Friday, December 18, 2009

Why Pit Bulls?

As an advocate for bully breeds I am often asked the question, “why pit bulls?” Some people come right out and ask if we wouldn’t be better off without these “dangerous” dogs, as if extinguishing all dogs with short haired coats and sturdy muscular bodies would solve some great social ill.

I don’t respond with anger to such questions because I used to be one of those ignorant people. When my cousin announced she was bringing home a baby pit bull from Brooklyn as a gift, I was horrified and dismayed. I prepared for the worst. From what I’d heard, his brain would outgrow his skull; he would go crazy and snatch babies off the street and feed on them with his double-row of shark teeth...

Fast forward eight years as “my little boy,” that former baby pit bull from Brooklyn, lay dying on a table after a botched surgery. I put my cell phone to his ear as I called all of the friends we had made - human and animal - to say goodbye to him. After his passing I received more cards, flowers and letters of condolence for him than I had seen for some people.

That “dangerous, unpredictable” dog opened the doorway to eight years of laughter, friends, fun, hope and a life lived with unbridled gusto. His passing broke me with grief, and his life changed mine for the better. Without him, today I would probably cross a street upon seeing a big, domey head and goofy toothy grin. Because of him, I always return the grin and ask if I can pat the solid head. And if the guardian is clearly kind, I thank them. I thank them for not twisting the best qualities of these incredible, sporty dogs for brutal selfish means. I thank them for giving back the love these dogs so freely dispense when given even half a chance. I thank them for shedding some light on the darkness that preys upon such a maligned “breed.”

Why pit bulls? Because when they are loved and raised as ordinary dogs, they demonstrate extraordinary examples of loyalty, love and sheer living joy. Because even after being burnt, knifed, shot, used as bait, lynched, electrocuted, abused and hated by this world of human beings, most of these dogs come in and still have a lick and a wag left in their giant hearts.

Because when you see someone trying to extinguish the light in a dark tunnel, you want to kick down the walls and let the light shine out.


Sam said...

It's so true, Janet. The undying love and loyalty that I've felt from this breed (even in only my short 6 months of volunteering!) has been so heart warming.

I have never met such a resilient group of dogs - they endure every imaginable pain and hardship that a dog can experience...and yet they have nothing but love and kisses for their rescuers.

Pam said...

Beautiful, Janet. And I agree with every word.

Loraine said...

Wow - thanks for putting this out there, Janet. What an incredibly moving story and strong message.

Critter said...

Janet - You seem to be able to grasp so well in words what you are feeling in your heart. Wonderful. I too had reservations about Pitt Bulls in the past-mostly due to stereotyping and inexperience-since those I've met are sweet, gentle, and loving (not to mention playful, silly, and joyful...). Thank you for your posts and your volunteer work. You are a gracious soul and have a gianormous heart!

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