Monday, July 15, 2013

Blog went MIA but still running!

Wow... I realize I have not posted on my blog in a month! Is this something that new bloggers experience as well? Ah the ups and downs of blogging... For our readers that follow the blog, Yoda and family are alive and well (and kicking!) and I promise to post a real update with photos asap. Wags and woofs, Mama Pitbull

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: So Many Shoes!

Who is this good dog choosing to lie in her crate to chew on her antler when there are so many delicious shoes lying around? Yoda, the well-behaved dog that's who! She loves shoes too much to ruin them! Whatta good dog she is!! Yes she IS!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ruuv Her, I Do

You know those photos people take when they meet a celebrity? Well here I am pictured with my biggest star, Yoda. Unfortunately, she was not disposed to give out an autograph.

My hubby took us to the Star Wars Identities Exhibition in Ottawa as part of my birthday celebration and we picked up some cool merch, including this Yoda t-shirt and a Yoda mug. :)

I am mos def this dog's biggest admirer! 

(In case anyone spied the silver table in the background, that's one of my first DIY projects, a mahogany vanity table refinished by hand with silver leaf.)

Yoda? Squeeable's June pet of the Month? YES!

Hi guys!

Our good friend Ann who runs a wonderful blog about pets over at Just So Squeeable hosted a poll for the "pet of the month" based on the pets featured in May. They were all so darn cute!

Yoda won first place and is being featured in the blog for the whole month of June, that's so awesome!

Thank you to everyone who voted, little things like this really make one smile!

Yoda says thanks in her usual humble & cute fashion!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Good ol' Bully Breed Bum Wiggle

I just wanted to say, that there is *nothing* more endearing and heart-warming in life than coming home and seeing Yoda SOOOO excited to greet me that her bum wiggles erratically left to right!

I swear her head shakes along with it like a bobble-head!!

my Bobble-Head Yoda! Bum wiggles are the best hello!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Who Said Mama Can't Cook?

So in my last blog entry, I said I was thinking of making healthy, home made treats to avoid the store-bought kind and that I was going to make sweet potato and peanut butter doggy cookies, buuuuuuuuut I kinda went all out, a bunch of ingredients went into the mix and yumminess in the oven ensued!

I didn't use a recipe as I kind of made it up as I went along, but out came what must have been some really delicious cookies, according to Yoda anyhow. This is more or less how it went:

Yoda's Liver-Chip Cookie Recipe
  • half a sweet potato (cooked in the microwave and mashed up)
  • 4-5 caps of yellow and orange peppers chopped up
  • 4 large eggs
  • about 1 cup of cooked plain oatmeal
  • 1.5-2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • about 4 tbps mixture of flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and almonds all ground up
  • lots of cinnamon
  • big handful of dry liver treats broken up into small pieces like chocolate-chips
Mashed it all up together in the blender, then I added an extra sprinkling of oats into the mix to give it a chunkier, crunchier texture, placed small spoonfuls on a baking sheet lined with foil and baked it at 350F for 45 minutes and voilà! homemade treats for the whole week!

Who said you can't instagram photos of dog treats?

MMM I think she likes theeemmm!!!


100% natural, 100% healthy and 100% Yoda approved! (Geez, I sound like such a Mom, lol)

This was SO much fun for everyone involved and I can't wait to try out more recipes!

If you have any healthy recipe ideas you would like to share, let me know! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Healthy, Home-Made AND Yummy Dog Treats!

Hi friends,

Just posting a little bloggy post to talk about some yummy home made treat ideas for your pups!

My Yoda is very food motivated, and by very, I mean she salivates at the mere thought of food crossing MY mind, let alone hers! So I am thinking of fun new meals to feed her that I know will make her happy!

Right now she is eating Lamb & Rice kibble but once every few days I come up with a new treat for her to eat.

As a supper idea:
  • chicken liver 
  • green and red peppers caps left over from our supper (good source of vitamin C and Beta Carotene)
  • steel-cut cooked oats 
My hubby quickly seared the liver, then he put it in the Ninja and chopped it up lightly and she ate it all up!

Least week I made a yummy doggy desert made of:
  • cooked eggs
  • no-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • steel-cut cooked oats
  • natural peanut butter 
  • bit of cinnamon to taste
All whipped up together in the blender and she gobbled it up in a second.  

Tonight I am planning on making something that even I find yummers!
Sweet potato & peanut butter mashed up and baked into little treat cookies!
The mixture can also be placed in an ice cube tray and once frozen you can put the cubes in your pup's Kong so she can work away at it.  Yummy AND mentally stimulating!!

Other interesting mixtures that I want to try out in either cookes or frozen form are:

Sweet potato and apples
Sweet potato and carrots
Plain yogurt and apples
Carrots and apples
Yogurt and mashed banana

I will keep you posted on my recipe and how it turns out, with photos too!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How NOT to Raise a Monster


It's been a good week that I haven't posted a real entry in my blog (being a busy birthday girl and all, ahem!) and I am overdue!

I have been spending the last few weeks bonding with Yoda and I must say our relationships is growing stronger every day. We run into people or neighbours and almost everyone is astonished that we have only been together for a month because of how obedient, calm and in tune she is with me, always looking back at me and making eye contact, they all just assume I must have had her for a much longer time.

The truth is we meet people walking their dogs who complain that though they have their dog for 1 year, 4 years, 8 years...their dog doesn't listen to them, or they bark anxiously, they are hyper, or even that they try to bite if the owner approaches!!!

They tell me that I am lucky to have a good dog, I tell them that she could have also been a devil had she wanted. It is really in the ownership and how you handle your dog. I think most people don't like hearing this because it places the responsibility on the owner. Of course it is easier to blame the dog....

One of our friends recently got a puppy and their puppy cries all night and day. Then they tell us that they leave it loose in the home and they have friends with their adult dogs come over almost every single day since the day they brought the puppy home, "in order to socialize it".

Well no wonder the puppy is stressed!!
Poor pup just got taken from her mom and home and isn't given the chance to adapt to her new family and home, but instead she is thrown into a busy, scary, new place full of free-roaming strange dogs every day and strangers coming and going. Also, how is she supposed to be calm when she isn't given the time to bond and form a trusting relationship with her new parents BEFORE getting to know strange dogs and random people? She doesn't trust her owners or see them as leaders! Of course the poor pup is overwhelmed and cries incessantly!

Also, it is not a good idea to allow a puppy free reign of the home, but rather to slowly introduce her on-leash to every room and relay the message that every new room is your territory and that she is being invited in with permission. This allows the dog to respect that you are the parent and respect what is yours from the very beginning.

This is how we introduced Yoda to our home, slowly, on-leash, room by room, behind our lead. Our master bedroom is the only room which is off limits and so, we have never shown it to her or allowed her in. She understands that we have set a psychological boundary for her to not enter that room, because she only ever entered rooms from the get-go with our explicit permission. 

Now that she has earned her freedom to move freely about the house, even if the bedroom door is open, she has never even attempted to cross the doorframe (though she has sat just behind it, looking in curiously, she known not to enter, because she respects my space).

Of course, if you have been reading my blog, you know we went through a whole 2 week cocooning period and in the 3rd week, Yoda was only introduced to my mother and my best friend. By that time, she already knew to look to me for guidance and I was able to get her to listen to my commands, which I started teaching her from Day 1.

Although we are together for over a month, I still choose to hand-feed her. I now ask her to look at me and only feed her once she has made eye contact with me. I find this is a special time where we bond and she learns to connect with me mentally in order to be rewarded with her food. Maybe she would have growled or snarled had I allowed to have unrestricted access to meals, rather than recognizing I am the parent that provides it and whom she should respect. However, I did not give her the chance to develop any such guarding, protective possessiveness. 

I was told this is cruel because I control her and keep her dependent on me with food. Almost everyone in life keeps you dependent on them with resources, including your boss with your paycheck. I think it is cruel to allow a dog too much freedom and lack of structure which leads them to feel anxiety, stress and thus, act out. I find I have only seen positive reactions from making mealtimes interactive. Besides, I like to be associated with doggy food and other good stuff!

I try to gently educate people I meet who tell me their stories, but most people don't accept tips easily. I wish they would read more books or educational websites for their dog's sake.

I won't say that Yoda isn't just the most perfect dog ever and that I am purely blessed and lucky to have found her!

But I do think that a large part of why she is such a good dog is because I have given her a quiet, stable environment with a lot of consistent discipline, obedience training, daily exercise and of course, love. She feels calm because, for her sake, I am controlling the pace at which is introduced to new people, dogs and exciting stimuli. I am trying to set her up for success and ready to redirect any unwanted behaviour as soon as it happens.

So of course, when we are out, she sits quietly beside me, waiting for my word before we start off again or waiting patiently while I talk to someone, because she sees me as her leader and she feels confident with me. She doesn't need to cry or bark or jump in anxiety, because she doesn't need to worry about anything.

Mama has it all under control.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Black and White Sunday : Yoda the Big Baby

I just love how she curls up her body into a minuscule little furball like a cat does. She is a cuddlebug extraordinare! 60lb baby!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nap Time is the Best Time

Night-time cuddles with Papa Pibble....

And day-time cuddles with Mama Pibble...

 Sleep well my sweetheart

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Black and White Sunday

Happy First Mother's Day to my Mamma Pibble!
Kisses and
laughs together forever!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Discrimination SUCKS!

A friend forwarded a link to a newspaper article today. No intro, no words, no reason.

I click on the link and what do I see... Pitbulls blamed for mauling of jogger.

I read further down and what do I read... the "pitbulls" were owned by a man who was growing and dealing drugs, and they were roaming free and patrolling the grounds....

No proof that the dogs were "pitbulls", no photo, no nothing. Who knows what they were!!


First of all, any dog owned by a criminal for protection and guarding of the sort will be aggressive. They have been MADE into attack dogs by the humans who use them!! Who knows if these dogs had been abused? The media doesn't talk about that.

Also, responsible owners don't allow their dogs to be free outside. Any dog relegated to live outside in the yard and be off-leash will have the the propensity to become territorial and aggressive.

Then I get a comment, "pitbulls do this all the time, I will get a pet canary instead."

Yeah, you do that!

Why send me this message? Is this a subliminal way of saying I made a wrong decision for rescuing my pit bull mix dog? or to somehow scare me, intimidate me or judge me?

Well, it won't work.

I will challenge those preconceived notions, time and time again. And I told him so.

Punish the deed, not the breed!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Rest of the Family

So this blog is obviously about my new star, my beloved Yoda. But from the looks of it you woulda thunk that she is the only one occupying my heart. Not so...

Here is a little intro to the other pets that have filled my life with love and joy!


My first ever pet and biggest love is a sweet little scaredy-cat who has decided to stay kitten sized forever. She is a tabby and her name was initially Chloe but it never quite stuck. Eventually her name ended up to be "Tomayitsa", which is the Greek word (in baby language) for saying "traumatized little thing". (Yes, I am Greek) The root word being trauma. Trauma - toma... you get the picture :)

My mom and I found her at the SPCA 9 years ago and the moment I took her out of the cage she latched herself onto my chest like a suction cup and never let go. At 9 years old, I can still pick her up and cradle her in my arms like a baby and she will purr like a motor engine. She truly acts like she is so vulnerable, but we all know she runs the show!

She is generally quite shy but and has lots of quirks like she loves fish but she won't eat salmon. She loves to sleep on my tummy, but she will wait patiently for me to get covered with the sheet before she crawls on me. And she is scared and runs away from anything and everything even me after soooo many years yet she walked right up to Yoda the other day to sniff her face... please explain!

Without further a-do...

Itty bitty pretty tiny little kitty

Oh hai! You trying to read?

Mysterious kitty is fairer than a bride behind her veil


Back in 2007 I bought a pretty little baby cockatiel  from a breeder and I called her Gucci. I swear we were the best of pals from day 1. We ate together, showered together and hung out together everywhere. She would stick her head under my fingers as I typed demanding pets. A month after I adopted her, she was suddenly quiet one morning. When I went to check up on her, her paw was frozen stiff. I immediately took her to the exotic bird vet and she told me that she had gout, a rare condition for a baby bird. She basically told me that she would live in pain all her life as the shards of salt that had formed in her flesh couldn't be removed even if I treated her and that I should put her down. I walked in with a baby and walked out with a box. Saddest day of my life ever, I felt like a failure for not being able to save her.

Everyone, including the vet, told me to go back to the breeder and ask for a new bird since I was still covered by the health guarantee, or to get a refund. Couldn't do it. I didn't want just any bird, it was her I had grown attached to. It's not that easy to replace someone (or an animal) you loved that you lost.

What a pretty thing she was. 

A good year later, I finally had the courage to buy another cockatiel and I named him Dolce. I had him for a little over 2 years and one winter morning, despite my multiple warnings, my dear mother-in-law forgot the door open while he was out of his cage... I don't believe in disrespecting my elders, but I pretty much gave her a piece of my mind that time...and I am pretty sure I no longer have the heart to get another bird this point. (sticky note to self: add photo later on)


These are such a fun creative way for me to express my moods. I am no expert when it comes to taking care of fish but I try my best to give fish lotsa breathing and swimming room.

This is my 15 gallon beta tank, I think it's pretty sweet! As you can tell I am a pretty huge spongebob squarepants fan, despite being a 30 year old lawyer, I keep the child in me well nourished!

And this is the 30 gallon asian-themed zen aquarium in which I keep 3 platties, but I am considering changing the type of fish I keep as they are pretty sensitive:

And that's about it! Hope you enjoyed meeting my loves!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Crate is Great! - How I crate trained Yoda

Although Yoda is almost 3 years old and is fully housebroken we decided for various reasons to crate her during the day while we are out of the house and at night when she sleeps for at least the first 2 months since we adopted her.

Reasons to Crate

  1. to make sure she avoids getting hurt while we cannot supervise (many dogs get electrocuted by chewing on wires, etc),
  2. as a way to promote housebreaking (many dogs have accidents after being re-homed),
  3. since we knew nothing about her at first, it was a good method to prevent bad habits from forming while we could not supervise and verbally correct her,
  4. as a training method by using earned freedom as a reward, 
  5. to allow her a safe den associated with good stuff where she can retreat anytime she feels anxiety.

Crate Training

Let's just say that the first few days after we came home, she wanted nothing to do with her crate. 

Dogs love routine and structure and if we were going to enforce house rules, we were going to have to start crate training from day 1.  But how?

Treats are the solution to all of life's problems

As with all things, the best way to succeed with training your dog is to make them love doing what you want them to do. Forcing doesn't create a long-term internal changes in us, and it doesn't work with dogs either! Love, patience and lotsa treats are the key! 

As a clean paleo eater, I always have some natural peanut butter at home and we all know just how much dogs looooove PB!

I tried putting some treats in the crate, but clever Yoda, would slyly grab them and bring them outside to eat them in all her splendor and glory. But her mama had to outsmart her somehow.

I took a spatula and smothered some PB on the very back grill of Yoda's cage so she would have to actually enter into the cage to get some and trust me, she ran in before I could ever ask her to!

Baby Steps

While she was in there, I didn't close the door or leave the room. She would look hesitantly up at me wondering if I would leave, so in order to ease that anxiety, I just stuck around with the door open and let her go in and out of the cage at her leisure. I also went in and out of the room myself with the crate door open.

Eventually, while she was in the crate, I closed the crate door and hung around for a while. She was SO engrossed in getting every delicious lick of peanut butter, she didn't even notice I had left the room.

Consistency is Key

After a week of using the words "Go in your Crate!" in a super happy fun time voice, she would run in on command. Now she goes in with a simple point of the finger in the direction of her crate.

I still give her a treat after I close the door and she has sat down calmly in the crate.

Other important tips

Sizing of the Crate

Yoda came with a 31" crate and I understood after a few days why we were having a hard time getting her to accept her crate. For an (underweight) dog at 52lbs, she clearly needed a 36" crate, so we bought her a new one and she is definitely much better able to stretch out, lie down comfortable and stand up fully, which has made the crating experience much easier and pleasant for all.

Location, Location, Location

Dogs, as social animals love to be around their people and in the center of the action.

DO place the crate in a busy part of the house where there is normally a lot of life. This will be easier on your dog psychologically, even though you are gone then.

Do NOT place the crate in the garage, an isolated room or the backyard where the dog never normally hangs out, or else the dog will feel like it has been cast away or thrown out.

Feeding Meals in the Crate

Associating the crate with food will also encourage your dog to seek out her crate. I handfeed many of Yoda's meals in or around her crate and she has a kong filled with treats that she only gets when she is in the crate. This way crate = yummy exclusive stuff!


Always provide your dog with fresh water in their crate, unless they are not housebroken, in which case you should not crate more than 2-3 hours and only as part of housebreaking training.

Special Toys

Providing your pup with a few special toys on rotation that she only gets once she is in the crate is another great method to get your dog to love being in her crate and to stimulate their brains and keep them occupied.

Do Not yield to the Dark Side!

At first Yoda sometimes whined or cried when we would leave the room. 

Do. Not. Ever. Give. In. To. This.

As heart-breaking as it is, whining, crying, or barking out of anxiety are not behaviours that should be encouraged. By consoling a dog that whines or cries, you are reinforcing their whining because they got what they wanted by whining! 

Dogs also interpret a master that pities them as being weaker than them.  Remember that dogs need calm assertiveness.

Pity = Weakness. Weakness = more anxiety in the dog. More anxiety = More whining. 

In order to avoid this vicious cycle, we enforce a no look, no talk rule when she whines and we only pay attention to her once she is calm. This way she has learned than whining will not get her out of anything and that acting calmly and quietly will work.

It has been one month since we got her (Happy One Month Gotchya Day Yoda!!!) and Yoda is very well behaved and has shown no destructive tendencies so we have just started allowing her to sleep on her dog bed outside of the crate at night.

Our goal is to work on her obedience training until she is fully responsive and reliable and then she will be allowed to be free in her doggy-proofed room during the day while we are at work with only occasional crating. Full freedom of the house is not something we will ever allow because of the potential for getting hurt or the risk of getting into trouble.

Do you crate your dog? How did you crate train them? Any feedback or tips that I could add? I love to hear feedback!

Wordless Wednesday - Yoda is ever watchful!



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

CARPE DIEM - Siezing every opportunity to dispell pit bull and bull breed myths

What better topic of discussion to strike up with 3 little old ladies sitting next to me at the local cafe than pitbulls, bull breeds and their dangerous reputation?   

In the spirit of gently testing Yoda's socialization, I started taking her for walks through progressively busier streets. We have a wonderful Second Cup in a trendy neighborhood a few blocks away which is super dog friendly and people regularly sit on the terrasse outside sipping on iced caffeinated beverages with their pup by their feet. (Heaven if you ask me!)

Since she has been a champ on all her walks, we tried out the cafe with Yoda one early afternoon and it was a hit! She loved all the attention she received, from being called "Yoda, you sexy bitch!" (something you don't hear everyday) to receiving tasty bagel bits just for bring so darn cute. She's a favorite already!
That's what triggered the little ol' ladies to ask me "oh, what a nice dog, what kind of dog is it?" to which I cheerfully replied "why, she is a pit bull!"            
Silence. "Oh"

"Really? But she's so sweet... "

Then the barrage of questions of why they have such bad reputations, are they all as bad as we've all heard and if I had heard the latest news report on someone somewhere who got bit by one. I did my best to advocate for pits, bull breeds and dogs in general. I explained how many pitbull type dogs are adopted for the wrong reasons by the wrong people who exploit their loyalty in order to make them human aggressive. Pitbulls have a tendency to be scrappy with dogs due to their genetic background, but are NOT naturally human aggressive in any way. Any human aggression is due to bad owners and bad socialization. I told them the numerous abuse and neglect cases there are. I even went into the details of tempo-mandibular anatomy to explain how pitbull jaws are no different than other dogs' jaws and they don't lock. NO SUCH THING AS LOCK JAW!

Ultimately, I think Yoda lying down quietly at their feet, tail wagging at simple eye contact helped me demonstrate my point. They were pretty impressed and were happy to pet her. Of course Yoda isn't one to reject a caress!
I suppose I can't blame them for their initial apprehension and I did appreciate their sincere open-minded willingness to engage in a thoughtful discussion about the issue. Can't say the same about everyone else though.

Every opportunity to educate should be seized. Those ladies might just go tell their neighbors or their kids what a great pit mix they met.. And so on.

It all starts somewhere.

Without sounding cheesy, I think we should all be the change we want to see.

Anyone have any stories to share, positive or negative, about how other people reacted to discussions about  pitbulls or pit mixes and other powerful breeds?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May the 4th be with you

Yoda wishes everyone a happy Star Wars day!

Nothing better than watching Star Wars together on a day like today! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

How Yoda (has almost) Mastered the Walk

One of the key things in being a good dog owner is providing your dog with lots of opportunities for exercise, especially going on long walks which cater to your dog's instinctive need to migrate by walking together with her pack. Daily walks allow your dog to release mental and physical energy but also provide your dog with positive attention from her favourite people and a chance to bond with you doing something she loves!


If your dog pulls while walking, the best way to go about un-teaching leash pulling and re-training to heel is to exercise your dog first by running and playing together in a yard. Then, once your dog is calmer and more focussed, you can treat the walk as a training session until your dog learns to walk properly. Short, fun walking training sessions using lots of loving positive reinforcement are always most effective and leave your dog with a fond memory of it.

When we first adopted our Yoda, she was a major leash-puller. Her whole life she had probably associated  pulling with getting somewhere faster so we had to teach her that when we walk, we walk her, rather than the other way around.

How we stopped leash-pulling

But what if you are city-folk like us without a fenced-in yard to exercise your dog and can't go to the dog park? Other than playing inside the house or outside with a training lead, you really have no choice but to go for walks. So, how do you ''do the walk'' properly?

I admit the first few days walking Yoda were a bit challenging. Ok. Challenging.

Being a pit, she is incredibly strong and tolerant of pain, so she had no problem strangling herself at the end of the leash after every single step. 

Pulling = Stopping

  • We started out taking short walks only around and in front of our duplex so she could get accustomed to the new environment bit by bit. If we took a step and she pulled at the end of the leash, I froze. Basically pulling on the leash = me transforming into a tree. I would wait until she looked back at me and loosened up on the leash and then I used some positive reinforcement by giving her a small treat or praise and then I'd start walking again. Two steps and she was at the end again. Repeat. It took about a 4 days for her to realize that loose leash = moving and pulling = stopping

Walking ahead = Stopping

  • At that point, I upped the ante ante and began walking up and down the block. I also refined the walk training by requiring her to stay closer (within a 2 foot box next to my left leg - like a loose heel) in order for us to keep walking. Whenever she happened to be by my side, I would give her a treat. If she walked ahead *prior* to there being tension on the leash, I would either stop and wait for her to come back to my left leg or do an about turn and walk the opposite direction. Again. And again. It took another 2-3 days for her to stop walking far ahead.

Pre-walk routine

  • We then added a pre-walk routine before leaving the house. I never allow Yoda to exit through a door before me, but for the first few days as soon as I would walk out, she would bolt out past me. I changed my approach. I used a non-marker sound in a calm assertive way (like ''psshhh'') to signify that I wanted her to calm down and asked her to stay back and sit while I put on my shoes and opened the door. I then stood at the door looking around and held the leash close and asked her to sit. We stayed like that for about 2 whole minutes. It allowed her to practise some impulse control and look for my signal before starting off. 
  • We now do this pre-walk routine and she actually anticipates it and sits in her spot calmly waiting for my sign even if the door is open. I find this sets the stage for the walk and it has greatly improved our walk experience once we are outside the house.

Combining our prep routine and the heel training, walks quickly became enjoyable! By the second week we started walking around the block and she was more or less consistently walking by my side or just slightly ahead. The problem came whenever she saw a squirrel, a cat or another dog and she would pull at the end of the leash again. 

Use of a head collar

I started using some redirection and distraction methods to recall her back from the end of the lead when she was too engrossed by a squirrel etc. (such as running in the other direction or catching her attention with stinky liver treats) but I was a bit concerned about any possible injury to her windpipe in the meantime while she is still learning to walk on the lead.

I decided to use a Halti as a training aid along with positive reinforcement until her walk becomes solid.

I read about harnesses, but pits are so strong and they can just get accustomed to it. We were recommended to use a choke collar or a prong collar, but I *refuse* to use a choke collar on my dog!!! I decided to give the Halti a try since it is not a punishment based leash and it was a safe option on my dog. I am sure the Gentle Leader is equally effective, though there are some differences between the two.

All I have to say about the Halti is that it is AAAAAA-mazing! She immediately stopped running to the end of the leash despite any distraction. The leash (litterally) gently turns her head to the side so she knows that if she moves forward past me her head will turn to the side so she chooses to walk back closer to me. 

Killer Training Combo

With a super combination of the Halti, clicker training, lots of treats and consistent  stopping if and when she pulls, within 3 weeks Yoda is now walking long distances over many kilometers LIKE A CHAMP perfectly by my side without any pulling, yanking, dragging or wayward sniffing. She also consistently makes eye contact at the sound of a kiss and comes to sit by my side whenever I stop.  

I have even started some walks without the Halti, continuing to use the clicker and start-stopping and although at first she thinks she is a free bird, within 30 seconds she remembers that ''ooooh yeeeaaah'' I expect her to walk beside me and then she does not pull anymore. :) 

It's only been 3 weeks and for a dog that was probably never exercised, let alone walked much at all, she is improving in GREAT strides (pun intended)! It is only upwards from here! BOY, am I PROUD of her!!

How did you get your dog to stop pulling and walk by your side? I would love to hear your stories!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Summer Playtime

Yesterday was the first time playing in a fenced in yard with Yoda. We normally go for long walks, but we were visiting at my mom's and she has a lovely (and huge) fully enclosed backyard fit for a fun game of fetch and some grass baths.

Summer drinks on the terrasse anyone? Doggy sangria coming right up! 
(For anyone wondering who that hunk is, that's my hubby! lol)

Yoda sensing a disturbance in the force, or maybe just Mommy's thoughts of where she hid the treats

Sooooooooooo happy! Toys, grass, sun and love!

It's hard work being so cute.

Thanks to the wonderful posts by Bren at Pibbles n Me, I realized that protecting our dogs, especially the ones with short hair, from sun exposure is vital. You can read more about sunburns here and about heatstrokes here

Luckily our girl was only in the sun for a while. We normally go out early morning or in the evening, but I will be taking some extra protective measures for next time we are out for some fun in the sun!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

PET WARS: A New Hope

So how do you get your dog and cat to get along when your cat is infinitessimally outraged you brought a fire-breathing dragon home to her lair and your dog is ravenous to shower the cat with kisses?

Why, do what any self-respecting mom would do, of course! Drug them both with the most potent of species-specific psychedelic substances!

Here, Yoda is completely immersed in chewing her bone (it's actually a Wapiti antler) meanwhile Tomayitsa, our 9yo cat is a-plotting something from afar in a rather dark side-esque fashion


Tastefully lay out a bucket of catnip and the kitty trap is laid. Beast = catnip = heaven = love.

Thus, beast = love

And so, after 3 weeks of fearful avoidance and rotating schedules visiting her minions (that's us by the way), the dark side quietly approached the light.

To be continued...

Anyone have a story to share about how they got their cats and dogs to interact peacefully? I'd love to hear!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pitbull Named Yoda, hrmmm?

If dogs could get a legal name change, ours would file for the name Yoda.

That's the name we have chosen for our pup after more than a handful of people telling us she looks just like the Star Wars character. My husband (the biggest star wars fan ever) had ZERO influence in this decision. None. Nada. *giggles*

We find her new name suits her wise, calm ways and her oversized ears!

Lo and behold, the rise of our Yoda-Dog!

Alike we look, hrmmmmmm? Smarter than him, I am.

May the force be with you!

Enjoying the first dog day of summer!

"Mama, it's hot outside!"

Here is my rrrruv, first time basking in the sun this season! In a span of 2 weeks, we went from cold and snow to +25 degrees summer weather! Aaah, gotta love Montreal!

To a wonderful summer ahead together my Yoda-dog!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Girl's Best Friend

Last night, after a super long walk together, was the first time I invited my girl up on the sofa bed to cuddle.
She simply collapsed in my arms and went straight to sleep. It's safe to say I was on cloud no. 9! :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shout-Out from the Pitbull Rescue

Pit Stop Montreal Rescue posted an adoption announcement on their facebook page today and I was really happy to see it:

"Lovely and almost perfect Casey got adopted! From a home where she was unwelcome and in the way, to a home where she is so well taken care of, both physically and psychologically. Obedience classes, huge doggy beds, lots of reading on dog ownership and lots of TLC. Let's wish them an amazing life together and we will surely have regular updates to share. // L'adorable et presque parfaite Casey a été adoptée!! D'une maison où elle n'était pas la bienvenue et encombrate elle passe chez une famille où on prend tellement soin d'elle, autant psychologiquement que physiquement. Des cours d'obéissance, des gros coussins pour chiens, beaucoup de lecture sur le sujet et beaucoup de TLC. Souhaitons-leur une super belle vie ensemble et nous recevrons sans doutes plusieures mises à jour à partager!"

Thank you guys, we promise to take care of her fur-ever!

Chicken liver and peanut butter sauce! Yummers!

So in the name of giving a healthy boost to our girl's immune system, I have been doing a lot of reading on supplementing dogs' diets with raw meats and vegetables.

My mom, being the best mom ever, immediately went to the grocery store the next day and bought us about 4lbs of fresh chicken liver. 

Thing is, I don't think our girl ever ate raw meat before. Though she drools over freeze dried liver treats, she cautiously sniffed the fresh liver piece I so lovingly presented to her and snubbed it.

(Just a note, anyone who knows me, knows I can barely touch any raw meat even to cook it! Hence why my hubs is the one always cooking....and I know he's reading this... lav youuuu! lol)

So here I the ground, massaging a piece of chicken liver and Madame wouldn't have any of it.

Houston we have a problem.

Then I had an "aha!" moment: She loves peanut butter!

Out came the ninja food processor and in went the chicken liver and a heaping tablespoon of natural peanut butter and Voilà! An absolutely unappetizing pink purée special of the day! But our Pitty princess gobbled it up in a flash! Tail wagging and all.

I guess it was the texture of it that threw her off at first... Now we know what to do for next time until she gets used to the raw foods :)

What ingenious ways did you guys come up with to introduce new foods to your dog and how did that go? Any tips you would like to share, would love to hear back.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Demodex (demodectic mange)

Demodex. Sounds like a revolutionary synthetic-like fabric. Kinda like spandex, but it is anything but.

Our girl has a bald spot on the top of her head and some thinning patches of fur around her neck. The previous "family" that abandoned her told the rescue it was just seasonal allergies which recur yearly. I wasn't going on base myself on their words, so I got it checked out by our vet.

So the seasonal allergies bit was a lie. It's Demodex.

If you're a new dog owner like I am, you probably asked yourself...

"What's a Demodex"?

Demodex is a microscopic mite, a parasite, that almost all dogs carry on them since puppyhood without any issue whatsoever. It becomes a problem when a dog's immune system becomes suppressed or compromised and is unable to provide the necessary resources to maintain a healthy skin and coat. At that point the demodex mites are able to multiply and take over the skin in larger colonies (I don't know about you but just that word gives me the heeby jeebies)

The mites basically set up shop in the hair follicles and the hair starts to thin and fall out. When the demodex have reached this stage of creating patches of hair loss and scaly skin, the result is called demodectic mange.

Types of Demodex

If there are only a few spots it's called localized demodectic mange.

If there are more than 10 spots it's considered generalized demodectic mange.

Puppy vs. Adult Onset of Demodex

It seems that puppies get demodectic mange frequently and this is almost normal since their immune systems are still developing. This type of mange usually passes on its own with time as the pup's immune system catches up.

However, when an adult dog develops demodectic mange, especially the generalized type, it may be a cause for concern. It is a strong sign that the dog may at that time or within the next year be suffering from a serious illness which is taxing their immune system, such as diabetes, cancer or Cushing's disease. Heat cycles also affect bitches' immune systems, which is another reason why spaying and neutering are so important.

Now, how to treat Demodex?

The automatic reflex is, naturally, to want to treat the demodex, but that is only treating a symptom of the underlying problem. It is equally, if not more, important to get a full vet checkup to investigate the root cause and deal with any illnesses.

Feeding your dog a high-grade good-quality diet, ideally with some raw meats and vegetables will help boost your dog's metabolism. Has anyone noticed how much corn and filler is used in commercial dog food, especially grocery store kind? No wonder dogs get so sick!

I am no expert, but through my vet and Internet research (e.g. I learned that for localized demodex, a good 10-15 minute wash with benzoyl peroxide shampoo (e.g. Pyoben) daily or every other day will usually solve the problem.

For generalized demodex, the most commonly used treatments are:
-whole body Amitraz dips, which are laborious and have numerous side effects
-Ivermectin injections taken orally daily for 6-8 weeks but sometimes up to a year (though this is an off-label use)
-Revolution (an Ivermectin derivative) which doesn't officially treat demodex but it is sometimes used for that and also treats fleas.

Considering our pup also has mild sarcoptic mange, a different mite than demodex which burrows in the skin and causes intense itching, and that sarcophagus mange is very easily treated with a few doses of Ivermectin, we are choosing to go with Ivermectin for the demodex as well. Might as well kill two mites with one stone and kill 'em good.

This just leaves me with trying to find out *why* she developped this demodex in the first place and trying to boost her immune system so she can stay healthy and avoid a relapse. Can't help but worry though.

Has anyone else had to deal with demodex and which treatment did you use? What are your thoughts? Would love to hear back!

The cocooning period (I.e. The first two weeks)


Having just started this blog, it's a bit hard to post in accurate detail about all the things that already happened in the past two weeks, without sounding like a boring summary. I'm thinking that posting up a mashup of my Facebook posts + pics will allow me to capture what I was feeling the moment and be a bit less boring lol.

We spent our first two weeks isolated together at home, just her, my husband and I so we could tighten our bond with her. We had no visitors and we avoided meeting other people and dogs in the street until we got to know her better and make sure she is feeling comfortable and recognizes us as her "people". You can read more about the cocooning period here.

The Introduction:

"This is a pup I might be rescuing ... We were selected out of a few families to adopt her! Sleepover try-out next week!! 2.5 year old american staffordshire/pitbull mix and she loves cats and babies! What a cutie patootie!"

A friend of mine told me I look like a kid on a Christmas morning, I certainly felt that way!

The Drive Home: 

My friend Sophie Pinto and I drove up to Trois-Rivières, Québec (3 hours from Montreal) to pick her up on a Monday night. She was so happy to see me again (ok, ok, so she is happy to see just about anyone). Surprisingly, even though she was with two new people in an unknown car, she didn't make a sound the whole 3 hour car ride back to Montreal! What a trooper!

The First Night:

We set her up in our spare bedroom on the first night and she quietly settled in to relax:

Look at those cute puppy dog eyes 

Life around home the first few days:

We spent the first few days tethered together with the leash, as a sort of umbilical line training. This is a technique used when you first bring home a rescue dog. Basically, you use the "umbilical cord" (lead attached to the belt) so that the dog has to stay close, get used to you changing directions and learns to pay attention to you. It also aids in housetraining problems as you can spot the signs of wanting to go early enough and avoid accidents.

Luckily our girl is fully housetrained and we had zero accidents!

Here she is lazying around: 

And frolicking in the snow (actual frolicking not pictured) on the last snowfall of the year ;) :

By our first weekend she was getting very comfortable around me and I learned that this girl loves to pose for the camera, much like her mama pitbull!

In the middle of our second week, we realized how important the "drop it" and "leave it" commands are. (More on our training method used in a separate entry):

"We had our first emergency and serious bonding moment last night.  Poor girl picked up a branch and started chewing, she dropped it after I gave the "drop it" command, but there was a big piece stuck in her mouth beside her gum and she was in alot of agony trying to get it out. Took alot of trust from my hubby and I to put our hands in her mouth to remove it. Such a good girl, she would stop biting when our hands were there and despite her pain, was kissing our hands. We got it out finally and there was a huge hug'n'kiss fest. Thank god we avoided the trip to the emergency vet. Here she is relaxing after the big mess in her new bed. I don't think she will pick up branches anymore!"

Not to mention, did anyone notice how huge her bed is? Lucky girl!

Every morning we have a set routine. We go for a good 25-40 minute walk (more about teaching her not to pull on her leash in a separate post) and then we cuddle for 5-10 minutes after she has been fed. She looks so peaceful here. And skinny. Got to work and bringing her weight up a bit.

By the second weekend, she had learned some new tricks! What a hipster dog she is!

If anyone wonders why we aren't referring to her by name it is because we haven't decided what to name her just yet. She came to us with the name Casey from her prior home, but we aren't sure we want to keep that. And if we use it, it will stick. Does anyone have any suggestions? :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Deciding to adopt a puppy or rescue an adult dog - and why we chose to rescue

Having a dog has been a life-long dream. Getting one while growing up was never feasible and I basically wasn't allowed to have one by my family for fear of the potential mess and work that comes with owning a dog. It was always disappointing but I understand the reasoning though. I spent all those years doing research on dogs and getting prepared instead! I got married a few years ago and we moved out to our own house and it was such a big joy to finally be able to adopt a pup!  To give you an idea how much I love pets, I have a cat, (had) 2 birds and 2 aquariums...and now, a dog!

The first decision we had to take was whether to adopt a puppy or rescue an adult dog from a shelter. While a puppy can be oh-so-cute, there are some serious things to consider before getting one. Bringing a puppy home is much like bringing a baby home. It will have zero prior knowledge, education or experience. While this can be a good thing because you will have the chance to raise and socialize the pup on your own and make sure it never lives any traumatic events and develops into a great adult dog, there are some drawbacks. It will pee, poop in the house and chew everything it finds, lack basic manners and need a lot of tending to much like babies do. Your presence in the home is primordial when you have a puppy because their bladder is so small, they need to be let out every couple of hours to do their business. You also have to take advantage of the key socialization "windows" available to you during a puppy's first few months of life, so if you are gone a lot, you risk depriving your pup of the attention and experiences necessary for the pup's healthy social development. That's just plain unfair for the pooch. Basically, having a full time-job and owning a puppy aren't compatible. We love babies, but we weren't ready to raise one (just yet).

Now, let's say one of us was home most of the day (I WISH!) and we were ready to adopt a puppy, then there is also the very important question of *where* do you get your puppy from? I have too many friends who fall in love with the cute puppy behind the window at their local pet store, but they fail to realize that buying from a pet shop fuel the puppy mill industry and that the parents of that cute little doggy is a puppy mill dog bred year-round for litters and kept in cold, dirty cages all day without any exercise, often abused and left to die. Pet shop dogs are also usually inbred and have numerous health, genetic and temperament problems because puppy mills do not carefully select which dogs they breed. Which is why, for example, the calm and docile Golden Retriever most of us imagine, is often hyperactive, nervous, snappy and out of control when you cross it in the street. Because careless puppy mill or backyard breeding produces dogs with such nervous and other temperament problems. My moral of the story is: DO NOT adopt a dog from a pet shop unless you find it in a rescue or shelter. Why buy when you can rescue one of the millions of dogs that have been abandoned and deserve a chance at life and love?

That brings me to my next point. We settled on no other way than adopting a rescue dog. We went through the wonderful people at Pit Stop Montreal Rescue and found this wonderful pitbull mix girl called Casey. This was her description and I instantly fell in love with her when I read it.  

Her prior so-called family abandoned her because they didn't want her stepping on the carpets of their home or walking on the grass of their gardens. They didn't like her smell and were generally disgusted with her and kept her locked up and away from everyone all day. What a life!!! When they brought her in to the rescue, the rescue spayed her and it took a few weeks before we were able to meet her. We scheduled numerous other meetings with other dogs but we kept holding out knowing that this girl was special. How did we know she was the one? Ahhhh the mysteries of life!

We love our girl and although it's only been two weeks we would never change her for the world and we are 100% happy with our decision to adopt an adult dog rather than buying a puppy! It pains me to think that so many wonderful and loving dogs are put down every day because they have been abandoned and people keep buying instead of adopting! 

But (and I know I should never start sentences with "but").... but there are some issues with adopting a rescue dog, that you should be aware of. You don't always know what the background story is. We were fairly lucky that our girl came from a home - not a great one - but at least we were able to know her history. Many rescue dogs are strays or runaways and while that doesn't mean they won't be terrific pets, you simply don't know about their previous life and how it may have affected them, so it is wise to conduct a preliminary temperament test to get a general idea of the personality. (There are many useful links about this if you google how to select a shelter dog, for example, here are some that I found useful: )

The great majority of all shelter dogs will make wonderful and loving pets and despite their pasts, with patience and love, all dogs can adjust and fit in with your family. Don't fall for the charm of the puppy eyes behind the pet shop window, give an older rescue dog a chance and he/she will reward you. Remember that with adult dogs WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) so if you are generally satisfied with how an adult dog acts when you first meet, then you are safe to assume that is how he/she will act once home. The same is not the case with puppies that can be a mixed bag of anything once they grow up and you can't easily predict which way they will go, if at all. 

That said, my hubby and I feel a great sense of accomplishment for having given a loving home to our beautiful rescue dog. She has already adjusted super super well and it has only been 2 weeks. I sense the bond has already started developing and it is absolutely heart-warming! She's a smart one and she already picked up 5 new commands within the first new week. Who ever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks? 


Hi, it's Mama Pitbull!

Hi there and thanks for stopping by!

My name is Roberta - also known as Mama Pitbull - a Montreal chick, Lawyer by day, DIY'er, avid scrapbooker, fitness freak and pitbull lover.

My hubby and I recently adopted of a female pitbull mix from a rescue...and I am so excited, I just have to write about it!

I started this blog to document the exciting adventures of being a first time dog owner and figured having a place to voice my thoughts and experiences would be fun and allow me to get feedback from fellow bloggers and maybe it will help (and hopefully entertain) anybody reading my posts out there.

My goal is to discuss things related to dogs in general, such as health, nutrition, fitness, training, dealing with behaviour issues, as well as issues specific to the pitbull breed and bull mixes and doing my part in the hopes of educating those who are prejudiced against these breeds and raising awareness against Breed Specific Legislation.

Hope pitbull and bull breed lovers and all dog lovers alike enjoy reading my blog!

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