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It's Not About the Fight in the Dog, But the Heart Within
With sad eyes looking through the cage bars, #44 sat there looking at each passer-by, hoping that each new face would be his confidant. As I felt the piercing gaze fall on me I, couldn't look away. With big, brown eyes centered in a brick-like bed of white flowing down into pink lips and a cold wet nose; #44 promised a life of loving devotion; of daily excited barking at the door for his best friend to come through after work; of every Sunday watching NFL football on a lap not made for a large dog.
#44 made a connection that day, made a partner for life. After the paper work was complete and the check signed, #44 was forever named Buddy. And Buddy has lived up to his name. A more playful, spirited, interested, loving dog I have not had. All the days were filled with playful exploration of the yard; excited joy of chasing squirrels and chipmunks; running down the Frisbee to not bring it all the way back. His unquestionable intelligence, to figure out the hidden “treat” toy that promises more than hours of fun for your pet, is accomplished within ten minutes. This pit-bull has forever found a place in my heart, just as one could do to you. As with all breeds, the right amount of love, training, devotion and patience; a pitbull could be the perfect family member addition to any house hold.
The breed that is labeled the “PitBull” is in fact not just one breed at all but a multiple number of breeds put into one category. The American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, and Staffordshire bull terrier are all the breeds that primarily make up the label. Mixed breeds, meaning part pit-bull, part other breed also is thrown into the lot. The pit-bull lineage is tracked back through the large immigration stampede of the 19th century. The original breed has been traced to England, when the terrier dogs were bred to the bulldogs resulting in what is today an intelligent, fun-loving, affectionate, playful dog.
Pit-Bulls have been known as the “Nanny Dog”, for their nurturing demeanor toward children. The pit-bull dog has become, throughout history, the dog that English citizens have adopted as their house hold watcher (Morral). They were used in the 19th century as protectors of the children while their parents worked in the fields (Morral). Pit-bull breeds have been loyal friends and protectors to the “little people” (meaning children) for as long as they have been together. The breed was bred for bull baiting and protection; well that protection trait carried over and is now a much sought after characteristic. They worry, wait, pace, brood, stand over, babysit, and sleep with babies, young children and owners alike. A more caring, faithful dog I have not met.
Pit-bulls have an eternal drive to please their owners. The breed as a whole has always worked for the affection and loyalty of its owners. This trait alone makes the pit-bull the perfect dog to train for any job and occasion. The pit-bull has superior physical and mental characteristics that make them excellent partners for responsible, active, and caring owners. Pitbulls have ranked very high on the temperament testing scale given by the American Canine Temperament Testing Association. In this study, the ACTTA tested the 122 recognized breeds; the pit-bull achieved the fourth highest passing rate of all breeds. That breaks down to their passing score of 82.5%, that's above the 77% average score of all the other tested breeds (Hedges). In another study the breed passed with a score of 83.4% over the Border Collie at 79.6% (Ten Facts About Pit Bulls Every One Should Know).
People are breeding this dog for the wrong reasons. With its willingness to please and drive to never quit, the pitbull is used so widely for dog-fighting that cases are popping up everywhere. Recently, the events of Michael Vick's (NFL Quarterback for the Falcons) dog fighting rings have shocked the nation. Not only did this unthinkable act (when two dogs are taunted, trained, and encouraged to attack the other; or when one dog is tied down or disabled so that the other can be “trained” by attacking and biting it) shock everyone, but it put a good and bad spotlight onto the pitbull breed. The media love the feeding frenzy that happens when a pitbull “attack” happens. It not only sells papers, but builds other stories for them. Now the spot light remains on the “attacks”, but no one seems to care about the dogs that were confiscated from Vick. All but one pit-bull was successfully put through the temperament testing process and passed with flying colors. Those dogs are in loving homes and families. The one that did not make it through the testing process was put down due to injuries sustained from the fight ring. It is not the dog's fault for wanting to please its owner by fighting, if that is what the owner is pushing to train for; punish the deed, not the breed. A famous quote from Seneca, 4 BC - AD65 puts this into prospective, “All cruelty springs from weakness”. We as dog owners need to be held responsible for the training and control of the dogs we own.
The “sport” of dog fighting should never be supported by any person, let alone the people who watch and/or bet on them. The ASPCA is trying harder every day to crack down and the many dog fighting rings that are broken up on a daily basis, but this is only the surface that they are fighting a uphill battle. Pitbulls have gotten a bad rap and the only way to fix this is the good caring owners and their good pitbulls are the ambassadors for the breed.
This breed is a true clown at heart, and love to play. With the intelligent demeanor and the drive to please, the pit-bull breed love to frolic with anyone that will spend the time and effort to burn a few hundred calories in doing so. Bully breeds have the agility and the passion to go what seems like forever while playing with owners, friends, or other animals. They will play hard, rough and all day. The breed itself has the stamina that was required to participate in the different “sports” that it was originally meant for.
Pitbulls are great workers. They have been used for the military during World War 1. Sergeant Stubby (1917-1927) is the most decorated dog in history. Not only did he receive the Purple Heart twice but saved his platoon from a poison gas attack and he also captured a German spy all by himself. They also are used for drug sniffing dogs, finding out more than 3,000 lbs of cocaine in Texas like Popsicle did (the largest drug bust in history by any dog). They are used more and more in the patient rehabilitation and therapy programs at hospitals and other senior care facilities, Pit-Bulls are making their mark as outstanding therapy dogs. They also are used for SAR dogs (SAR means search and rescue) (Ten Facts about Pit Bulls Every One Should Know).
Pitbulls have been the pets of many famous people throughout history. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt owned pitbulls. General Patton stood proudly beside his pitbull. Pitbulls have been on the television, such as “Petey” the faithful dog on The Little Rascals. Veronica Mars, the T.V. show also has a pitbull co-star. Famous people have been the proud owners of pit-bulls, such as Helen Keller, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Thomas Edison, Rosie Perez, The Crocodile Hunter, Judd Nelson, Usher, Alicia Silverstone, Sinbad, Vin Diesel, and more recently Rachael Ray (Dashevskaya).
I am more than pleased with the pit-bulls that are in my life and continue to be there. I will always have a special place for Buddy in my heart. As for the pit-bull breed, I will continue to fight against the inhumane treatment of dog fighting and plan to have a rescue in the future, if not only adopt those that want a home at the least. Please show support and open eyes to Breed Specific Legislation. It's not the breed but the owners; these animals are great pets, if not family.
- Dashevskaya, Sonnet. Pit-Bull Fact vs. Legend. Spindletop Pit Bull Refuge. 3/05/10 (www.austinlostpets.com/kidskorner/2October/pitbull.htm) 2001
- Hedges, Catherine. The Truth about Pit-Bulls. 3/5/10 (www.don'tbullymybreed.org)
- Morral, Timothy. History of the Pit-Bull. Pit-Bull 411. 3/10/10 (www.pitbull11.com/history.html)
- Ten Facts About Pit Bulls Every One Should Know. 3/6/10 (www.pitbulllovers.com/pit-bulls-ten-things-you-should-know.html), 2005