What was supposed to be short and sweet became much longer, and filled with a bit more emotion than I intended. I wanted to take some time out of one day to write a little bit about one of my interests. I instead rolled this out over four days, adding and editing, until I finally realized that I was never going to post this thing if I didn’t just click the blue publish button. I could seriously work on this forever if I let myself. So here it is, a blog post about one of my passions in this life: The American Pit Bull Terrier.
Some people fear the idea of this dog, this animal. Their Initial fear is not their fault. It is widely thought that this breed of dog is somehow more vicious and unpredictable then any other breed. I have met these people. They have seen me sitting out in public with my Pit Bull Dog, and their face twists into this terrified expression as they cross the street, or shuffle to the side in an attempt to avoid my dog and I. In one such case, it was an older couple, perhaps in their sixties. Allow me to set the scene.
An all-natural smoothie shop sits on the corner of a long row of businesses on State St in Redlands California next to an old candy shop with nostalgic goodies for a generation past. Two tables are set outside the smoothie shop, one right against their business, the other just a few feet across, closer to the street. I sat with my back facing the street, and my pit bull, Sunny, sat near the table. We were waiting for my brother and sister to come out. The door to the shop was open and reflected anyone walking on the sidewalk to the right of me. I looked slightly to my left at the door as I could see the reflection of this couple walking in our direction. Faces relaxed, they held each other’s hands… Then as if they just witnessed an animal get hit by a car, their expressions changed, they stopped. The man’s face tensed, his brows creased together and his lips seemed to curl. The man seemed to have felt a flash of anger and surprise, where as the lady’s face expressed one of shock and fear; her eyes widened and her jaw dropped as she clung to her husband. Their expressions, their entire image burned itself into my own thoughts, my own mind. It felt as if they stood there for a few minutes, but it could only have been a child’s handful of seconds. They allowed their initial fear/horror to show outwardly, and when my thoughts brought me back to the present, no longer phased by their reaction, I turned toward them. “You’re okay, I’ve got her,” I said with a smile, shoving my own anger back into a pocket deep down inside. You can not blame me for feeling a spark of anger, I was in disbelief at their reaction. How could they give us such a look without knowing myself or my dog? Without first trying to understand, or possibly considering that there was nothing wrong. They let their horror escape, if for but a second, it was long enough for me to see. The reason I think I felt a millisecond of anger was because as a child, and as I grew, I had received these looks for simply dressing differently, for being a bit of an odd one, a quiet one, perhaps not as severe a look, but a look the wearer wasn’t aware they were giving. These people did not know me, nor did they know my dog, but somehow they knew exactly how they felt about us. To my surprise the man responded to me, “Oh, I know it’s fine” as if he felt a bit of shame for his reaction. He then began to walk again, a bit briskly, his wife now on his right side. What happened next, i am truly grateful for. As the man walked by us, Sunny, my terrifying Pit Bull, reached out toward his hand and licked it. It seemed to put the man at complete ease, and he turned toward her and said, “Oh! Is this one of those sweet pit bulls?” without looking at me, and he began to pet her. His wife walked a bit further, before turning and looking at her crazy husband; she did manage to smile. He pet her for a little while, before stating that it was the ears that made her look scary. I agreed with him. Ear crops do seem to add a serious tone to a dog. I also explained that she is my show dog, and as a show dog, her large floppy ears would have given her a very different appearance, and the flopped ears are a fault in the APBT standard. I also let him know that I would not be doing any ear cropping in the future. I just don’t see the point of it now, as natural ears are becoming more accepted in the show ring and in general. He agreed that a natural ear would give the dog a less menacing look, then he smiled and walked into the store next door. I gave Sunny a pat, and a “Good Girl” and we continued to sit and wait; Myself deep in thought, and Sunny — well who knows what goes through a dog’s mind, but I am certain she wasn’t thinking how great it would be to bite the next person who walked by. It’s a common thing for us to receive a worried look, but I am always happy to have one of these people come up to us and clear their confusion.
Others hate this dog, and truly believe it is a vicious animal that should be thrown into the very depths of hell. Just take a look at any online article about a so called Pit Bull Attack. You will find many of these people there in the comments, with their warped statistics and history on this non-breed. If you call the Pit Bull a breed, they will correct you and say that the term pit bull actually covers multiple breeds and their mixes, an umbrella term, if you will. The following breeds are a part of this umbrella term:
- The Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Bull dog
- Bulldogs; French/English/ Olde English Buldogge
There is a huge flaw to this theory of what a pit bull is because these same people [who state that a pit bull is anything that is one of these breeds, or looks like it may be mixed with one of these breeds] use the history of the American Pit Bull and old Bull baiting dog to make their points about how vicious these dogs were bred to be. You can not use the history of the American Pit Bull Terrier as reasoning for aggression in mixed dogs of unknown background today. If you want to truly know about the American Pit Bull temperament, then GO TO THOSE DOGS! Interview breeders and trainers who have worked with line-bred dogs of this breed. Who have the historic fighting dogs in their line and see what the statistics are there. If you’re looking for horrifying numbers of attacks on humans you will be disappointed. Too many mixed dogs are being dubbed pit bull and ruining my breed’s reputation. Too many people do not understand the responsibility that comes with owning a large dog of any breed, but it is my breed that suffers. The laws hurt responsible dog owners. It is extremely frustrating and discouraging to me, but this is why I venture into the public’s eye with my Pit Bull. I want others to see her and know that they don’t need to hate her, or fear her, they just need see that she is a dog! Humanity loves dogs. It is very true that this breed does not need more breeders, it needs more responsible owners and it needs breeders that do their research and health test and temperament test, but in the end it is up to the OWNER to manage their dog, whatever the breed, correctly. Just to clarify, a dog that is dog reactive or dog aggressive does not equal a dog that is human aggressive. My own Pit Bull has shown me that she can become reactive when another dog is over stimulated. I noticed this and I manage it. She is dog selective, but has never fought a dog. Sunny adores any human being who decides to throw her a look, or even the slightest bit of attention; as these dogs were bred to be. Have you seen the dogs after a dog fight bust? A whole yard of chained, emaciated pit bulls, and guess what? The people collecting them can go right in and not get bitten, as a matter of fact these dogs are happy to spend some time with these folk despite that they may have been fought or treated unfairly, they will react in the best way possible to human contact. Another thing I wanted to mention was that these articles of pit bull attacks rarely cover an actual Pit Bull, but there it is – “Pit Bull Mauls Child!” I rarely see an actual picture of the dog, and the few photos that I have seen, the dog is not a Pit Bull. It is a mixed dog. You cannot go around calling every generic dog a pit bull. That does way too much damage to specific breeds.
I know the breed I own, but I had no idea that people could feel so harshly toward it. I mean I grew up around these dogs. I have no idea how pure they were, but even the ones that were simple street dogs didn’t scare me. Maybe this has given me a different perspective on the situation, y’know, having known this breed for so long without incident. I do however understand how important it is to make sure that a pit bull, or pit bull type dog should be in a responsible home. A home where the owner has done a bit of research, with an owner who has the time for exercise and can afford some basic training.
This all brings me to the next group of people: those who understand. Some have never met a pit bull, others adore them. I have met a few people who had never had the opportunity to pet a pit bull, but they were on the dog’s side and happy to be rewarded in a very dog-like manner. I am not saying that the American Pit Bull is like every other dog. Each breed has their differences, and dogs are individuals, but no matter what breed or individual dog, they are all still dogs with the same genetic foundation. If you are going to get a pit bull, pedigree or rescue, just do some research and be prepared for all situations. When you own this breed people will pay attention. I’ve had a lady come up to Sunny in a Petco, and she was just ecstatic to pet Sunny. She turned to her friend with a smile and said, “See? They’re good dogs!” Her fried smiled, and I of course could not have felt better. Man is it a relief to run into you pit bull lovers! LOL
Another time, just a couple of days ago, I was outside of the nearby Michaels, where my brother and sister had gone in, just sitting with Sunny right next to me. I didn’t crowd the doorway. I sat on a little wall, giving people plenty of room to dance around us if they chose to. 😛 I had one lady give us that old worried look and she walked onto the street, more then 10 feet away from me just to get around us. I have Sunny on a four foot leash on a harness and she was sitting right next to me. I thought it was just a little bit silly, a bit dramatic really, for her to do this, but it’s her choice. I guess I’m no one to talk. I frequently hug Sunny and apologize for their behavior. I can’t help it, she looks so clueless, watching them go by, then sniffing the air.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is strong, brave, curious, goofy, and filled with love [yes, I used the word Love ;] for people. Not everyone can do this breed justice. I am honored to own one, even if she is just a shadow of the old APBT, or just a show bred dog. Even if more hardcore followers of the historic lines look at her and say that the blue nose is a shame on the breed, or that she can’t possibly be a real pit bull because she doesn’t come from the right lines. You see we pit bull people have enough disagreements within the breed, let alone what the general public chooses to believe about our dogs. I just wish that people would realize that no matter what the dog, it is up to the individual owner to care for and manage their dog of choice. Spend some time with your dog and learn about basic dog behavior. Enjoy their little life, please help me educate others about how big a responsibility these dogs are due to the reputation the media has given them. Thank you very much for reading/skipping along with me.
Here we are, Sunny and I.
Below is a photo of my nephew and Sunny. It’s actually a Screenshot off of a video of him interviewing her. lol
I asked my nephew the other day, “Nephew, are you afraid of Pit Bulls?”
“Pshhh, no!” he said, “They’re just babies,” with his little boy laugh. Best kid ever.