Blog the Change for Animals: Shake-A-Paw is a Radical Act

Blog the Change

For the past couple days, I’ve been going back and forth about participating in today’s Blog the Change event. Not because I don’t care, please don’t accuse me of that. But I am tired. And angry. And feeling at a loss. There are so many wrongs in so many areas and I don’t feel like this platform is truly getting the message across. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can say that others haven’t already said much better.

Educating the public has never been one of my aims. It takes work and research and eight-letter words. I write a blog about my dog and my wee corner of the world. Whatever academic aspirations I had are now long behind me. Position papers and political debates are memories of the past. These days, I am lucky if I catch the evening news. I used to pride myself on being able to name all the prominent world leaders. Today, I might be able to come up with five.

Yesterday morning I took a long walk with Shiva. It was early for a Saturday and there weren’t many others around. I decided to risk it and wandered over to the less than savoury part of my neighbourhood. Right away we spotted a man heading in our direction, an energetic Am Staff by his side.

Cautious, but happy for a training opportunity, I continued forward. Typically, I will slow down when I see an approaching dog. I like to give the other person a chance to cross the street or duck out of the way. It also gives me a chance to observe from a distance. I could tell the dog was young; he was pulling on the leash but the person seemed unconcerned. As they moved closer I stepped to the side and had Shiva sit beside me, expecting the man and dog duo to pass. When they stopped as well, I took one look at the Am Staff’s large, goofy head and gave Shiva permission to say hello.

As the dogs went through the usual sniff-and-play-bow-and-sniff routine, the man and I chatted. Mostly about his dog.

Gunner, I learned, was his name. He was thirteen months old. He had been adopted from a local pit bull rescue as a puppy. The man was quick to boast about Gunner’s impressive roster of tricks. The pride in his voice was also reflected in his eyes. He was clearly head over heels in love with his dog.

After demonstrating Gunner’s waving skills, the man said goodbye and they went on their way. I watched them leave, unable to stop smiling.

If only all Am Staffs had owners like him, I thought. If only all those in favour of BSL could meet Gunner.

This evening, as I think about animal welfare and about being the change I want to see, I can’t get Gunner’s gorgeous brown face out of my head. It may be small, but the man I met by the side of the road is performing a radical act. He probably doesn’t realize it but by loving and working with his dog, he is taking steps to change the world for all other dogs like him.

I’ve been told by many much more brilliant than I, that it’s impossible to control anyone else’s actions. All I can do is change how I behave and hope that it inspires others to follow. Until now, it never seemed like enough. But perhaps I was wrong.

As the human of a crazy rescue dog who may or may not be an Am Staff, I like to think I have done something to make a difference. Things could have turned out a lot differently for Shiva if I hadn’t been as stubborn, or if I had decided to wait another week before adopting a dog. Shiva’s story is largely a success. I hope by helping her become a (relatively) well-mannered (almost) canine good neigbour, we have changed some minds of our own.

I guess I will never know.

For this blog the change, I would like to encourage you all to keep adoring and keep working with your dogs. Keep showing off all your amazing skills. Keep walking your dogs and playing at the dog park and posting your videos on Youtube. It may not seem like a lot, but you never know who’s heart you may touch or who’s mind you may change.

We can’t all run for political office or open our own shelter, but by training our dogs in positive ways, I think we can reach others. You never know who is watching.

19 thoughts on “Blog the Change for Animals: Shake-A-Paw is a Radical Act

  1. Great post. 🙂 I’ve been very impressed with the BTC diversity this year.

    DOING stuff is so much more powerful than talking about stuff. I was challenged about my blog the other day… I was proudly saying about the legislative changes I had made, and similar stuff, and my acquaintance as like, “But what is that going to do?”
    It was very humbling, and I must say… I have -done- some stuff now, instead of just talk about stuff that should be done.


  2. THIS is a Most Brilliant Blog the Change! I luved, luved, luved it! You know, I think the problems with humans is they think they have to do great BIG things. But I think if you wanna change the world, it’s lots better to do small things in a great way, don’t you? (I think I read that on Facebark.)

    Good job! (Click, treat)

    Wiggles & Wags,


  3. Aw that is sweet. I heeled my two boofers past a family with a little kid last night and the little kid, who appeared a bit scared of them at first said ‘they are NICE dogs’ once we got past. I have to admit that they are not always as good as that though… especially Barbie who sometimes tries to dart off and sneak a butt sniff once someone has walked past us!


  4. I am not participating this time because I couldn’t think of anything to write about so am feeling kind of lame. But your post is excellent, and it makes a very important point – that you never know who is watching. Something important to remember.


  5. Kristine you have such a way with words.
    I didn’t participate in Blog the Change this time, not because I forgot or because I didn’t care, but just like you said, I just feel like I don’t have anything to add to what so many other amazing bloggers have said and they said it better than I ever could have. Thank you for your encouraging post.


  6. My mom was a “rescue dog” from a high kill “shelter” – the people who rescued my mom didn’t know she was pregnant. My brother Owen and I are two of a litter of six. My forever mom and dad decided to adopt both of us because the rescue family said that we were so well paired together and my humans shrugged their shoulders and said okay and the rest is history. They look after me alot. I think that they’re pretty good parents too.


  7. I could not agree with you more! Good dog owners, especially good dog owners with dogs that are stereotypically owned by idiots, are changing the world and the way non-dog people see all of us. Awesome post Kristine…and to think, you weren’t going to post! I’m so glad you did.


  8. A tiny pearl of wisdom, worth a fortune in value – that is what your blog presents today:) I stand with you – each of us, every one of us, can do something marvelous and positive toward the future welfare of dogs, just by being who we are and what we do. No one should feel they couldn’t do a blog post today, because others have or will “do it” better — what you offer is priceless. Your love of your dog and concern for the misunderstood breeds warms my heart!
    And I so want to meet Gunner now 🙂

    Thank you for blogging and being the change for animals,
    Kim Thomas
    CindyLu’s Muse


  9. Years ago, we lived in a development with lots of little kids. I used to take Smokey to the mailbox with me- he was 65lb Pit/Lab mix, with brindle,black and white markings. Adults always looked at him nervously, but the kids were fascinated. So I would walk in their direction, have Smokey sit, and ask the parent if their child would like to pet him. (Smokey adored children.) The parents would give a nervous nod and 30 seconds later, as their child was giggling and getting kisses tell me what a handsome dog he was.
    I try to remember that in all my interactions with dogs. If I am out and about and see a Staffie or Pit, I will almost always go up to the owner and ask if I can pet their dog. I’ve gotten some funny looks (white woman walking up to a giant black man asking if I can pet his puppy, or stopping the skinheads asking if I can pet their muzzled and obviously “dangerous” dog) from the people, but the dogs have always, always responded with head butts and kisses whenever possible.
    I think it is as important for people to see those dogs having good interactions as it so for the dogs to have the good experience.


  10. This is such a beautiful testament to how simple it can be.

    Just be you.
    Just do what you do.
    Just let people see it.

    That is Being the Change.
    Kim C.


  11. I’m still catching up on BtC posts … Yikes! This is a great post. A few weeks ago I met four boys, about 10 years old, as Buster and I walked by the parking lot where they were playing basketball. One of the boys asked to pet Buster, but the others were afraid of him. We chatted for a while and then I had Buster do a few command with only hand signals. The three boys moved a little closer… Buster then showed them how he could do “high five” and that won all the boys over! It didn’t take me long to teach these things to Buster and I had fun doing it – knowing that we might have made a small impression on these young people is really neat.


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