A Dogs’ Life: Bull Terriers and Pit Bulls in 2015

Louie loves to sit on us!
Louie loves to sit on us!

We recently  adopted a dog and because of my new experiences with our dog  I’ve been paying closer attention to dog issues.  I’ve read about the dog meat festival in Yulin, China, to the challenges that animal rescuers and shelters deal with world wide and the dog fighting industry. I had no idea how many dogs and cats are purposely abused till I started to follow a few animal rescue sites. I also had no idea about the dog fighting industry, which is of a concern to me now because of the breed of our new puppy. Dog fighters prey on the bully breed of dogs, our dog Louie belongs to this breed; the dog fighting industry specifically contributes to the demonization of the Pit Bull/Bully breed of dogs which in turn leads to the glut of Pit bulls in shelters and rescue centers.

Louie lounging around.
Louie lounging around

Louie was 9 months old when we met him, by chance my husband and I saw a young man walking a white Bull Terrier (you know, the dog that looks like a pig, Spuds Mackenzie or the Target dog!).  I excitedly urged my husband to go talk to the young man to ask him about his dog because we had always wanted a Bull Terrier since our beloved Quill died (Quill was a Chow Chow who was with us for 19 years). We read reports that Bull Terriers were friendly dogs that make good pets. The man immediately asked my husband if he wanted the dog, as he was moving to Australia and couldn’t take the dog with him.  All of the young man’s friends and family already had dogs and Louie was on his way to the dog shelter if he couldn’t find him a home soon. Chances are Louie would have soon been adopted at the shelter because he’s rare and prestigious here, but chances were just as good that someone would have adopted him for dog fighting.

Snuggling
Snuggling

We brought Louie home the next day to see how we all got along; Louie LOVES people and dogs as well, he’s even made friends with our smallest cat Runty who accompanies us on walks (the rest of the cats are afraid of him). The moment we brought him into our apartment, he chased Kitty upstairs, jumped on the couches, knocked me down, ran around in circles and bit his tail till it bled; big, strong, untrained Louie was an adorable “hand-full”. It was up to me to decide if we would keep Louie as I would be the one with him most of the time; I cried the first day I was with this sweet, super strong, big puppy because I didn’t know if I could handle him but at the same time I couldn’t bear to let him go to the dog shelter. I said I’d give it my best shot and Louie became a new member of our family, much to the dismay of our 4 rescue cats who had the run of the house up until this time.

Smiling
Smiling

Louie is really funny and he’s a cuddler, he loves to be near us, he especially loves to lie on top of us! He talks to us with a voice that sounds to me kind of like a “dinosaur” and I know when he’s been bad (peed on the floor or chewed something to pieces) by the look on his face. He is STRONG and very athletic; it has been a joy to watch him run and play.

Bored
Bored

The second day we had Louie I received a $200 ticket at 7 a.m on our morning walk because he wasn’t wearing a muzzle; apparently in Israel he is considered a “dangerous breed” and needs to be neutered, chipped and wear a muzzle at all times. We found out quickly that people believe that many of the Bully breeds are aggressive and very dangerous, the most dangerous thing about Louie is his fast-wagging tail. Just let me say that quite a few unmuzzled dogs-large and small- have snapped at us on our walks; Louie always startles and quickly continues on his way; he doesn’t snap back! We soon noticed that people would cross the street when we were walking Louie, they gave us dirty looks and some even make hateful comments to us. Many dogs have attacked Louie, many dogs don’t like him because he is an alpha-type of dog.

Louie LOVES Emili
Louie is smitten with  Emili

A muzzled dog makes people weary of him, it does not help a situation when you’re trying to socialize your dog; people often ask me why Louie has on a muzzle. Dogs and people go out of their way to show us that they don’t approve of us; I now feel as if I’m wearing a fur coat made from puppies while walking my pet alligator down the street, I feel like an outcast. Owners of Bully breeds often stop to chat and lament at how badly others treat them and their dogs. Louie’s previous owner had socialized him well; the entire dog park community knew and loved Louie when they knew him as a puppy.

Leapin' Louie
Leapin’ Louie

We soon found out as Louie was now growing older and didn’t look like a puppy any more that the dog park was a terrible place for him; he was attacked twice (needed stitches from the unmuzzled dogs and was once attacked by a woman who kicked our muzzled-Louie repeatedly till my husband pulled her off him). Most Louie-haters assume he is a Pit Bull, they knowingly inform me that “he is a weapon“. It has become very clear to me that most people are extremely uneducated about dogs in general and especially about the Bully breeds (I was part of this group before Louie even though I grew up with and have always had a dog). I think Ceasar Milan’s t.v. show- Ceasar’s Way– about training dogs and his son Calvin’s new dog show for children on Nickelodeon-Mutt and Stuff– are having a very positive impact (in America) on dog education; GO CEASAR!

Laughing
Laughing

In my research I found out that the Bully Breeds (American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, Boxer, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, Bullmastiff, French Bulldog, Olde English Bulldogge, Victorian Bulldog ) have a bad reputation because organized crime and street thugs use certain “pit bull” dogs for dog fighting; Dog fighting is a highly profitable blood sport.

Awww!
Awww!

Dog fighting is a breeding ground for the exchange of illegal drugs, gambling and the desensitization of young children who are often present at these Roman coliseum type family events. There are different levels of dog fighting from dog street fights run by gangs to professional level fights where dogs are “professionally” trained and taught to fight. Much of the abuse of dog fighting befalls the bait dog (often stolen dogs), the smaller or more timid dog used to train the stronger dogs to attack and kill. Bait dogs are often the dogs found maimed and scarred at dog shelters. Dogs and the communities where the fights are held are both losers in this “game”. I also feel that the media takes delight in demonizing the Bully breeds as they did German Shepards, Doberman Pincers and Rottweilers in previous years.

Sleeping
Sleeping

We never go to dog parks any more, we try to keep Louie away from bad situations. We moved from Tel Aviv, Israel to Jaffa (just 5 minutes away) a few weeks ago; the dog situation is worse in Jaffa. We’ve learned of the deaths of 6 dogs in our immediate area by poisoning in a month’s time, four of these cases happened in a nearby dog park. Louie must always wear his muzzle now not just because it’s the law here but so he doesn’t snatch and eat poisoned food off the street, no exceptions. We’re deeply saddened that Louie’s life and so many other dogs like him are fraught by hate and ignorance.

Playing
Posing

It’s important to properly train a dog, it makes all of our lives easier when everyone’s dog mind their manners! We learned that the best training comes from positive reinforcement, teaching your dog to want to behave in a certain way because it benefits him. We wanted to send Louie to dog training camp and receive back a well trained dog but we learned from our dog trainer that that’s not how it works. Keeping your dog well trained is an on-going process, you must consistently reinforce positive behaviors in your dog even after he’s learned the behavior. Please note: any dog can be aggressive especially if they’re not properly trained and socialized. Dog owners have a responsibility for their dog’s behavior and a dog owner can easily be the reason a dog is deemed dangerous or actually is dangerous. NOTE: please keep your dog leashed! Even if your dog is obedient and well behaved he may curiously wander over to  a dog who does not like other dogs and this will result in a bad situation!

Louie and Doron
Louie and Doron
Needle felted Bull Terrier and stick
Needle felted Louie and Wooden Stick by Laura Lee Burch

I’ve been needle felting dogs for several years now but recently I decided to try to educate and promote as much awareness as I can with my art. I’m donating the sales of specific felted dogs (Bully breeds) to a few dog shelters and dog rescuers that have won my heart with their bravery and kind hearts. There are so many dogs (and cats) in need, I can’t felt fast enough…….

Louie loves a good stick!
Louie loves a good stick! Needle felted dog by Laura Lee Burch
smiling Isaboo
Red-nosed Amstaff  Needle felted dog by Laura Lee Burch
Pit Bull and Kitty
Pit Bull and Kitty Needle felted dog and cat by Laura Lee Burch

It is a MYTH that Pit Bulls and Bully breed dogs have locking jaws!

Pit Bull MYTHShttps://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/dog-adoption/myths-and-facts-about-pit-bulls/

Learn about dog fightinghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_fighting_in_the_United_States

Report dog fighting to the Humane Society or your local animal control agencyhttp://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/cruelty_fighting/hsus_rewards_animal_fighting.html?credit=web_globalfooter?referrer=https://www.google.co.il/

ASPCA: Ten ways to help stop dog fightinghttps://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/dog-fighting/ten-ways-help-end-dog-fighting

Help Ban Breed Specific Lawshttps://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/dog-fighting/breed-specific-legislation

Good Dog training Video siteshttps://www.youtube.com/user/zakgeorge21  and https://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup

Dog Educationhttps://www.cesarsway.com/

Friends-needle felted dogs

needle felted dogs
best friends

I took a photo of these two dogs (the original, real live dogs) in India. They were sleeping at the base of a monument, one was using the other’s rear end as a pillow and they were the most raggedy dogs I’d ever seen…but they looked happy.

doggy friends
Let sleeping dogs lie.

It took me a week to make this sculpture, working on and off between the girls’ end of the school year activities. I find these two dogs sweet, I think the black and white cow patterned dog is much older than the blond dog, maybe she’s the mother. My girls look at the original photo and tell me that “everyone needs a butt for a pillow”, oh silly girls!

sleeping dogs
May I use your butt as a pillow?

As I felted these dogs, I thought about friendship and how a few very good friends are a gift and that the simple things in life are the best.  These dogs brought many nice things to  mind as I felt, felt, felted away.

everyone needs a butt for a pillow
sleeping dogs detail

Dog Stories-needle felted pets

needle felted basset hound
He ain't nothin' but a hound dog.

I have almost always had a dog in my life. The dogs I had as a kid were “working” dogs. My parents bought them to guard us and the house. They lived outside in dog houses that my dad made; they used to sit on top of the dog house like Snoopy.  My mom used to bring them into the laundry room when the weather got bitter cold or we took them into the basement with us when there was a tornado in the area, otherwise they were outside dogs.

needle felted dachshund
Let's play ball

As an adult, I bought my dog Quill ( a Chow Chow) for companionship. I lived by myself in Chicago and the furry company and extra security he provided were nice to have. I had him for 19 years, he became part of our family. We still talk about the things he used to do that made us laugh! One of my favorite Quill stories is from Chicago. He liked the very cold weather, but when we would walk in the snow, he would stop dead in his tracks and lift up one foot. He wanted the ice cleaned out from between his toes. After we did one foot, he would lift another foot to be cleaned. You couldn’t budge him till all the ice was cleaned out from between his toes! I bought him dog boots, but he hated those.

giant poodle
Needle felted Giant Poodle

We’d like to get another dog, but we’re taking a pet brake right now. The last few years of Quill’s life were hard. We think we might get a Bull Terrier; they’re supposed to be good with kids, loyal companions and good watch dogs.

needle felted dog
Needle felted Bull Terrier

I like to watch those t.v. programs that introduce the people who bring their pets to hospitals and old folks homes to cheer up the people. I know that animals are good for people because they’re easy to love and they give love back and they’re always glad to see you when they get home and they never criticize you. We bought my mother in law a little dog after her husband died recently; she now lives for that dog.

needle felting pets
Needle felted Rottweiler

I used to “read” the Carl book by Alexandra Day to the girls when they were little. Carl books have no words, just adorable illustrations showing the adventures of Carl the Rottweiler and “his baby”. These are some of my favorite children’s books!

wooly sheep dog
Needle felted Old English Sheep Dog

These dog sculputures arent’ toys, they’re art. They take 10-15 hours each to felt. Each dog is around 6.5″ tall x 10″ long\16.5cm tall x 25.4cm long. They’re needle felted from 100% wool and have posable legs. You can buy them in my Laleebu Boutique, here or here.

needle felted art
Needle felted Jack Russel Terrier

Famous dogs: Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Snoopy, Marmaduke, Astro, Benji, Odie, Clifford, Cujo…

Does anyone else have a good dog story?