Sunday, October 28, 2012

International Day: Be Kind to a Pit Bull

I was greeted by a compact tank-like creature with large pink tongue, panting heavily, and trying to jump on my legs. An audible sniffing and snorting noises came out of this dog's flattened snout. With a heavy baby in my arms, I reached gingerly on top of the hardened skull and patted with my fingertips. The dog's heavy underbite grinned at me. The so-not little Bull Dog, Boston, soaked in my attention. She grew even more excited when she realized I had a little human in my arms. I hoisted my son even higher in my arms to prevent her from getting too excited while sniffing his presence. Her entire flank shook with barely contained excitement.

During all this commotion, other dog sat on his hunches, and looked regal. His heavy-brows showed intelligent brown eyes. His tail thumped softly as I approached him. He remained still as I stroked along the ridge on top of his skull. He closed his eyes for a moment and grunted as he stood up to his full sized height. Realizing that there was a small baby in my arms, he pressed his snout against my baby and took a deep sniff. Then he opened his mouth....and gave Forrest a big slobbering lick then stayed some distance away, unlike Boston who was desperately trying to jump on me,  to allow some space for me to walk downstairs to the den room where my siblings were all hanging out. 

The entire time I was visiting, Ajax calmly sniffed at Forrest and gave him slobbering kisses. He was fascinated by this little two-months old baby, and wanted to spend time near him. Ajax obediently sat when both Alex and Alex (my brother and his fiancee) commanded him to. Unlike his companion, Boston, he did not beg or drool at the sight of food. The noises from the guys playing Halo or Madden 13 did not cause Ajax to go into crazy excitement. He laid on the floor with his snout resting on his forelegs.

Do I trust Ajax and Boston around my baby with an adult supervision? Absolutely. And the funny thing is, it is....

Totally opposite of how Media loves to paint Ajax. 

You see, Ajax is a Pit Bull.

Alex, my brother's fiancee, asked me if I was interested in writing a post on my blog about Pit Bulls since today was International Awareness Day called Be Kind to Pit Bulls. This day was founded by an advocacy group called Pit Bulls Against Misinformation. Of course, I jumped at this for two reasons. First, I loved the idea of educating people--this was why I had started writing about It's the Deaf Thing posts to reduce stigma, misinformation, fears, ignorance, and encourage curiosity among people who are not Deaf. Secondly, I have always been a HUGE animal lover especially of those breeds that were considered to be less than appealing to many. 

I am lucky to be able to grow up with "bully" or those breeds that are deemed to be dangerous. My brother and I grew up with Rottweilers, German Shepards, Chow Chow, Pit Bulls, Doberman, & many more. Because of this, I was able to see through distorted image and lies that Media often like to portray on those dogs, and see the truth about them. 

When I was working as a pet groomer, those breeds came in and I was often asked to work with them; I gladly accepted, and enjoyed them. Never have I been bitten, nipped, or growled at by those particular breeds.

However, I was bitten, nipped, growled at, and scratched by....a Schipperke, Chihuahua, Cairn Terrier, Yorkie, & those "ankle-biters" breeds. They were the most aggressive dogs I have ever worked with. Ironically, they were considered to be gentle and lapdogs by many. How wrong was that idea. Those dogs developed Napoleon's Complex and because of this, they became possessive of their surroundings and owners. 

Do not get me wrong. I'm not naive. There are some large breeds, Bully or not, that are an unfortunate byproduct of abuse, ignorance, poor breeding, and inappropriate handling which led them to be aggressive or have undesirable traits. With any dogs you see, you should be careful until you know the dog's temper and behavior. 

While working as a groomer, I learned the number one leading bite in United States was not caused by a Pit Bull. It was both Golden Retrievers and Labs. Believe it or not. Why, one may ask. 

You see, Golden Retrievers and Labs are often in high demand to be family pets because of their likable traits, and status of being family dogs; the irresponsible breeders end up interbreeding their dogs, and this leads to poor result. The dogs are born with poor temperaments, and do not carry healthy genes. Many families buy dogs that comes from backyard breeders, and this leads to unfortunate incidents. This is why you see so many Labs and Golden Retrievers in the shelters. They are no longer desired because of their poor social background, bad genes, and in some cases, aggression. They are as much victims as Pit Bulls are. 

French Bulldog; French Bulldog Association Site

When an incident do occur with Bully breeds, Media jumps all over on this and glorify the incident as in saying See, I told you. You better beware. They are dangerous. The term, "Bully", has become so distorted to the point of scaring people. People automatically think of Pits when Bully term is used. However, do you know that a Boxer, Boston Terrier, Bull Mastiff, French Bulldog, & English Bulldog are considered to be a part of Bully breeds? Yet they are excluded from the Bully breeds in general.

The stories of attacks by Labs and Golden Retrievers, the excluded dogs in the Bully breed category are not covered by the Media simply because they do not make a sensational story on the front newspaper page. 

However, the far and few attacks of Pit bulls on human beings are grubbed by the Media. Think of Michael Vick, the gangs that likes to use them for "scare tactics" and they practice poor breeding along with abuse that inevitably cause dogs to be socially unacceptable, &  irresponsible dog owners that did not know how to handle their dogs properly. What people do not see in the stories are that Pit bulls or any bully breeds that are rescued are often put down immediately regardless positive traits the rescuers see in these dogs. This is based on assumption that all dogs that are rescued are already dangerous and beyond of rehabilitation. This leads to banning in airports, transportation sites, apartments/housings, and public sites, to name a few. The laws have put in effect to reduce breeding the so called-aggressive breeds. 

This is why people have become so frightened of Bully breeds. 

It is understandable and healthy to have some fear of dogs especially if you do not know the dog's background. To have such fear and hatred of certain breeds, based on ignorance, is when it becomes very sad. The constant coverage by Media, bans put in place by airports and public continues to make it difficult for advocate groups to educate us about the truth of Bully breeds. 

Instead of being so afraid and rejecting Bully breeds based on face value; try talking with owners that have Bully dog, read positive stories about them (Oogy: The Dog a Family Only Can Love is a great book), attend festivals and events with dogs of all breeds, volunteer your time at a local animal shelter, and watch movies that are positively focused on bully breeds (Homeward Bound Disney Movie has a dog named Chance and he's an American Bulldog). You do not have to be a bully dog lover or even like them, but at least give them a credit and respect that they deserve.