Pit bulls go to charm school
By Deborah Allard
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Jul 03, 2008 @ 09:47 PM
Last update Jul 03, 2008 @ 09:51 PM
Fall River —
Never mind the cat walk, pit bulls are taking center stage and gaining confidence and good manners in a training program that transforms problem pooches into model pets.
“Out of the Pits and Into the Ritz” Pit Bull Training Academy is not your average sit and stay class. Created by Susan Parker, owner of Dynamic Dog Training of West Warwick, R.I., the program, being instituted at Forever Paws in the city’s South End, has graduated several dogs.
And, better than that, these shelter dogs are now eligible for loving homes.
Nory, a black pit bull/Labrador mix, that's been living at Forever Paws for a year, will have a home to call his own upon graduation. The same goes for Hennesy, a red and white petite Pit; Eric, a brown and white Pit; and Uno, a ridge-back mix.
“Oh my God, the pits are getting adopted,” said Gail Furtado, president of the Forever Paws Board of Directors. “They’re more friendly and confident in themselves ... and in their
reactions with other animals and people.”
Each pit bull that goes through the training learns how to deal with other dogs, people, noises they might hear in public, and even baby carriages. It’s all to accustom the dog to what they might run into in normal life. It also teaches good manners, like the usual sit and stay.
“The big thing for us is we’re promoting responsible pit bull ownership,” said Parker. “They’re not vicious killers.”
Parker, who’s been a pit bull owner for many years and has worked with thousands of pit bulls, started the Academy three years ago.
“I always had an interest in training,” Parker said. “Then, I realized how (my program) was helping the dogs.”
Since then, she’s been branching out and offering the training program to animal shelters.
Parker, an American Canine Club evaluator, trains some 300 pit bulls per year and owns five herself. Graduates of her program receive their AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate.
Some of the pit bulls she’s trained have even gone on to be pet therapy dogs.
Melanie, a pit bull that lived at Forever Paws, was the first pit bull in Massachusetts to receive the award. She was adopted to a home three weeks ago.
Parker first got hooked on pit bulls when her 6-year-old son begged her to take a pit puppy home from a neighbor’s dog who’d had puppies.
Parker said she was skeptical and thought of the dogs as mean. But time proved her wrong. That was some 15 years ago.
“She was an excellent dog,” said Parker.
Parker said many people think of pit bulls as “throw away dogs.” Once they’re turned into shelters, many are “sitting on death row” because no one wants to adopt them.
But pit bulls are not as scary as people make them out to be. Their behaviors are learned from their owners, she said.
“Our dogs, you don’t see in the news,” Parker said. “I’ve had a 100 percent success rate.”
She recently won a contest and $5,000 for her copyrighted program from Petfinder.com and is now known nationally. She’s filming a segment for Animal Planet this weekend.
To learn more about the program, e-mail Parker at mypettherapydogs@.... To learn about dogs and cats available for adoption, visit Forever Paws at 300 Lynwood St. or call 508-677-9154.
http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x8337263 ... ws-forward
Bless the Bullys