It’s Only Funny Until Your Dog Runs Out of Spoons

It’s Only Funny Until Your Dog Runs Out of Spoons

We’ve all seen the funny videos and animated GIFs on the internet of dogs doing crazy things (or crazy things happening around dogs). Dogs and children. Dogs and adults. Dogs and cats. Dogs and the vacuum cleaner.

We pass these “funny” or “adorable” pictures and videos to our Facebook friends and pin them to our boards on Pinterest.

…but I’m here to encourage you to stop.

It has to do with spoons. Did you know your dog has spoons? He does, and it’s a very bad thing if he runs out of them.

The Spoon Theory

If you know anyone who lives with a chronic illness (physical or mental), you are likely familiar with Spoon Theory. If not, here is the article that you’ll want to read in your spare time. It is excellent and will help you be a more compassionate friend.

The gist of Spoon Theory is this:

Each morning, a person with a chronic illness wakes up with a certain number of “spoons.” These spoons represent the number of activities or interactions that they can handle in a given day. Once they run out of spoons, they need time to relax and recharge.  If they don’t, it could result in a physical or mental crisis (or a really bad day tomorrow). Depending on the day, they may have more spoons (feelin’ good!) or less (bad pain day).

Got it? Let’s move on!

Human Spoons vs. Dog Spoons

As a human, you choose how you spend your spoons. If you know you’ll need energy for a presentation to your boss at 3 pm, you’ll likely skip going out to lunch with your colleagues at noon. If your arthritis is bothering you, you can avoid doing tasks that are particularly painful. If you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed or in physical pain, you can choose to take a day off work and relax in front of cheesy daytime TV.

Dogs don’t get to choose how they spend their spoons. We do. Every day, we make decisions for our dogs. We decide which path our morning walk will take. We decide whether we want them to “meet” that new dog in the neighborhood. We decide whether the little girl next door can come over and play fetch. We decide to hug and kiss them. We decide to let the toddler use the dog for a pillow, or worse yet, a horse.

How Many Spoons Does a Dog Have?

A well-socialized, happy dog may appear to have unlimited spoons. A fearful or reactive dog may start out with only a few. My fearful dog, Titania, has greatly increased her spoon collection, thanks to classes at Your Dog’s Friend and the advice of Debbie Jacobs of Thanks to counter-conditioning and confidence building exercises, she enjoys a lot more of life than she did just two years ago.

An Example of a Dog Losing Spoons

We remove a spoon from our dog’s collection every time we expose them to a situation that makes them uncomfortable.

This was posted to a friend’s Facebook wall:



Let’s count the stress signals this dog is showing:

  • Stiff body
  • Ears pinned back
  • Whale eyes (wide eyes with lots of white showing)
  • Leaning away

In short, in the few seconds of this animated GIF, this dog is shedding spoons left and right.

What would happen if the dog was already having a bad day? Let’s say that a meeting on his morning walk resulted in getting snapped at by an unfamiliar dog. There’s construction going on next door and there are lots of loud noises and strangers in hard hats. And unbeknownst to his human, this dog ate something in the backyard and now his tummy is feeling upset.

Now what happens when the man tries his parlor trick?

The Bite That Came “Out of Nowhere”

Dog bites never come out of nowhere. The man in the image above probably does this “trick” to entertain his friends all the time and has never been bitten. But if his dog was having that bad day described above and had run out of spoons… well, that man could end up with a bite to the face. And it would have been 100% his fault, not the dog’s.

Conserving Your Dog’s Spoons

A dog with plenty of spoons is a happy dog!

As a dog parent, it’s your job to recognize the stress signals in your dog and keep them away from situations (or people) that cause them anxiety. For your dog, this may mean scheduling your daily walk for a time when fewer bicyclists are on the trail, or leaving your dog home instead of taking them to the pet store with you. It could mean giving your dog “me time” when they can relax in their crate with a bully stick and not be interrupted by your children.

Most importantly, it means being present with your dog and knowing when to remove them from a situation. A dog isn’t able to say, “Hey, I’ve got one spoon left and if this kid pulls my ear one more time, I’m done!!” You are your dog’s spoon-monitoring superhero, and they love you for it.


Understanding Different Dog Tolerance Levels

Understanding Different Dog Tolerance Levels

A Normal Trait that is as Flexible as it is Manageable

This page is designed to help demystify the common trait of dog-dog aggression. Dog aggression shows up in numerous breeds, and it’s generally “no big deal”…unless you deny it, misunderstand it or exploit it. Like so many dog owners, we expect that our dogs have the potential to show some degree of dog aggression in select situations. Our job as responsible stewards is to keep our pets out of those situations by reading their body signals and understanding their individual limits. At the same time, we work to improve the tolerance of each dog through appropriate socializing opportunities. Because dog aggression is not a “one size fits all” trait, outlined below are four very common levels of dog-tolerance that we’ve come to recognize in our work with the dogs.

Typical Dog Tolerance Levels in a Group of BAD RAP Ambassadogs:


1. Dog Social

A dog that truly enjoys the company of other dogs, including housemate dogs. Very easy going; Forgives even the rudest dog manners. Dog-social dogs include most puppies and a percentage of socially mature (14 months and older) dogs. Example: Beanie is a mature female who is social and relaxed around all dogs. In contrast, the immature red dog, Penny, in the bottom right of the photo is not as dog-social as when she was a puppy. She’s very typical in that she’s losing her puppy-like tolerance as she matures. A bad accidental fight could shift Penny far away from her dog social beginnings.

2. Dog Tolerant

Typically non-reactive on leash and either indifferent or friendly to other dogs. Is well socialized and shows relaxed, easy body language in the presence of new dogs. May not ‘love’ dogs that he doesn’t know, but has decent tolerance for rude behavior; a long fuse. Enjoys known dog friends and, in general, succeeds with housemate dogs. Example: Honky Tonk is quite fine with other dogs but doesn’t seek them out like a puppy might.

3. Dog Selective

Has dog friends but is more selective. May dislike certain ‘types’ of dogs and/or is easily offended by rude dog manners. Can be described as ‘bitchy.’ Likes to dictate the rules during dog-play, and may need reminders to use good manners during play. Can succeed with housemate dogs with supervision. Example: Sally showed ‘dog aggressive’ behavior when she came to us, but with clear direction and supervised socializing opportunities, is not likely to show this behavior unless she’s pushed passed her limits.

4. Dog Aggressive

Has a very limited number of dog friends; sometimes, no dog friends. May be opportunistically leash reactive with a weak handler and/or no training. May have a short fuse during play, even with dogs that it knows. Needs heavy supervision during play and a good leader when out on leash. Many live successfully with housemate dogs (usually opposite sex) with proper supervision and safe management protocol. Example: Taz was labeled ‘Dog Aggressive’ when we first met him because he was very quick to tell dogs off. His tolerance levels have increased dramatically, thanks to lots of socializing opps and good direction from his caretakers. We watched him shift to Dog Selective personality and in his new home, he’s actually quite Dog Tolerant!

Note: All the dogs in this photo were introduced slowly and enjoy each other’s company under supervision. While none of the dogs illustrated are ‘Dog Aggressive,’ like any breed of dog, they may certainly act aggressively towards other dogs if they’re mismanaged, provoked or otherwise set up to fail. Dogs that we would label as Dog Aggressive can make fantastic pets with the right management (leashes!). 

The Bell Curve of Dog Aggression:

Dog tolerance levels are flexible and are determined by environmental factors (handler influence, training and socializing efforts) as much as they are determined by genetics. Dog Social dogs can become less social as they come into their maturity, and Dog Aggressive dogs can become much more tolerant with good direction and proper socialization. In our experience, with the combined factors of maturity, socialization, good leadership and training, most pit bull type dogs with true ‘terrier’ personalities fall comfortably in the middle spectrum of this bell curve – as do typically 2/3 of all dogs.


Fix Your Pit clinics are helping support the community

Fix Your Pit clinics are helping support the community

In February, we held our first Fix Your Pit free spay/neuter clinic. Partnering with Kindest Cut, we’ve launched a program to help families with pit bulls and pit mixes spay or neuter their dogs. The Fix Your Pit program focuses on the importance of spay and neuter for a dog’s health and behavior benefits, but also as a way to help minimize euthanasia rates of pit bulls and improve the health of our communities.

Fifteen dogs took part in the February 13 clinic. Save-a-Bull volunteers were on hand to help the Kindest Cut staff care for these dogs.


Our next clinic is right around the corner on April 2, 2016 and two more clinics are scheduled to take place in 2016. Help spread the word about these dates so more families can take advantage of the free services to spay or neuter their dogs. Click here to see our schedule.

These clinics are made possible by the generous support of our community. All funds were raised on Give to the Max Day in November of 2015.


Appointments still available at free spay/neuter event

Appointments still available at free spay/neuter event

Our second free spay/neuter is clinic is right around the corner on November 21. THERE ARE STILL APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE. This is an important opportunity for pit bull owners to spay or neuter their dogs free of charge, please help spread the word!

If you know a family with a pit bull that could take part in this clinic, please share or download and share the poster below. The more people we reach the better!

FIX YOUR PIT Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic

for Pit Bulls and Pit Bull Mixes of qualified low-income pet owners*

Kindest Cut Melrose Animal Clinic
@ the Animal Humane Society
845 Meadow Lane N.,
Golden Valley, MN 55422

A limited number of appointments are available, reserve your spot now!
Call 763-489-7729 or visit for reservations.

*Applicants must income qualify. Please visit for details. A $10 reservation fee required.

And watch for more spay/neuter clinics in 2016 as a result of your generous donations on Give to the Max Day!

Fix Your Pit Poster


Good Dog, Bad Manners

Good Dog, Bad Manners

A NEUTERED DOG IS A GOOD DOG! Responsible dog owners will want to take every opportunity to train and maintain a polite, obedient, calm and friendly dog. Dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered will struggle with even the most basic of good manners.

In male dogs, the hormone testosterone acts as an accelerant making him more reactive. As a male puppy matures and enters adolescence his primary social focus shifts from people to dogs which means your human/canine bond becomes secondary. His limited attention span will make any type of training difficult at best. What kinds of behaviors can be expected from an un-neutered male dog?

• Periodic binges of household destruction, digging and scratching.

• Indoor restlessness/irritability.

• Pacing, whining, unable to settle down or focus. Door dashing, fence jumping and assorted escape behaviors; wandering/roaming.

• Baying, howling, overbarking.

• Barking/lunging at passersby, fence fighting. Lunging/barking at and fighting with other male dogs.

• Non-compliant, pushy and bossy attitude towards caretakers and strangers. Lack of cooperation.

• Resistant; an unwillingness to obey commands; refusal to come when called.

• Pulling/dragging of handler outdoors; excessive sniffing.

• Offensive growling, snapping, biting, mounting people and objects.

• A heightened sense of territoriality, marking with urine indoors.

• Excessive marking on outdoor scent posts.

Sounds awful, right?

DogBitesIn addition, stats show that the overwhelmingly common denominator in dog bite incidents is the fact that the dog was intact. Un-neutered male dogs are involved in up to 76 percent of reported dog bites in the United States, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Set your dog up for success! Give him the ability to be not only a good dog, but a great pit bull. Neutering your male dog is good for him, good for you and good for your community. Your dog will be happier and healthier, you’ll have a strong and respectful bond with him, and you’ll both be responsible parts of your community.


Thanks to you, Save-a-Bull has had the opportunity to rescue and rehome a lot of deserving dogs this year. But that’s not enough! Supporting spay and neuter assistance programs for our community will promote responsible dog ownership and breed advocacy which is an important part of the work we’re trying to do every day. Donate today and be a part of our Fix Your Pit program!

Free Spay/Neuter Clinics for a Healthier Community

Free Spay/Neuter Clinics for a Healthier Community

Save-a-Bull Rescue is overwhelmingly grateful for the support of our past adopters, our volunteers and our community over the past many years. With your support we’ve rescued and rehomed hundreds of dogs in need – but that’s not enough.

The vast majority of dogs that come into rescue are unwanted or neglected. From large litters of puppies that would have been euthanized just because there was no space for them, to older dogs that no one cared enough about to give basic care and food. While we love nothing more than to take in and help these wonderful dogs, their situations can be avoided by providing education and basic vetting needs to people in our community.

There are hundreds of responsible families that love their pets but simply can’t afford the care they deserve. We want to help our community give their dogs the care they want to provide them, which will lead to a healthier Twin Cities overall.

On Give to the Max Day, Thursday, November 12, 2015, our goal was to raise $10,000 that will be put back into the community to host four spay/neuter clinics in 2016. These clinics will allow qualified pit bull and pit mix owners to spay/neuter their pets free of charge.*

By helping our community care for their pets, we’ll create a growing network of responsible owners who will become breed advocates for these wonderful dogs. Spayed/neutered dogs are healthier, have better temperaments, don’t wander away from home and of course limit unwanted puppies – all of which is good for them, great for our community and even better for breed perception overall.

Thanks to the overwhelming support of donors, volunteers and local businesses on Give to the Max Day, we exceeded that goal by more than 25%. We are thrilled to be able to move forward with our plans for these clinics!

Click here to see our 2016 Clinic Schedule

Why is the spay and neuter of pit bulls important? Read more for the shocking truth about the euthanasia of thousands of pit bulls in America.

Pit Bull FACTS

Pit Bull dogs have a long road to adoption, often thwarted by prejudices, laws and bans. Yet, would you be surprised to learn that pits are the number one dog being bred in America? That’s right – the dogs that have the hardest time finding homes are also experiencing a baby boom of overpopulation.

It is estimated that there are 3-5 million pit bulls in the U.S. The term ‘Pit Bull’ encompasses mainly three breeds of dog: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Considered a ‘bully breed’ and subject to breed specific legislation, they are by far the most euthanized breed

Debates rage over the validity of accusations against them but one thing is certain….they are being killed in shelters at shocking rates.

Pit bulls and pit bull mixes average about 33% of shelter intakes nationally, but in large cities the numbers are as high as 40%-65%. About 75% of municipal shelters euthanize pit bulls immediately upon intake, without them ever having any chance at adoption. Those that are offered for adoption are usually the first chosen for euthanasia when overcrowding forces the shelter’s hand and decisions have to be made.

Studies estimate that up to 1 million pits are euthanized per year, or 2,800 per day. Some estimates are up to double that number. In the Los Angeles area alone, 200 per day are put to sleep. A study by the organization Animal People reports a 93% euthanasia rate for pit bulls and only one in 600 pits finding a forever home. Read that again:


Further, euthanasia estimates don’t include the misery and death pit bulls face as the #1 dog-fighting breed. Fought dogs that don’t die in the ring often suffer excruciating abuse, neglect, abandonment, and eventually death even worse than humane euthanasia.

Our animal shelters are not to blame.

The staff who have to ‘choose’ which dogs to put down are not to blame.

Those who carry out the euthanization are not to blame.

It’s simple math….there are too many pits and not enough people willing to adopt them. Shelters are overwhelmed with dogs who demand space and funds for their care and medical treatment and something’s got to give. It’s the animals, very often pit bulls, and what they give is their very lives.

Until we can educate the public and move them to spay and neuter, we’re just putting a band-aid on a gushing wound. One female dog can produce two litters of 6-10 pups per year. In 6 years that female and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs

Often, it is the cost of sterilization that keeps pits intact to reproduce. Great work is being done to curb the pit bull overpopulation by organizations such as the San Francisco SPCA. The facility offered one month during which all pit bulls and pit bull mixes were sterilized free of charge. It went so well that they have extended the program indefinitely!

“We know first-hand through previous initiatives…the positive effect efforts like this can have in the community,” says Jeannette Goh, D.V.M., Director of the SF SPCA Spay and Neuter Clinic. “We’re excited to offer this service free of charge from here on out.”

San Francisco has a legal requirement that all pits and pit mixes be spayed or neutered because over 60% of the dogs euthanized in the city are pit bulls. The SF SPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic is part of the Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center and is on track to perform more than 9,000 sterilizations this year. During the first month of free sterilization for pit bulls at the facility, spay and neuter surgeries on pit bulls rose 350% from the previous month.

Sterilization of dogs also may increase their lifespan by 1-3 years, as it greatly reduces the risk of cancer and also curbs their urge to roam. Roaming can lead to a short, harsh life on the streets, or…you guessed it…landing in an animal shelter and facing euthanasia.


THANK YOU for every single dollar you donated on Give to the Max Day; for every share, comment and like on social media; and for believing that together we have the power to make a positive impact on our community by offering these spay/neuter clinics.

We’ll share more about our planned clinics including schedule, locations and how you can help spread the word to make sure those who need it most are able to take advantage of the clinics and services we built together.