Some Days, It’s Just Not Easy Being a Pit Bull

May 3, 2011  

By Ruby the dog, as told to Patrick Bettendorf

Ruby was originally found in an abandoned house, and the story of how she went from there to become a real theatrical star is told here. Now she updates us on her monthly activities.

A favorite summer weekend getaway of my family is the city of Duluth. Sitting on Lake Superior about two-and-a-half hours north of Minneapolis / St. Paul, the city perches on steep hills overlooking the largest freshwater lake in the world. It is a city in transition, from serious decline in the nineteen seventies to a town reinventing it’s self as a lovely tourist destination with nice shops, restaurants, and hotels on the once notorious water front. The shoreline is rocky, craggy, and beautiful. It reminds me very much of the seacoast of Maine sans the salt air. Lake Superior is capable of violent storms that would do the Atlantic proud. While in Duluth one glorious late spring day, Mom, Dad and us furry kids (on leashes and well behaved I might add!) were enjoying a stroll on the boardwalk that separates the city from the lake.

Starting at Canal Park, running along the water for five miles, it’s great place for dog walking. That is unless, you’re a Pit bull or a Rottweiler. Whenever we met a large group of people, or those with dogs, Mom and Dad would always have us step aside to let them pass. No matter how many times we made way for others, many people cast a wary eye in our direction stepping off the walk opposite us. We received outright hateful, angry looks from others.

The real topper in experiencing hate and fear in that day happened just as we were heading back to the car. Three couples with children in tow were ahead of us. Clipping along at a faster pace, we were just about to pass them when one the mothers glanced back. A blood-curdling scream assaulted our sensitive ears. We pulled up short, looking around to see what had happened. Others on the busy walkway, including the rest of her party, stopped to see what the commotion was about. The mother launched into a tirade as she and the others grabbed the children.

The mom screeched, “What are you doing here with those ugly, horrible dogs! (Hey! I thought) They aren’t allowed here!” (which was not true) She turned her attention to the kids, preschool- and elementary school-aged. By this time she was practically hissing. “Those are dogs of war. They kill people, and they love the taste of blood, especially children’s blood!” Holy crap! The woman was not only attacking us saying icky, untrue stuff, but also doing a fine job of traumatizing the kids! As for us dogs, we were standing around doing nothing… just wondering, “why are these people yelling at us?… What’s going on?”

Panzer mom continued, “People who own dogs like that are evil and mean. They hurt people and just like to make them afraid. That’s why they have those kinds of dogs!” (again, Hey!..look at us, we are cute!)

Mom couldn’t stand another utterance. She launched a defensive counterattack. Her words not only fell on deaf ears, but also whipped up the rest of the mom’s group into a kind of mob mentality. Now all of them were jeering us with a generous sprinkling of profanity. It was getting scary!

A couple of walkers passing by the scene apparently thought we dogs must have caused a problem and joined in the fray. Trying to reason with these people was pointless. We took a shortcut back to the car, their shouts ringing in our ears. Mentally bloodied, we left town. This day belonged to the victors.

Mom and Dad understand that when taking us kids out amongst the populous, I guess we can look imposing with our beautiful strong bodies, which is why our parents always go to great lengths to try and not make people feel uncomfortable. There were bright spots that day, some small victories of our own. People came up wanting to pet us and ask questions. There were even some who changed their minds, or at the very least started thinking, seeing beyond the hype and urban legends.

Duluth is not the hotbed of prejudice. Back home in the metro area, numerous communities hold weekly summer events that celebrate one thing or another with a carnival atmosphere. A couple of them we attended regularly to meet doggie friends, to socialize, and to savor a beautiful Minnesota summer evening. But one day, a man wanted to shoot us….But that’s another story for another time. How about sharing any ugly experiences of prejudice you had to deal with? What did you do?….

See you next month! Love, Ruby

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19 Responses to “Some Days, It’s Just Not Easy Being a Pit Bull”
  1. NormaDePree says:

    Me and my family and friends had all decided to go to the beach. It was a great sunny day with a small breeze everyone had there dogs out. Our friend brought his male blue nose Samson. It was no ones fault that Samson had a head like a watermelon and the body of a tank. To us, that was just how he looked, very macho. He was very behaved in public, knew all his commands and just mostly loved to see the world.

    We started walking on the wooden trail that stretched across the beach. The first incident happened when we came to a group with 4 adults and 1 toddler. They all stopped. frozen on the trail like there was a mad man with a gun. we thought hey, they’re letting us pass. as we walk we realize that the 3 adults are standing as some kind of a shield to the baby. and the mother is pretending to zip up his coat so she can hold him close. I put on the biggest smile and slowly said hello to each of them, I wasn’t teasing them I was just showing that they were being absurd and I had to kill them with kindness. We played at the beach for 4 hours. it was a great rest of the day. we decided to head back to the car.

    Incident number 2 was probably the most hysterical thing i’ve ever seen. We are walking again across this stupid skinny wooden trail and all is well. poor Samson is so exhausted from the water we thought we were going to have to carry him. along comes a man walking 3 little fuzzy things on a leash. Im sure they were a toy breed maybe poms. He spots Samson but keeps his cool as we get closer to him. Than he jumps, off the wooden trail 4 feet down to the sand and pulls his dogs down with him. We were worried so we asked if he fell, is he ok? He says he’s just waiting for us to pass. We could not stop laughing. The man looked crazy. We said not to worry Samson is nice and everything would be ok but he really wouldn’t believe it.

    We have not gone back to the beach yet, however im debating that when we do we dress him up in a costume and charge an admission price to pet him, since everybody already thinks he’s a freak show, but to us he’s just a big love ball.

  2. digdogg says:

    That is just awful. I don’t even know how I could handle myself if someone did something that hateful and stupid to me.

    We get countless rude looks and people crossing the street. The terrible ones say “keep that thing away from me,” or order me to walk past them while they hide in a doorway. When that happens, I look at them like the crazy idiots they obviously are. Or, I tell my dog loudly, “Oh look, they’re judging you based entirely on your appearance! Aren’t they stupid.”

    I refuse to acknowledge that my dog is anything but a dog. Their ridiculous stereotypes and pathetic fears are baseless and harmful, and dressing my dog up in the hopes of “softening” her look, or explaining to people “oh no! really! she’s nice! I swear!” only legitimates what they do. You perpetuate that crap by even acknowledging it. I don’t do anything that a Golden Retriever owner wouldn’t have to do, because why should I?

  3. StubbyDog says:

    @digdogg Thanks for your comments, hopefully people will see a beautiful, well-behaved dog before they see a pit bull. It will take time to change peoples’ perceptions, but little by little, pit bull by pit bull, it can be done.

  4. Kelley2945 says:

    You are a bigger person than me. I probably would have lost my temper. People have become so ignorant when it comes to dogs,period. I’ve had incidents inside pet friendly establishments and my dog is a miniature Aussie! I sometimes want to tell people, if you don’t like animals why are you in a PetSmart? I’m really afraid about the future of owning a dog.

  5. CindySteinle says:

    Happens all the time. My neighbors call my dogs peligroso. the link above shows what happened here at an event we had papers to be at.

  6. StubbyDog says:

    @Kelley2945 Dog owners have to keep showing that peoples’ perceptions are wrong by leading by example. Keep up the work with your dog and eventually people will change, and for those that don’t, it’s their loss. Thanks for your comments.

  7. StubbyDog says:

    @CindySteinle Great article, thanks for sharing.

  8. BeckyKnoke says:

    Our dog has the misfortune to have cropped ears combined with a face only a mother could love. I would swear she was a Doggo Argentino if she didn’t have some color on her. We have gotten a lot of looks walking with her even though she is a very submissive dog and usually moves herself away from people and other dogs. I try to shrug it off as I have found many people who stop to say how pretty she is and how nice she seems. One mom at the playground that I was at with my two toddlers and dog was in a panic that I had brought a pit to the park but she refrained from saying anything, it was the look on her face and her body posture that gave it away. I think she stayed quiet because our girl was being swarmed by kids and was just loving it. Pretty hard to accuse her of being dangerous. I do try to downplay her look though. It is an owner’s choice of course but putting a pit in a big spiked collar or very thick leather collar or harness makes them appear more aggressive and gives the impression that they need all that stuff to keep them under control. Jules sports a light green chainless no slip collar and matching coat when the weather is cold. I don’t dress her up for entertainment but I do strive to make her look as un-aggressive as possible.

  9. StubbyDog says:

    @BeckyKnoke Thanks for your comments, it seems your girl is doing everything right herself to appear un-aggressive. She sounds like a great dog and I’m sure just people seeing her calm demeanor while getting lots of love from kids will go a long way.

  10. jenrhoff says:

    I am just so very tired of walking my pit down the street and getting glared at. I have been around many dogs, all shape and sizes, and I have never been around a more friendly, loving, and goofy dog as my blue nose pit. It breaks my heart that so many people are ignorant when it come to this breed. I doubt most of the people judging them have ever spent time with a pitbull in their lives. It isn’t fair to the dogs or their owners. Pit bulls are such great dogs, I can not imagine my life without one at my side.

  11. StubbyDog says:

    @jenrhoff Thank you for your comments, and you are probably right, people that are judging them are doing so out of ignorance and not personal experience with pit bulls. As long as your dog is friendly and goofy, it will help to change the perception.

  12. ravenmad says:

    Although we have to walk our two girls seperatly, Lucy is 80lbs Tisa is 50 because of excitment I am still very proud to let my daughter be the one holding the leash.. once she meets up with her sister walking with my husband towards us in the other direction they are happy to see each other and share in a loviing moment. and end up running with my daughter home together while her dad and I walk slowly behind,,,,Love the nightly bonding walks and the pitty smiles afterward…

  13. StubbyDog says:

    @ravenmad What a beautiful picture you painted of your bonding walks. Thanks so much for sharing that.

  14. MommaDawg says:

    Once we were in PetSmart with our two dogs (one a rat terrier, the other a mix that people assume is a pit bull). We were on the toy aisle and a lady rounds the corner holding a basket full of dog stuff. She stopped dead in her tracks and stared. We pulled both the dogs close to us in case she wanted to pass but she continued to stand there, staring. I found this very odd but tried not to pay attention. Finally, we made our way down the aisle toward the check out lanes (and this woman). She – and I am not kidding you – LEAPED backwards, put her hand up and gasped out, “Safe dog? SAFE DOG?!” I was obviously taken aback by this reaction. “Uh, yes,” I said. “They’re BOTH very friendly.” (You know, just in case she was referring to the rat terrier – ha!) As we continued to make our way down the aisle, she literally plastered herself against the shelves as we passed. To this day, I have no idea why A) she didn’t just go stroll around the rest of the store til we were done on that aisle, and B) she didn’t just step out of the aisle to let us pass? It was truly bizarre. It bothered me a little at the time but now I just find it funny. Luckily, most of our interactions with people have been positive.

  15. StubbyDog says:

    @MommaDawg Thanks for sharing your story, it seems you lead by a good example and we are glad most of your interactions with people have been positive. Keep it up!

  16. AnnVanderlaan says:

    I have had people cross the street, pick up sticks to protect themselves, and one ‘neighbor’ told me I had no right to walk “a cur like that” on the street in front of his house because the people who live in the neighborhood shouldn’t have to “put up with that”. When I pointed out to him that I had been living 4 houses down from him since 1985, he called me a “bitch” and went inside. Meanwhile Angel was sitting quietly on my foot facing the man.

  17. StubbyDog says:

    @AnnVanderlaan Unfortunately we can’t change everyone’s mind, but we can do what you did, and just lead by example with Angel. Thanks for commenting.

  18. BetseyHench says:

    Living in baltimore with pitbulls i have definately experienced the worst of the worst with having people scream at my troupe of merry gentlemen, throw rocks at us, wave sticks, and people tell me they are going to kick my butt if my dog “looks”(when in all actuality they were just in the dog’s sightline of the park) at them again…thankfully my boys are bombproof through all of this and act like the well behaved gentlemen they are because they are concentrating on one thing and one thing only, getting to the park! I’ve learned simply just “turn the other cheek” and let my dog’s actions speak for them selves…of course fortunately i’ve had a few opportunities to beat “these people” at their own little mind game , there has been a few times when the usual suspects(who i have walked by almost every day for the past 3 years and they still act a fool) aren’t paying attention and i pull my dogs theatrically to the side like scared children and loudly proclaim “haven’t you heard about people who hate dogs?! they could take you away from me and have you killed just because of how you look!!” It kind of makes my day to see the stunned look of confusion on their face as we keep happily trotting on our way to the park

  19. StubbyDog says:

    @BetseyHench It sounds like you have found perfect ways of dealing with the ignorance of others.