Running with Squirrels

fostering dogs that need it most

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.

Sincerely,

__________________

McMuffin and the mini-pool

Sunday funday here at The Ranch and we decided to break out a summer favorite … the mini-pool!  You might remember the mini-pool is a favorite of foster grandma when she is playing with Reese, however we have yet to see how McMuffin feels about it.  Well now we know … McMuffin is veeeery suspicious of the mini-pool and it’s sinister toy hoarding ways.

Well crap ... how am I supposed to get my ball back?

She was fairly puzzled about how to solve this dilemma …

First ... she tried to dig in from below.

Next she tried to paw the ball over to her and reach over without putting her feet in ... all that got her was a wet face and no ball.

The mini-pool took advantage of a distracted McMuffin and managed to hoard two more balls when she wasn’t paying attention.

way rude mini-pool ... waaaay rude

That’s when she called in for backup.

hey brudder ... what's the deal with this thing and how do you steal balls from it?

Reese gave her a quick pep talk on how to conquer the mini-pool and McMuffin was bobbing for lacrosse balls in no time.

VICTORYYYYYY!

It took an hour or so but McMuffin now is a champion at putting all four feet in the mini-pool and sticking her whole head underwater to retrieve her precious lacrosse balls … way to go girl!

People training

We like to go on evening walks with the pups here at the Ranch. It’s a nice time to unwind from work, catch up with each other, and it gives Muffin and Reese some much needed exercise after their long hard day of napping.

We’ve written before about how we worked on Muffin’s leash pulling and have found that the gentle leader has been a life saver in helping her to slow down and helps everyone enjoy the walk. One thing we’ve continued to work on is her tendency to freak out jump, whine, and try to bite her leash when we see another dog on our walk.

We were really puzzled as to why she got so upset when seeing another dog since she’s so good with Reese when they are off leash at home and in our back yard. We’ve tried different tactics like making her sit as the dog walks by, trying to get her to have a treat while the dog walks by, and simply trying to walk by at a distance. After having her become really distressed with all of those tactics, we called in the expert!:)

Jasmine’s House works with an amazing trainer from Canine Lifestyle Academy and we decided to consult with her to get some tips to help Muffin stay calm. She helped us to realize that Muffin’s arousal level was getting up to a full blown 10 when she sees another dog. It’s not likely to be reactivity, but more anxiety and frustration at being confined on her leash and not having control over how close or far she is from another dog on her walk. We learned how to turn around from another dog, and to look for her body signals to understand that her anxiety level is increasing.

It was amazing to see that Muffin could turn around and refocus on us if we interrupted her anxiety at a level 1-3 instead of letting her get all the way up to a 10. It seems that she was giving us information to work with the whole time but we needed some people training to help make sense of what she’s been trying to tell us all along. We were able to practice this training on a hike this past weekend and Muffin did awesome! I think foster dad and I benefitted a ton from our people training and now Muffin can enjoy less stressful walks.

My Confession

So … I have a confession to make.

I used to be scared of pit bull type dogs.

When I was young I had a negative experience with an aggressive dog (now I understand aggressive due to poor pet ownership) and it unfortunately skewed my perspective for quite a while. When foster dad and I moved in together and decided to adopt a dog, I had one criteria … I didn’t feel comfortable adopting a pit bull type dog.

Boy was I in for a surprise. As we walked down the aisles of amazing dogs at our local shelter we saw a LOT of pit bull type dogs. Foster dad walked up to Reese’s crate and said “What do you think about this guy?”. My initial thought was “Are you nuts?!?” He looked like a pit bull type dog and I immediately felt nervous. However, there was something gentle and soft about Reese … he was the only dog not barking and sat looking at us with his big brown eyes. So, I cautiously agreed to take him out to the yard at the shelter to walk and play for a few minutes.

Reese’s little brindle face looked up at me as I took his leash and walked him around the yard. He stayed next to me and walked at my pace. He gently gave kisses to the shelter worker he had formed a bond with and I was amazed and quickly falling for Reese. As we returned him to his crate we decided to take a leap and put in an application to adopt Reese.

When we first brought Reese home he was nervous and would check on us as we slept by running over to our bedside to make sure we were still there. I have to admit I was still a bit unsure of how he would behave … even after we brought him home.

It took me about a week to realize that Reese was the sweetest, most loving dog I had ever met. He would snuggle up and cuddle on my legs if I sat on the floor and he always wanted to be in the same room as his people. He gives the best kisses and greets you like he hasn’t seen you in years every time you come home. I was clearly won over by Reese pretty quickly!

About two years ago I had to have back surgery and was in a great deal of pain leading up to the operation. Reese lay by my side being my nurse the entire time. I can’t imagine having to go through that experience without him and thank foster dad for helping me to open my mind, heart, and our home to pit bull type dogs. Our lives are so much better for it!

Pittie Renovation Crew: Clean up

Sorry for the insane delay between posts … we are back from a little break and ready to bring the McMuffin and Reese show back into the blog world!

Last time we left off, McMuffin had just tapped into her skills as a master of demolition.  As most DIYers can attest to, demolition is the fun part of any construction project … but along with demolition comes everyone’s thorn in their side … clean up.  Being a first timer, McMuffin had no idea this tedious chore even existed.

New subfloor seems pretty sturdy to me ... joist span and flex are good to go ... what awesomeness is next?

Well McMuffin, I’m glad you asked … let me introduce you to my friend Mr. Shop Vac.

Whoa ... who invited this dude ... he seems so serious ... I'll keep my eye on him just in case he tries to get a little crazy ...

Turns out McMufin doesn’t mind clean up as much as I thought she would.  Reese hears Mr. Shop Vac belt out his menacing growl and tucks tail as he runs for the hills.  McMuffin definitely doesn’t like Mr. Shop Vac and probably wouldn’t invite him to share her bed for a bone chew session … but she doesn’t run and hide.  Once everything was all tidy and clean for the next stage, I let McMuffin and Reese lay claim to their first project together …

 

Spring Break

Hello blog friends!  Foster mom and dad are off on a much needed mini-vacation but will be back and better than ever next week with some more updates on the tiling project and other happenings at The Ranch … have a great week!

Pittie Renovation Crew: Demo

Now that we are all up to speed on proper construction attire, we jumped into the first step … demo!  Reese is a little hesitant when it comes to demo because in addition to being a smarty pants, he is also a wussy pants.  The loud bangs and crashes make him nervous, so he prefers to supervise this stage from a distance.  McMuffin on the other hand, was all about it.  I pumped a little Pearl Jam from the boom box and off we went!

Oh man ... what's that thing?!?

Well it sure does taste badass ... let me swing that beast!

McMuffin ... Master of Demolition!

After a few hours of ripping up old tile and tearing out warped particle board subfloor we made it just in time to catch the sunset out on the deck with a few cold beers … what a great day!

Pittie Renovation Crew: Safety First

As I mentioned last week, it’s time for McMuffin to get her feet wet in the renovation biz because we do a lot of that around here and she might as well learn a little something while she is hanging around.  Reese is already ahead of her in his apprenticeship after helping me completely tear out and rebuild the hallway bathroom a few months ago.  In order to make sure he was paying attention and remembered the rules, I started out with a little test …

Reese, what is the first rule about renovating?

Safety first dude! Always rock out with your PPE in place ... that way we don't have to make ANOTHER trip to the doctor like when you didn't wear goggles at work and got a metal shaving stuck in your eyeball. If your trusty assistant had been there ... something like that NEVER would have happened!

Of course, Reese nailed the answer without hesitation.  I had every confidence that he would for two major reasons.  #1 … Reese is a smarty pants.  #2 … and even more so than #1 … Reese is a big time rules follower.  You set the rules and he follows, and he is even known to tattle on anyone not following the rules (like when Mom tried to sneakily break the no human food rule and give him a piece of popcorn, which he promptly carried into the other room where I was watching TV and dropped in my lap … rules are rules Mom).

Anyway, back to the story.  After Reese showed us all the proper first step, I asked him to help get McMuffin ready while I gathered supplies.

Ok McMuffin ... first you slide on your eye protection just like so.

Hahahahaha ... no way geek squad ... goggles are for losers and you look ridiculous ... I'm way to cool for that!

Daaaaad ... McMuffin won't put her goggles on ... (see, I warned you about the tattling)

After some strong convincing, McMuffin decided she would try them on … after all she didn’t want to miss out on the adventure.

Of course, a stickler like Reese has no tolerance for horsing around on his jobsite … so he immediately gave McMuffin the crazy eye when he caught her playing with toys.

Are you SERIOUS?? A toy ... we are working here!

As you can see, we have some competing personalities here.  It will be interesting to see who gives … will McMuffin straighten out and get down to business or will Reese have to chill out a bit and have a little fun along the way.  Only time will tell, stay tuned …

keeping my end of the bargain

Foster dad got me all excited last night when he told me he has a few days off of work and we get to do all kinds of fun stuff while he is home.  As part of the deal, he made me promise to get extra rest and dream up lots of fun things to do so that we can take full advantage of our mini-break.  I don’t want to risk screwing this up so I’ve been trying really hard to keep up my side of the deal …

"I sure hope he is resting his throwing arm because I want to try to break the world lacrosse ball fetching record!"

So far I am the most excited about playing in the yard, eating all the new fresh grass that is popping up all over the place and needs tasting, sunbathing, eating ice cubes on the warm deck, and playing tug with my bro Reese.

However, I must also admit I am super pumped about another new trick foster dad promised to teach me.  See, he has been talking about some funny thing called “tiling the foyer”.  I’m not so sure what that means but I asked Reese, who is a real handy dog and professional DIY assistant, and he told me I’m going to learn all about mixing thinset, using a wet saw, grouting (which apparently is totally different from growling), and the most fun sounding of all … DEMO.  Reese learned all of this stuff last year when he helped renovate the bathroom and said it’s a lot of fun … plus he said dad will teach us a bunch of new four letter words when things don’t go “as planned” … can’t wait!

Dishwashing Extraordinaire

Few things bring the paws pitter pattering to the kitchen faster than the sound of the dishwasher opening.  Behind this door is a magical world full of delicious smells and food remnants that must be inspected to the fullest …

This is hard work for sure ... but somebody has to make sure everything is loaded properly!

mmmmm ... low sodium V8!

Don’t get me wrong … V8 is a good find, but it’s really not on the level of some other deliciousness found in the magic cave.   You know he has found the good stuff when crazy eye comes out!

Jackpot! Sauce stirring sticks!

Booyah! Quesadilla cheese stuck to the plate!

Oh baby ... NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER!

After slurping all surfaces, Reese turns to me and whispers in a loving manner … “your secret is safe with me Dad, and I promise I won’t tell Mom, but you really suck at pre-washing the dishes and I love you for it!”

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