A Dog Fight at a Dog Park

28 01 2013

I love my dogs so much. Some may think it’s not normal but I’m not really seeing children of my own in my future so my dogs ARE my family. I’ve taken hundreds (probably thousands) of pictures of them and will probably take thousands more. I talk about my dogs like people talk about their children. I enjoy spending time with them, teaching them new tricks and spoiling them with special dinners and fun toys. My life is a lot happier when there is a dog in it.

I think I’m more amazed that I can still be amazed at the stories I come across about dogs; their loyalty and never-ending love, their will to survive, their forgiving hearts, their amazing talents and their instinctual behavior that causes them to perform life-saving feats that sometimes make the headlines. I can never get enough and there always seems to be something new popping up.

Yesterday, I caught myself in a state of amazement once again.

BFFs

BFFs

We took my Pit Bull and her sidekick Boxer mix sister to the dog park on Sunday, a ritual we’ve started since the first of this year. This is my first Pit Bull and I’ve spent the past 4 years learning all that I can about them. Even though she’s been around other dogs her entire life, she’s had a few squabbles, which leave more of a negative impact on me than the dogs because they always sound so horrible and scary. I don’t want to see my cute, sweet baby girl showing her teeth and scrapping until blood is drawn. I don’t want to see any dog getting hurt.

Needless to say, I was a little hesitant about bringing her to the dog park. When I had my Shepard/Rottie mix, I didn’t think twice about the dog park. Maybe I was naïve or inexperienced. I never had a problem or was traumatized by any dog fights all those times we went. But with my Pit Bull, it was different. Maybe because I’ve heard a lot of negative things about Pit Bulls or that I know what they are capable of if not trained or conditioned properly. They are very smart dogs with amazing strength, but then again, so are a lot of other types of dogs.

Dog parks, although an excellence place for exercising and socializing your dogs, can be scary. As a Pit Bull owner, I’m very aware of other people and dogs around. I’ve trained my girl a certain way but I don’t know how anybody else trains their own dogs. I’ve overheard people say that their dog doesn’t get along with this type of dog or that type of dog but they still bring them into the park. I was a little nervous at first but the more we went, the prouder I was of the way they behaved.

My Pit Bull simply likes for me to throw the Frisbee the entire time. She’ll check out a dog or two and sometimes checks up on her sister but for the most part it’s just her and I and the Frisbee at that park. She loves that there is a lot more room for her to run, jump up and catch the flying disc. She pays no attention to the other dogs for the most part.

Backyard Fun

My Boxer mix on the other hand must meet and greet every dog that comes into the park or is already in there. I noticed her playing kissy face and following around this beautiful male Blue Pit. I have to watch her a little more carefully because she is still young and energetic and sometimes tries to play with the grumpy dogs. Maybe she likes a good challenge. Truth is, she would rather be playing with the little dogs next door but settles for running up and down the fence between the big dog section and the little dog section chasing the fast rascals that are brave enough to race her.

So I was throwing the Frisbee around and my Pit was showing off her skills. All of the sudden this older Lab mix and another Pit Bull get into a fight. The grisly sounding barks and growls caught the attention of the other dogs which gathered around and watched, kind of like us humans sometimes do. Owners grabbed their dogs one by one so they wouldn’t join in. The two dogs went at it for a few seconds and I noticed my Pit Bull watching real close. So many thoughts went through my mind. It’s hard not to get involved in a fight because I love these dogs and I don’t want to see any of them getting hurt.

I clenched the leash tightly in my hand and wanted to make it over to my dog who was on the other side of the fighting dogs. At this point even though the Lab mix was the fight instigator, the Pit Bull had strength and youth on his side and was now dominating the fight on top of the Lab. Before I could even take a step towards my baby girl she jumped in on the back of the Pit Bull and straddled him from behind. Yes, it looked like she was going to hump him and my anxiety immediately escalated because this dog was pissed off already and in fight mode.

I see her wrap her front paws around his backside with a tight grip. She didn’t bark or growl or even hump. I didn’t notice that crazy look in her eyes like when she’s tried to hump her sister. She actually started to drag him off of the Lab. It worked for a second and distracted him from further attacking the Lab allowing the owners extra time to retrieve their dogs and break up the fight. I saw the Pit Bull quickly snap back at my dog but then just as quickly turned back to the Lab. At that point I was able to grab my Pit’s collar and pull her away from the fight. I was holding on to her collar so tight before I realized that she was fine. She wasn’t barking or growling or trying to get in on the action. She was actually a lot calmer than I was.

The fight was stopped and both owners held on to their dogs. Immediately the other Pit settled down once his owner had control over him. The Lab had some injuries to his tail and leg that looked pretty bad and was whimpering a little. My heart went out to that dog and his owners who were a little shaken up by the scene. They carried him out of the park and took him to the vet where I’m sure he was taken care of.

My Boxer mix was already leashed and taken out of the park as a safety precaution and I was considering going home at that point because I was emotionally exhausted after that. Nobody good wants to see their dogs fight like that.

I couldn’t leave though. It didn’t seem fair. Both of my dogs acted great. The Boxer noticed the confrontation but obeyed the commands to leave the area without a fuss. My Pit actually tried to do what I couldn’t do and jump in to stop the fight. I watched her assess the situation, act on it with bravery and strength and backed down when I commanded. She actually grabbed the other Pit from behind and tried to pull him away from attacking the Lab. It was like she knew what they were doing was wrong and was trying to help make the situation right. All she walked away with was a couple of scratches but didn’t seemed phased one bit.

Afterwards we ran into the other Pit Bull owner who was upset about what happened. Upset that people immediately started making comments about Pit Bulls and his dog had never been in a fight before. He stuck around and offered the owners of the Lab any assistance but they had bolted quickly.

My Pit and his Pit gave each other bloody nose kisses and were very calm and collective. You wouldn’t have thought at all that these dogs were just in a fight a few minutes prior.

I decided that since we hadn’t been there very long it wasn’t fair to punish the dogs for behaving properly by taking them home when all they really wanted to do was play. We brought them back inside the park and let them play for another hour until they were both exhausted.

Smiles

I’m still in awe of my Pit. She is amazing to me. And to top it off she has a heart of gold which makes me the proudest mother around!

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Squirrels and the Dangers of Tightrope Walking Power Lines

11 01 2013

Have you ever been outside and witnessed a squirrel tightrope walking on a powerline? Almost every day I see squirrels doing these amazing stunts and often wonder how they do it. Their tiny little feet and claws gracefully scurrying across a thin, high voltage line, crossing over streets in what appears to be a very risky endeavor. I’ve seen a few slip but would quickly catch themselves and continue on. Most of the time they make it across to whatever destination they were pursuing.

Image

Picture © Paul Young 2008

The other day when I was walking my dogs in the morning before work like I always do, I experienced something pretty horrific and a little traumatizing. I can’t get it out of my head.

I have a routine with my dogs and that is they get a walk every morning before I go to work. It’s great exercise for me too and really wakes me up and I feel better knowing the kids got to enjoy some semi-fresh air and a little exercise before I leave them for a day of work.

Ever since the holidays it’s been harder for me to get up as early as I would like. Each morning they get walked at different times. Sometimes early, sometimes later. This particular morning I was struggling with getting up. So their walk was just slightly later than the average.

We made it around our 1.5 mile loop and were coming down that last long stretch that dumped us out on our street. Throughout the walk we encounter other dogs walking with their owners, lots of cats that either scurry away when we approach or tense up in a ball and stare us down with evil glares, several squirrels that like to race us along the top of the wooden fences, lizards, birds, etc.

As we were walking down the sidewalk, I was keeping my Boxer mix puppy under control as she was getting excited about a cat sitting in this neighbor’s driveway. All of the sudden I heard this noise. It sounded like a splatter, one I’m oh too familiar with. This sound reminded me of my childhood days when I used to skateboard and rollerblade. There was always that one stick or rock that would get under my wheel and cause my wheel to lock while my body continued with its forward momentum. Then I would slap my body onto the concrete sidewalk, face first, sometimes catching myself with my hands or knees. It wasn’t the greatest feeling in the world. Who am I kidding, that hurt like a bitch. I recall several accidents resulting in me falling and smacking myself hard onto the concrete.

Image

When I heard the sound I thought to myself, “Was that? No, it couldn’t be. But that sound.” I felt it was something more than an acorn or bird poop. It was more of a splat than a splatter. When I turned to check it out I was horrified. Only a few steps behind me on the sidewalk lay a squirrel, flat on its stomach and face. I watched for a second to see if it was alive and I saw some movement. My heart went out to this thing. It must have fallen from a powerline or tree or something. The crazy thing is if I was 10-15 seconds slower it would have landed right on top of me or one of the dogs. I kind of wish it did because it didn’t look like it was doing well on the sidewalk.

I thought maybe it broke its neck or seriously injured itself. It was barely moving until I started walking back towards it. I wanted to help it if I could, and yes, I was planning on scooping it up and taking it to a vet if it was still alive. When I took a step towards it, it started to crawl a little. Its hands looked a little funny, like they were broken and weren’t working properly. This squirrel still tried to crawl, dragging its body to the edge of a yard.

I didn’t want to scare it but I had my two big dogs with me, both very interested in the squirrel now. I couldn’t just leave it because I thought time was of the essence. As the three of us approached, that squirrel quickly recovered and skipped on through the chain-linked fence to the base of a nearby tree where it sat for a few moments. I imagine it was trying to recover and stay safe. I was still a little worried since that cat next door looked like he was ready to prowl. I walked up to the fence with the dogs and the squirrel scurried up the tree, holding on without any difficulties. It seemed as if the fall didn’t hurt it that much. It was lucky this time.

That sound still haunts me because it originally appeared that the squirrel was dead and that made me sad for a moment. Oh, well. Happy endings rock!