Pit bulls are the poster children for discrimination. They’re mean. They’ll rip your face off. They’re fighters.
Two months ago, we adopted Lola, an American Staffordshire Bull Terrior, otherwise known as a Blue Staffy Bull. Judgment started when we started telling our family and friends we were considering adopting a “pit bull.”
What? Why in the world would you want that kind of dog? Aren’t you scared of it? Won’t it kill Emmy (our Golden Retriever?)
We felt the discrimination from a neighbor, who had always been friendly towards our Golden, who threatened to poison our dogs if they did their business in his yard. Coincidence?
We felt the breath-holding gasp when we took her into the vet waiting room the first time. I could feel the “Uh-oh pit in the house. Be careful!” stares.
Pit bulls have gotten a bad rap. They used to be known as the “Nanny dog” for their gentleness with children. Credible canine organizations call them “eager to please, faithful and enthusiastic friends.” Yet, people are afraid of them. Somewhere along the way, gangs, dog fighters and thugs chose the pit bull as their dog of choice, and danger and fear replaced adoration of the bull.
Are some dogs just inherently “bad?” Consider a dog whose ears were butchered with kitchen scissors, presumably to make her look mean, a dog who was used as a breeder for 4-5 litters of puppies in three years, a dog who was then discarded…THAT dog, the one found emaciated, with broken ribs and a broken shoulder…THAT dog is the sweetest, most trusting, loving, snuggle muffin dog I’ve ever met. Are pits inherently mean? I think not.
Lola changes hearts and minds everywhere we go. Starting with mine. I wasn’t totally for this adoption in the beginning. Not because she was a pit bull, necessarily, though it did give me pause. I had an 11-year old “only dog” I’d had since she was weeks old. How would she adapt? Would she welcome another dog?
To learn about the breed, I started watching Pit Bulls & Parolees on Animal Planet. Host Tia Torres is a force of nature. She says she rescues pits and people, and is on a mission to change the perception of the world’s most misunderstood breed of dog. While she’s at it, she’s giving both people and dogs a second chance. Tia’s tattooed, pierced and hard looking family and her parolees began to soften my heart. I started noticing my unspoken fears and judgment, and I completely changed my mind about these dogs and the people saving them. I opened my heart and Lola came right on in.
Pit bulls, like people, can be trained to be mean. Like people, they can learn bad habits. But what if they, like people, are born wonderful, loving, trusting souls? What if those inherent qualities are there no matter what’s happened to them? What if they’re here to teach us these life lessons? Our Blue Staffy Bull has done just that. Lola has rocked my world in the best possible way.