I love my dogs, they are my children and my reason for getting up every morning. The last bit of that sentence is mainly due to the fact they want to go outside every morning, but I do try everyday to give them a high quality of life.
I decided to make a page on my blog about my dogs because not only do I cook (best homemade dog treats here and here) for them but I’m passionate about dog rescue. I want to raise awareness about rescue, give thanks as well as show some bully breed love. So let’s get to it!
AJ and I own two rescued dogs right now Gambit and Rogue and here is our story.
Rescuing Gambit may have stirred the pot for our desire to own a dog rescue one day. We got Gambit from Paws Across Borders(PAB) which is a local rescue organization that transports dogs from the USA and finds loving homes for the in Nova Scotia. If you are thinking of adopting a dog in Nova Scotia, I couldn’t recommend Dan’s (Dan the Dogfather) organization more. If you already own a dog, you should also know he is a great trainer, PAB has a kenneling service and he, and the PAB’s team are extremely passionate, informed and loving people. We personally cannot thank them enough for bringing Gambit into our lives.
Gambit is an American Staffordshire Terrier mix, and now that we have had him for almost two years we are certain that part of that mix is a hound because in the last few months he has shown us he knows how to howl. He is currently around 65lbs and has a southern gentleman personality. He is stubborn, loves to cuddle, loves people but what drives him is catching a ball.
We don’t know much about Gambit’s background but he is originally from Tennessee. We assume he was moved from shelter to shelter for a bit before taking the trip north because his vet records list at least three cities.
We assume he lived most of his life outdoors in a rural community because when we got him he was nervous of the city noises, running at the sound of a garbage truck. He quickly bonded to us, I mean can you blame him? We are pretty rad people. Which brings me to a point about adoption, I think there are fears about adopting dogs, the first being ‘I don’t know what I’m going to get’ and the second being ‘what if the dog doesn’t like me or I don’t like the dog?’ What I say to that is each dog regardless of breed, size, energy levels all have their own different personalities. You most likely are never going to love everything about a dog, you can minimize bad behavior by training and the bond of owner and dog is something that is created and specific to each owner and dog. Gambit and I have a equally special relationship that differs to the one he shares with AJ and vice versa.
Did we have problems with Gambit? Of course, a new dog in your house has to learn how you want to run the house. He was housebroken and well mannered but I don’t think he ever really lived inside a house. Gambit was, from the get go, a social, friendly, go-anywhere-you-go dog. He has leash issues which were easily corrected with the help of Dan. He doesn’t bark often, he only howls for supper, and he just complements our family. Don’t expect you are going to adopt a perfectly trained dog and you won’t be surprised when he chews your favorite pair of shoes, or ten pairs of shoes. Lesson received, loud and clear.
Rogue was our mission. A mission that totally would not have been even a smidge possible without the help of so many people, Trisha especially. Besides a million thank-yous all I can say is the animal rescue community reaches far and wide. They truly are soldiers for the speechless.
AJ and I knew we wanted another dog and we felt we were ready. Gambit was behaving well and he was very social and interested in dogs, especially ones that looked like him. He played well with puppies and adults but did not like the long hair fellows, especially poodles. We had our heart set on another amstaff or pitbull, the most at risk shelter dog. We checked the local rescue organizations everyday looking for just the right dog. Even though our municipality is unfortunately full of amstaff mixes and purebreeds, at the time, there thankfully were not many dogs availible. The ones that were there were available, unfortunately were not compatible for us, either because they were male or not dog friendly. We wanted a female 2 years and under, Gambit’s size or smaller and the rest did not matter.
We did not want to give up a while in search of local dogs, we started to see many urgent kill lists from the USA. An urgent kill list is a shelter’s last plea to get dogs adopted before it’s too late, usually giving you 24 hours to respond with an organized rescue organization will to take the dog in your name and a plan to get the dog out immediately. We felt helpless, powerless, and desperate to do something as soon as possible but did not have a sweet clue what.
We tried contacting people to help us, rescues in the US as well as the shelter that had been advertising these lists on Facebook and Twitter. After watching literally hundreds of dogs be put down at a particular ‘shelter’ in NYC and no one returning our emails and calls I got desperate. I posted an involved comment on their Facebook page under an additional 600 comments in hopes someone could help. I later came to realize that is an incredibly stupid thing to do but my thoughts were on the dogs not on the potentially rotten people of the world. I received a few heartfelt private messages with suggestions we had already tried, links to rescues in the area that may help who never got back to us and then luckily, I met an incredible lady who organized literally everything for us. She walked us through step by step and although the process was long and expensive it was totally worth it to get Rogue.
There is a lot to tell you about Rogue, she was a hot mess when she got to us. She was extremely hyper, suffering from kennel stress. She was recovering from kennel cough. Unknown to us until we got her, she had been burned badly by her previous owners and still has a scar, the diameter of a baseball, that still does not grow hair. She has a front chipped tooth which one day will need to be removed and will leave her with a droopy lip, and she has one deformed toe. Despite all this she is one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever had. She is extremely smart, picks up training quickly, and has personality plus.
Were there issues? Yes, and there still are issues. Introducing Gambit and Rogue was probably the most difficult process of all. They were separated with different walks and feeding places for weeks. They needed to be supervisored at every turn and kennelled in different rooms when we left the house. Within 4 weeks they were hanging in the same room with not many issues, by 2 months Gambit was warming up to her and now almost a year later they sleep and play together everyday.
Rogue was house trained when we got her but would pee on the floor when approached by bearded men, or due to anxiety when put away from the family. She most likely had to bark to get anything to eat, or attention so we still cope with her attitude issues. She improves every day, and is so eager to please that training with minimal effort reaps huge results.
To me, and I’m sure to my partner, there is not anything more rewarding in life than having a dog who cannot even look you in the eye blossom in such a short time into such a friendly, confident, happy being. Thank-you everyone who was involved and gave us this opportunity.
Bully Breed Facts
What are bully breeds? Animal Planet has an answer here.
There are loads of information (good and bad) out there about bully breeds I do not want to try to write it myself but I love what BADRAP has to say here. They also have general dog training tips, and resources for my California/Bay Area readers.
Want to learn more about banning BSL in Canada?
Please check out Support Hershey’s Bill.
Local Rescues Organizations
I have not listed all the Halifax rescue organizations because there are a lot of them. Below are rescues I’m familiar with and feel comfortable recommending. For a more extensive list please visit Charlie Love’s Halifax, a super helpful Halifax dog blog which covers everything dog owners need in Halifax. She has a great list of rescues for dogs and cats here.
- Ador-A-Bull Dog Rescue
- Animal Rescue Coaltion – They also have a link to the Lost Dog network in NS
- Bide Awhile (Cats)
- City Pound
- Feral Cat Rescue
- East Coast German Shepherd Rescue
- Litters n Critters
- Maritime Pit Project
- NS SPCA
- Pick of the Litter – Rescues and rehabilitates orphaned kittens
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