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.

 

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

Fundraiser: Prize #3 – Siriusly Cool!

Try to think back to one of your more intimidating transitions to the first day of classes. Perhaps it was your entrance into middle or high school. At least for any of us girly-girls, the first day of school was all about The Outfit. It had to be just right; not too dressy, so that you looked like you were trying too hard, but just put together enough to turn a few heads. You know what I’m talking about… Anyway, in each generation, there was that one Had-to-Have item to complete every wardrobe. You saw all the upperclassmen with it, and knew that if you could just get your hands on one of your own, your life would be complete, and your social status would be secured. Maybe it was a certain accessory: a cool pair of Doc Martens a few decades ago, which might be comparable to a comfy set of Uggs these days. Regardless, these items served as the ultimate status symbol in the ever-evolving hierarchy of your pre-pubescent peers. (Okay, so maybe all of you weren’t also fashion-focused drama-queens… )

Sirius Republic: Custom Collars

You may be asking yourself, how on Earth does this relate to dogs? Well, I’m getting there. About a year ago, I began following some popular blogs relating to pit bull rescue and fostering, and I was instantly hooked. I noticed that all of these famous dogs, who were practically celebrities in my eyes, sported such attractive collars. I found myself wondering if their owners all had superb taste, or just happened to shop at the same places! In fact, it turns out that both assumptions are true… the discerning owners of some of our favorite pup-stars, all choose to shop at Sirius Republic. Don’t believe me? I have photographic evidence!

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Turk & Rufus, & all of their foster siblings (L, above) – from Our Waldo Bungie

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Athena – from Pitlandia

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Heidi – from Kate with a Camera

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And of course, The Chickster and Doodlebug – from Love & a 6-Foot Leash. (‘Bug, shown above, just so happens to be Gaige’s celebrity crush… don’t tell him though, I think she would be embarrassed.)

In case those precious mugs weren’t enough to make you fall madly in love with Sirius Republic, let me tell you more. First of all, they offer an INSANE amount of fabrics from which you can choose, in order to find a pattern most appropriate for your pup’s particular style and personality. They also have various styles of collar, with the martingale being the most popular. This allows the collar to be removed easily, without letting the dog pull out of it when leashed. It is all the rage for foster families to scoop up a Sirius collar for their new foster dogs, to symbolize their journey to a new life! Oftentimes, they keep these collars, and then send their dog off with a brand new style, once they’ve been adopted. We just love that idea!

While they are well-known for their collars, Sirius Republic also branches out into other areas of fashion. One of my favorite new products is the Sirius ‘Snood,’ which offers the ultimate in warmth and style. It is essentially a neck warmer for your dog! Two of their patterns are modeled on the dashing Miss M and the dapper Mr B from Two Pitties in the City.

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Based in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, Sirius Republic makes high-quality products, and truly cares about the satisfaction of each and every customer. Even more impressive, they are proud supporters of animal rescue organizations, including ours, LCPO! A portion of every sale is donated to their partnering animal rescues. To make a purchase from Sirius, simply enter in the LCPO code (RPLC97) and you will be (stylishly!) helping pit bulls in need!

Compliments of Sirius, one of our lucky winners will have the opportunity to select a dog collar in the pattern of their choice!  All you need to do to is enter our contest, which benefits LCPO. Each $10 donation you pledge will qualify you for one entry towards any of our 10 prizes! These giveaways will be announced each day, but remember that we have already unveiled some here and here. We are working to raise $500, and have only had a few donations made… that means that your chances of winning something are about 100%, as of today! So get to it, people. 😉

Fundraiser: Unveiling Prize #1

On Friday, I introduced all of you to our fundraiser and giveaway, which will benefit our rescue, LCPO! You may remember that I promised to offer 2 prizes, to be given away at random to two of the generous donators. I am so happy to report that the response to our fundraiser has been so great, that we will be able to provide much more than that! Over the next few days, I will be bringing you information on each of our generous sponsors, all of whom create products that we passionately support and/or utilize ourselves! I can’t wait to introduce you to these guys!! Not only that, but we have decided that to be most fair, for each donation in increments of $10, you will be entered to win. For example, if you make a $20 donation, you will be entered twice!

Little Bow Pup: Quilted Bow Tie

We are so in love with the 'sugar skulls' pattern!

We are so in love with the ‘sugar skulls’ pattern!

One of the prizes I am most excited about is this gorgeous bow tie, generously donated by Little Bow Pup! Their Etsy store offers a quick way to check out stunning pup accessories, meant to dress up any collar or harness. These accessories include bow ties and flowers, and they are artfully handcrafted and quilted by our friend Ashley, who also runs the blog Pitlandia. What a small world! The girls in our house are especially salivating over these goodies, but Little Bow Pup provides accessories for the four-legged boys & girls! We will definitely be purchasing a few of our own. Why shouldn’t our pups be as fashionable and well-dressed as their owner tries to be?!

Did I mention that they also sell whimsical tutus? I am such a sucker for a pittie butt, especially when they are encircled by brightly-colored tulle!

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Check out the Little Bow Pup facebook page for some gorgeous shots of Ashley’s diva dog, Athena, modeling her goods. She is a rescued pittie, and quite the spoiled one at that! Don’t your dogs deserve to be outfitted as fashionably as Miss Athena?

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All joking aside… while there is nothing more amusing than dressing up our dogs, remember that there is a higher purpose associated with this act. We are all about advocating for the lovable snuggle-bugs that we know as pit bulls. A big muscley dog dressed in a tu-tu is a great way to encourage people to approach your dog for some quality cuddle time… which you can take as an opportunity to advocate for your breed! Who wouldn’t want to meet a dashing, dapper dog dressed up in a bow-tie?! These accessories especially serve a great purpose when it comes to foster dogs. The more people your foster dog meets-and-greets, the more likely they are to find a great home! Finally, accessories like these can make a great donation to your local shelter, as they work really well to create interest pieces in photos of shelter pups. Thanks to Ashley for creating a product that is not only fun and adorable, but also helps spread awareness for our bully breeds.

A most sincere thank you goes out to those of you who have already donated and/or shared, as well as to our contributors. It is funny how in times like these, you can find out who your real supporters are! If you are dying to be entered to win your very own bow tie from our generous friends Ashley & Athena at Little Bow Pup, head here to make a donation to our fundraiser for LCPO! Remember, each donation in increments of $10 will earn you an additional entry.

All photos on this post courtesy of Little Bow Pup!

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday : Birthday Tutu

IMG_0426It’s a big dog. In a little pink tu-tu. Come on, does it get any cuter than that?!

Actually, it does. I celebrated a birthday last weekend, and my amazing brother sent me this card. Not only that, but he also sent a little bit of moolah for me (because he said I do too much for the dogs, and should have something to spend on myself) and ALSO pledged a donation to our rescue, in my name. Can you say, “Awwwww“?! And yes ladies, he is single. 😉 But I must warn you that the application and interview process is stringent…

Thanks T-Bone! You are the best brother ever, and I didn’t need this card to prove it!

 

The Holiday Season

Does anyone else out there feel like they are just now recovering from the hectic holidays? Or is it just me… NOT that I am complaining, however. To be honest, I basically threw a full blown temper tantrum when taking down our Christmas decorations last week. I love the way the twinkling lights emit a soft glow throughout our home. And while I’m being honest, I may as well just admit that while the ornaments are stowed safely away, the strands of lights have been carefully wrapped and stored, and the stockings folded together, our Christmas Tree still stands in all its glory… dripping needles need not be mentioned.

In case any of you are feeling the same post-holiday depression that I am, I thought I would share some details of Georgia’s first Christmas! You heard yesterday how perfectly she behaved with all of the activity, and many people entering and exiting our home. I thought I would share some of what I would imagine to be Georgia’s best memories!

I may or may not have spent a night in the hospital just before my family arrived for the holidays. All I wanted was to be home & healthy; baking, cooking, cleaning, and preparing for our first Christmas as newlyweds. When I finally got back, the dogs were on hand to spoil me with cuddles and kisses. I’m telling you, at this point, whomever adopts our girl is not just getting a great family dog, but pretty much a registered nurse as well.

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Who needs a blanket?

Who needs a blanket?

Once I was home and on my way to recovery, we were able to enjoy the family that was in town, and include the pups in our celebrations.

Sleeping while we open presents

Sleeping while we open presents

Opening her first stocking gift, from her family in VA ! This may have been her favorite.

Opening her first stocking gift, from her family in VA ! This may have been her favorite.

:)

🙂

PLEASE tell me... does it get any cuter than this??

PLEASE tell me… does it get any cuter than this??

What I really wanted to share with all of you is a fun video of the pups playing in the snow! Be prepared to watch Georgia get super adorable.

Interested in adopting our precious girl Gia? Of course you are!

Read more about her here, or check out our facebook page here.

If you are already in love, you can email Stephanie (Foster Mom) at sel1490@gmail.com, or you can talk with the rescue president Christine, at nepabullies@gmail.com.

Finally, you can check out her Petfinder profile, where you will find adoption applications and additional information.

 

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

…Or at least, that is my hope! I could give you a million excuses as to why you haven’t heard from us in such a long time, but I think we would all prefer that I get down to business… let’s talk about the dogs!

It has been a frustrating few weeks, filled with a few leads to prospective adoptive families. Unfortunately, they all ended before they even began. For various personal reasons, none of the families that expressed interest even came to meet our girl! I wish I could say that we have been taking advantage of this time nevertheless, by working on Georgia’s obedience and introduction skills, but with lots of traveling, some unexpected vet visits for Tonk, and changes to our work and personal schedules, we have not been devoting as much time to training as we would like. Therefore, we are biting the bullet and officially pursuing some professional training classes. I am very excited about this. Georgia has so many wonderful traits to offer to a family, but I know these classes will give her the polish that will help someone to fall madly in love with her.

This time of year, I am always especially cognizant of the many blessings that we have been given. It is clear to me every day that the gifts in my life far exceed my requests or expectations. The biggest change in my life this year has come in the form of a little big brown bundle of love, who reminds me every moment to enjoy the little things in life. Georgia takes such delight in tummy rubs, expresses uncontrollable joy over bully sticks, and savors daily walks on the farm with the other dogs. While it will literally break my heart to say goodbye to her, I can’t help but pray that she finds her forever home in time for Christmas. She deserves nothing but the best, and I know that she will make the perfect family so, so happy. Santa, do you hear me? As the year’s first snowflakes drift down and stick to the ground, the best Christmas present I could have is a home for our girl.

 

Election Day!

We will keep this post short and sweet, because we’d rather you be out voting than reading our silly blog! If you remember one of our early posts, which can be seen here, you know that Georgia probably wouldn’t judge you for not voting.

Georgia already has a bone to pick…

But as her foster parents, whomever you choose to support, we urge you to remember that if the economy improves, the condition of animal welfare in our country will typically improve along with it. Please, make a decision that YOU feel is best for our economy! If you were not planning to vote, please at least research this issue and make a vote that supports your position.

In more light-hearted news, I have to brag for a second. Last night, Foster Dad & Georgia were playing in the living room. It took Jonathan all of about 5 minutes to teach Georgia to play fetch. Not sure who I am more proud of! But I know that at least one of you out there can just imagine your kiddos throwing a tennis ball for our little lady.

Are you my forever family?

So thankful to live in a country where we are all free to vote in ways that support our individual beliefs! God Bless America.

Barking Stink Bugs

Gaige and Tonka are convinced that you all have forgotten about them, due to the apparent perfection of their foster sister. They insisted that I bring to you a story that is all about them. (Well, mainly Gaige, but she is the sassy one of the bunch.)

My dad, an environmental engineer and architect by occupation, raised us to say “Anybody can kill a bug, but only God can make a bug.” He taught us that if there was a bug in the house (which somehow, was very rare) we would transport it to live life in the great outdoors, rather than flushing it down the toilet.

My Daflop 🙂

Then I got married to a big, tough, burly guy… with aracnephobia. Seriously, the man who never hesitates to patrol the house with a gun in pitch-black darkness at the slightest sound outside our bedroom window, cannot bring himself to ‘dispose of’ the creepy-crawlies, be it humanely or violently. And “awhelnaw” could he just let them find their own way out of our home.

A few summers ago, we were on a family vacation at a stunning model home in the Outer Banks, and were getting ready for the day. I was sitting on the bed, probably perusing facebook on my phone, and Jonathan was pulling a T-Shirt on over his head… when I looked up at him in shock, mouth open wide, pointing at his face. Inside, I knew that I needed to keep him from panicking. But. There was a GIANT. SPIDER. ON HIS CHEEK! My greatest regret in life, thus far, is that I didn’t catch his reaction on video. For a muscley, 6′ 3″ tall guy, the limbs were coming from every direction, and the sounds he made… oh, the sounds he made.

Family vacay

While I would probably be described by many as a girly-girl, I must remind you that I did grow up riding horses, so it could actually be argued that I was in fact raised in a barn. Perhaps it is because of this that I have no real aversion to bugs, spiders, snakes, etc. (But birds? Don’t get me started on birds.) More often than not, I am the family member who is elected (what an honor) to dispose of any creatures that enter our home.

The one contribution that Jonathan has made to Gaige’s (limited) “obedience” training? That dog can track down a stink bug. Really, any bug, but I’m sure some of you out there can relate to the stink bug outbreak that plagues Pennsylvania, and many of the other eastern states. In Gaige’s case, she will sit her little butt down on the floor, front-feet prancing, tail wagging furiously, and she will bark ferociously at the offender. If it perilously crawls within her reach, she will nose-jab it, and grab it in her mouth, flinging it through the air to certain death. More often than not, she then swallows it quickly, taking one for the team, as those things cannot possibly taste any better than they smell. What a hero.

The tracking phase

Post-munching… stink bugs are an acquired taste.

More times than I care to count, I have been greeted by Gaige with freshly-munched-stink-bug-breath. Not to fear, we have checked with our vet, and the offending insects pose no threat to our canine companions.

Our dogs protect us from creepy crawlies. What can yours do? (No, seriously! We’d love it if you would share a unique story about your pooch.)

This Old Dog Learns New Tricks

I have to start by saying, thank you SO MUCH to all of you that commented and emailed your advice to us. It is much appreciated! We will be taking all of your tips and suggestions to heart. It is so nice to know that we have many friends and supporters as we face new challenges with fostering. All of us blogging fosters are a little community… know that we are happy to repay the favor anytime you need support!

I try to keep this space very organized and methodical… much like I try to maintain my life! But my world is feeling very topsy-turvy disorganized right about now, so this particular post may be much the same. I apologize in advance!

Gia wrestling with Foster Dad. Her signature move? The Kiss of Death

Have I mentioned lately the fabulousness that is Foster Dad?! He really is the most supportive husband I could ask for… he is my perfect life partner. While I was working yesterday, he was on afternoon doggie walk duty. Which, can be a bit hectic, given that we are still doing some pooch rotating, rather than releasing the hounds all together. Not only that, but while playing with Miss Gia outside, my notoriously terrible multi-tasker was also pooper scooping. For a dog-loving Foster Mama, does it get much hotter than that?! Some of you out there know what I’m talking about… and the rest probably think I’m crazy.

Best friends

Anyways, what may sound like a silly story turned into an opportunity for us to learn more about Georgia girl. As Foster Dad was wielding the shovel with skill, he leaned down to give Gia some lovin’… and she proceeded to melt down onto the ground into a terrified, shivering puddle. 😦 Poor baby. She adores her Foster Dad, at least as much as she does me. They share a special bond, so the fact that with a shovel in hand, she didn’t trust him, made J feel terrible. As soon as the tool was down on the ground, she came back up to him wiggle-waggling, but it just reminded us that you will learn new things about your pup’s past everyday. This is why it is so important to approach their training process with sensitivity and understanding, as well as a willingness to adapt your methods as you learn more about your dog. Every dog is different, every dog’s past is different, and maintaining flexibility in your approach will ensure that you provide your dog with a secure foundation for their future. While we have long ago made the decision to only employ training methods of positive-reinforcement, Georgia still deals with issues from her past that create lingering fear and distrust. We will embrace this knowledge as an opportunity to increase her confidence and security in her relationships with us.

He knows the way to this girl’s heart

Not to get too philosophical here, but isn’t that a great way to approach life in general? Whether two or four-legged, we never know what challenges others have faced or are currently facing. If we kept in mind that everyone has their own battles to fight and insecurities to face, perhaps we would not be so quick to make their paths more difficult. We should all be so busy pursuing the improvement of our own journeys, that we have no time to judge the actions of others. Jonathan and I approach our marriage with the philosophy that if both spouses are consistently putting their partner’s desires first, everyones’ needs are met; but what if we brought that theory to all of the relationships in our lives? We would all feel constantly empowered and embraced. To me, that is what life is all about: doing what I can to improve the happiness and experiences of those around me.

“Let the refining and improving of your own life, keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.” — H. Jackson Brown Jr.

{Okay, sorry… end soap box.}

You should all know that our brain-storming idea of sharing one of Georgia’s only flaws, actually may have worked! We have a family that sounds pretty darn ideal who is very interested in our baby doll Gia. Fingers crossed that it works out… so far they seem like a match made in heaven! It would be great to have Georgia in her forever home in time for the holidays. We will keep you posted.

If you think you might know someone who would be interested in adopting our sweet girl Georgia, please share her story! Any questions about Georgia or the adoption process can be directed to me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com.