From the minute we spotted her at the shelter, we knew that Athena was the girl for us. During her first week at home, she was a very anxious little pittie who paced around the house continuously, had accidents inside, and destroyed her bedding and barked whenever we put her in her crate.
Week two proved to be the most challenging within these past two months. We even considered taking her back to the shelter, as hard as that is to admit. Her mouthiness was scaring the bageebees out of me and I thought that maybe we weren't ready to deal with this type of dog behavior. Thoughts of wanting to return Athena to the shelter made me feel like such a failure.
We just couldn't give her up though. She had already been returned to the shelter once before we adopted her. What would happen to her if another family gave her up because they simply didn't understand her and didn't give her the chance to succeed?
Since that challenging second week, B and I have worked hard to better understand Athena's body language and excitement levels that trigger undesirable behaviors such as jumping up and nipping. With the help of our dear friend Bitter Apple, we have eliminated Athena's annoying leash biting habit and her nipping behavior has significantly decreased in frequency and severity (she gets a spritz in the mouth and a firm "no bite" if she nips at our body or clothing).
Aside from the challenging behaviors, Athena has been pure joy for us. She is such a silly girl and I can't help but laugh even when she brings me a used tissue or dirty sock in her mouth. Her favorite thing is to be close to her people. She will snuggle with us until we decide to get up, follow us all around the house, watch me as I get ready in the morning, and she provides us with endless kisses whenever we say "kisses." She also loves to get her belly rubbed and gets upset if we don't scratch and massage her snout after walks (the Gentle Leader makes her itchy).
When we got Athena from the shelter two months ago, the only command that she knew was 'sit.' Last night Athena graduated from her seven week Basic Obedience class at Petco (check out her training here, here, here, here) and and we are happy to say that she now knows sit, down, stay, come, wait, leave it, watch, up, heel, bring it, trade, crate, kisses, bathroom, and car. She has also turned into a very polite walker while on leash. Within the next few weeks, Athena will also be starting the first level of Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.) training.
Athena is a pretty lucky pooch because both of her parents currently have a lot of time on their hands. This means that Athena gets to take lots of car rides (which she loves) to check out different sights around the city such as local pet stores like Personal Beast and Green Dog Pet Supply as well as locations such as Cartlandia Food Carts and downtown Portland. We even met up with the Portland Pit Bull Parade for our very first pit bull walk this month.
In Other News...
We have taken Athena to the vet three times in the past two months. Once for her initial checkup, another time for a hot spot, and finally last week we went for Athena's allergies.
We have also been introducing Athena to new objects, experiences, people, and dogs to build her confidence and eliminate some of her fears of things such as men, sprinklers, hoses, garbage cans, orange construction signs, baths, and vacuums. Athena has yet to meet a dog that she didn't like and she enjoys any opportunity that she gets to play with other dogs.
We have also discovered that Athena needs quite a bit of exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis (as do most pits). We take Athena for a morning and evening walk for usually an hour each. Athena also gets to play fetch in the morning, lick out yumminess from her Kong during the day, engage in mini training sessions, and do regular zoomies around the house and yard. With this much exercise she is a big couch potato while at home.
This blog came about three weeks into having Athena in our life. We have enjoyed documenting and sharing Athena's successes and challenges with such a supportive group of dog lovers and pit bull advocates. Thanks to all of you who read the blog and have encouraged us to keep it going =)
Each and every day we notice Athena making significant strides towards becoming an ambassador for her breed. We know that the pit bull stereotype is not what defines the dog that Athena is today and the dog that she will become in the future. She is such a lover and we couldn't imagine our lives without her.
We love you Athena =)