Sunday, August 31, 2008

Little Model Probert

As you may have noticed from his pictures, Probert is just about the cutest thing on four legs. Despite his regular bouts of "the crazies," he can be a very well-behaved little guy in front of a camera.

Brown Dog Mom adjusting Probert's wardrobe.

At the time he was adopted, his rescue was working on collecting pictures to be used as Christmas cards to raise funds. I happened to know a great photographer, Lorrie Beard, and took Probert so she could work her magic. Having only lived with us for a week, Probert still behaved well enough to get a fantastic picture for the Christmas cards.

The next week, we were contacted by Little Darling about participating in the first ever Pinups for Pitbulls calendar. We showed up and Probert posed like a little pro with a more experienced pinup by his side. The result was fantastic.

Pinups for Pitbulls 2007 calendar shot.

For the 2008 Pinups for Pitbulls calendar, I applied with all of the Brown Dogs. To my surprise, we got in and went to NJ for our photo shoot with Bombshell Mandy of Bombshell Pinups. My friends Carrie and Scott were kind enough to accompany us to help with "dog wrangling" duties. I was strapped so tightly into a corset that I could barely move, so it was a blessing to have them there! Only two dogs made it into the final calendar shot (you try getting these three dogs to sit still for a photo!) and of course Probert was one of them (Wrigs was left out, as he and Maizy were alternating on who was acting crazy). While we will not appear in the 2009 calendar, we still LOVE Pinups for Pitbulls and will be helping them out again this year in other ways.

Probert, Maizy, and the Brown Dog Mom, Pinups for Pitbulls 2008 calendar.

Anyway, Probert hasn't done any "work" in several months, but he still hangs around the house looking photgenic, so maybe he should get back out there! He loves helping to raise money for other pups just like him!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Poor Maizy A

On Thursday, I got home from work and let the dogs out, as I always do. However, when we came in I saw that Big Brown was bleeding from both paws! I took a closer look and she has somehow injured both of her higher-up paw pads. They are these little ball paw pads on the backs of her "wrists" and both were nearly stripped of their original tough skin. Poor M!

I cleaned and bandaged her up and she looked so cute (and sporty!). When Brown Dog Dad came home he said, "She's a maniac... maniac...!" and I corrected him. She is a "Maizyiac!"

Anyway, I opted to make Thursday night a lazy night at home with Maizy so that I could be sure she wasn't messing with her paws. We had a great time reading, watching tv, and being squashed to death cuddling.

Perhaps needless to say, but 75 pounds of brown dog on your legs can sure cut off circulation. But it is SO CUTE.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

And All the Rest...

So now that you've met the brown dogs, I guess I should take a moment to mention US, the rest of the family! We are all just living life in the brown dogs' world, but I suspect that counts for something!

The Fluffy One: Hannibal

Hannibal (or "Hannibal the Catibal") was the first pet that the Brown Dog Dad and I had as a couple. She was adopted in June of 2001 in South Philadelphia from a pet store where she had been dropped on the doorstep (she was not purchased). We had been thinking about getting a cat and were at this pet store just looking around when I heard a meow coming from somewhere in the back room. I asked an employee if they had cats and he said they just had the one who had been left in a box on their stoop. He brought her out of the cage she was in and placed her on the counter. She instantly stood up on her back legs with her front paws on each of my shoulders and licked my nose. Instant love.

Hannibal (named after the infamous cannibal because of the white "mask" on her face) is a sweet lady who gets along decently with the brown dogs so long as she can jump up on a counter out of their way and observe from a distance. She is curious, but not THAT curious.

The Grouch: Justice

Justice (full name: Dance Floor Justice) was adopted in 2002 as a friend for Hannibal from the ASPCA. He was a total mush at the shelter and had us good and fooled until we got home where he began his takeover. Justice was unfortunately declawed by a previous owner too late in life and as a result remembers the pain of his declaw very clearly. He is very skittish about having his paws touched and is also the only "biter" in the house. Zero to sixty, he will be sitting on someone's lap very nicely and instead of getting up when he is ready, he will bite and then run. He was returned four times to the ASPCA for biting, though we now know what pushes his buttons and do our best to keep him happy. He is also a "boxer" and can bat so hard that he will leave a bruise. In spite of all of this, he is a great lap cat and gives excellent massages by making "biscuit paws" on your back!

The Brown Dog Mom is the single object of Justice's affection and he will become very jealous if she is spending time with another pet or with the Brown Dog Dad. Somehow everyone manages to exist peacefully despite the fact that Probert seems to think that any display of hissing and batting is all part of a game! Probert has taken a few wacks to the face because of this, and once in a while Justice will find himself covered in dog lick. No major injuries to date.

The Dad and Mom: Shawn and Nicole

Shawn and Nicole have been married for 6 years and both share a love of animals. They are both longtime vegetarians (Nicole is a vegan). Shawn is a collector of action figures and comic books and is currently back in school for his PhD in Pharmacy. Nicole works in publishing and as a yoga teacher and is a full-time yogi. Back since the days when Cornholio could hear they have been known as "guy" and "girl" to The Pups. "Go find your guy/girl" is a command in our house that will be followed by the sound of 12 paws running full speed through the house (and 8 paws scrambling to get out of the way).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Wild Man: Probert Steve

After Cornholio's passing in June of 2006 there was a massive hole in our hearts. Not only that, but there was a hole in our home. Our house did not feel quite right going back to a two dog household, and so we decided that it was again time to adopt. We began the search again and again the perfect dog found us while I was browsing the website of a rescue in Columbus, Ohio called Measle's Animal Haven.

Custom Collar from

Probert, then named Achilles, was living in foster care with the founder of Measle's. He was a sweet boy with an awful story. He was severely abused by his previous family; used as target practice, ran over with a truck, and when Animal Control showed up to rescue him, his family's children were shooting fireworks at him as he curled up urinating on himself in the street. We are told that his family was prosecuted for his treatment, but we do not know what happened after that and it is not of much concern. After all, the best revenge is living well and Probert is excelling in that department!

Shocking Wrigley and Maizy with his lack of manners on their introductory visit at Probert's foster mom's house.

When deciding to adopt Probert, we had a tough choice to make, as it involved a lot of travel to meet him and bring him home. However, we couldn't resist his little face and the next weekend I loaded up my car with my friend Lisa, Maizy, and Wrigley and we drove from Philadelphia to Columbus to meet Probert. The meeting on the first day went stellar and we stayed in a hotel that night, picked up Probert Sunday morning, and made the long drive home to meet the Brown Pup Dad.

Home at last. The first Brown Pup family portrait taken after a long drive home from Ohio.

Now I guess you might ask how we even ended up with three brown pups that look like a matching set of small, medium and large. I am not really sure what to tell you, because I don't know. We had looked at other dogs each time we went to adopt and always ended up with a brown pit bull mix in the end. I think somewhere inside every time I saw a dog that reminded me of my lovey Maizy dog, they just called to me. We had even been contacted for a home visit about adopting a boston terrier named Albert when we made the decision to meet Probert and had to turn that opportunity down. After losing Cornholio we longed to have another boston terrier, but there were hundreds of pit bulls out there who needed us more. It is easier for a boston to find a responsible home than a pit bull and that is a fact that we couldn't ignore.

We do not know how Probert got the notch in his tongue.

We were in for the surprise of our lives, however, when we found out that Probert is more like Cornholio than any dog we'd ever met. Of course, a younger more energetic Cornholio, but Cornholio-like nonetheless. Just like Cornholio incarnate.

Probert and his Ellie, a toy that he brought home from rescue.

Anyway, back to Probert. He is the bossiest, craziest little man. He loves to race around the backyard and is often challenging Maizy for the alpha-dog role with little success. Despite his crazy antics at home, he is very shy of new people, hiding behind the Brown Dog Mom whenever we meet someone new. With each encounter, he is quicker and quicker to warm up to new people, but it is understandable that his trust is not easy to earn. Despite this, he is the dog that people most often avoid on the street because of his "pit bull" looks. I often find myself assuring people that "he's more afraid of you than you are of him." He is about 50 pounds of solid muscle. He is a full pit bull or maybe a boxer mix? His vets thought his growth was stunted from being malnourished as a puppy, so he is pretty small. He is a sweet dog with a wild streak a mile long. His cute face allows him to get away with murder. Definitely the baby!

Happy days!

Hey! I wanted to update quickly to say thanks to all of our new friends for commenting and thanks to our very popular friend Joey Stains for mentioning us in his blog! We were so surprised to have so many new visitors and comments. Please keep coming back and we'll stay smiling!

The Middle Child: Wrigley Bean

Oh Wrigley. Where do I even begin? Wrigley came into our lives approximately a year after Maizy did. We had decided on adopting another larger, young dog to play with Maizy and to give Cornholio a little peace. As with Maizy, we had hunted around Petfinder and I had been in contact with a rescue in central PA when the internet struck!

Custom collar from

A friend in a pit bull community online mentioned that someone had posted about a dog being kept in south Jersey in need of a home. His picture was cute and I showed it to my husband. The girl who knew about the dog was named Kristine and that Friday after work, we picked her up (Shawn, Maizy, Wrigley, and I) and headed to where the dog was located.

Wrigley in his first days home.

The story was never fully clear about where Wrigley came from, but he was being kept chained up under a trailer in a field. As I understood someone had left him with these people while he went on vacation and never returned to pick Wrigley up. He was homeless and nameless. He was 5 months old and living life on a heavy tow chain. We had to use a flashlight to go see him because by the time we got there it was dark. Wrigley was happy just to see someone holding treats, Maizy was happy to chase the flashlight beam (this borders on an obsession with her), and Cornholio was generally disinterested, so he passed the test. We couldn't have left him there, anyway, and so we headed home. When we dropped Kristine off at her house, she gave us a black bath towel in case Wrigley had an accident in the car (he hadn't yet, but you never know with puppies). Years later, Wrigs still sleeps with that towel in his crate.

That night we got Wrigley home and went to bed. We didn't have a crate for him because we hadn't been sure we were going to get him, so we tried to sleep with him in bed with us and Cornholio (Maizy was crated). Wrigley wiggled his butt off in sheer excitement for hours while I had a fitful sleep until I finally went downstairs and got a large cat carrier for him to spend the rest of the night in. It wan't ideal, but we all slept better after that and in the morning Maizy got a new crate and Wrigley got his first hand-me-down and a new life!

Wrigley with his favorite towel.

Wrigley was always a happy-go-lucky pup, but as he matured, he became increasingly anxious and difficult outside of the house. Getting him to the vet is nearly impossible and he is so anxious on walks that we might make it three houses down the block before going back home. He barks when on leash and at anything on the other side of the fence. We have tried training and are now working on supplements. It's amazing to me because Wrigley is the sweetest, most well-behaved dog inside the house, but once he is outside the house or the backyard, he is a totally different dog.

Despite his issues (likely due to a lack of early socialization with people and dogs), Wrigley is a giant sweetheart who wants only to please people. He is a true pittie, despite the fact that he is probably a mix (we think Pit Bull/Black Mouth Cur). Wrigley has grown to match Maizy's 75 pounds, but with a much stockier build. So, that's Wrigley... my problem child. He is sweet as sugar once you get past that barky, unapproachable shell. And despite how he acts when you're standing outside, once you're inside his fence, you become his best friend.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Big Dog: Maizy Anne

Okay, so before we get too far, I'd say it's time to introduce the "brown dogs"! We'll start with the oldest, Miss Maizy Anne.
Customized collar from

Maizy came into our lives on October 10, 2004. She was a gangly little pup who had been living at PACCA (Philadelphia Animal Care and Control). She was all legs and paws and she raced around like a maniac when we met her. My husband was in love. My only concern was that any new dog get along with Cornholio. Maizy ignored him fully and he ignored her, so we were off to a good start. It was time to go HOME!

Maizy's first day home.

She was 9 months old and 27 pounds. We had no idea that she would someday grow to be closer to 75. She was fully in love with Cornholio, who of course wanted nothing to do with her. Many times, laying in bed the scene would play out where Maizy would slowly scoot closer and closer to Corny as he slept until they were touching. Then, he would grumpily wake up and move positions to get away from her. Maizy never gave up. No matter how "worked up" and crazy she got in her puppy play, she was always careful of Cornholio. It is a good thing because she once split my nose open like a boxer when her skull collided with my face during one of her excited bouncing episodes! Maizy and Cornholio were friends until the end.

Cornholio with Maizy, the day she came home from her spay.

Now, a few years later, Maizy is the "go anywhere" dog in the house. She loves people and reacts well to new situations. She recently passed her Canine Good Citizen test and will test next to become a therapy dog. We figure that she is a Pit Bull/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, as that is what she most looks like. We celebrate her birthday on January 15.

Maizy is my near-constant companion. She loves strangers and children. She loved our recent visit to the K9 Cookie Company in Oak Park. She likes toys that squeak and is the big boss in our pack since Cornholio's passing. She loves to drink water out of the hose and snack on veggies. Last year when we grew tomatoes in the backyard, it only took Maizy a few days to realize that those delicious cherry tomatoes that I would give her were available for the taking right off the plant! She would go straight to the source and chow down.

Maizy is also a huge lap dog (see my user picture). If you are sitting on the ground, chances are that she will be trying to sit on your lap. If you're laying in bed, she is sitting on your head/chest/stomach/legs, no matter how poorly she fits. She has even walked over and plopped herself down in the lap of a man begging for change as we were walking through Philadelphia one evening. When we participated in the Global Mala Project in Philadephia, Maizy accompanied people taking breaks by sitting on them. She loves all laps equally.

So, that is my girl. Up next, the boys!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Before the Brown Dogs, There Was Cornholio

It might seem like an odd place to start, but before I introduce the current pups, I feel like I should start by introducing my first dog; the little guy who made me fall in love with being a dog mom. The Great Cornholio.

Cornholio was a stray dog who had been adopted by my husband's family when my husband was still in high school. He lived with my father in law on his horse farm near Joliet, IL until one fateful visit when Shawn and I decided to bring Cornholio home to Philadelphia with us. It was definitely a decision that changed my life.

Shawn, Nicole and Cornholio: NYC, 2002 or 2003?

Corndog was a difficult little guy who loved attention and had no manners at all. He was a great dog who loved to cuddle and eat pizza. He was 10 pounds of Boston Terrier crazy who would lean like a sack of potatoes whenever he was carried, making himself feel like he weighed 30 lbs. He was a big sweetheart who slept under the covers and loved to lay in the sunshine. He was already somewhere between 10 and 12 years old when he came to live with us, so I always knew him as my "little old man dog."

Since he was a stray, we never really knew how old he was, but we think he was around 16 years old when we started treating him for "doggie alzheimers" at the advice of our vet. One day in June of 2006 it became apparent that Cornholio's problems were more severe than we thought and that it was necessary to let him go. He will never be forgotten. Shawn and I both got tattoos when he passed.

Tattoos by Jason Goldberg, Olde City Tattoos, Philadelphia

Anyway, as he is an important part of my intoduction to dog ownership, I wanted to share a little piece of Cornholio's story with you. He was the dog that made me love dogs and opened my heart to the dogs that were to come later...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hi there!

L to R: Wrigley, Maizy, Nicole, and Probert

Hello and welcome to The Brown Dog Blog. My name is Nicole and I am the mom of three brown pit bull mixes who are the loves of my life. I write about my dogs a lot in my personal blog and thought it was time for them to have one of their own. "The pups," as they are called by friends and family, are each rescues coming from uniquely different situations (and three different US states!). Somehow they all ended up living with my husband, me, and our two cats. We recently made the long move from Philadelphia to Chicago and are loving the change. Our new backyard is bigger and much more enjoyable for the dogs than the previous house, with a deck, a garage, trees (sticks!) and more.
In this blog I hope to share funny moments, tips, photos, videos, articles, stories, etc about what it's like to live with these three mushy lovepups who are sometimes stigmatized because of their breed and beginnings. I hope you will fall in love like I did.