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This Day in My History

2001:  Whatever Happened to Yvonne DeCarlo?
2002: 
Irreconcilable Differences
2003:  Ravings of a Scattered Brain
2004:  L'Chaim
2005:  Feast of Famine

2006:  Peace in the Valley Again


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(Updated 12/8
"Tender at the Bone")

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"The Cat Who Could Read Backwards"
"Dog is My Co-Pilot"

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I'M REVIEWING THE SITUATION

9 January 2007

Ashley said something to me recently that made me feel very guilty.  She reads this journal (hi, Ashley) and said that because of some of the things I have said about pit bull puppies have made her reconsider whether the Yolo County SPCA should agree to take orphaned pit bull puppies or not.

I immediately started back-pedaling.  They aren't that bad, I told her, thinking of all the cute little pit mix puppies I've cuddled over the past two years, and feeling sad about the difficult time they have had placing some of them as they get older because of the fear people have of pit bulls and the stigma attached to the name (Marta's stepmother, a dog breeder, won't even let me say "pit bull," but insists I call them "Staffordshire terriers").


puppy Queenie and adolescent Queenie

It bothered me a lot to think of helpless, innocent puppies being left with nobody to feed them because of something I wrote about the breed.  (Look at how euphemistic I have become.  I have said "left with nobody to feed them," when the natural extension of this is "being put to death." I can hardly bring myself to think that far.)

God help me, but these little guys I have now are making me re-think that feeling.  I would very much like to compare notes with the families who are raising the other two thirds of the litter to see if they are displaying the same behaviors.

When Dancer lies on my chest and stares at me intently, her head tilted to one side as I talk with her about how she needs to grow up to be a sweet dog, not a vicious dog, my heart can't help but melt.  She is so endearingly cute. 

In the chair across from me, Walt is talking to Rudolph, who, like Dancer, stares in his face as if trying to figure out this strange creature who is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

But then I watch them play.  This is the most....aggressive... group I've had yet.  All puppies "play fight," but this group seems more serious.  They are quicker to anger, an anger that sounds more serious than it does with other puppies, and to turn on a sibling who is bothering them. 

"Those guys are....nasty!" Walt, said, watching the puppies at play.  He's never said that about any of our puppies before.

Of course most of the time it's just experimental play, but it's those flashes of temper that I worry about.

Lizzie, who so gently mothered the Rainbow puppies, actually got into a serious-sounding fight with one of the puppies the other night.  In fact, I was in my office and listening to the sound and I thought she was fighting with Sheila until I realized Sheila was lying peacefully at my feet.

I realize that the terrible sound was undoubtedly the puppy going for Lizzie and Lizzie giving the puppy what-for and trying to teach him a lesson.  If she had been serious about it, she could have snapped the puppy's head off in a second.  This morning I watched my sweet little Dancer, who comes up about to the top of Lizzie's paw, challenging the big dog so forcefully that Lizzie's lip curled and she began to growl at her seriously, until I made her back off.


Dasher with Lizzie, in calmer times.  I loved the photo.

I could never do anything to harm these little guys.  They are my "children."  But I am cautiously revising my stance on the SPCA "not taking any more pit bulls."  I will help save any orphan puppy that comes along, pit bull or not.  But I worry about what happens to these guys when they go off to permanent homes.  We've just read too many stories of pit bulls (and, to be fair, other breeds which people may consider "harmless") who turn in an instant and injure or kill someone.

Pit bull owners and supporters will argue that a firm hand can control any dog's behavior and make them safe to have around in all situations.  What happens when something unexpected sets them off?

It just makes sense that if we laugh when we watch little Aussie shepherd puppies try to round up all the toys or the people in their world because that is inbred in their nature, if we expect beagles or bloodhounds to sniff and sniff and sniff because they are bred to be tracking dogs, if we aren't surprised when retrievers bring things back to us and tracking dogs don't, because they don't have those "genes," why should we be surprised when dogs whose ancestors may have been bred to fight show fighting tendencies as puppies and may (or may not) go on to be fighters as adults.

I freely admit that I am not a firm enough person to control a dog who is bred to be a fighter.  Cesar Millan may be, but I can't even get Lizzie to stop leaping on people.  I wonder how many people think they have a firm enough hand and live to regret it.

I love these little guys so much, but I will be honest with you:  I wouldn't even be tempted to adopt one of them...


...not even when they look this sweet

With all the stuff that is going on with my mother, putting the brunt of puppy care on Walt, I've written to Ashley and told her it's time to start looking for a new home for them, so they probably won't be here too much longer.
 


I didn't go to see my mother today.  Our car developed an oil leak and Walt took it in to be fixed (I have since arranged to borrow my mother's car while she's incapacitated).  She sounds much more "with it" today and doesn't remember a lot of what happened yesterday.  (She doesn't remember the spirometer, for example!)

She finally had "the talk" with the doctor.  Apparently she could not have had a worse break (her motto, apparently, being "don't do things by halves").  They are checking into her long-term care policy to see what kind of after-care she can have, whether in a convalescent home or (her preference) in her own home with nursing care. 

It will be a good 2-3 months before she is functional again, apparently, which does not surprise me.  She may have made it through the surgery "like a 40 year old," but as much as she feels young, those bones are 87 years old.
 

PHOTO OF THE DAY

        
Crazy Dog Lady

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