>Why we can’t say no

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My brother, who also has a pit bull, has a theory about why those of us who love them, love them. He thinks it’s because their faces are so expressive, and I can’t disagree with that. I mean, let’s face it: basically, Bulldogs always look a little pissed off. Even when they’re happy. And labs—apologies to any Labrador owners out there—labs always look insanely happy and a little dense. But with our girls, we do get a wide variety of expressions: happy, concerned, curious, naughty, perplexed, hungry, frightened, surprised, sheepish. I could go on and on about all of the things I think our dogs are expressing to us, so I guess my brother might be on to something.

But for us, when we adopted our first pit bull, I don’t think we had any idea that we were really bringing home more than just a dog. Because when you have a pit bull, you are suddenly part of this huge secret society that you didn’t know existed. You see other people with pit bulls on the street and you can’t help but feel like you already like them. Just because they have a pit bull. I never felt like that when I had Golden Retrievers. And it’s not just me—people stop me all the time to tell me about their pit bulls and admire ours. I’m starting to think we should come up with a secret handshake and a password, just to make it official. And thankfully, in just the three years we’ve had pit bulls, our secret society is getting bigger and bigger, which means more and more pits are making it into happy homes where they will be loved and treated like part of the family.

The other thing that is unavoidable when you have a pit is dealing with the overwhelming information that comes from everywhere about what happens when pits live in the wrong environment. I can’t even really call it a home—it’s just the wrong environment. We all know the stories about the fighting, the vicious training techniques, the starvation and so on. That is not what pit bulls are about. It’s not what they were bred to do, not matter what you read in the papers. They are so good at fighting because they were bred to be people pleasersto put the needs of their owners above their own. So if a pit’s owner wants him to fight to the death, that’s what he’s going to do. Even in nature, dogs will show mercy and stop a fight as soon one dog backs down. The whole idea of fighting to the death is purely man-made.

As a result of these types of stories, and of picturing our own sweet dogs in the wrong hands (which they both were at some point), I’ve gotten involved in all sorts of volunteer activities I never imagined I would participate in. I’ve gone to adoption fairs to show off available pits. I’ve gone into the public schools to talk to seventh graders about why fighting dogs is wrong. We’ve sent our own dogs to stay at their daycare for nearly a week while we took in an abandoned pit who needed somewhere to go. She was literally given to our friend on the street because some guys felt sorry for her after her owners kicked her out of their apartment. She was left to live in the hallway of the building or be let out to fend for herself. You don’t often hear about Dachshunds being kicked out into the world to fend for themselves, but you hear it all of the time when it comes to pit bulls.

And don’t even get me started on the addiction to pit bull paraphernalia. We have the books, the posters, the t-shirts, the pet portraits, the coffee mugs and more. We even have stamps featuring T2—used for special occasions only, of course. Seriously, if they were Poodles or cats instead of pit bulls I think we’d get a lot more grief from what would be left of our friends. But something about it being a pit bull obsession seems to make it okay.

Which is why this blog was written, and why I hope it was interesting enough to you that you’re still reading it. My husband and I seem incapable anymore of saying no to anything that might help pit bulls regain their reputation as loving and admirable family pets. We will bore our friends and acquaintances with stories; we will talk to strangers we would normally prefer to avoid; we will attend events and spend money that would do better in our savings account. And we will continue to do so until pit bulls are no longer tortured, reviled and ostracized for simply existing.
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3 thoughts on “>Why we can’t say no

  1. >This is so true! So much of what you says resonates with me! I am a 5 foot tall white woman living on NYC's Upper East Side with a brindle pit mix (here's his flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/38759784@N00/with/2418889400/)When I first got him people used to grab their children and dash across the street. Now, 5 years into our relationship, Petey and I have met lots of other local PB owners and their people. Doorman all around our neighborhood know and love Petey. We donate dog food and supplies to shelters and attend benefits for rescue groups. You adopt much more than a dog when you get a PB. You espouse a cause!

  2. >Petey's fantastic! He photographs well, as do his buddies. We live in a new neighborhood since I wrote the post above, and I will say that it's a much more relaxed, open-minded one than our last neighborhood. Lots of pit mixes here. Now instead of the looks of horror, we get compliments. Such a nice change of pace! But I'm hoping part of it is changing perception, not just the change of address. Thanks for sharing your photos.

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