Featuring One Fabulous Foster Family

Gerry, Bebe, and Miss

Gerry, Bebe, and Miss

We could not do the work we do without the amazing volunteers that help us through fostering, transporting, fundraising, and so much more. This month our guest writer Nomi Berger profiles Karla and her family, who are active volunteers on Vancouver Island.

For Karla, it started with two simple words: “Come play.”

Miss and Bebe

Miss and Bebe

The event was Pits in the Park, and Karla and Erin, her husband-to-be, obligingly brought their two dogs to the park to play. “It was an awesome experience,” she recalls as if it was yesterday. “Being with other pit bull owners, people who knew what it meant to own and love them while being aware of the myths and stereotyping surrounding them.” She herself had long ago fallen in love with the breed because, as she says, “they are the most loyal, sociable, squish-able dogs I’ve ever come across.”

She soon began volunteering for HugABull at various events, then helped out with home checks, and in June 2013, she and Erin fostered their first HugABull dog. His name was Gerry, and although he came to them “raw”, by the time he was adopted six months later, he was not only well mannered and well behaved, but he also knew no end of great tricks.



Why did the couple choose to foster pit bulls? The answer is simple. “There are so many dogs in shelters who are closer to being euthanized than being adopted,” explains an impassioned Karla. “They are there through no fault of their own and they deserve better. They not only deserve to be loved, but they deserve a second chance at having a whole new life. Without enough temporary foster homes available, rescue groups like HugABull simply can’t save enough of them.”

And to Karla, nothing is better than “breaking a dog out of a shelter.” Once these dogs are safe in foster care, they are gradually able to leave the stress of shelter life behind and learn, as part of a normal, everyday environment, to become the dogs they were meant to be.



For their part, fosters act as the eyes and ears of rescue. They discover their particular dogs’ likes and dislikes, quirks and habits. They coax shy ones out of their shells, turn weaknesses into strengths, and work on preparing them for their eventual adoption.

“What’s so rewarding about fostering,” Karla explains, “is seeing how, with time and attention, patience and energy, these dogs bloom before your eyes. Letting go is hard, but seeing them leave for their forever home is truly worth it. We love the updates! It warms our hearts to see them so happy and doing so well.”

The couple has fostered three pit bulls since Gerry — one at a time – with their own two pits, Bebe and Little Miss, welcoming them easily into their home and into their space. All of them, Gerry, Teddy, Cole, and now Freedom, have been different, goofy and utterly lovable in their own ways.

“Being a part of HugABull has opened my eyes to many things,” concludes Karla. “It’s educated me. It’s changed the way I think and do things with my own dogs. But most of all, it’s allowed me to change people’s minds about pit bulls. And I LOVE that!”

Written by Nomi Berger


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Puppy coin drive

IMG_2726 (1)For those of you who have been the following the journey of Gemma’s puppies, we are happy to report that they are now thriving and in good health! Following a two-week quarantine and stellar veterinary care, Gemma and her pups made a full recovery and are now moving into foster or foster-to-adopt homes.

Do you know anyone who is thinking of breeding their dog for fun or profit? We invite you to share Gemma’s story. She had a difficult labour, which required an initial vet stay. Then two more visits because of recurring digestive issues. When the puppies were sick, four of them were rushed to the emergency clinic for overnight care and fluids. Then follow-up care and meds for all 13 dogs.

Because it was a large litter, volunteers had to supplement the puppies up to three times a day with puppy formula. Daily cleaning was required, which increased to a full decontamination once we learned that the cause of the puppies’ distress was a highly transmissible parasite.

IMG_2736Add to that the costs of food, supplies, and routine veterinary care like vaccinations and spay/neuter, and this was a very expensive project. When all is said and done this litter has cost more than $7000 to raise, and that is with significant discounts from our partner veterinarians and donated supplies.

To help with some of these costs, so that we can help more dogs, we’re holding a HugABull coin drive! It’s easy to participate. Just download the graphic below and secure it to a tin, jar, or container of your choosing. Send us a note at HugABullFundraising@gmail.com to let us know you are collecting our behalf. We would love to see photos as well!

Coin Drive Graphic (PDF)

puppy coin drive 2014

Once your jar is full, contact us and we will arrange for the redemption and transfer of funds. It’s easy, and it will make an impact. If everyone who follows us on Facebook donated $1 in change, we could cover all the costs and put us back in track to help more dogs in need!

For other ways to donate, visit our donation or sponsorship pages online! We now have charitable registration status, so any donation over $20 is eligible for a tax receipt.

It truly takes a village to raise these 12 cuties. Many thanks to everyone who donated, and a special thanks to the following:

To Bonnie, Deb, Lauren, Christine, Jeff, Kathleen, and Jack for their hours of puppy cuddling, feeding, wrangling and cleaning.

To Paws for Hope for the grant of $1000 towards vet care.

To Queen’s Park Vet Hospital, Animal Care Clinic and Hospital, Intercity Animal Emergency Clinic, and Cambie Animal Hospital for your incredible care.

IMG_2740 (1)

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Calendar sponsors needed!

headshot sample

Every year, we showcase 12 amazing alumni in the HugABull calendar. Working with a fabulous team of photographers, designers, and sponsors, we are proud to create a stunning piece of pittie pride every year. It also happens to be one of our most successful fundraisers!

We will be partnering with Tisol Pet Nutrition and Supply stores this year - calendars will be for sale in all their branches! We are excited to be working with a great local company that will provide us with additional exposure and sales.

For maximum fundraising impact, we are opening sponsorship opportunities to our community members. For your donation of $25 or $50, your pet’s “headshot” will be placed in the bottom section of our calendar. All proceeds from headshot sales cover our printing and shipping expenses, so that 100% of sale proceeds can benefit the dogs in our program. These donations are tax-receiptable as well!

Want to see your bullie shine with the others? Here’s how it works:

1. Email HugabullFundraising@gmail.com to reserve a spot. Indicate the size of headshot you want, and your pet’s name.

2. Send the photo to HugabullFundraising@gmail.com. High resolution photos are ideal (at least 1MB in size). Close-up photos of the pet’s face work best for the space available.

2. Provide payment.  Use the link below to pay by credit card/PayPal, or send an email money transfer to info@hugabull.com. If you wish to pay by cash or cheque, send us an email and we can provide drop-off options.

Payment and photo must be received by Saturday, August 30 to secure your space in the calendar. We look forward to another year of gorgeous close-ups!


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Pit Bull Hero – Amazing Arlo

Guest writer Nomi Berger is interviewing and writing about some of the “pit bull heroes” in our community. Arlo is now a senior enjoying a well-earned retirement after being our go-to ambassadog for years. Sam and Arlo charmed audiences at countless events in HugABull’s early years, and we can’t count how many lives were changed for the better because of their influence. 

calendar arlo and lmo“I credit Arlo for making me the person I am today. He taught me how to train and handle dogs in a loving, gentle, positive and patient way because he is such a soft and gentle soul.”

The words are Samantha’s and Arlo is her beloved pit bull.

When Sam started her quest for the ideal dog to train for dog sports ten years ago, she never suspected that she would find the perfect match on HugABull’s website. An experienced dog owner, handler, and groomer, Sam found in Arlo everything she could have wanted. And more. Handsome, smart, and extremely sociable, Arlo was a photogenic brindle with white paws and a white tip to his constantly wagging tail.

IMG_3989It wasn’t long before this wonderful wizard of a dog learned over forty commands, perfected an entire solo act of tricks and mastered the many sports in which he competed. In fact, amazing Arlo — whose official name is Markeydas Arlo — has more initials after his name than your above-average PhD: CD CGN AGNJ RA RAMCL ADC SGDC.

And what do these impressive letters signify? The seven titles Arlo won during his successful career in competition: Companion Dog, Canine Good Neighbour, Agility Novice Jumpers, Rally-O, Rally Advanced Magna Come Laude, Agility Dog of Canada, and Starters Games Dog of Canada.

92016524As for Arlo’s achievements off the field? He set the bar even higher as an ambitious and amiable ambassa-dog. With his sweet nature, infectious smile and friendly personality, he altered the perceptions of many. He charmed people and other dogs at public events, impressing everyone with his repertoire of tricks, showing just how tender and warm, loving and loyal bullies can be. He even appeared in print, being featured twice in Modern Dog magazine and in numerous positive news stories.

According to Sam, one of Arlo’s “greatest achievements in life was being a positive role model for the eight dogs we fostered over the years.” And his reward for all of this? A well-earned retirement. “We now spoil him rotten and let him do whatever he wants,” laughs Sam, “and that usually includes delivering cookies to him in bed. It is quite the role reversal!”

And what does this retired ambassa-dog love? “Swimming, hiking, hunting, white lacrosse balls and shredding things.”

What does he hate? “Baths, bees, waking up early and rain.”

“One of his favourite quirks is grumbling at me to tell me to be quiet if I’m talking after bedtime. He has a great sense of humour, loves wearing hats and getting dressed up. He loves nothing more than a good laugh.”

Suddenly, Sam grows serious, saying softly, “Arlo is truly a ten out of ten, perfect dog. My heart dog.”

You can’t get more amazing than that.

Written by Nomi Berger


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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!

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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 HugABullFundraising@gmail.com 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 HugABullFundraising@gmail.com 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: http://goo.gl/AJfXTx

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

marty computer

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