Sunshine back in 2012

How old are you?

We are guessing I’m around 2-1/2 years old

Where did your name come from?

I.C.A.R.E. Dog Rescue gave me that name when they rescued me on January 5, 2012

Do you remember your life before being at the shelter?

I really don’t remember anything. All I know is the shelter people found me on the streets in terrible condition. I was in such bad shape they labeled me as a “bait” dog and aggressive.

I saw you were a bait dog, would you like to explain that to people who don’t know what that is?

Mom doesn’t believe I was a “bait” dog. Several other people familiar with these types of dogs agree with her.  One of the saddest parts about being a stray is that shelters feel the need to “label” dogs. We don’t like labels because it reduces our chance of finding a forever home. In most cases a label will end up causing our death because people become fearful of us.

How are you doing with your aggression/fear issues now?

I/We don’t use the word “aggressive”, it sound so negative. The media has society already thinking we are dangerous dogs, that term only adds to their fear. We like the term “reactive”. If you think about, dogs ONLY react to their surroundings. As dogs, if we never experienced something, it may cause us to react in a defensive manner. While living in a kennel for over 18 months I didn’t have many “normal” dog experiences. This caused me to be very reactive when mom started taking in public. My biggest and worst reactions came when men tried to come near me. Now, I allow my male trainers from LARPBO (Los Angeles Responsible Pit Bull Owners) walk up to me and mom, I just sit there and look pretty. It wasn’t like that 5 weeks ago, I was so afraid of them. Mom says that I’m her “Rock Star” because she sees growth in me every day. I still have fear a lot of things, but I’m getting better.

I read you had special training to help prepare you for your furever home, what was that like?

I can talk for HOURS about the wonderful trainers, leadership team and members of LARPBO. They are ALWAYS there for us 24/7. I train every Sunday in Long Beach, and will continue for a very long time. I can always improve, all dogs can. People would be amazed how much they contribute to the negative behavior of their dog. To quote one of my trainers, Sadot Aldaco, “You have to paint the picture.” We need strong leaders, who are consistent and not sending us mix messages. Mom has learned so much about being a proper dog leader form LARPBO. As smart as we are, dogs get confused without a good leader.

Sunshine looking adorable

What is your favorite thing to do?

Being in a kennel for so long I never experienced being a real dog. Everything is new and so much fun. I don’t have one favorite thing to do, I love lots of things… going for rides in the truck, playing tug-o-war with mom, de-stuffing my stuffed animals, and giving kisses.

Can you tell me a bit about your fursiblings?

I live with three little fursiblings, they are all rescues. For now, I am only allowed to be around them if my muzzle is on. This goes back to me not experiencing what little dogs are, and my high prey drive. My brother, Sarge is a chi/mix, about 13 years old. He has diabetes and requires two insulin shots each day. You would not be able to tell he is blind by the way he plays chase and gets around.

I have two chi sisters, Popcorn and Star. Popcorn is 4-1/2 and will go to anyone, she loves people. Mom has had her since she was a puppy.

My other chi sister is Star. Mom calls her Starla Bean. She was found in a wooden box, with chicken wire nailed to the top, in the middle of the desert last August. She was put in the box along with 18 other dogs, left to die. All the dogs looked alike, so it had to have been a breeder who dumped them. Luckily they were found and all the dogs lived. Some people may not know that bad breeders keep their dogs locked in a cage their entire life. Star was some what like me, no dog experiences. She was afraid to walk on grass, afraid of mom, afraid of Sarge and Popcorn, afraid of everything. NOW, we can’t keep her off the grass or stop her from bugging Popcorn to play. Mom’s plan was only to foster Star, but decided to keep her.

What would you or your mom like to say to people who are scared of adopting dogs with aggression/fear issues?

ALL dogs can be great dogs, humans just need to “paint the picture” of what you want us to be.

Sunshine kisses

Did your mom have previous experience with dogs who have issues?

NOTHING like MY issues. My type of issues are new to mom. Everyone warned her, “be careful she will bite you”. Mom has been working with me for almost 10 weeks now. I have never growled, barked or try to bite her. It’s very hard for mom to hear people say negative things about because I’ve only showed her love. But, she understands why certain comments are made. I was so bad one time in training, someone asked mom, “Did they recommend putting Sunshine down?” Several people from that class actually told mom later, “they were afraid of me because of how I reacted to the male trainers and males in general.” I will always be greatful to Troy Smith and Sadot Aldaco, my two main trainers from LARBPO. There are other trainers within LARBPO, but these two men have really went the extra mile for me.

Is there anything else you or any one of your family would like to add?

So many dogs are ‘labeled”. We should be judged as individuals, not as a category or type. Next time you hear someone say, “That’s an aggressive dog”, please remember we are only reacting to the “picture that was painted for us”.

If you want to smile every day and add a little “sunshine” to your day, please visit my FB page:

Sunshine smiles

Sunshine smiles

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Sunshine and her mom for answering the interview questions. Photos were used with permission and belong solely to Sunshine and her mom. Please follow Sunshine and her many adventures at Sunshine, Pack and Friends on Facebook. If you are in the Los Angeles area or just curious about what LARPBO does, please visit the LARPBO Website.

For more interviews on pets that have found their forever homes, please visit Happy Tails or click the image below.