I must confess that, once upon a time, I was very anti-Pit Bull. I bought into all of the myths. Even though I was raised with a Doberman (named Lady), in my mind Pit Bulls were aggressive dogs. One would think that growing up with a powerful breed would make me more open to other powerful dogs. Unfortunately, I believed that Pitbulls were naturally aggressive, had locking jaws, and would kill any dog if given the chance. Any time I had my Yorkie, Dash, in a dog park I would immediately leave if a Pitbull came into the park.
And then one day, he was attacked by a Pitbull. That sealed the deal for me.
What changed my mind?
Adorno (pictured) did. Adorno was the very first Pit mix that I got to know and he absolutely stole my heart. When I first met him, I have to admit that my stomach turned. He was being fostered by a local store until they could find him a new home. I had just started working a few hours in the store and was a little uneasy that I’d be sharing my new place of employment with a Pittie.
I quickly learned how misinformed I was. Adorno, while a BIG dog, was no more excitable than my little Yorkie. And just as loving - if not more. He was just like any other dog, except he was fighting a bad breed reputation. Just like any other dog, he loved attention and affection. His manners left a little to be desired but his misbehaviors were never anything that put me in fear of my safety. He is a dog, like any other dog.
I can remember the very first time I felt that change in my mindset – I was sitting down and Adorno came over to me. He set his head on my lap and looked up at me with these adoring eyes – waiting for a head pat. While he weighed over 100 pounds more than my Yorkie, he was gentler, more loving, and wanted more cuddles than Dash. I soon learned that I could wrap my arms around him and he tolerated it. I could give a little tug on his ears and he would cover my hand in kisses.
The first time I walked Adorno, I was still uneasy. I knew that if he wanted, he could take off at any time and that there was no way I could physically control him. I’m sure he sensed my nervousness through the leash. And, despite a little pulling, he listened and respected me. He was, in fact, just as easy to walk as Dash was.
However, the actual experience of walking Adorno was quite different than walking Dash – in the way I was received by others on the street. Walking Dash down the street results in oohs, ahhs, and cooing. Walking Adorno? True dog lovers admired how gorgeous he was. But the average person? They would either stop in their tracks, move quickly aside or would actually cross the street. I lost count of the number of fearful and dirty looks I got. Other people walking their dogs pulled their own dogs closer to them and went out of their way to avoid us. I wanted to tell them how goofy Adorno was and that they had nothing to worry about – that Adorno was just like any other dog. Any dog can bite. Any dog can growl. Any dog can attack another dog. I began to realize that this is what the average Pitbull owner must go through every day when they walk their pups.
It’s this kind of misinformation and prejudices that are the basis of BSL, or Breed-Specific Legislation. BSL seeks to ban certain kinds of dog breeds simply because they have a “bad” reputation. Of course, this bad reputation is based on misinformation, a few horror stories (which can involve ANY type of dog), and is the result of irresponsible owners. And BSL is across the country and spreading, make no mistake about it.
What have your experiences been like with Pit Bulls? Are you in favor of BSL?