Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My dog is not a killing machine

Never in a million years did I think I would get a boy dog, much less a boy pit bull. But here I am, a happy mommy with the sweetest pup on the planet, full of cuddles and love.

Those of you who know him know that he will hurl all 55 pounds of himself onto you as soon as you sit down. He'll rest his head right in your lap while we talk. He'll give you kisses if you want them. He'll nudge closer and closer until he's practically on top of you. He is the very definition of sweet.

Yet, whenever I walk this people-loving, dog-friendly pit bull, people act as if I'm walking Hannibal Lecter on a leash.

They cross to the other side of the street to avoid him.

They plaster themselves against a fence to stay out of our way.

They stare, wide-eyed and terrified as they pass.

It. Is. Infuriating.

Most people don't even give him a chance. One girl, while waiting for her bus, actually walked into the street so she wouldn't be too close to us. Seriously. She'd rather get hit by a car than risk getting sniffed by this obedient, leashed dog.

On that same walk, an old man didn't even give us the opportunity to move out of his way; instead, he immediately started walking on ice to avoid Rocco. In case you don't know, old man + ice = DANGER. But again, he'd rather break some bones that risk getting a glance from my pup.

Now, I understand that some people are scared of dogs. But this happens far too often for that many people to have a canine complex. No, this is pure, unadulterated pit-bull prejudice.

It really disgusts me how many people give us that "look," the one that says, "Ugh, how dare you bring a vicious, fighting beast into this neighborhood and have the nerve to walk him within 20 feet of my personal space." Is Rocco stronger than most dogs? Yes. Is he aggressive? Absolutely not. You'd know that if you didn't sprint into oncoming traffic to avoid us.

But because he's a pit bull, he is deemed dangerous. And it's bullshit.

I don't know every single pit bull in the world, so yeah, there are some shitty pits out there. (Just like there are shitty labs, greyhounds, poodles, etc.) There's even one pit bull in my neighborhood that always tries to attack Roc for no discernible reason. It's true that these dogs were originally bred for fighting, and, unfortunately, some ignorant people still follow that tradition, giving all pits a bad name.

That said, stereotyping every pit bull you see as a murderous killing machine is just wrong. Not just morally or ethically, but logically.

According to the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls have an average temperament score that even beats out the "ultimate family dog," the Golden Retriever -- not to mention many, many more. Generally speaking, they are not the carnivorous little devils that you see in the media.

Speaking of the media, if you want to read some stories about heroic pit bulls, click here.

I couldn't be happier that Rocco is in our lives and I don't know what we did to be lucky enough to end up with such a well-trained, kind-hearted little love machine. What I do know is that I keep hoping we're helping change the unfair stereotype about pit bulls. And in the meantime, if you live in Chicago and want a little extra puppy love, you know where to find us.


Anonymous said...

I have a German Shepherd and people behave the same way when we go on walks. My dog is a huge baby and loves meeting new people, but people act like I'm walking Cerberus.

Nick Gerber said...


I got a lot of people avoiding Izzie as we took a long walk this past weekend. I think if you have a dog that is any larger than a pomeranian people get freaked out, which is weird because I've had more damage done to my leg by a vicious chihuahua than any large dog. I do know that people have a prejudice about pits, though... I think at one point they were talking about banning them in urban areas because ignorant people are still using them for fighting. Either way, you're right, they can be lovely, perfect, loving dogs and Rocco is terrific. He shouldn't be discriminated against! I wish I got to see him as a puppy... he'd be a heart wrencher for sure!

Nick Gerber said...

not that he's not now....

elle michelle said...

Ari: Yep, Pits, German Shephers, Rottweilers and Dobermans. Those are the "bad breeds," right? (EYE ROLL.)

Nick: Rocco loves you too! Breed-specific legislation is complete shit. I know Pits are banned in Miami and I really hope that doesn't make its way to Chicago. (PS. I also wish we could have seen Roc as a puppy.)

Kate said...

We went to a shelter out here in the 'burbs a few months back and I was saddened by the sheer number of pits there. Most of the ones I saw looked and acted so sweet -- they get such a bad rap when I believe most of them are just nice, normal dogs looking for someone to love them (and for someone to love).

Bri said...

I know exactly how you feel, my giant 100 plus pound baby doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body, but I can't count the number of times someone has eyed us warily as we pass by. Size is part of it, I know, but I have had people ask me several times if he's a pit bull mix. People who don't speak dog or only speak teeny tiny can fit it in my purse dog just don't get it, and though it can be infuriating, I tell myself that at least I don't have to worry about walking around my neighborhood at night when my Bogart is with me. (they don't have to know that the worst he would do is knock them down so he can make out with them)

Anonymous said...

I adopted a Pit Bull (boy) last November and I could not be happier with him. Your post basically states exactly what I have been going through since I got him. Thank you for bringing this to attention. Just because of their name they are deemed something totally unnecessary. They are some of the most loving adorable animals out there. Love and puppy hugs to you and Rocco from me (Jen) and Petey. :-)

Anonymous said...

One of my roommates in college had a pit mix. We all raised from a wee little puppy and he was one of the sweetest, silliest dogs I'd ever encountered. But, just like you've said, when we walked him, people scattered. They were so freaked out by him for absolutely no reason. I wish more people understood how sweet pits can be.

EP said...

I've never had a pit pull or spent a lot of town around the breed, but I know, as a dog person, that they all deserve a chance. And look at Rocco. That's the way it's supposed to be with any breed, whether or not they were originally bred to fight.

It bothers me that so many people show prejudice to certain dog breeds. I've had people freak out at my Lucy before, too, and she's a Border Collie mix. *shakes head*

I hope people begin to realize that your pup is a good one while y'all are out walking and give him a chance to prove himself. Because it's clear he is amazing. And I haven't even met him!

elle michelle said...

Kate: It's SO sad how many pits are in shelters. But at least they haven't been euthanized! Rocco was supposed to be put down because of his breed, but One Tail at a Time rescued him. It's total bullshit that they euthanize simply based on breed.

Bri: Very good point, we definitely don't have to worry about walking our boys late at night!

Jen: Big hugs right back at you both. :-)

Instatick: Aw, he sounds adorable! I just don't understand how people wouldn't be totally in love with that kind of personality.

EP: Yes, that's all I'm asking -- that people just give all dogs a chance. (Not to sound like a fucking PSA, but you know.) And thanks for the kind comments about Rocco! Warms my cold, little heart. ;-)

Whiskeymarie said...

If my house wasn't already packed to the gills with furry beasts, I'd totally want a big loverboy like Rocco, pit bull or no.

And, this is coming from a person who was almost attacked by one a few years ago. I blame the owner and bad training for the dog's behavior- not the dog or the breed.

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