Puppy Love – why I have Pitbulls and the family that loves them.

A few years back I had entered a dark time in my life, I was mourning the loss of my dad and feeling rather stagnant in life. I decided to visit the local Animal Shelter – something I did regularly to visit and play with the dogs, the volunteers and staff knew me well and greeted me as I entered. I was not aware that, that day would really be the first day of the rest of my life.

I adopted a beautiful Shepherd puppy only 12 weeks old and tiny for her age, 6lbs. We named her Tara for a friend that had just lost his pup to cancer – he had a Gone with the Wind theme for all of his dogs and I had always like that thought. She was our first “big” pet, and while I did a whole bunch of research and preparation in the few days we had between the adoption and when she came home it did not prepare me for all of the work and emotions a puppy brings into the house.

After a few weeks of struggling to get her healthy and acclimated to our home, I honestly think she came home with Parvo, I took a week off of work to nurse her back to health and would hand feed her each meal to make sure she ate every last bite of food. When we were finally able to take her to Obedience training, at 16 weeks she had gained almost 10 lbs. and grew 4 inches in the shoulder. When I first signed her up, I had put her in the “puppy” class assuming that it was for puppies – the first day we were asked to move from the “puppy” training meant for small dogs, because the women in the class were concerned our dog would hurt their precious pugs and teacups. It ended up being a blessing in disguise though and for one reason alone, we were blessed with a wonderful training that we still visit regularly that showed us the ropes of dog training and really worked to make sure we all felt comfortable with our dogs.

Unfortunately our joy of having an advocate for us in learning about our dog was overshadowed by one small phrase from a passing Veterinarian – “Did you know your dog has pitbull in her?” it was then that my German Shepherd mix, became a Pitbull mix, and people started to judge Now I knew that I had picked an unpopular breed when I choose a Shepherd – all of the web searches told us she would be smart and cunning and if brought up right very protective of her family. It also said if we weren’t careful she would be vicious and aggressive and would need constant training to keep her socialized. Now add the Pitbull or Bully Breeds into the mix and look out – I had Cujo junior on my hands. I took all of the information to heart and was determined to make sure that with our two children in the house and a young niece and nephew that visit regularly we had a well behaved dog. It’ll drive you crazy trying to go through all of the material, it will make you question yourself and your sanity and everyone else’s sanity as well. But me – I was bound and determined to have the model dog so that people would know that my Shepherd/Pit mix was a good ambassador for her breeds an upstanding citizen of her puppy community, a sweet and wonderful dog. We made sure when she ate we could take her food away, and when we gave commands that she accepted them immediately, she was already kind hearted and docile, we thought we had everything in the bag.

What I found out though is that people don’t care! They have made their mind up about you and your dog from ten paces away and it does not matter how much convincing you try to do with them or how sweetly your dog sits at your side waiting for a little love and attention, in their minds your dog is just waiting for the right moment to attack and rip them to shreds. I experienced this on our daily walks, where people would cross the street to avoid us, in the store – even the pet store – where people would turn around in the aisle and walk the other way – just to make sure they didn’t have to engage us. I had friends that would suddenly refuse to come to my house unless I put my dog outside while the visited, I could go on and on for hours the things I experienced firsthand.

In addition, I would read news articles on the internet and their comments about how the entire breed should be destroyed, I would hear commentary about “those” breeds when I was visiting with friends, or shopping, I had people question me in the office “oh my you have a what kind of dog? Don’t you worry they’ll attack you when you sleep?” Or my favorite “Why would you let anything like that close to your children?” And I would get angry – bang my fist, yell at my screen and passionately tell anyone that would listen – YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE DOG, NOT THE BREED. Look at Cesar Milan and what he does with animals, look at the shows Pitbulls and parolees, you can’t judge the dog by another dog’s actions, and all of it has fallen on deaf ears. My sweet, loving pup was always going to be condemned for her pedigree.

As I accepted this fact and finally embraced it for what it was unadulterated biased prejudice. I became calmer and less angry at the lady that crossed the street when would take our walks, or those that would pick up their little dogs so mine wouldn’t eat them for their afternoon snack. I removed a lot of friend baggage when I started to refuse to “put my dog away” when people came over, and I don’t worry about door to door salesman anymore – they don’t bother ringing the bell anymore. Moreover I have become unapologetic about it, enough so that we rescued a 2nd Pit mix a year later. Zola is our “baby” and she is an English Bulldog/Pitbull mix, she had spent just one week of her brief life outside of the shelter and was weaned early because her mother rejected her from the stress of the move. She was small for her litter as well but even at 8 weeks when she came home with us she was already twice the size of Tara at that age. And if we thought we got looks before goodness you should see us now. With 65 pounds of Shepherd and 60 pounds of Bulldog, I do have to say we look like a force to be reckoned with when we’re walking down the street. Especially when my youngest is holding their leashesJ.

So what’s the point of this story? Why am I waxing on about my dogs? It’s my line in the sand, I read a WordPress blogger’s post a week or so ago that called for all of the pit breeds to be destroyed again, and that if you see one on the street you should take violent action against them. It would be considered as sign of self-defense on your part and you would be doing the world a favor. I got angry at first and felt like giving him a what for in the comments section, then fearful for all of the positive feedback he had received, and now I’m just sad. Here we are, a huge online community that has the opportunity to teach tolerance and acceptance, and we’re still using it for propaganda and perpetuating the cycle of fear and idiocy.
I wanted this to be a post about my two beautiful pups and how they bring my family so much joy. How they wake up each morning with tail wags and kisses, happy to start the day, and each evening when I come home I am greeted with a “present” usually a ball or Zola’s treasured rope. They sleep with us or my daughters at night and keep us warm in the cold winter months, and aside from a few squished body parts from unsuspecting paws, no human has been eaten in their sleep. I wanted to tell you how I really truly believe that if you raise a dog right they will be a great dog no matter what the breed, and if you catch them early you can change their mindset with determination and love. But I fear it will either be looked over or worse misconstrued to fit the stereotype of extremist’s beliefs. There’s that crazy lady that writes about random things on her blog and talks about killer dogs.

Here is the bottom line: I have two beautiful four legged children that I love and cherish as much as I love my two legged children. I hope over and over that they will be fully accepted by society but know that they will always be judged by their breed and size, and with this post I know I have made my stand on my love for these dogs and that not all are like what is written in a negative light.
Lap Dog

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Photo bomb

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Just love me

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Don’t bother me I’m sleeping

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3 Comments

  1. Enjoyed your story. I myself have a German Shepard/Pit mix i rescued at 3 mts from a shelter and she does have issues but she is a good listener so it works out.I also have a little Tuxedo Pitt Bull mix rescued from death Row in NYC who is just the sweetest dog. When she first met me she gave me a real hug.The difference between our 2 stories is that everyone who meets my dogs are not prejudice against them. In my part of the world Pit Bulls are welcome and a lot of people have them for pets. It sounds like in your part of the world the people think they are enlighten but really are closed minded and will believe anything they read instead of gaining from experience of meeting your beautiful fur babies Enjoy them and don’t stress over what closed minded people think..

    Like

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