I’ve been saying I’ll write a column about puppy-dogs for quite some time now. I plan on doing that today, although I’m not sure it’s quite what everyone will expect…
Pitbulls. The breed has become synonymous with violence, fear, and death. All too often, Americans hear horrific stories of how a “pitbull” committed some terrible, scary dog crime and associate it with the breed as a whole.
My issue is this: Other dogs bite. Other dogs attack your pet and growl at your kids. Why is the world not upset about the mean Labs or Yorkies? Why are “dog bites” just that, but “pitbull bite” is a separate category?
Every generation has one notorious breed – in the 90s it was Rottweilers, before that German Shepherds. However, to my recollection, these breeds were never the topic of bans or excessive euthanasia. Why now?
Everyone has thought it at one point: it’s not the dog that’s the problem, it’s the owner.
Puppies, like all young animals, are subject to their environment. If you raise a child in an abusive setting, aren’t they more likely to show the same behavior later in life?
Why then, oh pray tell, are we shooting dogs left and right, but turning the other way when we see an owner who’s unfit?
I can’t begin to count the number of people I know who have a fear, sensible or not, of pitbulls. But why? Have these people ever come in contact with one of these dogs? What seeded this distrust? Perhaps its the rumor mill, maybe the media. Regardless, I believe nine times out of ten, this belief is unfounded.
Justin and I currently have two pit-mix dogs. Jody, who is half-pit, and Pearl, a quarter. Neither of these girls are scary. Neither of them will bite you or attack your infant. In fact, their cutey pig eyes will stare adoringly up at you until you give in to their demands and scratch their head, rub their belly, or give them a bite of your hotdog.
Jody is bred to work cattle, and she’s good at it. We don’t have cattle, so what does she do to bide her time?
She’s a bird chaser.
Our big, scary, nightmare-inducing pit bull will run full throttle, head high and tail pert, in a serpentine pattern around our yard and dry lot chasing barn swallows. To my knowledge, her hunts have never been successful, but oh how she loves it.
Pearly, a Jody puppy, enjoys following closely behind, seemingly unaware of the game.
My sweet girls also enjoy laying on the porch, big ol’ tails thumping on the railing, and chewing on sticks.
Both of these dogs have met other canines, none of which were ever gnawed to a pulp. Most often, they became Jody and Pearly’s best friends – whether or not the feeling was returned.
Despite proof that “good” pits exist, insurance companies have started refusing coverage to families who own pitbulls. Cities have enacted breed bans and apartment complexes refuse to house the dogs, no matter the pet’s disposition. If it looks like a pit, it’s off limits.
I’ve met a lot of dogs in my lifetime, and many of them were a lot “scarier” than my Jody and my Pearly.
Ask Justin, who is not a huge dog fan, the meanest one he’s ever come in contact with. One of his answers will probably be a full-blooded Aussie (Australian Shepherd). Lindy, as she was called, was Justin’s family’s pet when he was growing up. While she was an excellent companion and talented worker, she was mean as a snake.
And she didn’t have an ounce of pit blood.
Did you know that in America, an average of 2,000 to 3,000 pitbulls are killed every day?
Some of these dogs, abandoned by their owners, spend months, even years (if they’re lucky enough to be allowed to live) in animal shelters. Humane societies across the country are brimming full of pits, all because they’re “scarey.”
Dogs are hardwired to love unconditionally. That’s why we make them our pets, right? For this love and their irreplaceable loyalty?
Despite the worst situations, almost every dog has the power to overcome and still be a “good boy.” The time and effort you put into your pet is usually repaid tenfold, no matter their circumstances.
This requires us to open our closed minds and rid ourselves of useless and ignorant stereotypes; what we could get in exchange is worth that sweet doggie’s weight in gold.
Did you know that in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, pit ancestors were known as “nanny dogs”? Their loyalty and selfless instincts prompted their owners to trust them with their children like they would a nanny or babysitter. “Bad dogs” don’t generally get this honor.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: ignore the rumors and labels. Do your research and make up your mind for yourself.
Also, please – if you’re considering adopting a dog or adding to your furry family, don’t overlook a pit just because they’re a pit. They’re all “good boys.”