs. Turns out it was a major success. We got about $400 in donations, over 2 days, just from the Kissing Booth (there was a donation jar attached). The concept was perfect, and people ooohed and ahhed over it, and were greeted by dogs like Spike, who had proven themselves to be extremely people friendly, and eager to meet as many of them as possible.

Above are a few pictures of Spike, the ham, being slutty with his affection at the Kissing Booth. He even caught the eye of a local animal lover (former news anchor) who has a show on one of the local stations called Pet Pals TV. She loved Spike and kept coming back and filming him giving her kisses (and her dog too) at our last event. He was even featured on her show (only for about 3 seconds, but it was still cute).

In January, Spike will be joining the ranks of the other Ambassadogs and getting his Canine Good Citizen certificate. After that, we will begin training for him to become a certified therapy dog. This is something I'd been thinking of doing with him for awhile, because of his love for everyone he meets. After the recent passing of a friend, who spent her last few months in hospitals, being treated for cancer, it became clear to me that this is something that I want and need to do with him. If I can spend a few hours training my dog to bring a smile to someone's face, who is dealing with cancer, or another life threatening illness, I just don't know how much more rewarding it gets.


I feel like Bella needs a shout out. When I was unemployed, thinking we'd be finding a home for Bella (kidding myself) and had a lot of time on my hands, I wrote a blog for her. Whatever, there were very few jobs out there, and my search was my first priority, but unfortunately it still left me with a lot of extra time each day. A lot.

Anyway, since I'm not updating that anymore, I figured I'd update here with some pics as to why we love her so much.

"Mama Bella" has so much patience. She has not yet met a dog she doesn't love (and between all of our fosters, our friends' dogs, and their fosters, she's met a LOT of dogs). She's a great dog, and I'm so thankful for her.


Snickers got me in trouble. Not really, but kind of. I came across this girl on Facebook. Another pit bull advocacy group had posted her, and like I said, I see hundreds of these posts everyday (it can get pretty depressing). The word "Indiana" in the description, caught my eye.

Snickers was living outdoors in a very small kennel, with just a decrepit dog house (see pic) for shelter, about an hour north of here. Her neighbor, a saint of a lady, named Tracy, had been going over and feeding her and making sure she had water (not a block of ice), and bringing her comforters to keep warm. This was 3 days before Thanksgiving. The weather was predicted to drop to below freezing temperatures. I gave Nichole the info, and though we were dog sitting Bert, and a friend's 2 pitties for several days over the Thanksgiving holiday, told her that we'd foster Snickers.

Nichole, being as crazy as I am, agreed. She did us one better and agreed to keep Snix at her house until the dog sitting dogs had gone home, and she had passed her temperament test. So we went up to Muncie to go get her.

Tracy had asked Snickers' owner if she could take her, as she'd found a rescue interested in helping her. The owner literally went and got a leash, and handed her over. Ironically, Snickers' collar says "princess," though she's lived outside most of her life. Tracy is truly a saint. Like I said, everyday she trekked over, let herself in the kennel and besides feeding and watering Snickers, she tried to give her some attention. She took her dogs over there, and they wagged and play bowed from outside the kennel, and Snickers showed nothing but interest in playing. Same thing with her 4 year old daughter. Tracy knew this dog, though having no human contact or socialization, was proof that nurture isn't usually indicative of a dog's temperament and personality. It's a lot of nature.

Snickers did well on her temperament test, but was sent here with orders to get as much socialization with people and dogs as possible, since she missed out during her formative months as a puppy and being an adolescent dog now (about a year or so old), it is important to instill good behavior in her. Bella and Spike have happily been "schooling" Snicky on how to play appropriately, and on the rules of the house. These dogs make my job as a foster parent a lot easier, because dogs learn so much from other dogs.

We're meeting a potential adopter tomorrow (with several other MHI fosters), and have a few more things in the works for Snickers, if she's not the right fit for the family tomorrow. More to come.


Ah, my Dutchie. This gorgeous girl was also pulled from the kill shelter, in Gary, IN. The wonderful volunteer who coordinates rescue for animals in this shelter posts pictures and descriptions daily, of dogs in need. When I saw Dutchie's description, it spoke to me. She was friendly with people, but extremely scared and shut down at the shelter. Scared dogs in a shelter setting typically do not live to see the outside. They're usually the first to be passed over, and ultimately euthanized when the shelter runs out of space.

Since Bella was the exact same way, I wanted to see about helping this dog. I got the ok from Nichole, and Mended Hearts pulled her. When I picked her up from Nichole's (her husband had gone to pick her up), I got her out of the crate and took her to the back door, to let her outside to potty, before we ventured to my house. She immediately sat at the back door. Sure it was a fluke, I took her out back, let her do her thing, and then asked her to sit for me. She did.

Once I got her home, I asked basic commands of her, and learned that she knew everyone of them, even how to "speak" on command. Man. This was someone's dog, and likely for a long time. She's about 5-6 years old. The gal at the shelter said that she never had an accident in her kennel. She would hold it for the 12-14 hours in that the staff was not there, and always potty outside. This poor dog was so terrified and shut down at the shelter, because she'd been someone's pet and likely lived in a home her entire life.

That was very upsetting. She was picked up as a stray. Was it because she had a family, but maybe they'd lost their jobs and couldn't afford to care for her anymore, so they'd let her take her chances, hoping someone might find her and take her in, because she was such a good dog? I realize that might be a bit romanticized, and possibly way off base, but having recently been unemployed for a year, in a bad economy, I could picture it.

Dutchie quickly stole our hearts, and those of everyone she met. We took her to several adoption events at Petco, and the Luv-a- Bully March (where she is in a Headless Horseman costume, above and below) and found that she loves children. Some wouldn't come near her, because of her cropped ears and 60lb frame, but those who did were rewarded with giant face licks. Not only did we see she liked kids, we witnessed her very appropriate behavior with them.

So when a gal contacted us about another dog we had in rescue (who didn't end up being a fit), we recommended Dutchie. The gal had a toddler, and had owned pit bulls before, and was very sad when she "lost them" in the split from her ex. I took Dutchess to meet her and her daughter, and it was literally love at first sight. The gal's previous dog (a Golden Retriever) had been so inappropriate with her daughter, that she welcomed Dutchie's gentle and slow manner around her child. Dutchie lies in the nursery during feedings, diaper changes, and play times. She truly is a great example of a pit bull being a family dog.

Her owner recently became and Indy Pit Crew volunteer, and has discussed wanting to get Dutchie her Canine Good Citizen certificate. And yes, I've told her many times I wish I could clone her, so all of our adoptable animals could have such great homes!

Bert and Ernie

Bert and Ernie are our first success stories, as foster parents! These brothers came to us about 6 months ago, at age 6 months. Indianapolis Animal Care & Control (IACC) found them tied to a light pole, covered in bite wounds. It was evident that they had been used as bait dogs. The gal who runs the shelter put out an urgent plea for these pups to get pulled into rescue, so that they could get to a vet (IACC isn't staffed with a full time vet, and does not have the funds to tend to a lot of injuries that animals sustain when brought in), or they would be euthanized, as they were clearly in pain.

The "bat signal" was sent up, and luckily I was still close to my laptop at all times (as I was still unemployed and job searching), and saw the plea, and wanted to help. Wheels were put in motion, and literally while Ryan and I were heading to an event with Spike for Indy Pit Crew, we got the call that if we would take the pups, we'd need to come get them immediately to get them to a vet, or else.

Ryan dropped me off in Hamilton County for the event and flew to the south side to pick up these boys. They were terrified and covered in blood and bite wounds, but still wagged their tails to see him. He remembers carrying them into the vet's office, one under each arm. Here's them in the truck on the way. The pic is blurry, but you can see how swollen and covered they are:

Once we got them home, we had to bathe them with a medicated shampoo, per the vet. Since they were so covered, everywhere, that was their best bet in fighting infection and helping their wounds to heal. This was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do. I was fighting tears and murderous thoughts while very gently trying to bathe them so I didn't cause further pain on their open wounds. Bait dogs are used by dog fighters for their fighting dogs to "practice on." They're usually puppies, smaller dogs, older dogs, really anything these people can find/steal to bring in as bait. They will often tape their mouths closed, so they have no means of defense against being attacked. These boys were the lucky ones, who somehow got away, and with non-life threatening injuries.

We named them Bert and Ernie, and quickly introduced them to our pack, as they would need a lot of socialization with correct dogs, to help them understand that not all dogs would want to or try to hurt them. Bella played a major role in helping these boys, as her maternal instincts kicked in and while she loved to play with them, she often schooled them in what was appropriate play and behavior, but in a gentle way, so they learned to trust and respect her. My pack did at least as much good in helping these boys than Ryan and I did with showing them love, and making them feel safe.

Fast forward a few months- Ernie got adopted by an awesome guy who is a friend of Nina's. He actually owns the sister of Nina's dog, Coal. Dia, his diva dog, loves people, but is pretty selective on who she is friends with in the dog world. I heard he'd been at the shelter looking for a playmate for Dia, and hadn't had a lot of luck with Dia's selectivity. I reached out to him and offered to bring Ernie to meet them, because Ernie's personality turned out to be super laid back, playful, but very submissive and easy going. We met, he walked up to Dia, wagged his tail, and flopped at her feet. The rest is history!

Worth mentioning- Big Ern (who we think may be part American Bulldog, b/c he's HUGE now) got his Canine Good Citizen Certificate a few months ago, and is welcome at Indy Pit Crew events as an Ambassadog!

Shortly after Ernie got adopted, a great family inquired about Bert. They had fostered for the Humane Society of Indianapolis, and their family dog had died a few years ago, and they were ready for another dog. They had many questions about Bert, and I talked to them a lot about his situation, and his continued rehab (as he was still very fearful and apprehensive of humans and other dogs outside of my pack) We decided to let Bert decide. I took him to meet his new family, and while I could tell her was nervous, he seemed to be pacified by the tennis ball he kept running around with in his mouth, their giant fenced in backyard, and the 2 little people who seemed to be the most harmless to him (the family's 2 kids).

Bert still struggles with his fear, and it will likely be a long road for him to recover mentally. Luckily his family is doing everything we advise and Nina and I continue to work with him, to help reinforce that the world isn't such a scary place. More to come on Bert's progress.

For now, I love to look at this picture of them. Happy and safe.

It's been awhile/Update

I started this blog when I was unemployed and had a lot more time on my hands. I'd just started to get my feet wet with fostering, getting involved in Indy Pit Crew and volunteering my time to animal welfare.

I've been employed for almost 6 months, and it looks like that was about the last time I updated this! And yes, Bella has become a permanent member of our pack, our 5th dog. Are we a little crazy? Probably. But Bella is such a special dog. Her love for us, our other dogs, and everyone she meets (dogs and humans) is contagious and inspiring. She's definitely "earning her keep" around here as our go to for foster dog socialization (especially the puppies. Bella loooooves the puppies).

In the meantime, I've continued my work with Indy Pit Crew, and in fact have taken a role as one of the Community Outreach Coordinators. I reach out to venues about holding our low cost vaccine clincs, how we can be part of other community events, such as Pet Expo, and Speck's Pet Supplies Customer Appreciation days.

One of my self imposed "projects" has been finding pit bull friendly apartment/home rentals. Likely our biggest hurdle is finding housing for our volunteers/supporters who have pit bull type dogs, as many management companies have breed restrictions, against "aggressive breeds." I decided to grab the bull by its horns and reach out to every property management company in the city and see what their policies are, and if we could work with them on amending them. Thankfully, JC Hart had been thinking along similar lines, and we're working with them to roll out a new pet policy in 2011 that does not have any breed restrictions! This is especially huge, because they have about a dozen properties throughout the city and surrounding areas.

In addition, one of my best friends, Nichole, (who is an Indy Pit Crew board member, and who I have Ms. Bella Blue to thank for bringing her into my life- more on that later) recently started a rescue: Mended Hearts Indy ( She named me Adoption coordinator, which I love, and keeps me very busy. To date, and I believe she started the rescue around 8/15/10, we've had about 15 successful adoptions. And we have 2 solid potential adopters this weekend, so we hope to add to that number!

Being involved in MHI is very special to me. We pull dogs from Gary, IN (at the kill shelter, who Bella was pulled from), whose only chance is a rescue pulling them, as they don't adopt out animals (they don't have the resources to do so), dogs who our behaviorist (Nina- also an IPC board member, who volunteers her time doing temperament assessments at Indianapolis Animal Care & Control) recommends as outstanding candidates, (who may or may not get to see the adoption floor at IACC, because they are forced to euthanize for space reasons), and dogs who are brought to our attention, that are in dire need of rescue (usually I'm the one bringing it to Nichole's attention- which she loves and hates me for!), i.e are living outside in horribly cold conditions, or whose family just lost their house and have to move to a homeless shelter. "Mended Hearts" is an appropriate name, for sure.

I will update with our former and current fosters next.

***note- I will not post about anymore fosters who were only with us for a short time, because they did not pass their temperament assessment and were not stable, and thus would have been irresponsible to adopt out into society. Ammo and Brian were hard, as they were literally our first fosters, and had to be euthanized for these reasons. This is not to say I've forgotten them, because I haven't. But I choose to focus on the great examples of the breed (pit bull) or species (dog)- the ones we can help and who do make outstanding family pets. RIP Ammo, Brian, Newton.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

RIP Brian

Tonight was hard. We lost another foster dog.

Brian had to go in to be temperament tested again, as the one he had about 10 days after he was shot wasn't super thorough. It's procedure for the pit bull rescue, they have to go through rigorous testing, unfortunately, because pit bulls aren't allowed to be dogs and make mistakes, or they're deemed killers, put down and have their story in the news. ::shakes head::

Either way, he failed the dog on dog part of the test. This was surprising (as was the dog on dog part that Ammo failed), as he was crated in the same room as our dogs, and they all sniffed each other when they walked by his crate, and he theirs, without incident. The rescue founder tested him with 4 different dogs, but just couldn't pass him. It broke her heart too, and she told me today was one of those days she wanted to quit rescue. It's just hard. You get attached, even when they're not "yours."

He was a good boy. He was driving us nuts the past couple of days with his barking and being kind of in a butthead puppy stage, but we loved him. I miss his snuggly little face already, and am tearing up as I write this. But, as the rescue founder said, for every Brian, there are 599 other dogs who never get the chance to make it out of the shelter, or die on the street. At least he was treated for his shot wounds and wasn't in pain, he was fed, he was warm, and he was loved. Doesn't make it much easier tonight, but I know she's right.

Here's to you Brian Pants. RIP.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adoption event

So a few weeks ago, in talking with our new "dog friends," Nichole and Aaron, I signed myself up for coordinating an adoption event this summer. This was something they did at a local brewpub a few summers ago and according to Nichole, they adopted a ton of dogs out because of it. Dogs who are in foster homes, like Brian and Bella, sometimes have a harder time being adopted, because they don't get the face time that the dogs in the shelters do. They're not as "real" to people when they're just on a website, versus being wiggly and licky and something they can reach out and pet at the shelter.

So I've been working hard, with another volunteer, to get this off the ground. We start Thursday! The owner is specific that he doesn't want all or even mostly pit bulls, so I've reached out to several other rescue groups. So far we've got dogs coming from HSI, the Southside Animal Shelter (where I might add, I got my Sidney when she was a kitten, 6 years ago), and the Kentuckiana Pug Rescue. We'll be doing this weekly/bi-weekly, depending on the month. The brewpub is right by the Monon Trail, and a lot of the "foot traffic" for this event in the past came from the dog lovers out walking their dogs on the Monon, coming to see what the event and cute doggies were doing there.

Like I said, getting more involved in Indy Pit Crew, fostering, and other areas that I can help out has been such a great thing for me, and really keeps me going every day (other than being a couch potato and watching reality TV ;) ). Making a difference feels good, and I'm well aware that once I do get a job, my free time is going to be a lot more limited to do these kinds of things, so I'm kind of soaking it up while I can.


A few weeks ago, actually the day after we took Ammo to HSI, there was an urgent plea on the Indy Pit Crew message board for someone to foster a 9 month old puppy at animal control who'd been shot that morning. If no one stepped up, he'd be put down (b/c of his injuries, they wouldn't let him suffer, but don't have the resources there to get him vet care). We had an empty crate (and the rescue providing the food and vet care for him), and his story broke my heart. So off I went to pick up this guy.

Ryan quickly named him "Brian," after the dog on Family Guy (who he sort of resembles). Brian had been shot by a police officer, after he (stray) jumped up on a woman who was walking, and she fell down and hurt her ankle. We still don't know why the officer was there/why he shot the dog. He's just a puppy, and as a stray, obviously didn't have anyone to teach him that jumping up isn't appropriate. Hell, our dogs still slip and jump on people if they're overly excited.

I took Brian to the vet (who handles the rescue's vet care pro bono) the next morning, to assess his shot wounds. Turns out he was shot twice, at close range, but luckily the bullets just grazed the skin and weren't internal. Where they were located (right over his spine), if they had: he'd be dead or paralyzed. Everyone at the vet fell in love with him and were shocked to hear he'd be shot, by the cops nonetheless.

We've had Brian here about 3 weeks now, and he'll be neutered in a few days, and ready for adoption. He's just a love, a very sweet boy. Other than him trying to lick at his scabs, he doesn't have any idea (in my opinion) that he was shot. We are working on the jumping, as well as basic obedience. He's very smart, and picks up on things quickly. We've got him wearing t-shirts so he doesn't mess with his wounds (more comfortable than a "cone", and easier to keep on him). We're hoping he gets adopted quickly. If we had a giant home and property, and and endless supply of $$$, we'd love to keep him. But, that pretty much goes for every animal that comes through our house. ;) I think Brian will be an easy adoption, he has such a sweet demeanor, and a "hard knocks" story, that I think will win people over.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mutt Strut

Today was the 2010 Indy Mutt Strut. We were super excited to go, as this was our first time! I'm so glad we were part of something so awesome, that raised so much money for the Humane Society of Indianapolis (over $370,000!)

Indy Pit Crew was/may have ended up as the largest corporate team, which was so neat. We surpassed our $5K fundraising goal about a week ago, and ended up at $5,775! All the money for this event goes to the Humane Society of Indianapolis. HSI has done a lot for Indy Pit Crew, in terms of backing them with shutting down Breed Specific Legislation attempts, and our educational mission, so it's great to be able to help give back to them.

They had been predicting rain all week, and each day the chance of it got higher. We had our ponchos ready and just knew we would be getting wet. I don't think we really thought about just HOW wet we'd get! We got poured on part of the way around the 2.5 mile track, but it was a great time. Spike and Josie were troopers and behaved like angels! Despite the weather, it was awesome to see how many people and dogs came out to do the walk. And the entire time we were walking, there were tons of cars just getting there (the walk went from 11-3pm). Same thing when we left the track. Way to go Indy, to support the homeless animals!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ammo/Big Man

A few weeks ago, my sister called me and told me that a lady had brought in a dog (a pit mix) that she'd found in her yard, with his face torn up and bleeding. He was an intact male stray, so it was likely a street brawl with another dog. She paid for his vet care and my sister called me, as the lady couldn't keep him and didn't want to take him to IACC, where his chances weren't the best. I contacted the local humane society to see if they had a spot for him. They told me they had a parvo issue but could take him in about a week's time.

So Big Man, as I called him, b/c he was short but all of 60 some pounds, and thick, came to stay with us. We crated him in the garage, since he was intact and seemed WAY too interested in the cats (who are not fazed by dogs anymore, so they'll walk right up to new dogs, which wouldn't have been a good situation with this dog). Sis named him Ammo, because he was a tough dog who had to have 3 drains put in his face b/c of how badly he'd been torn up. He stayed here with us for about 10 days until we could get him to HSI.

Big Man was such a sweet guy, and a very easy going guest. He was crated 95% of the time, and didn't protest, which was great. He was super happy to see us always, and at first wanted to hump me, he was so happy to see me. A spray bottle fixed that relatively quickly. In general, he was just a happy goofy looking dog. Didn't mind us cleaning his wounds twice a day, and loved being out in the back yard, marking any and everything he could find. Ryan nicknamed him Marky Mark because of this.

Sadly, yesterday we found out that he didn't pass his temp test. He had some issues guarding his food, and didn't do well with his dog intro. Unfortunately with those two things combined, he couldn't be passed. I consulted my new comrade, one of the IPC board members, and we talked about trying a couple of options for him. But upon talking with another board member, who actually did his test, and having her explain to me in detail why she didn't feel she could pass him, though she was saddened by it, as she said he was more social than a lot of the dogs at the shelter and absolutely loved every person he interacted with, and not having the space or resources to try and take him on ourselves, we have no other options for him. I'm waiting for the call for them to let us know it's his time and my sister and I will go up there and be with him and say goodbye. This is the absolute worst, and heartbreaking, but I'm trying to stay positive and remember that he was loved by us, even if for a short time, and to work even harder for the ones we can save. Here's to you big Man, you're a good boy, a big chunk of love, and we won't forget you.

The Paige/Deal Zoo





Thurman, RIP


I started this blog today as a sort of therapeutic tool, with the recent blow we were dealt, which I'll get more into later.

At this point, we're 27-soon to be 28- and 29, and have 3 cats and 4 dogs of our own, a long term foster that we will likely adopt when I get a job again, and a short term foster we've had for 5 days now.

Our cats are Sidney, 7 (holy crap I can't believe I've had her for almost 7 years now), Lucy, 4, Garbage, 1. We lost our male, Thurman, a year ago, almost exactly. We still miss his jerky little butt. It's funny to see a lot of the same personality characteristics in Garby, and love to play with the dogs (specifically the same dog- Josie) that he had. We sometimes joke that she is Thurman, reincarnated.

Our dogs are Spike, 3, Izzie, 3, Haley, 2.5, and Josie, 2. Our long term foster (who again, as soon as I am gainfully employed once again, we plan on adopting, as she has become part of the family, and fits right in with our dogs) is Bella, 4/5. (she actually has her own blog: Our current short term foster is Brian, 9 months. Brian was shot 5 days ago, by a cop. It's believed that he was a stray, and jumped up on a woman as she was out walking, knocking her down. Not sure where the cop came from, but for whatever reason, he thought the dog needed to be shot ::shakes head:: Ryan named him Brian, after the dog on Family Guy, as he's all white with a black nose. He's a super good boy, and passed his temperament test yesterday. He'll be neutered in a couple of weeks, and I'm taking him to an adoption event next weekend, and I think he'll be adopted pretty quickly.

I'm not a fan of wishing life away, by any means, but I'm not a patient person either. I really wish we were already to the point now of Ryan being ready to graduate, and us being able to sell the house and move to the country (likely Morgan or Shelby county) and get some acreage so that we could get the pittie foster/rescue plan underway. I'm SO thankful that through the time off from work I've been able to help get involved with Indy Pit crew, fostering and doing dog/cat transports. Working with these groups and helping animals has really helped ME get through the past 6 months of being unemployed. I've met some awesome people- Ryan and I are thrilled to have new couple friends who are just as animal crazy as we are! We've always wanted to get a place with more land, since we started acquiring our pack, and now I can actually "see" the need and how we could help a lot more, even with just temporary fostering situations, if we had more land and resources to house the dogs, again- even if just temporarily. Casa Deal has become pretty full lately!

I am so thankful to have a husband who is as passionate about helping animals as I am, and as sensitive about them as well. I don't know what I would do if I was one of those people that say "my husband would shoot me if I brought home another animal." On the opposite end, Ryan is partly at fault for why we do have so many! But in all seriousness, we feel that this is our calling in life, and what we are supposed to be doing, and want nothing more than to be able to make a difference in animals' lives. These 4 legged little terds are our children, and the loves of our lives.