The Pit Bull Rally to Restore Sanity

20 08 2011

Thor and I spent most of today at Pit Bulls on Parade, a fundraising event to benefit Bulls Eye Dog Rescue.

Remember how Jon Stewart had his Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington D.C. last fall? Well, that’s sort of what Pit Bulls on Parade offers to responsible pit bull owners in the Pacific Northwest, a day when we can gather with our dogs to witness and appreciate the wonders of this amazing breed.  While we’re at it, we can help Bulls Eye Dog Rescue raise a little money.

While I normally limit my ranting on this blog to those things related to dating, this whole business of Ellen Taft popping up in the news again  in an attempt to ban “fighting breeds” from Seattle parks has really got me hot under the collar.  First of all, the woman is a wackadoo!  Have you even been to City Hall during one of her tyraids?  The woman may be certifiable, but there are those who choose to believe the nonsense she spouts anyway.

In the late 1800s, pit bulls were considered “American’s Dog.” Back then, they were beloved and considered “nanny dogs.”

(If you want to get an idea of how Thor and I sleep together, check out the end of this video.)

Today, misinformation and fear-mongering run rampant.  There is rarely a conversation I enter into about Thor where I don’t have to correct some bullshit someone has heard from idiots like the loony tune, Ms. Taft.

Pit bulls are athletic, loyal, and eager to please their humans.  Pit Bulls on Parade ran several demonstrations today to showcase the breed’s athleticism and intelligence.  These included flyball, weight pull, slat mill, agility, and noseworks where dogs showed off their search abilities.  They also had a fun conformation competition, and Thor won the “Wonky Ear Contest” for the second year in a row.  He won a gift bag full of goodies, so he’s lying in the corner, intently pulling the squeakers out of the plush toys at this very moment. 

He also entered the Best Bully Booty contest, but got beat by an attractive brindle female.  However, we also won two of the raffles, so Thor scored BIG TIME!  I think he has enough treats to last about six months.

I want to share a video with you that shows the athleticism and intelligence of these dogs. I’m a little hesitant to share it because, to the uneducated outsider, some of the clips may seem disturbing.  The clip where the dog appears to be biting the man’s arm is actually a sport called Schutzhund, and it takes a lot of training and control on the part of the dog and the handler. I’d like to point out that there are six pit bull terriers currently working for the Washington State Patrol.  In fact, the best bomb dog in the state is an American Pit Bull Terrier.

Thor does not do any of these sports. He’s sort of a couch potato. However, he does love the giant “cat toy” I have created for him.  It’s called a “flirt pole.”  I made Thor’s out of a buggy whip and an old rag.  He LOVES it! Plus, it means I don’t have to take him out for an hour and a half run every day. (Even though I may need it.)

Thor’s going to take a nap.  I have a garden party to go to.

If you have any questions regarding things you’ve heard about pit bulls, let me know. If it’s inaccurate, I’ll let you know. Plus, I’ll give you some good resources that you can check out for yourself.

I think I’ll get off my soap box now.

Photo here.




8 responses

24 08 2011
Surrey gal

Where does your fascination with pit bulls come from? I don’t think I know one woman who has a pit bull, so far my perception was that testosterone overloaded males like those dogs, and here you are 🙂

24 08 2011

Unfortunately, SG, you are not alone in this perception, but I’m not going to hold it against you. 🙂 The media has done a great job of making people think that pit bulls are only owned by drug dealers, thugs, or “testosterone overloaded males.” The truth of the matter is; most of the people I see with these dogs are male or female, professional, college-educated, old enough to really care for and train a dog, probably volunteer somewhere in the community (our dogs tend to drive us toward doing rescue work.) I am neither a thug nor a “testosterone overloaded male.” Thank God! There would be so much more tweezing!

I would not call my love for Thor a fascination. Here is what drives me to advocate for Thor and other dogs like him. I see pit bulls as victims of abuse. Others may see things differently, but, because this breed has been so abused, neglected, and used by “testosterone overloaded males” and others to boost their false senses of potency, I see them the same way I would see a victim of domestic violence. Just as I would never say that a victim of domestic violence deserves what they get, I will not hold a dog accountable for the abusive, negligent actions of its owner, regardless of breed.

I have had dogs my whole life with only a few breaks in between losing one and acquiring another, and I must say, Thor is the best so far. Up until now, my favorite was an Australian Shepherd named Fritz. It really comes down to the connection I have with Thor. He is, hands down, the most loyal, attentive dog I have had. Part of it is his training; he’s more suited to the urban environment than Fritz was. Fritz worked on our farm. Thor lives in the city, so I’ve trained him to get his Canine Good Citizen Certificate. This is a ten part test offered through the American Kennel Club, and most dogs couldn’t do it.

One last comment about pit bulls and aggression. Historically, the owners of fighting dogs were in the ring with their dogs. Any dog that showed aggression towards humans was culled from the breeding stock. (Euthanized) When you hear of pit bulls that have attacked humans, you have to look at the human factors involved. Usually, the dog has not been socialized, was chained to a tree all day, has been abused, or may be the product of irresponsible breeding. Most dogs under stressful, abusive conditions will start to show signs of aggression and fear. All of these factors indicate that when something like an attack on a human happens, the responsibility needs to be placed on the owner, rather than condemning the breed outright.

25 08 2011
Surrey gal

Of course a lot comes down to how the dog is trained and loved and “brought up”, I’d say. If you train the dog to be aggressive, he will be.
It’s up to people to accenturate specific features of a given breed or even an individual dog.
But am I right (or wrong again, like I said, my knowledge about dogs is very minimal) that there are breeds that are more aggressive by nature (pit bulls or rottweilers (spelling?)) and some are better for children, others are not suitable for living with other animals and so on?
Well done for Thor for passing the good citizen test 🙂

25 08 2011

Each breed has its attributes that make it more or less suitable for different situations. Some dogs need to be able to run or “work.” For example, when Australian shepherds don’t have a job to do, sometimes they have a tendency to try to herd children and will actually nip at their heels as if they are sheep.

Some small dogs aren’t suitable for homes with small children, because they are too fragile. The Italian greyhound that I mentioned earlier would fall into this category. I used to have toy poodles, and one ended up with a broken front leg one day just because my son was carrying her and accidently dropped her.

Since pit bulls have been used for dog fighting, there are a couple of things that occur. First, sometimes pit bulls will show aggression towards other dogs. This does not happen as much, however, if the dog has been well-socialized to play and respond to other dogs. I have been taking Thor to the dog park since he was fully immunized around 4 months old, and we make regular trips around Greenlake, which is always busy with dogs. Thor things everyone should want to play with him, and he always seems a little shocked if a dog growls at him. He’s actually kind of a woosy.

The other thing that happens, probably more often, because of dog fighting, is that pit bulls end up in horribly abusive dog fighting situations were they are used to either to be the fighting dog or the bait. Typically, the biggest factor in aggression is fear. Even when pit bulls are rescued out of these terrible situations, many have an astounding resilience and ability to love and trust people and dogs again. Thor has actually worked as a “peer counselor” to coax an aggressive rescued female pit bull out of her fear of other dogs.

If you google information regarding the dogs that were rescued from the Michael Vick dog fighting operation, you will find several stories of the horrible torture these dogs went through and how they bounced back to become model citizens. One was adopted into a large family with several small children. Another started doing therapy work and worked with children who were struggling to learn to read. When the children were too self-conscious to read to adults, they would read to the dog. Pit bulls have a tremendous capacity to bond with their owners. The same goes for Rottweillers or many other large breeds.

To bring this back around to your question regarding suitability for families and children, it really depends on the individual dog, its history (and sometimes rehabilitation), and the commitment of the potential owner, not the breed. Large dogs need good manners, so training and discipline are a must. (Small dogs get away with bad manners because people think they’re cute. Well, they’re not and they need training too.) Pit bulls are exceptionally loyal, and that goes for the children in their family too. They were historically called “nanny dogs” for a reason. They will be very attentive to the children in their family. I love watching Thor and my youngest son play. K3 has just about as much control working with Thor as I do. He makes him do tricks, exercises him with the flirt pole, and even plays hide and seek with Thor in the backyard. It’s fun to watch his connection with Thor and the confidence K3 gets from making Thor do different things for him when they play. It’s also fun to see how attentive Thor is to what K3 will ask him to do next. They are quite the pair.

Any dog, regardless of size, that is going to be around babies and toddlers should be socialized to get used to them, and NO dog should be left unattended with small children. I’ve seen a toy poodle bite a baby before, and the owner of the dog rewarded the little shit by picking it up and soothing it! It truly made my blood boil.

I hope that answered your question, SG. I feel like I rambled a little. Let me know if anything was unclear.

24 08 2011
Marilyn Purdy

I am a woman and I own two pitbulls. They are the sweetest, most loyal dogs around. Anyone who says that they are not has not spent any time with them and believes the media bullroar that is often perpetuated against them.

24 08 2011

Thank you, Marilyn. Since you mentioned that you have two pit bulls, I’d also like to bring up that a lot of people I know have multiple dogs in the same household. Because of their dog-fighting history, some pit bulls can have a tendency for aggression towards other dogs, but I know many people who have two or three pit bulls in one household and they get along great. I have done dogsitting in my home with Thor and he gets along great with all of our visitors. (He just can’t figure out why he can’t get the older dogs to PLAY with him!) I know one woman who has three pit bulls and an Italian greyhound. If there is a more fragile dog on the planet, please let me know! Another couple, has two pitties, Rocky and Ruby. They also have a Chihuahua named Loco. Guess who you have to watch out for!!

Here’s a hint; it’s not the big dogs.

26 08 2011
Surrey gal

Thank you for your reply!!
One thing is not clear though: “I’ve seen a toy poodle bite a baby before, and the owner of the dog rewarded the little shit by picking it up and soothing it!” – by little shit you mean the baby or the poodle? 😀

26 08 2011

Oh, my gosh! I meant the poodle. Humans, no matter how small, always out-rank dogs.

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