You Can Learn a Lot from a Pit Bull

March 30, 2011  


By Donna Lewis

One summer morning in 2003 I woke up with an insatiable desire for a puppy. When I told my fiancé, Jade, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Okay, but it has to be a pit bull.”

I wasn’t sure if he was serious or trying to discourage my sudden aspiration.

“I have kids, there’s no way I’m getting a pit bull!” Or so I thought.

Years earlier I had a bad experience with a pit bull. I’d come to view them as psychotic monsters and thought they would turn without warning and devour grandmas as they offered them a doggy biscuit.

I voiced my concern to Jade and he responded with a simple request.

“Study the breed before saying no,” he said.

He grew up with them and knew what I had yet to learn. He baited me because he knows I’m a sucker for a cute face.

“They are the cutest puppies you’ll ever see,” he said.

I was hooked.

Although I was still skeptical, I spent every spare moment that week researching pit bulls. I looked up the pros, cons, and the history. I found myself marveling at the accounts of bravery displayed in the breed, from combating violent home invaders to rescuing wounded soldiers off the battlefield. But, what made the difference to me were stories of dogs victimized by abuse and exploitation.

Story after story opened my eyes to the amount of hardship and pain inflicted on this one breed. I learned at least 21 percent of all animal abuse involving dogs is inflicted on pit bulls.

I learned gang activity plays a large role in pit bull problems. Because my neighborhood is rife with gangs, it grabbed my attention because I realized Jade and I could make a difference. I laid aside my prejudice and accepted the fact that we were destined to be pit bull people.

Turns out Jade’s words of “They are the cutest puppies you’ll ever see,” weren’t just a clever hook. He was telling the truth.

When we met our future family member, she seemed like a force of nature, so we named her Moriah, after the old song, “They Called the Wind Mariah.” And we brought the cute little puppy home with us.”

That was seven and a half years ago, and since then it’s been my observation that pit bulls seem to have two basic values: fun and family.

The best times in life with Moriah hinge on having a raucous game of tug o’ war, and watching her run Mach-10 through the yard with her jolly ball.

Oh yeah! That’s the good stuff!

Even though we find her antics amazing, the most extraordinary thing I’ve noticed about her has been her intuition about people. She has demonstrated tremendous discernment and self-sacrifice.

For example, one day my daughter forgot “Rule One” in stranger danger: Never open the door to a person you don’t know.

Moriah ran to the door and placed herself squarely between my daughter and the man, using her body as a wall of protection. While Tiffanie talked with him, Moriah kept steady eye contact but never became menacing.

I was amazed by Moriah’s ability to weigh the situation and meet it with an appropriate level of guardianship. I was humbled by the sacrificial choice to potentially place herself in harm’s way.

What a sharp contrast to the crazed beast I originally pigeonholed her breed to be.

Because of Moriah I view pit bulls with new eyes.

They are loaded with all the cuddliness and lovability of a lap dog with all the courage and dignity of a battle horse. They play hard and love harder. Giving up is not in their chemistry, they wouldn’t even know where to begin and their highest sense of reward is in knowing we are pleased with them. They are a microcosm of all the best a dog has to offer.

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Comments

17 Responses to “You Can Learn a Lot from a Pit Bull”
  1. beckyfrenc says:

    I completely agree with you. I “inherited” a pit bull through my boyfriend. I have a small Shih Tzu mix, and because of my ignorance and misperceptions, was very worried about the two of them ever being in the same room together. They’ve now lived in the same house for over three years with never a cross word between them. As you say, Shady has the “two basic values: fun and family.” She’s one of the sweetest, most sensitive and loving dog I’ve ever known, but I firmly believe that at the first sign of danger, she would lay down her life for ours. I love that dog.

  2. StubbyDog says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. It’s wonderful when a dog can change our perceptions by just being who she is…a dog.

  3. heather.piedrahita says:

    Great story! Thanks for sharing! We just got married in November and our Pitt mix also took part in our special day 🙂

  4. StubbyDog says:

    Thanks for your comments, what fantastic wedding pictures they must be with your doggie in the wedding!

  5. agajdeczka says:

    What a sweet story. Still, I have mixed feelings. Buying a puppy from the classified ads? This sort of transaction is exactly what keeps those businesses going. Only when we stop buying puppies will people realize that this is not a profitable enterprise.

    I am heartened to hear that there were no puppies at your shelter, but I’m sure a look around town would have revealed a bunch of homeless pups in need.

  6. StubbyDog says:

    We completely understand your concern. However the focus of this story is about Moriah and how her wonderful spirit changed misperceptions about pit bulls. Where she came from doesn’t diminish that 🙂

  7. agajdeczka says:

    I agree! I am thrilled that Moriah turned a sweet couple into a pair of active breed advocates. The power of that can’t be underestimated!

  8. DonnaLewis says:

    While I can understand people’s concern over purchasing our baby from the classifieds, please consider the following:

    In our neighborhood we have poverty, gangs, drugs and all the terrible things that go with that. If we had not purchased her, who does that leave these poor dogs in the hands of? Would you rather these puppies be purchased by gang members or responsible dog owners that understand the breed?

    Is it not worth a little money to insure at least one puppy finds it’s way into a loving home?

  9. DonnaLewis says:

    While I can understand people’s concern over purchasing our baby from the classifieds, please consider the following:

    In our neighborhood we have poverty, gangs, drugs and all the terrible things that go with that. If we had not purchased her, who does that leave these poor dogs in the hands of? Would you rather these puppies be purchased by gang members or responsible dog owners that understand the breed?

    Is it not worth a little money to insure at least one puppy finds it’s way into a loving home?

  10. Joseph says:

    @DonnaLewis

  11. Joseph says:

    @DonnaLewis The problem is that the more people buy the more the backyard breeders will breed. A few may go to good homes, but many end up at the shelters (or having more puppies in someone’s back yard). Those of us who work in pit bull rescue see the hundreds of thousands of pit bulls killed each year because of overbreeding. It’s true that the shelter doesn’t always have tiny puppies for adoption (most people turn them in once they’re five months old or older when they realize having a young dog is a lot of work), but if you’re set on having a puppy you can find one to adopt from a shelter or rescue group if you’re patient.

    All this said, please don’t feel defensive. I am glad you shared your story about how your dog changed your mind about pit bulls. It’s a lovely story. And you sound like a very responsible, loving family – just the kind of people we want owning pit bulls.

  12. Joseph says:

    @DonnaLewis The problem is that the more people buy the more the backyard breeders will breed. A few may go to good homes, but many end up at the shelters (or having more puppies in someone’s back yard). Those of us who work in pit bull rescue see the hundreds of thousands of pit bulls killed each year because of overbreeding. It’s true that the shelter doesn’t always have tiny puppies for adoption (most people turn them in once they’re five months old or older when they realize having a young dog is a lot of work), but if you’re set on having a puppy you can find one to adopt from a shelter or rescue group if you’re patient.

    All this said, please don’t feel defensive. I am glad you shared your story about how your dog changed your mind about pit bulls. It’s a lovely story. And you sound like a very responsible, loving family – just the kind of people we want owning pit bulls.

  13. agajdeczka says:

    @DonnaLewis First, I want to say that I could totally see myself in a situation like yours, buying a puppy from a backyard breeder because it’s so cute and I want to get it out of that situation. I really could. But, I do think it contributes to the problem. I would also add to Joseph’s comment that if a “gang member” is interested in buying a pit bull puppy, he will buy one whether you buy one or not — he will just find another one. If enough responsible dog owners buy them, that increases the demand, so more people will have litters of puppies to sell.

  14. DonnaLewis says:

    @Joseph @DonnaLewis

    Please read the article carefully:. If I only wanted only to own a cute little puppy I would have purchased a poodle or a pug not a pit bull. You also fail to take into consideration that I put a great deal of research into the breed before I purchased one and new pretty well what I was getting into and why.

    We chose to go with a puppy and not an adult because we had children and a cat in the house and wanted to properly socialize the dog and train it.

    I do understand that you are concerned about “supporting” back yard breeders. I too am repulsed by this : But please consider one question: Is it better to show mercy or follow an ideal to the last letter?

    Your replies fails to recognize that these dogs are ALREADY born. If we had followed your principals than who would have purchased Moriah? A gangster most likely, who wanted to protect his stash and breed a few more for the rings. Believe me that’s an entirely realistic likelihood in our neighborhood. This is why we did not wait for a dog to become available at a shelter and purchased her.

    History tells us that many times in order to save the innocent we need to lay down our well meaning ideals. Think of Schindler who paid off Nazis to save the Jews from the camps. Or in here in America, freemen and women who purchased slaves in order to set them free. Did they show mercy or support the system?

    Blessings,

    Donna

  15. DonnaLewis says:

    @agajdeczka And where would that have left Moriah. Those pups had been rescued, Moriah had not.

  16. agajdeczka says:

    @DonnaLewis I don’t think we agree on this point, but it’s not worth arguing about in this forum.

    The point of this post was the beautiful way in which your sweet Moriah was able to change your ideas about pit bulls — such an important thing she taught you! I’m sorry I let it get off track.

    Your little dear is adorable, as is the photo of the three of you on your wedding day.

  17. StubbyDog says:

    Combative or hateful comments will be deleted. Please respect all members of the StubbyDog community.