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.