"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Five Dogs Who Defy Stereotypes

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:


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.)

by Naomi Seldin Ramirez


  1. Wonderful stories of love

  2. Our family has 6 dogs between all of us. There are 2 full blood pits (a red nose & a blue nose) & 2 pit mixes (pit & boxer & pit & sneaky varmint), a blue heeler mix & a min pin. There are are also 2 cats & 7 kids. All of our animals are rescues & we wouldn't trade them for anything. These animals are funny, smart, loyal & the most loving dogs ever. Reading the stories above are so inspiring and make me feel that I cannot stop educating people about this beautiful, honorable & noble breed!

  3. Jaime blackwell Royal Palm Beach, FloridaSeptember 29, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Ive Had aLot of doys over the years and I have to admit my favorite dog and was my Doberman Pincher black and tan warlock. He probably had the mentality of an 8-9 year old. understood well over 100 word of english.he understood sentances. "Luke" was my best friend and companion for 14 yrs. He passed 20 yrs ago. Since then we have had a number of dogs. None of them even came close to being as smart loyal, playful child friendly and friendly as our new pit bull, "Foster" has all the characteristics of Luke.I tske him to pick of our 5 yr old daughter at school every day and as we walk on campus it amazes me as to the number of people who look and say what a beautiful pit bull! but what really amazes me are the number of peole who look at the 7 month old pit and grab their chidren and either pick them up or move quickly away to protect themselves and they kids from the deadly threat the is Foster. But every day i bring him and every day someone will let their kids pet him and hug him and the others are sowly starting to realize that this trained killer just wants to play with the kids and have funn. maybe by the end of the year we will have educated at least a few into beleiving they ar not as bad as they all say.. inthe mean time i keep training him and talking to him like he was one of my chirdren( as he is) and look firward to another life long friend and companion...

    1. My family ever since I can remember we had Pit, German Shepherd, Dobermans, Mixes, Pekineses, o and a spider monkey and cats..... the best dogs ever the German Shepherd, the Dobbies (a mix German Shepherd and Doberman) he was all predominant Doberman blood but the coat was steel grey the tan was white all 7 markings where there and blue eyes) and the Pit all baby sitters and to top it all up the best baby sitters in the world... and today we don't have any dogs because of the ignorant patriarch of the house that is adamant about Chows (a breed that I myself don't like for the long hair)....

  4. AMEN TO THAT!!! 100% TRUE

    (been saying for many years the ignorant bipeds are Pit Bull's trouble IF NOT for them, Pits would still be the beloved NANNY dogs we know from the Little Rascals)

  5. I have been sharing my heart with pit bulls ever since the passing of my blue warlock doberman in 2008. She was the most loyal and loving dog I had ever owned. When she died, a friend of mine gave me a pitbull puppy because he was unable to keep him after moving into an apartment complex. I fell in love!! Michael Vick, the puppy's name, was the beginning of an addiction, lol. Every time I heard of someone having a pit that was going to the pound because they could no longer take of them, I got involved. I wound up housing as many as 33 pits at one time. I worked with each of them daily to make sure they were good family dogs and found them homes. Then I got down to as few as 12 and was much more able to take the proper care of them. I now have 5 pits outside and 4 inside, and a new doberman also. I work as a restaurant manager and my dogs are spoiled so much, my grown kids are jealous. They each have a garage dog house with insulated walls and are heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. I had a 10 ft section of their 20 ft lots closed in all the way around the outside of the lots, and the fronts have dog sized door openings. Each lot is separated by the fence section of the next lot and there is an ac unit at each end of the kennel building and1 in the middle, each winter, they are replaced with heaters and each dog has a heated pad for their beds to lay on. I love my pits very much. And my 3 grandchildren are constantly with me while feeding them and not once has any of them ever attempted to harm in any way anyone. The kids play with their ears and hug them even, while they are eating. And my inside dogs.....well let one of those kids, ages 5,3,and 1, make a sound.....you have to outrun a pit to get to them first to make sure they are ok. They are very protective of them and me. Thanks for letting me share my story with you. I just wish everyone would take the time to get to know what a real pit bull is like.