Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Vicious

When I first took Tommy in, I quickly learned he had major issues. I had no idea of the challenges ahead of me and how Tommy would totally take over my life. I’ll write about many stories over time, but for now I just want to mention a trainer, Janine Pierce of J9's K9s, who, when I told her I was thinking of finding Tommy a new home, suggested I keep a daily mood calendar, using simple smiley faces or frowns to mark the good days and the bad. The idea was that I would eventually, hopefully, see that the good outweighed the bad.

I never did keep a mood calendar nor did I find Tommy a new home, obviously (although I did make a lukewarm attempt to do so—more on that later).

This weekend was a mixed bag. Here are the highlights, both good and bad:

As I drove up Santa Rosa Avenue in Altadena Saturday night, Tommy hung out the back seat window, his front paws on the armrest so that his chest bulged out into the breeze. An elderly couple on the side of the road, the man with a cane, stopped walking to watch us drive by. The woman, with a big smile on her face, waved as we passed.

I felt like a one-car parade with the pit bull mayor.

I parked on Poppyfields Drive, and we walked. It was a beautiful night. Twilight stretched longer than usual, the San Gabriel Mountains black against the ever darkening blue night sky.

Somewhere people were singing 60s tunes. I followed the music up to the Farnsworth Park Ampitheatre. A woman at the entrance smiled as we approached and gestured for me to enter. I kind of lingered, not convinced that bringing Tommy in would be a good idea. She came toward us, cooed over Tommy and started to bend down toward him. Bursting with excitement, he tried to lick her feet, to charge into her arms. I held his collar to restrain him.

But not tight enough. Tommy popped out at her face like a snake. She reflexively turned her head so nothing happened, thank god, but it freaked her out. Understandably.

Pit bull in the face? Bad.

Usually I try to explain that Tommy is in training (always), that he needs to be seated and calm before you pet him, but with the music playing and her desire to pet him even after seeing how wound up he was I thought it would be okay.

Sigh... so much for highlights. I didn't even finish all the points, high and low, of the weekend and now I'm too tired to continue. Stay tuned for more...


  1. J9's K9's, and your constant attention. That'll do it. This stage won't take forever, I promise. Dogs require consistency, reinforcement. As long as you continue to reinforce that training, he'll get it. Just don't let up, don't say, "this time it's okay." Consistency is key.

    Listen to me, I think I'm J9. I don't, really, and I don't envy you the work. But I'm falling a little in love with Tommy.

  2. Ha ha. You're funny, falling a little in love with Tommy! He does have his fans.

    Thanks for the encouragement. We've come a LONG way from the time I picked him up off the streets. Tough couple of years but the worst is over for sure. Still more work to do but at least I'm not thinking of re-homing him anymore.

    Oh, and after all the training I've done with him I now think I'm J9 too.

  3. Well, just stop me if I get bossy. Obviously you know what you're doing.

    I'm enjoying your blog. You need some more people over here! This town is full of dog lovers and your writing is good. I like your Tommy stories.

  4. I'm so glad you're enjoying my blog. It's a whole new world for me so I can't tell you how much I appreciate your comments and encouragement.

    But you're right, I need more people! Gotta work on that.

  5. It takes a little while. Commenting on other blogs brings them to yours.

  6. Count me as one of Tommy's TOP fans !!!!
    It's a GREAT blog -- i'm so happy you sent me the link.
    you should tell the condensed version of the story to EPAA and include the link to come here.
    After all it was the EPAA group that got you to me and then Tommy to my house until you got your house to bring Tommy to.

  7. Petrea, thanks again. I'm starting to get the word out, slowly but surely.

  8. Jen, you were Tommy's FIRST fan! And he adores you too. Thanks so much for reading... when I post again about the early days and your involvement I'll send a note to EPAA. I like your condensed version. Might just have to use that. :)

  9. Fave line: "I felt like a one-car parade with the pit bull mayor." That's a line like Bruce Springsteen would write. I signed up as a follower so that I don't miss a single word from now on. I am falling in love with Tommy all over again.
    Second-fave line: "Pit bull in the face. Bad."
    I l o v e y o u r b l o g.
    I have now discovered another constructive way to Avoid My Job. It's sheer candy.

  10. Mel, you're a great friend. You flatter me! Thanks for the support.