I first got to know pit bulls when I volunteered as a dog walker at a shelter in upstate New York. Dangerous dogs don’t make it to the adoption floor, so the ones I met were friendly, though typically more interested in the great outdoors than the person at the other end of the leash.
My perception of pit bulls has been shaped by my personal experience with them then and since — not as “four-legged time bombs,” as a columnist for the Baltimore Sun recently called them, but as spirited survivors and beloved family members.
Fernando Camacho, the author of yesterday’s guest post, said that most people who think pit bulls are bad dogs have never met one. So as a follow-up, I’d like to introduce you to five dogs who fall under the “pit bull” umbrella, and the people who care about them:
ROCKY AND MARCY:
I’ve always loved dogs — as a species in general, they have so many awesome qualities. They’re loyal and willing to do so much for people they love.
For pit bulls, I’d say I look at them like any other dog: They have those qualities. But they’re also extremely intelligent and so, so eager to please. I’ve never had a smarter, more trainable dog than our two.
Both of them are very affectionate and like people. Our old dog (great dog, don’t get me wrong) was not really that into people. They’d try and pet him, and he wouldn’t be interested. Rocky and Marcy really like people — they want to say hi.
I’m doing the Canine Good Citizen class with Marcy now, and she’s doing great. I think most of the pit bull stereotype has more to do with owners than with the dogs.
– Gillian Scott, journalist (Schenectady, N.Y.)
From the first time I met Keara at the SPCA, she and I were in love. I entered her enclosure, and when another family walked past us, she protected me from them. That was amazing to me, as I’d never known another dog (who didn’t know me) to do that.
She practically raised my older boys. Through her, I was able to teach them about pack mentality and having respect and love for pit bulls and all other breeds.
Her smile. It’s HUGE, and it’s contagious. When I had only had her for about a month, we were taking a walk. I had grown used to people crossing the street to get away from us, an act that crushed my spirit every time.
On this one particular day, however, a couple crossed the street to come to us, so that they could meet the beautiful red-nose pit with the big smile and even bigger heart. I still cry when I think of that moment and what it meant to us. That one small action fueled me for years of advocating for pits.
– Laura Riker, Dansko sales representative (Ithaca, N.Y.)
It’s not so much that we love our pit bull as much as we just love our DOGS. Humans have such a need to classify everything — “Oh, you have a dog? What kind?” — and then follow it up with a horrible generalization.
We care about them because they are misunderstood, and victims of ignorance and bias. It isn’t my quote, but “When people judge pit bulls, usually they are looking at the wrong end of the leash.”
– Karen McNary, co-owner of The Serendipitous Dog (Syracuse, N.Y.)
When I worked for a veterinary hospital in Troy, N.Y., a city that sees mostly pit bulls, we had a contract for five years with the city’s animal control. I saw a lot of heartbreaking situations, to say the least.
Piggy came in with her femur bone shattered in half, probably from being abused due to her being deaf. My boss pinned her leg, and I adopted her.
She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen. Despite her disability, she is one of the smartest dogs I know.
– Carrie Moak, vet tech and foster parent for Out of the Pits (Albany, N.Y.)