In this picture Stella is worried. There are horses about and while both of my horses are kind, Stella has been bullied by some of the horses in the general pasture. Still, she comes with me when I ask her to - she shivers and shakes and quietly keeps far from any horse, yet she comes with me. She is courageous.
Tender is this girl. Her favorite pastime is cuddling. Her place is next to me on the bed. She loves her "softies" above all else. Stella has the greatest capacity for pure JOY of any dog I've been blessed to share the trail with. Her heart is endless, as is her desire to share it with all humans who can read the invisible "hug me" sign that rides above her head.
She loves to chew, sigh. I try to keep her supplied with abundent chewies. And pull? Wish I had a cart for her or the time to find sled pulling contests. She has never showed agression - unless I'm threatened. Once, along on an isolated beach a man (not a freindly type of guy) approached - Stella showed an assortment of growls and barks I didn't recognize. The man cut us a wide berth. Once a dog came onto our property and approached me. Stella approached the dog who growled at her. She responded. They became physical. Both dogs were uninjured.
Are these pitbull traits? Well, the joyousness and extreme hugability sure seem unique to Stella, of all my dear dogs. The bravery? I've known many brave dogs. The pulling? I hear this is a breed trait. The barking/growliness at the sleasoid man? I've had many dogs stand up for me. The jumping the trespassing dog who showed agression - same thing, other dogs have done the same, worse actually. But I have friends, I meet people all the time so see Stella and don't see the ginormous baby lovebug I know - they see a "pit bull" a "dangerous dog". This grieves me deeply and scares me to my core.
And so I am vigilant. Hyper-vigliant. We avoid other dogs when walking. Stella is ALWAYS on a leash when out in public. I don't like to leave her outside in my fenced backyard if I am not home. Actually, I prefer to have her with me always, but this is not possible. I am not worried about Stella waging harm on any part of the world. I am terrified of the world's prejudices regarding pit bulls harming Stella.
My most dangerous dog, ever? Here he is . . . my sweet Riley.
And him a golden retriever and possibly greyhound mix. Not a trace of pit bull. But Riley had to be watched every second the couple of years before his early and heartbreaking death by hit and run driver. Riley would, with great stealth, reach out and snap at passerbys. He once bit (while leashed and with no harm thank goodness) a little girl who passed us on the trail. Before he was killed, he bit three people (gratefully with minimal harm). He was unpredictable in his animosity and, I hate to say, a truely dangerous dog.
Regardless of beliefs, facts, preferences, opionions, or prejudices regarding dogs, breeds, and biting, knowing how to prevent bites is an essential responsiblity for all dog owners. Please visit this short and excellent blog entry on Dog Bite Prevention.
This face, the face of my dog Lena, is deceptively sweet and innocent. Don't be fooled. Not for one minute. You see the face of a world class TRASH HOUND.
I come home, put my key in the lock, and notice it is strangely quiet on the other side of the door. Stepping inside I am not welcomed by my wriggling, tail-wagging, two dog welcome home committee. The house is silent.
Into my office I go. Immediately my eye is drawn to the gleam of empty cans strewn across the empty dog bed. "OH NO, not again," I moan. In the kitchen the trash can has been overturned. Used cartons of soy milk leak their remaining drops onto the floor. My kitchen is covered with nasty trash.
And where are my two dogs? Hiding under the desk. And this one, cute little thing, she is trying to hide under Stella, pretending not to see me, hoping Stella takes the rap.
BAD DOG!!!!!! LENA, BAD DOG!!!!!!
Oh, how long can anyone be angry with a dog who is so damn cute?
For Dogs on Thursday I want to say "Thank You, Thank You" to my local shelterfor not judging Stella by a breed's mismanagement and fating her to destruction without opportunity to develop her glorious, sweet, funny, joyous, tender, loyal, baby self.
Stella is a goodly part pit bull and she is my dearest companion. Being her caretaker requires responsibility - to maintain my status as the leader of our pack but more than that, responsiblity to protect her from the prejudices of the world.
The tragedy of the Wilkesboro Pit Bulls - killed by the state after they were betrayed by the worst in our own species, goes to the heart of our
human tendency to grievously generalize gross inaccuracies and then act with tragic outcomes. While a County shelter may be overwhelmed with the burden of caring for 146 dogs, they had ample offers of help and a model of success demonstrated by the successful rehab of the Vick dogs. So why didn't they accept the offered aid? Cuz according to HSUS staff, Vicks was a lousy breeder and didn't raise "true" fighters unlike the the reptile Edward Faron (my apologies to the species), owner of Wildside Kennels, who was responsible for these dogs misery. So 146 dogs - INCLUDING 60 PUPPIES - were killed WITHOUT EVALUATION!!!!!!
Looking at Stella, I am again so grateful to the Humboldt County Shelter for thoroughly evaluating ALL dogs. For not succumbing to breed prejudices. Thank you!
Look at those three sweet faces!!! Missing Max sneaks up on me, sometimes a welcome memory, sometimes overwhelming loss.
Lena and Stella will tell you that it has been too long since we have gone for a walk - a DOG walk, just for walkings sake. Everynight we walk (one dog with me, one protecting our home), but that is focused on getting or caring for Red and Lyra (grrrrrr, horses!).
Our last dog walk was with our friend Katie and her mom Liz a couple of weeks before Katie birthed 12 puppies. Eleven survived and are now 7 weeks old. Those eleven pups form a ginormous horde of cuteness (unless you are a cat). Visit them at Katie's blog.
Today is a good day to resume walking the dog for the dogs' sakes. Yesterday my back went out. No warning - well, not quite true. I knew my hips were aching and one leg was clearly longer than the other. And I put off going to the chiropractor one day too long. While I woke up barely able to walk, my chiropractor's gentle adjustment helped immensely. Today I am much better, but STIFF. And needing to walk. Stella and Lena have only one comment, "ABOUT TIME!"
The second half of my life is full of what I love, starting with horses. I was honored to share my life with three horses (Red, Lyra, and Autumn. Each helped me to appreciate the other. All taught me to be present in each moment. In the fall of 2013 I said goodbye to Lyra and Autumn, helping them to take the final trail home. Red Horse is enjoying semi-retirement on 90 acres with his herd.