How to find an apartment with your reactive dog: A somewhat practical guide

Folks I am back. Likely more regularly or I will face the wrath of Jersey’s stink eye

Sitting on a sidewalk trying to look urban cool

Sitting on a sidewalk trying to look urban cool

For any of you who have the pleasure of living in a densely populated urban area you likely understand the “joys” of finding a place to live. In the city I live in with the paycheque I bring home my choices are pretty much apartment buildings or basement. My choices might expand if I were willing to have roomates but I am a crabby hermit so not a sacrifice I am willing to make. Living in the basement of someone’s home has some advantages; you can cultivate a more personal relationship with the landlord especially if they  are living there and you have less triggers than in a place crammed with other dogs and people. I tried this route but I got tired of mold,  floods, mice and suffered from the lack of sunlight. .  When I decided that I couldn’t handle basements anymore I started looking for a new place. Ideally I want to live in a place that is dog friendly but where they are on leash and preferably not on my floor. Really I just want somewhere only dog friendly to me but where people aren’t constantly hating on me for having a dog.

1. Check out the building perimeter: I went to a few places where they gushed how dog friendly they were. The lawn was FULL of offleash dogs. Everywhere. I had nightmares for weeks of being rushed by dogs every time I entered and exited the building

2.  Location of unit: I live at the end off he hall over the laundry room so there is no one below me to complain about dogs running around and there are few people passing by my door. Less neighbors also=less opportunity for neighbors with dogs

3. Proximity of neighbor dogs: I cross my fingers every moving day that none of my neighbors move out/get a dog/someone moves in with a dog. Ask if the neighbors have dogs and decide what you can handle. Further down the hall would be fine but having a dog super close next door was rough

4. Entering and exiting the building: Jersey is terrified of elevators and the idea of being crammed in a elevator with other dogs is a problem that even whip cream and chocolate can’t solve. You don’t necessarily need to take the elevator but make sure their is a set of stairs you can access. PLUS you will get super toned legs if you choose to live on a high floor

5. The hood: Take a walk around the block. Are the majority of dogs off leash or on? Any alleyways you can take a turn down to avoid sticky situations? Any convenience stores to buy chocolate, whipped cream or ice cream? Any liquor stores nearby?

6. Give up and live in a cardboard box in the middle of an island

Toronto urban oasis

Toronto urban oasis

Happy apartment hunting fellow ninjas!

Peanut butter from a jar shit day


Today was a shit day.

Like eat peanut butter out of a jar shitty.The DOGS PEANUT BUTTER jar (note to self: label human vs dog jars). Yum kong.

See picture for Jersey’s stink eye for eating HER peanut butter. Also note the sheep skin rug.jerseychillaxin

I was all ready to make my stunning blogging come back with a witty blog about surviving apartment living with a feisty fido and to wax poetic about coping with reactivity. I had the most disgustingly cute pictures to post of my new wrinkly (but smelly) sharpei x but instead. Face. To. Palm. x 100000000

It involved an offleash dog (while offleash-then on-then off again kind of like a psycho merry-go-round), me firmly telling a woman that her dog needed to be KEPT leashed as it was the law, gobs of cheese shoved into dogs faces, being told my dog has issues and is a monster and, after finally escaping the situation, having the woman and (now leashed) dog return and accost me and yell garbled things that I could no longer hear as I tried to escape and the light refused to change. Best of all she stood close enough so our dogs were almost nose to nose. Bonus!

It involved me wanting to move to a yurt in the middle of nowhere (but with a real functioning toilet that flushes, running water and electricity that doesn’t involve primitive lanterns).

When rational thoughts quick in I know that my dog isn’t a bad or dangerous dog. She is a dog that turned her head away and focused on me when we saw the dog, she is a dog who sniffed for treats when I gave her the cue and she is a dog who politely went off as far as possible to the side. Jersey is a dog who did her very best not to react but that was pushed too far and did let a few snarls and barks emerge. She is also a dog who with some help calmed down fairly quickly afterwards.

But I am a glass half empty type of person and really like peanut butter (the jar not used for double dipping kong filling knives is preferred) so even though my day isn’t as shit as I thought I will use it as an excuse to eat peanut butter anyways. I’ll need the extra protein for energy anyways; I am going to have to start getting up earlier to avoid this ladies walking route.

Also I LIED presenting a picture of my smelly but cute new sharpei x HIYA. Note that I do not dress up my dogs but do like to adorn and accessorize them with Ikea rugs


Pit bull attacked by human scores foster home with Bullies In Need!

Human attacks pit bull in broad daylight

A few weeks ago a pit bull type dog was attacked by a human who viciously beat and attempted to eat her. The attack occurred in broad daylight and the assailant was known to the victim; he was her owner.

The complete story:

I will just pause to let you absorb that (despite the fact that this is not an uncommon occurence).If your reaction was anything like mine it was one of extreme shock that something so horrible could happen to an innocent dog. It  was an attack that garnered some media attention, especially in the area it happened, but not a tremendous amount outside of that community. Would it have been any different had the roles been reversed? I definitely have some thoughts on that but for now let’s focus on the fact that this girl has lucked out by landing with Bullies In Need (BIN), a rescue based in Ontario, Canada!

“Thank goodness I landed with BIN so they can put some meat on these skinny bones of mine!”

A new beginning with BIN

This beautiful bully has been named “Streets” after one of her rescuer’s who cared for her. Not one to hold a grudge, Streets has left her old life behind and is busy living it up (in style in one her donated pink coat) in a loving BIN foster home. Rumor has it that she is spoiled rotten by her foster mama and likes to sleep on as many pillows and dog beds as possible for maximum comfort, play with toys and romp in leaves. Streets not only adores all humans but also get’s along with cats and dogs as well. The best news? Once she settles into foster care and has her medical needs looked after she will be available for ADOPTION to a home outside Ontario

“Woo hoo..not only an awesome new life but a fabulous coat to match too!”

So many people have helped out with both Streets rescue as well as her entry into BIN by providing donations of soft beds and jackets to keep this skinny girl warm but also by donating and fostering. Mad props to ya’ll!

Streets still needs your help and some surprise additions…

While Streets has scored big by landing with BIN and is blossoming in foster care, she is currently still recovering not only from her injuries sustained in the attack (she has visible human bite marks on her skin which is more disturbing to us humans than Streets herself) but also from a not-so-wonderful past; it is clear she recently had puppies and she is very thin. She is progressing nicely but does require ongoing veterinary care, spaying and vaccinations along with extra nutrients to help fatten her up to an optimal weight. Unfortunately this all comes at a cost…

Streets says “goodbye hard life HELLO good life!”

Oh ya and shortly after Streets arrived  two of her puppies also joined the BIN family in foster care and if any more are located they too will have a safe spot to land in foster!

Despite Streets and fam’s best efforts cuteness still does not pay for spays/neuters, vaccines, food or veterinary care. If they did Street and her wee family would have already payed for all these expenses two or three times over!

“Are those all the people donating to help me out?”

This is where YOU (yes you and you as well and yep you over there too): BIN is in desperate need of funds to help with these expenses. Keep in mind that EVERY little bit helps..even something as simple as foregoing coffee for a week and donating the profits to BIN (or if you really NEED coffee feel free to think of another way to donate). There are several ways you can help:

Come on folks let’s turn Streets and her puppies sad beginning into a happy ending!

One hit wonder?

Dear fellow ninjas, aspiring ninjas, future ninjas and empathetic non-ninjas,

You know when you put a bunch of stuff in the blender and inadvertently leave the top off and the stuff  explodes  and sprays all over your walls (I still can’t get the pumpkin off my walls after a “blender” accident!)? This is what happened to my blog. I sat down and wrote it without much though because it is such a big part of my life and suddenly it went viral and started exploding all over the internet.

Jersey poses..she can’t believe how famous she is and the fame has gone straight to her head!

This may be the most famous I ever get; an anonymous blogger post spreading over the internet. Don’t worry I haven’t let it go to my head and the paparazzi have left me alone so far .I have even kept my day job and continue to go about my regular routine. I just wanted to give a shout out and high five to all the people who shared on facebook and twitter and left comments. Not only do I feel way more popular than I ever have before but I have read each and every comment and am truly touched by everyone’s stories. I am a bit embarrassed I didn’t spell check before posting but no one has lambasted me for it so it’s all good.

Jersey says “Read the sign and leash your dogs Bozo’s!”

Another aspect of my blog going viral is the “haters.” The response has been overwhelmingly positive and most people seem to “get” that my post was meant to be tongue and cheek rather than a serious behavioural guide…I am sure that was pretty explicit. Well, apparently not. I got some comments in my inbox stating that I need to “train my dog” to like other dogs and that if I wasn’t so dang nervous my dog would be a regular social butterfly cavorting at local dog parks. I really wish reactivity was that simple but as someone who has lived and studied it let me tell you it is NOT.Because I think people with reactive dog’s are already judged harshly enough I made the executive decision to simply delete any negative comments on my blog. Censorship and dictatorship is fun!

Jersey is the prettiest girl I ever did see

Now the bad news; I may be a bit of a one hit wonder. The purpose of this blog is humble; to talk about the dogs I foster for the Ontario, Canada based rescue Bullies In Need. My reactive girl Jersey does make appearances but her and her reactivity aren’t the main focus. I doubt I will ever replicate the success of my reactivity post but I do always try to inject whatever I write with humour and fun.



How to live with a dog-reactive dog and not lose your shit: An (im)practical guide

Many moons ago when I envisioned owning a dog I dreamed of taking my fictional dog to offleash parks for endless romps, lots of play-dates and generally a lot of problem and stress free dog-dog interactions. Then I got Jersey and this view abruptly changed. Offleash parks are not a part of my life and I honestly don’t even want to know what goes on in them. Every dog-dog greeting is carefully managed and controlled. I meticulously plan my walking routes based on likelihood of running into other dogs and ability to escape. I completely avoid any areas where offleash dogs congregate (meaning any piece of grass in Toronto)  even if it means I am walking next to roaring traffic.Jersey has made some great strides in her behavior around dogs but it is still a work in progress

Jersey says “leash your damn dog”

I won’t lie my life can be more difficult and complicated because of Jersey’s reactivity with other dogs. I have both cried in anger and despair and spent many hours worrying over her. But I would not change it for the world. NEVER. Jersey has forced me to become a  far better dog owner than I would have been otherwise. In my attempts to help Jersey I have been forced to educate myself on not only aggression but dog behavior in general and get involved in training.  To put things in perspective, if not for Jersey I might just be that person with their dog on an endless 100ft flexi lead cruising around the neighborhood and judging everyone with reactive dogs while simultaneously letting my dog get in there dogs grill. Plus I happen to think Jersey is absolutely fabulous.

Jersey get’s serious about dealing with her dog-dog reactivity

I am not going to outline a practical guide on how to deal with your dog’s reactivy as I will leave that up to the expert dog trainers. For that you can check out Grisha Stewart’s “Behavioral Adjustment Therapy”, anything by Jean Donaldson (“Fight” is her one specifically on dog aggression) or Emma Parson’s book “Click to calm”. Oh and it goes without saying that if you find yourself dealing with dog-dog reactivy (or any other serious issue) get yourselves into the hands of a qualified trainer. I am beyond serious. Do it.

What I am going to provide you with are my top ten tips on how to live with a dog-reactive dog and maintain some sanity (mostly through laughter).

How to survive dog-reactive dog ownership and keep your sanity

1.Embrace sunrises. I have experienced countless sunrises and moments of serenity and peace in a busy city by getting up to walk/run Jersey at the crack of dawn before other dog owners awake. If I weren’t for Jersey’s dog rectivity I would be pressing snooze and out dodging all the other 9 to 5’ers walking their dogs pre-work. Wow I should write for hallmark.

2. Pretend you are a ninja. Leaving my apartment is an elaborate operation. Put Jersey behind me. Peer out peep hole. Open door a crack and crane neck to make sure dog next door is contained in the apartment. Emerge. Beat a hasty retreat to building exit. Now a decision on which door to exit by. Peer out front door and make sure french bulldog is not out….etc etc. On my walks I scan for Jersey’s arch enemies the reactive German Shepherd and the staring Akita. I can sense their presence even at a distance and without seeing them. My reflexes and 6th sense are better than ever. I am a dog-aggression-avoiding ninja. All of this is less stressful when you imagine yourself as a stealthy ninja. Try it.

3. Cry but don’t hit. It is not okay to hit your dog for being reactive but it is okay to cry, ask whhhhyyyy and point your hands skyward in the general direction of some type of god. Don’t lie. You have done it.

4.  Laugh at all the awkward moments. The other day I was talking to a gentleman from my neighborhood while out with Jersey. A dog appeared around the corner and I literally just darted away mid sentence without another word to the man. I have not seen this man since.

5. Get used to the smell of liver/your treat of choice. Carry them everywhere you go with your dog.They are your new best friend. Embrace them.There will be emergency situations where these treats will save your ass. Make sure to treat yourself to.Chocolate and alcohol generally do the trick (make sure you wash your hands first though)

6. Find other people with reactive dogs. Get together.Without your reactive rovers of course. RANT about how ridiculous dog owners in your neighborhood are. Laugh. Laugh more. Swap stories on dog reactivity.Reactive dog ownership can be a lonely world find others who understand

7. Think of all the funny places you end up in trying to avoid triggers. I have dove inside a bush, found myself far up somebody’s private driveway practically on their front step, hidden behind a pillar and crouched behind a low wall-all to avoid running into dogs.. Where have you ended up hidding from oncoming canines?

8. Sing to your dog. I have a neighbor with a very reactive dog who screams and spins like a top (the dog not the man).It never stops and I swear he is stalking me because I can never seem to escape him on walks. When I am becoming twitchy and irritated by him I sing a variety of songs to Jersey. The other day I sang “that’s alright..that’s okay..she’s gonna pump your gas someday” through clenched teeth and a forced smile.It helped. Dance parties in the living room are also a great way to unwind from a stressful walk (solo or in partnership with your dog).

9. Love and acceptance. Love your dog  when they progress and love them still when they turn into snarling whiling dervishes. Never ever take any positive dog interactions for granted and savor (and reward) these moments. Accept your dog for who they are and set realistic goals.Jersey will never be a social butterfly but she is learning to make better choices when she see’s dogs on the street rather than lunging or barking.

10. When all else fails=whipped cream. Right out of the can. Repeat again and again as needed.

Bing the British Columbian

Ladies and gentlemen Bing the pit bull has left the building, the city and the PROVINCE of Ontario to begin his new life.

I’ve known since the day I began fostering him that I could not keep Bing. I reminded myself over and over again for the entire 6 months he stayed with me that Ontario’s Breed Specific Legislation prohibited him from being here and that I was just a temporary pit stop before he continued on to a new (and legal) life in a new province. When he snuggled in my bed with his head on my pillow, when he sprawled out next to me on the couch and when he lay on his dog bed next to Jersey on hers like he had always been here and this was his home, I reminded him that this was temporary.

I told people that even if he could stay I would not keep him. When people asked me how I could ever let him leave I brushed them off and acted all tough like I gave up amazing pit bull’s all the time and this was no biggie. But as the day for him to fly out to BC approached I realized that I was not the progeny of Chuck Norris and had indeed fallen head over heels in love with Bing and that if there was no law prohibiting him he probably would have stayed. Lucky for Bing’s new family the only illegal thing I do is jaywalk.

As I came to terms with the fact that Bing was going to the west coast I decided that I needed to stop crying in the corner over his departure and instead launch into action to prepare him for his upcoming journey to British Columbia.

I made sure to acclimatize him to a rain jacket and even rushed out to walk him (much to Mr. Delicate’s HORROR) when I saw it was raining to get him used to the weather in British Columbia

Bing getting ready for the rainy weather in British Columbia

Bing gets ready for the ESPECIALLY rainy weather in BC by putting the hood up

I sat him down for a serious chat and explained that things would be changing and that even though I loved him very very much he couldn’t stay with me and was going to go on an exciting plane ride and when he landed he would have a new foster home where he would not need to wear his muzzle.

Bing listening intently to my lecture

Bing landed in British Columbia on Sunday and from all reports all of his travels to and from the airport and during his flight were vomit free (guess he just saved that for me and the back of my parents car?). He is now in a wonderful foster home with the pit bull rescue group HugABull based in BC

I will let you be the judge of how he is settling in to his new foster home (thank you to his new foster mamma Tiffany for the pictures)

Bing’s new foster takes better quality pics than I did🙂

Wow he is looking SUPER miserable in his new foster home right?😉

If there is a bed to lay on Bing will find it..whether in Ontario or BC

Bing is enduring a lot of hardship’s in his new foster having a picture taken when he is CLEARLY taking a nap

Yep Bing is living the hard life in BC

Cheers to you Mr. Fat Head Bing you are so very missed. Please remember all the manner’s and obedience you’ve learned and enjoy the beautiful West Coast. Whoever is lucky enough to adopt you has hit the jackpot because you are one special guy.

P.S: Just because Bing is gone don’t think the blog is too…a new “bull in the city” will be featured soon!

Bull in a new city

This week Bing has been on VACATION visiting my parents and sister. He is in heaven here but he was not feeling too heavenly on the five-hour drive to my parents. Lucky me BOTH dogs are nervous in the car and want to sit on me for comfort

Bing and Jersey on my lap= so MUCH fun

Oh look an EMPTY seat right next to me and the two dogs on my knee. I am sure the car was tilting to one side with all three of us huddled on one side

WOW an empty seat

While Bing shows no fear on the subway, streetcar and bus he gets very nervous in the car and shakes, drools and looks very queasy so before we left on the long drive I gave him a gravol and withheld food. The good news is that Bing finally got off my lap.

Look Bing you can have your own SEAT and WINDOW

And Jersey looked very smug indeed at having won the ultimate prize-my lap

Jersey enjoying the view from my lap

I will save you the details but let’s just say that I am thankful we put a blanket down to cover the back seat. Poor Bing! Lesson learned always bring extra towels and paper towels when travelling with dogs.

After surviving the traumatic car ride Bing has been having the time of his life visiting my parents. He has been running from room to room astonished at all the beds, couches and chairs to curl up in (quite a change from my tiny apartment) and trying out every single one of them. He loves sniffing around the postage stamp sized backyard and trying to lick the BBQ (just to see if there are any left overs) on the deck. But his favorite part of my parent’s house is the big bay window

Bing in his bay window

One thing learned from observing Bing sitting in the window surveying the neighborhood is that Bing is NOT a guard dog. The other day I watched him see the mailman walk up our driveway and on to our step and drop the mail in the box with a clang and Bing did NOTHING. Not a growl or bark, no concerned looks and barely a raised eyebrow. He just sits there all day watching the world pass by.

Lest you think Bing-a-ling has spent his vacation lounging around in his bay window eating bon bon’s he has also put in lots of time pounding the pavement visiting various pet establishments. He made an appearance at the neighborhood dog-friendly cafe Wag and received lots of treats and attention. Later in the day he headed over to Critter Jungle pet store to pick up a snazzy new rain coat (complete with hood) and some treats. Today he headed over to Global Pet Foods on Wellington for a nail trim and some treats and got some more attention and treats from people working at and visiting the store (liver this time!). Sneaky Bing managed to slip a more expensive chew in his muzzle (how I don’t know) and started nibbling on it so he got a treat I hadn’t planned on buying. How could I get mad at him when he looked so proud of himself for nabbing a chew with his muzzle on?

In other news tomorrow is my last day with Bing before he leaves me to fly to British Columbia, Canada (after a brief stop over with some lovely BIN ladies) stay tuned for more details on this…