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Bully for You!: Educating Others--Could You and Your Dog be Breed Ambassadors Part II
September 01, 2010

Bully For You!

The Ezine for Pit Bull Lovers

September 2010           Volume 6

In This Issue:

Paws-i-tive Press: Spirit, Pit bull heros and Bruce
What's New at The Proper Pit Bull
Feature Article: Educating Others - Part II
Quote of the Month

From Me to You

Are You Enjoying Bully for You!?

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Paws-i-tive Press

A pit bull named Spirit is chosen as National Dog Day's "Ambassadog"

Pit Bull Hero(s) of the Week

Bruce The Pit Bull Tastes Freedom at Last!

What's New at The Proper Pit Bull

Your Questions Answered About . . .
Toys that are "pit bull tough"
Helping a dog readjust after being attacked
Pit bull is choosy about her friends
Pit bull hates cats and other dogs

Readers Share. . .
From Zero to Hero
Emma, The Diva Dog
A Lil' Moxie Will Go A Long Way
Anna, The Pit Bull Who Saved Me

Jill's Project

My friend Jill works at a boarding facility where a pibble named Patches (pictured left) is a long term resident. Patches' owner is overseas serving in the U.S. military.

Jill's taking up a collection to get Patches and her buddy Kai dog beds since they are going to be at the boarding facility until April of next year at least. And for now, they are sleeping on a blanket on top of the cement floor of their kennel. :(

Jill is getting tantalizingly close to her goal of $200. In fact, by the time you open and read this, she may have already made it. Go to Jill's website and get the full story and pictures. It may give you some ideas if you ever need to raise funds for a needy pit bull. And, if she's still a little shy of her goal, why not "chip-in" and help her get there!

Feature Article:
Educating Others Part II--Could You and Your Dog
be Breed Ambassadors?

In last month's issue, I shared my belief that when it comes to changing negative stereotypes that people usually have a change of heart before they have a change of mind. And, when it comes to changing hearts, our pitties are ambassadors par excellence. But what makes a good canine ambassador?

You'll notice the title of this article is Could You and Your Dog Be Breed Ambassadors?--not just "Could Your Dog be a Breed Ambassador?" The wording, though a little awkward, is intentional. When you are out in public with your pit, people may notice your dog. But, what they are really seeing is the chemistry that you and your pit bull have with each other. In other words, you are a team.

I think this is one of the most important ingredients of great ambassadorship and it's often overlooked. Several years ago I was certified by the Delta Society to evaluate animal-assisted therapy teams. These were people who wanted to be able to take their dog (or other domestic pet) into nursing homes, homeless shelters, rehab facilities, etc. as a form of community service.

Invariably, people were a little nervous when they came to the testing area with their pet. The biggest concern for dog owners was whether their pooch would pass the obedience portion of the test. While basic obedience skills are important, what some of the owners lost sight of was that their reaction to their dog was actually more important than whether or not their dog sat immediately on command.

We gave candidates 3 tries on an obedience element if they were having difficulty with it. But, some owners would become so flustered if their dog made a mis-step, their whole countenance would change. Some would stare coldly at their dog and repeat the command in a harsh tone. Others would look helplessly at the evaluators as if we were supposed to make their dog obey them. These folks didn't pass the first time and it wasn't because of their dogs.

So, my first tip for would-be ambassadors is this: It's all about teamwork. And, teammates support each other. It's easy to get thrown off-center if you feel like your dog is on display--especially if he's not listening to you as well as you'd like. Some distractedness is normal in a novel situation. Allow for it and compensate by bringing his favorite toy or extra yummy treats.

And, if your pibble is showing signs of stress, there's nothing wrong in taking a break or ending an outing early. Bottom line when you're out and about, be your bully's advocate.

It's important to point out that not all pit bull ambassadors are cut out for "friendly visitor" work at nursing homes. If your image of an ambassador is a calm, quiet dog that sits nicely for petting for hours on end, you might be surprised to learn that some dogs who are just the opposite in nature have become super star ambassadors.

Wallace is a prime example. Had you met Wallace at the shelter where he lived before he was adopted, you would probably NOT have said to yourself, "Now there's a pit bull with ambassador written all over him". No, if fact, Wallace was dangerously close to being euthanized because his behavior had deteriorated so badly, the shelter staff had come to the conclusion he was unadoptable.

Fortunately, Roo Yori looked at Wallace and saw something else. He saw an athlete in search of an outlet. Yori adopted Wallace and discovered the pit bull had a special talent for catching frisbees. The rest, as you can see from this amazing video, is history...

This brings me to my second tip: Find your dog's "inner genius". Few things are as inspiring as the pure joy that a dog exudes when engaged in something he loves and does well--whether it's offering comfort, being a clown, showing off or just plain hanging out. It's hard not to love a happy dog. Find out what makes your pibble light up. Then go out and share it with others--together.

Highly Recommended: Does your pittie need work on his obedience skills? Classes are best. But sometimes they aren't available when and where you need them. Not to mention the difficulty in finding classes that are purely positive, upbeat and fun for you and your dog--ones that don't rely on leash "corrections" or other punishments.

Clicker Training: The 4 Secrets of Becoming a Supertrainer is the only wholly positive training approach that I've found on the internet. The training package which consists of a comprehensive e-book and 5 bonus videos was created by two faculty members of Karen Pryor's ClickerExpo. To get the details, Click Here!

Coming Next Month: Special Howl-o-ween Edition!

Quote of the Month

The dogs in our lives, the dogs we come to love and who (we fervently believe) love us in return, offer more than fidelity, consolation, and companionship. They offer comedy, irony, wit, and a wealth of anecdotes, the "shaggy dog stories" and "stupid pet tricks" that are commonplace pleasures of life. They offer, if we are wise enough or simple enough to take it, a model for what it means to give your heart with little thought of return. ~Author Unknown

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