“I own a Pit Bull, It’s a lifestyle. I’m on a mission to fight bad reputations and stereotypes. I am an advocate. I stand up for their breed and it’s a priviedge”—Pittie Chick
My family has always been a pet friendly household and when I was planning moving back home to RI, after my time in college, I knew I wanted a dog of my very own. I started visiting animal shelters around Connecticut a few weeks before my finals. This day I signed into the visiting page of the shelter and walked my way to the kennels. So many dogs, almost all pit bulls, and I wanted them all! I continued walking when I entered the last room and saw this beautiful gray pit bull staring at me. With big brown eyes and such a quiet temper, she pushed herself up against the cage and I sat on the floor for an hour with her. I continued going to the shelter for weeks daily, walking and spending time with her.
One day I had taken a friend to meet this pup. I was a few kennels over from her when I heard my keys rattle, and when I looked over they were gone. This devious pup had used her paw to move the keys into her cage to get my attention and I knew I had to take her home.
‘Luna’ the smart pup, was my gateway into this magnificent breed.
Right before moving to Texas I started looking through shelters again knowing I wanted to save another pit bull. The last shelter of the day had one pup I’d seen online and wanted to meet, Wall-E. When walking in, there was a couple already filling out the paperwork for him but the lady assured it was still okay to see him.
Wall-E was on guard at first but once he was out of the kennel and playing in the field, he was full of energy and very sweet. The woman offered to do a sleep over for the weekend. The day after Memorial Weekend, he was supposed to be brought back, but he never made it. Memorial Day of 2018, he was home forever.
Every dog should have a buddy, I am a firm believer in that! So after moving to Texas it was time for Wall-E to get a sister. Now Wall-E is a very picky with who his doggy company is so this was no easy task. Shelter after shelter, no dog was seeming to be quite right for him.
We were going to a final meet and greet but arriving a little too early and needing gas for the car, drove to a gas station. Ironically, there was an animal shelter directly next door that hadn’t gotten come up in searches. With time to spear, it seemed worth a shot.
This shelter had so many dogs it was heartbreaking. Walking up and down the aisles, there was one pup that stood out among the rest. Aside from the massive ears and hazel eyes, she looked like she could already be Wall-E’s sister! Their meet and greet went amazing, and she came home three days later. There were complications with her spay surgery and she now has a permanent tick, but it doesn’t stop her from being a spunky little firecracker.
These pups were from different places across the country, all abandoned and found as strays and have completely different personalities, but what they all have in common—they all want a warm bed and a loving home.
When I walk any of these dogs (especially Luna being 85 pounds of chub), people would turn and cross the street from me, ask, “Why is that dog here?” People are so quick to give a glaring eye and walk faster when they see a pit bull in the area.
Pit bulls have a stereotype of being these vicious terrorist of a breed dog, but here’s the thing; there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.
In all my shelter adventures, I have yet to meet a pit bull that I was afraid of; yet I’ve come across a golden retriever that 100% would have bit my hand if I stepped any closer, probably because they were abused. My parents have a corgi they bought as a baby and has bitten my parents more times than I can count because he’s a grumpy ol’ man now. How many times has a chihuahua gone into fits of barking and lunging after people, but no one says those dogs are bad. These dogs, I would never stick my hands anywhere near their mouths, but I’d easily put my hands in my pit bulls’ mouth without question (my pups are nosey and try to eat things they shouldn’t so it’s a daily occurrence).
Dogs have personalities, each as individual as you and I. Even with signs of abuse Wall-E is as sweet as honey and just wants to be told he’s a good boy. He’ll sit at your feet all day while you fold laundry, then when it’s time to relax he’ll cozy up next to you on the couch as close as he possibly can, spending the rest of the night snoring in your ear like a grandpa. Plus, he has the greatest smile ever.
Winnie on the other hand is a quirky ball of fire. She can get into just about anything you leave out, and she has a grand ol’ time doing it (bye bye finished 2,000 piece puzzle) She will let Wall-E’s tail hit her in the face repeatedly without moving herself, and a lot of times she walks like a baby gazelle who’s still learning how to use her legs. She loves her squeaky balls, butt rubs, and sleeps in the weirdest positions.
Even comparing these two dogs together, their personalities are entirely different. As a society we’ve been trying to progress from using stereotypes to determine things about a certain race, gender, or even criminal intent of a certain type of person. These stereotypes can range from harmless things such as "All people of Asian decent are good at math," all the way to severe stereotypes like, "He must have done the crime because he’s African American."
Now, it’s a far comparison at first, but it’s actually quite the same. The pit bull must be bad because they’re a pit bull and these other dogs, like a poodle, are good because they’re a poodle. You can’t not generalize any living creature into just one small specific box.
When in search of a new family member, instead of looking at dogs as breeds we look at personalities. You can ask the workers, who spend countless days with the rescues, which dogs are the most cuddly? Which are the most playful? Which are good with kids? With cats? They‘ll be able to tell you all of the dogs that fit your needs. Even just walking from kennel to kennel, you’ll see the different personalities of the dogs, some jumping around, some more shy, some up against the cage wanting affection. Instead of believing you want a kid-friendly dog so you must get a lab, you believe that you just want a kid-friendly dog and that can come in ANY and many breeds of dogs.
All dogs deserve a life where they don’t need to worry about their next meal, their shelter, or safety for the night. Given affection, love, and kindness, even the dogs that learned aggressive behaviors from owners or dog rings can let their guard down and revert back to a sweet dog. These dogs are scared and fearful of their lives and all they’ve seen and received is hatred. With nurture and gentleness toward the pups, they won’t need to react with aggression anymore.
No dog is inherently violent or capable of snapping into aggression suddenly. All dogs have natural instincts of finding food, finding shelter, and protecting themselves from harm. If we treat a certain breed; such as the doberman pincher, pit bulls, huskies or any of the other dogs on “banned breed lists” with hostility and rage and belief that they’re automatically bad; we’ll not only miss out on these sweet, loving animals but they’ll have to fight our aggression with aggression back.