Blaze the Role Model

August 13, 2012  

Once classified as “hard to adopt,” this pit bull now teaches energetic puppies how to behave

By Judy Hutnik

We adopted our dog Blaze over five years ago from a small shelter where I volunteer. He was an owner surrender at 8 years old. Blaze was my “pet partner” at the shelter, and I used to spend a lot of time with him since he was classified “hard to adopt.” One day I brought him home on a field trip to see how he did in the house, and a couple days later I finalized his adoption – he was terrific!

We realized soon after though that Blaze wasn’t comfortable around children – they definitely made him nervous. We also knew that he was a resource guarder with his toys and food (this is most likely why he ended up in the shelter when his humans brought a new baby into their house). We worked on those issues, took him to training and had a behaviorist help us at home. Blaze got so much better and really got much better with his “issues.”

One day a couple of years later, I was reading the paper and saw an ad for “Foster Families Needed” for a guide dog school here in New Jersey. I called the number and spoke to the puppy raising manager. The next thing I knew, a 7-week old black Lab/Golden cross named Kady was at my door, and we were to raise her until she was old enough for harness training – about a year and a half!

We had never really had Blaze around other dogs much, and since he was a resource guarder, we were pretty nervous and cautious that he could hurt the puppy. For several weeks we were so careful and tense. One day my son, who was 14, decided it was time to “drop the leashes” and see what would happen. The result was perfect: Blaze was the best teacher ever! With a couple of corrections when she was too frisky or overbearing, or when she intruded in his space or toys, Kady learned how to respect other dogs’ space and how to be a sweet, dog-friendly pup. Well, that was in 2009, and since then we have raised two more pups for The Seeing Eye.

Blaze is the best teacher ever and now lives permanently with our second pup, Desi, a German Shepherd, who was released from program for allergies. We are currently raising our third pup O-boy who is a male Labrador. Blaze continues to not only keep peace around our house, but he also helps teach them what is allowed (no counter surfing or crazy antics in the house, etc.) just by being a good role model himself. They are respectful of dogs they meet in the general public because of the foundation they learned at home, from Blaze. We also bring home foster dogs and puppies from the shelter, and Blaze does so well with them too.

Blaze also comes on pack walks with some of my clients (I’m a dog walker/pet sitter) and friends who have reactive dogs who need to learn from calm dogs. He’s an excellent leash walker who seems to calm down even the most reactive dogs. What a good boy!

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7 Responses to “Blaze the Role Model”
  1. barbaraleeanderson07090 says:

    Great story filled with much love, Judy.  Blaze is truly a trail-“blazer”!!  It was certaily divine intervention that led you and Blaze to become family.  Miss Diva and I are in New Jersey too, and we’d love to meet your handsome guy some time.

  2. JudyHutnoodle says:

    love it!  thank you for sharing Blaze’s story!!  we love him so very much xoxoxox – judy & family

  3. That’s right Blaze the trail for other dogs 🙂 Awesome job!

  4. ReneeMKeller says:

    Beautiful family!!! Thank you for sharing your story!!!

  5. Matt.S says:

    The best way to lead is by example! Great job, Blaze!