Running with Squirrels

fostering dogs that need it most

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Professional Fetcher

One of my favorite things to do when I get home is head out to the yard and play fetch with my girl McMuffin.  It’s nice to engage in a mindless activity in the fresh air after a day at the office.  Lucky for me, McMuffin is arguably the greatest fetcher I have ever played with.  Her dedication to retrieving no matter where the ball goes (even if it gets lodged under the spider filled deck or scary rotating composter), speed and enthusiasm for bringing the ball back as fast as physically possible, and no-nonsense drop-ball-at-your-foot/back-up-sit/wait-for-next-toss without even needing a command make her an ideal partner.

It’s sorta hard to capture the spirit of this exchange with a camera while she is flying around at top speed, but I gave it a shot and this is what I ended up with.  Before I go any further, I would like to formally thank McMuffin for her patience.  She takes fetch very seriously and didn’t totally appreciate my attempt to multi-task during such a sacred activity, however, she did her best to let me try.

Step #1:  I begin with the standard command … “Alright dudette, what are you waiting for?  Where’s your ball?”  And off she goes to find it in the yard.

crap … where is that thing hiding this time … I bet Reese buried it somewhere …

Step #2:  Ball located … time to rock.  “Come on fosterdad, let’s do this thing!”

here is my ball … I love it very much … now throw it as far as you can!

And then the fun begins …


gooooot iiiiiiiiittttttttttttttt!

oops … fumble

Here are a few other favorites of mine …

Who said my ears look funny?


One thing I have noticed is that she will never stop playing on her own.  At first I figured she must be fine since she never slowed down … that night I had to carry her to bed a few hours later when her sore legs couldn’t seem to find their own way.  Her tail wagged the whole time loving the extra dad attention and fancy personalized bed delivery, but I knew I had overworked the poor girl and felt bad.  Since then we made a few tweaks to our routine (no more throwing from the deck to prevent her from leaping and making hard impact with the ground as she darts off) and I try to limit the number of tosses.

So far it’s going well and I think it is better for her in the long run … doesn’t make it any easier to say “ok sweet girl, that’s enough for today”  with this face looking at you …

One more dad … please?

Who am I kidding … she always gets one more toss out of me.

New Collar Tiiiiiiiiime

When we started fostering we had no idea if we would get a girl or a boy, so we decided to start off with a run-of-the-mill neutral red collar.  No flash … no excitement … just red.  McMuffin rolled into our lives and on went the collar.  It was hers and it made her feel at home, so all was good.  However, over the past few months we noticed that she was a little jealous of Reese’s snazzy Island Pup Collar from Sirius Republic.

Well now that she is an official member of the family, it was time to upgrade her to something a little fancier and just more McMuffin in general.  After pouring over the awesome patterns available, we settled on a nice springtime collar for our little girl.

Not to be outdone … Reese convinced us it was time to expand his wardrobe as well.  Lucky dude got to add a new style to his collection as well!

No Tan Lines

I wandered out on the deck to take in the nice spring air and accidentally tripped on something out of place …

Strange … a pair of collars without the pair of necks they usually cling to.  It didn’t take long to track down the founders of the pittie nudist colony sunning themselves on south facing side of the deck.

Hey dad … oh man, where’d you get that sweet farmer’s tan!

Reese was happy as can be to run naked in the yard and nap in the buff … McMuffin, on the other hand, was a little embarrassed to be captured by the paparazzi in her birthday suit.   They did agree, however, that napping is exhausting and yawning is contagious!

McMuffin is Adopted!

Given the rather sullen news lately regarding pit bull-type dogs in Maryland, we think it’s a perfect time to share some very exciting and happy news from here at The Ranch … McMuffin has found her forever home!

This sweet little girl first came to The Ranch in mid-December and since then we have been working hard to prepare her for the transition into her permanent loving home.  Our journey began with various attempts to work around an epic case of separation anxiety/fear of confinement.  Once a fresh routine was established we pushed further into learning new tricks, perfecting old tricks like fetch and drop it, gradually introducing her to foster brother Reese, and setting boundaries regarding human only and human + dog friendly furniture.  As the days went by, she grew more settled and began to show her hilarious personality and loving disposition.

Around this same time we started to piece together our fantasy adopting family that would be a perfect fit for little McMuffin.  Given how quickly she became attached to Reese, following him around, watching him for cues when she was unsure how to act, and providing key backup on all squirrel evicting missions in the yard, we really hoped to find a home with another dog for her to bond with.

In addition to this, McMuffin had displayed an affinity for one activity that she clearly valued above all others … cuddling.  There honestly is no way to make her happier than to gently lift the blanket you are using and invite her to burrow under (this situation is made infinitely more enjoyable if fresh from the dryer warm laundry is involved).  Once covered, a few seconds pass and without fail she lets out the final sigh before drifting off into her dream world.  Knowing how much she truly loved these moments, we knew that a family with four-legged friendly bed and couch policies would be ideal.

And finally, we knew that McMuffin came from a previous home with kids running around and loves to play.  If possible, a family with kids to dress her up in embarrassing outfits, slip her food from under the table, and read her stories before bed would be the cherry atop the fantasy adopting family criteria list.

After interviewing a few interested families here and there, each not working out for some reason or another, we finally found the perfect home for her … and it is right here with us!

We can’t wait to watch her and Reese grow closer together, look forward to many nights all curled up in bed as one big happy family, and with the hope of starting a family in the future, having McMuffin help raise our children as they learn the special bond a child is able to form with their four-legged sidekick.

This also means a break from fostering as we continue to work with McMuffin on her leash skills and various anxieties.  We have loved being involved with Jasmine’s House and look forward to staying involved in other capacities.  There are so many amazing programs they head up and we will have ample opportunity to remain active in the pittie world.  We also plan to stay heavily involved with Pittie Trails and continue progress on dog socialization in the community.  As for the blog, we plan to continue documenting our lives as pittie advocates/owners and hope there are still readers out there interested in following along.

Most importantly, it means we get to enjoy life with not one, but two permanent pittie rescues to bring smiles to our faces every day!

My letter to elected officials regarding new Maryland dog law

As most of you know, the Court of Appeals of Maryland recently modified the Common Law to specifically discriminate against “pit bull dogs and cross-bred pit bull dogs”.  This modification adopts strict liability for all owners and landlords regarding these dogs in their possession or on their property.  The unintentional consequences of this are far-reaching and uniformly negative.  Click here for a summary of the ruling, or here for the full Court opinion.

In an effort to make my voice heard, I have sent the following letter to the 3 state delegates and state senator that represent my district.  I encourage you all to do the same.  You can find contact information for your representatives here.  Feel free to copy/edit what I have if it is in line with your beliefs, or phrase things differently and craft your own letter … whichever the case, PLEASE MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!!!

Also note, one of the judges in the case (Robert Bell) that ruled in favor on the modification is in Baltimore City and up for re-election this year.  I am not eligible to vote there but if you are and disagree with his actions … speak loudly by voting him out!

**** I want to be abundantly clear with this … I sympathize greatly with the victims of all dog attacks.  I support their ability to live without fear of negligent owners and their right to compensation when appropriate.  I believe there should be strict laws that penalize irresponsible owners.  My issue is that this should be for ALL dogs … not just those with physical attributes that may appear to be “cross-bred pit bull dogs” (whatever that even means).*****



Dear Del.  _______,

I am writing today to express my disapproval and request your help regarding the recent modification to the Common Law that adopts strict liability in respect to attacks on humans by pit bull dogs and cross-bred pit bull dogs set forth in the Court of Appeals of Maryland No. 53 filed on April 26, 2012.  In this new modification of the Common Law, a strict liability standard is established for “pit bull and cross-bred pit bull mixes” which places all judgment squarely on the appearance of a dog rather than the circumstances surrounding the incident and responsibility of its owner.

The Court bases this ruling on its perception that pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls are inherently vicious and dangerous animals without providing any factual predicate or expert testimony to back this claim.  The Court then proceeds to cite highly disputed dog bite statistics and unrelated dog attack incidents while ignoring scientific and empirical data from respected international and national organizations that condemn breed-specific legislation and promote effective, research-based means of minimizing dog attacks in communities across the world.  There are even instances in the citations provided by the majority opinion that contradict their very conclusion in this law modification, such as the Veterinary Medical Association Report (2000) which questions the success of breed-specific liability requirements and urges the consideration of factors completely unrelated to the breed or appearance of dogs.

I want to be very clear that I am sympathetic to the victims of the vicious dog attacks that seem to occur all too often in our society, and whole-heartedly support progressive laws to prevent such horrific and preventable incidents.  However, the path to preventing these tragedies is not grounded in enacting discriminatory laws that establish liability solely based on the physical appearance of a dog without accounting for the actions and responsibility of its owner.  Rather, it is accomplished by enacting enforceable laws that punish irresponsible owners who negligently harbor dangerous pets, regardless of their physical appearance.  All pet owners must be responsible for their animals and should be held uniformly accountable for their actions.

At a time when states such as Ohio and Massachusetts are backing away from ineffective and discriminatory breed-specific laws and adopting more successful (and affordable) dangerous dog laws which apply to all dogs equally, Maryland has taken a huge step back and allowed the perception of four judges (with three judges in dissent of this opinion) to drastically alter our Common Law and discriminate against a large population of our residents without cause.  While the Court of Appeals does maintain the authority to alter the Common Law, this practice has rarely been undertaken and usually under circumstances where the law was clearly wrong or new facts had arisen that impacted the law.  In this case, neither has occurred and precedent indicates that this issue is better addressed by the state legislature rather than legislating from the bench.

In summary, the ruling of the Court of Appeals to adopt strict liability for certain dogs based on physical appearance alone while ignoring behavior and owner responsibility is misinformed, ineffective, and discriminatory.  The decision was made without the appropriate consideration for unintended consequences and expert testimony regarding how to successfully minimize preventable dog attacks.  As a result of this, many Maryland residents are being unfairly discriminated against based on the appearance of their pets while irresponsible owners with dogs that do not look like “pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls” are held to a lower standard despite their negligence.

Can I count on your support to sponsor and promote legislation that will address this issue?

I would like to thank you very much for considering my opinion on this matter and for your dedication to helping the residents of Maryland.



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