It’s Not Just a “Pit Bull” Thing. Cattledogs Get It Too.

OK, OK, I know. A lot of my friends have or work with or volunteer for Pitbull type dogs.  Two of Artie’s bestest friends are pit-type dogs.

The Spousal Unit with Kinners: two guys hangin’ out.


Oreo: he’s down with that!  Artie loves him!


The boys check out Co
usin Artie

So yes, we have contact with many “big heads.”  And we love our pit-type friends.  We hear the stories, the misconceptions, the comments about them.


I’ve been a lot of places where there are dogs and now because of my exposure to pit-types, I don’t have any pre-conceived notions.  It’s a dog with a (usually) square head, period. I ask if I can pet etc. just as I would with any dog.  And I’ve done events with a pit-type on my arm, so to speak, and have educated and advocated for them for years now.


I think I’ve heard darn near every comments a person can make about pit-type dogs and I’m here to tell you, it runs the gamut from “Awesome” to “Satanic.”


I’ve heard, “You can’t trust ’em, not one of ’em,” to “Best damn dog my family ever had!”


What is fascinating to ME, personally, is for as many bad or  fearful stories that people tell, I’ve heard an almost equal amount of curious, respectful questions to misty-eyed memoirs to powerful stories of love and loyalty.


I can honestly say (if the locale is pretty neutral) that the nice comments or questions run about anywhere from 40-75% of what I’ve heard if the dog I’m with is a nice, mellow dog or goofy, happy dog.


The negatives just seem louder than the neutrals and positives.


Now folks who have pit types wail and gnash (rightly so) about how misunderstood their dogs are.  They are.  I’m not saying they’re NOT!  BSL, extreme prejudice, unnecessary killings and incarcerations. Pit type owners have every right to feel, nay, be paranoid, vigilant and on guard. If you’re on a Pit Group on Facebook or you know folks who have them or work with them, this is nothing new. It’s an exhausting round of educating John Q. Stupid-Public.


However, you’re not the only ones.


We have (for those of you who don’t know us) a lovely female mix and an Australian Cattledog (ACD). He will be 2 in Sept. 2013 and his name is Artie or “Blooby” as he is most often known.  (Blame the S.U. on that.)


Artie is my 7th (including fosters) ACD. This is my 20th year with cattledogs.


Brief synopsis for the uninitiated: An ACD (sometimes known as a Blue Heeler, Queensland Heeler or Heeler) is a medium sized herding dog breed, originating in (who’d a-thunk?) Australia!  They come in blue or red (plus blue or red speckle).  They were bred to herd and guard feral cattle in the outback.  They are also used on sheep and other stock, including reindeer! They are very smart, pretty biddable (I think) and tough. They have teeth (scissor bite) which they use to herd stock with, often nipping at the heels of recalcitrant cows. Thus the name “heelers.” They are often called “velcro” dogs because they want to know what you’re up to at any given moment.

They are athletic and sturdy with a weather-resistant coat. They should have upright ears and tight “cat feet.”

They are loyal to their humans but often diffident to down-right suspicious of strangers. They often are not tolerant of other dogs.  They need a ton of positive socialization. They have a lot of energy, although I have had a few that were pretty laid back. (That’s not the norm.) They are a “busy” dog but I think there are many dogs that are far busier.  They love brain and/or body work and excel in a wide variety of dog sports.  At 17-20 inches, it’s an easy size to live and travel with.


Artie has some of the best qualities of his breed and of a companion dog in general.  We’re very, very blessed.


ACDs are also an extremely unusual LOOKING dog. Once you know what a cattledog looks like (or SHOULD look like) you can honestly say, “Yep, that’s a cattledog!”   They are pretty unforgettable!


(I have to preface this by telling you I live in the Midwest.)


Here are some of the “usual” comments who someone has met Artie (or any of my other cattledogs.)


“Wow, what kind of mix is THAT?”

“Man, how old IS your dog?” (This only seems to happen with blues; must be the grey hairs in the coat.)

“Does that dog have WOLF in him?”

“Is that a little German Shepherd?” (I never know where people get that from.)

And startlingly close to the truth) “Is that a (part) Dingo?”


Once in a while (and it’s getting to be more commonplace than it was 20 years ago) you hear:


“Is that one of them blue heelers?”  This is often said in the same semi-suspicious tone as many a pit type owner has heard.  “Is that one of them pit bulls?”


Now, OK, all right, call me grammatically biased but the minute someone (no matter what city or state I’m in) says “them heelers” or “them there heelers” or even ‘them cattledogs,” (yes Virginia, some people DO get it right), my intellectual-snobbery-hackles start rising up.  Even when someone say “those cattledogs” with the emphasis on “those,” I inwardly cringe.  I’m sure pit type folks do too.


“Oh, God, here we go. And it’s not going to good.”


Here’s where the pit type folks and the cattledog folks diverge. With a pit type on the other end of your leash, you COULD ostensibly B.S. your way through that query especially if your dog is black, brindle or fawn colored.  I’ve heard lab-boxer mix, hound-boxer mix, poodle-terrier mix (yes, we had one of those of the Humane Society) etc. etc.  John Q. Stupid couldn’t pick out a pure-bred American Pit Bull Terrier out of a line-up!  Many experts can’t either!


But if they’ve identified your ACD as a heeler or cattledog, yeah, you’re pretty much sunk.  Here it comes, I think.  The Bad Cattledog Story. And it almost always begins with “My cousin” or “My friend had one of them.”


It’s usually a cousin. If it’s a cousin, you know (9 out of 10 times) it’s going to be bad.


Let’s say, on a good week, you and your friendly, social dog meet 20 pretty neutral-to-nice people, all men.  In a good week, the pit type folks  might get 40% – 60%  neutral to positive reactions.  The rest, admittedly, are going to suck.


In that same week, the cattledog owner, meets 20 people (men) who guess (correctly) what he is. 17-19 of those people will say the following:


“Cool looking dog. You know….my cousin (insert other friend or relation) had one of them (there) dogs.  Meanest damn dog you ever saw. Bit everybody.  Loyal as hell but damn, was he ever mean!”  


Your heart does a little downward spiral because you know that yet another jerk owns an out-of-control, untrained (or badly trained) cattledog and is doing a huge disservice to the breed. Your brain goes slightly postal and you think with in inward sigh:


Educate. Again. It’s a training exercise for my dog, meeting new people. Again.  I bet Lab/Pug/Fluffy Dog people don’t go through this sh*t.


So, Pit type dog owners and lovers, you are not the only ones.  If you’re out in public, cattledog people get this all the time.  All. The. Tine.


So do Rottweiler people.  And Doberman people. And German Shepherd people.


Perhaps it might comfort you folks with pit type dogs to know you’re not alone.




So Your Pittie Got Knocked Up….

Heck, if your “any type” b*tch got knocked up….. 


It’s particularly bad for “Pit” or “Block-head” types for a wide variety of reasons.  Dog fighting, BSL, etc. etc. etc. 


Oh, dear, folks here are going to upset about this one.  The pregnant Pit. I can see them with pitchforks,  gathering wood for fires and setting up the stake in the courtyard…..they’re brushing off the pillory….plucking chickens, heating up the tar….


If I had my cat’s “oops pregnancy” to do over again, I’d spay-abort.  But she was due in 10 days. (So the vet at the APL said. Not.)  Granted, those kittens, (now well into their teens) had good homes and good lives. But I was a total Nazi when it came to homes for them.  A She-wolf!


Are you ready to take back any one of those puppies at any time during its life, which can be up to 16-18 years from now?  If not, don’t do it


Do you have totally checked and vetted-out homes for at least 2 times as many puppies as she will have?  Pittie type litters average between 4-10.  If you don’t have all those people lined up with large deposits, no “yeah-buts we’ll take one”…..Don’t do it.  


Many people from Rescue and Pit advocacy groups will be very upset about this mistake in dog management. And rightly so. I come from a slightly different angle here, having been in purebred dogs for over 20 years. And no, I’ve never bred a litter or stood my intact dogs at stud. Yes, admittedly you were completely at fault for not being vigilant  A solid tie can happen way quicker than you’d every imagine. (And if you don’t know what that term means….yikes!)  


Yes, she should be spayed and your boy should be neutered.  There is no question about that. We’re not talking show dogs here. And many people who show their dogs never breed them. And if neither parent has been health tested for hips, elbows, eyes (PRA, DLL), heart, Van Wildebraun’s etc. then spay-abort. Does one or both parents have skin issues, severe allergies? These are all genetically carried problems that can impinge on the quality of those pups’ lives. If you’ve never heard of any of this stuff or if you have NO idea what I’m talking about, you should spay-abort. 


However….if you are really going to go through with this, I hope like hell you have a clean, quiet, warm house, whelping box, old blankets, towels, tons of newspapers a SUPER great vet, a good ER vet clinic and some super-experienced dog people versed in whelping to help you.  If you’re going to continue forward with this….please, I beg you: DO IT RIGHT. Find someone reputable who breeds medium to large-sized purebred dogs on a very limited basis. Not a backyard breeder or an “Oops Breeder”. Not your friend down that street whose b*tch got knocked up last year. (Whelping Toy Breeds is a whole ‘nother story). You need their advice and wisdom.


Momma dog should be going to the vet every week for her pre-natal check up and probably be ultra-sounded as well. If she has a breech pup, it could kill her; she may need a Cesarean. That’s at least $1,000 there.  If you’re lucky.


Some vets will do very early spay/neuters on the puppies. I do beg you, SPEND THE MONEY. please do not let the puppies go without having them fixed, micro-chipped and fully vetted.  Parvo kills! 


People who responsibly breed dogs (and don’t ya’all dare flame me with your “all breeders are scum” vigilante spew) spend a ton of money and never get it back. She’s a Pittie type, so you are going to have to be uber-vigilant about who gets those puppies. I’d do serious background checks, check ALL their references, do a pre-home visit and have a contract that says at any time WITHOUT NOTICE you can visit where that dog lives. Are you ready to be their guardian and advocate for the rest of their lives?


You must be prepared to do the “Smart Puppy Program” with these little ones. If you have no idea what I’m taking about, spay-abort. You can Google that and see if you’re up to the task. It will make them much better dogs as they grow. 


The average responsible breeder of ANY breed, will spend $250-$1,000+ PER puppy on pre-natal, post natal care and puppy care. That’s not including testing done on both parents. 


It is a full time job 24/7 for 8-10 weeks.  By the way, don’t let anybody b.s. you….letting puppies go at any age before then (like 5-6 weeks) is totally irresponsible, in my opinion. I know I know, shelters do it.  I do not approve. Even though Mom has weaned them she still has a lot to teach them.  DON’T DO IT.  Once puppies are mobile, they really become a full-time job with full-time, never-ending clean up.  Puppies are noisy, adorable, messy, destructive, little heart-stealing monsters.


Since this was an unplanned pregnancy, I would SERIOUSLY consider a spay-abort even at this late stage.  She’ll be OK. Remember! She and the pups are YOUR responsibility for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. Even when they go to new homes, THEY ARE YOURS ALWAYS. You should be there always for your puppy owners, revel in their accomplishments and cry with their owners when they go to The Bridge, old and grey and loved to the very end.


That being said…puppy breath is pretty special stuff, no denying that. But most people are woefully unprepared for the responsibility, time and expense to do it RIGHT. You must be totally committed to doing it right for the rest of their lives. 



Kelly Ripa and Pit Bulls

To Kelly Ripa and all fans of her show.

(And yes, I posted this on the LIVE Facebook page but no doubt it’ll get yanked.)

Ms. Ripa: You should not make blanket comments about pit bulls (or even that type of dog). It shows a blatant ignorance and an assumption on your part of biased, quasi-education.

Should we say the same thing about blondes, your appearance or your intelligence, you’d be rather angry, hurt, disappointed, wouldn’t you? Perhaps not, as by your comments, it’s highly doubtful as to whether you possess any of the virtues of basic intellect but rather an alarmist, punt-kick attitude towards dog related things of which you could not possibly have any reasonable knowledge.

In other words, Ms. Ripa, you be needin’ some educatin’!

Moving On From Michael Vick?

Forgive Michael Vick? Move on from the whole “Michael Vick Thing?” He did the crime and did the time, etc. I can get where some folks are coming from but here’s the deal.

He committed a crime. Crime? He committed crimes. Aside from the dog thing, which was horrific, he still got arrested for other stuff. Felony Stuff. He knew exactly what was going on on his property. He aided and abetted all that stuff. He committed other CRIMES besides dog fighting.
OK, he served his time. That’s great. However he should NEVER have been allowed near professional sports again. Never. He’s done nothing but profit from his time in the “hoose-cow.” Oh, but he lost all his earnings and potential earnings when he went into prison. Boo-hoo.
I don’t see him giving one nickle beyond what he was court-ordered to give to those dogs. If I were his P.R. person, I’d be all over him like spots on a Dalmatian to be doing more and more. Both publicly and privately so some snoopy reporter would find out. 
I don’t see him, week after week after week going into schools and community centers and preaching against Dog Fighting and Drug Usage to his idolizing masses. I don’t see him doing one ounce of Good. And he could have. He was and still is in a tremendous position to do incredibly good things, to be a huge power of example.
I screwed up. God will be my Judge and I don’t think He’s going to be happy with me.  I was horrible and cruel beyond words to His defenseless creatures. I enabled people to do illegal, horrible and inhumane stuff. I knew it was going on and did nothing. In fact, I participated! I will never do it again and I vow to spread the word and tell people it’s wrong, it’s immoral, it’s inhuman, it’s inhumane and don’t you ever do it!  Don’t get caught up the spiral of horror!  It’s not cool!  You’re a big loser if you do it. It’s no way out!” He truly could have had a public “Come To Jesus” moment and done something uplifting with this whole ungodly mess.  A true Man of God (or Goddess) would do such a thing.  And they’d keep on testifying!  
That’s why so many “animal people” think he’s such a jerk and still have him in the pillory of public opinion.
You don’t hear anyone saying, “Well, Bernie Madoff is doing his time. Let’s move on, shall we?” Nobody that I know of or have heard of is willing to give old Bernie a pass. There are people who are making it their life’s mission to find that money and make restitution. 
But because Michael Vick is a football player, an athlete, we should just “move on?”
Please do not flip out the “You’re just being that way because he’s black” card.  Dog-fighting, dog killing, dope dealing, trafficking, illegal-gambling, felonious, scum-buckets come in all shapes, sizes and socio-economic backgrounds. I wouldn’t care if he was pink with purple polka dots. He and his charming relatives and friends were a bunch of opportunistic criminals. Period. To pull out the “race card” is demean to people like Martin Luther King.
I understand “To err is human, to forgive divine.” (Alexander Pope) And the Latin: “Errare humanus est.” Yes, as spiritual folks, we should pray for Michael Vick, pray especially for his “vick-tims” and for all the people who invested and believed in him. He duped and cheated every stinkin’ one! He is still laughing his way all the way to the bank with million dollar endorsements and contracts. If you or I had committed his crimes, we probably wouldn’t be able to get a job at McDonalds, get a car or buy a house.
He is the poster child for “You might get caught, you might have to do some time, but you can profit from this.” What lesson does this teach kids? Where are the ethics?
And speaking of…..why don’t most professional athletes have to sign ethics’ clauses?  
Why is it that an athlete gets a slap on the wrist but some poor “muther f-er” from the ghetto would still be in jail?  (Better lawyers notwithstanding.)
His consequence for committing his crimes should have been banishment from professional sports, in particular football. If he’d been a NASCAR driver (and believe me, I don’t like NASCAR very much) his getting back into the sport would have been a total non-starter.
I’m sorry but if you are a professional athlete and you get nailed for felonies, that’s it.  You’re done, buster. If he’d done this stuff, he would have been kicked out of the Olympics!  Nobodyis that good or necessary to the football cause. There are many worthy high school and college kids ready, willing and able to take your place.
Get a real job and find out how tough it is for a convicted felon to get work. Then maybe I’ll give you a brief hall pass. Just don’t ever do it again. Ever. The same as with any other felon.
©2012 Mia Knerly-Hess