The Healing Process of Two Very Misunderstood Dogs



  September 28, 2010. Papa, the dog that brought out an emotion in me I have been successful in keeping at bay; came to us by way of the dedicated and caring staff at Town Lake Animal Shelter. As you may have read in his first blog, Papa’s situation, like many others I have worked with in the last 23 years was that of severe abuse and neglect. Judging by the wounds he suffered, it is likely Papa was used as a “bait” dog. Papa received an out-pouring of support from our clients and the public that read his story. As a thank you to all of you, I wanted to update everyone on his progress four months later.

  Today, Papa, my special little man, is happily living with our pack. He still makes me melt when he comes up and places his head on my lap. He helps clients, kids and other dogs everyday by working sessions with me and going to communities to talk about the cruelty of dog fighting. He sits in on our Seminars to educate the public on the real truth behind this breed, stealing affection by anyone willing to give it to him. Best of all, he fills me with the answer as to why I work so hard to help in this field when it feels impossible to make a difference. I just need to look at how much love and thankfulness he has in his eyes, as he curls up next to me while at my desk or in my recliner. The eagerness to do anything I ask of him, the concerned look he gets if I am feeling stressed. Papa reminds me every minute of the day that as bad as it gets I have to keep fighting for them.

This is a photo of how much Papa has changed in the last four months.

progression of papas scar healing

  December 30, 2010. Captain, an emaciated badly injured American Bulldog was brought to us to avoid being killed in a Texas shelter. You may remember his story; he had been the victim of a dog fight. Forced to put his life in danger for money or status of his owners, but he lost. To show their gratitude, his old owners left him abandoned to die from starvation or his injuries, which ever happened first? Thankfully Captain had been picked up by Animal Control and brought to the shelter, where many people came together to help this guy have a chance to live the life he like so many, deserve.

  It has only been four weeks since Captain came to us, his paw half missing, completely starved. He has, just like Papa, made leaps and bounds in his recovery. He has shown nothing but a tremendous amount of love and affection to any human willing to give it to him. He patiently stands for his paw to be covered with a plastic bag before each of his 4-5 walks and then continues to stand afterwards for it to be soaked and have the “Healing Gel” applied. He walks with other dogs every day showing no aggression, he quietly waits in his kennel during classes or sessions and wags his tail every time a client approaches. At his last vet visit, a child came up to him and he immediately placed himself into a surrendering position (on his side) so she could pet him. He did manage to sneak some gentle kisses in to thank her for petting him.

   Originally it was thought he would lose his leg due to the injuries he suffered, but with the “Healing Gel” and constant treatments, he gets to keep his leg. Here is the progression in just four short weeks: progression of healing in paw

  Both of these truly amazing dogs were almost killed after human’s forced them to a life of torture. I personally would ask that everyone involved or not with Papa and Captain’s rehabilitation, thank your local shelter staff for the endless love and compassion they have for the massive amounts of animals in their care.

  Papa, Captain and I would like to thank Frances, at “Frogworks” for her amazing healing gel, Christina with “Skillful Paws” for her amazing talent with massage and acupressure, the staff at Town Lake Animal Center, Waco Humane, and all of the dedicated clients, volunteers and friends that have helped us in our successful journey to the healing process of two very “misunderstood” dogs. We can never thank you enough!

If you would like to help us in their medical care, please click on thier names below for their Chip in funds. Thank you again.



Hitting the Streets!

Mobile Community Education Program

A program developed to educate and build stronger human-dog bonds, in our low income and Spanish speaking areas.

What we do:

  • We travel into low income and Spanish speaking neighborhoods with high populations of stray dogs, neighborhoods at risk of street dog fighting, and areas that have a high number of shelter surrenders.
  • We do not judge or lecture
  • We go in and offer help by teaching basic commands, basic agility, handing out information on proper confinement, social skills, disease prevention and child and dog safety. A large majority of our information is about animal cruelty, the importance of spay/neuter, vaccines, and disease control along with where they can get free/low cost medical help for their dogs. 
  • We supply new collars, leashes and treats in exchange for the chains and ropes they come with.   
  • We also will supply crates, and offer help to secure fences if needed; to help make the dogs inside companions instead of “resident” dogs.

Our Success

  • We have been told that the areas we have already visited have had fewer calls to the animal cruelty department.
  • We have seen families work together as a team-building a stronger bond with the entire family.
  • We have seen dogs being viewed more as family then just an animal that lives outside-making them less of a material object.
  • We have been able to socialize the dogs- making them less “feral”.
  • We have been successful at forcing street dog fighters out of area. After our class, we post Dog Fighting Reward Posters supplied by HSUS to ward off any potential street fighters that may decide to use that dead-end or cul-de-sac for their impulse fights.

What we need

  • Volunteers-no experience needed
  • Spanish translators
  • Leashes, collars
  • Used crates
  • Neighborhoods- if you know an area in need, please contact us.

To help us in any of the above areas, or to get more information about this porgram, please email Tara at or call 512.402.4229

Pack Strength at its Finest

  A couple of days ago I received an urgent phone call from a Humane Society asking me if I could help them with a stray mom and her 3 pups. To say I was shocked would be an understatement.   I am just a very small training facility run by myself and my partner Brandie-thankfully she loves this business as much as I do- but still, we are not a rescue group.  So why did I get the call? The little family they needed help with, they told me were staffies with disabilities.  This is a double death sentence for this poor little family of furkids.   See, mom and her two boys, only 10 weeks old, are completely deaf and all are missing one eye.  The eye they do have, they have very limited sight out of. The baby girl of the family was perfectly healthy and happy, but again she is a Staffie mix. Due to overpopulation and space this little family was the next in line to be killed. Now I am not one to keep my mouth shut when it comes to breed discrimination and I tend to be in your face about the issue. I recently became involved with the Austin “Pit Bull” –hate that term- Task Force, to try and help local groups like Love-A-Bull Inc., educate the communities about this noble and loving breed.  So alas, the word spread 130 miles north that I was the one to call in order to help this little family.

  Now we all know staffies typically are euthanized first, regardless of health or behavior, due to the difficulty of getting them adopted. What with the living restrictions and bad press out there, who would take on the possibility of not finding a home or worse, being constantly badgered by friends and family that your dog will “eat your face off” someday? But three 10 week old pups and a mom, that even though she can’t hear you or see you coming, would rather lick your face and snuggle into your arms then run away?  I mean really, how threatening could they be? Just because they were labeled Staffies, this tight nit family that has survived on their own, would likely be killed just because they were born a certain breed. This is what drives me to continue to help them, the love they have for a prejudice species-us- is unconditional no matter how we view them. No prejudice on their end, if you have two hands to pet them and a lap to lay in, they love you no matter what.

  So I anxiously awaited their arrival, getting more cages set up in our already packed center of rehab cases. After lots of phone calls, to the ever patient transport people with directions of how to get to our tucked away location they finally pull up.  As they get out of the truck, I am immediately fighting with myself about not feeling bad for these dogs. I tell all my clients to repeat the mantra, “I do not feel bad”, when we are working to rehabilitate them; and yet I am finding myself having to repeat the very same thing. Puppies are handed over; only two as I was told some unique soul adopted one of the deaf boys, and out comes mama. She is not a Staffie, oh no not at all; she is a very scared bull terrier cross.  The transport volunteer places her down on the ground and she is just about shaking out of her fur. I can only imagine what this poor girl is feeling at this point; she has been in a moving vehicle for about four hours, surrounded by humans that she does not recognize -by her only sense- scent.  Mama crouches down and basically crawls to her puppies to check on them, she has no idea that we are here to help her and her pups and I have no idea what type of interactions she has experienced with humans.

  After entering the Center, mama-having to be carried- slowly walks over to me and sniffs my leg in a polite greeting and curious way. She then proceeds to circle her pups to keep them near her, with only limited sight in her left eye, she keeps turning around and placing her back legs against them to feel where they are.  We set them up in their little cages with fresh food and water, letting them get used to the smells of their new temporary home. Within just a few minutes they all were quick to fall asleep, safe and secure.

  Our evening walk, took a bit of time; baby steps so to speak. The entire family had to learn their surroundings and how to walk with this thing we call leashes, around their neck. Mama took the lead and stayed very close to my leg as I walked, trusting that I would guide her safely, like we have asked of her fellow canine friends for years. Yes, I am a guide-human for this very trusting canine and I am completely ok with that. After a bit of navigating down stairs and around fence posts, we reached our destination of the potty yard. Mama like any mature dog immediately relieved herself and kept persuading the pups to do so as well. Once everyone was done, we stood around outside so they could get some playtime and investigate more of their new surroundings.  The pups were too involved in their game of tumble but not mama, her job was to scan the area, to clear it for her puppies.  After a good bit of time, we all started walking back to the Center to tuck them in for the night.  The little boy, also deaf and blind suddenly became startled by something and started to have a panic attack, screaming and throwing himself around. I calmly walked up knelt down and just laid a hand on his side, to get him to relax and feel more secure. He immediately stopped panicking and started following us again, albeit very cautiously.  As we approached the steps, he sunk to the ground and stopped moving-his baby sister already jumping up and down the stairs like it was a game- then mama, a dog I have only known for a few hours, did something I will never forget. She calmly walked over to her baby boy, touched him on the side, walked back to me and proceeded to lie down next to me. Her baby boy now walked slowly over to me and followed us back into the building. I have to admit, I was honored that she trusted me this much in such a short amount of time.  As we settled them back into their cages, mama began to wag her tail- a level, happy wag dogs give to people they trust- and I received the best thank you kiss followed by a very gracious bow.

  To think these poor furkids were to be put to death, just because they were wrongfully labeled a certain breed kills me inside.  What human could show this much trust in a complete stranger they cannot see nor hear, not only with their own lives, but with the lives of their children- in such a short amount of time?

  That is pack strength at its finest.