Friday, November 23, 2012

I'm an Animal Abuser? What?

Did you know I'm an animal abuser?  Yeah, I didn't realize it either.  See my dogs are well loved members of my family.  They share my bed, my couch, and heck even my computer chair.  They get a good quality food 2 times a day and even some human food sometimes as a treat.  They just today both just got nice HUGE dog beds to replace the cheaper beds they had, they get walks, get to play all day long, and get to spend the evenings curls up on the couch with me watching TV.

I can hear you now "But that isn't animal abuse!"  and you are right, it's not.  In fact it's a life that every animal lover wishes every dog could live.

Lately there's been a huge outcry online from "Animal Rights Activist" against a sport called Weight Pulling, which if you ever followed this blog you know that I have done this sport with Nubs and plan on it with Peanut in the near future (hopefully).  Now people who have never been to a weight pull only see's what photos show and not the whole picture.

See if you know about weight pull, then feel free to skip over this area, if you don't know anything about the sport or want to know some more about it, then please continue on!

See there are 3 different things you pull on when it comes to weight pulling:


Max Pulled on a Sled(  
Natural Snow Surface: 1,500lbs by both an Alaskan Malamute and an American Bulldog (
Artificial Snow Surface: 2,630lbs by a Mastiff

The sled is the hardest thing to pull on.  After just a hundred lbs, the sled can be quite hard to move depending on snow pack and how much the sled starts to sink into it.  It's not uncommon for just a few hundred lbs to be what dogs top out on.  



Max pulled on a Cart (
Natural Surface: 5,395lbs by an English Mastiff
Artificial Surface: 5,002 by an English Mastiff

Now a cart pull is the middle difficulty.   Realistically this gives you a good idea on what a dog could do out on a farm helping to cart something back for a farmer.



Maxed Pulled on a Rail (NWDA):
12,270lbs by Bart an American Bulldog

This is the EASIEST track to pull (Think how a railroad car can tow a ton more weight then a Semi-truck without too much effort on the engine) on so you get bigger weights pulled on it.  Rails are well greased to help make it easier for dogs to pull.  This same dog might not even pull 1,000lbs on a sled but here pulls 12 times that with the same amount of effort.  So while it sounds more impressive to say "my dog pulled a little over 12,000lbs!" It's not that much of a stretch when you compare each of the three side by side.

If you'd like to learn more about Weight Pulling check out my article on Dogforums: Everything you Wanted to Know About Weight Pulling

Now when people see photos like this:

They scream "ABUSE" because they believe dogs are forced to do this work which it's actually impossible to do and that it's just too heavy for the dogs to pull safely.  See you aren't allowed to touch your dog once they start the pull.  You can get in their face, you can act like you are going to grab their collar, but in the long run, if a dog doesn't want to do the work it's not going to and there's no way to get them too.   Now remember when I was talking just up a bit about how 6,000lbs on a cart system isn't as heavy as it seems?  This is the case.  There's no way a dog could pull this amount of weight on a cart, it's just too much.  But on a rail system?  This is just not getting heavy for these dogs.  The bricks make it look worse then it actually is.

Here's a video of a friends dog who didn't really care for pulling.  At home he LOVED to pull but once he was at a show, just didn't care to do it.  

Howie passed away this past year.  Run Free Howie. 

Here is another example on how a dog can tell you "No" and you have to talk them into it.  If the dog decides "nope" then there's nothing you can really dog about it.  Your dog has to make up their own mind.  This is Ryker pulling 3,747lbs.  You can tell it's heavy but not too bad, he's still pulling it at a quick pace.  

And here is my own Nubs out practicing with a drag sled.  No leash, nothing like that, just me calling him (annoyingly) and nothing more.  

Another thing people like to point out "What about injuries?!?!? You are going to hurt your dog!"

Well, of course you can hurt your dog, heck your dog can get hurt just jumping off of your very own couch.  You don't throw a dog out there and expect him to pull 5000lbs on a cart, yes you could hurt your dog doing that (and well, it's unlikely that is even possible your dog could do it).  You condition your dog and teach your dog to pull correctly to avoid injuries.  Slingshoting is something that needs to be avoided (where a dog will run back toward the cart then fling him self as fast and hard as he can toward the front of the cart to get it to move).  You also want to always have your Vet check your dog for Hip, Knee, and Elbow issues since precondition injuries or genetic issues will make it more likely for your dog to get hurt.

The most common injuries?  Pulled or sore muscles, torn nails, broken nails, and torn pads.  In fact pulling weights can help dogs with hip and knee issues as it strengthens the muscles around the dogs joints. 

One other thing I hear is "Put a harness on the humans and let them pull it!"  Watch those vidoes again.  See those people in the back ground right behind the carts?  They are the "cart helpers" which help load the weights on the cart, stop the cart to make sure that the dogs are SAFE from sudden stops and at the end of the pulls, then the cart help PULLS the cart back to the start line.  So yes we humans have to pull that cart more often then our dogs do.  

So I'm not asking you to ever love weight pulling, I really don't care if you like the sport or not.  What I am asking you is to STOP CALLING US ANIMAL ABUSERS!  This is NOT animal abuse.  We do not harm our dogs at all doing this sport.  I got into the sport because the bond between owner and dog was amazing for me.  Animal abusers do not care about their animals well being.  We do care about our dog's well being, in fact we care about it so much many of us are on a first name bases with our vets (I feel like I've paid for my Vets daughter's new car here recently).  

I am NOT an animal abuser.  I love my dogs, and I'd do anything for them.  Just because I give them a nice outlet for their pulling energy doesn't mean I'm being cruel to them.  Is there too much?  Yes there is.  Are there people who push it too much? Yes there are.  Do I associate with them? NOPE. They know how I feel about them.  So please don't label everyone in one group.  There are only a very small percentage of people who do actually take things too far.  I am not one of those people.  I hope someone learns something from this post and now that I have typers cramp...

Good night from the Nut House!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Late Halloween Post

Two post in one night?  WOW I know, shocking but I had to post this CUTE photo from the SPCA of Southwest Michigan's Dog-O-Ween event.
Peanut halloween

She was the perfect Pit Bull ambassador at the event.  It's events like that where you can see all the time and effort I put into her really well.  She loves being the center of attention, even giving kisses to anyone she can. She's turning into a great dog.  Can't ask for much better!

Peanut First Win!

On Saturday Nov. 3rd, Mid Union Sled Haulers (MUSH) held a fun event out at our local state park.  After going back and forth on it, I was talked into taking Peanut out for the bikejoring race.  Every time I've tried to do bikejoring with her, I've been scared to death of it because Peanut is a very powerful dog that LOVES to pull and pull FAST, dart across the path where I almost ran her over, and dart after anything that catches her eye.  In other words, it's very dangerous.  I normally only do it on a scooter, which is low to the ground and a lot safer.  I decided to try it anyways.

I made it to the event at 9am, we started our run at 10 am.  This was my first time running on a path, we've only done urban and NEVER with other dogs around.  I had no clue what to expect from Peanut.  We were biker number 4 out of 6.  I harnessed Peanut up, put on my helmet, and got to the starting line.  Then we took off on the 2 1/2 mile course.

At first Peanut was unsure, we had two canicross runners coming at us and Peanut just couldn't understand what to do.  It took us a few mins to get back on track and off we went.
Pull Peanut

After we got going, I could hear biker number 5 right behind me, so I pulled over and let him go past.  After that Peanut seemed to get the idea of what she was going to do and pulled and ran like a champ!  At the 1.10mile mark one of the bike runners had a spill and the guy I was following had issues with his dog passing the spill (the person was just fine).  I yelled at Peanut to "on by" and SHE DID!  We were gone.  She was Haw and Geeing like a PRO!  I was so proud of her.  It's like she knew what she was doing.  At the 1 1/2 mile mark, things took a turn for the worse.  We were going up a small hill, and I was peddling when MY CHAIN CAME OFF!  For the last mile, I was under Peanut power, there was nothing I could do.  

Peanut was a pro by this time, and was running like a champ.  We came up on another team (biker #3 with 2 dogs) and stayed behind them until we crossed the finish line.  Peanut was WONDERFUL!  We finished in 18mins and 22 seconds and we took THIRD PLACE!  
Peanut won

Very proud of my little girl.  This was her first win ever, so from thinking we'd not even finish to taking third place, I couldn't be prouder of my little hellhound.