By Donna Lewis (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)
One summer morning in 2003 I woke up with an insatiable desire for a puppy. When I told my fiancé, Jade, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Okay, but it has to be a pit bull.”
I wasn’t sure if he was serious or trying to discourage my sudden aspiration.
“I have kids, there’s no way I’m getting a pit bull!” Or so I thought.
Years earlier I had a bad experience with a pit bull. I’d come to view them as psychotic monsters and thought they would turn without warning and devour grandmas as they offered them a doggy biscuit.
I voiced my concern to Jade and he responded with a simple request.
“Study the breed before saying no,” he said.
He grew up with them and knew what I had yet to learn. He baited me because he knows I’m a sucker for a cute face.
“They are the cutest puppies you’ll ever see,” he said.
I was hooked.
Although I was still skeptical, I spent every spare moment that week researching pit bulls. I looked up the pros, cons, and the history. I found myself marveling at the accounts of bravery displayed in the breed, from combating violent home invaders to rescuing wounded soldiers off the battlefield. But, what made the difference to me were stories of dogs victimized by abuse and exploitation.
Story after story opened my eyes to the amount of hardship and pain inflicted on this one breed. I learned at least 21 percent of all animal abuse involving dogs is inflicted on pit bulls.
I learned gang activity plays a large role in pit bull problems. Because my neighborhood is rife with gangs, it grabbed my attention because I realized Jade and I could make a difference. I laid aside my prejudice and accepted the fact that we were destined to be pit bull people.
Turns out Jade’s words of “They are the cutest puppies you’ll ever see,” weren’t just a clever hook. He was telling the truth.
When we met our future family member, she seemed like a force of nature, so we named her Moriah, after the old song, “They Called the Wind Mariah.” And we brought the cute little puppy home with us.”
That was seven and a half years ago, and since then it’s been my observation that pit bulls seem to have two basic values: fun and family.
The best times in life with Moriah hinge on having a raucous game of tug o’ war, and watching her run Mach-10 through the yard with her jolly ball.
Oh yeah! That’s the good stuff!
Even though we find her antics amazing, the most extraordinary thing I’ve noticed about her has been her intuition about people. She has demonstrated tremendous discernment and self-sacrifice.
For example, one day my daughter forgot “Rule One” in stranger danger: Never open the door to a person you don’t know.
Moriah ran to the door and placed herself squarely between my daughter and the man, using her body as a wall of protection. While Tiffanie talked with him, Moriah kept steady eye contact but never became menacing.
I was amazed by Moriah’s ability to weigh the situation and meet it with an appropriate level of guardianship. I was humbled by the sacrificial choice to potentially place herself in harm’s way.
What a sharp contrast to the crazed beast I originally pigeonholed her breed to be.
Because of Moriah I view pit bulls with new eyes.
They are loaded with all the cuddliness and lovability of a lap dog with all the courage and dignity of a battle horse. They play hard and love harder. Giving up is not in their chemistry, they wouldn’t even know where to begin and their highest sense of reward is in knowing we are pleased with them. They are a microcosm of all the best a dog has to offer.