Being the owner of an American Pit Bull Terrier, aka a Pit Bull, comes with a host of responsibilities. It also means I must deal with the general public’s many labels for and preconceived notions about my dog. And then there are the many Pit Bull-related memes, articles, and videos I get, such as this gem of an instructional video on how to defend yourself when Pit Bull owners attack.
Created by the Above Average entertainment website, the comedy clip features some pretty hardcore Pit Bull owners, people who are clearly on the offensive when it comes to praising the breed. Who can blame them? It’s hard not to overreact a little as the owner of a Pit Bull, which is arguably the most polarizing breed in the world.
I’ll admit, when I first became a Pit Bull convert, I felt extra-protective and passionate about my dog, much like the owners in the video. I guess you could have called me an “unpredictable owner” because I would often let people finish their tirade about what terrible dogs Pit Bulls are before I’d inform them about how wonderful mine was and “attack” them with an onslaught of cute dog pictures. Often, I would get responses like, “I didn’t know a Pit Bull looked like that,” which would make me mentally bang my head on a wall. How can you be so convinced a dog breed is bad when you can’t even identify a purebred one?!
While I quickly became accustomed to unwanted comments from the public, perhaps the worst response to my dog’s breed came from my vet. When Axle was only a few months old, I had taken him in for his checkup and booster shots. I had an appointment, but I still had to wait nearly three hours to be seen. As it turns out, the wait time was because the vet wanted extra assistants to “handle the Pit Bull.” Axle had given him no cause to feel that way; it was simply a fear-based reaction to his breed. We’re both much happier at my current vet, who has no qualms treating my dog or getting up close and personal when needed.
Oddly enough, negative comments regarding my dog often come from within the dog community itself, from people accusing me of being a dog fighter for making a flirt pole to people who believe Pit Bulls should be eradicated from existence because they “are not nice dogs.” Those people often feel the same way about other powerful breeds, like Cane Corsos, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds. I usually ignore such people, or I try to educate them (in as kind a way as possible!) on the facts about Pit Bulls, such as that not every dog given that label is actually an American Pit Bull Terrier and that every dog is an individual and should be treated as such.
The term “Pit Bull” began as a nickname for the breed American Pit Bull Terrier. However, due to backyard breeding, media sensationalism, and a general lack of understanding about the breed, the term “Pit Bull” quickly became a blanket label for any dog with a muscular build, blocky head, and short coat. That label included purebred American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and a host of mixes involving dogs like American Bulldogs, Boxer Bulldogs, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, and many more.
I’ll admit that I’m a little envious of dog owners of less stigmatized breeds, like Labradors, hound breeds, or even English Bulldogs. All of those dogs are large, powerful dogs who can have a serious prey drive, but the general public just seems to fawn over them more than fear them. I like to think that this view about Pit Bills is changing, though, and the day is coming when the majority will lose the irrational fear and see Pit Bulls as they do other dog breeds.
While I used to go out of my way to talk to people about Pit Bulls in the name of raising awareness, I’ve come to the resolution that the best way I can promote a positive image of them is to be a loving and responsible owner. I’m respectful of other people’s space when we go for walks or to town, and I expect the same in return. I’m particularly aware of how the public perceives me and my dog when we are out together, since any “wrong” move on his part could be tomorrow’s headlines.
Although I’m not likely to bring up my dog’s breed in conversation anymore, there are still plenty of pictures of him decorating my cube at work. I even have one coworker who adores him so much she has “adopted” him as her work dog and has dedicated an entire wall to his photos. She sends him gifts on holidays, and she’s quick to tell anyone who will listen that he is a “Pit Bull, he’s my adoptive dog, and he’s just so handsome!” That’s quite a change for someone who had never thought of Pit Bulls in a positive light before, so I must be doing something right!
How do people respond to you when they find out you have Pit Bull? Do you sometimes go overboard in educating people about the breed? Let us know in the comments below!
Read more about Pit Bulls by Meghan Lodge:
About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.