Let's Talk About Pit Bulls....
June 20, 2012
Last week, I “introduced” you to my first experience with an American Pit Bull Terrier. I’m going to try my best to recall some of my funny (and sometimes not so funny) pit bull memories over the years. Pit bulls are such characters, it’s going to be hard to choose what to mention!
Cujo was the first pit bull I’d ever been around. There are a few more funny things that I have thought of about him since last week. For one thing, his butt would float. I realize I keep talking about his butt, but this one is just too funny: We had one of those “Wal-Mart special” 12-foot, round pools, and we thought we’d let Cujo swim for a while…but he couldn’t because his hind end would float up to the top and his head would go underwater!
I remember once, when I was sitting on the back porch feeding Cujo some leftover bread. He had eaten probably half a loaf or more and was still “speaking” for a new piece. So I thought I’d get him some kibbles and we’d keep playing. I would tell him to “speak” (I didn’t really have to, though - he knew how the game worked), and when he would do so, he’d get his kibble. Well, he got so full that every time he’d bark, the previous piece of kibble would shoot back out at me!
Cujo was a really good dog. He would get out of his pen on occasion and would trot right on down the road to New Hope School to visit the kids. He never hurt a soul. We even had to break him out of jail (the Humane Society), once, when he had pulled his chain out of the ground and was running down the road, dragging it. He was so happy to see us!
Let’s Talk About Chains, Baby; Let’s Talk About You & Me....
While I’m on the subject of chains, I’d like to elaborate a little more on that. I think that Richard Stratton summed it up best in one of his many books on the American Pit Bull Terrier:
Some challenge that Bulldogs are kept on chains to make them mean. The APBT [American Pit Bull Terrier] is often kept on a chain, but not always. The problem is that these dogs are capable of leaping or climbing tall fences. Since it is essential that the Bulldog not run loose, a fool-proof method of keeping him confined is needed. A chain is an economical way to do it. It most assuredly does not make a dog mean. The idea that a chain makes a dog mean is a public misconception that confuses cause with effect. If a dog is mean, he is more likely to be chained; hence, more dogs that are chained are mean – but the chains didn’t make them that way.
When we kept our dogs in the yard, on chains, they each had a 12-foot chain - giving them a 24-foot radius to run and play. Of course, they had access to food, water and a dog house and could interact with each other without getting tangled. But I digress. A 24-foot radius, outside, in my opinion, is much better than being inside in a 24-by-36-inch crate, walking through their own feces or urine. Even a 6-by-8-foot kennel doesn’t provide as much room - or as much safety. We owned a dog, once, that had just had puppies and the very next day chewed her way out, back in, back out and back in a chain link kennel. We had it on video and watched her do it with little to no effort. We’ve also had dogs stand flat-footed and jump a 5-foot fence in one leap. They are experts at climbing, too - even trees! And they are very smart - and will figure a “way out” in no time - even pushing their dog house or whatever happens to be in the yard so that they can jump on top of that, on top of something else and over the fence! So the chain isn’t only the most economical - it is the safest and, in my opinion, most humane way to keep an animal while you are not at home or able to have it out of its “crate.”
Another problem with chains that people don’t understand is that a chained dog is more likely to be “picked on” - by people, kids and even other dogs. Because they can only go “so far,” they become an easy target. We had a dog once that loved everybody, especially kids, but our neighbors’ kids decided it would be fun to poke her in the eyes with a stick through the fence. We began to notice that she would get a little tense around kids and finally saw this mistreatment one afternoon when we got home early. Needless to say, my husband told the neighbor what was going on, and, fortunately, the neighbor handled it. But my point is this: How many times have you heard of a dog (any dog, not necessarily a pit bull) that got off the chain and chased someone or something? Do you really think they were so crazy that they realized they were free and thought, “What can I attack today?” Most likely, someone or something had been antagonizing them while they were on the chain, and they were simply paying them back.
One last thing, and I’ll close for the week - and it happens to be about Cujo! We kept Cujo on the small “Fred’s” chains (which a Chihuahua could pull out of the ground) at first. We upgraded him, over the years, to different sizes chains and finally had him on an actual logging chain. Don’t freak out! My husband would unhook his chain so he could run around the yard, and for a full two minutes Cujo would still just walk his perimeter because he didn’t realize his chain had been unhooked! Cujo was also extremely adept at literally unscrewing his chain’s “C” hook - and it didn’t take him long. We finally had to start super-gluing it so he wouldn’t unscrew it and run around the neighborhood!
Now, do I think these chained dogs should be left on a chain, with no other contact than feeding and watering? Of course not! We would come home, let all the dogs off their chains (yes - they all got along) to run in our fenced-in side yard (with supervision!) and would spend time with them. So don’t be so quick to judge a dog on a chain. Seven out of ten times, he is most likely to be a happy dog with a caring owner.
• The Real Story • June 20, 2012 •