First, I want to say how happy I am to find this forum! I have been browsing through and the passion you guys show for these wonderful animals is completely incredible!
I have had dogs all my life (all strays) but I have never owned a pit and I have no experience with the breed. I need some help please. I found a stray in West Philadelphia about 3 weeks ago. She is a pit mix. I have an old dog that does not like other dogs so I need to find a home (foster or forever) very quickly for this little girl. I am trying very hard to not add another burden to the shelter system. I have no experience in this area and I am overwhelmed and struggling with where to turn, where to start trying to find her a good home.
Here is what I know about this dog so far:
She was a stray, we found her behind Presbyterian Hospital in West Philadelphia. She let me catch her, put a leash on her and bring her home. From the first moment we grabbed her, she exhibited no aggression at all. I have taken food away from her while she's eating, stuck my fingers in her mouth, ears, pet her every which way, she just wags her tail. People have come in and out of my house, friends, my contractor, etc. and she has not shown any aggression towards anyone at all.
My vet checked her out and gave her a clean bill of health and her first year of vaccinations. She is a pitbull mix, 50lbs, 4-5 years old, housebroken. Also, she is NOT spayed. I will gladly help a potential adoptee with the cost of spaying if she is guaranteed to go to a good home. She came into heat not soon after I brought her home and I hesitated to give her to anyone while she was in heat - it was a difficult time with her so I just held on to her while she was going through it. But now, the heat is over. My vet recommends waiting 2 months before spaying but I cannot keep her that long and I am terrified that I won't be able to guarantee that whoever takes her will indeed spay her. In an ideal case, she would be safest in a foster or rescue.
She is a very sweet, affectionate dog. She is housebroken but doesn't seem to have been trained and we are blown away by how quickly she is picking up things - we've taught her sit and are working on stay and lie down. Is this a characteristic of the breed? She seems to be one of those dogs that is very eager to please and quick to pick things up. She is energetic but not hyper or neurotic and long walks are good for her. She is hard on the leash but I purchased a Gentle Leader collar and now she is a dream to walk! Whoever takes her will get the collar too ... free. :-) Every day we go for long walks together, she likes to walk through a fountain in my neighbourhood and "eat" the water. Always makes me smile. She also does this funny thing when she pees - she sticks both her back legs wayyyy up a tree and balances on her front legs. Sometimes she falls over. LOL. And she likes to eat ice cubes! :-)
She is good in the house, no barking or destroying things when you're away. She has a very confident personality - I have walked her all over the city, during rush hour around people, buses, bicycles, cars you name it. She's steady, mellow and not easily startled or skittish or jumpy. She's a really fun dog to be around.
I already have an old dog who doesn't care for other dogs. Right now, I keep them separated and as a consequence the stray spends most of her time alone - to her credit, she handles it without fuss. But I feel bad for that. She is so loving, she really deserves someone who can give her the attention.
I am trying very hard to find a good home for her. I know the shelters are full and I feel that if I take her to the SPCA she won't stand a chance. I don't want to add another burden to the shelter system but I am running out of time. Construction is starting in our building early next month and once construction workers begin to swarm the place it'll become very difficult to keep the dogs separated - right now, we do this little juggling act with opening and closing doors but I'm worried that the construction guys are not going to bother or remember to do that and there's going to be a problem - my dog is old, becoming frail but still with enough spunk to try to start something with this young dog and I can't risk either of the two dogs getting hurt. Someone also suggested a crate which I hadn't thought of before!
I really really want her to go to a GOOD home, some place that understands the breed and its needs. She is definitely different from my other dog - I have been doing some reading and I see that the pits are referred to as bully breeds. I have no experience and I am trying to do the best I can but if they require special handling, I hope someone who knows how to do that can take her.
Also, could I ask a few behaviour related questions please? I have no experience here and I don't know if I am handling these behaviours properly.
I notice she is a little pushy for attention - she does this thing where she pushes her nose into my hand all the time, wants to climb on me and crowds me. Is that behaviour I should be stopping? I was reading and some place was saying that is dominant behaviour. What is the best way to deal with it with her? Usually, I will just take my hand away and tell her to go lie down. She does it! Is that correct on my part?
She is HARD on the leash so I purchased a Gentle Leader! It's awesome! I love it! She doesn't ... but she tolerates it quite well. Even with the collar, she tries to pull. She goes left, right, all over the place, out ahead most of the time. I should correct that right? She should walk always by my side, no pulling? Sorry if I sound like an ignoramus but I haven't had to deal with this with my dogs before! Also, are all pits completely completely completely obsessed with going outside? She's obsessed with it! And she's obsessed with peeing on EVERYTHING when we're outside. My other dogs (all females) never marked that much.
She also wants to chase cats and squirrels (is that a strong prey drive?).
Other dogs: really need help understanding her behaviour here. My dog doesn't get along with other dogs but it's really obvious she doesn't right from the beginning! With this one, I can't tell and I need some help understanding her behaviour.
When she was in heat, I didn't let her get near any other dogs. But now, we see other dogs at my local dog park and in my neighbourhood and I let her get near them (always on the leash of course). Here are some observations:
- saw a big husky (off-leash) - she jumped up on him, he moved away, she jumped off and kept going, no noise, nothing
- small dog followed us while we walked through the park and got very close to her, ignored him
- saw a friend's female pit and they were ready to scrap (but this one was in heat at the time and I didn't know it coz she wasn't bleeding yet)
- saw a huge male pit in the dog park - she jumped on him and sat on his head, no noise nothing. He just rolled over.
- small, un-neutered terrier in the neighbourhood, she jumped on him and flipped him over, he growled, she backed off, then he tried to hump her
- mid-sized mutt around the corner, she jumped on him (always around the shoulders) and they were just kind of standing there and he squirmed and then he squealed so I pulled her off but it seemed like she had her teeth on him a little. She jumped off but he wasn't hurt at all. What's up with that?
- other dogs we see while walking - sometimes, she completely ignores them, sometimes she will start straining at the leash towards them, she doesn't bark or anything, just strain. If a dog barks at her she starts barking back furiously.
So, I cannot tell if all this is aggression or just jumping or some kind of behaviour that's normal for the breed. Bottom line, I'm out of my depth but I don't want to just dump her - she seems like a sweet dog and deserves a fair chance.
All advice and help is greatly, greatly appreciated! I have never done this before and I feel very overwhelmed and deeply responsible for her future. I am willing to help in any way I can, drive her to a potential foster or forever, definitely help with the spay cost ... as long as she gets a GOOD home. Unfortunately, I have no experience in evaluating that and if a rescue organization can help me, that would be great. I would hate for her to end up with the wrong sort of person and spend the rest of her life being unloved and misunderstood.
Last edited by MsPinky
on Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.