November 07, 2014

My Beautiful Boys

Several years ago, if you had asked me if I would ever pet a pit bull, I would have laughed so hard I'd wet my pants.  Just the name Pit Bull scared me to death.  I thought they were vicious, ugly dogs that should be outlawed.  My bad!

My grandson moved in with us and with him came a sweet Border Collie, Reximus Maximus Aurelius the Third! We call him Rex.

I'd been pushing my husband for a dog and he kept telling me to wait until we were both retired and had more time to devote to walking, training and being with a pet.  He did give me a book about dogs and bought a car with the words PUP on the license...yup, he is all about compromise!

The book had a lot to say about Border Collie's. Smart dogs, maybe the smartest in the world; they can have a vocabulary up to 600 words and understand sign language!  The book also cites a couple of studies done on dog behavior and traits. In all studies the Pit Bull came in second only to either Labs or Golden Retrievers in gentleness and loyalty.

Due to medical reasons, I was no longer working, so I was home alone with Rex. My grandson accuses me of stealing Rex, but I have to say, he just adopted me. Maybe because I was the most needy at the time because of physical limitations or I was just the easiest to herd. Without questioning his motives, Rex became my dog.

Two years later, our grandson and his girlfriend adopted two 6 week old blue-nose pits. Tiny little things but the mom had 19 pups and these two were not getting fed.  It was the middle of winter and those two little naked bodies always seemed cold, so I would let them snuggle just below my chin to keep warm (big mistake! Do Not, repeat, DO NOT let baby dogs snuggle under your chin, especially if the are going to weigh upwards to 150 pounds full grown).

My grandson and his girlfriend rented a nice house with a large backyard. The two pups (Rex stayed with me) loved their new home. A little after moving a huge storm came through and three oak trees in their yard fell. The tree punched a hole in my grandson's roof, took out their air conditioner and a little bit of rain gutter. The real damage was to the house next door. It destroyed the neighbor's jeep, swimming pool, patio, rain gutters and a little bit of the roof and the fence between the two houses.

We got a call late in the night. Can the boys come stay with us until the fence is repaired? Of course they can. We love them.

That was in June! Guess who still lives with us?  It seems the owner's insurance paid for repairs to his house, repairs to the house next door, but because the people next door were renters, the insurance company would not replace the above ground pool or the jeep.  The renters were quite angry and demanded that the owners of either house pay for their stuff (renters' insurance people, remember renters' insurance). When both owners declined the renters informed the owner of my grandson's house that if the pit bulls get out of the yard and hurt their children they will, most definitely, sue him.

The owner of the house just laughed at them but went home and called his insurance company to ask if he was covered for dog bites. The insurance company basically said, "What! There are pit bulls at your rental! We are discontinuing your insurance! No Pit Bulls allowed. The pups could not return home.

They are pretty well behaved for the most part. On command, they sit, they lay, they stay. They know the difference between off and down. They don't eat, even with the full bowl in front of them, until we say they can. We can take their food away from them, even a bone right out of their mouths. They still get excited when someone comes to the door but that's mostly because they catch Rex's exuberance for company. If Rex is on a walk with my husband and someone comes to the door, they barely raise their heads; just to see if visitor has food.

When I announce that we are going to bed, all three dogs run to our bedroom. Thor opens the door to the kennel, then he and Kona run inside and wait for their goodnight treat. They won't come out in the morning until I tell them it's okay.

We are trying to teach Kona that feet go on the ottoman, not the head! He is a chair hog!

The are really the most gentle dogs. They love to listen to stories, the love treats, they love to jump onto the bench under the dining room window to see what is happening in the neighborhood. It's cool to see all three dogs sitting in the window when I drive up, almost like they knew I was coming home.

Funny thing. After living with these two beautiful dogs, I have come to genuinely love them. Kona and Thor are really very lovable (though a little dumb at times). The heart-break is, we can't keep them. They are so powerful and I am so not! But, we can't give them away, either. This is Redding and we have a gazillion idiots who live here and want to make Pit Bulls tough monsters and, sadly, there are still some sick Michael-Vicks out here who get a thrill watching animals brutalize each other.

These guys have a lot of energy and need to be walked a couple of times a day. Both Kona and Thor are great on a leash. Kona stays right at your knee and Thor stays about half a step behind your knee. They don't bark at or chase any other dogs or cats they see on the trail. They don't pull on the leash, which, sad but true, Rex is very bad at, but getting better! Rex is better without a leash, but put a leash on him and he thinks he is a pony pulling a cart!

I can't walk both of them at the same time.  They are way too strong for me if they were to bolt. Not that they have ever bolted but I never count on never! My grandson and his girlfriend are looking for people who can be trusted with a Pit and so are we, though most of the people we know already have their maximum allowed pets.

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