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To Know Me Is To Love Me

Posted on April 07 2015

To Know Me Is To Love Me
When I first started in rescue, I had never really been exposed to pit bulls. Growing up, we always had the “safe” dogs. I had a poodle (Mimi), a lab mix (Lady), or – my favorite – the cocker spaniel who took to my newborn daughter like Lady from Lady and the Tramp (Sandy). But – pit bulls? No pit bulls had such a bad reputation. The statistics were horrifying, the news reports were even worse and yet most of the dogs in shelters were pit bulls or pit bulls mixes. So that was when I decided to volunteer my time, and offer my time to a local shelter. My first experience was as a foster, but I later ended up adopting my foster baby – only to realize that people now thought differently of me – because (oh no!) he is a pit bull.

There are so many misconceptions about pit bulls, but let me clarify that no matter what the breed, there are no bad dogs just bad owners. According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, “controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous.” They do not have locking jaws, their bite force is no different than any other dog, and they are no more aggressive than any other breed that is not socialized and monitored. You just have to be a smart safe dog owner and make sure your dog has the proper training, exercise and socialization.

Advocates for the breed say pit bulls are the most frequently abused, tortured, abandoned and euthanized breed of dog in the United States. I am proud to say that those are the dogs that PMAR takes in, fosters, and places in wonderful homes. “Pit Bull” is, in fact, a loose term for many distinct “bully” breed dogs, such as the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

These dogs are not monsters as the media has portrayed, but people are still afraid of them. What I found was that you have to be willing to be judged when you have a pit bull. People will sometimes walk on the other side of the street when they see you walking yours, or they will stop and ask you questions and ask to pet them. They either love them or hate them. Petey from the Little Rascals was a pit bull – nobody was afraid of him. He was always around children, nobody ever got hurt, and people loved him.

There are a few things that only pit bull owners will understand. I didn’t realize owning a pit bull would mean I would have to get used to the permanent smile they always seem to have, even if they are having a bad day. That smile is usually connected to the entire body wiggle, because they don’t seem to be able to just wag their tails. They almost fold in half. Pits are very affectionate. They just love giving sloppy wet kisses and hugs to anyone who will stand still long enough. So be prepared to be attacked by a tongue when you least expect it, especially once you have had a seat on my couch because my home is lived in and there are pitties who live here.

Pit bulls do like to talk, tilting their head from side to side as if to understand perfectly what you are telling them and hang on your every word. Mine will actually have full conversations with my husband and I – or even arguments when told not to do something. My older one has a tendency to talk back and has to get in the last word. If you do discipline them, they might resort to the sad puppyface or whine a little just to make you feel bad. And then…. don’t forget the big heavy SIGH.We teach our children not to judge people by the color of their skin. Yet people often judge a pit bull just because of its breed. When you mention you own a pit bull, you have to be prepared for how people will react. I find myself taking it very personal when people think I have aggressive dogs. They are my fur babies and a big part of my family and love everyone they meet. They are more loyal than most people I know. Always excited to see me when I come home, they snuggle and keep me warm when I am sick, or sleep on the couch next to me and snore (yes they snore). They are not guard dogs, although they might bark when the UPS man arrives, they are fine once they realize he has delivered their food. Pit bulls are just big goofy dogs, who love to play,love to cuddle, and love to be around their people.

To change the way people think about the breed, it is all about education and showing compassion. The more people we can reach with our pups and teach them what sweet, goofy, loyal companions we know them to be – the better! If interested in volunteering, fostering, adopting, please go to www.pmarinc.org

Author Trisha Greiner
PMAR Adoption Coordinator/Foster Mom

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