Spring Means More Bully…

Springtime Means More Bully Project!

Nothing gets me up early and missing my own dog run time with my pooches EXCEPT Bully Project! Last fall, I came up with a crazy idea of offering regular FREE training classes in my own backyard Fort Tryon Park. I went to a former colleague, Kelly, who started this amazing non-profit here in NYC to help end dog-fighting and encourage responsible dog ownership. I had volunteered previously at Bully Project’s classes in a different neighborhood and knew they had helped the community. I witnessed dog owners replacing rope around their dogs’ necks with the group’s free leashes and collars. Some people wanted resources such as low-cost altering but didn’t know where to go. Some needed help with mange, some needed guidance with training and manners. It was apparent that all of these people LOVED their dogs and just needed some help. One thing we didn’t do (and don’t do now) is judge. It’s so nice to see a program in action and working.
I must say, our Upper Manhattan experiment kicked some butt! We quickly put a dedicated group of dog professionals together and away we went! Ann King fromCanine King offered “Tricks for Pits” to get the community involved. Tricks are fun, but obedience is boring. The teams were so excited after the two week class, they asked for more. So, Ann immediately offered up a 6-week obedience class. Yes, a free training class in NYC! Some dog owners would walk by and say, “Wish my dog had a square head!”

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We couldn’t have done the classes without the dedication of local volunteers (Tammy, Danita and Malerie). And, we surely couldn’t do it with Ann’s assistant for the class, John. He spends his day working with dogs at New Rochelle Humane Society and spent his days off working with us for FREE! How lucky were we? To wrap up the season, we offered a speciality class with Lydia DesRoche from Sit Stay Dog Training, who used Fort Tryon as her playground for her “Park Pit-Agility” class. In the three months, classes included young dog owners, old dog owners, puppies, seniors and a deaf dog.

Not only did the program assist these teams in enhancing their relationship, I believe we made an impact in the the community.  Every Sunday, park visitors and dog owners, would see a group of 10 pitbull-like dogs with their owners of every age and shade being “dogs.”

I got the “end of class blues” when it got too cold to offer classes. I missed seeing all the pitties and owners. Seeing the dogS learning tricks. I missed going to the supermarket and getting Shadybrook Turkey meatballs and string cheese for class. And I missed hanging out with folks like Ann and John on a weekly basis.  I think my recent obsession with taking photos – especially of pitbulls – replaced my Bully Project fix.

Well, Spring is right around the corner and in just over 2 weeks, we will be at it again! Same team, same place. New muscle-ly dogs. And, this time around, That Touch of Pit is in full-force – Josh will be along for the ride to assist. Last time, he brought Lucy who not only breezed through class but won over the hearts of many people. Ann was so impressed with Lucy, she offered to evaluate her for Canine Good Citizen after the class was over! And, as we all would have guessed, Lucy passed. She is one darn good canine! Josh and Lucy started a trend, and three other pitbull-like dogs were evaluated and passed their CGC tests.

This spring’s class immediately filled up right after we posted it so we needed to add a second class (I thank John and Ann twice as much now)! Last year, we put the classes together with string and a band-aid, some donated Gentle Leaders, extra martingales found in a closet. This time around, we want to offer all the right tools and enrichment for our teams in class. We are so lucky that the Deja Foundation is sponsoring our leashes and collars and Animal Farm Foundation has donated treats bags along with goodies.

But we still need more help! We would love to offer alternatives to prongs and chokers like Easy Walks and Gentle Leaders, in addition to some enrichment-type toys (Kongs, Bully Sticks and more) as giveaways to our teams. And most of all, we would love to continue this program throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. The more donations, the more classes we can offer.

So, if you are able, please consider making a donation to Bully Project so we can help make these things a reality. Our mission to change the perception of pit bulls in NYC by developing responsible dog owners can only happen if we have the funds to back us up.   So please, donate what you can so that we can continue to make an impact in our communities!