Saturday, November 17, 2007
After hearing such rave reports from people he knew that had owned them for years, my husband wanted to own a Pit Bull for a long time. But, knowing about the news reports of these dogs attacking for no good reasons, he found it hard to convince me that they are very loving (in fact downright NEEDY) dogs. After doing some research myself, reading dog books, listening to those who work with them and own them (including "The Dog Whisperer", and The Westminster Dog Show), I began to believe what they believed. That their owner had brutally taught a very people-pleasing dog to use those strong muscles for evil, because it's not inherently part of their nature.
6 yrs ago, when a friend of ours said that a stray Pit kept hanging around to play with his dogs every day, we rushed over to claim him. I decided, with this breed, I would refuse him if there were any sign of abuse. As soon as we stepped out of our car he came charging up to us (which was scary enough) and we were taken aback by how BIG his head is. I didn't know how he had the strength to hold it up until I saw how thick his neck is, Whoa. Plus his jaw protrudes and made his teeth show in front of his lips. I told Steve "I don't think so...". We stayed at our friends yard for a while to talk, and to observe this Pit with the other dogs. He submitted to them when they imposed their dominance though he was stronger than they, but he wasn't timid (which was a good sign), was very playful, with no scars, unaltered ears and tail. The longer we observed him the cuter he looked with his floppy ears, and eyes that looked like he had eyeliner. Then we notice how pretty his coloring was and how the top of his head felt like velvet. We started laughing at his antics, and then admired how obediently he got into our car and sat still all the way home. It is important that owners be willing to learn how to train this breed and we had some work to do with this free roamer. His "Pit" variety is the American Staffordshire Terrier or AmStaff. Terriers being a high energy breed, we still have our frustrations over his "excitability", but I'd be a little lonely without Scooby, as our son named him. With the kids grown he has become the one I goosh over, and he puts up with it nicely, they do crave companionship. If we accidentally get hurt while playing with him he stops playing, staring at us, head cocked, to see if we're okay. We can always win at tug of war by pushing our face close to his. He'll submit and let go. If I had made my decision to give up on him based on that first impression I wouldn't have noticed the potential for him to be the best dog we've ever had. There are different kinds of Pit Bulls, and some look really ugly at first. But if it hasn't been trained to fight, and you can get to know it, I think it will win you over with it's friendliness.
How easy it is to decide NOT to get to know someone because they don't seem very appealing. There have been stories about strangers becoming very good friends because they had been forced to survive some circumstance together, they had really gotten to know each other. I guess it's a good idea to give it some time and a little work before you give up on someone. You never know if they will enrich your life.
*update - On one of our doggie walks an abused Boxer broke free from his yard and rushed at us. When Scooby sensed he was not being friendly he managed to mount his shoulders with his front legs and grab the scruff in his mouth, eventually immobilizing the Boxer. I was glad Scooby had him under control but I'm sure he was waiting for me to do something with it. the owner came out so Scooby let go and the dog ran away from it's owner. Of course I praised Scooby, and the Lord (different kind of praise) for deciding to spare me and for giving me such a dog. I have been learning for years this is very typical of this mixed breed.
*another funny story of our gentle giant - My friend Linda brings her little Jack Russell (Lady)over at times. I give them both a rawhide, with lady's being smaller. she usually finishes first and takes Scooby's away from him. when he tries to creep in to get it back she growls and he backs off, sitting there hoping she will leave some of it for him. He is a submissive dog, so any dog, no matter the size, will dominate him, unless Scooby perceives it as dangerous.
We had Scooby tied in the front yard a couple feet out of reach of the sidewalk. a man came walking his tiny dog, barking it's head off at Scooby trying to get at him. Scooby just stared at it, waging his tail thinking he could have a playmate. It's owner told his little dog "you don't know what you're asking for".
The next day while walking Scooby we came across a Chihuahua on the loose that kept barking at us but to Scoob's disappointment kept running away.
There are always certain children we pass on our walk that look for Scooby to come by every day to give him a hug and tell him they love him and say they wish he were their dog. So cute. A couple of them have even knocked on our door to see if Scooby can come out to play.