Extraordinary People,
Extraordinary Pit Bulls
We are all in this together - all connected by our thoughts, actions, and
intentions. And when special people connect with special dogs, the
outcome can be powerful!   This page spotlights some people and dogs
we think have gone the extra mile.

Know an extraordinary person or dog?  Please email us:  
Our Pack’s Marthina McClay

We love what Our Pack is doing for the breed. Besides
educating and saving lives, they are turning out therapy dogs-
extraordinaire, and finding their best candidates in the most
‘unlikely’ of places (ahem, how about Michael Vick’s backyard?).

Marthina, what’s your animal background? I've had dogs all my
life. I started riding horses at 11 yrs old. I learned to train my
horses (3) for pole bending a barrel racing at age 14. I first
learned to train dogs in the 1970s when our family had
Dobermans. I learned the traditional "old style" training where
you pop the choke chain on the dog’s neck to train him. I
actually felt uncomfortable at times with this technique. I
wondered whether or not something more positive might work
like kibble or cheese. At age 17 I trained my first dog with
positive reinforcement, not knowing that this was what it was
called of course, and taught a 10 week old dog to sit, down
and stay in about 20 minutes. Of This seemed so much faster
and more fun for the dog and myself. When I heard about
positive reinforcement methods being popular I was very
interested to learn how to do it well and on a professional
level. I'm now a certified trainer through the CCPDT, a certified
therapy dog tester/observer, Animal Behavior College Mentor
Trainer and a CGC Evaluator. I work mostly with Pit Bulls and I
work with dogs that have leash reactivity and I specialize in
dog on dog aggression issues.

How did you get 'into' Pit Bulls and come to form Our Pack? In
about 2002 - 2003 I became very interested in Pit Bulls after I
saw a documentary that showed an abused Pit Bull being
taken from a home. The dog was in bad shape. The officers put
the dog in the back seat of their police car and the dog put his
head on one officer’s shoulder. I remember thinking, "Wow,
what a resilient dog! How people-loving after all he's been
through!" The next day I began researching the breed. I talked
to rescues, read books and I went to every shelter in my area
and even outside my area to observe Pit Bulls. Then I started
working on different training techniques meant to help dogs
with leash reactivity or dog-aggression issues. Then after
about a year or so I got my female Pit Bull Hailey. I really
worked with her as she wanted to jump up a lot to greet
people and I could see that this could effect the image of the
breed in a negative way even though she was just trying to
connect with people albeit rudely. So I doubled up on positive
reinforcement training to teach her better manners. She
became a certified therapy dog and I noticed that when she
walked into a medical facility with her vest on she made such a
difference in the minds of the people. This got me thinking. So I
started fostering and rescuing dogs with the idea in mind to
take shelter dogs and shine them up and make them
ambassadors. My house now had a "revolving door" where Pit
Bulls would come in and I would work with them. I sometimes
would take them home and just evaluate them in my home
setting. I worked at local shelters to help dogs become more
adoptable. I would put CGCs on some Pit Bulls at the shelter
and this would sometimes make a difference in their
adoptability. After doing this on my own for a while I unofficially
started Our Pack. Now we've been an actual, official non profit
organization for over a year.

Marthina n' Leo

Tell us about how Leo came to you and your work with him and
what he's doing. When the Vick case popped up I was very
interested in seeing if I could take a dog from this case and
potentially make him a therapy dog. If Hailey could change
minds, most certainly a Vick dog could really do the job. There
was an email posted at the bottom of one of the articles about
the case that I responded to. Everything snowballed from
there. I was contacted by the guardian/special master for the
Vick dogs and later I was sent a video of Leo (then known as
“Bouncer”) and I could see that he was kennel stressed but
people connected and apparently a great dog. I felt that with
some good training he would make a great therapy dog. I
received Leo December 16, 2007 and by January 21, 2008 (5
weeks later) he was certified as a therapy dog. The rest is
history. Since then we have taken a dog from a Missouri fight
bust who just passed her CGC and is just about to make
certification for therapy work as well. We have 2 other females
from a fight bust and one has passed CGC and has one more
observation and she will definitely pass her therapy testing. I
feel that these dogs are truly cut out for this work.

Leo's true calling in life - therapist Pit Bull!

Additionally, I have learned a great deal about canine behavior
vs. breed or pit bull behavior. The dogs that we have from fight
busts in our care are fantastic dogs. If we hadn't taken a look
at these great dogs as pets we would have missed out on
some great lives. Leo for instance is SO people focused and
people loving he makes every patient smile when he's working
as a therapist. Everyone loves him, the staff included. He puts
he head up on their laps and gives them warm, soft, loving
eyes and folks just melt. This is why I think it is so important to
evaluate each dog as an individual and this is what happened
in the Michael Vick case. All are different in temperament and I
think it's important for all of us as professionals, i.e. trainers,
behaviorists, animal welfare organizations to take this
opportunity to learn from this landmark, groundbreaking case.
The dogs can be our teachers as they've certainly been mine.
It would be great to see more resources pop up to take in bust
dogs and support this effort.

Please elaborate a bit more on Our Pack and what you guys
do: Our Pack, Inc. is a Pit Bull specific rescue/education/training
non profit organization with a 501c3.We educate potential
adopters about the breed and work with them well after they
adopt one of our dogs if necessary. We train staff, volunteers
and ACOs about breed ID and temperament in local shelters.
We have once a month (dogless) Pit Bull education classes free
to the public in all local shelters.We offers low or no cost Pit
Bull training classes for Pit Bull owners that want to shine up
leash skills or work on managing leash/dog reactivity.

Our program includes an ambassador program where we CGC
Pit Bulls and certify appropriate dogs for therapy work and get
their wiggly butts out in the public and show d'em awf.

We also work with special cases such as fight bust dogs.

Please visit Our Pack, Inc on the web: