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Superman Dan

I was heavily involved in pit bull rescue from 2007 until 2011. I ran a rescue for crying out loud! Yes…I am that crazy. It’s not easy at all. It takes a special kind to do it. And if it weren’t for having to “take care of home” FIRST, I’d probably still be in eyeballs deep. Being able to make a difference for the dogs is an intensely gratifying feeling.

Superman Dan, July 2009

So, that leads us to Dan. Dan, Dan, Dan. What a boring name. People suggested changing his name to “Zorro” or something else based on his looks because, well, you have to admit, they’re striking. But by the time Dan actually came to me, the name “Dan” had stuck. But it still needed some “flare.” Hence, “Superman Dan.” By all intents and purposes, I wanted Dan to be a “superhero” in a way. A dog that would be out there front and center making new waves for the breed. We’re still a little behind that, but he is by all means, a fitting “superhero.”

Dan’s story began somewhere in Missouri or even Illinois. On July 8, 2009, he was plucked from the woods and taken to a temporary shelter located in the heart of St. Louis along with just over 400 (yes, four HUNDRED) other dogs. The puppies born to pregnant mothers soon sent that number well over 500. You can read more about the largest dog fight raid and rescue in US history here.

We didn’t get the list of dogs needing rescue until the end of September in 2009. If my memory serves me correctly, there were almost 250 dogs on that list. Thirty-something pages. It wasn’t the full 500+ because there were still restrictions on sharing dog information from jurisdictions who had not yet released custody of the dogs. I still have that list. I had to print it out because I simply couldn’t get my bearings straight on looking at THAT many dogs on the computer. It was very overwhelming.

I remember seeing the picture above of Dan in the line-up and IMMEDIATELY felt drawn to him. I wanted him in my own home for me to work with. Sadly, at the time, it wasn’t an option. I was already going to be bringing one dog home from MO that needed a place to hang out for a short period of time before going to a new foster home. And it just wasn’t a good time for me to have a foster dog in the home. My relationship was on the rocks and I needed to put some effort into that first. I relinquished the idea of him coming to us at all. I really figured that with his handsome looks, he’d get snatched up by another rescue.

In November of 2009, it was confirmed that my rocky relationship wasn’t going anywhere. I began my hunt for a house. I knew Dan was still available and in “safe keeping” mostly and hoped it wouldn’t be too long to get into my own place so we could bring him in. January 2010 rolls around and I STILL hadn’t found a house. And I was STILL living with the ex who was thankfully over the road driving for the majority of that time. But, I got the dreaded news. Dan was suffering in boarding and needed to get out ASAP. I don’t remember the full chain of events, but my ex, bless his giving soul, told me I could bring him to the house because he knew it would mean a lot to me. So, January 16, 2010, I drove out to Atlanta to pick Superman Dan from the airport.

This dog…I actually got to meet him briefly when we made the trip up to MO in October of 2009. He melted my heart then. INCREDIBLY happy to be alive and just DYING for attention. They had him in a larger stall set up instead of a crate like a lot of the other dogs and he couldn’t stop bouncing he was just so hungry for attention. And when I put my hand up to that gate, he blew me away with just how gentle he was in an effort to lick my fingers. He won me over right then and there.

Another volunteer went with me to get him and oh am I glad for that! We sprung that lanky boy out of the crate he had to fly in and he could hardly contain himself! And when we got him in the car, he didn’t know what to do and decided to try to eat my seat cushion! Bless my Marva though, she started petting him and calmed him down enough that he slept for nearly the entire 5 hour ride back into Charleston. He may look a little “choked” in the pic above, but I promise, we wouldn’t have done that to him 😉

Well, I finally got moved into a new home in March of 2010, thankfully. And Dan, he actually got adopted in May of 2010. I thought it was a fantastic match and things were good for a year. Sadly, I got a call in June of 2011 from the shelter saying Dan was there. Contacted the adopter and he told both myself and the shelter he was going to get him. Three weeks later, the shelter calls me again to further horrify me that Dan was STILL there! My heart broke AND swelled with anger at the same time. HOW???

And I’ll never know the real reasons why he was abandoned there. What I do know is that after that second call, I left work early and drove the almost 2 hours to go get him. My love for this dog is immense and it hurt SO badly to see that he was left in the shelter for THREE weeks! I’d have gotten him sooner had I known the adopter wasn’t going back for him. He’s just too awesome of a dog to sit in a kennel and have such limited interaction! And for someone to be so spineless as to let him just sit in a shelter instead of owning up that for whatever reason or another they weren’t going back for him….Ugh it makes my heart hurt still.

Anyway, I suppose the real point to my post is to share with you all one amazing freaking dog that needs a new home still. I’ve since closed the rescue but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on him. I can’t. I love this dog with every ounce of my being. People tell me too that they think he’s already found his forever home. While the sentiments are nice, I am NOT the best home out there for him. He LOVES meeting people. He loves going out to different places and being wherever he can possibly be with his family. Why is that a problem for *me*? Well. I live alone. I don’t have nor do I want kids (and holy crap he does back flips over kids!). I’m mostly a hermit. To be quite honest, Dan is really the only reason I leave my house and go traipsing around the neighborhood. He requires that exercise or it’s “hey I’m gonna run laps around your house and propel off your furniture with wild abandon!” And yes, I do have that kind of sense of humor with dogs that even though it does bother me a little bit, I understand why he does it and can laugh about it when he does 😉

That’s the extra fun part about Dan. He is happy to be alive. HAPPY. It does not matter that he came off of a chain out in the woods, he’s practically bomb proof with anything. He has little fear of anything at all and is 100% ready for ANYTHING that you want to do. Like hanging out with people on the 4th of July blowing up fire works? Give him people and he does not care one bit. Thunderstorms, whoopdedoo. Give him a chew toy and he’s content. Now, if it’s raining, expect him to be prissy paws and not go outside to get those wittle toes of his wet. His personality is so incredibly unique and SO true of pit bulls. I could gush for days!

I think back sometimes to a few things I was told shortly after getting him. That he wasn’t a favorite at the temp shelter because his energy level was through the roof. And that he was almost a “borderline” dog as far as being released BECAUSE of that energy level. And I look at him today and marvel at just how LUCKY he is to be alive and in one piece. And not mangled up from dog fights either. He’s also opened my eyes even further to just HOW much interacting with and exercising your dog can make a difference in their demeanor. When he’d been adopted, it was a mere month later and he had run of the home, because he was getting one on one attention and guidance. This dog is BRILLIANT. Absolutely brilliant. But because people are so easily scared off by work and exercise, they pass by dogs like him EVERY DAY. I guess they think they’re too much work or that it wouldn’t be worth it.

Yes, Dan is mischievous and looks for fun and games in nearly everything he does, but once he gets his exercise, he calms immensely. He’ll lay on the couch and cuddle or curl up in a ball in a chair to just get some down time.

He walks well on leash. You can take him running with you. He LOVES car rides. He’ll go swimming for tennis balls! And best of all, he is a NATURAL at running with you while you’re on the bike. Who doesn’t want a dog that you can do these things with??? Seriously? I have had SO much more fun with him (and he’s much happier) now that we can go out on bike rides. He loves being able to get out of the confines of the yard and run all bow-legged down the street, tongue flying out with absolute glee on his face!

Simply put, this dog is amazing. And he came from a fight bust. Off a chain in the woods. I can’t say I’ve ever met a dog that’s much happier to be alive than he is. Nor that’s as bombproof as he is.

But here he sits, still in my home. No interest in months. *sigh* That’s partially the nature of pit bull rescue though. The dogs just don’t move fast, especially with an older dog who has a “dirty” background. People have NO idea what they’re missing out on.

We’ll get there though. I know there’s a home out there that is just looking for a happy go lucky loves EVERYTHING kind of dog, we just have to find these fine folks. Dan deserves so much more than I can give him, but he’s safe with me no matter what. So, if you happen to know someone looking, send them my way 😉

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Pit Bulls

 

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Pit Bulls and Atheists

Owning and rescuing pit bulls prepped me for “outing” myself with my disbelief in a divine entity such as “God.” As I mentioned in my previous post, “Did You Judge Me?“, “Changing the public’s perception of a specific term does not happen through silence. It happens through demonstration.”

See, being a pit bull owner has been relatively taboo for a while, however, progress is being made to change those perceptions. But, because of it’s “taboo” nature, pit bull owners get judged just as much as the dogs themselves!

Pit bull owners and atheists have to have thick skin to put up with frequent discrimination. Let’s look at a few examples.

Pit Bulls Atheists
“Those dogs are evil!” “Atheists are evil!”
“You gotta watch out for those dogs. You can’t trust them.” “I don’t trust atheists.”
“You own a pit bull? Aren’t you worried?” “You don’t believe in God? Aren’t you worried?”
“But, this dog is nice! It can’t be a pit bull!” “But, you’re so nice! You must believe in something!”
“Only people with bad intentions want those dogs.” “Atheists have bad intentions because they don’t have God to guide them through right and wrong.”
The look of horror and disgust when you tell someone petting your dog that it is a pit bull and they draw away. The look of horror and disgust when you tell someone you are godless and they draw away.

Think I’m overreacting? Definitely not. Misinformation about both of these things coupled with misplaced or unjustified fears breeds this exact kind of ignorance. Yep. I said it. Ignorance. Refusing to learn more about something you fear or that you don’t understand and choosing to believe any fear-based drivel that is hand-fed to you instead of thinking for yourself, that’s ignorance. 

When I first got involved with pit bulls, I realized that not everyone liked them, but I had NO idea that the hatred was so deep with so many people! My family and friends didn’t squish up their faces in concern when I told them, but acquaintances or those in in work-related relationships couldn’t help but raise some of these questions with me. And it happened so often enough that I just started laughing and being matter of fact about the facts that, “no, I’m not worried they’re going to eat me. I still have all my fingers and toes don’t I?” Most would brush it off and move on, others would ask a few more questions, and then a few would comment how “cool” it was and that it was totally unexpected that me, of all people, had pit bulls.

Isn’t that a curious observation? “I didn’t see you as the type that would own pit bulls.” Well…that’s part of your problem then isn’t it? 😉 See, ALL types of people own pit bulls. Naturally you’ve got those who are ill-intentioned, but the reality of it is, MANY “normal” people own pit bulls. And you’d never know because many of these people who do own them actually care for their dogs and make the effort to treat them as any other pet dog – a valued family member.

Many people ask me, “But, why pit bulls?” Well, why not? They are an extremely human-friendly breed. They are active and versatile. They’re easy to train and ready to do whatever it is to make you happy. They are clownish and have a zest for life that is contagious. They’re also a short-haired breed who, compared to other breeds, is on the quiet side. No, really! When you first walk into my house, if the dogs are in their rooms, you wouldn’t know I had them!

It was aggravating at first to have to deal with all the curious, but ridiculous, questions. “Oh they’ll turn on you! Aren’t you worried? Oh no! You have them around kids? Don’t they eat babies? What about that locking jaw of theirs?” and on and on and on. Let’s set a few things straight on this. No. Pit bulls do not “turn” on people at some magical age for some magical reason that no one knows. A temperamentally sound pit bull will NOT bite people. After some of the abuse I’ve seen handed to these dogs, you’d damn sure wished they would have bit the person who treated them so wrongly! *sigh* And as for pit bulls and kids, they’re GREAT together when everyone is properly supervised. And that’s with ANY breed of dog. Don’t let the child torment the dog! And also teach the dog (any dog!) proper behavior when playing. I could go into a novel about this topic so for now, here’s a link to read instead about “Preventing Bites” from Safe Kids Safe Dogs. Anyway. They also don’t have a “locking jaw.” What a misnomer. The skeletal structure of a pit bull is the same overall as other breeds of dogs. They don’t have a special key to operate…Where this may have stemmed from however is that they are a breed with a “bite and hold” nature. Compared to smaller dogs like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians who tend to have a “bite and release repeatedly” nature 😉 Other breeds with a similar bite and hold grip are German Shepherds and Rottweilers. So, yes for some it may be scary still, but you have to remember that breeds of dogs were originally bred by humans and for a reason. Pit bulls were NEVER bred for human aggression. Dog/animal aggression does NOT equal human aggression either. The way dog fights were orchestrated, any dogs showing aggression towards people were killed or removed from breeding programs. They posed a danger to the people in the ring and that was simply unacceptable.

*deep breath* I’m trying hard not to go off on a big slew of pit bull education, I promise! For now anyway 🙂

As you can see, there are a bunch of questions and fallacies surrounding pit bulls and their ownership. Even their history. People will take one bad story and let it form their entire opinion of an entire breed of dog, and that’s without even having met one first hand!

People do the same thing with those that identify themselves as “godless.” It’s an odd and disturbing shift to watch. I, fortunately, have not experienced the in-person rejection as others have yet. At this rate though, I think people would learn quickly that if they did, I might laugh at them for their silly behavior. I’ve seen them do it with the dogs. They’ll be getting kisses from such a cute and friendly dog and maybe even be so far in as to be giving belly rubs. Then they’ll ask the million dollar question, “what kind of dog is this?” Now, not everyone withdraws immediately (or at all!). But there are a select few that are still so trapped by a fear that they will get up and move away from the dog immediately, likely believing the myth that they turn suddenly and without reason or warning.

My time living and breathing pit bulls helped to prep me for the continued discrimination that would abound once I realized the true nature and reality of my godlessness. And not necessarily discrimination towards me but perhaps to continue to be that voice to educate, as I did and still do with talking to people about the true nature of pit bulls.

Just as I surprised people with the information that I do in fact own pit bulls, I seem to continue to surprise people when they learn I don’t believe in any gods. Because I’m good. And it shakes their perception of what kind of person they think an atheist is, much as for many it shakes their perception of the type of people that do own pit bulls.

And ultimately, that’s what I’m here to do. Face your fears and ask your own questions. Get to know me and get to know my dogs. Test the truth behind your perceptions.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Godless, Hot Button, Pit Bulls

 

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