Blue "The Blueminator" Lewis

Blue "The Blueminator" Lewis

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The battle of the wills continues

This is one tired puppy.

It's 6:30 on Sunday night and we both have finally had a chance to sit down and relax before dinner.

Blue finished up his first set of classes and will graduate next week. I've had him for two months and the difference is night and day.

As we work together, new things come up. This is always welcomed and sometimes a surprise. Today the surprise was him starting to jump up on me.

Now some may think that it's cute and friendly, but it's not. Yes, he's being sweet but he is also showing me I don't have him under control 100%.

What triggered it? Most likely the new puppy in class who would cry and carry on every time she was corrected. You would have thought she was being beaten at times. She was never hurt but learned that if she cries, the humans will stop and pick her up.

They will give her sympathy and she learns how to continue her bad behavior.

Blue got nervous when he heard it. He wanted to go over and help her. That is his nature.

Each time he tried, I stopped him and made him sit. I had to constantly correct him. He wasn't being his usual calm self in class today.

At one point in class, the trainer took Blue and walked him away from me. He kept turning his head around to look at me. She would correct him and continue. She had him sit and then had me walk up to him.

He jumped up on me and I immediately walked right into him and kept doing it until he sat down.

Never push a dog back. Never back away. Walk forward and claim your space. You make THEM move out of your way.

 After class, I brought him home and spent 1/2 training him like she showed me today. Afterwards, the weather had turned perfect, so I grabbed his leash and out the door we went.

I went to the park and saw two women walking their smaller dogs. I walked towards them and when they saw us, they smiled and waved. Blue met them and their dogs. Both of them love the bully breeds and have done quite a bit of work with them. Both of their dogs were rescues.

Blue did well with his greetings and they knew enough to know what to do. When Blue tried to play, they snapped back at him. I gently pulled him away, stood in front of him and made him sit and look at me.

They understood exactly what I was doing.

I didn't have to deal with "Oh, he's so cute! He's just being friendly!"

Or "He's so sweet! Look how much he likes me! He jumped up on me! What a sweet boy!"

No, Blue was being an asshole and he and I both knew it. Yes, he gets over-excited when he sees other dogs and that's exactly what I want.

I want as many opportunities as possible to teach him. I kept correcting him, over and over, until he finally got it through his blockhead that I will NEVER stop. Ever.

We walked a little further and came across a couple with a beautiful pit bull who is also a rescue. Her name was Molly and Molly does not like other dogs.She snarled and barked at us. I just stood there and made Blue sit while I waved at them. They waved back and came closer. We talked for quite a bit and I gave them the name and phone number of Blue's trainer.

Blue was better behaved with them, but I still had to stay on him to sit.

They were also familiar with the problem humans give us when working with a dog. They knew to never approach a dog directly and appreciated it that I kept my distance and didn't worry about Molly.

Back home, I continued a bit more training with him until he crawled into his crate and fell asleep.

I am putting him in more situations so he will learn.

What is he learning?

Only one thing.

I'm in-charge and he doesn't get to make one decision.

It is in his nature to challenge me, every step of the way. He's at the most difficult age and when he gets through this and understands everything is OK, that is when he will relax and submit.

Friends and family know me well enough to know I will talk to them when I can. I will go see them later or not at all. They support me in what I am doing and are all cheering for us.

I had planned on doing something completely different today, but an opportunity came up to help Blue, so I grabbed it.

Only a dog lover can understand it.

And those that don't, I don't need to hear from them. 

So tonight we are done and those things that didn't get done today can wait for another day. My friend is happy, fed, secure, warm and relaxed.

And so the battle of the wills continue.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The problem with dogs is humans

Over and over again, a mantra goes through my head when I work with Blue:

"He feels what you feel and will respond that way."

I believe this theoretically and know that our emotions and thoughts communicate to others, whether they be human, animals or plants. Any life form has the ability to give and receive communication. We may not see it but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

I can stop a human in their tracks with one look. I effectively control those under my care at work quite easily.

So as I read more from Ceasar Millan and worked with Jimi (Blue's trainer) who subscribes to his philosophy, I began to look at what they said and compare it to what I know.

I struggled with the very light touch used in training Blue. By light touch, I don't mean a physical touch (though a firm and quick jab is used in his ribs to get his attention), but I mean the calmness and firmness of my voice and actions.

I have never successfully been able to stop a dog from jumping up on me when they are excited. No matter what I said or did, it did not matter. Jumping and barking would ensue and I learned to tolerate it.

I was told to ignore any of his "bad behavior" and only give him affection when he is calm.

Yesterday, I put that into play and decided to give it a try and see if it worked.

I got home and as is usual, Blue was waiting for me. Quietly and patiently, he was staring at the door. I can see him through the window.

I put my purse and keys down after unlocking the door. I took a deep breath and told myself I am happy and calm. I opened the door and looked down at him.

I said nothing.

I did nothing.

He looked at me. I said "Come" and he ran outside. He began to run around and circle me.

He then jumped up. I turned around and put my back to him and ignored him.

He stopped!

I kept my back to him. He ran out into the yard and peed and trotted back. He was grinning and his tail was wagging like crazy.

I looked down at him.

He started to jump up again.

I turned my back and ignored him.

Again he stopped.

I stood like that for a minute, gathered my purse and keys and walked inside. I closed the door in his face.

When I came back, he was still sitting. He was calm.

Only then did I acknowledge him. I petted his face and scratched his ears.

He now only gets affection if he is calm. Otherwise, he is ignored completely.

I ran him in the yard for 15 minutes. He is learning to let go of his toy for me to throw again. I tell him "Drop it" and repeat as necessary. I never pull on it - this can cause him to be aggressive and want to play rough - and if he doesn't drop it, I look away until he does.

I put his leash on and out the yard we go. I think about how I want to be towards him. What kind of a leader works for me?

I toss various ideas around as we walk. He behaves beautifully. I now am learning to control him with the way I look at him and not with my voice. Any and all distractions he has, I immediately put a treat up to my forehead and say "Look at me" and he does.

Suddenly it hits me. If I was with a child, I would be a certain way.

I would not be worried. I would be very aware of the child the entire time.

I would not put the child or myself in a dangerous situation. I would always make sure the child was safe.

I would not look at anyone approaching us with fear or worry that they would hurt us or steal the child but I would be willing to kick their ass if they tried.

I would keep myself cheerful and positive around the child no matter what else might be going on in my life. I would never subject a child to my worries or concerns. I would want the child to feel safe, secure and happy in my presence.

The child would trust me and learn to look to me if they needed or wanted anything. I wouldn't scold the child but would show them how to do things and then praise them when they did.

It all clicked as we were walking. I looked down at Blue and without me having to say a word, he looked up at me.

He got my thought.

I looked away and tried it again.

He again looked up at me.

We walked a bit further. We passed a yard and heard a loud and fierce bark from a dog behind the fence. It scared me and I felt my heart stop for a second.

I looked down at Blue. He was looking up at me, wanting to know how to respond.

I kept walking and acted as if I didn't give a rats ass about it.

He calmed down.

It was one of the best walks we had ever had. Every time his attention would wander, I would tell him to look at me and he did.

He is teaching me how much control I do have over my thoughts and emotions and actions. He is learning to trust me as I learn to trust myself more and more.

Last night was one of the calmest evenings we've had since he arrived.

He is learning who is in charge and because of that, his worries and concerns are falling away as he begins to trust me more and more.

He trusts me because I trust myself with him.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blue is Blue

Blue with his Dad, chilling.

That's what it all comes down to.

Blue is Blue. He is himself just as I am. Just as you are.

Everyone is like no other and the key to teaching (whether human or otherwise), is to see WHO is there and what their attitude is.

Blue is making great strides in his training. We are taking it one step at a time and after the "not-so-great-weekend," I am making sure that every interaction I have with him, he ends up happier.

Each barrier we encounter opens another door to learning. Learning about him and helping him learn how to get along in this thing called life.

My Mom asked me Sunday how Blue was. I told her what we had been up to, what I was working with him on and how well he was coming along.

Come to find out, a few family members are afraid of pit bulls, which I wasn't aware of when I took him up there.

This is called learning.

She then proceeded to tell me how proud she was of me for all that I am doing for him. She thinks he is wonderful and loving. I agreed. I talked about how I logically understood people being afraid of this breed but that it wasn't until it hit me head-on that I experienced the emotional reaction of it.

This is called learning.

This week we are working on "Stay" "Come" "Down" and "Look at me." Last night he had to stay on his bed (right next to me) while I watched a movie. I no longer allow him on the couch. Every point of control and positive direction I give him is met with eagerness and confusion. Repetition of the command in a cheerful voice calms him down.

Once he gets it, he is happy.

When I look down at him, all I see is willingness and sweetness.

As his trainer said "It's never about making the perfect dog. It's about making him the best he can be."

I love him just the way he is. Yes, he's like a bull in a china shop sometimes but only because he wants to play.

He tried to get the cats to play with him and his Kong last night. They weren't interested, so instead he gently placed the toy on Boots and waited.

Boots purred, rolled over onto his back and his toy hit the floor.

Blue looked at the cat and then the floor, back and forth a few times, not sure what it all meant.

I had to turn away for a moment because I was going to laugh at the look on his face.

It was such a generous offer to the cat because his toy is the greatest thing in the world to him. It is scared.

And he offered it to another.

Who doesn't want more of this in their life?

So today I am going to be as generous and kind as I possibly can be.

This is called learning and trying to be the person my dog thinks I am.

Our biggest battle will always be the humans of this world.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Despite Blue's stupid owner, he survived this weekend.

Somehow we made it through this weekend but not without some very good things and something not-so-good.

The plan was to take him up to visit my Mom and some family members for her 84th birthday. My sister had called my niece and told her NOT to bring her dogs because Blue was coming. This was very thoughtful and sweet of her.

I knew Sadie, my Mom's 14-year old Corgi would be there, of course. That would not be a problem because if it's too much for Sadie, she goes to her bed and is left alone.

I knew there would be a few people there but I did not know there would be a very small house...with Otto, my niece's cute Jack Russel Terrier.

We got there and Blue was wonderful. He ran around and greeted everyone. I told them all to just ignore him and see what he does. He was wonderful. Tail wagging, running around, smiling. Very loving.

He greeted Sadie. He started to lick her and she snapped at him. Blue does not understand this. I was sitting right there with him, holding his collar. I gently pulled him back. Well, as gentle as you can be with a dog who is so strong.

Otto came up and Blue did the same thing. Otto snapped and I saw Blue try to dominate him by putting his front leg over Otto.

OK, now I know I have a dominate male pit bull. Duly noted.

Otto and Blue went back and forth a bit during the day. I put him back on his leash because he was getting over-excited and I still have a ways to go to get him under control.

He licked the faces of the children and wagged his tail. Various family member commented that I should to this and that and watch out for...

I started to feel myself get overwhelmed and Blue was too excited. I put him out in the yard and went in and out. He cried and fussed. We kept Otto away from him because my niece said Otto likes to instigate shit. They have several dogs on their ranch and Otto was becoming an outside dog because he can be such a butt head. Plus she has a 5-week old daughter and can handle just so much.

Blue gently went over to the new baby and licked her head. My brother and cousin told me not to let him do that. That is was a bad thing because it could make the parents nervous. I didn't argue, but tried to understand. Finally I realized that Blue was making some people nervous, so I put him back outside. I decided to leave him there and when everyone was gone, bring him back in.

I should have stuck with my decision, but I didn't. It was decided that pictures were to be taken AND that Blue should be in them.

I thought that was a wonderful gesture, so I brought him back in and sat down.

Keep in mind that I already realized this was getting to be too much for him. There were too many people and I had made a mistake. I put him in a situation that he was not prepared to handle. Too many people in a small area with other dogs.

As we were taking the pictures, I was having a hard time getting him to relax and sit on my lap. He could do it for a moment, but then wanted to play.

The pictures were taken and as people were starting to move around, someone dropped something right in front of Blue. I was not paying attention but the sound scared me and I flinched.

Blue snapped and snarled at it. I didn't know what was going on. It wasn't a big deal to me, but it was to Blue. People were crowded in on he and I, I flinched and he reacted.

I had my hand on his collar and felt him jerk forward towards the sound. I yanked him back, still not sure what happened, but I felt my adrenaline pump.

The room got quiet because he had growled.

I thought he was reacting to Otto, so I put him back outside. I was suddenly scared.

After everyone left, my Mom said she saw what happened. A child had dropped his toy on the ground right in front of Blue and it scared him. She said it wasn't a big deal at all.

But everyone reacted.

I had blown it. I had suspected he was fear-aggressive and now I had it confirmed. Maverick was like that and I would have never put him in the situation I had just done with Blue.

Once everyone was gone, I brought him back in. He got up on the couch with my Mom and I and cuddled. He laid on my Mom's lap, licked her face and settled down. She petted him and soothed him and told him what a good boy he was.

I told my Mom I felt horrible. She said "Look, you're a responsible dog owner. You're taking him to classes. It's not a big deal and if it's a problem, just muzzle him. It's going to be OK so stop worrying about it."

All night, I mentally kicked myself for being so stupid. Blue needs to be socialized slowly and not with 16 people and dogs in a small room all at once.

When we got home, I got the car unpacked and Blue settled in. I sat down and looked at him while he looked up and me with his ears back and his tail wagging.

I knew what I had to do.

I took him for a very long walk then ran him for 1/2 hour in the yard. I then fed him and worked with him on basic commands for about 10 minutes. I brought his bed in from the yard and put it next to the couch. I began to exert more positive control. He now sleeps on his bed and isn't allowed up on the couch.

I made him sit and wait before jumping up on the bed. Everything I asked him to do, he did.

I crawled into bed and pulled him next to me. He licked my face and burrowed into me.

I looked down at him and realized that I understood him so well.

I understand being afraid. I understand being a form of life that isn't always easy to deal with and that no one wants.

I understand what it's like to not have a home and to be scared of not knowing what is going to happen the very next moment.

I understand being bounced from one place to another.

I understand the feeling of total isolation from others and not knowing what you did wrong.

I know all about it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tomorrow morning, everything changes

Tonight I get ready for everything to change in my life tomorrow morning.

Most people would think that is such an odd statement and it probably is. I mean, it's just a dog, right?


It's so much more than that.

At least, for me it is and since this is my blog and my life, I get to choose what to do with it and how I feel.

Since deciding to adopt Blue under a difficult situation, I guess I should have known that some people would give unsolicited advice and opinions.

It is a rare day in hell when I ask for someone's opinion and adopting Blue was not one of them. It wasn't so much of a decision as that moment when you know you have to - and want to - do the right thing.

I have always had dogs. They were in the house when I was brought home from the hospital as an infant. At one time, I had 4 dogs.

I have never gone longer than a month or two without one.

Until the last one was put down.

Maverick. Shadow. Renegade. Moppett the cat.

He was the 3rd dog I had lost in 3 years, along with 2 cats. It was a long and painful ordeal as he was dying from cancer. Three times I scheduled with the vet to put him down and three times I cancelled.

I couldn't do it. He was still eating, walking slowly and still had his goofy grin. I talked extensively with the vet. I was assured that he was not in pain and would continue to have bursts of energy. She told me I would know when to do it and I wouldn't hesitate.

She was right.

Towards the end, I had him with me 24/7. I brought him to work. He could not be left alone for a moment. He had a tumor that could rupture at anytime. All I did during those last few weeks was sleep (with him in my bed), eat, work and go home. If I had to go to the store, his Dad would stay with him. My life was centered around him and his needs.

Then one night it happened. He wouldn't eat. He refused chicken. He refused steak. He wouldn't drink any water. He wouldn't stop walking.

It was late. I gently picked him up and put him on the bed. I wrapped a blanket around him and soothed him. He was shaking. Every time I petted him and talked to him, he would stop. I held him like that for 8 hours. All night I rocked him and tried not to cry. He would only sleep if I held him very tight. I talked to him and told him it was time. He sighed and wagged his tail.

I held him so tight and for so long that my entire body ached for days afterwards.

We said our goodbye's and in the morning, I took him to the vet, along with his Dad. It was quiet and peaceful.

I cried for 3 weeks.

All my dogs were gone.

I vowed to never go through it again.

I meant it. The thought of going through that much pain again was too much.

I had my cats. I had more freedom. I didn't have vet bills. I didn't have to worry about being gone for a few days. It no longer mattered when I got home at night.

And that suited me just fine.

And then Blue arrived. I helped with him. I adored him. I cried when he had to leave his foster dad. But he was OK and loved his mom.

Then I heard he needed a new home and they were taking him to the shelter.

And here we are.

And I've heard the opinions of some that I might not know what I'm doing.

Say what?

"Remember what you said after Maverick died? Remember how devastated you were?"

I wanted to slap her. Hard. Across her face.

"No. I don't remember anything about that," I said and rolled my eyes.

She looked at me for a second.

"You honestly think I don't recall any of it? You really think that?"

"Well, what I mean is..."

"What you MEAN is that YOU don't approve of this for some reason. What you THINK is that your opinion means something to me and that's where you're wrong. I never asked what you thought. I don't give a damn what you or anyone else thinks and I don't recall asking you for your opinion!"

I walked away. I was furious. I reminded myself, once again, to never talk about animals to someone who doesn't understand.

I remember every single moment of every death of my pets. It is etched and burned into my mind forever. I have the back seat of my car covered in a blanket to hide the blood stains from Maverick. I remember every moan, every yelp and every sad and painful look each of them gave me as we did the "Death Walk" into the vet.

I recall every second of taking Shadow in for a check-up and expecting to get some medicine for him but instead putting him down. There isn't anything about that that has left my mind or what it was like to leave without him, to come home and cry for hours while I looked at his empty bed.

I know I can't afford to do this.

But I'm doing it anyway.

I know as a renter this can cause me lots of problems in the future.

But I'm doing it anyway.

I know that there will be vet bills that I won't know how to pay.

So what? Been there and done that and my pets never went without proper care. I always manage to figure it out.

I know that there will be a time when Blue will be gone.

And I know that 99% of the time, things will be good.

It's not about adopting a dog.

It's about saving a life and having the courage to do so.

I can't save all of them, but I can save this one.

It's about having a companion to be with and thumbing my nose at all the humans who have rejected me prior.

It's about having someone to love and having that love returned.

It's about loneliness so deep that it makes you cry at night and knowing that this dog understands it.

It's about healing each other and moving on with our lives.


Introducing Zephyr!

Rescued from our country's second largest dog fighting ring.

Too scared to walk.

Too sacred to take a treat from a human for over two weeks.

On his way to his forever home, thanks to these wonderful people:

A bit of a long read, but so worth it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

We are listening as fast as we can, sweet fur babies.

Taken via Google Plus from a private post. You know who you are and thank you for posting.

Friday, October 11, 2013

OK, make that 8 days and counting

Well, Blue can't make it down here until next weekend.

I had hoped for tomorrow, but his Dad/driver has to work. Being the good person he is, he of course wants to meet me and make sure Blue will be OK. I had offered to go get him - he's about 1.5 hours away - but realized that the best thing was to let him take care of it.

The man loves Blue and has hung-in there for weeks, waiting for the right weekend where he could pack everything up and drive him down. It will be a family affair including a few other people.

So regardless of how things turned out for Blue, he has always been well loved. It just became impossible for his owners to care for him properly.

I know this. I feel anger that it happened but then I tell myself I am judging people and know very little about them. I know many people have had to surrender their beloved pets to shelters when they lost their homes. I know people do this when they can no longer care for their pet.

I've almost been there. I came 3 weeks to being homeless years ago and tried to figure out how I would live in a car with 3 dogs. I was dead serious about it. The thought of not being able to have my pets is something that I can't bear.

Blue is a handful. He is young and I am used to walking dogs early in the morning with their raincoats on when it was pouring. I know that he will require a tremendous amount of attention, love and training. I know that he has not been abused; just neglected.

And I know that animals live in the present and any bad things from the past will dissipate as time goes by with enough love,  guidance and strength. I know what they do for one's own life and spirit.

They give you a reason to get up in the morning.

They give you a reason to come home.

They give you someone to love when no one else will. They ask nothing of us except to be treated well and included. They return more love than one can imagine.

They are the perfect human being with four legs.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Out of the shelter and into the sun.

Two elder pit bulls reunited with their owner.

2 senior dogs were taken from their owner a while back because they were pit bulls. Fortunately with the help of many, the 2 senior dogs and their owner are reunited! It's nice to see happy endings when they happen! c/o
 We have some exciting news to share with everyone! Sasha and Bear have been reunited with their owner! They were so incredibly happy to see him and the feeling was mutual! Their dad wanted us to thank everyone for their well wishes and we owe you all a huge thank you for your support! We had so many offers of help- whether it be through sharing, transporting, fostering, adopting, and beyond, it truly has been amazing. We also want to thank The Humane Society of the United States for their help in keeping this family together. We love happy endings! c/o

Because...that's why. Because.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The adventure begins soon.

It's Wednesday night and Blue will be arriving Saturday afternoon.

I don't know how I'm going to do this, but somehow I will. My biggest concerns are my cats. I know it will take time and I hope eventually they will accept him and not run away. They are house cats, but do know how to bolt through an open door.

My house is small. Very small but I have a big yard. I keep telling myself that I can do this and I know if anyone can, it is me.

I met Blue over a year ago. A friend heard about him. He was 1 year old and had been put in a crate 3 months earlier and left there. Someone would come by and let him out a few times a day for a few minutes.

When he arrived at my friends house, he was nervous and scared but sweet. Oh so sweet. I fell for him and helped care for him. I would come over and take him for walks and spend as much time with him as I could.

He became family.

After a year, the owner wanted him back. She missed him. She swore she would take good care of him.

And so she did, for a short period of time. Soon her father had to step in. He built Blue a kennel and bought him toys. He fell in love with Blue also. But he couldn't continue to care for him.

He had to take him to the pound.

No one else could help and the owner was busy with 2 jobs.

He was being crated again in the evenings and not allowed in the house.


That was my reaction when I heard they were taking him to the shelter.

I had not had a dog in over 3 years. I had always had dogs, but after losing the 3rd one in 3 years, I couldn't face another loss.

I swore I would stick with cats. I love my cats and was happy with my decision. I could leave for a day or two and not worry. I had more freedom and didn't have to worry about what time I got home.

Getting another dog was the last thing I wanted to do.

But I couldn't let my friend be abandoned again. I knew I would not be able to live with myself.

So he arrives in a few days.

He will change everything in my life.

That is what I am hoping for.