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The Lost Dogs is about the pit bulls belonging to Michael Vick. I didn't pay much attention to the case back when it was happening, I just knew it was dogfighting. I had no idea how unbelievably cruel it really was. Not just how the dogs were cared for (I expected that), but what would happen to them if they didn't fight, or if they lost. Just....no idea.

I had to tell myself before reading it that I am *not* going to run out and save a pit bull. I'd love to get one someday, they seem like they can be great dogs, but every responsible owner/breeder/pit bull advocate I've ever seen admits that they can have some DA issues, even if they're raised in a perfect environment. I just can't risk little 5-pound Belle like that.

Belle is quick to growl and even nip at any dog that comes at her too strongly, especially a big dog that she's scared of. I'm afraid a pit - or any dog with terrier blood - would be more inclined to take this behavior as a "challenge", instead of just backing off. So maybe it's not really dog aggression, just....willingness to fight, or something.

Terrier-terrier compatability aside, they seem like such great dogs, and sooo many misconceptions exist out there. I would love to bring a pit bull hiking, running, and camping with me. I feel like I'd be enriching OTHERS lives by showing them that their perceptions and generalizations aren't always accurate.

So, I think I'm going to start volunteering at the shelter again. There's always pits there. I used to do this years ago, but it felt like wasted time because you take the dog for one walk...I didn't feel it was really making a difference in the dog's life. But after reading this book and learning about day-to-day shelter life, I realized that it can actually make a pretty big difference.
 

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While I do know people that have both pit bulls and toy breeds, they take a lot of care in both choosing compatible dogs (as in, a little dog that nips and antagonizes a big dog isn't a good match) and there is careful management. Nothing wrong with knowing that your home is not a suitable home for a given breed, for whatever reason including resident dog(s) or exercise needs etc.

But there are TONS of very loving pit bulls that could use a volunteer to help them. Volunteering at the shelter is a great thing to do. Other things you could do to help pits and other dogs are fundraising with a rescue, promoting their foster dogs (working a booth at an adoption fair or dog show event, posting flyers), doing website updates of adoptable dogs, taking photographs of shelter dogs (good photos sell dogs; too many shelter dogs have a small, dark and depressing photo that doesn't highlight a dog at all), walking the dogs, even dog food banks or helping build fences for owners that want to keep their dogs but are struggling for various reasons.

As an example, one of our local rescues is going to build a fence this weekend for a woman with several dogs. She had an injury and she isn't able to leash walk them for awhile and they were escaping from an old, run down fence and so were about to end up in a shelter. With donated fence material and donated labor, an owner will be able to keep her dogs out of the shelter and together.
 

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I think I'll start small first. :) I walked the dogs for an hour at the shelter today. It was fun, I feel that the dogs really appreciated it. One was extremely hyper on the leash, so I took him into the big fenced-in area and threw the frisbee around before walking him. I feel like I made a difference in their lives...

It was hard seeing a lot of the sick dogs. One hound was skin and bones, walking with a weird gait. Another old dog walked with obvious arthritis or stiffness, also skin and bones. There was only one pit bull this time, and we were told not to walk him because he chews through the leash. I think I'll try him when I go back next week. Our shepherd used to try to chew through her leash, but she forgot about it when we started sprinting with her...
 

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Ha, I didn't mean you should do all those things your first week :) Facebook is a great way to follow rescues and see what their needs are and join in only for those things you feel like you can help with well enough.

Personally, I know I can't volunteer at a shelter. The local humane society is very well run and has a good complement of volunteers and the dogs are well treated, but I'd still keep wanting to take one home. The city shelter is very poorly run and the management doesn't seem to want volunteers "behind the scenes" and frankly, I'm not willing to risk exposing Chester to distemper etc by volunteering there.

But I know the dogs really do appreciate a little fun and fresh air so I think it is wonderful that you are willing and able to help out walking them.

For the dog that chews on a leash- try a harness. Walgreens (at least here) sells a simple but reasonable quality harness for $6. Or they might have one on hand at the shelter. Not front-attach like easy walk but regular style.
 
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