Disclaimer: (I am finding this necessary, as not everyone appreciates my point of view). Full disclosure: my husband and I worked with several of the V dogs, and ended up adopting RayRay. We have a huge stake in how the world perceives fighting dogs. I have no right to tell others how to react to the situation….this is just how I choose to react, to preserve my peace of mind.
Animal lovers, especially pit bull terrier type dog lovers, are up in arms about Virginia Tech’s decision to induct Michael Vick into their Hall of Fame. I’ve seen an incredible array of petitions, articles and Facebook posts full of vitriol and anger. Unfortunately, not one of those actions is going to effect the school’s decision.
Here’s the deal: Michael Vick was probably the best athlete Virginia Tech has ever had enrolled. He lead the school to an amazing 11-0 season, which culminated in a spot on the National Championship game. Vick was, and in many cases still is, an incredibly gifted football player. He had amazing skills on the field, and for many people, that is all that matters.
You also have to understand his standing in that part of the country. In many ways, he is seen as a local boy who made good. He has donated a lot of money to children’s sports programs. He has worked with inner-city kids to help them increase their skills. In many people’s eyes, this man is still a hero, regardless of what happened with the dogs.
We need to look at this through a different lens. This sociopathic man and his appalling treatment of the dogs helped change things for fighting dogs across the nation…because he was a celebrity. This was the first time fighting dogs were saved, and it was only because the case was front page news. If it had just been some guy, we’d still be wholesale killing all dogs from fighting busts. If you look at it that way, the idiot actually did something to improve the world.
Many years ago I decided that this man had no place in my life. I refuse to give him the power to control my thoughts or emotions. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass about him, one way or another. Let Virginia Tech induct him. It doesn’t change who he is, what he’s done, or his final judgement in the here-after.
I had the chance to spend time with the most incredible dogs I’ve ever met, because Vick was a star athlete. He really did me a favor. I would never have loved Oscar, Layla, Squeaker or Ray, I never would have spent time with Little Red, Cherry, Handsome Dan, Lucas, Ellen, Meryl, Curley, Mya and Lance. These dogs changed the trajectory of my life. That’s what I need to keep in mind.
Instead of filling my head and heart with anger, I am going to channel this feeling into something good. Something that might help improve things for these dogs who have changed my life.
I am going to write a book that will be my personal Pit Bull Hall of Fame. I want to write about all the dogs who have helped change the country. The Vicktory Dogs, other fighting dogs, abuse survivors, dogs who have saved their people, dogs in public service as police dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs.
This will be my legacy to my beloved Ray, and the dogs who have followed in his paw prints. And it’s a way to permanently thumb my nose at Michael Vick and all the people who have abused and vilified some amazing dogs.
If you know of an incredible pit bull terrier type dog (and yes, pit mixes as well) please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Celebrating the dogs is all that really matters.