A Pit Bull Hiking Group is Born

October 26, 2011  

Part III of how one pit bull motivated his mom to co-found a rescue, become a certified trainer and start a pit bull hiking group

By Tracey Cutler

Read Part II and Part I

These aspirations led me down several paths within the dog community. The first of these paths grew from my love of the outdoors and the peace that I felt when being in nature. I decided to start a hiking group focused on pit bulls and their owners. I thought this would also be a great way to showcase pit bulls in a positive light, as well as build a base of like-minded folks who desired a physical outlet for both themselves and their dogs: one that did not involve a dog park or some other group that might not welcome them with open arms. Thus, the Saratoga/Southbay American Pit Bull Terrier Group was founded in January of 2008. (Note: The group is now known as The StubbyDog Trekkers & Friends).

Through many trials and errors, I have found this endeavor to be abundantly satisfying, as well as positively motivating to other members in the community. As a group, we have found strength in numbers, knowing that “we are not alone” when faced with adversity, and that there are others out there, like us, who are willing to walk the extra mile for our dogs.

Silicon Valley, at least in my mind, has become more open and tolerant of pit bulls in general. And that’s due to the solid work of various individuals and organizations that have brought attention to the pit bull plight. But I know firsthand that there is still much work to be done. On my personal profile on our restaurant’s web page, it notes my affiliation with a local “Pit Bull Org,” and also states the restaurant’s dog-friendly policy (which of course includes pit bulls). In fact, in the dog-friendly outside patio area of our restaurant, we have Philippe Starck “Ghost Chairs,” see-through chairs that are imprinted with a rose-colored image of – whom else? – Shmooly! These chairs bring a lot of attention to the fact that we love our dog and also that we are “Pit Bull People.” Unfortunately, there are those who are offended by such a statement, as evidenced by an e-mail that was sent to my husband, stating that our “support of pit bulls” was cause for him not to eat at our restaurant. There was a series of e-mail exchanges, but that is another story, for another time …

Five Years and What I Have Learned …

It has now been more than five years since I made my decision to become a responsible guardian of a pit bull pup. During these years, I have learned – and continue to learn – what it takes to raise a dog, regardless of breed.

It takes hard work and “lessons learned.” It takes a willingness to be open and change your thought patterns, if they no longer serve your ability to grow and move forward. It takes persistence and determination to go forth in a world that is not always on your side, and one that is all too ready to jump on the bandwagon of negativity if an opportunity arises.

In these five years, through personal crises and beyond, I have been the guardian of several dogs and a foster parent for several others. I have been, and continue to be, a student of dog behavior and training.

I co-founded a pit bull rescue group. I have become a certified dog trainer through Animal Behavior College (ABC), as well as a certified dog walker through DogTec. I have been a volunteer at Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV). I also had the opportunity to work and serve the dogs of the biggest dog fighting bust in U.S. history, during a two week labor intensive and emotionally draining volunteer stint with the Humane Society of Missouri.

It is through all these pursuits that I have tried to serve my friend and buddy, Mr. Shmooly Cutler – and all those like Shmooly, who do not have their own personal comrade-in-arms to go the distance with them.

My personal story still holds elements of absurdity, panic, worries – along with lingering moments of uncertainty and obsessive compulsiveness. But along with that comes the confidence I have gained as an individual and the peace of mind from finally accepting that uncertainty and change are guaranteed to be a part of this world of ours. Therefore, one must continue to do the best one can and follow one’s heart.

And if one’s heart leads them down this path, so let it be …

Postscript …

I am still friends with all of the Birthday Girls. We still have our get-togethers, and conversations have moved on. But one thing has changed: Several of them have supported my various pit bull endeavors throughout the years, by either contributing financially or by sharing the links to various pit bull organizations that I have forwarded to them throughout the years. A great big thank you to good friends!

And finally, my thanks to StubbyDog and all of its contributors, for creating a place where one can tell their story and inspire others to do the same.

In reference to StubbyDog Trekkers: Please feel free to contact me (through our Meetup site) if you would like to join our group, start a group in your area, or have any questions, concerns or ideas that you would like to share.

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