Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SociaBulls: Walking with a Dog Who Won't Walk


One thing we love about our SociaBulls group is hearing the stories of so many dedicated owners and watching their pups evolve. Medgar is one special pup with a very dedicated dad who has been helping him get over his fear of....everything. While his dad was originally looking for a running buddy, newly adopted Medgar spent the first 4 months of his life refusing to walk outside his apartment. This 50 lb pup even had to be carried on his first few SociaBulls walks. And he was so petrified of the world around him, it took over half a year for him to wag his tail.
Here is the story of how dedicated his family (including his cat!) were helping him get over his fears, learning to walk, and even the ironic outcome of learning to wag his tail.
We are so happy to have Medgar, Blue and his people as part of our SociaBulls family. 
PS. Yes, we were all were clapping for you!

Pitbulls are the new Ponies
I was going to get a pit bull and name her Tulip.  She was going to be the most outgoing, fun-loving, and sociable dog on the planet.  She would be the perfect pit bull ambassabor.  She’d pick up newborn babies in her mouth and gently drop them in their crib, unscathed.  Thinking about planning an extravagant birthday for your spoiled young daughter? - Tulip would be there, saddled up and ready to make the birthday girl’s every wish come true.  Forget pony rides.  Tulip would introduce the world to Pitbull Rides.  She’d put ponies out of business.  Tulip would make pitbulls the new ponies.

When I was ready to find Tulip, I Googled: “weimaraner pit bull.”  You see, in addition to Tulip’s talents of gently carrying human babies and giving birthday pitbull rides, she was also going to be my running buddy.  The weimaraner in her would guide me on my long distance marathon training runs, and the pitbull in her would push me during my track and tempo runs.  I’d never seen or even heard of such a thing of a weimaraner pit bull mix, so I was expecting my initial search for Tulip to come up empty.

But then I found Medgar. One Tail at a Time had rescued Medgar from a shelter on the South Side of Chicago.  I immediately put in an application and was lucky enough to meet him at Parker’s in Hyde Park that very same day, which happened to be the day before my first Chicago Marathon.  I had found my running buddy.  I had found my Tulip.

32 Stairs
Medgar refused to walk outside the first 4 months I had him, and living in the city without a yard and with a dog, this was a huge problem.  He was scared of the entire world- noises, people, dogs, and inanimate objects.  As soon as I would get his leash to go outside, he would start shaking uncontrollably and tuck his tail between his legs as far as it could go.   He refused to budge even an inch and he wasn’t treat motivated.  I tried hot dogs, chicken, and cheese- he refused to eat anything.   So for the first couple months we lived together, every time he had to go out, I picked him up like a sack of potatoes and carried him like a baby, down 3 flights of stairs and onto the only patch of grass he felt was suitable to do his business.  As soon as he finished his outdoor chores, he sprinted as fast as he could to the entrance of my building. 

After a couple months of experiencing what it would be like to tote around a 54 pound baby, we both decided that it was time to do the normal dog-human thing- you know, I get the leash and attach it to his collar and then I walk on my two legs and Medgar on his four.  There were 14 stairs from my apartment to the second floor; 12 stairs from the second floor to the first; and 6 from the first floor to the street.  32 stairs, 1 dog, 1 human and our task was to get to the street without me carrying him. 

I’m a terribly impatient person.  Medgar didn’t really care.  I soon learned that most things in life with him would go step-by-step, stair-by-stair.  I’d sit a couple of stairs below him and try to coax him towards me.  Despite my upbeat urgings, Medgar would continue to shake uncontrollably, as if he had just sat naked through 4 quarters at Soldier Field in late January.  Eventually, he would compose himself, stop shaking, and take the most timid step you have ever seen.  1 stair down, 31 to go.  We followed this same pattern for the next 31 stairs, until we eventually got outside. 

The whole process took about 30 minutes.   And besides walking about 1 sidewalk square to do his business, he would refuse to walk a step further away from the apartment.  So we would sit on the porch and take it all in- people, dogs, the Red Line, and CTA buses (Medgar’s mortal enemy, especially when they stop to lower the bus to let passengers on, letting out a hiss).  All the while Medgar would shake and shake and shake.  He refused to make eye contact with me and was completely overwhelmed by everything in the outside world.  You could put a filet mignon in front of him and he wouldn’t even bother to look at it or smell it.


Medgar the Cat
Inside, it was a bit of a different story.  When he laid eyes on my 2 year old kitty Catuli, he knew he had met his life partner.  Medgar is completely obsessed with her to the point where she would have filed for a restraining order if she were capable.  Medgar would never take his eyes of her.  As soon as Catuli entered a room, Medgar was right behind with his nose in her butt.  If he ever lost sight of Catuli when she scampered under a couch, he would whine uncontrollably until she reappeared. 

At first 7 pound Catuli didn’t take well to having a 54 pound pitbull as her shadow, as evidenced by the ever present scratch marks on Medgar’s snout for the first months I had him. Now though, Catuli walks around proud with Medgar behind her, knowing she holds some sort of spell over him.  All the “Leave Its” in the world can’t distract Medgar from her.  We’re convinced that Catuli is some sort of deity that Medgar feels called to follow.  We’re also convinced that Medgar is part pitbull-weimaraner-feline, based on the way he slinks around sneakily like his idol Catuli.
Medgar’s other comfort is my girlfriend Kirsten’s dog Blue.  Kirsten adopted 3 month old Blue about a month before I got Medgar.  The two have become inseparable and can often be found cuddling in bed.  Blue is directly responsible for giving Medgar the confidence to walk outside for the very first time.  To this day, Medgar will put up a fight to go outside unless Blue, Kirsten, and I are all walking out the door with him.

Using your Cat to Walk your Dog

We tried over the counter calming medications in the form of liquid drops and pills.  We tried the Thundershirt.  We tried prescription Prozac.  Name an anti-anxiety treatment for dogs- we tried it and it didn’t work.  The poor guy is so fearful that when he would accidentally knock his tags against his metal bowl to make a loud clink, he would refuse to eat from his bowl, or any bowl for that matter for the next several days.  He would only eat his meals from my hands.

I tried many out of the box tactics to entice Medgar to walk.  Given his affinity for Catuli as described above, I decided to use her as motivation to walk.  With Medgar in one hand and Catuli in her carrying case in the other hand, I thought I had found the perfect solution.  I didn’t care how crazy it looked to take my cat with me every time I had to walk my dog, Medgar needed the exercise and I lived yardless in the city.  Walking on leash was the only way Medgar could get his exercise.  Dog in one hand, cat in the other, we embarked on what I thought would be Medgar’s first walk.  One step down, two steps down, and that was it.  He completely pancaked and started shaking uncontrollably.  His goddess Catuli couldn’t even conjure up in him the courage to walk.

I’ve learned not to take for granted things humans normally do with their canine companions.  Like, for example, walking them on a leash and then walking to the nearest garbage to throw away their waste.  After doing his business, Medgar refused to walk anywhere away from home, including to the garbage can.  Which meant I had to take him outside, pick up his poo, take Medgar back inside, and then go back outside to throw away the bag.  This was just another exercise in patience Medgar had decided to impose on his terribly impatient human.

Eventually, we got Medgar to walk the ¼ block to the nearest garbage can.  As soon as he heard the garbage can lid close, he would attempt to bolt home.  So I figured we could try another unorthodox game to get him to walk.  Before I took Medgar out, I walked to the garbage can and moved it a foot further. I went back to get Medgar, and we started walking.  He stopped exactly where the garbage can originally sat, right down to the sidewalk crack, refusing to move the extra foot.

He Walks!

I vividly remember the first day that Medgar walked on a leash outside.  It was a snowy February afternoon and Kirsten, Blue and I needed to walk to the local pet store in Wrigleyville.  It had been 4 months since I adopted Medgar, and we decided that today we weren’t going to give him a choice: he was going to walk with us.  I did the normal routine- coaxed him down the stairs to the spot outside the door to do his business.  Soon after finishing, he attempted to bolt for the door like usual.  I held my ground, not allowing him to move an inch, and he started shaking uncontrollably like normal.

I tried baiting him to walk with us, but as he’d done for the past 4 months, he refused to move even an inch.  At this point, we would usually wait him out for 10 minutes, and then eventually head inside feeling defeated, as he would still refuse to walk any distance from the apartment.  Today was different.  Kirsten had had enough.  She took the leash from me, barked a stern “Let’s go!”, tugged his martingale, and we were off.  Medgar was walking for the first time ever.  And I had nothing to do with it.  Of course he would walk for the first time without me holding the leash.  We went about 2 miles that day.  When we got home, we were certain that we had cured Medgar.

Seriously

As soon as Medgar began to walk, he developed severe leash reactivity towards dogs and select humans.  This reactivity was especially frustrating, since he never presented any signs of it during his time with One Tail and during the first couple months that he lived with me.  In fact, One Tail had brought them along to all their adoption events, because although he was very shy, he was definitely dog and people friendly. 

Now, Medgar would lunge and bark fiercely at the very same dogs (and humans) that he would barely even care to look at as he sat shaking on my porch during the stage where he refused to walk.  Medgar now had enough confidence to walk, but he was still so intensely petrified of the world that his anxiety manifested itself as leash reactivity. 

We scheduled countless home visits with trainer Emily Stoddard and enrolled Medgar in her 6-week leash reactivity class, which equipped us with many tools to manage Medgar’s reactivity.  Leaving my Cubbie blue passion behind for the sake of another love, we moved to Woodlawn to provide a better training environment for Medgar, away from the dog and human density of Wrigleyville.  As would become the general rule of thumb for Medgar’s behavior, improvements came slowly, step-by-step. 

Medgar Meets Sociabulls

The first walk we went on was a complete nightmare.  I practically had to tackle Medgar the entire walk he was so worked up and reactive.  He barked fiercely and lunged at other dogs and people. Due to Medgar’s multiple moods and personalities, the 2nd walk was the complete opposite- I had to carry him in my arms most of the way when he refused to walk.  The walks were physically and mentally draining.  I kept coming back because everyone in the group was incredibly supportive and provided a space for Medgar to feel comfortable while working through his issues.

One experience in particular demonstrates the incredible positivity and good vibes of Sociabulls that eventually made their way into Medgar’s brain waves.  We were at the back of the pack and Medgar, as usual, began shaking uncontrollably in fear and stopped walking completely about 5 minutes into the walk.  I did not have the mental or physical energy to continue on with him that day, so we decided to call it quits and come back next week.  I was sitting next to Medgar on the grass as he worked through one of his episodes, when a few minutes letter E and Mr. B came trotting back. 

Mr. B tried attempted to get Medgar to notice him, when finally Medgar let out a reactive bark.  A few minutes later Medgar and Mr. B were walking side-by-side on their way to catching up with the group.  We caught the group during a water break, and as they saw us approaching they began to cheer and clap for Medgar.  Or at least I imagined that they did- handling Medgar on those first few walks were just a blur.  But I’m pretty sure it happened.  We should have plenty of witnesses.  After that standing ovation, I knew Medgar and I had found a permanent home. 

A Leash Reactive Pitbull Ambassador

After having Medgar for about a year, it was clear Medgar would not be the perfect pitbull amabassador I had imagined in Tulip.  He’s not kid, people, or dog friendly.  While we do everything we can to minimize his reactions, we can’t prevent them all.  Whenever he as a terrible reaction in public, my heart sinks, knowing that he’s living up to the negative pitbull stereotypes held by onlookers.

As a pitbull type dog owner, I feel extra pressure for Medgar and I to be perfect, so as to not reinforce the negative image of pitbulls painted by the mainstream media. A Halti head collar offers the best control for a dog that is leash reactive.  I avoided using one for the longest time with Medgar, because if you aren’t a dog trainer or your dog doesn’t use a head collar, you probably think it’s a muzzle, especially if you see it on a pitbull.  I’ve seen other breeds use the headcollar, but on Medgar’s walks I constantly have people asking me why he’s muzzled.  The Halti is not a muzzle at all and doesn’t serve the same function.  The Halti is a training tool to stop your dog from pulling and to quickly distract him and pull his gaze towards you if he locks in on another dog, squirrel, person, etc.  I often want to tell annoying people who ask why he’s muzzled, “It’s actually not a muzzle at all, he can take a good chunk out of you if he wanted.”  But we’re good breed ambassadors, so I just say it in my head.

Eventually, I decided that addressing Medgar’s behavioral issues were more important than maintaining his public image.  Like many other breeds, Medgar is leash reactive.  And like many other owners of reactive dogs, I need to do what’s best to address his issues, even if wearing a headcollar means he might be reinforcing stereotypes in the minds of passerbyers.  Pitbulls aren’t inherently leash reactive in the same way that tiny white lap dogs aren’t leash reactive.  Although, based on participatory observation research on the streets of Chicago, I’d say leash reactive small breeds vastly outnumber leash reactive larger breeds.

The bottom line is Medgar is not perfect, pitbulls are not perfect.  But people forget that pitbulls are dogs too, after all, and dogs aren’t perfect either.  There are poodles that are not kid friendly- my sister has an old scar on her cheek to prove it.  There are labs, vizlas, and collies that are leash reactive- Medgar has sparred with them all. There are beagles, pugs, and retrievers that are not people friendly- I’ve seen their stories on Animal Planet.  All different types of dogs have all different types of issues, Medgar just happens to be a pitbull. 

While Medgar might not be a good pitbull ambassador in the traditional sense of the word, there is no doubt he’s done a lot for his breed.  As is well documented above, when Medgar refuses to walk, I have to carry him like a baby.  There have literally been hundreds of people on the streets of Chicago that have witnessed me carrying a terrified, shaking pitbull.  That surely shatters the stereotype of pitbulls being dog and people aggressive.  While carrying Medgar, I’ve had this exact conversation with pedestrians more than I can count:

“Is that a pitbull?”

“Yes, he sure is!”

“Why is he shaking and why are you caring him?”

“He’s scared and doesn’t like to walk.”

“What??!?!?! Pitbulls aren’t suppose to be scared!”

I then proceed to share a bit of Medgar’s story.   

Inside the house, Medgar is a perfectly fine ambassador.  After spending an entire labor day weekend as a guest in our apartment and effectively serving as Medgar's Tootsie Pop (we had a lick count but eventually lost track) my friend remarked as she wiped one last smooch from her skin, "I'm glad my first experience with a pitbull was with Medgar."

I grew up with a dog.  His name was Sparky, a 15 pound apricot toy poodle that my parents purchased from a local breeder.  I was fortunate to have many animals growing up, from Sparky to cats, guinea pigs, turtles, hamsters, and fish.  My parents were animal lovers, but they weren't the rescue animal type.  And they most definitely weren't the pitbull type.  When I was fostering Medgar, I checked with my parents to see if they would be willing to watch him if I was out of town for short periods of time.  "A pitbull?!?! I'm not letting a pitbull in my house.  What if your father isn't home? I can't be alone with that thing?" 

I adopted Medgar anyway, knowing his good lucks would win my parents over.  This past summer was the summer of weddings for Kirsten and I.  We were out of town for 4 weekends.  During those four weekends, my parents flooded my inbox with pictures of Medgar and the following captions.  "Look, I made Meddy scrambled eggs for breakfast." What about the carefully measured portions of dog food I gave you mom?  Now I'll be picking up soft serve the next 3 days.  "Look, Meddy is on the couch cuddling with your father."  You don't even let your cats on the couch, mom!  "Look, Meddy has another feline friend besides Catuli."  My parents are counting down the days until our trip to Peru, when they'll have Medgar for a full 2 weeks.  I love the random call or text from my parents saying, "You know if you ever need a break you can bring Medgar over to stay the night."

When you add it all up, Medgar's done a hell of a lot more good than bad for pitbulls, proving that even a human and dog unfriendly pitbull can be a great ambassador for the breed.


Happy Tail

Medgar has a white tip of fur at the end of his tail.  One day after coming home from work, I let him out of his room and he bounded down the hallway as he normally does, whipping his tail around and sniffing to find a clue to answer his eternal, burning question: where have you been all day?

As I bent down to pet him and receive his breathtaking smooches, I noticed that the entire tip of his tail, normally white, was completely soaked in blood.  I called his vet and took him in a few hours later.  His vet, who knows Medgar pretty well, examined his tail and chuckled.  He explained to me that Medgar had a case of Happy Tail.  When dogs get so overly excited and happy, they wag their tail with so much torque that when it hits something (a wall, dresser, etc), it sometimes splits open.  Medgar had to have surgery the next day to remove a small growth from the tip of his tail that kept splitting open.  He wore a heavily padded bandage on the length of his tail for about 2 weeks that made him look like a stegosaurus. 

You could tell Medgar viewed his tail bandage as a dunce cap or scarlet letter of sorts.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t be prouder.  Medgar had happy tail.  I adopted Medgar in November 2011.  The first time wagged his tail was May 2012.  He was so petrified of the world around him it took him over half a year to finally wag his tail. I even have a picture of when it happened for the first time outside!
When I returned from the vet after Medgar’s diagnosis of Happy Tail, I noticed that blood was spattered on the wall throughout our entire hallway, and on every bedroom and bathroom door. The blood pattern was located exactly at the height of Medgar’s tail.  I grabbed a rag and some soap.  I don’t think anyone on this planet has ever been happier to scrub blood spatters off their walls.
“Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows.  From that day on if I was going somewhere, I was running!”

Medgar was finally walking.  Now it was time for him to run.  While Medgar would now walk outside away from home, he still refused to run with us away from home (even if it was the same route we took walking.) So we started running in his safety bubble, which we determined to be the 4 sidewalk squares outside our apartment where he would walk before beginning to shake uncontrollably.  We would run back and forth, 10 ft at a time, sidewalk square to sidewalk square.  People looked at us like we were crazy, but Medgar was running!

This past week, for the first time since I adopted him 1 year ago, Medgar and I went for a walk or run for a week straight, seven days in a row, all by ourselves.  Medgar loves to run and walk by the lake- the water is calming to him, especially early in the morning.  In fact, he loves the water so much, that he has to be as close to it as possible without actually touching it.  Rather than run on the smooth lake front path, he pulls me toward the rocky shoreline, where I’m sure one day I’ll sprain my ankle.  But it makes Medgar happy, so I’m happy too.

After we finish a run together, I look down at him and think about how we got here.  We got here going step-by-step.  It some times took us 30 minutes to get down 32 STEPS at an apartment in Wrigleyville. Now, in that very same 30 minutes, we can run 4 miles along Lake Michigan on the South Side of Chicago.  And we get to actually cover some ground on our runs, as opposed to running back and forth on 10 feet of sidewalk.  Thank you to everyone that has played a part in a journey that really is just beginning.  Your Canine Good Citizenship is up next, right Medgar?

Credits

There are so many people to thank that have helped Medgar along the way.  First, thanks to One Tail at a Time for rescuing a petrified pitbull puppy from a local animal shelter.  Medgar wouldn’t be a part of my life if it weren’t for you all.  Thanks to Emily Stoddard from My Canine Sports for all the hard work you’ve done with Medgar.  I think we eventually figured him out! Maybe?  Thanks to Blue for being Medgar’s cuddle buddy, playmate, and the only canine friend he is allowed to touch.  Thank to Catuli, our cat, for being Medgar’s entertainment and eye candy in the house.  Lastly, thank you to the entire Sociabulls family.  Medgar would not have been able to walk outside if it weren’t for you all.

Mostly importantly, thank you to my girlfriend Kirsten for being by my (and Medgar’s) side throughout the entire way.  You’ve gone through countless hours of training with Medgar, had many the unpleasant experience of reaching into your coat pocket to find 2 week old, rotting hot dog and cheese pieces, and have had to watch Medgar learn his bite inhibition by “practicing” with your dog Blue.  You also agreed to break your lease and move to the South Side so that Medgar could live in a quieter environment.  You’ve been the most supportive partner I could ask for in dealing with the most frustrating and stress inducing dog on the planet (even though we both know he’s worth it!)

 Medgar didn’t get his perfect owner in me, and I didn’t get my ideal dog in Medgar. Since he’s part feline, he’d prefer a human that sat on the couch all day and stroked his head gently.  He’d prefer never to have to step outside the four walls of his home, but since he must, he’d prefer a quiet place in the country, where he had a fence and didn’t have to ever be introduced to a leash.  He’d prefer an animal sanctuary, where every day is the same.

Instead Medgar got an owner who is as equally stubborn as him, and who’s an avid runner that lives in one of the most densely populated cities in the country.  He got loud noises, thousands of enemy dogs, hissing CTA buses, rattling CTA trains, no fenced in green spaces, and a choir of heavy machinery in Chicago’s never ending construction season. 

Medgar’s a far cry from Tulip the pitbull that I had always dreamed of as my companion.  And as I’m sure Medgar would tell you as I wake him from bed every morning to strap on his leash for a walk or run, I’m not exactly his ideal human. Despite our differences and thanks to an incredible web of support that surrounds us, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better team.  Thanks, Meddy boy, for not being Tulip. 

42 comments:

empathylacuna said...

Great story and really well told! I know how great the feeling is to overcome a challenge with your dog and it's awesome you put the time in to get those moments of triumph together with Medgar. Looking forward to continuing updates of progress!

Amy Jo said...

Tears of joy! Such a great story and one that I needed to read this morning. I too, have to learn to be more patient with my pittie girl. She will do things on her own schedule and not when Mama wants her to. Even if it takes more than 6 months to see progress...Way to go Medgar!

Debbie said...

Oh what an adventure. Kudos to you sir for your perserverance and dedication and stubborness and loyalty to Medgar. The victories are sooo much sweeter with dogs like Medgar. Best tail wag in the world.

Harper said...

What an incredibly well-written and inspiring story. Medgar is so incredibly lucky to have his owner who is so committed! What an enjoyable post to read.

Regina Hart said...

Thank you so much for sharing Medgar's story. He is a lucky, lucky little guy to have found you. Happy tail wags from Otto, anotherless-than-perfect-but-very-much-loved pitbull ambassador.

Diane said...

Wonderful post, loved learning about the beautiful handsome Medgar. A try story of compromise and making the hard decisions for the good of our canine companions and the big payoff it provides! Loved it.

Sarah said...

My husband and I also have a reactive put bull, so I really appreciate your story. thank you for acknowledging that even a pit bull that doesn't like other dogs and some people can still be a good breed ambassador.

Thank you for sharing your story and good luck with everything in the future.

SherBear said...

What a wonderful story!! Nala uses a Gentle Leader at home in Wrigleyville as she is occasionally leash reactive (although much rarer now thanks to SociaBulls) - I don't get the muzzle question very often as she has a red one which matches her collar, leash and coat "color scheme". Perhaps a different color would work for you too? A and I were discussing this on Saturday actually - Sirius Republic should make some come fancy head-harnesses so we can all avoid the dreaded muzzle question!!

Sara @ LiteraryLima said...

Good for them for sticking it out! It must have been so rewarding to watch him wag his tail for the first time! We used a Halti with Cash at first, and experienced the same thing, "why is that dog muzzled?" We worried we would encourage people to be afraid of him, but soon realized the type of person who is afraid of a pit bull type dog will be afraid regardless of whether or not they're muzzled. So forget 'em!

Kiira said...

What an inspiring post. I've seen Medgar with Blue on recent Sociabulls walks (both perfectly behaved) and would never have guessed the story behind it all. Your dedication is amazing. Thanks for sharing!

Andrea Joy said...

Thank you for sharing this! What a wonderful story. Our Beau didn't walk with us for over a month, and we didn't see him wag his tail for 3 months. Even still he sometimes "puts on the brakes" with my husband. I wouldn't trade it for the world, though; the bond you form with a dog who trusts you unconditionally is second to none. Obviously that's the case with Medgar and his Dad!

I think Medgar should start his own blog!

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

What dedication! Medgar's parents are incredible and provide perspective and inspiration to all of us working with behaviorally challenged dogs.

Trissi_V said...


Medgar is a beautiful, sensitive, awesome, cat loving dog. I think we all hope for Tullip, but in the end can you really create a great bond with the perfect dog. The challenges make us (both human and pup) stronger, love harder, and enjoy the small victories just a bit more (one step at a time). :-)

Irina said...

Incredible story, I'm so touched by it.
What a dedicated, loyal and strong owner, every dog would be lucky to have you.
While reading this I teared up a number of times, snorted with laughter and smiled endlessly at the monitor, all while sitting in my cube - yes, my co-workers already know i'm the crazy pit bull lady.
Thank you, thank you for sharing this.

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

This is such a beautiful story (and so well-written!). I distinctly remember that day when Medgar wouldn't walk and Danny had been carrying him for a really long time and it was 80(+) degrees... and then we saw him walking with E and Mr. B by his side. That was an incredible moment! Thank you to Medgar's whole family (human, canine, and feline) for sticking with him. You guys inspire me!

Kinsley said...

Such an amazing story! I have a pittie that tests my patience outside our house, but I believe you often get what you need, not what you want, and like your boy Medgar, my girl Izzy teaches me lessons daily. We went through 5 training classes and FINALLY got her CGC. Medgar is well on his way! I love reading/hearing about people that are so committed to helping an animal heal from whatever trauma or problems that have happened in the past. So not only bravo and lots of clapping for Medgar, but for you and Kirsten and the rest of your pack!

Pitlandia Pooch said...

Wow! This is such a beautiful story. I read the entire thing with tears in my eyes. It's so amazing that Medgar has such an amazing human who has supported him through so much. I thought I was a patient dog owner, but Medgar's owner sure beats me out! Waiting 30 minutes to walk down stairs to go outside would drive me crazy.

Thanks for sharing this. I saw so much of myself and Athena in the story. It was a great reminder that even though some things might be slow to overcome (mouthiness, fear of people, excitement around other dogs, etc.), it will be well worth the wait!

Christine said...

Thanks for sharing!! Medgar and Blue are beautiful pooches and their parents are an inspiration. Hurray for this wonderful family.

Andrea said...

What a great story! It was very touching and highly moving. Thank you so much for sharing this!

livierules said...

What a wonderful story! And I beg to differ with the author as he has exhibited tremendous patience with a dog many people wouldn't have taken a second look at, let alone adopt! Medgar's person you are truly a saint!

c.creativity said...

Wow, what a wonderful story! Thanks for having the patience to work with Medgar--I'm thrilled to hear it's paid off! I'm glad that you found him and he found you--imperfect matches like these help us grow so much.

Two French Bulldogs said...

We love this post cause my Lily won't walk!
Benny & Lily

Rebelwerewolf said...

What a moving story! I admire your hard work and perseverance, as well as Medgar's bravery. I'm going to keep this story bookmarked and pull it out on days when my dogs grind on my nerves. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for not giving up on Medgar.

Tasha the Triathlon Goddess said...

What a beautiful story. Sniffle....

K-Koira said...

What a story. I have a fraidy-dog as well, and could totally relate to the mention of the city bus being his arch nemesis, as Koira is terrified of buses and trucks, especially if they have air brakes or make the sound of puffing air when lowering down.

Soma Pradhan said...

I love this story and this sweet sweet boy!!!

Kim @ Yellow Brick Home said...

This just made my whole night. Thank you so much for sharing this story! I laughed, I cried... GO MEDGAR!

Kim @ Yellow Brick Home said...

This just made my whole night. Thank you so much for sharing this story! I laughed, I cried... GO MEDGAR!

Lisa Marie said...

WOW! I'm so thankful that I read the whole story. What a HUGE blessing! Way to go Medgar! You have the most loving owner! Thank you for the sweet, afternoon, happy tear story! May you both continue to grow together! ;)

caitlin said...

This was so wonderful to read! I remember meeting you and your girlfriend with Blue at an OTAT event earlier this fall up in Lincoln Square and you guys were so sweet. Glad to hear the rest of the story! -caitlin, volunteer coordinator for OTAT

Morroje said...

I echo everyone else that this is an absolutely amazing story but I must correct you n saying Medgar is not an ambassador. I truly think that the majority of dogs of all breeds have issues but only the lucky ones ( like Medgar) have humans with the compassion to work through them. And it is that human and dog (plus cat) combo that really makes an ambassador. Much love and understanding from a family that is 10+ years into life with fearful rescues who test our patience but somehow keep winning our hearts

harrispen said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing story and good luck to Medgar and his family as they continue their journey.

Cindy

Mina Bey said...

You, sir, are an inspiration. If there were more people like you, then our shelters would not be overflowing. Thank you for sharing your story.

jet said...

That is a perfect case of 'you don't get the dog you want, you get the dog you need'! He has taught you a lot, and you have made each other better people, I am certain of it.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, it's inspiring! I am always proud of my greyhound because she went from not wanting to walk to pestering me for her walk at the same time every evening, so in a small way I understand what you went through :)

neodebs said...

Had similar issues with my Italian greyhound chihuahu mix. Hated being outside and would jump from fear of wind, a leaf rolling on the floor, plastic bags, his leash, sandals slapping on the floor, cars driving too fast, other dogs and especially screaming children. He'll be one this Friday and after having him for 8 months he's much better but still needs a bit more progress. It's not easy for impatient people but I wouldn't change him to any other pup! I love my Tito boy!

Debra@Peaceabull said...

What an incredible journey. I started reading this last night and was interrupted but wanted to make sure I read it all. Having such an extensive support network is just ...well, incredible. Kudos to you and Medgar for coming so far.

Cecilia said...

I seriously got all teary eyed reading Med's story. Being a pit bull owner and rescuer I know how hard it can be for new pet owners to deal with dogs that have issues. Your story is inspiring, many people would have given up on Medgar, but I'm so glad you and your GF did not. THANK YOU for sticking by him and helping him overcome some of his issues and understanding his limitations. You guys are awesome.

waldobungie said...

Love love lovvvvvvve this story! Medgar's dad is a great writer - maybe Medgar needs a blog?!

Laura and Hans said...

What a lucky,lucky dog. That's all I can say.

My Two Pitties said...

Great story! I know what he means when he said he did not get the dog he was dreaming of and you end up loving them more because of that. It's awesome that he realized that there can be many different ways to be an embassadog:) I converted my parents to pit bull lovers too!


Kaya used to refuse to eat and it would help her if the cat would eat out of her bowl with her:)

Dizzying Thoughts said...

To Medgar's Human,

You truly are an amazing dog owner. Lots of people would have "exchanged" him. I rescued my dog who I thought was calm, quiet and the perfect apartment dog. Little did I know he was on deaths doorstep. Less than 24 hours after we adopted him we were told he may not make it through the night. After he got healthy we realized he had a TON of energy and an apartment was WAY too small for him. Needless to say, "I play with the cards I'm dealt" just like you. I hope you and Medgar have MANY happy years together.

Amie Martin said...

I am SOOOO glad I came across your story. I too have a Medgar, but his name is Buster Brown! He is not, nor ever will be my running partner as I do not run. However, I am working on him to get him to walk properly on a leash so I can just take him for a walk. He used do the walking on a leash just perfectly until he had an incident 3 weeks after I brought him from rescue. I found out the hard way that he didn't care for little dogs; rather 2 particular little dogs. After that moment he has acted ridicoulus on a leash and we are working from square one to get him to be "good" on a leash.

I too want my Buster to be a Breed Ambassador, but for now I will take just walking on the leash like a normal dog so I don't have to justify me trying to help my dog be a dog regardless of his breed!

So far I have spent a great deal of money for a rescue dog I took in on a trial. Mind you, he came from the rescue I volunteer with. People would call me insane for spending what I have so far on him, but he is my family and I want him to succeed. He succeeds, I succeed. I want to proudly one day take Buster in public and say "World, this is Buster!"

I love Pit Bulls and never have nor ever will be prejudice against any breed. All animals need humans, and we need them!

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