How'd These Dogs Get Such a Bad Name?
July 4, 2012
"The pit bulldog, if it is a normal, sound member of its breed, will probably greet you like a long lost friend, turning inside out with pleasure and dancing out a jig with its front feet, prompting you to wonder how in the heck these dogs got a bad name, anyway" - Diane Jessup
My husband and I have been trying to remember all the things that we have gone through or experienced during our 30+ years with American pit bull terriers, and we have recalled some great memories. The problem is in putting them in the timeline from our first dogs through today - it's a long road! We've written about Cujo before, and I remember two other things that stand out about him for me.
Once, I was walking out to the car to go to work and Cujo was stretched out in the side yard on his back, feet up in the air. I called out to him, but he never moved. I called several times, getting louder each time, because I ac-tually thought he was dead! That dog never even twitched. I finally threw my purse down on the ground and ran to the side yard, yelling and screaming his name! Wouldn't you know, that stinker rolled his head over towards me, opened one eye and looked at me like he was winking! I could just imagine him thinking, "Ha! I gotcha, mommy!" Another thing about pit bull dogs is that they are mostly silent. We've been lucky in that most of our dogs mind really well. Cujo was no exception. In fact, whenever one of the other dogs would get in trouble, he'd back up so far in his dog house that all you could see was the tip of his nose! I guess he thought if we didn't see him, he wasn't the guilty one! One night, Cujo was barking his head off, and when my husband would tell him to stop, he would start back up within minutes. Ken-neth (my husband) finally got out of bed and went outside and told Cujo that if he had made him get out of bed for nothing, he was going to be in some serious trouble. Cujo kept barking, and Kenneth went out with the flashlight. He couldn't see a thing, but Cujo kept barking and looking at a certain spot in the yard. Kenneth fi-nally found the culprit - a little turtle was moseying around the yard, and Cujo couldn't stand it! Cujo lived to be about 9 or 10 years old, and we never had a single behavior or aggressiveness problem out of him.
The next pit bull we acquired was Gypsy - a light brindle female with white markings. She was the cutest little thing (aren't they all?) and was the first pit bull I reared from a pup. She and Cujo loved each other and were never apart. Cujo and Gyp-sy had two litters of pups, and we had to bottle-feed the first litter. Gypsy didn't want anything to do with them, so I would take them to my grand-mother's house in the morning. She would look after them until I got there at lunch to bottle-feed them, and again until I got off work and took them back home. We kept one pup, Grizzly; another, Bandit, went to my brother-in-law.
I've said before that these are tough, hardy dogs. Bandit managed to escape from her yard and was run over by an 18-wheeler one afternoon when she was about 2 or 3 years old. She looked pretty bad but made it through, with the help of some good old-fashioned medicine. She didn't run back out in the highway after that, though! She healed very nicely, and you would never know she'd been run over.
My husband reminded me last night about a funny story re-garding Grizzly (or Gizzy-Bear, as I liked to call him). It was that one year when it snowed pretty hard in Columbus - you know which one I'm talking about. I was sitting in the snow, playing with Gizzy-Bear, with socks - yes, socks - on my hands be-cause I didn't have any gloves. Gypsy and Cujo were running around in the yard, playing with Kenneth, and Gyp-sy decided she was going to harass Grizzly. Well, she got a little too ram-bunctious with him, so I grabbed him and stood up, but she was still trying to harass him. Kenneth tells the story best; he says he turned around and saw me, with snow all over my pants, like I'd been rolling around in it, swat-ting at Gypsy with one sock-covered hand and holding Gizzy-Bear up in the air as high as I could reach with the other.
Boy, if we could only play back the memories we have so that others could see them!! I can become a little long-winded talking about things I'm passionate about. So look for more pit bull stories next week!!
I'll close with the following - and I couldn't say it any better than Diane Jessup:
"The next time you meet a pit bull, take a moment to stop and engage the owner in conversation. Ask them (nicely) about the dog. Be prepared for suspicion and defen-siveness. After all, this is an owner who more likely than not adores his/her life companion, has a strong and wonderful bond with the dog, and faces almost daily threats to this friendship from every conceivable source. Neighbors, friends, family, the media, PETA and even some "humane" organizations, all sadly, often feel compelled to add to the general "fad panic" about the lat-est "fad breed." This dog and his/ her owner are truly under constant siege, and you must forgive them this wariness. This pit bull and its human life-companion are soldiers on the front line of the new battle against companion animal ownership and the growing "anti-dog" movement. So called "breed specific legislation" - those laws which ban all dogs of a certain appearance based solely on appearance and not behavior are a reality - a reality pit bull owners live with everyday. Imagine for a moment having a dear friend you know to be the paragon of loyalty, sweetness, pa-tience, and good humor, only to have that friend constantly portrayed as "evil", unpredictable and savage, and you will begin to understand the frus-tration. We know of fighting dogs, who have known nothing but years of unspeakable abuse, who have had their lives blighted by neverending confinement to a heavy chain, who will lick with humility the hand of the animal control officer who has come to end their life, and we know that no other breed could withstand so much neglect and hate, and still have that pure love of man shine through to the end. The injustice of it can drive you mad. "
• The Real Story • July 4, 2012 •