This is an entry I never thought I’d be writing, because, frankly, I’ve read it, in essence, ad nauseam. I’ve been reading other people’s words about the unjustified bad rap that Pit Bulls and the other ‘bully breeds’ get in this country (and maybe beyond–I’m not aware), for a few years now. I agreed with all of it. I agreed so completely that I didn’t think there would ever be anything for me to add.
But now I think I do have something to say, although I’m a little afraid to write honestly, because what I write here will reveal some things about myself that I’m not necessarily proud of.
True confession #1: I used to think that people whose dog rescue ‘platform’ focused on Pit Bull prejudice were rebels, who sometimes weren’t too far removed from the idiots who ruined the Pittie reputation in the first place. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, thank you for reading my blog all the way from the that little island off the coast of Iceland.
True confession #2: Although I know I shouldn’t, I prejudge people with tattoos. I equate, ‘tattoo’, with, ‘rebel’ (see true confession #1).
True confession #3: I am probably too focused on what breed a dog is, or what breeds are present in his/her background, as a basis for predicting behaviors. I think I’m fairly good at just seeing the dog in front of me, as an individual, but I do often catch myself thinking in terms of breeds.
Maybe there will be more self-revelation, but that’s enough for now.
So, I saw people defending Pitties left and right, and I thought that they sounded a little defensive, as if they had something to prove, a chip on their collective shoulder. I thought, “They’re not really doing such a great favor to Pitties, because the people they’re trying to convince will think, ‘Methinks they doth protest too much’.”
Then came Soyer, who, ironically, may not even be a Pittie (MVDVM and I are sure he’s a Boxer mix, and the rest of his tall self seems more like a Mastiff or a Great Dane than a Pittie) to my house and to my neighborhood, and I quickly found that it was impossible for me to avoid sounding any less defensive than anyone else who knows Pitties, because you just can’t seem to manage a better reaction to the lack of knowledge you encounter, whether politely expressed or not.
It seems as if everyone you meet has something to ‘prove’ when they talk about Pit Bulls, and that includes you, yourself. Pit Bulls are a loaded subject, a topic with major baggage.
OK, just thought of
True confession #4: I am very judgmental about potential adopters (I suppose I haven’t exactly kept that a secret in the other blog entries), saying things to myself like, ‘This person can handle only an ‘easy’ dog’, or, ‘This one can take more of a challenge, but only a physical or behavioral challenge, like a potty training issue, but not an emotional one, like a resource guarding issue’, or vice versa. In my mind, ‘easy’ dogs fall into different categories. For instance, a dog who needs only a ton of exercise to be psychologically fit might be an easy dog for a jogger, but an impossible one for a couch potato. But at least I’m clear in my own mind about what I mean, and I believe I am a pretty good judge of who will fit with whom, once I know both parties.
This brings me to my ‘platform’ re. Pit Bulls. In general, they are the ‘easiest’ dogs I’ve ever met. And in this case, what I mean by ‘easy’ is that people who don’t know a hell of a lot about how the mind of a dog works will still do perfectly well with these dogs. These dogs represent the best qualities of Dog with a capital D, ‘Dog’, like, ‘Comfort Food’, ‘Family Values’, ‘Home and Hearth’, ‘Honor and Glory’. Pit Bulls are family dogs. They act like particularly charming children. If Soyer is indeed part Pit Bull, he’s proof of it, to me. If he isn’t, then I feel I know now that Boxers, and maybe Mastiffs and/or Great Danes, are also ‘easy’, ‘family’ dogs.
My dog Audrey is certainly a Pittie mix. She’s wonderful. My neighbors, probably not realizing she’s a Pit mix, tell me that all the time (but only one neighbor, a man who’s much more dog savvy than the rest, has noticed that Soyer is also a peach). I’ve actually had people ask if they could have her–she’s the only dog anyone has asked me that about since my little wonderful longhaired Chihuahua named Pito, years and years ago.
I’ve told you about the dog rejected by my friend, who found that she (the dog) pushed her anger buttons. The dog is here now, and her name is Jemma, and she’s definitely a Pit Bull mix, and she’s delightful, the perfect example of ‘particularly charming child’. I don’t know if I told you that my friend decided that, because of her own psychological makeup, she realized that she should give up the idea to have any dog, and, sadly, I think she’s right about that. I think that most people, most families, would have no trouble at all fitting Jemma into their homes.
And Audrey, and Jemma, and Soyer (if he is a Pittie mix), aren’t exceptions to the rule. They are the rule. Nice Pit Bulls are as common as daisies.
I humbly beg the pardon of anyone I prejudged before, the people I thought were ‘protesting too much’ and actually making the less-educated think that there was something difficult about Pitties. I realize now that this is an unavoidable consequence of being educated about a breed about which so many others are ignorant.
So this is the chip on my shoulder: Hey, you neighbors and others who, whether you express it or not, think that Pit Bulls belong to a certain type of person, someone you think of as a tattoed rebel (yes, I’m making fun of myself), whether tattoed because they’re trying to be scary or tattoed to show that not all tattoed people are scary, the fact is that, since you obviously don’t know too much about dogs, you yourself are the kind of person who should have a Pit Bull, because even a less-educated, first-time dog owner will do beautifully with most any Pit Bull, any Pit Bull who hasn’t been messed up by a mean owner, because Pit Bulls are just plain nice dogs. If you compared pets to food, a Pit Bull might not be quite as easy as a hard-boiled egg (that might be a Beta fish), but a Pittie would be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich–you’d have to use something like mint jelly to mess it up, and even that might not do it.
Now read this. Read to what lengths the ignorant can go. And educate yourself.
P.S. I just remembered that one of my almost-neighbors, someone I barely know, occasionally petsits for his kid’s Pit Bull. I met this dog over the fence one day, without my neighbor’s knowledge. The dog was totally lovely–friendly and sweet and smart and playful. The next time I ran into my neighbor, I asked about the dog. It was pathetic to me to hear him go into his, ‘He’s a very nice dog, really’, spiel…the poor man had that defensive sound in his voice, thinking he was going to have to convince me that not all Pit Bulls were bad. I enjoyed telling him what a prize that dog is, but I doubt he hears it often, although it’s nothing more than the truth.
P.P.S. I still don’t like tattoos. Your skin has to work so hard filtering toxins. Why do you want to add to its workload? And I bet you anything you felt bad for the bully in the picture, having to work through all that marker or whatever the child is using. 🙂