Ambassadog, Extraordinaire: Vivian Peyton

Because we exist to celebrate all things pit bull, we wanted to take a moment to talk about a special little dog that you may or may not have heard of (no, not Georgia!)

Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/VivianPeytonDog?group_id=0

Photo courtesy of Vivian’s facebook page

Her name is Vivian Peyton, and her story is heart-warming. What we know of her past began at the Animal Care and Control facilities in Philadelphia, where she was rescued from a life that suggested a history as a bait dog. Her scars may bear witness to her past, but her heart is even more noteworthy. Thankfully, a special group called New Leash on Life USA saw that much in her, and pulled her as a student in their three month prison dog-training program, where inmates work to socialize and train the dogs in preparation for adoption. In this novel program, prisoners help dogs gain a second chance at life, both simultaneously working to redeem their reputations, all while learning from one another.

Upon graduation from the training program, Vivian Peyton was adopted by Michele Pich. Michele is a veterinary grief counselor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, where she comforts grieving pet owners who are working to overcome the loss of their beloved family members. On her own time, Michele visits children at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia. Michele knew from their first meeting that Vivian Peyton would make a great partner in both of these endeavors, and so she worked to achieve further accomplishments with her. Vivian soon became a Penn Vet VetPets therapy dog, and soon thereafter passed her Therapy Dogs International (TDI) certification.

Vivan’s touch offers an opportunity for healing when it comes to grieving pet lovers at the veterinary hospital, who gain so much comfort in having an animal to hug. She also provides an outlet for children who are subjected to treatments and extended hospital stays. Her owner tells a special story, ” There was a little girl who, since she had some surgery, had some scars, and used to get picked on in school,” Pich says. “We used it as a teaching point to say Vivian used to get picked on by bullies, and even though she has some scars, she has been able to rise up beyond that.” The young girl took comfort from that, and was grateful to just be around Vivian.

Photo courtesy of Jack McMahon Jr.

Photo courtesy of Jack McMahon Jr.

For all of her contributions to her community, Vivian Peyton was recognized at the 2012 National Dog Show Presented by Purina, where the sweet little Staffordshire Terrier mix was honored as one of three Purina Therapy Dog Ambassadors. It is clear to anyone that Vivian Peyton is an amazing ambassador of the pit bull type dog, and we hope that her achievements will encourage others to give an unlucky shelter dog a chance to do something special.

Slone, Ernie. “A Champion for the Underdogs.” Dog Fancy. 01 Apr 2013: 24. Print.

 

Good Dog Food Each Day, Keeps the Vet Away!

IMG_1310We took the two girls to the vet last week to get their microchips implanted. Foster Dad thought it was hilarious that when we walked into our vet office, Georgia waltzed in there like she owned the place… and of course, every staff member and veterinarian (even those attending to other patients!) came over to love on her and give her some treats. She really was like a celebrity! Of course, she soaked up all the attention like it was routine… why wouldn’t everyone adore her?? haha She is such a cutie pie.

These two have become so dependent upon one another.

These two have become so dependent upon one another.

Conversely, poor Gaige did not get much attention, but after thinking for a bit, we realized that in the time we’ve had her (about 1.5 years, considering that she is about 2) she has only been to the vet for routine work. This was probably only her second or third visit in that time. (As opposed to Georgia, who has been there for two separate rounds of shots, as well as skin and digestive issues.) We began to realize that before Georgia, we rarely had to make visits to the vet, aside from routine inoculations, etc. We came to the conclusion that perhaps this was, in part, due to the high-quality food we feed. Some may argue that it is because all of our pets are ‘mixed breeds,’ which we believe to be a contributing factor, but we are very happy with the brand of food that we have selected.

We used to feed a Purina One variety that was formulated for sensitive systems and allergies, but after more thorough research (which included a course at Penn State called An Sc 405: Advanced Canine Nutrition… best. class. ever!) we felt that it would be worth the investment to select a higher quality brand. We try to regulate ourselves to a reasonably healthy diet, so why shouldn’t we want the same for our pets?

acana_grasslandsWhile on various brands of mid-grade dog food, Tonka would experience hives. Georgia went through extensive issues with hair loss, rashes, and general itchiness. After some personal recommendations through other pet owners, as well as online research, we selected Acana Grasslands, which is made by Champion Petfoods. It is a grain-free, dry kibble, with no water added, and it is composed 60% of meats and poultry. Acana abides by a “biologically-appropriate” philosophy, and brings this approach to production of high quality pet foods. Perhaps most importantly, they never outsource their ingredients or production, allowing them to maintain control over the quality of their product and the authenticity of its composition. You can have more confidence in the meals you are giving your pet, without worrying about recalls or poisons. All issues seen previously in our dogs’ coats have not only dissipated, but their coats now gleam with health, their weight is more ideal, and they are more eager to eat than ever.

pod-grasslands-dogsWhile one bag of this food is almost twice what we spent previously, we have found that this switch is actually more economical, because we feed less than half of the amount we were used to feeding, so the bags last much longer. The Acana foods provide more concentrated sources of nutrients, and therefore go further. They are more efficient, meaning they include less fillers and by-products, which results in less waste for you to clean up in the yard! Our dogs actually enjoy this food so much, that we can use it as quick treats. They run to their kennels when it is time for breakfast or dinner, and asking ‘Are you hungry?’ is about the best recall cue we could offer!

Many canine nutrition experts will advise that you research your dog food brands on Dog Food Advisor. We were pleased to discover that Acana receives a rare 5 out of 5 stars on this site! Try to find your food on this site… where does it rank? Have you tried Acana, or is there another food that you love? Tell us about it! If you are considering a switch to Acana, please read the detailed analysis and review, found on Dog Food Advisor here.

Acana is in no way requesting or compensating us for this review. We just found a great product and would love to share it with all of you!

 

Busy Weekend

This was an especially fun-filled weekend for us! Of course, Sunday was Mother’s Day. We celebrated with Foster Dad’s own mom and father, who happen to live right up the road from us. However, Jonathan was also kind enough to surprise me with a little gift on Saturday, as the ‘mom’ to our pups 😉

IMG_1325See, we are not really that crazy… Sunday also happened to be our one year wedding anniversary! So Foster Dad picked out a cute dress for me to wear out to dinner in Pittsburgh. How sweet is he?!

I can't believe it's been a year!

I can’t believe it’s been a year!

I also got an extra-special package in the mail on Friday… we will be sharing the wealth, I promise!

IMG_1296 IMG_1298 IMG_1299We love Charliedog & Friends! 🙂

How did all of our friends spend their weekend?

Siriusly Fashionable

Happy Friday, friends! We will keep it short and sweet today. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but the collars you see on our dogs in most of the photos are in pretty sorry shape. We have been wanting to place an order with Sirius Republic since before we even started this blogging adventure! You may remember this post. Well, the time has finally come. We are ready to place our order!

Before we place the order, we wanted to check in with our readers. Do you have any input as to what collars we should order for the pups? We would like for them to coordinate between the three dogs, but not match. Also, we want the pattern choices to be indicative of each of the dog’s respective personality traits, and compatible with their coat collars and markings. By now, most of you probably know their personalities almost as well as we do. Do you think they are conveyed in our choices? Do you have better suggestions? Check out the Sirius Republic selection of patterns here!

Gaige’s Collar

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Gaige is the pup that is adorable, mischevious and spunky, and constantly getting into something. A daddy’s girl, she knows how to flit her lashes and wiggle her tail just right to squeak her way out of trouble. She loves to play rough but is also a cuddle bug. Also, Foster Dad has a thing for cherry emblems and vintage patterns.

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Georgia’s Collar

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Gia girl is the laid-back one of the group, never letting much get her worked up. She loves food and snuggles more than anything else in life, and is always up for some fun. She can be a bit stubborn, but only because she knows that she has us wrapped around her little white-tipped-tail.

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Tonka’s Collar

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Tonka is our gentleman, a friend to all! His haters call him a teacher’s pet or a suck-up, but they’re just jealous that he has brains, brawns, and beauty. Obedience and loyalty are his greatest strengths, especially when his mama is a part of the equation. As a high school stereotype, Tonka would be the handsome jock that is friends with everyone, gets good grades, and helps your grandma across the street! We are having a little bit more trouble choosing his perfect pattern, so can you help us by voting?!
 
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Red? Blue?

Red? Blue?

Take a look at their options and let us know if there is one that stands out to you as being perfect for the Tonkinator! We also love the gray sugar skulls, but are worried it might be too feminine for him. Also the Brewskies, and Bon Voyage… oh dear, we just can’t decide!

Do your dogs wear Sirius Republic collars? And if not, what in the world are you waiting for?! Sirius Republic has graciously offered a discount code to our loyal readers. If you are ready to take the plunge and make your dogs the most stylish ones on the block, head on over to their website and enter this code to enjoy 10% off: AFMF10. Thank you SR! You guys rock 🙂 ALSO, please don’t forget to enter the LCPO rescue code (RPLC97). This will send 20% of the sales their way, helping troubled pups like our sweet Georgia peach!

Enjoy the weekend, friends!

Dogs and Dominance

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This graphic pretty much says it all, so I will try not to muddy up their message with excessive wordiness. However, I think it is important to convey that dominance is one of the most misused and misunderstood terms in the worlds of dog training and behavior.

Just as most individuals who are educated in dog behavior can recognize that displays of ‘aggression’ in dogs are often based in fear, the mentality that we must utilize dominance to train our dogs was also originally rooted in fear. After a study of wolves in captive that originated in the 1940’s, it was suggested that if owners did not ‘establish dominance’ then their dogs would physically harm them. However, these early wolf studies were seriously flawed, in a variety of ways. First, the animals were held in captivity, in small enclosures, which is obviously far from their natural environment. Further, the wolves came from varying packs, which created a group structure that was volatile and unnatural. According to one biologist, these studies would be relative to evaluations of human behavior carried out in concentration camps.

Furthermore, while scientists agree that dogs have evolved from wolves, observations of free-roaming dogs have shown them to be scavengers as opposed to predators. They often exist in solitary groups, as structured pack-life does not prove to be beneficial to them when it comes to sharing resources. Rather, they may form loose groups that fluctuate as animals come and go frequently and with random duration (hmmm, sounds kind of like life in a human home, doesn’t it?).

Most importantly, aggression in dogs rarely comes from issues with dominance. Rather, we see aggression in dogs due to any combination of factors that may include lack of proper and early socialization, pain or illness, mismanagement including lack of training and use of aversive methods, traumatic experiences, or genetic predisposition (poor breeding). Most commonly, we will see aggression in a dog that has a lack of confidence such as fear or anxiety. This lack of confidence may come from any of the above situations, but it is obvious that it would only be exacerbated by an owner or handler that manages their dog through intimidation or force, thereby damaging the dog’s confidence even further. Unfortunately, those who believe in a dominance hierarchy when it comes to training our dogs, feel that the best way to utilize this phenomenon is through the use of force.

The behaviors we see in our dogs, whether positive or negative, are a result of the dog having found what ‘works’ for them. For example, a dog will jump up on a person not because they are being dominant, but because it is a natural greeting, where they are then rewarded by what they perceive to be attention and play-time… if you wave your hands at a jumping dog and ‘bark’ back at them, this mimics play and gives the dog attention. However, by ignoring the behavior, you are not providing any reward, which will cause the dog to eventually extinguish the behavior. If you can also teach the dog the proper way to greet people, and reward them for it, you are going even further as a responsible owner.

Our dogs recognize us as being different from other dogs. While we can gather clues from dog behavior by watching the way they interact with one another, the relationship we share with our dogs is so unique… after all, isn’t that one thing that we love most about it?

From personal experience, most of you know that Georgia came to us a nervous and fearful dog. She did not interact well with other dogs or with new people. However, by creating a structured environment for her, as well as slowly introducing her to situations where she could gain confidence at low thresholds of exposure, she has become a confident dog that thrives on the companionship of adults, children, dogs, and cats. I shudder to think what may have become of her if I had taken popular advice of utilizing force-based training or even just eradicated her exposure to other animals. Georgia is one of my greatest accomplishments, and her presence in our home is a favorite part of our lives. We are so glad that we did not fall victim to the myths of dominance, and we hope that you can say the same!

Dog Lovers Anonymous

My name is Stephanie. And I have a confession to make…

I’m kind of obsessed with my dogs.

Now, at first read, this might not sound like such a bad thing. Especially to our readers, who probably are all big-time animal lovers (if not, why are you still reading?). And at the very least, you are probably not surprised by this declaration. This is a blog where I write daily about all things relating to my dogs, after all. But for me, it has become a bigger issue. You see, it started small. Just buying them special toys and treats, letting them sleep in bed with us, you know? But if I’m being honest, it all began long ago. Yeah, I was that weird little girl who hadn’t yet lost all of her baby teeth, but could (and enthusiastically would!) tell you the difference between a shar-pei and a basenji, thanks to a dog breed book that went everywhere with me. My parents should have known then that I was destined to be weird.

However, I think that Foster Dad has been fueling the fire as my enabler, because we have officially become That Couple. I find myself only mildly interested in any conversations that don’t revolve around our dogs, and will realize suddenly that without conscious effort, I find new and unique ways to steer the subject back to that topic ever so discreetly. More surprising, I have even caught Foster Dad in conversation with other pet owners, where he is not-so-subtly trying to top their stories of ‘whose animal is more perfect and adorable?’. He will spend the drive home reiterating their conversations to me, aggressively and passionately recounting why Gaige is obviously so much better than Fluffy or Fido or Ferdinand. At the end of these diatribes, Foster Dad will exclaim that Fluffy’s owner is in fact a total jerk, and while had no idea how he hadn’t previously become aware of this over 10+ years of friendship, it was obvious that they just weren’t cut out to be friends. And just forget it if any of his friends dare purchase a purebred pup, utilize a shock collar, or presume to feed their dogs low quality foods or at haphazard times… perhaps this is a sign that my lectures have gone a little bit too far?

Worse still, it has become clear that we will often cancel or cut short our plans in favor of spending more time with our dogs. Why go out for extra drinks after a movie, when instead we could go cuddle with a six-pack on the couch with our pups? After all, the girls have spent the afternoon in their kennels. At least this has a positive effect on our wallets… but of course, any excess funds just go right back to the dogs in the form of expensive organic dog food and our dog fence fund.

The biggest problem is that when leaving the house without the dogs in tow, I experience a sudden and dramatic anxiety. My worry reaches new and unparalleled heights… have the dogs had enough to drink today? Are they worried, wondering where I am? Is my absence hurting their fragile psyches? Did I leave on any electrical appliances that could potentially catch fire and burn down our house? Forget the house, but would the firemen be able to locate our dogs? Should we place signs in our front yard to alert potential rescue crews to their presence? Call me crazy, but I have found myself turning the car around to go home and unplug all. of the appliances. Just to be sure. Friends, if you’re wondering why I’ve been late for most of our meetings recently, now you know.

Whooo. It feels good to get all of that off of my chest. Now I understand why they say that admitting your problem is the first step… though I don’t see my addiction ending anytime soon. And why would I want it to?

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Channing Tatum <3 Pit Bulls

Anyone else feeling the Monday blues? Well, we here at And Foster Makes Five are with you. We want you to know that you are not alone. And we want to do our part to make the day a little bit more bearable. Since our viewer statistics show that the majority of our readers are females, here is some eye-candy, with a pit bull flavor, of course.

Did you know that Channing Tatum has a pit bull rescue of his own?! As if you needed another reason to love him...

Did you know that Channing Tatum has a pit bull rescue of his own?! As if you needed another reason to love him…

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Woops... I don't know how this one snuck in there! Anyone else see the resemblance Foster Dad shares?! No, just me??

Woops… I don’t know how this one snuck in there! Anyone else see the resemblance Foster Dad shares?! No, just me??

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PS- For the record, this post is also a ploy. It is a test to see whether or not Foster Dad actually cares to read our blog posts… to be continued!

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In other news, Gaige has a :

Public Service Announcement

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If you want to continue to have our facebook posts (and those of your other favorite bloggers!) show up on your newsfeed, please be sure to follow the instructions above!

Have a happy Monday everyone 🙂

Nala Needs our Help!

Happy Friday everyone!

I don’t like to come to you with requests very often, but this is one that is near and dear to my heart. I’d like to introduce you to Nala.

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Nala was an LCPO foster dog, pulled from NYCACC not long ago, the day before she was going to be euthanized. At the time, she had sarcoptic mange. She was placed with one of LCPO’s most devoted foster families, who willingly took on her skin problems, digestive issues, and even a burst anal gland. Before long, the family realized that they couldn’t live without Nala, and decided to adopt her. They celebrated last week when they finalized her adoption. Unfortunately, just a few days later, during a checkup for her skin issues, Nala was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor. If this had been diagnosed earlier, the rescued would have found ways to cover her vet costs through fund raising and donations, but as it stands, Nala’s new family is being hit with some hefty bills, all in thanks for giving this girl a second chance at life.

Nala’s mom Julee is someone I have worked with while volunteering with LCPO. She is a tireless breed advocate and volunteer, and epitomizes the ideals of responsible pet ownership. She has continually served as a foster home for homeless animals, and even currently has a foster, a sweet girl named Sally who came to LCPO neglected and emaciated. If we all band together, we can show her that her compassion is recognized and so appreciated by the rest of the animal-loving community. I know that they will continue to give back regardless, by fostering and volunteering, but I think they deserve to know that their selflessness is acknowledged by some of us.

If you can contribute, even just $1 helps! Even if you are unable to give, please share the world and spread Nala’s link. I know that if she was sleeping in your lap right now (which she would do instantly upon meeting you!) or looking into your eyes and licking your cheeks, you wouldn’t be able to tell her no.

Nala with some of her four-legged 'siblings'

Nala with some of her four-legged ‘siblings’

If you are interested in making a donation, you will be my personal hero! There are two ways to contribute. Please keep in mind that time is of the essence.

1) Online donations: http://www.gofundme.com/2o7h4g

2) Nala’s Veterinary Hospital:

CARES (Center for Animal Referral and Emergency Services)
2010 Cabot Blvd. West Suite D
Langhorne, PA 19047

*You must specify that it is for Nala Wall

More information: After noticing a mass on Nala, it was brought in for a cytology, and came back as a mast cell tumor. Cancer is obviously a devastating diagnosis for any pet owner, especially when the dog is a recent addition to your family. However, the placement of the tumor (on her vulva) is notoriously more aggressive, and so it needs to be removed immediately, in hopes that it will not continue to spread. The family has already made the decision, with the veterinarian’s input, to try medications in an attempt to shrink the tumor. She will then go to a surgeon who specializes in such procedures, and cost will be due in full that day, which is between $3,000 and $5,000. Julee and her husband are asking for $2,000 in donations, and are prepared to cover the rest personally.

Any of us in rescue know that sometimes those dollars and cents we should be designating for a savings account are often transferred to helping animals in some way or another. We may be putting ourselves second, but we are rewarded by the notion that we are helping animals. Nala’s foster family could have been setting aside money every month for their own personal savings, but instead, they have chosen to donate their time and finances to fostering pit bulls for LCPO.

Sleepy, sweet, snuggly girl

Sleepy, sweet, snuggley girl

“A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist.”
Albert Schweitzer, Alsatian Theologian, Musician, and Medical Missionary