Name a puppy, make a difference!

Marsha and puppiesIf you follow HugABull, you know that we have a soft spot for the mature and senior dogs – the ones that tend to languish and be overlooked in the shelter. American Bulldog/pittie cross Gemma was one of those dogs. An overweight stray, she wasn’t attracting much adoption interest, and was on our waiting list for almost two months as we searched for a foster home.

As she started to lose weight, though, we noticed that she retained some curves in her midsection and….could it be? Yes. An X-ray confirmed seven puppies in there. She went into labour a few days later and delivered TWELVE –  eight males and four females.

Once again we are in the position of caring for a surprise litter – and a large one at that. Gemma and her babies are resting comfortably in their foster home and our focus over the next week will be to keep them quiet, calm, and healthy. We’ve already had some adoption interest (puppies sure are popular!) but will not be reviewing applications for at least another month.

At this stage, the best way to help Gemma and her babes is:

Help Gemma find a foster home. Assuming all goes well we will need a home for her in about two months. In all the puppy frenzy, sometimes momma dog gets left behind after all she has been through. Let’s not forget about sweet Gemma, and help us find a nice place for her to land after she raises a dozen young ones.

marsha puppyHelp us name those puppies! Use the link below to make a $10 donation towards the care of this litter, and submit one male and one female name to be entered into a draw. Not only will you have a chance at naming one of these sweeties, but you’ll receive updates as they grow and become ready to seek out homes of their own!

If you prefer, we can also accept donations by cash, cheque, or email money transfer. If you are in a position to donate more than $10, this is of course gratefully accepted and can be done through our sponsorship page.

The puppy naming draw closes midnight on Friday, July 11. We will announce the names (with photos) by Sunday, July 13. So think of your cutest names and become a benefactor for a dozen new HugABulls!

Names (male + female)

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Pit Bull Hero – Rollie the Role Model

Rollie agility

Guest writer Nomi Berger is interviewing and writing about some of the “pit bull heroes” in our community. Today we feature Rollie, a seasoned “ambassadog” who has proven her mettle in the agility world, and is no less impressive in her role as family dog. Chay and Rollie have fostered a number of HugABull dogs, including Floyd, whose story was shared on our blog several times (here and here if you want to do a little background reading). Floyd was soon added to the family as a permanent member, followed by two tiny humans shortly thereafter! 

rollie beachWith her sweet, open face and helicopter tail always spinning, Rollie of the many roles is impossible to resist. Whether she’s soaring over agility bars, playing the protective kiddie guardian, soaking up some rays or simply sniffing the salt air, this perky, and personable pit is easy to love.

But she wasn’t always like this. Chay first met Rollie in June 2006 in the unlikeliest of places: a car lot. She was the young owner’s dog, and rather than leave her in a kennel 20 hours a day (as he had for much of her 1 1⁄2 years), he now kept Rollie with him at the lot. Knowing Chay was a dog lover, he asked if she could take Rollie in until he found her a new home.

Despite Chay’s initial hesitation (she already owned two dogs, and her acreage was teeming with chickens, cats and ducks) she finally agreed.

rollie and friendsShe was the saddest dog Chay had ever seen. She loved the other dogs in the house, but refused to interact with HER. To coax the reluctant Rollie out of her shell, Chay began basic training lessons with her at home. Although Rollie was a good student, she lacked enthusiasm, and remained shut down.

When a friend started agility with her dog, Chay decided to try it with Rollie. To her delight, Rollie seemed to truly enjoy the contact equipment. “Where other dogs were nervous on the teeter,” Chay recounts, “Rollie reveled in slamming it to the ground.” But she refused to jump. She either went under the bars or through them, as if writing her own rules. And Chay gamely played along, focusing solely on the FUN of it all.

Soon Rollie was a changed dog, happy and confident, and when Chay had her try jumping at home, she succeeded on the first attempt. Before long, this once closed and reticent gal was competing in trials. She earned the titles of Starter and Advanced Agility Dog of Canada, a Masters title, and was ultimately awarded her Canine Good Neighbour certificate.

Meanwhile, Chay and her husband had begun fostering for HugABull – including some dogs with medical and training challenges – and Rollie promptly assumed the role of devoted “den mother.” With what Chay proudly calls her “bombproof personality,” Rollie was surprisingly tolerant of bad behaviours. Whenever the fosters acted out, she would be their support, their snuggler, and their rock, providing them with the calm and confidence they so desperately needed.

rollie with kidsAfter the birth of her second child, Chay officially retired Rollie from agility, allowing her to slide, proudly and protectively, into the role of “full-fledged family dog. If anything,” laughs Chay, “Rollie’s activities have only increased. They now include hiking and walking with her doggy friends, many of them from HugABull.”

If a single picture is worth a thousand words, then the pictures of Rollie say it all. From car lot to nanny dog, it’s been an incredible ride!

Written by Nomi Berger.

rollie beach fetch

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A gray muzzle (or two) completes a family

beach 2

Ask them why they do it and the answer is simple. They think bully breeds are amazing.

And who are “they”? They are Chris, his partner Rachel, and their three children, Caitlin, Cassandra, and Sabrina.

 They love the breed’s energy, loyalty, character, and softhearted nature. Contrary to any outdated stereotypes, anyone who has had the pleasure of sharing their home with a pit bull knows they make great family companions. And even when their pasts have been difficult they manage to not only survive, but  shine – always with those famously wagging bully tails.

But why only senior bullies? Because, according to Chris, “Seniors rock!” They appreciate every morsel of human kindness shown them.

Chris and crew began adopting so-called “gray muzzles” 12 years ago and vow to continue as long as they can. Again, despite their rough back stories, these seniors remain intelligent, loyal and playful – and full of quirky traits  that make them such special family pets.

Like all rescue dogs, senior bullies require love, attention, time, and a stable home. For Chris’s “pack,” it’s always been a two-way street. While they provide the calm, loving environment, they are repaid many times over by the mere presence of these unique dogs in their lives.



Every dog adopted by this remarkable family holds a special place in their hearts, beginning with Brook, who came from the Vancouver SPCA, and made them realize that adopting a senior bully was the way to go. Regal and beautiful, loyal and loving, her passion was chasing squirrels. And although they had Brook for less than a year, they loved her as if she’d been with them always.

Chaos, Chris, and Stella (left to right)

Chaos, Chris, and Stella (left to right)

Happy Stella, adopted from the Delta SPCA, had a memorable way of smiling when she greeted them, along with a single, delighted yip as she rolled around on her back on the couch. Having been starved most of her life, she had poor eating manners. In fact, she once ate a box of oil pastels and endured a week of multi-coloured diarrhea!

Chaos, adopted from HugaBull, was their “salty” dog, who reminded them of a seasoned, old sailor or pirate, and who barked at 5pm every day for his dinner. He loved the ocean and big pieces of driftwood. And whenever it was time to leave the beach, he’d look at them as if they had broken his heart.



Lucy, a beautiful brindle, also adopted from HugABull, was a bubbly, playful girl, full of love and bully energy. She loved the beach as well as forest walks, and she and Chaos, her soul mate in adventure, would play gleefully together for hours. But, just like Brook, she was taken far too soon.

Boris, their handsome “Russian Gentleman,” again from HugABull, was a devoted and dedicated love bug, who loved ladies and cuddles in equal measure. He also had a special knack for opening the bathroom door and sticking his head inside to see who was in there.

Dolly (left) and Boris (right)

Dolly (left) and Boris (right)

HugABull’s Dolly, the diva, was (and still is) beautiful and strong, playful and loyal, the gracious and gentle“ den mother” to every dog entering their family, especially the older, frailer ones. While not technically a senior at five years of age, Dolly had early arthritis that made her a special needs adoption and would have deemed her “unadoptable” in the shelter. Fortunately Chris and family saw her potential and welcomed her into the family as an honourary senior. Besides her role as dog nurturer, she is committed to keeping the backyard free of skunks, squirrels, raccoons, and cats!



Finally, there is Arlo, a handsome little dynamo with a habit of chewing on random objects when he gets frustrated – novels included. The latest HugABull adoption, he’s now thriving on gentle affection and snuggling in bed. He also has a quick, little trot that keeps diva Dolly on her toes and on the move.

How much longer will these “gray muzzles” be adopted by this extraordinary family of “grayte” adopters?

How long is forever?

Article by Nomi Berger

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Re-home your stuff!

P1070360 small

Got a few boxes of gently used stuff left over from spring cleaning? Been meaning to dig around in the closet and de-hoard your house? We have the perfect excuse to do so, all for a good cause.

Our wonderful volunteer Shelley will be hosting a garage sale stand for HugABull at the annual Great Grandview Garage Sale in Vancouver on Saturday, June 21.

We are looking for the following items to help fill our tables:

Gently used clothing for men, women, and children
• Accessories (belts, hats, scarves)
• Purses, wallets, backpacks and bags
• Shoes and boots
• Towels, tablecloths, curtains and linens
• Blankets, bedding and pillows
• Housewares (dishes, cutlery, pots)
• Toys, books, games and video games
• Videos, records, CD’s and DVD’s
• Small Tools (must be in working condition)
• Small appliances (must be in working condition)

How to donate

  • We will be hosting drop-off days where you can bring your donations to 1346 Lakewood Drive (near Victoria and 1st) prior to the sale:
    Friday, June 13 from 6pm – 7pm
    Friday, June 20 from 6pm – 7pm
  • Bring your stuff early (before 10am) to on the day of the sale (Saturday, June 21)
  • Email or post on our Vancouver Facebook Volunteer Group to see if someone can collect your donation and bring it to us on the day

There will also be a lemonade stand and bake sale on site, so if you have some goodies to contribute for sale, that is welcome too!

We hope to see you for some shopping, visiting, and refreshments in one of Vancouver’s coolest neighbourhoods.

Saturday, June 21
10am – 2pm
1346 Lakewood Drive


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Pit Bull Hero – Canine Good Citizen Kane

10153377_10152271287286201_870671078_nGuest writer Nomi Berger is interviewing and writing about some of the “pit bull heroes” in our community. Kane is companion to Steffie, an active force in the Okanagan rescue community. Steffie volunteered and fostered for HugABull for several years and now runs Sit Pretty Pit, a rescue focused on the needs of bully breeds in the Okanagan. Kane has been an ambassadog at countless HugABull, Sit Pretty Pit, and SPCA events over the years, and has shared his home with many, many foster dogs along the way. Here is the story of how Steffie and Kane found each other, and what they have accomplished together.

Some say that people – or pets – come into our lives for a reason, a season, or for always.

For Steffie, a broken bully named Kane came into her life for a reason, stayed steadfastly through the shifting seasons, and still remains, loyally and lovingly, by her side.

Three years ago, Steffie, who was devastated by the tragic loss of one of her best friends, went in search of solace. She found it at the SPCA in the shape of an underweight and ailing 2-year-old pit bull whose tail was – in typical bully fashion – still wagging.

“The staff and I still joke about the day I picked him up and, bawling my eyes out, brought him in for a medical assessment,” Steffie recounts with a wry smile. “While I was inside getting a leash, he stayed in my truck, anxiously ripping up the seats. We were both such messes. I poured everything into Kane, and he more than poured it all back into me. So, from then on, he was stuck with me.”

Steffie’s sweet mate of the soul has luminous, golden eyes and a calm, gentle face, which easily transforms into a wide, laughing smile. He is also the proud wearer of many different hats: resident snuggler of his adoring mom; tender protector of kittens and cats from the SPCA; eager host to numerous foster dogs; best dressed doggy on all human holidays, and more importantly, trusted therapy dog and ambassador extraordinaire for the bully breed.

10151708_10152271287276201_1081652871_nNoting Kane’s brightness, happy energy, and eagerness to learn, Steffie took advantage of all three, and decided to have him certified as a therapy dog. Although his “dog” skills were poor, with practice and determination, they ultimately succeeded. Kane first earned his Canadian Canine Good Neighbour certification and then his Canine Good Citizen certification. The final step: being certified as a St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog.

Sadly, Steffie and Kane were “kicked out” of their first placement due to breed discrimination. But St. John’s promptly found them a more “pit bull friendly” environment — a group home they continue to visit on a weekly basis, while they spend weekends volunteering at the Vernon SPCA.

1618580_10152188650126201_988608358_nSteffi readily admits that although she came from a family of animal lovers, they were wary of pit bulls and initially nervous about her adopting one. Luckily, natural charmer that he is, Kane quickly allayed their fears, captured their hearts, and won pride of place as the official family “grand dog.”

It’s not all work and no play, however, for this dynamic duo. On the contrary. Steffi and Kane love and participate in every kind of dog sport, including rally, weight pull, agility, and disc throwing. They also love clicker training, and knowledgeable Kane has a number of tricks he’s always pleased to perform, including “nod”, “look left”, “look right”, “dig on a mat”, “mark on an object”, “touch”, “lights on”, “in a bucket”, “under”, “over”, “find my keys.”

Could a role in films be far behind for this fine, precocious pit?

Written by Nomi Berger


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HugABull’s Online Auction: Donations Needed

Bebe computerLike many non-profit organizations, we love to include silent auctions and raffles at our events, and we have amazing supporters who contribute wonderful prizes each time. But for all the people who come to our events, we know there are plenty more who live outside the area or just can’t make it on that day.

So we gave it some thought: how can we offer these great products to more people in our supportive community, while giving our sponsors the recognition they deserve? The answer — an online auction!!

We will be posting auction items on our Facebook page starting Monday, June 30, and we’ll be inviting you to post bids. Closing date will be on Sunday, July 6 and we will put ourselves to work matching items to successful donors.

We would love this campaign to raise at least $5000 to take us through the summer’s vet bills. Can you help us?

1) We need great stuff to sell! We would love gift baskets, gift certificates, dog-related stuff, non-dog-related stuff – we’d love to see a variety of items so that there is something for everyone. The auction will be open to anyone in BC, so businesses and services in all communities are invited to participate.

For shipping and handling purposes, items of at least $20 value are ideal, but we are open to smaller, DIY, or creative contributions as well. Please email with any ideas or donations.

2) We need people to browse and buy! Mark June 30 on your calendar and keep an eye out for the auction’s opening. If you want an extra reminder or aren’t on Facebook much, subscribe to our newsletter:

We are excited to launch this exciting initiative that will reach supporters throughout our province! Please stay tuned and email with any questions or ideas for contributions.

marty computer

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Introducing Team Mila

Mila and boyAs the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child… but it also takes a village to rescue animals in need! We want to take this opportunity to introduce you to lovable Mila, her foster mom Denise, and her sponsors Sarah and Mike Rowley.

Mila is an amazing, friendly, well-mannered dog, who struggles with some anxiety issues, particularly on-leash with other animals! While she has made great progress, this has made it a challenge to find her perfect forever home.

Like many rescue dogs, Mila just needed someone willing to help her work through her struggles, and she found that in Denise, a former Animal Services Officer who was looking for canine companionship, but not ready to adopt after losing her companion Kiwi, an Australian Cattle Dog whom she raised from puppyhood to a sweet old senior of 14 years. Denise’s experience with dogs  made her the perfect fit! She and her family have devoted so much time and TLC to help Mila on her journey to a forever home, and Mila is thriving.

RowleysFoster parents donate their hearts and their time, but we don’t ask them to pay for things like food, equipment, or training. That’s where great sponsors like Sarah and Mike come into the picture. With their continued monthly sponsorship of Mila, the Rowleys are giving Denise and Mila the time they need to make Mila the best dog she can be,and be ready for her forever home when the time is right.

mila couchOur hats off, and a big thank you to Denise, Sarah and Mike in helping Mila along her path to a happy forever home – your efforts do not go unnoticed! If you’re interested in fostering, or becoming a monthly sponsor for one of our adoptable dogs, we’d love to hear from you! Visit our website for more information. You can also check out our blog for each month’s Foster Roster to see who else is working as an undercover angel.

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May Foster Roster

received_m_mid_1398371134820_4440d872496bcff465_0Thank you to our wonderful sponsors this month!

Sandra Mucci, HugABull Angel to Arlo
Sarah Rowley, ongoing HugABull Hero to Mila
Samantha Jeanette, HugABull Angel to Oden
Valerie and Jay, HugABull Angels to Gracie, in memory of Bud
received_m_mid_1398371123412_ab229605a6b09fd514_0Anonymous, HugABull Helper to Pearl
Corrine, HugABull Hero to Merlot, in memory of Louie

Meet our newest and youngest HugABulls!   Only six weeks old, these three pups needed significant veterinary care – not only typical puppy expenses, but all three are being treated for kennel cough and have double back dew claws that require surgery.  Despite their health issues, these cuties aren’t letting anything get in their way of happiness.IMG_1876

We are working hard to get their mom and dad out of the shelter, so if you have ever thought about fostering, this would be a great time. Baxter, the poppa dog (below left), is lovely with people and tested well with other dogs. He has not had a lot of experience in the big wide world, so he would need a dedicated foster home that can work on his confidence and leash manners.

Momma dog Talisa (below right) also loves people, but we haven’t been able to do much testing with her since she is still weaning puppies.

We always have willing fosters for puppies, but Baxter and Talisa need out of the shelter too! Please contact if you think you may be able to help get our momma or poppa dog out of the shelter and into a family home.

And if fostering isn’t an option for you right now, you can always sponsor a puppy or any other dog in our program! Contact for details.


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HugABull had “Best Parade Spirit” in Vernon!

Okanagan Coordinator Brittnee Van Bruegel has been doing a great job of rallying community spirit in her region. There is no greater proof of this than the honour she received earlier this year. We asked Brittnee to share her experiences in her own words.

Vernon super herosThis year our HugABull Okanagan team decided to join the “Carnival of Superheroes” known as the Vernon Winter Carnival Parade. Our goal was to show the public that being a responsible owner made you a superhero no matter what breed of dog you owned. We had a lot of fun putting together superhero-themed outfits for ourselves and our pups, and I was smitten by the positive screams and applause we received as we strutted fully costumed down the street.

vernon super hero batman dogShortly after the Carnival was over we received an invitation to join them at the awards banquet.  Without knowing why I accepted.

We applauded all the other great teams that received awards that night, and my eyes filled with tears as I heard them describe the “Best Parade Spirit” and then tell us that we won! The community awarded us for having the most fun, enthusiasm, zeal and passion during the parade. I was honoured to be part of such an amazing organization and couldn’t have done it without the help of all our devoted volunteers.


A huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped organize and participate in the parade. We were invited back and look forward to hearing what next year’s theme is.

And a big thank you to Brittnee for all the work she does in the Okanagan and as our Volunteer Coordinator!! If you would like to become more involved in the Okanagan area, email Brittnee at or join our Facebook group for the Okanagan and Interior:

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Pit Bull Hero – The Titled Muay Thai

Muay toyGuest writer Nomi Berger is interviewing and writing about some of the “pit bull heroes” in our community. While Muay Thai is no longer with us, she was a titled champion as well as a confident and poised presence at many HugABull events, carrying a rainbow flag at the Pride Parade and a maple leaf version on Canada Day. We miss you Muay, and you will never be forgotten.

Muay Thai. It’s a form of kick boxing, and the American Staffordshire Terrier given that name would lie on her back with her legs kicking the air.

Muay Thai. If every ribbon she won were draped over her body, only her head would be visible.

Muay Thai. The onetime stray turned one-of-a-kind trophy winner, becoming the only dog of her breed to earn the title Agility Trial Champion of Canada (ATChC).

Muay showed up at the Burnaby SPCA in 2003, overly bred and ailing. After languishing for months, she was adopted and trained in agility, earning the Canadian Kennel Club’s Canine Good Neighbour title. Surrendered two years later by her owner, Muay Thai was placed as a foster with Lisa and John who already owned a pitbull/American bulldog mix named Tucker. To their surprise, the two dogs bonded instantly. The whole family knew four-year-old Muay Thai was a keeper.

Muay Thai jumpingBuilding on Muay Thai’s agility experience, Lisa trained to handle her properly and the pair began competing together. The more competitions they entered, the more titles Muay Thai won, including the Silver Award of Merit and the Expert Silver Standard. Although she qualified three times to compete at the AAC Nationals, two of the events were unfortunately held in Ontario, and because of the province’s breed specific legislation, she was unable to attend either of them.

And therein lies the irony. If ever a dog did NOT fit the stereotypical profile of a “dangerous breed”, it was Muay. Sweet and mellow by nature, she was the kindest and gentlest of dogs. While she was competing, she changed the minds of many of the other dogs’ owners about the breed and they told Lisa how much they enjoyed watching Muay.

canada day muayAway from competition, Muay was an active, happy and spirited dog. Seldom seen without a toy in her mouth, she loved swimming and walking with the family to and from the river every day during the summer. She loved people and always stopped obligingly when they wanted to pet her.

“Everyone was drawn to her sweetness and gentleness,” Lisa says wistfully. “She was calm and confident, never reactive. She also had especially soft eyes, and the way she looked at you made your heart melt. She even remembered the officers and volunteers from the SPCA, who often watched her doing agility or saw her at the park. Muay would pull on her leash to go to them and give them kisses.”

Even when she was ill — which she was quite often throughout her life – Lisa was told repeatedly by those who treated Muay how great a dog she was. That she was a marvelous testament to her breed. Stoic until the end, Muay was 11 when she died at home in the arms of the woman who had so adored her.

“To put it simply,” says Lisa, “Muay was a hero to me because she changed my entire life.”

muay and lisa


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