Monday, February 18, 2008

Be More

Tonight, I was in the parking lot of my housing complex practicing with Oscar on his obedience (we're working on making heel look more "formally trained" and less "two drunks losing a three-legged race"). After a few minutes, one of the feral children came running up and (in a demonstration of the only evidence that she actually has caretakers) asked if she could pet Oscar. Well, not really, cuz we're training, but he's now wiggling so much the heel is out the window, so sure. So as she's petting him and he's generally making a fool of himself kissing and wiggling at the little person, I notice three dark figures circling one of the units further down the street. After a second, I realize that the dark figures are wearing badges and guns. And making those gestures that I've only previously seen on Law & Order that clearly mean "you go that way and cover the exit, Smitty's gonna go left, and I'll cover the front". I chose to end Oscar's training/snogging and get him inside, very grateful that they had seen my pit bull doing training and cheerfully nuzzling a small child.

About two months ago, not too far from here, police shot and killed a boxer in its owner's yard. The dog barked at them when they tried to enter the abode. The police had the wrong house - they were off by something like two doors. I understand a police officer has to keep him/herself safe (my husband is in law enforcement, I really, honestly do get it). But I'll be damned if my dog is going to be the victim of someone else's mistake because he warns them not to trespass on his mommy.

Anyway, it's stories like that boxer's that bring me to an explanation of why I've been so busy lately.

A few months ago - October, maybe? - one of my doggy friends (that is, friend from the doggy world, not that she herself is a canine) said she felt the need to do something about the causes of BSL (at the time, legislation was proposed that would have forced me to either give up Oscar - NOT going to happen - or move - not financially possible). Erin wanted to know if we could take a page out of BADRAP's book and make some differences in the way the Baltimore area looks at pitbulls.

So we did. A group of women - all pit bull owners, all responsible, legally sound women - got together to make a difference. We have officially formed a Maryland State Corporation, are in the process of filing for non-profit status, have by-laws and officers (I'm secretary) and are going to make a difference to make it a safer place for us to have our dogs.

We call ourselves "B-More DOG" - which stands for the Baltimore Dog Owners Guild - and our mission is to teach dog owners to be more - be more responsible, be more safe, be MORE.

We'll go to community centers and schools and teach children how to behave properly around dogs. We'll provide opportunities to learn the most basic training all the way up to the most advanced, competition levels. We'll help connect people to vet services and teach them how to keep their dogs healthy. We're targeting areas that are "pitbull" dense, but not excluding any breed of dog.

As you can tell, this is so exciting and inspiring to me. The way Oscar has changed my life is inexpressible - how he's saved me in the past four years of living with him, how he's opened my heart, given me courage, made me laugh in the darkest times... and now I have the opportunity to do something to repay him that will last - he's like a raindrop in the ocean, causing this amazing ripple.

And that's why there's been less blogging, and more dog stuff when there is blogging. The starts of a non-profit are a little all-consuming. And I am honored to be a part of it.

Also honored am I to be friends with that woman who had the idea to begin with (watch how I deftly turn this back to knitting). Her birthday was about a week ago, and she spent it in the emergency vet with one of her dogs. Not a fun day. So I sat down and decided to make her a little something to soften the blow.

A doggy hat in neutral colors based on the "dogs" pattern from Anna Zilboorg's Simply Socks (love that book) - two simple stitches made it hearts instead of triangles.

The brim is a garter slip-stitch, wrong-side out.

(and the top view, cuz I like how things come together like that)

Anyway, of course I'll still talk knitting and spinning here, because that's who I am, but who I am is also someone who loves animals - as I said to my husband when we first brought Oscar into our home "you knew this is who I was when you married me" - so you're probably going to be hearing more about B-More DOG along the way. I hope you'll be interested, or at least read with an open mind, and help me make a bright change in a dark world.


Blogger dragon knitter said...

i've always hated breed-specific legislation. i think it's like telling us that everybody in x neighborhood needs to be black, and y neighborhood needs to be hispanic, and z neighborhood needs to be white.

i used to have a friend who fell on hard times, and lost her kids. the humane society also took her dogs. unfortunately, both dogs fell under the no-adoption policy (one was a pitbull, and the other was a rescued rotweiler), and while i'm not certain, i do believe both dogs were put down, for no other reason than their owner couldn't take care of them. i had known the pitbull (his name was poppet!) since he was a pup, and a more gentle, sweet dog you'd have never known. i used to walk him for her when i was in the situation, and he was aj oy. it makes me weep to know that he's gone because of someone's carelessness.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Mia said...

Kudos to you lady! I wish there were more like you. Our pitbull Kane is the love of our life. He lets the cats bully him,and he loves kids. His only fault is that at 100 lbs he tends to forget how big he is. He swears he's a tea cup yorkie and has been known to knock a person down when trying to show affection. Love the hat by the way!

12:22 AM  
Blogger Agnes said...

This is great! I don't mind more doggy stuff at all! :D
One recent news that excited me was the rehabilitation of those fights dogs formerly owned by the football player ... most of them made great improvement and some are actually starting to sleep with their trainers. Hopefully they would all be fit for living with normal families.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Bess said...

Bring on the dogs. You gotta know I love 'em all. I wish there were more bad dog owner legislation instead.

Woops. better not go there - but you know, 'cause I have 3 dropped off dogs of my own.

Proud of ya, gal.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Javajem said...

I'm glad you guys are all ok - that is soooo scary! Did they get the guy they were after?

The hat look great by the way! missed you last night! I hope you're feeling better!

7:15 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

I object! This is a knitting blog and how dare you clutter it up with dog stuff? I certainly would never... Oh, wait....never mind.

Seriously, bring on the dog stuff, I think that group sounds like a fantastic idea and I can't wait to hear the stories. Your group is a fantastic idea and I hope it catches on - catch the kids while they are young and make informed dog-people out of them and maybe you can get ahead of the "bad dog" image of pit bulls and help start a younger generation of responsible pet owners. I hate breed-specific legislation too, it's a quick, unthinking fix to a problem and unfair to the majority of dogs and owners.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Tapsalteerie said...

Don't feel bad about changing it up. It's your blog, do what you want with it. I got some flak from a few peeps when my blog started focusing on adoption, now I get flak that it's going back to being about life in general... I find it hysterically funny!

I had a feeling you were doing something dog related and I'm glad to see it's such a worthwhile cause! I'll look forward to reading more about it :)

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking on this important Baltimore City issue. We need to protect bulls from fear and ignorance and it sounds like you have the concept close to your heart.

Tom Berger
Pretentious Pooch
Baltimore Dog Store
1017 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

12:48 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Amie, more dog pictures, please, in addition to the dog words. ; )
I think it's great that you are taking positive steps. So many people just complain.
I do love your knitting and spinning, so please don't give that up.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amie, you may (or may not) remember me from the KR Retreats. I support your fight against breed specific legislation, and came across this very informative post on on the same issue. Knowing you, you already have the links in that post, but just in case, I thought I would let you know about it/them. Best wishes, Kendra

7:32 PM  

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