A Great Mother’s Day

People have asked me why I spend time with Bully Project? We aren’t adopting or “saving” dogs from death row (at least not yet!), so why the commitment? I was very lucky when I adopted my terriers to have a great support system and resources. I was able to take training classes, and even agility classes. Which all helped me with my Big Terrier since she started out as a shy pup and ended up being a snarky terrier.

There are many folks out there that can’t take classes with the pitties they adopted. Classes can be far and expensive. Some group classes might not sign up a reactive dog – especially a big, muscly-kind. I love my Sundays with the pitties because we get to watch magic happen at Bully Project. Relationships between dogs and owners being started, renewed and strengthened. Shy dogs become more confident. Dogs that start out wanting to explode in an outdoor class begin to calm down. And little wiggly pups realize it’s always good to offer a sit for a treat.

Sometimes, teams come and go. And other times, they take back-to-back classes so they can practice for the Canine Good Citizen test. One team that will always hold a special place in my heart is Meg and Dayzee.


What a smile!

Meg rescued Dayzee when she was tied to a pole. What I have learned in my past ten years working in animal welfare is that rescuing takes a village. And, Meg found her village. A local rescue group offered spaying. Another group provided a trainer to help Dayzee aclimate to her new home. Meg and Dayzee were a team, and they were doing okay in their daily routine. But Meg wanted Dayzee to feel comfortable everywhere. She came to our first class in April, and Dayzee got stressed in the car ride and remained stressed all through class.  She barked at dogs, people, anything that moved. So, we gave Meg and Dayzee their space. They practiced from afar and tried to build up Dayzee’s confidence. Meg left feeling like she didn’t accomplish what she set out for – Dayzee taking group classes. We all encouraged her to come back. We understood her frustration but also realized they could work through this. The good things in life aren’t easy, right?

Dayzee working on a bone away from class

With lots of patience and dedication, Meg and Dayzee came to every class in April. We realized that after a few classes, Dayzee’s barking was no longer reactivity but demand barking! After class, we practiced some abandonment training. As soon as Dayzee demanded and barked, Meg would walk away while trainer Ann held her leash. Barking just made Dayzee’s good stuff go away! This was just part of the puzzle but it was so helpful to know what we were dealing with.

Nothing happens overnight – it takes baby steps and patience. The world wasn’t built in a four-week class. But just two weeks ago, Dayzee and Meg practiced walking by dogs. Of course with a peanut butter bone as a reward for not reacting to the dogs she was passing. And, she rocked it. It was their first time in the “circle” of teams, and they did great!

Dayzee working the crowd. Learning to pass dogs in class in a polite manner.

Our most recent class, which happened to be on Mother’s Day, was amazing! It was decided that Dayzee would no longer work on the outskirts of class. We put her in the “class” and once again, she showed us how great she really is. You would have never known that 6 weeks ago, she screamed at the sight of the dogs in class, or people walking by. Not only was Dayzee confident, so was Meg. Check out the pics…

Dayzee finally relaxing in class.

Dayzee practicing in class.

Peanut butter always makes things better!

Treats help, too…

If you don’t believe us, read what Dayzee’s mom, Meg, has to say about it: “I can’t thank you enough for offering this service. I feel so grateful that Dayzee and I made it into this class and that Dayzee made some progress over the weeks. I left the first class in tears and the last with a smile. Yay! You all have been beyond wonderful.”