In defense of the pit bull.
dogs, pets, pit bulls, cutie pies, snuggle muffins
I'm afraid to read it because it might make me sad! Poor pit bulls! They are not bad dogs, they are powerful dogs who frequently have bad owners.
@SarahP: It's OK! Super cute pictures!
@SarahP Read it! It won't make you sad! Though it may make you get a little teary from ALL THE CUTE. :)
@laurel and @fondue with cheddar Thanks for being my filters for me! Now I feel safe to read it.
my dream is to open a pitbull rescue someday. except i wouldn't want to adopt any of them out, i'd just want to have 100 pet pitbulls.
Pit bulls used to be called "nanny dogs" because of how good they are with kids. Here are some adorable
@cuminafterall Boo HTML. Here's the link.
@cuminafterall thanks, I think those photos just liquefied my ovaries.
@cuminafterall The Barrels of Fun one has got to be the best
@Megano! I sqeeed at the one where the kid and the pit bull are 'praying'.
OH MAN it is so hard not to just list out all of the pitties I have known and loved over the years. Such sweet, beautiful darlings!
For fidgety breeds: I have also had a lot of experience with border collies (and my dog right now is a BC mix) and those guys tend to be high strung, temperamental, and fussy, and the only dogs I personally have known that have bitten children. Knowing this, I make sure my dog gets the appropriate amount of exercise, and I'm really careful about his interactions in high-stress situations. I think that sometimes people think they have a "safe" breed or mix, and then they're overly relaxed, and that way lies trouble.
@aphrabean Yeah it was REALLY interesting to me in the linked article how she talks about "triggers" and how the pit bull just has a different set than the lab.
@iceberg I loved her entire paragraph about 'gameness' in pit bills. That is honestly the best description of a pit bull personality - and why it is so easy to exploit pit bulls in violent ways - that I have ever heard. It's spot on; I'mma copy it here in case people didn't read that far down, since it's so, so true:
...pit bulls are known to be extremely “game” — if they get an idea in their head, they don’t let it go easily. (The phrase “stubborn as a bulldog” did not come out of vacuum.) This trait can be positive, in that it makes dogs like pit bulls very easy to train — they stay focused on a task, and work hard to succeed. It can be neutral in a family dog, where the worst we have to put up with is Zack’s strong opinions about where we go on walks. But, if a highly game dog is also aggressive, you wind up with every pit bull horror story. So, even though Zack has never shown signs of aggression (to people, dogs, or cats), we’re still careful about putting him in any situation where he can get too focused or wrapped up in what he’s doing. He’s strong and athletic, and can do damage unwittingly, so it’s just not worth the risk of letting him off leash in a dog park, or getting him too riled up while playing.
@wee_ramekin That part was really interesting, although I've never heard the phrase "stubborn as a bulldog" before.
@aphrabean This is so, so true. I have a border collie mix, and we are very careful with him around pretty much anything that moves. He LOVES babies, but wants to chase little kids, which means he needs to stay on a leash if kids are running around (he won't attack them, but he will jump, nip, and herd them, which is unacceptable). Tiring him out and constantly training him is pretty much the only way we manage him.
@aphrabean I worked in a pet retail store for 5+ years, where I saw a massive variety of dogs every day. Only three dogs have ever taken a swing at me:
1. A Jack Russell, who did not like me reaching over the counter to give him a snack. No snack for you, sir dogge. (My parents have had Jacks for years, and they can be fabulous dogs. This one was just not pleased with me, for whatever reason.)
2. A very poorly socialized Spitz, with one of the worst owners I've ever seen. Tried to charge me from halfway across the store. Not good.
3. A trio of Chihuahuas (Chihuahua?). In their defense, I was trying to put raincoats on them (at their owner's insistence). I don't blame you, Chihuahuas.
In my time there, I met approximately a gazillion bully breed dogs. They were all fantastic, especially the 12-week-old pup who was roughhousing with us and then a toddler came up and that puppy SAT. Good puppy.
"Pretty much every walk features a random man giving a gruff nod of approval and a deep throated “That’s a good lookin’ dog”." I will never - never - tire of how hard men on the street have to Gender Up when I walk my parents' yellow Lab. Women and kids have a great time when they see him. They get excited, their eyes get big, they scroonch his scroonchy little face, it's awesome. You can actually see the tension in the men's faces - Don't look at the adorable dog, dude, don't fuckin do it, it's just a fuckin dog bro, hold your coffee cup firmly, you don't deserve that kind of joy bro, you have a dick and I'm like JUST SCROONCH HIS FACE MAN YOU KNOW YOU WANNA.
@melis My husband will actually get down on the sidewalk and be like, "Puppy! Hi puppy!" and let the dog jump all over him. It's charming.
@melis Relatedly, when I see a dude bro-in' out with a dog, I have to forcefully remind myself not to propose.
@wee_ramekin I loves the pit bulls. Loves them. So sweet. I have a small german shepherd/possibly pit who-knows-what-else mix. She's been my large dog training wheels because the next one I get will probably be pit. They have the happiest faces!
There are a lot of dudes with pits in my hood, but they seem to think the dogs make their junk bigger. They don't. Because they are sweet puppy-loverfaces.
@Slapfight I walked into my local beer emporium a few months ago and saw a guy who was not at all the sort of guy who hangs out in our hippie, crunchy-granola neighborhood. He looked tough. He looked mean. He had a pit bull on a tight leash.
The reason for the tight leash was immediately clear when the dog looked at me, broke into a huge doggy smile, started wagging so hard his butt nearly fell off, and bonked my knees with his head. We had a little love-fest on the floor, right there in front of the register.
And I ended up talking about fresh versus frozen versus dry food with a guy who looked tough and mean and not at all what you'd normally find in our hippie-crunchy-granola neighborhood.
@Mingus_Thurber My dog's FAVORITE dog is a gigantic (like, at least 80lbs) old, scarred, un-neutered pit bull. Whenever they see each other, my guy basically dies of happiness, and then they very carefully wrestle (as mine is still pretty much a puppy, and the big guy is all old and blind and arthritic), and it is just the best thing in the world.
Thinking about this now, with the exception of a German Shepard puppy, all of my dog's favorite dogs are pitties.
@melis I used to foster pitbulls and live on the edge of an area of Boston that has a terrible reputation for high crime and what not. And I would walk those dogs around the ghetto and so many dudes on the street would pass me and grunt "now THAT's a GOOD LOOKIN DOG"
@melis my boyfriend is very much a "guy" in many ways, but he allows himself to squee over cute things and it makes me SO SO HAPPY.
@Mingus_Thurber That's awesome! Unfortunately two specific dudes in my hood are not so nice. To people or their dogs, which are super sweet. :(
We used to have a Staffordshire, a bit different than a pit bull, but the same build, which my dad cals coffee table dogs "because they have a leg at each corner".
It's really touching how affectionate & adorable they can be but how horrible that humans can transform them. Sort of like beign able to use their powers for good or evil.
@iceberg My aunts Staffy just passed away, and a description "coffee table dog" is the perfect way to describe the dog that I have been searching for, for years.
I've never met a soppier, more stupid, yet insanely lovely creature. Not at all vicious, occasionally excitable, but GAH I miss her.
Sorry, this has turned into some kind of Eulogy. (Howlogy?) I'll stop there. But yes, great description.
@tea sonata aww I'm sorry, that dog sounds lovely!
@iceberg Thank you, she was. :)
Oh y'all, I am so happy you posted about pit bulls. I am currently fostering a sweet female Pittie named Raya that I found on the side of the road a few months ago. I worked at a kennel for three years, so it's almost impossible for me to pass a stray dog on the street and not try to rescue it. I whistled at her, and like the pit bull in the article, she jumped right into the back of my car, tail-io a-wagglin'. Look at how cute she is:
PS - If any Austinites (or other Texans; I'd be willing to drive her somewhere for the right family) are interested in her, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org! You can find more information about her on the (never updated) blog that I created for her: http://adoptraya.wordpress.com/.
@wee_ramekin I'll spread the word!
@wee_ramekin awwwwuuhhhhh so cute!
@wee_ramekin Oh, man, there is some SERIOUS tail waggage happening in that 2nd picture.
@Jinxie Haha! I'm so glad someone noticed that! Yeah, she's the happiest dog I have ever known.
Relatedly, you know how the author of the article talks about how pit bulls just want to be in your lap all the time? I guffawed aloud at that part, because my nickname for Raya is "The Clamber-er" since she likes to try to clamber into my lap when she thinks I'm not looking. She'll he-e-e-e-eave her muscly little body up onto my chair with her front legs, while her back legs dangle perilously as she kicks them about for leverage. It is the cutest thing I've ever seen.
@Danzig! Thank you! Yes, please please spread the word about her. Anyone who knows someone in Austin who's looking for a dog, point them toward Raya's blog and ask them to e-mail me (contact info on the blog) if they have any questions about her or are interested. I would love for her to find a home with a Pinner or Friend of a Pinner :).
@wee_ramekin I also guffawed! I used to live with two 70 lb pits would compete to climb into your lap simultaneously, which meant you often would end up in the middle of a dog sandwich. I had to start locking my bedroom door because one little lady would bust past the broken latch and wake me up by leaping onto the bed and lying directly on top of me in the middle of the night. Just the most darling.
@wee_ramekin Aaah she looks like the dog my family fostered last year! Black-brown brindle, white markings and snout. She was too hyper and destructive for us to keep forever (she was a year old and had never lived indoors), but she was so cute. And if you sat down on the floor, or even put a leg out on the floor, she would immediately lie down on your lap/leg (or try) and fall asleep. She got adopted by a neighbor girl my age whose father is nearly bedridden, so she has a person to snuggle on all day. And a few months later, my parents adopted an old pit bull whose idea of fun is lying under a blanket or in the sun all day with occasional random sprints around the house.
@wee_ramekin Great. Now I love you even more. From afar. On the internet. Cute puppy face!
@wee_ramekin She's beautiful! Such a pretty brindle effect she's got going on. I'm sure she'll get adopted in no time!
@wee_ramekin PUPPY! Hi puppy! She is such a pretty girl, I hope you find the best possible home in the world for her. HI PUPPY!
Oh also, a few months ago when my (toddler) son was going through a phase of gently chomping on people's noses when they leaned in for a kiss, we happened to meet an adorable young lesbian couple with their sweet-natured pit-bull, and when the babies went to pat him, they were anxiously reassuring me that the dog would be gentle and safe, while I was discreetly trying to stop my baby from biting the pit-bull.
@iceberg I was once walking my pitbull near my house when we passed a woman and baby trailed by a tiny blond boy on a little plastic tricycle. The little boy asked, "Is he fwendly?" and when I said yes, cautiously patted my dog (who is mostly indifferent to children, preferring fresh pee). The mom looked back, a bit concerned, and the boy shouted, "HE'S FWENDLY!" to reassure her. I died a little bit.
@iceberg Best role reversal ever.
@Faintly Macabre That is fantastic.
Also I really want to see a picture of Ludie and every other dog mentioned in these comments. I can't help it.
@aphrabean ME TOOOOO *browsing the PinPets tumblr*
@iceberg WAIT THAT'S REAL?
@aphrabean http://pinpets.tumblr.com :D
@aphrabean Also, go ahead and Google-image search: "pit bull smile". You're welcome.
@wee_ramekin, @iceberg, I am admittedly PRETTY hormonal right now, but the combo of these two things definitely just made me cry at my desk, a little, with pet-related joy.
@wee_ramekin: This is my all-time favoritest pitbull picture. It's from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah. They took in, rehab'd and adopted out most of the Michael Vick dogs.
The book about the Vick dogs is so excellent!
My pittie mix is also very typical of the breed -- loving, smart, tenacious. They are terriers, which people tend to forget.
@laurel LOOK AT THAT FACE! It's smooshing time.
I just want a house full of dogs. All the dogs. Every breed that has ever been designated as 'bad' by crazy people who don't like dogs or don't know how to train them properly. COME TO ME, DOGS, I WILL TRAIN THE FUCK OUT OF YOU, AND THEN I WILL FEED YOU AND KISS YOU AND LOVE YOU FOREVER.
You people are my people.
So I'm in vet school and we have a program where we spay and neuter shelter animals, and through this I had my first real experiences with pit bulls-- and I've been converted! These dogs are so sweet and mellow, and it's been so cool to teach them how to sit, watch them play with toys for likely the first time. We spend a week with them and then send them back to be adopted. On the flip side, most of the cadavers we use to study anatomy and practice surgery are the euthanized animals from local shelters, and the majority of them are pit bulls. Makes me sad.
My family is SO very anti-pit bull, it makes me sad. I kind of want one just to show them what's what.
In my experience, meeting a pit bull tends to shake "anti-pit bull" people right out of that bullshit. It's hard to maintain that prejudice in the face of a wiggling mass of dog who just wants to kiss everyone. I always tell people who get all squealy over my dog that she's part pit, and it's fun to hear the "oh, really?" from the people who clearly think they're all killers.
@Nocs My mother is the same way... So the rest of us make sure not to tell her her 'lab/rottweiler cross' that she loves so much is obviously a pitbull/rottie cross.
@Nocs Do it, man! That's how moms LEARN!
my pit, let me show you him:
my mom said "ugh, they wouldn't be thought of as agressive if they weren't inherently agressive" and then she met my Ham and changed her tune real quick. He is the biggest love sponge I have ever met and loses his mind if he can't get constant affection.
@spoondisaster I JUST WANT TO SNORGLE HIM
@spoondisaster I hope you sing to him, "somebody bring me some Haaaaam" Liz Lemon style.
@spoondisaster I like you because your dog's name is Ham and you smoke American Spirits.
@oh! valencia my roommates and I sometimes joke that Ham stands for "hard as a motherfucker" because that is exactly what he is not
@spoondisaster Aaaah I love his brindle!
@Faintly Macabre He is also one of those dogs, like the author's, that gets "ooh, that is a pretty dog" from the gruffest, toughest dudes. The brindle makes him look like a tiger.
My little brother adopted a pitt bull he found in our backyard the day our grandmother died. He's a lovely person. "Rusty" attacked every dog it met, bit me, attacked my best friend. I bit him back, so he became afraid of me, believe it or not. So I was safe around him. We just couldn't trust him around strangers. The thing was, he was so big and strong, that as sweet as he could be, the moment he decided something was wrong or not to his taste, and attacked, it was too hard to stop him. Truck drivers had to come out of a house one day, removing their belts as they approached to whip him off "Fluffy," as Fluffy's mistress kept screaming "He's killing my Fluffy!"
All poor Fluffy did was walk by our house, on a leash, across the street. Rusty broke his leash, jumped over the fence, and the rest is above. Fluffy survived, but I was traumatized. Rusty was like, "whatever."
And that's kind of why I'm scared of pitt bulls, having seen Rusty in action. He was a nice dog, except when he was attacking other dogs. And my best friend. He bit her in the side, luckily, didn't do much damage before I distracted and scared him off. (Weird how that one retaliatory bite made him scared of me for life.)
We only kept him because on her dying bed, my grandmother said, "There's something in the backyard for Johnny," and when my mom got home, my brother was all, "I found a dog in the backyard!" So, we were stuck with Rusty for life, even though I kept repeating the question: Did you look for anything ELSE in the backyard? Maybe there's a pot of gold buried there, for christ's sake.
No, seriously, it's like, when it comes to pitt bulls, I just keep thinking, "they always say he never hurt a fly... until..." I can't be around them. I'm sorry for them. I just wish people would stop over-breeding them for meanness. I see them all around my neighborhood, un-neutered, reproducing like crazy. It makes me sad.
And yes, I do realize it was nuts to bite him back that one time. But I was a kid. A kid who is lucky not to have been eaten alive that day. (shudder!)
There's this lady in my neighborhood who has an iron gray ponytail and a front yard vegetable garden, and I used to think she was OK, like maybe not best friend material, but maybe we could one day discuss an NPR story we'd both enjoyed or something. However, one time I was walking my dog, and ok' Yard Chard said hello, and said "Hi, puppeeee" to my dog, Lorna. (Pictured in my avatar.) Lorna saw this as an invitation to extreme friendship, so threw herself at the lady as hard as she could, and churned up some yard-garden soil in the process, and the lady was like, "Oh, that's a strong dog."
The next time I walked Lorna by and Yard Chard was out, she said hello to me, and once again greeted my dog separately, so this time I had Lorna sit and wait, because I don't like her to hurl herself at new friends with her entire being, but this time the lady was like, "Oh, I'm sure that's a perfectly nice dog, but it's a little scary."
Now I ostentatiously cross the street when she's outside, and make sarcastic comments to my husband, who will good-naturedly hate the neighbors if I ask him to, but doesn't put his heart in it like I do.
There are several lessons to take away here.
1) It is bad manners to go all "Hi pupppeeee" on somebody else's dog if you haven't spoken with the owner and worked out an understanding that it's ok to interact with their dog. Some dogs, like mine, are in training, and getting all squeaky with them reinforces bad habits like jumping up on possibly unwilling strangers.
2) it is counterproductive to aim your squeaky greetings at dogs with whom you are not comfortable interacting
3) I am not mad at Yard Chard because she is afraid of my dog, but because she called her "scary," like it's some objective quality, and because that kind of smug public labeling of pit bull lookin' dogs as scary leads to legislation that gets them killed en masse and to people's companion and service animals being taken away.
4) Her mental capacity is diminished, due to lead consumption, because her smug-ass little yard garden is just a few yards away from a large public road that was in use prior to 1970, and leafy greens are particularly notorious for passing along lead in polluted soil. I should probably be more compassionate.
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