Archive for the ‘dog community’ Category

The barking begins every morning at around 6 a.m. in my cozy Louisville, Colorado neighborhood, alerting that dog owners are leaving for work. However, one voice is not heard: Duke, Dan Antaya’s Pit Bull mix. Because of a Louisville city ordinance passed in 2006, Duke was banished from Antaya’s home and is living with friends in a city where Pit Bulls are legal.

Duke’s speckled face

“The struggle to find housing where Duke, my other dog Tyler, and I could live together started about a year ago when I relocated to Colorado.  I was finally able to find something about 6 months ago, but even though the property owners had no issue,” the house was in Louisville, says Antaya, who owns K9 Consulting Services, a Longmont, Colorado dog training company. He also runs the Pit Bull Advocacy and Education program (more about that later).

“Now that the lease is up, I am  unable to find housing again, partially due to both dogs weighing more than 50 lbs. but very much related to the type of dog Duke is, and the amount of cities in Colorado enforcing breed bans, we may have to leave the state.”

Does Banning Pit Bulls Make Sense?

Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL, is well-known and controversial, as described in this For Pit’s Sake blog post.  We’ve all heard the pro and con arguments to allowing certain breeds into a city. And there are setbacks even in cities that allow the breed.

How Do Breed Bans Affect Individuals And Cities?

For Antaya, “BSL affects me in the sense that I must live apart from my dog due to the city ordinance, and also prevents me from taking him to other cities that ban the breed. I fear of having him seized just for passing through to get to another location.” Besides that, many great pit bull owners don’t have the opportunity to show what good citizens their dogs are in cities in which they are banned. Thus, people tend to shun those breeds.

Why? One reason, according to the National Canine Research Council:

“While serious attacks by dogs are very rare, the intense media coverage that may accompany such an incident can mislead the public and/or lawmakers into imagining that dogs pose a significant threat to the community.  Sensationalized publicity, combined with a lack of understanding of the infrequency of dog attacks, and of their causes, has resulted in reactive and uniformed policies directed against certain types of dogs.  In no other American city has this dynamic played itself out more tragically than in Denver” and other Colorado breed ban areas.

The problems often arise as with any other breed (which, by the way, have dog bite histories, according to the Canine Research Council) when an owner is irresponsible and lets their dogs run outside without supervision, and when they don’t train their dogs to be good citizens.

Duke’s Story

Antaya says that Duke’s story with him began when “one of the rescue organizations I was with in Arizona took Duke out of the county kill shelter.”

Duke playing in the snow

Duke could only go to a few shelters in Colorado because of the numerous Colorado breed bans. Duke landed in the Longmont Humane Society, where Antaya works as an adoption counselor. “Duke was considered a problem dog at 3 months. Because I was overwhelmed with my current fosters,  he had to wait for 2 months before I could work with him.”

After Antaya’s training, “not only did he become a model dog, he became a perfect ambassador for Bully Breeds.” Antaya adopted Duke after fostering him for only 4 days. “While I have formed a bond with the many fosters I had prior to him, he met all the criteria I had for a possible addition to the family. I realized his potential very early on.”

The Longmont Humane Society takes a majority of Pit Bull mixes in Colorado. “Due to the breed bans in Denver, Aurora and Louisville, we see a majority of the Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes in the area that are being surrendered or caught by Animal Control.  They, unfortunately, are the slowest to get adopted.  When I watch visitors walk past the kennels, they seem to migrate to the other breeds and barely glance in the run with a Pit Bull in it. Longmont Humane offers a training class just for Pit Bulls called P.I.T.S.T.O.P.  There is a lot of interest in that program from current Bully Breed owners.”

Pit Bull Advocacy and Education

Because of dogs such as Duke, Antaya started his Pit Bull Advocacy and Education program after walking a Pit Bull “and seeing someone cross the street when they saw us coming.” Antaya also saw so many pit bulls in shelters, and realized “people have so many misconceptions about the breed. If they were educated, perhaps the adoption rate of pit bulls would go up.”

Something needed to be done, he says. “My approach is much more from an educational standpoint.  I don’t preach to anyone from a soapbox.  I have found that most critics of this breed have never even had a personal experience with one. Once I introduce some people to Duke and other Pit Bulls, they start to realize that these dogs are not what they perceived them to be. In addition to participating in various dog-specific events, I consider everywhere I go to be an opportunity to educate people about the breed. Sometimes it is an indirect approach, such as teaching children general dog safety and care while using a pit bull in the demonstration. I am currently working on an anti dog-fighting campaign geared towards children in high risk areas as well as a few other educational programs.”

What’s The Future For Pit Bulls?

Tough one. Antaya thinks “we are a far cry from Pit Bulls being an accepted breed as long as the media and cities who enforce breed bans continue to drive negative and incorrect information into the minds of the general public.  For the states/cities who are enacting Dangerous Dog Ordinances instead of Breed Bans and the large groups of responsible owners, I have high praise for them. Hopefully this will be a growing trend and the Pit Bull will again become America’s dog.” You can find out more of Antaya’s thoughts on the Pit Bull Advocacy and Education Facebook page.

BAD RAP On Bark Out Loud!

BAD RAP, an organization that rehabilitated the Michael Vick dogs, is dedicated to training and rehabilitating pit bulls, particularly from federal abuse cases. The organization’s Tim Racer and Donna Reynolds joins Bark Out Loud to chat tonight, discussing these issues and what you can do to help overturn the myths about pit bulls. Listen to their insightful podcast here:

You think your dog is doing something adorable, so you encourage her to continue that behavior. But later you discover that it’s not so cute after all. Then what? I see this a lot with clients, but I’ve also made these kinds of mistakes with my dogs. Whoops!

I was discussing this on Twitter with Sonia Singh, a fellow pet blogger and marketing director for in Phoenix, AZ. As an advocate for the large dog lifestyle, she said she’s inadvertently trained her pup Nala to “follow her bliss”– until Sonia discovered that Nala’s bliss was not what she intended! I asked Sonia to share her experiences to help assure dog owners that there are ways to turn things around! Her bio appears at the end of her post.


Training a dog is complex. There are times we train our dog exactly what we want, then there are times we accidentally teach them something we weren’t exactly hoping for. I accidentally trained my dog Nala two things that at the time seemed cute, but ended up with not-so-cute results.

Nala, the former leash chewer

The first mistake

I trained Nala to chew her leash.

Here’s how it happened. One day, I clipped her leash on her collar to go for a walk. She picked up the handle and started walking towards the door with it. It was as if she was taking herself for a walk – very cute. I thought it would be funny to teach her to walk herself. Each time she picked up the leash in her mouth, I praised her. Then she took it a step further, and that’s where it went wrong.

I clipped the leash to her collar one evening, opened the door and, realizing it was chillier than I expected, shut the door and grabbed a jacket. By the time I got back to the door and reached for the leash, I couldn’t find it. Then I saw it – barely four inches of it dangling from her collar. The rest was missing. She had chewed it right off in under 30 seconds. Between being encouraged to pick it up and needing to release excited energy, Nala picked up her leash like I taught her – then chewed it. We went through at least three more leashes before I was able to break her of the habit. She still picks up her leash on occasion, but I haven’t been forced to buy a new leash in over a year.

The second mistake

We trained Nala to growl inappropriately. This had much worse consequences, and we’re still trying to fix it.

When Nala was a puppy, she didn’t make a sound. No growling, barking, whining, nothing. Her dad thought it would be fun to see our little puppy growl, so he started growling at her during play, hoping she would growl back. I warned him that was a bad idea, but when it started working I had to admit – it was adorable to see such a tiny ball of love act so ferocious.

Ferocious Nala

As she grew, her growl became less adorable and sounded more menacing. Her underbite grew too, making her look like she’s constantly baring her teeth. Suddenly, nobody at the dog park saw her as friendly: she would run up to a dog to play, but to the dog and its owner it looked like a dog running towards them, growling and baring its teeth. They would respond accordingly, and Nala was confused about why dogs snarled at her when all she wanted to do was play. Yes, that’s right: she growled to play but didn’t take growling as play when other dogs did it to her. She took it as an aggressive gesture from them, and that’s how they meant it.

Unlike the accidental leash chewing I taught her, the growling has had more serious effects and had a chain of consequences. Other dogs responded to Nala as if she’s acting aggressively and in turn, she developed a fear of some other dogs. That means she became reactive on a leash during walks and  was unable to play at the dog park without a scuffle.


We stopped going to the dog park, and at home, we stop play immediately when she growls, so she now growls during play only when she’s overly excited. We’ve been working on “leave it” as we walk so she learns not to respond to every dog that walks by. It’s working: she now growls during play only when she’s really excited and is much calmer on a leash now, and for the most part walks casually by other dogs. She sometimes turns her head, but that’s it. It’s taken some work, but Nala has made huge strides.

Everybody makes training mistakes from time to time. Sometimes it’s not a serious mistake, like our leash mishap; sometimes, the consequences are more dire. The good news is, our efforts are paying off. The earlier you catch the inappropriate behavior, the easier it will be to fix.


Sonia Singh is the Marketing Director and a blogger for specializes in large dog supplies, such as these raised dog bowls for large dogs. They also provide the education and tools that more fully involve big dogs in owners’ everyday lives. As a large dog owner, Sonia understand the questions and issues that come up with big dogs. You can read more of Sonia’s  writing on’s Big Dog Blog, which features practical tips and personal stories on life with big dogs. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


As one of the moderators of Bark Out Loud Weekly, I’m excited to announce this, from one of our hosts, Kim Clune of Be the Change for Animals:

Bark Out Loud Weekly and Be the Change for Animals support the “Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” from The Honest Kitchen

Who is Bad Rap? BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls), co-founded by Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer, has been instrumental in the evaluation, rescue and  rehabilitation of the dogs in the Michael Vick case, providing vision and hope for these dogs as well as many other dogs from high-profile federal dog fighting arrests. They also rescue pit bulls, teach award-winning classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and support rescues nationwide.

“Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” from The Honest Kitchen

BAD RAP is March 2010’s charity of choice at The Honest Kitchen, makers of dehydrated, human-grade whole foods for dogs and cats. THK donates a percentage of online store profits monthly to various causes. BAD RAP’s donation will double if THK reaches 40,000 Facebook fans this month.

Head on over and like The Honest Kitchen’s Facebook Page to support BAD RAP!

Chat Live with BAD RAP on Bark Out Loud Weekly, March 14, 9:00 PM EST!

Learn more about the work Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer do in the Bark Out Loud Weekly BAD RAP podcast “After Vick: What Have We Learned?” . This breaking interview has just been released along with promotion of the “Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” from The Honest Kitchen. Listen up and chat live with Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer on Monday at 9:15 PM EST. Get there early! Space is limited to the first 100 people.

BAD RAP, Featured Cause at Be the Change for Animals on March 14th

Be the Change for Animals ( will feature the “Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” from The Honest Kitchen on Monday, March 14th. Through social media, Be the Change for Animals asks a dedicated and growing community of online animal advocates to spend just a few moments and never a cent to improve the lives of animals in need. On this date, Be the Change for Animals will also kick off a $1000 dollar Facebook ad campaign, drawing additional attention to this terrific cause.

Special announcement: Bark Out Loud Weekly and Be the Change for Animals have officially joined forces. As sister sites, each will cross promote the other with a strong focus on improving the lives of animals.

You Can Help!

Like The Honest Kitchen’s Facebook Page.
Share this link (
Cover the story on your website or blog.
Participate in Bark Out Loud Weekly’s BAD RAP podcast and chat.
Visit Be the Change for Animals on Monday to spread the word.

Participating Blogs and Websites

The following  have committed to covering events surrounding “Double BAD RAP Donation Challenge” on Monday, March 14th:

Additionally, I’ll be posting about what someone in Colorado is doing to help the plight of pit bulls in the country. Stay tuned! And see you on Monday, March 14, for the chat!


This post is sharing a unique challenge and advocacy solution for Blog The Change for Animals.

If you adopted your animal companion through Petfinder, there’s a good chance that you didn’t know much about the rescue that listed your pet, nor the foster family that housed him or her until your adoption. According to Petfinder’s data, their daily site shows over 345,000 homeless pets in more than 13,000 animal placement organizations across the U.S. and Canada.

As a co-founder of a Border Collie rescue in the early-2000s, I was immersed in the rescue community. What an eye-opener! We found big hearts out there. And fantastic, reputable, do-it-right rescues, who I hope we emulated when we incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization.

Who monitors rescue organizations?

But the rescue community also has problems. Hoarding situations. Over-extended and burned out volunteers. No medical attention for the animals. Who checks up on the organizations, really? In the 5 years that our rescue existed, no Dept. of Agriculture representatives contacted us. Anyone can start “saving” pets and rehome them through Craig’s List or pet-listing organizations (unlike Petfinder, which does require rescue/shelter organization qualifications and validation).

When one surrenders an animal to a rescue, the thought process is that the pet is going to a great home. Although Fido often does, many rescues don’t do references or home checks prior to adoption–how does the rescue know the character of the new adopter? How do they know if the surrendered animal is going to the right home? What’s the adopters’ environment? What are the adopters’ training methods? Who actually advocates for the dog, who has been through rough situations? If Fido doesn’t find the right home, he keeps coming back to the rescue. Or worse–he gets euthanized for being “unadoptable.”

Are all foster families ready, willing, and able?

As for foster families, rescues are desperate. So many dogs are surrendered, or they’re in kill shelters with little to no time left. Because it’s so difficult to turn down pets in need, rescues become overwhelmed. They sometimes allow anyone with a roof over their head to foster–with no training whatsoever. One rescue organization’s site says “Please take in as many dogs as you can; we need your help.” Are these all good homes? How do you know how the foster family will treat the dog? Although started with good intentions, standards start slipping. After all, the rescue saved the dogs; they have to go somewhere before adoption. But is it optimum care?

What can we do to help rescue organizations solve their issues?

So what can rescue and foster family advocates do? If you’re participating in Blog the Change, you’ve read about Kyla Duffy and her Don’t Kill Bill: A Dog Lover’s Night Out aerial performance and tales of puppy mill rescue event that’s coming to Boulder, Colorado February 12. (Be sure to see the Boulder Dog and This One Wild Life posts for the event’s amazing backstory, and the Up for Pups post about Aly and her talented rescue dog Clem, who will appear in the show.) Ticket sale proceeds from this event are going to a very special effort to address these rescue/foster problems.

Kyla’s 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Up for Pups, came up with an idea worthy of Blog the Change: a “Road to Rescue” Best Practices Manual. Within the next 6 months, the Up for Pups board of directors are developing an “indispensable manual that will serve as a guide for established and developing private rescue organizations, helping them to work most effectively.” The goal?  The manual “will help rescues save the most lives, spend the least money, and ensure a good experience for all volunteers involved,” Kyla says. “Standards manuals are available for shelters, but rescues are run differently; they don’t follow similar practices.”

What’s the big picture?

Kyla adds that Up For Pups is partnering with 15-20 “reputable, experienced rescues–large and small, purebred and mixed-breed, to create this manual, which will serve as a toolkit to help rescues self-evaluate and grow.” While the initial effort will focus on decentralized rescues that use foster homes to house dogs, “we hope to expand the manual to include rescues with centralized facilities and rescues that take in other types of animals. Since each has different needs, we’ve decided to first focus on decentralized rescues because they are prolific and without anything of this sort.”

Up For Pups has evaluation and data collection plans to compile commonalities and what has and hasn’t worked for the rescues. “Down the road, we hope to be able to financially reward organizations who can prove their holding themselves to the highest standards each year, and we believe this manual will help them out.”

Who doesn’t want that?

Rescues interested in participating in the creation of the best practices manual can contact Up for Pups here.


This post is part of the #reverb10 project that provides daily topics throughout December to help us reflect on the past year and sets intentions for the year ahead.

Day 30 topic: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

This year was such a rollercoaster with my dogs’ health. Not a gift in any way, shape, or form.

My dog Luna has chronic e. coli and new urinary tract infections about every 6 weeks–she’s had them since she was about 3 (she’ll be 9 next year). Every culture of hers shows different results.

Luna and Frisbee in their younger years

I’ve had five different vets try to figure out why. She’s had ultrasounds and more tests than I would ever want. Even The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, The College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, and The College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University have drawn blanks about her issues; one wants to write about her condition for their veterinary publication. I’ve consulted various western and holistic vets about this condition as well. Next up, an internal scope on January 3.

12-year-old Frisbee has canine osteoarthritis and a condition called spondylosis deformans, or bridging spondylosis. He often walks with his back arched, and his back legs sometimes fail. He’s had acupuncture–which makes him feel great!–and various other treatments. He does all right, but the possibility of growing numerous bone spurs looms.

During the quiet of the night, I hear Frisbee snoring away on his bed, occasionally mumbling as he turns. I hear Luna rustling about, dreaming of chasing squirrels and bunnies. Peaceful. Happy in their dreams. They’re alive! The. Best. Gift. Ever.

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