A Day in the Life: Chunk Edition

Chunk here, back by popular demand.  The girl said there were lots of requests for my take on the day in the life post, so here it is – my full report on the riveting events of my Saturday.  Can’t keep my fans waiting!

8:00 AM  Someone keeps lifting up the covers and saying “I see you…” It’s the girl – she always wakes up too early on the weekend. Girl, I bury myself at the foot of the bed for a reason and it’s not because I know you love the view of my butthole.

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8:04 AM  Ugh, now she’s telling me to “Come here.” Seriously? We are sharing a bed – I cannot be any more “here” than I already am. Fine, fine, I army crawl my way up to where the pillows are to appease her. She hugs me too tight. I look to the boy for help but he just squeezes me from the other side. I make the wheezing noise so they back off.

8:09 AM  The girl is playing with my lips. Serenity now.

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The Truth About Chunk, Part 3

See here for Part 1 and here for Part 2 of Chunk’s story.

After the chance meeting on our block while walking Chunk, we met with Miguel and debriefed him on Chunk’s leash aggression. We mentioned the training experience we had with Kate and how it seemed to be largely ineffective. Miguel nodded while we spoke and I got the sense he was all too familiar with cases like ours, already knowing our story before we could get the words out. In contrast to Kate’s exclusive use of positive reinforcement, Miguel’s philosophy on dog training included both positive and negative reinforcement. Communicating positive feedback was still with the use of treats, but negative feedback required the use of a remote collar – more commonly referred to as a shock collar.

So I might get some flack for this on the internet, but I wasn’t against Miguel’s use of the remote collar and it mostly had to do with his professionalism and obvious love for dogs (pit bulls and rescues in particular). He explained to us that positive-only or negative-only training is an incomplete training method. A dog won’t learn desirable behavior if he isn’t rewarded, nor will he learn undesirable behavior if he isn’t reprimanded – and learning the difference between the two allows the dog to make a *choice*, not just react to external forces. Miguel termed this a more “complete” method of training and added that some dogs, for whatever reason (maybe past trauma or abuse), won’t respond to positive-only training. That doesn’t mean that these are bad dogs past the point of help or are undeserving of a second chance or are destined to live forever with fear and anxiety – it just means we need to figure out what works for them. He told us a story of how he had visited a shelter asking for the opportunity to rehab and train their most aggressive dogs, but was turned away when they found out he utilized a remote collar. The dogs were eventually put down. It struck a chord with me – that very well could have been Chunk’s fate.

On top of that logic, we had Bear’s success story as a glowing testimonial to Miguel’s training. From what he told us (and Bear’s owner corroborated), Bear was an even more extreme case of aggression than what he had seen of Chunk. I would have never guessed because every time I had seen Bear out and about in the neighborhood, he was basically a poster child for a well-behaved Rottweiler – adorable broad smile and prancing along like a show dog. Of the numerous times we had run in with him, I’d never seen him react to Chunk – not even a flinch, not even when Chunk was lunging and barking with bared teeth at him. Miguel told us that Bear still wears his remote collar on walks, but it had been many months since Miguel had to correct him with a stimulation.

Whatever hesitation we had with using the remote collar was far outweighed by the possibility of curing Chunk of his leash aggression and enabling him to socialize with other dogs, rather than “manage” the problem by avoidance and perpetuate his stress during our walks.

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The Truth About Chunk, Part 2

Click here for Part 1 of Chunk’s story. Now on to Part 2…

When you own a dog in the suburbs (as both Mr. S and I did growing up in NJ), the chore of walking the dog is a sporadic, when-you-have-the-time, optional event. The bathroom is a private fenced in yard, just on the other side of the back door – no human participation required. When you own a dog in the city, walking the dog is a necessity (unless you do that wee-wee pad thing, in which case, gross). The bathroom is every single tree and garbage bag, and the journey goes on and on until the highly anticipated #2 comes out. You find yourself trudging through rain, sleet, and snow saying, “YOU BETTER POOP ON THIS TREE BECAUSE I AM NOT CROSSING FIRST AVENUE.”

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Chunk wearing the Halti

I tell you all this because had we adopted Chunk into a sprawling suburban home with a six-foot privacy fenced-in backyard, maybe his leash aggression wouldn’t have been that big of a deal and maybe we wouldn’t have sought out training to correct it. But since we adopted him into our NYC studio, he was on a leash at least two or three times a day, crossing paths with many other Upper East Side dogs on the narrow sidewalks, and having varying degrees of meltdowns along the way.

Walking makes us tired.

Walking makes us tired.

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The Truth About Chunk, Part 1

Based on my Instagram feed, it’s very obvious that I am OBSESSED with our pit bull, Chunk. We’re going on two years now with this velvety loaf of wrinkly fur and though I can’t imagine life any other way, to say it was all sunshine and rainbows from the get go would be a half-truth. Yes, there was an instant connection when we first met him, but bringing Chunk home was a wake up call in what it meant to be a rescue adopter, a pit bull advocate, and just generally a responsible pet owner in the city. But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Chunk has quite the story prior to his adoption that I haven’t shared in detail here before and I want to start at the very beginning. (Usually I let beg Chunk to write his own posts, but I figured this is a touchy subject for him, so I told him I’d take this one. He said, “Fine, whatever.”)

“You blog, I’ll keep the bed warm.”

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The Chunk Chronicles: Part 1

Hey folks, the Chunkster here.  Just wanted to check in and introduce myself on this blog thing the girl is always rarely on.So far, so good in my new digs.  The girl is pretty nice, but the boy is way better.  He’s super awesome and we’re already best buds.  I think the girl is a little jealous so I throw her a few cuddles here and there, but I really love cuddling with the boy more because he lets me lick his lips.

The first few days were a little rough.  Everything smelled weird, so I had to sniff, sniff, sniff and pee, pee, pee on everything until it all smelled better.  The only tricky thing are the garbage bags, because they always smell different.  I cried a couple of times when the boy and girl left me alone in my crate, but I figured out pretty quick that they were coming back for me.  Plus, they leave me in the crate with some delicious peanut butter too, so you know, that helps.

The worst part about the boy and girl is that they don’t let me sleep on the bed.  On my first night I went up there to get comfy with them, but they kicked me off the bed.  WTF man, I’m cuddly, I’m cool, I’ll keep your feet warm…  On my next try, I got a little more stealthy and made it to the bench at the foot of their bed.  I thought it was a good compromise…you have your space, I have my space.  But again, the boy airlifted me off the bench onto the floor.  Dude, I wasn’t even on the bed, I was on the bench!  How rude!

Well, that’s all for now.  I believe another nap is calling my name.  Check ya later!

– The Chunkster

 

Chunkmaster Flex in da house!!

I’m sure not all of you believed me when I said wasn’t goingto do any wedding planning or wedding thinking for one whole week.  Maybe this will help convince you – we got a dog!!  I know, I know, the amount of life events going on in our apartment right now is insane.  Truthfully, we are a little more excited about the dog than the engagement.  My parents offered to throw us an engagement party in a few weeks and our response was, “But that’s the date of Chunk’s welcome party…”

Introducing Sir Chunkmaster Flex of Carnegie Hill.  You can call him Chunk for short.

So, we don’t have him at home yet, but are going to pick him up from his foster moms’ apartment this Friday – and we are SO EXCITED!  So, for all of you wondering how I was going to occupy my anti-wedding week, I will be doggy-preparing and doggy-proofing our apartment.  The checklist of getting ready for a new dog vs. planning a wedding is so much easier to wrap my head around.
After we lost Arkam to another adopter, we started looking for our future pup online.  It took longer than we thought it would because we were so heartbroken over losing Arkam.  We met a few other dogs, and while they were cute and well-behaved, the emotional connection was never there.  We finally found Chunk and are so happy we did because we think he’s the best dog ever.  Chunk was rescued from the AC&C by the Bully Project.  They’ve brought him back to health and put him in a loving foster home, where he has been for the past 2 months.  As soon as we saw his pictures online, we were in love – like stupid, goofy, giggling school-girl love.  After stalking Chunk online for 2 days, we arranged for a meet and greet at his foster moms’ apartment, hoping and praying that he was a good match for us – and turns out he is!  We’re told Chunk is great with people (I can verify this since as soon as we sat on the couch, he sat on my feet waiting to be hugged) and great with most dogs (he sometimes doesn’t get along with other large male dogs).  We will be able to continue Chunk’s training, teaching him to have better leash manners and to focus on us when we are out for walks, rather than all the trees, garbage bags, lamp posts, and other animals (who can blame him, I’m sure they all smell fantastic).  We are so grateful to the Bully Project and his fosters for rescuing and  taking such good care of Chunk, and showing him all the love they did. 

To answer the burning question, he is a 4 year old pitbull mix (looks like there could be some Lab in there, but we don’t know for sure).  Every time we tell this to family and friends, the immediate reaction is “Pitbull?!?  Oh no…”  
Oh yes.  And before you go bashing the breed and start judging us, we acknowledge the pitbull history and are aware that dog aggression is in their DNA.  However, Mr. S and I believe that every dog should be judged individually and that with proper socialization and the proper owner, pitbulls can be wonderful and devoted pets.  And after interacting with Chunk, we have no doubt that he will fit in right at home with us.  We are not claiming ignorance of the breed – we fully accept the responsibility of owning a pitbull, which includes disciplined training, careful and thoughtful interactions with other dogs, making sure Chunk is an outstanding member of the community (pick up that poop!), and hopefully educating the general public about the breed.  I don’t know if I’m ready for the prejudice against my new family member, but I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that nobody has a reason to not like him.  And, I mean, how could you not love this face?