Animal Interviews: Meet Spootz


How old are you? 


Where did your name come from?

A puppet my mom’s Spanish teacher used to use in puppet shows to teach her kindergarten class Spanish stories

How did you end up in your forever home?

My mom saved me after her sister adopted my brother and sister a few months earlier. Mom’s sister would not let her play with the new kittens, and mom was a spoiled brat so she asked Grandma if she could get her own kitten and she came to get me.

Was it scary moving ?

I have moved twice- i was driven up to Massachusetts by Grandma with my brother Archy, my sister Sigmund, and by canine friend Ace. The car ride was rather loud but not scary. I was flown back to Florida later with mom. Besides peeing on her leg on the drive to the airport there was nothing scary about that part. The plane ride was very loud but mom and the flight attendants paid me lots of attention and told me how good i was being and how handsome I was.

What are your favorite things to do?

Meow, sit on mom’s lap, have my belly rubbed, sit on the porch with mom, catnip


What kind of food to you like?

Iams brand senior cat

Why do you like being on the fridge so much?

It gives me the best viewpoint from which to oversee my domain

Do you ever get lonely being by yourself?

I was lonely when i first moved back to Florida because i did live with my sister Sigmund back home but i have become quite independent and keep house when mom goes to work


Now for some questions for your mom:

I know you were having a problem with Sir Spootz peeing on your clothes, how long has he done this? He has been doing this since he was moved up north- when he gets offended or if we have visitors for to long he will pee on something. Or the few times it has been too long since i cleaned his litter box

Thankful Thursday

So today I’m thankful for snuggles.

Trixie is the best at snuggles, especially when you’re sick, unfortunately she doesn’t want anyone else on the bed when she’s with you. Fair warning, once she lays down that’s it, there is no moving her, so make sure she’s not laying on a limb.  20160201_122922 (1)

She’s only 10lbs and I swear weighs a ton when you try to move her.

Buggy loves a good snuggle but he’s a pillow stealer. He loves to take over my pillows and I normally sleep with 2 of them, so I push half of the top one down so he has enough room to lay. Once he’s settled he will lay there and purr and purr until one of us falls asleep.




Happy Valentines Day from Best Friend’s Animal Society

Author’s Note: This is a non-interview post that was offered to me by Best Friend’s Animal Society. I was in no way compensated for my time, I just wanted to share. 🙂 

Looking for Love That Lasts?

Best Friends Animal Society Can Help You

Adopt a Pet to Realize Those #RelationshipGoals 

Best Friends and Hallmark Channel Team Up to Encourage

Everyone to Swipe Right to Find “The One” at National Pet Adoption Event

 HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Oh. Now the bad news… As sincerely as we try, statistics show that being “consciously coupled” is often fraught with failure. According to bestselling author Hellen Chen, more than 85 percent of dating relationships end in a breakup. Not to mention, nearly a third of marriages end in divorce.

But don’t fret, there is a way to set realistic #RelationshipGoals this year: Ditch the dating and adopt a pet.

When looking for love, you’re more likely to find the real deal at your local animal shelter than at your local bar, or on Tinder, or Ashley Madison for that matter. Just for starters, about 81 percent of people on dating sites and apps lie about height, weight or age in their profiles (according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison study). But dogs and cats don’t lie about tail length or being housebroken, what you see is what you get.

Instead of roses this year, Best Friends Animal Society is offering you a dozen reasons why your #RelationshipGoals should include the adoption option. (You’re welcome.)


  1. Hanging with a pet will give pleasant new meaning to “Netflix and chill.”1
  2. Your pet’s lasting love will make you never fear being “ghosted” again.2
  3. Adopting a pet will help you overcome that fear of commitment.3
  4. You’ll always have someone there to kiss you good morning, even before you brush your teeth.

    Ruby (little, gray) and James (bigger, black) with Matt Wigham
    Ruby (little, gray) and James (bigger, black) with Matt Wigham
  5. Walking a cat on a harness and leash is a guaranteed attention-getter.5
  6. Chances are your pet will love to spoon and snuggle as much as you do, if not more.6
  7. Your new canine companion will give you a valid reason to hang out and meet people at the dog park.7
  8. More than 63 percent of people consider pets to be members of the family (according to the AVMA). So no matter what the configuration of a family unit, pets are a perfect source of love and companionship.

    Xavi and dogs
    Xavi and dogs
  9. If you’re not finding true love on Tinder, adopting a pet may be your answer.9
  10. A pet will help you get accustomed to 24/7 adoration and unconditional love.

    Julie and Ken with Zephyr the cat
    Julie and Ken with Zephyr the cat
  11. An adopted pet can help you become less self-centered, as you learn to put another’s needs before your own.

  12. If you’re looking for love, but are freaked out by forever, check with a local shelter or rescue to find out about fostering.Twelve

Contrary to what you see online, there’s plenty of drama-free companionship out there. To make it even more attractive, Best Friends Animal Society and its official media sponsor, Hallmark Channel are offering pet adoption fees starting at $14 to help you find “The One.” The national event is taking place February 1-15 at Best Friends adoption centers in Utah and Los Angeles, and at an event in New York, as well as through participating No More Homeless Pets Network partners across the country. (More information about the promotion can be found at

“If you’re looking to bring home a new pet, few people will argue that adopted animals reward their people with a depth of love and loyalty that pets from other sources often don’t seem to rival,” said Gregory Castle, co-founder and chief executive officer for Best Friends Animal Society. “They seem to know they were given a second chance, and they spend their lives repaying their families.”

Who knows, having a pet might even help you meet that special someone, if you haven’t already. Relationships come and go, but adoption can—and should– last a lifetime.

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, adoption centers and spay and neuter facilities in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with more than 1,300 rescue groups and shelters across the country. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to an estimated 4 million. By continuing to build effective initiatives that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes, Best Friends and its nationwide network of members and partners are working to Save Them All®.

To become a fan of Best Friends Animal Society on Facebook go to:

Follow Best Friends on Twitter:


Together, we can Save Them All®

Opt to Adopt: Louie the diabetic cat

This is a personal plea from a friend of mine on facebook as she is no longer financially able to cat for her diabetic cat.

Please do not judge her for wanting to find him a home, everyone has hit hard times at least once in their lives, and she just wants her little man to find a loving family who can give him the care he deserves.

Louie is an owner surrender
Louie is an owner surrender

This is an owner surrender. His current mom is asking for a nominal fee of $20 for his adoption.

Who: Approx 12 year old tuxedo cat named Louie who is diabetic, he just started insulin treatment.

He also has hind leg neuropathy which means he will need to have a low lid litter box.

Will you give him a home?
Will you give him a home?


He currently is eat Fromm cat food and prefers clay litter.

He is neutered, has his claws and is indoor only.

He is up to date on all shots, except for rabies.

His current mom has his vet records and can scan and email a copy as proof if needed.

Where: ABE (Allentown/Easton/Bethlehem) area in PA.

Louie the handsome is looking to be re-homed
Louie the handsome is looking to be re-homed

Vet Information:  Greg Leck DVM 610-863-3111 the receptionist is Kathy

If interested please email: Miss Cindy at raines_home (at) live (dot) com


Author’s Note: Many thanks to Miss Cindy for the information and letting me borrow pictures of Louie. Please share if you can, if you can find room in your heart and home that would be wonderful. Thank you so much on behalf of Miss Cindy.

This post is a part of the Opt to Adopt theme, which features pets that are up for adoption.

Opt to Adopt

Happy Tails: Meet Remy


 How old is Remy?

2 years & 10 months

What breed is he?


How did he come to live with you?

My ex and I bought Remington in Feb 2011 when he was 4 months old. Then when we broke up in June, my ex took him while I was at work and brought him up to MA. I heard from his friends that he wasn’t treating Remington right…In August my ex dropped Remington off at my best friend Tina’s house in RI with just a chain around his neck (no collar or harness or leash). Tina got Remington ready for his flight to FL to be reunited with mama, which included buying a travel crate, getting a vet checkup, and getting a leash & harness. Remington spent almost a week at Tina’s while everything was prepared. Finally on August 20th, I picked Remington up from the Tampa Airport. I don’t know who was happier, me or him. 🙂

Is this your first dog?

No. we had a girl beagle when I was a kid. Her name was Pudgy.

What are his favorite things to play with?

Dirty socks

Does he have an fursiblings he lives with?

Yes, he has a boxer brother, Spartan.

What are his favorite things to do?

play, snuggle, run & sniff

Has he had any obedience training?

hahahhahaha no

Does he know any tricks?

yes: sit, roll over, low crawl, dance, stay, shake

What advice do you have for first time dog owners?

Remember that dogs have feelings too. Some people don’t realize that a dog is a living, breathing, conscious being. He is sad when you are gone and happy when you are there. Give him lots of luvins.

Is there anything else you would like to share about Remy?

I love him more than anything.

Pets that Blog: Meet Wiley of Wiley’s Wisdom

How old are you?

I am five doggie years old, which I believe translates to something like 35 people years old. But I prefer to say I’m five doggie years young because that’s how I feel.

Where did you name come from?

My name was given to me by an angel named Katie at the Oshkosh Humane Society. When she saw me, she said I looked like a coyote, “like Wiley Coyote” I remember her saying. The first family that adopted me tried calling me Zorro, but that never stuck. I’m a coyote at heart.
Thinking of You

How did you get to be with your furever family?

That’s a great story actually! I thought I’d found my forever family (or that they had found me) when a family took me home from the shelter. You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered I was wrong. The family had two other dogs and three cats and there wasn’t enough love (or food) to go around. I jumped their four-foot backyard fence thinking I’d set out for a better life, but they found me and took me back to the humane society where my real forever family found me a couple months later. The folks at the shelter were very protective of me because I had been returned, and apparently mom had to put up quite a fight to prove she was buying ME, not just buying a cute face. She had to agree to take me to a behaviorist, who signed off on that silliness herself. I’ll never forget when she told my mom “he’s so smart – I don’t know why they would have made you bring him to me.” I was so happy in that moment, not only to be called smart, but to be called smart by an expert in front of my new family.

Where did the idea to start blogging come from?

It’s something I always wanted to do – share my joy with the world. I didn’t know how to do it until that special day with my mom in the snow (December 20, 2012). She was so happy and I was so happy and I couldn’t tell whose joy started first. As I watched the snow fall down from the sky that day, it was like little notes from heaven inspiring me to send the notes right back up. That’s where joy: from the ground up came from. That’s where it all began.
Singing in the Rainbows

What is your favorite post?

It’s hard to pick just one. So I am going to cheat and pick two. One of my favorites is called “Let Me Be A Lantern of Love,” which was among my first posts. It is dedicated to my best friend and forever mom. (Need I say more?) Another favorite is “Mirror, Mirror,” which features a photo of my drawn by a family friend as well as one heck of a message. I hate how women look at themselves in the mirror and just wish they could all see themselves like I do.

What has been your least favorite post?

Any writer has good days and bad days. Sometimes I struggle to come up with something to say and these are the days I am least happy with the product. But I’d have to say my least favorite post is the one I did on the Lance Armstrong debacle called “My Favorite Kind of Chance.” The post itself wasn’t too bad, but the picture with me on the bicycle? I was terribly uncomfortable with that one.

I saw you’re a Packers fan, who is your favorite player & why?

Sports stars get a lot of attention, so it’s important to me that they use their stardom to do positive things in the world. Being a good leader expands far beyond the locker room and the field. While I have a soft spot in my heart for Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver is my favorite player of all-time. Not only was he a team leader, but he has been a leader in Wisconsin in so many ways for so many charities. He is a role model to many, and for good reason.
When Dogs Blog

Do you like the snow or do you prefer the warm summer days?

My feelings on the weather change as frequently as the seasons do in my neck of the woods. I love each and every day and nature never ceases to amaze me with its beauty. I do place a higher value on these days when I’m enjoying them with my people, however. Summer days have walks and times at the dog park, but winter days with the snow brings out something childlike in my people that doesn’t happen on walks. Because of this I would have to say I favor the snow that brings joy with it as it falls from heaven.

Is Wisconsin cheese really better than other cheese?

Of course it is! I’m not supposed to know this (of course) since cheese is one of those things mom always says are “not for doggies,” but let’s face it – I’ve had my fair share of cheese. It’s Wisconsin, after all.
Figuring it all out

What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing?

Spending any time with my people is my most favorite thing in the whole world. It doesn’t matter if we are on an adventure or sleeping.

Do you have any fursiblings?

I don’t have any fursiblings, and while I do greatly enjoy the friends I have at the dog park, I’d prefer it to stay that way. I’m not afraid to admit I am a one-dog-household kind of dog who loves every waking second of attention and love. I don’t think I’m very good at sharing. Maybe I should work on that.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?

The only thing I’d like to share is the biggest thing I can share – joy. Please come and check out my blog on joy from the ground up.
I love you world!

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Sir Wiley for answering my questions and letting me borrow some pictures for his article. The pictures were used with permission, you can visit his blog here or facebook here.

Photos were used with permission.

This article is a part of the Pets that Blog theme, for more interviews on blogging pets, click the image below. Many thanks to Miss Ann from Pawsitively Pets for the image. 

pets that blog 200x200

Pets that Blog: Cult of Otis

Author’s Note: Cult of Otis is a blog I’ve been following for a little while, check out the webpage for a bit of background. The Cult is made up of Leader Otis, Brother Oliver, Brother Henry and Sir Thomas. Mama Cat is a new addition at the moment as she was taken in by the Guardians for medical care. The blog promotes keeping cats safe indoors and shares the experiences of the cats as they remain vigilant and watchful for the long feared Dog Uprising.

Cult of Otis Banner

First of all, Leader Otis, can you share how you became leader of the cult?

Leader Week 6

I did not become a spiritual leader overnight. It was a long journey that began with My being born the son of two feral cats. I spent My early life wandering the wilderness. I was hungry and frightened all the time. Just as it seemed I would slip away into The Shadows like My parents, I encountered two humans who reached out to Me. These two humans, now known as the Guardians of Otis, coaxed forth a loving, True Spirit that I didn’t even know I had! Brothers Henry and Oliver helped them with the process, and they also taught Me the ways of life in The Promised Land after I was swept up in The Capture. There were many more steps to My eventual ordination as The Leader, but basically, I was chosen because I had walked the path of the cats we most wished to help. My sister Marvie, now Saint Marvie, was the real catalyst that led to the creation of The Cult though.

When did your problems with your legs start and what can the followers of the cult do to help you?

My health problems have been a real challenge. When the Guardians first swept Me up in The Capture, they took Me to The Bad Place to be neutered. When I returned, I had a terrible limp in My right leg. They took Me back to The Bad Place but the people there said they couldn’t find anything wrong. The limp lessened, and then disappeared after about two weeks. Fast forward to last year and the limp returned with a vengeance. The Guardians took Me to our new Bad Place and X-rays showed that I had an old hip fracture and bad “Art Thritis”. The old fracture explained the limp from after My first Bad Place Visit. My “Art Thritis” required surgery, which I underwent last December.

My recovery was going well for a few months but then I seemed to plateau. Then I started having weakness in all four legs. For the past two months I have been visiting both My regular Bad Place and a Bad Place that specializes in nerve problems. I’ve undergone more tests than I care to think about, and I don’t think the Guardians have received any concrete answers from them yet. There are still some test results pending, so hopefully those will bear some answers.

We have appreciated all of the supportive words and purrs that have been sent our way by The Disciples of Otis, and we have been very thankful for the contributions many have made to help pay for My and, recently, Mama Cat’s care.

Brother Oliver, how did you become inspired to take photos of Sir Thomas?

Oliver looking flattered

Ahhh yes. You are referring to My latest photographic endeavor, the “Whiskered Gallantry” series. Well, I’ve always been fascinated by Thomas, even though I hissed at him quite a bit after he was swept up in The Capture and entered The Promised Land. I mean, you’ve seen those whiskers right? They are a kitty photographer’s dream! Unfortunately, Thomas has been traditionally shy of the camera, but his recent knighthood seemed to boost his confidence. I was thrilled when he agreed to collaborate with me, and I assure you there are many more photos in the series yet to come!

What advise do you have for helping other cats trying to discover their talent?

Well, we cats are curious by nature. As long as our human Guardians provide us with safe boundaries and plenty of enrichment, we will discover our talents. It is really up to our Guardians to provide the conditions in which our talents can blossom.

Brother Henry, as a follower of the cult of Otis I am concerned about the impending invasion of the dreaded wiener dogs, what can we do to help prepare?

Henry Watching Oliver

Oh boy. Wiener dogs. Has Thomas been talking to you? I feel like I need to make it clear that we don’t currently have any field intelligence that leads me to believe that the wiener dog threat is great than any other dog-related threat. That being said, the threat of The Long-feared Dog Uprising is definitely real. You can prepare by keeping your eyes open for any suspicious canine activity, and reporting anything out of the ordinary to Me, Thomas, Brother Oliver or Leader Otis immediately.

Do you think you will model for one of Brother Oliver’s photography projects?

I actually have modeled for him a few times in the past. I guess I would do it again if the project felt right.

Sir Thomas, congratulations on becoming a knight. It is truly a wonder that you came from being in Limbo to being a trusted member of the Cult of Otis.

Thank you very much, M’Lady! I really thought these cats were weird when I first got here, but I have always liked them. I was very honored to be the first kitty ever knighted by Leader Otis!

Can you share your story of how you came to be swept up in the Capture and taken to the Promised Land?

I… I have a little trouble telling my story because I still do not fully understand it. I had a guardian before the Guardians of Otis, but she treated me differently than they do. She left me outside all the time and rarely interacted with me. I had two brothers that were left outside with me, but our guardian rarely had much to do with them either. The Guardians of Otis always showed an interest in us. They talked to us, played with us and fed us when our own guardian was not around. One of my brothers disappeared, but I learned later that the Guardians of Otis had swept him up in The Capture and sent him to a forever home in The Promised Land. I was terrified by the idea of being swept up, but I was also terrified living outside.

One night, my guardian left and never came back. I was left sitting on a cat tree surrounded by a garbage pile in the backyard of my house. Soon after that, the Guardians of Otis caught me in a wire cage and took me inside their house. I had been swept up! I was terrified at first, but I got over that once I realized that I would never again be cold, hungry, in danger or all alone. Recently, I have even started letting one of the Guardians pick me up for very brief periods, and I hardly lose my stuff at all when he does it!

Have you ever modeled before? Your photos are stunning,I am still in awe of the Battle Cry of the Knight photo.

Nightwatcher 2

Ummmm… Gosh, no. I have never modeled. Brother Oliver is really good at explaining what he wants me to do though, so I just try to follow his lead. I am just so glad he no longer hisses at me.

Mama Cat, congratulations on your recovery. It must have been so scary to be swept up and taken to the Bad Place and then come into the shelter of the Guardians and the Cult of Otis.

Wait, what? The Leader has a blog? And I’ve been featured in that blog? Whoa. I’m sorry but I’ve kind of been out of the loop on this one. So that’s why they keep taking all those photos…

Anyway, thanks for the congratulations. Yes, it was kind of scary to be swept up and taken to The Bad Place, but I gotta say, I handled it better than Brother Oliver who rode along with me. That mancat really has a set of lungs on him!

As the first female to reside in the domain, what has been your experience so far and do you have some advise to share with other female cats scared of living with such important male cats?

Well… The thing is, I’m not sure what I think of the situation so far. The Guardians are letting me mingle with the boys some, but I tend to get a bit annoyed with these youngsters and I can’t help but hiss at them. The Guardians don’t seem to like it when I do this, but I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be able to turn it off. I got kind of used to fighting for what few comforts I could find outside. It’s hard to remember that I no longer need to do that.

What words of inspiration does the Cult of Otis have for those who are trying to convince Limbo cats that the Capture will lead to the Promised Land which is much better than being outside?

Leader Otis here. The first thing I would say to anyone that is working to bring kitties in from the wilderness is “Thank you!” Too often people turn away, or simply convince themselves that cats are just fine living in Limbo or in The Shadows. They don’t truly see them. They don’t acknowledge the scabs and scars. They don’t recognize the pain and fear in their eyes. They don’t grasp the full weight of it. They are not just fine out there.

The second thing I would say to those that are reaching out to these cats is, “Never give up.” The Guardians worked to earn My trust for more than 5 months before I even let them touch Me. They worked with Thomas for nearly a year while he was in Limbo and for another year and counting since he was brought into The Promised Land. If you have followed his story you have seen how far he has come. Among the Patron Saints of The Cult of Otis are many more examples of cats that have successfully made this journey. There are also some, including my sister, that were lost along the way. But the stories of those that were lost are even more motivation to keep trying.

I know there are millions of them out there. I know it is overwhelming. I know you feel like you can’t save them all. But if you at least try to save the ones in your own backyard, you will be making a difference. You will also be setting an inspirational example for those around you to follow. Who knows? Maybe someday the whole thing will get so big it will become like a new religious movement. Stranger things have happened.

Thank you so very much.

Again, our pleasure. Thanks so much for the interest.

Blessings of The Leader Be Upon You,

The Guardians, The Brothers, Sir Thomas, Mama Cat, and Leader Otis

Author’s Note: Many thanks to the Guardians, Leader Otis, The Brothers, Sir Thomas & Mama Cat for letting me interview them. You can follow the cult of Otis on the blog, check out the website to learn more about the Good Word or purchase some merchandise or like them on facebook . Photos were used with permission.

This article is a part of the Pets that Blog theme, for more interviews on blogging pets, click the image below. Many thanks to Miss Ann from Pawsitively Pets for the image. 

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Happy Tails: Balton

Meet Balton

How old is Balton?


He was estimated to be 1-2 years in 2012, when he was found as a stray and taken to the Florence Area Humane Society (a partner shelter of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue). We tend to think he was on the younger end of that spectrum, and guess he’s probably about 2 years old now.

Where did his name come from?

 It’s the Lucky Dog name he came with, given to him at the shelter. We had called him by his foster name for so long before adopting him that we couldn’t begin to think what else we would call him.

How did you find out about him?

 Balton arrived on a transport in mid-July 2012, and I met him there when I was picking up a different dog to foster. I remember him well because he was this goofy, bouncy, nice dog, lacking manners but very friendly. As I was getting my foster into the car he came rushing up to say hi (they were both Shepherd mixes and looked a lot like each other) and for whatever reason it left an impression. It wasn’t until 6 weeks later that he would come into my home and make an even bigger impression.

Is he a foster failure?

Balton the foster failure
Balton the foster failure, he’s happy at his forever home
 He is our very first foster failure. We had remained strong for about 2 full years of fostering before Balton came along, and for some time I was very proud not to have adopted any of the temporary houseguests I had fallen in love with to date.
We began fostering Balton in September 2012, after he was adopted to a family and, unfortunately, subsequently returned within days for reported aggression to everyone outside the family. We had never seen or heard of any signs of aggression with previous fosters or at adoption events, and will probably never really know how they manifested. Either way, the reports back were very (and surprisingly) different from the dog we had come to know. His first adoption event back after his return he was lunging and snapping at anyone who came too close. Since I had fostered a good number of some of our shy dogs in the past and helped them along with their fears (and my foster at the time had since been adopted), I was asked to foster Balton.
My husband and I went to pick him up with our resident dog from Wagtime, a doggy daycare and boarding facility that helps to foster Lucky Dogs. We all agreed if he showed aggression to us we would not be able to foster, but we also made a point to pick him up as a family unit so he had the opportunity to spend time with us in a neutral space and in the car on the way home. He has been great with us since day one, and settled easily into our home. He loves us is goofy, sweet, and affectionate with the people he trusts. I’ve been his cheerleader since day one, and never stopped believing there was a right home out there for him. I was also steadfast in my belief that we were an appropriate foster home, but not the right forever home for him.
As months went on, it became apparent that Balton’s fear of strangers wasn’t something that time would heal or someone could “fix.” He would require a lifetime of training, management, and confidence building. A trainer assessment in May of this year confirmed this, and indicated he would need to find a family as committed to carrying that out as we had been. From an adoptability standpoint, his window was incredibly small and presented risks should he end up with a family who didn’t provide him what he would need during his lifetime. So, my husband and I talked it over and decided that we would adopt him.

How did you discover his fear of strangers?

 We knew going into fostering Balton that he had some issues to reckon with. Putting those issues into context, identifying what triggered his fear responses, and knowing how to help him with them, was what we needed to learn. What we’ve found is that Balton is reactive when he feels cornered by unfamiliar people, and that he can’t get away. Given the choice, his first instinct is to remove himself from that which makes him uncomfortable. He can go to dog parks and does well in doggy daycare environments. We suspect this is because he is off leash and can create his own space. When he feels he doesn’t have that option, he barks, lunges, snaps at the “scary monsters” of his world. So, he is leash reactive and also reactive to unknown human guests coming over. If we don’t create space for him or show him that we can handle keeping strangers at bay, he will become reactive to them. Unfortunately, we most effectively learned this through some mistakes along the way in our early months together, like trying to introduce him to strangers before he was ready or not creating enough space on walks to keep him from practicing reactive behavior.
Balton and his flying squirrel toy

What have you been doing to gain his trust and ease his fears?

 We are currently enrolled in a behavior modification class called “Relaxing Rowdy Rovers” at All About Dogs in Woodbridge, VA and practice a good deal of in home training activities and management. He is very food motivated, and we always have a clicker and treats on hand to reward the practice of calm behavior on walks. When he sees a stranger, and doesn’t bark or lunge, he gets a treat. Creating distance is a functional reward for him, so I make a point to offer him that along with bonus treat rewards at any opportunity I can. He’s learning to offer different behaviors that what he had previously seen as effective, and trusting that we won’t push him farther than he can go. I’ve learned a lot about dog body language in our time together, and Balton is very good about telling me “this makes me uncomfortable” in a non-confrontational way. I make a point to recognize what he is telling me, and more importantly, to listen to him when he tells me that he doesn’t want to go any further in that moment.
We also implement a good deal of management at home to maintain low stress levels and teach impulse control. We have frosted our front windows to keep him from seeing people pass by our home, which had historically set him off. It’s been a huge help. We exercise impulse control by having him “say please” for his favorite things. He politely sits and waits for his dinner, and we practice “sit” and “focus” exercises playing soccer at the dog park, quite possibly his most favorite activity in the world. Positive reinforcement training has been a huge motivator and confidence builder for him.

How’s he progressing? 

We have good days and bad days, but I continue to see more good days on a more consistent basis. When we first started Rowdy Rovers class, he had a very tough time integrating into the classroom setting and offering behaviors because he was constantly worried. Today, he still worries, but far less than he did before. He has made great strides and seems more confident each week. Translating our lessons to daily life has been a challenge, but walks are gradually becoming easier and less stressful (for both of us!). This weekend, we also had visitors over for a few days and carefully managed his time out and about with them, but mostly offered him space and distance. It was definitely hard work for him to keep it together for 3 days, but he did it, and did it well! He had this big happy face after they left, like he knew it was a big deal what he’d accomplished, and like he was grateful to us for keeping him safe.

What are some of his favorite things to do?

 As I mentioned, he LOVES the soccer ball and is like my little Pele. He fetches it and delights in when we kick the ball across a wide open space for him to chase after. The dog park is one of his favorite places to be. He also enjoys tug and playing with squeaky toys, and chasing (or being chased by) his doggie brother around the living room. At home he is a giant couch potato and snuggle buddy. He loves to sit beside us on the couch and put his head in my lap while I read, or while we watch TV together.
Balton the Brave

Does he share the house with other pets?

 He does – a 16 lb Jack Russell Terrier who he looks up to as his “big brother” and two cats. He doesn’t entirely get that they are not also small dogs, and seems puzzled as to why they are unresponsive to his excited barks and play bows when he tries to initiate play. We continue to treat him for calm behavior around them, and also make sure the cats always have an oasis area from the big annoying dog.
He also graciously shares with an occasional overnight/weekend foster dog. For as wary as he is about human visitors, he loves having live in doggy playmates and acclimates incredibly well to their arrival!

What advice do you have for those who have dogs that are fearful of people?

 Learn to listen to what your dog is telling you, and work with a reward-based professional trainer who has experience in working with reactive dogs. Early on in our time together, I received some training advice that recommended the use of a choke chain and some traditional punishment based methods. We followed that guidance against my gut, because I felt desperate to help him and low on options. I also tried to force interactions in an effort to socialize him, rather than giving him the space he was so desperately asking for. I had all the best of intentions, but my efforts clearly broke down some of the trust Balton had already built in me. He became confused and hesitant to offer me basic behaviors he had learned, because he was afraid of if I might hurt him. I ultimately had to recover some ground to move forward.
I share this because it’s important for people to know that training is an unregulated field, and there are a number of people desperate to help their dogs who may be put in a place where inhumane methods are used to address a reactive behavior based in fear. I learned the hard way that these methods can truly devastate a fearful dog, and I’m grateful I shifted gears before I went too far.
Having said that, there are many trainers who have a working knowledge of positive reinforcement and dog-reactive dogs, but struggle in working with dogs who are reactive to humans, so it’s important not to just go with any positive trainer. You really have to feel like they will understand and help your dog as an individual. It was a blessing to find All About Dogs, because there are so many trainers who won’t give dogs like him a chance, or whose Reactive Dog classes simply state they aren’t for human-reactive dogs. All About Dogs answered a million questions and allowed me to observe a class before we went to train with them, and I knew we had found the right professional help to take us where we needed to go.
Do as much research as you need to to find the right learning environment for your dog, and recognize their fears are very real. It is our job as their caretakers to protect them, look out for them, and make sure they know we are keeping them safe. Suzanne Clothier’s two-hour seminar about Arousal, Anxiety, and Fear helped me to understand that and start asking my dog the ever important question, “How is this for you?” What I learned in those two hours served as a turning point for me in understanding and empathizing with Balton, and I recommend it to anyone who is facing similar issues. It can be downloaded at
Balton and the soccer ball

Anything else you would like to share about yourself, Balton or Lucky Dog? 

I feel like perhaps I’ve overshared already! But I am chronicling our continued journey together at my blog, Faith Trust, and Foster Pups (, and its Facebook page (
Balton playing nurse

Many thanks to Balton and his mom for sharing his story. If you would like to follow his progress you can visit him on Facebook or on the Blog.  Photos were used with permission and belong solely to Balton and Miss Lynn.,

This article is a part of the Happy Tails theme.

Happy Tails: Meet Tater

How old are you?

9 months young!

Where did your name come from?

The fosters husband and youngest daughter called him Tate/ Tater so my family decided to call me Tater Tot!

I see you were adopted from MARS what is that?

It is a rescue in Minnesota, Mars stands for Midwest Animal Rescue and Services

What do you think of your new family?

I love them very much! I love getting treats and new toys!!

Were your parents looking for a pittie?

My littlest human,who’s 14 years old was set on having Pit. She has been wanting one since October, when she first learned about the breed.

What advice would they first time pittie owners?

Always us positive training methods, never physical. My humans hired what they thought was a really good trainer, they had read a lot about him and the reviews all said he was the best of the best. After 3 weeks we decided to fire him because he was too physical with me. Every time someone tried to pet me I would duck my head. After about a week of not having him I then learned no one is going to hurt me when they would go pet me. It wasn’t my humans fault, trainers should never be as rough and as physical as him. They didn’t know it was going to be like that until after they hired him.

Do you have any fur siblings?

Yes! I have 2 cat siblings that I love and would never hurt!

Have you learned any tricks so far?

I have, I know sit, down, shake, switch, high five, roll over, over (for agility), jump, wait (working on it), come, rest, leave it (still working on it), bang (play dead) still working on it)

What are your thoughts on BSL?

I don’t agree with it, nor do my humans. Taking the dog away itself is not the solution to what they think is a problem. If they are so untrusting of the breed they should require all owners, even responsible ones to go to workshops, training classes the city would pay for, ect. Also what I think every shelter should should do before they adopt out and vets should do at every check up is a temperament test, with all breeds! That would keep every community safer, because sadly people either train their pets to be aggressive or love them too much to give them to a place that is experienced with his or her needs and train the owners how to handle the dogs issues.

How are you working to fight it?

My human just went to her first Anti BSL peaceful protest this past weekend to learn how we can help. Also we are educating people about “Pit Bulls”.

What plans to you have for the future?

I am in an obedience class right now and train with my little human during the day. We have hurdles that we do if its not to hot out and I will be starting an agility class soon. I will be a service dog for my little human in the future

What would you like to say to people who are scared of pitties?

If you are scared of them because something happened to personally with a pit, try not to have anger, fear or blame to every pit you see, being afraid won’t get you anywhere in life. If you are scared of them because of things you have heard , don’t be. I bet you have met dogs that are one of the “Pit Bull” breeds and you haven’t realized it. Just give them a chance!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just always remember to ask the handler if you can pet their dog before you do! 🙂
Many thanks to Tater for the interview, photos were used with permission. Please visit Tater on his facebook page here

To skip to other “Opt to Adopt” Articles link the below link.  The image was made by the wonderfully talented Miss Ann of Pawsitively Pets.