Breeds, dog rescue, foster dogs, fostering, Long Term Dog, Pit bull, training

Of Bite Addendums, Smart Dogs, and Transparency

Smart dogs are just harder to deal with—same goes for smart children. Mia still has no applications, but that’s not her fault. She isn’t a simple dog.

She is clever and energetic and totally in the game. She doesn’t miss a thing—my glance her way while working will bring her to her feet, she’ll nudge my hip as if to ask, “How can I help?”

A heavy sigh will cause her to lift her head from a dead sleep, cock it to the side, and implore me with those incredibly intelligent eyes, “Wanna talk about it?”

She watched Nick outside on the deck, tracking his every move. When he wandered down the steps, she immediately ran to the other side of the house to watch him head for the shed. Keeping tabs. But more than that – a lot of dogs would just wait there at the door for him to come back. But she thought ahead to where he was going and was at the window on that side of the house before he’d made the turn.

I’ve been working on teaching her not to react to cars and trucks and bikes that pass us on the road. When one approaches, I put her in a sit and feed her a steady stream of treats so that she’ll associate them with good things. It’s gotten to the point now that we can be walking along and she’ll suddenly sit and look at me expectantly. There won’t be a car in sight, but if I strain my ears, I can hear one approaching from a mile away or more.

She is always three steps ahead of me, so that requires that I be on my game. That said, she is also becoming more flexible every day. She understands now that her energy must sometimes be contained in the kitchen because it’s hard to focus on work or have a Zoom call when she and Fanny are having an epic wrestling-chase-tumble match in the same room (nevermind Nick’s shout, “Not on the new hardwood floor!”).

She accepts her fate these days, calmly lying down on the Frank bed in the kitchen to rest up for the next adventure instead of whining at the gate. She’s smart enough to understand that whining won’t get her anywhere around here (I’ve raised three kids and fostered 175 dogs…).

Truthfully, Mia is easy. As far as foster dogs go. Housebroken, gets along with both my dogs, loves everyone she meets, is crate-trained, uses the dog door, and is getting really good on a leash (with the head collar). Plus, she’s motivating me to walk longer and more frequently and to work on her training (because she’s such a great student).

I don’t know why she doesn’t have applications—perhaps it’s because her profile says no apartments or townhomes or urban settings and no kids under 12 (because of her energy level and size). The other hitch could be that she has two addendums. They are legal formalities to my mind and not something to be truly concerned about, but I’m not most people. I’ve seen no evidence that either applies to this dog. In fact, her addendums remind me so much of Gala’s, my former foster dog and the star of my recent book 100 Dogs & Counting.

OPH is transparent about everything concerning any of our dogs. And that kind of transparency requires that we add legal addendums whenever there are dog teeth involved. Nevermind that there is good reason for the use of those teeth. A nip, snap, or bite is a method of communication—normally a last resort or a fear response. And let’s be completely honest here—ANY dog will bite given the right circumstances. My sweet Gracie bit me last week. I inadvertently stepped on her foot and her reaction was to snap out at the pain. She caught me in the thigh, but luckily only left a bruise. Bites happen.

You’d never imagine this girl would bite anyone, would you?

Mia has a dog bite addendum because of a fight she had with her former foster’s dog. Having watched her interact with my two dogs, I can only guess that Mia acted in self-defense. I say this because I watch Fanny wrestle and chew and pounce and step on and sit-on and dive-bomb and tackle her and never once has she snapped at Fanny. Fanny has snapped at her, even left a small puncture on her muzzle, but she always retreats, usually shocked at the outburst (although sometimes it’s her exuberance that brings it on).

Gracie regularly growls and snarls at Mia, and Mia will wag her tail in response as if to say, “Seriously? You don’t want to play?” before leaving her alone.

When Mia sees a new dog while we are out and about she does her seal yell which I’ve really got to get on video – the sound is not one I’ve ever heard a dog make. I think it means that Mia’s excitement is completely out of bounds and she can’t bare it. I don’t think it’s aggressive. She did the same thing upon meeting Fanny and it just took a long walk together before they were best friends and have been ever since (even though Mia went to another foster home for several months).

Mia has a human bite addendum because during the course of the previously mentioned altercation between the foster’s dog and Mia, the foster was bitten when she tried to break it up. She isn’t sure which dog bit her. Erring on the side of caution and trying to be completely transparent, OPH gave Mia a human bite addendum.

I get the addendums. I do.

But it only makes it harder to find this amazing pup a forever home. Add to that, she has been labeled a pit bull mix (although no DNA test has been done that would verify this and besides, ‘pit bull’ is an umbrella, catch-all term for a certain kind of appearance, not an actual breed) so she faces an uphill battle since lots of areas and some insurance companies place breed specific rules and laws prohibiting ‘pit bulls’.


It’s pretty clear this smartypant, sweetheart will be with us for heaven knows how long.

Good thing we all love her so much.

Thanks for reading!


For information on me, my writing, and books, visit where you can also find more information on my new book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One  Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues, (Pegasus Books, July 2020) or on the book’s very own Facebook page and Instagram account. I do a Facebook LIVE broadcast every Tuesday on the 100 Dogs Page with guests who range from shelter workers to authors to characters from the book.

If you’d like regular updates of all my foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips from OPH training, be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.

And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit where you can follow the blog that shares stories or find the link to our brand new podcast!

Our family fosters through the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes, a network of foster homes in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and south-central PA.

If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. It’s available anywhere books are sold.

I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at

Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery (including my profile picture!). If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact:

15 thoughts on “Of Bite Addendums, Smart Dogs, and Transparency”

  1. I was bitten once by my Siberian husky boy, Cody. He was new to my house, was attempting an escape, I grabbed him from behind. He didn’t know me and didn’t know what was happening. He turned around and snapped at me then saw my face and who I was. I have never seen such a look on a dog’s face or in a dog’s eyes. It said, “I’m so so so sorry. You’re not going to take me back to the shelter, are you?” That dog would have protected me from lions. You’re so right about the reasons dogs bite people (outside of defending their property and people). It’s the action of a moment, reflex, instinct not will or malice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My daughter just got bit by my 11 year old corgi. She reached in to break up a fight and got nipped. Scared the dog more than it hurt the kid. My mother had been bit by her twice when she startled her and we were in the room. It was a reactive move on the dogs part. She and my mother get along great any other time. I also know that this dog that will never let other dogs visit our home. She is fair – hates them all equally. It is easily accommodated!! ALL dogs have bite potential!! And just like people they will not get along with every other dog they meet. Everyone cant always be friends when personalities are involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your blog posts – funny, touching, entertaining and always educational! Your love of animals, and particularly dogs, is so apparent and your devotion to saving as many as you can is both admirable and inspirational. Keep up the great work! Note to self – buy new book!

    Final thought I hope something can be worked out to save the 7 month-old pup who was deemed dangerous by animal control after a bite incident. A great deal of education is still needed to fix these problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sad too when a dog has a bite on its record that was really a human error, and preventable. I used to get so frustrated over this bc my area had a two bite=dangerous dog rule.


  5. You’re right that smart dogs can be harder to handle than their less, shall we say “intellectually gifted” peers. My Lucy was the smartest dog I ever met, and also the most challenging to live with. Yet she was also a dog I loved with all my heart, and who absence we felt the most when she died. Sometimes the best is worth the struggle! I’m sure Mia will find her home eventually, and meanwhile she is in good hands with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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