Part I by Angie Flores, Part 2 by Peggy Jennings, for StubbyDog.org
Part I: Misty Finds a Home
by Angie Flores
I first came across Misty in 2004 when she was only 8 weeks old. In her few months, she had already been passed around and was on her way to a life of over breeding and neglect. I intervened, and Misty has been with our family ever since.
Once she was in my arms, I told my husband that there was no way I was going to release her until he promised he would allow me to keep her until I figured out what I was going to do with her. I’ll admit we had several arguments regarding Misty. My hubby thought she was going to grow up to be vicious, just like what we all hear on the news. I, myself, had no idea on how to raise a Pit Bull puppy, but I was determined to read up on the subject and do whatever I could. Through reading about them, I gained the knowledge needed to involve her in a variety of dog sports and activities. Training and socializing were at the top of the list, so I concentrated on those at first.
In the beginning, my plan was to train her to make it easier to rehome her. Meanwhile, I took care of her daily needs. When she was 5 or 6 months old, I decided to keep her. I enrolled her in a series of basic training classes at PetSmart. There she aced every class. She received her first Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate at age 1. I had never had so much fun training a dog than I did with Misty. She aimed to please!
My instructor noticed my natural ability to train and encouraged me to apply at PetSmart. The rest is history. By the way, my hubby no longer believes Pit Bulls are natural born killers. He actually can’t believe how ignorant people can be about Pit Bulls.
Part 2: Changing Hearts and Minds
By Peggy Jennings
Her eyes never left me. My 4-year-old granddaughter asked me, upon visiting in the store once, “Why does Misty always stare at you like that?” Her human and I got a good laugh over that question. You see, I represented a dog food manufacturer and always carried treats in my pocket. In that line of work, it was essential that my clients like me!
I met them in a pet store where Angie was a trainer in obedience classes for dogs. Misty was a petite, brown and white Pit Bull, working toward being certified as a service dog with her special ability to respond to seizures. Her passion for food was legendary already, so her attraction to me was instant. Misty watched my pocket religiously any time I was in the store for any sign that there might be a treat forthcoming, and there always was, at least there was until the day her human said to me, “No more treats for Misty – she is gaining too much weight!” Angie had spoken with authority, and even Misty could not argue! I had to admit upon looking at her that she was, indeed, noticeably pudgy, even more noticeably because of her short legs. She loved to eat!
A previous traumatic experience with a Pit Bull had ended badly and had left me leery of Pit Bull type dogs, but Misty seemed different, and I tried to keep an open mind. She grew on me, and I was really impressed by the two of them.
After leaving that job behind, I kept in touch with Angie. Misty no longer needed to be involved in service work because her human’s seizures had ceased, and the two had drifted away from that. They had become active instead in a new club for dogs who were interested in dock diving. Misty looked like half the dog I had known with all her extra weight gone. Her passion for jumping off docks had led to a very healthy weight loss and she was unstoppable in her enthusiasm for the sport! I was impressed by her motivation and even more, her joy in it. It wasn’t automatic for her, though, as Angie says, “I remember when Misty sank and didn’t come back up for what seemed like forever. She didn’t know how to swim back then.” But Misty persevered and learned this new skill and learned to love water as well.
Angie had also flourished, finding new happiness in her role as the owner of a business training dogs, Pawsitive Effects Dog Training. Now active in the sport of dock diving, Misty competed this year for the first time in the local county fair as a member of the newly formed local club, DockDogs of the Tri-Cities.
Not every Pit Bull loves water, not even every dog. Misty is not just any dog or just any Pit Bull either. Very petite and with her short legs, what she lacks in size, she more than makes ups for in motivation.
What’s Your Dog’s Passion
Your dog may or may not love water or be passionate about jumping off a dock, but every dog has an inner drive to do something. If you’re interested in competing, dog competitions include dock diving, flyball, canine freestyle, agility, herding trials, conformation, tracking, disc dog, lure coursing, obedience and rally obedience. Carting (a contest in which dogs pull carts or wagons) is another sport that seems to fit Pit Bulls well.
While not every dog is suited for every sport, all dogs have something that drives them, and they are usually competitive if you find their “thing.” Yes, you may have the exceptional couch potato who enjoys only eating and sleeping, but it can be fun to find out by trying different activities. Pit Bulls are often very athletic. One of the things they most enjoy is pleasing their human companions, and they never give up on that.
As you may have guessed, I am now a Pit Bull fan and StubbyDog volunteer! With the dogs competing in dock diving, I have also found a new subject for another passion, photography, and the combination is so much fun!