Last week when PeTA posted that piece of trash article celebrating Montreal’s ban on pit bull terrier type dogs, they included a video of the worst possible propaganda called “100 pit bulls in 100 seconds“.It showed images of dogs in the most dire and abusive situations. PeTA was trying to show that this is the reality for ALL pit bull terrier type dogs.
In response, the group My Pitbull is Family is asking for people to post pictures and stories of their pit bull terrier type family members on FB, with the hashtag #mypitbullisfamily . I think the goal is to be able to show that we too can make a video of 100 pit bulls in 100 seconds, showing beloved family companions.
I decided I wanted to take part in the effort. Because my dogs ARE part of my family. They are integral to the fabric of my life. So I sent a brief explanation to mypitbullisfamily.org, along with some photos of our beloved kids.
It got me thinking about the dogs in my life, and our personal shift from lab type dogs to pit like dogs. How did a 50+ year old woman become a champion for blocky headed dogs? On the face of it, it really doesn’t make much sense.
I was introduced to pit bull terrier like dogs when I was asked to take on a couple of “office dogs”. Office dogs are dogs who spend the day in offices, to help them become more social, and thus more adoptable. My first office dog just happened to be a pit bull type. As was the second, and the third. Pit bulls are overwhelming popular in our country today, and they are one of the types of dog flooding shelters. They are the dogs most in need of rescue right now.
By my third office dog I was a huge fan of these breeds. By the time RayRay moved into my office, I was totally sold. He just clicked with me and with Kevin. All the great characteristics of the breed were exactly what I had been looking for in a dog. I love the crazy sense of humor, the athleticism, the lazy couch dog…all in the same package.
And, to be totally honest, part of the attraction is because they have been so maligned. Have you ever known that one child who needed a little extra? Who had a little trouble making friends? Didn’t you feel protective of that child, wanting to help smooth the way? That’s how I feel about these dogs. So many people refuse to look past the blocky head and muscular frame…to see the silly puppy inside.
Yes, they are large. Yes, they are powerful. Yes, if they attack they can do a great deal of damage. But so can any large dog. Just like children, dogs need guidance, socialization, and a sense of what’s appropriate. That’s our job as dog guardians…to provide them with those boundaries.
Unless there is something medically wrong, no dog attacks out of the blue. Behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Dogs do what they do because it is meeting a need at the time. If it isn’t rewarding on some level, they don’t bother doing it.
Most aggression has its roots in uncertainty and fear. A dog who is comfortable with his place in the world rarely has to resort to violence. Especially when the humans in his life are aware of body language and signs of stress. Even the most basic common sense should tell us it’s not ok to let our kids sit on dogs, or pull on their ears. Even hugging can be extremely uncomfortable for some dogs. You need to watch for those subtle signals that say “I’m uncomfortable with what’s going on here”.
Until my last breath I will champion these dogs. They bring something unique and precious to our lives. I love my blocky headed kids. McCaela the Turtle, Bubba G and Bosco have each brought something very special into my life. The world would be a pretty bleak place without them by my side.