Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Event Madness

This past weekend was the Home for the Holidays adoption event in nearby Reston, VA. 

Getting a few of my foster dogs home for the holidays would certainly mean a more peaceful holiday for me--as I write, the kids are delightedly humping one another on the couch next to me--so I resolved to go. 

Narda, a delightful pit bull owner and lover who volunteers with Jasmine's House, volunteered to bring Sandy to the event and be there with her the whole time. 

Which meant that I wouldn't be completely off my rocker for thinking I could also bring Fozzie. So off we went to the adoption event. 

Fortunately, both dogs love car rides as long as they can stick their heads out the window. 

The weather was gorgeous, the event was well-attended, and once I found Narda and could unload one of my charging charges, it was a wonderful day. 

Photo:Narda Alarcon

Sandy met scads of dogs and people, each one of which she had to lick, paw, touch, kiss, and play with. 

Such a good little girl. I had no worries about leaving her in the care of strangers for the day, or about how she'd behave with kids, adults, other dogs, loud noises, or whatever she might encounter.

Fozzie...well, Fozzie I wanted to stick with myself. A large event with dogs of all sizes coming at him from all directions is not exactly a recipe for a calm Fozzie, and a really good dog trainer would not have exposed him to a situation that would push all his buttons at once. 


Some dog trainers, including some who have TV shows of their own, would say that this is the way to acclimatize a dog to things and get calmer behaviors. Most, however, would call it an example of flooding, and agree that working sub-threshold is the ticket to success with an aroused pup. 

So there's no excuse, evolved positive dog-training-wise, for why we went. I just knew I wanted to see if Fozzie's perfect adopter might be lurking somewhere out there and thought that if she is, this event might be where she'd come. 

And to my surprise, the result was something other than complete disaster. Sure, there was a certain amount of barking and lunging. Mostly at really big dogs, dogs who looked directly at him, dogs with tall pointy ears, and of course dogs who came out of nowhere. 

Which left plenty of dogs, including some medium-sized, floppy-eared dogs, dogs in fascinating headgear, 

and dogs on ice skates, 

who elicited little reaction.

But with Fozzie, of course the real triumph was the human interactions. 

As with so many of his breed, though he may not be able to kick back and have a martini with every canine he comes across, every human was pretty much a guaranteed recipient of love. 

None of these humans was quite ready to run off into the sunset with him, but it made me feel very good to get so many affirmations of what a people-loving beast he is. And to see the joy on people's faces as they got to pet such a big, velvety, loving mighty creature. 

I can't say that bringing Fozzie to an adoption event was relaxing or something I'd want to do every day. But it did make for a tired couple of dogs, 

Photo: Narda Alarcon
a chance to show off how sweet and cuddly pit bulls can be, and a chance to meet some really nice people.
Photo:Todd Alarcon
And maybe the good impressions made will result in adoptions for certain pit bulls--like Simon, who also came from Jasmine's House and elicited a lot of interest--
Photo:Narda Alarcon
which is good news for pit bulls everywhere. 


  1. What great pictures. Hoping for forever homes for Fozzie and Sandy.

  2. I'm glad Fozzie did so well. I watch that guy on TV a lot. My guess is that you didn't get rattled when he lunged or got freaked and therefore things resolved easily. I LOVE that picture of Foz with the little boy in the cap!!

  3. Hi Kirsten, maybe a "professional" dog trainer wouldn't have exposed Fozzie to all the triggers at the same time, but thankfully you know better and took him anyways. You both learned something and had a good day. Pretty successful I'd say :)

  4. It sounds to me like Fozzie performed remarkably well. Those environments are tough for any dog, let alone a dog-reactive one. He kept his cool more than you expected - which is a definite win!

    I love that he is so good with people. That's pretty awesome in itself. With my dog, it's kind of the opposite. Her reactivity to other dogs has almost vanished - as long as they don't react to her - but with human strangers it can still be very hard. If we weren't taken in by her sad little photo, I don't know how fast she would have found her forever home.

  5. Sooner or later these events will pay off and they will find forever homes. You are doing a great job Kirsten!

  6. Hope the event was successful and few dogs will be home for the holidays! Fozzie will find his people-- you'll see!

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  8. I got caught up on that first photo. Made me think of a dive bar sing along for some reason...

    Stop on by for a visit

  9. Kari, you crack me up. The photos is so much better seen from that perspective.

    You guys are all so positive! Thanks for all the encouragement.

    Rottrover, I think you give me a bit too much credit...there are definitely times when I get rattled, but I do try to remove us from the sticky situations as calmly and joyfully as possible. That certainly helps.

    Sam, you are very kind as well. We sure did learn a lot, and had some good times too. Can't argue that it was well worth it.

  10. I hope that both of them find their perfect homes in time for the holidays! How cool would that be?

    Sometimes you just have to jump in and test the waters, too!

  11. Poor baby..my Lily would prefer a human any day. Our friend had a trainer once,,, she was a behaviorist and walked the pup (her lunging, biting dog) with other dogs and their owners. No stopping to socialize, only walking sisde by side...2-3 times per week...ta-da..no more lunging or biting
    Benny & Lily

  12. Benny & Lily, the walking strategy is a great one! I think if Fozzie and I did that more often with lots of different dogs, he would make progress faster.

  13. That looks like a great event and I'm very glad Fozzie surprised you in a good way:) Love the photo of him with the boy too. His big smile says it all:)

  14. I almost went to this event. I would have met you! Man...

  15. Durn it! That would have been so great Pup Fan. Maybe we'll catch each other at another event soon!


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