Changing misperceptions often happens one person at a time
By Kirstyn Northrop Cobb (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)
We all know that there are misconceptions about pit bulls out there, and as people who love them we know that it is our job to change minds. But what if the critics are your own family members?
My grandmother is terrified of dogs. Not just dogs, all animals. Dogs, cats, bunnies, mice, you name it. I’ve seen her not go out into her yard because there was a squirrel in it. She was never pleased with the fact that I have dogs, and it just got worse when I rescued my first pit bull dog.
He was just a baby when I brought him home. A little guy who needed rescuing, and how could I turn him down? She knew that I brought a new puppy home. I wasn’t going to tell her that it was a pit bull. She didn’t know what one was anyway, all she knew is what she heard on the news. But someone told her. I still don’t know who, but one day, she confronted me. “Is that dog really a pit bull?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. And then she sat down and cried. Yep, cried. “But you have a daughter. How could you do that to her? What are you going to do when that dog rips her face off?” Those were her exact words. I said, “We’ll be fine”.
She didn’t let it go. She called and called and begged me to reconsider. She asked my husband how could he let me do this? (I would like to point out something here: “Let me do this”? Really? Anyone who knows me knows that there is no “let me do this.” I’m going to do what I’m going to do and that’s that.) She called my mom. Maybe my mom could convince me to change my mind. Maybe my mom would have my daughter stay with her, and then she would be safe. My poor 85-year-old grandmother was up at night worrying and was losing sleep.
Eventually, as time wore on, she must have realized that the dog was staying. The calls were less frequent and eventually stopped. After my little pit bull, Gus, lived with us for about four years, I figured that it was safe to bring it up again. So one day, I said to her, “You know, we’ve had this dog for about four years now and nothing bad has happened.” She replied, “Well, maybe your dog is OK.” And I responded with, “Well, then by default, they’re not all bad, huh?”
And that’s what it’s all about. Changing minds one at a time. And if we can change my grandmother’s stubborn mind, then one by one, we can repair a damaged reputation.