The Sidewalks Part When I Walk My Pit Bull Down Greenwich Avenue

July 5, 2012  

By Tina Aronson, Originally published on GreenwichPatch

I am amazed, although maybe I shouldn’t be, at how many people cross the street when they see me coming with Delilah, my rescued pit bull. The other day, in front of Saks Fifth Avenue, a young man literally jumped out of the way when he saw me, my 12-year-old daughter and Delilah walking down the avenue.

“Really?” I gasped. The man said he was sorry and my daughter and I laughed and kept walking. I chalked it up to just another ignorant person whose fear was probably based on misinformation and media bias. Little did he know Delilah would have loved to have smothered him in kisses.

The term pit bull does not refer to a specific breed of dog, but instead is a generic term that describes: American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Terriers [and mixes thereof]. Contrary to the notion of the gentleman on Greenwich Avenue, these are wonderful, loving and loyal family pets. Their affection is boundless and, in fact, an inside joke of pit bull owners is that they make terrible watch dogs.

Greenwich resident Matt Sisto who has a rescued pit bull named Ava, said, “I think everything about them is bigger.

Bigger hearts. More cuddle time. More athleticism.” He went on to say, “I’m a firm believer in dog ownership for life, and it’s not a commitment I take lightly. Ava is my girl, and I’d lay down in traffic for her, and I know she would for me too.”

Did you know Helen Keller owned a pit bull? Fred Astaire and Teddy Roosevelt too. In fact, many celebrities who are household names own pit bulls. They were referred to as “nanny dogs.” They were hero dogs in during World War I. And don’t forget, Petey, of Little Rascals fame was also a pit bull.

“Punish the Deed, Not the Breed”

Why should these beautiful dogs be crucified for what humans have unjustly done to them? Because these breeds of dog are sometimes used in fighting rings, people don’t realize they are great family pets. Pit bulls are vilified. There is a saying amongst pit bull owners, “Punish the deed, not the breed.”

Next time you see a pit bull out on a walk with its owner, say “Hi,” and I can guarantee you that that dog’s story will put a smile on your face. Better yet, when you look to adopt your next dog, consider adopting a pit bull. You’ll quickly learn you’re part of a huge community.

Delilah Gives Greenwich a Second Chance – (Part 2)

It was a warm Sunday and Greenwich Avenue was teeming with people when I took my pit bull Delilah for her second walk. The first time I had walked her down the avenue, the sidewalks parted to make way for her. It seemed the sight of my dark brindle pit bull rescue was unusual.

After writing my blog about the injustice involved with pit bulls I thought I’d give my town a second chance. This time my approach was less subtle.

With an open mind, Delilah on her leash, and with my daughter Delainey by my side, we started down the avenue. I walked right up to people and asked them how they felt about my dog.

Everybody Was Surprisingly Open-Minded

Just as I thought, children, always inquisitive, with unspoiled minds, approached Delilah without hesitation. It didn’t take long before adults followed their lead. With a little coaxing and information, everyone I spoke with was happy to hear the truth about pit bulls.

At the end of the day I was so proud of Delilah. This experience only confirmed what I already knew, that pit bulls are incredibly devoted, loving creatures, and when given the chance they can change a lot of minds and maybe the world one day.

In the words of local resident and dog rescuer, Martina Steed, “The next time you see a pit bull, ask the person for the dog’s story and thank them for saving a life. ”

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Comments

30 Responses to “The Sidewalks Part When I Walk My Pit Bull Down Greenwich Avenue”
  1. Love your approach..as God says “a child shall lead them” kids are the best, they teach us so much! It’s because of my son we adopted two rescue pit bulls.

  2. honeyremedy says:

    Beautiful story! You send such a positive message, and I think you did the right thing in approaching people and asking about Delilah. And, maybe I am overly emotional today, but the quote at the end put a big knot in my throat. :,)

    • StubbyDog says:

      honeyremedy It did for us too! Tina has a wonderful attitude and she and Delilah are changing perceptions every where they go. 

  3. AnnColeman says:

    I have a big, pink, sparkly collar that goes around my dog’s neck whenever she is walked down one of Baltimore’s busier streets. I’ve found it helps quite a lot with the fearful types- it’s hard to be afraid of that ridiculousness.

  4. What a beautiful girl! Thank you for everything you and Delilah are doing. I’m sure a lot of people will just need a few minutes with a pit bull to find out that they’ve been “brainwashed” by media bias — and that’s the first step towards making a difference. 

    • StubbyDog says:

      annedreshfield Thanks Anne, everyone can do their part by showing people just how amazing and sweet pit bulls are. 

    • TruBruchez says:

      annedreshfield  

      • TruBruchez says:

        Didn’t get my comment in 🙂  I was going to say I was walking Honey around at Halloween and she had a little skirt on that hid her build and it was amazing.  People were talking to her like she was a DOG – not a pit bull but, you know, like they would talk to a Labrador.  I hadn’t even realized the difference until I experienced it.  I have been debating on having her wear a skirt all the time 🙂  Just kidding – she’s a wonderful ambassador for the breed and people will come around…..

        • StubbyDog says:

          TruBruchez How wonderful. It’s amazing what a skirt, tutu, or a set of pearls will do. How can people possibly be afraid of a dog in a skirt? We love that, doing whatever it takes to make a difference for someone else meeting your girl. 

  5. TLynnNews says:

    I love this. I am currently fostering a pit puppy I found on the streets of Raleigh, NC. Chances are…she’ll be a permanent member of the family

  6. lovabull says:

    Ive always noticed that less people are scared of/judge my PBs when theyre wearing bandanas- it seems crazy but for some reason, they help. 

  7. JennyCorn says:

    This happend to me and my husband just the other day.  We were walking our 2 pits around the neighborhood and there were 2 woman with 3 or 4 kids playing on the side of the street.  They saw us walking toward them and made a motion for us to stop, took the kids by their hands, left their toys everywhere and dragged the children inside until we passed by.  It was so upsetting to see these woman scared of our two loving dogs and to teach their children that they should be scared of these dogs.  Meanwhile, our dogs play with all the kids who live on our street, and they have become somewhat celebrity’s in some of the children’s eyes.

    • StubbyDog says:

      JennyCorn  Thanks for sharing Jenny, it sounds like you are doing all the right things to change perceptions, as for those who run away….truly it’s their loss, they will never know your sweet dogs.

  8. delainejuarez77milla says:

    I love when our pittie breaks stereotypes!!! On fourth of July we took her to the party and she was so happy to greet every person that showed up! One of the guests told her as he was petting her, “well Milla, you sure are breaking all stereotypes for this breed!” She swam with all the kids and sat and watched the fireworks without being scared, she just sat and looked then fell asleep at our feet:)

    • StubbyDog says:

      delainejuarez77milla What a good girl! Keep up the good work changing perceptions!

  9. Calder says:

    “The other day, in front of Saks Fifth Avenue, a young man literally jumped out of the way when he saw me, my 12-year-old daughter and Delilah walking down the avenue. “Really?” I gasped.”This action of the writer bothered me. Just as someone should not sit in judgement based on the breed of your dog, one should not always judge another based on their reaction. The writer has no knowledge of this young man’s past. I have known several people who have had very negative experiences with dogs, including one who was mauled by dog with a pitbull-type appearance. To this day, their lives are impacted by those experiences. As a pitbull owner, there have been plenty of moments where I have become frustrated with people’s reaction to my dog. (I do my very best not to show it.) When I am out with her and someone appears tentative, I state, “Her name is M. She’s super sweet. Would you like to meet her?” 8 times out of 10 the person walks over and begins asking questions. (M. knows a few tricks and sometimes we use those to “seal the deal.”) By the end of the meeting, she has covered the person with kisses and enjoyed a good belly rub. Her new friends always comment along the lines of, “great dog, sweet pup…I never knew they were such nice dogs.” Almost any moment can become a teachable moment if you let it.She is walked everyday throughout our neighborhood and while there are people that are nervous to see her (people she hasn’t met or that aren’t interested in meeting her), to everyone else she is a ROCKSTAR. Our walks usually take much longer than planned because she has her meet-and-greets along the route.In my opinion, owning a pit comes with an very important obligation. To help this amazing, fuzzy thing bloom into the extraordinary, well-balanced, loving, mindful, obedient dog she is meant to be…and in the process, changing one opinion and one heart at a time.

    • StubbyDog says:

      Calder We agree that it takes time and every meeting can be a teachable moment if you let it and it having a sweet pit bull can change opinions one ‘heart at at time’ (we love that). However we do understand how people can be hurt when others jump out of the way of a loving, kind dog just because of the way it looks. Your approach is fantastic and we love what you are doing with M. We would love for you to share your story with us if you are interested. Please email [email protected] and send us your story with photos. Thanks so much for sharing!!! 

  10. LilisNotes says:

    Nice story.  It is nice to encounter open minded people.  We own 3 American Bulldogs, 1 mix and 1 Pitbull, they are all amazing.  We have always loved “bully breeds” = )My husband recently wrote a post on http://lilisnotes.com/pitbulls-dna after reading a post at Love and a Six-Foot Leash.  Quite the uproar it caused.  Check it out.~ L.

  11. DianaJones says:

    I remember sometime back a woman left her idea about handling some uncomfortable situations. She said when people grabbed their kids and asked if her dog was a pit bull, her response was to cover the pit bulls ears and respond with “Shhhh…I haven’t told him yet!” Loved that as a way to break the ice with some humour.

  12. KarenBertelsenMorgan says:

    I love the statement about how pits make terrible watch dogs.  This  could not be more true.  I have an 8 year old pit who is a HORRIBLE watch dog – she lets anyone in our house and long as they stop to pet her.  A burglar should be more concerned with our cats!

  13. Lamb52 says:

    I get the same feel too, with my 120 lb. German Shepherd, I have stopped going to the dog park because it seems the little dogs have taken over, the ones who NEED the exercise, are ostracized and maligned, even if they want to play or socialize, the owners think your big dog is ready to eat the other one! I cannot go there anymore with people screaming at me, even though my dog is merely standing there, and calling the dog warden, yes he was called once, by someone because my dog was looking at him, my dog did not growl, jump or anything but looked at someone and the dog warden had to investigate, yes, I too watch people drag there kids away or hear stories of someone once being “attacked” as a child I was dragged off my bicycle by a German Shepherd, this has never gotten in the way of my love for them-its not the dog or breed, but the owner and the prejudice. We just try to find empty corners where we can run and play, my dogs and I- I have a 32 lb. petite dog too, she wears a collar with spikes to protect her from other dogs , not pit bulls that have attacked her, they were smaller breeds, I am glad my German Shepherd does not attack back, because if he had, he would be blamed for “protecting his sister”I am so on the side of pit bull owners and know what they are up against!

  14. HollyMcc says:

    Noone in my supposedly dog friendly building in Fort Lee, NJ will go into the dog run with me and my 45 lb rescued. amstaff, Jackie and in Overpeck Dog Park she is the star of the show, greeting every new dog at the gate and playing with dogs of all sizes and breeds.I have also just been turned down site unseen by Camp Bow Wow and told by Riverpets in Edgewater that she could board but not socialize. Meaning no pool time, no contact with the other dogs. They never even met her, just said no.She is the 5th dog and  2nd Staffie I’ve had and they are the best dogs. Smart, loyal, sweet and no grooming required.

    • StubbyDog says:

      HollyMcc It’s unfortunate that you are experiencing that with your dog. We hope soon the stigma faced by pit bulls will be a thing of the past. Hang in there Holly, we’ve got your back. 

  15. JacieCarron says:

    I run into the same ignorence when I take my 70 lb baby boy Monte into Petsmart. Yes he’s big, but you can tell by just looking into his eyes that all he wants to do is lie there and be petted by everybody. One day when I was checking out he was lying next to my feet when a ankle biter came up and started sniffing him. When the owner of the dog realized the breed that her little dog was mingling harmlessly with she freaked out yelling “that’s a pitbull! Get my dog away from it!” and yanked her poor dog away from a confused Monte. I told her that Monte wouldn’t harm a fly but by then she was already moving to another check out line. The clerk just laughed and rolled her eyes as she bent down and gave Monte a treat.

    • StubbyDog says:

      JacieCarron Some people just can’t be reached, but since Monte did nothing, perhaps it did have a slight effect on her. Regardless, the clerk knew Monte was all love. 🙂

  16. Matt.S says:

    I feel ya. there were times when the children wanted to come over to Herman on walks but the parents objected, pulling their children hurredily away. On the flipside, I also encountered parents who came up to Herman and learned something. You’re doing just what needs to be done. Keep up the good work.