For former fighting pit bull, Oklahoman is fostering hope
Dog to be adopted this month after rescue from Vick kennel

By Carrie Coppernoll Modified: October 17, 2008 at 11:18 am •  Published: September 15, 2008
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also doesn't show signs of baiting: scars on his belly and jugular or marks around his paws where bait dogs are tied down so fighting dogs can learn how to attack.

"I can imagine that at some point something worse could have happened than what had already been occurring,” said Gibb, who's been working with Alf since March.

Alf's fears were typical of abused dogs, she said. He was afraid of loud noises, sudden movements and people holding objects. He was scared of things over his head, such as ceiling fans. He was terrified of doorways. For fighting dogs, leaving a room meant going somewhere dangerous, possibly deadly, Gibb said. Alf and dogs like him collapsed into a heap and had to be carried through doorways.

Alf is up for adoption this month, and Gibb hasn't decided whether she'll apply to keep him.

"It would be very hard imagining not having him in my life,” she said. "And my other critters wouldn't like it.”

But regardless of where Alf is given a permanent home, Gibb said she believes he will be a working dog. She isn't sure what type of work will suit him best, but she said he would be an excellent dog for educational outreach.



How Alf came to Oklahoma
Federal officials charged former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three others with crimes related to Bad Newz Kennels in 2007. He pleaded guilty and is serving time at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan.

About 60 dogs were seized from the property; about 50 were pit bull terriers involved in the fighting, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Only one dog was euthanized. About half went to the Best Friends Animal Society ranch in Utah. The rest of the dogs were given to a handful of rescue organizations across the country.

Alf was one of four dogs put in the care of the Richmond Animal League in Richmond, Va. One of the organization leaders, Sharon Cornett, was given two dogs that needed foster homes, including Alf.

Officials contacted Gibb last September, and she first met Alf in December. Alf came to Oklahoma to live with Gibb in March.



Road to recovery
Trainer Molly Gibb uses the TTouch method, also called the Tellington Touch Method. TTouch practitioners use specific circular hand movements to awaken the body's senses, according to the TTouch Web site. Gibb pets Alf in certain ways that help him become more aware of the size and function of his body. She also wraps Alf with bandages, which helps stimulate his senses.

"All of the work that we're doing with him on the physical level — like with how we touch him, using body wraps with him — are all to help him know better that he is safe and he can be a healthy, happy little dog,” Gibb said.

Gibb also uses body language to help Alf stay relaxed. She blinks, licks her lips and turns her head to signal that she is not looking for confrontation. Alf occasionally works with other dogs at his side, and he often works with an Icelandic horse named Gabe.

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