Saturday, 14 January 2012

20 Questions with Hector the Pit Bull, Ambassadog Extraordinaire

Photo by Josh Grenell
Hector was rescued from Michael Vick's property as one of 51 Pit Bulls who were part of a dog fighting operation. Once you look at this tan coated dog with the soft eyes, goofy smile and gentle face, it is easy to overlook the scars he earned (as a means of survival) that spread across his chest and arms. It is also easy to sit in awe of Hector- for all he has put behind him, that he can easily sit and exude pure joy and a love of life. Reaching out with his people to let others know there is one little soul who truly enjoys their presence. He, along with sibling Wallace, are ambassadogs  not only to their breed, but to all dogs everywhere. He appears at movie screenings, on talk shows, does interviews and works hard to show people what a good dog really is. Despite what people think, Hector has proven time and time again that you cannot judge a book by its cover, and that everyone can rise above a painful and scary past. Yes, you can learn from a dog. I have. You are invited to do the same.

Twenty Questions With Hector the Pit Bull

What is a typical day in the life of Hector like?
Most days are filled with sleeping, sprinting around the house, 
more sleeping, maybe a walk, food, and snuggling as close as possible to the people.

What do you like to play with? Do you play well with your siblings?
I like the durable toys we have around the house (West Paw Design, JW Pet Balls, and black Kongs), but my new favorite toys are the logs sitting in front of the fireplace. I try to play nice with my siblings, but they do not play like I do, so I mostly sprint around the house as Hurricane Hector while they take cover in doorways and under tables waiting out the storm.

What is your favourite food to eat? Does it ever come from your parents plate?
 I like most snacks. My favorite is raw vegetables. They're crunchy and good for me. I don't usually get to share from plates.

We know you had a rough start to life, is there anything that upsets you today, because of it?
Sometimes, I think I see things in the shadows at night that nobody else sees. I growl until it goes away. But 99% of the time, I have no worries.

A lot of people who have not followed your story since you went home, would be surprised to know you work with people. What would you like them to know?
I want them to know I am grateful for the chance I have been given so I show it by giving back. It wasn't hard becoming a therapy dog. I just had to be myself. I guess some people like all those titles and it validates me somehow, but I don't need them to know that I love being gentle and silly and easy going. (Hector the Inspector- CGC, TDI, ATTS, TDinc)

How do you prepare to go on your therapy outings?
I don't need any special preparation. My people try to take me for a long walk or run before I do a therapy visit, in hopes that I may be less rambunctious, but it really doesn't work.

Hector and Angus

You have met a lot of kids, while working as a therapy dog, what would you like other kids to know before approaching you?
I love all kids, and they can hug and kiss me all they want. But, I've heard that some dogs do not understand kids and they get scared, so it is best to teach kids to ask before petting a dog. I've done a few visits where kids practice asking to pet me and how to approach without being overwhelming to a dog.

What do you think you could teach people?
I learned very quickly that I would miss out on some amazing people if I assumed they were all like my first people. Experience everything and keep an open mind.

Photo by Melissa L.
What would you tell people to help them overcome their fear of Pit Bulls?
The best way to overcome their fear is to meet a lot of dogs. Once you start meeting nice dogs and their owners (who will be very excited to talk about their dog) you'll find that everything is hunky dory.

Do you have a girlfriend?
Not at the moment, but I can tell you about "the one that got away". Her name was Beatrix and she was living at Animal Farm Foundation at the same time I was. She was looking for her forever home but instead found this 50-pound, slightly uncoordinated hunk of a man. She was my size and we could run and play until our tongues were as floppy as the day is long. Then we would stroll through the grass, and eat some of it, too. She was so beautiful and I am not surprised she found a loving home. Hector and Beatrix video.

Would you like to answer some questions from your fans?

Fans? Does every dog have fans? Because they should!

A lot of fans want to know about your flop. When did it start? Do you do it because you like the headrush or because you know everyone will swoon?
Photo by Katie Bray
My foster home in California started that. It gets a good laugh and some "aaaw's" and people can see my scars when I am upside down. And it does give me a mild headrush, so there really is no downside to The Flop.

Do you think doing your flop or zoomies is what makes you run into your siblings and break things?
Zoomies are my favorite things in the world. I can't wait to have a fenced yard again so I can run and run.

A lot of your fans are curious to know if you conquered any Christmas ornaments, this year.
No, not this year. We had to move in with my grandpa recently (don't tell him I call him that). Apparently, he didn't want his ornaments demolished. I still don't understand what they are for then. So they just put lights on the tree. I still chewed on the branches and and took bows off of presents. 

                                                                            Kara asks:
Hector and Wallace 
You and Wallace are both SUPERSTARS, are there ever any issues with a bit too much ego in the house? Any competition for mirror space, tussling over fan mail or bickering over the throngs of fans?
What?! We're superstars?! Wallace, did you hear that? Thanks for letting us know, Kara.

Sarah asks:
I would love to know how much fan mail Hector gets from all the ladies who love him, and his idea of the perfect Valentine's Day date. Also, his thoughts on dog Snuggies.
I don't get a lot of real mail, but I get a lot of nice comments on my Facebook page. People are so nice! As far as my idea of a perfect Valentine's Day date, I am looking for a girl who likes the simple things in life. I love nature walks and warm naps in the sun.
Snuggies are perfect because they are made of fleece. I love the static it gives me from rolling around on fleece. It gives me the zoomies!

Chris asks:
Does Hector get rewarded with affection or does he use his charms to get what he wants?
My people don't practice a strict "nothing in life is free" approach, but I don't get spoiled either. Sometimes I get a treat just for looking cute, but I also know a lot of tricks and will offer those up for some morsels. And sometimes affection is my reward.

Kerry asks:
When you meet the people who helped you and your cousins, from the past, do you know who they are?
I haven't seen many of those people since I left California. I did see Tim and Donna from BAD RAP last year in New York and that was really fun. It was like no time had passed. I would love to go back to California and see my old friends sometime. 

Susi asks:

 Is there anything you haven't yet done, but would like to try (surfing, hang gliding, riding in a helicopter, scuba diving)?
Ride in a motorcycle side-car! Roo has a motorcycle and I have a helmet. We just need a sidecar!! I'm going to ask Santa for that next year. I think I would also like to ride in a motorboat and walk down the streets of Denver. One can hope.

And finally, Teem asks:
Are you really as cuddly as you seem to be?
Yes. When I am not running or licking the floor or inspecting my surroundings. Yes.

Questions for Clara and Roo.

How has life changed since Hector came into your life?
The warm response that we receive from people  gives us hope. Hector has brought us on so many adventures around the country. We met many wonderful people that we probably wouldn't have met if not for him and Wallace. 

Photo by Josh Grenell

What have you learned through him?
As open-minded as we were when we decided to adopt him, the resiliency that Hector has shown has still been astounding.

Wouldn't be a complete interview if the siblings were not asked what Hector is like as a brother...
He's a typical little brother. We sometimes tire of his enthusiasm and energy, but we still love him and appreciate the liveliness he brings to our little family.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about one extraordinary dog who lives with an awesome and inspiring family. 

 Many thanks to Hector, Clara and Roo and siblings for taking the time to do this interview. And thanks to Josh Grenell, Katie Bray and Melissa L. for the courtesy of allowing the use of these amazing shots of Hector.

And thank you.


Laurie said...

Nikhi, what an amazing post...I'd never seen the entire video of Hector going home before and it was very moving. Thank you for all the time you've put into this endeavor! Hector, I think that you, your family and cargivers are awesome, and I feel honored to watch your journey unfold and learn about life and love from you. ♥ ♥


Anonymous said...

Hector's homecoming video brings tears to my eyes every time I see. This was an awesome insight into life for Hector such a beautiful dog inside and out thank you Nikhi. I loved the video of Hector and Bea.

Nikki Hughes

Nick said...

Purtled perfeck, Nikhi. :-)

Anonymous said...

"Walk down the streets of Denver." Oh, Hector, I love you!

Anonymous said...

Another fantastic job Nikhi.

Anonymous said...

Nice!!! I love that video with Alanis Morisette, it's so perfect.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I just love the whole article...I did cry when the man had to say goodbye to Hector as he sent him to his furever home. That had to be difficult. I follow Hector on FB. God Bless all who helped get him to his forever home and God bless him and his people and family.

Suzy Allman said...

Hector: Thank you for that very candid interview. It's nice to see that basically, you're still down-to-earth and haven't let it all go to your head. You seem so...regular!

Great job! Very funny and heartwarming.

Lisa said...

Nikhi, I love it!

miriam schoen said...

Ilove this story!!!! I love my Pitty Nina like I never loved a dog before!!!

Aloha Pet Hospital said...

I say your blog is awesome! Happy new Year!

jayme reynolds said...

Pitbulls are great pets, I've had them all my life and never once had any aggression issue. They do, however, require training. Like any breed with a high prey drive, training will teach them how to direct their energy in a way that is safe. So before you go out and look for Blue pitbull puppies please make sure you have a training plan.