Sunday, December 16, 2012

Some Pit Bull Stuff

James and Swami, Dallas, TX

1) I'm totally stopping my own blog series "anecdotal pit bull" because I've found an even better version of it: the Animal Farm Foundation's "Majority Project". It's just a huge, constantly-growing group of photographs of normal, mundane people who own pit bull dogs. Pit bulls are a very popular type of pet dog. The end.

2) And this article from HugABull: "From Skeptic to Breed Advocate"

Which is similar to my own experience, I guess.

I clearly remember the first time I met a "pit bull". I was about 12, and was at a friend's house for a sleep over or something. We took a walk to her neighbor's house to meet their new puppy, which was little, and cute and wiggly and kissy, and then the owner told us it was a pit bull.

My first thought was, "oh is that what they look like?" my second was, "oh, too bad it will grow up to be aggressive." I wasn't scared, because obviously it wasn't aggressive right that second, but I was puzzled why this family chose such a dangerous breed when, (surely!) they knew it would turn on them one day. We finished petting the puppy, and went back home, and I mostly forgot about it.

As far as I remember, I didn't do much more thinking about "pit bulls" until I got into college and started volunteering at the local shelter. There were lots of pit bulls and mixes there. I walked a lot of them. I trained with some of them. Sometimes there would be one in the 'off limits' area that was aggressive or a fear-biter.

In other words, "pit bull" dogs were just like all the other dog types at the shelter; a mix of personalities, back stories, and behavior. You judged each dog's individual behavior and needs before taking it out of the kennel. Aside from weight and/or strength, looks didn't help with that judgement at all.

I don't remember when I changed my mind, exactly. There was no "ah hah" moment, just a slow progression to "breed advocate" over the next few years. I think it helped that it coincided with my first, unfettered access to high speed internet and the flood of information available.

It also helped that Corvallis is a very dog-friendly town in general, (Kelly Dunbar visited the shelter once and said she saw more people out walking their dogs in her one afternoon driving through Corvallis than she saw in any other city in an entire day.). Lots of dog parks. Lots of hiking trails with public  poop bag dispensers. Lots of yuppies walking pit bulls in sweaters to the farmer's market. Sort of Portlandia Lite (TM), if you see what I'm saying.

In other words, a perfect place to lose your biases of pit bulls. There's just too many of them, out in public, being normal dogs.

I still don't feel like a "breed advocate", even though I've been labeled a "pit bull nutter" by several pit bull haters. They're not a breed/type that calls to me the way that, say,  border collies do. The only reason I talk so much about "pit bulls" is that .... I just like dogs. And logic. Pit bull hysteria is stupid and causing a lot of families a lot of grief, and killing a lot of really good dogs, all to satisfy some "if only one child is saved!" fallacy of risk assessment.

Stupid people who kill dogs, directly or indirectly, piss me off. That's really all it's about.

Leslie and Dante

1 comment:

K-Koira said...

I just had a kid come up to me yesterday while I was waiting in line with the dogs to get their pictures with Santa. As he was petting Koira and she was licking him, the kid (probably around 5 or 6 years old) said, don't these dogs rip people's faces off?

I was a little perplexed about it. The mom didn't seem at all worried about the dog's breed. And the kid seemed perfectly happy with petting both dogs. I just said, that is only when bad people own them. And left it at that.