The Poodle and the Pit Bull

January 12, 2011  

Lessons about dogs and life

By Rachel Greenspan

I have learned many things about dogs, and life, from a poodle and a pit bull. OK, I know that sounds ridiculous. What type of confused family would have the world’s most prissy, princess-like dog in addition to the world’s most feared breed?

Rosie is the poodle. She is no more than 10 pounds, has black curly fur with strands of gray, and cloudy, cataract-filled eyes. Rosie hates other dogs but enjoys the company of people, especially those who coo over her. Rosie sits on the sofa as if it’s her throne, and is totally harmless except for the occasional snapping of her teeth if we bother her during moments of eating and sleeping. It’s too late to change that habit now and I will always care about Rosie for being my first dog, a great dog.

Twelve years later, my brother brought home Colbie, a pit bull. Colbie is white with tan fur splashed along her muscular back and her piercing gray eyes. She is rock solid and playful, with a wagging tail and a huge smile.

I was initially frightened at the idea of having a pit bull. But I welcomed Colbie with an open mind. And one night, when I was visiting my family, Colbie, who was now about 5 months old, woke me up walking all over my legs. She was just standing there in the dark, gazing at me with those big eyes. I remember thinking, “What the heck is she going to do? Attack me?” She walked slowly up to my face and gently laid herself down on the pillow by my head, trying to get as close to me as she could, in the sweetest of ways. I fell in love right there.

Two years later, Colbie continues to intrigue me. When I say “Go Home!” she walks diligently into her crate, although accompanied with a pout. When I need to take something out of her mouth, she gently opens her sharp teeth. When I am eating, she never begs for food. And when I walk through the door, she wraps her front legs around me in a hug, and proceeds to sit and cuddle in my lap (thinking she weighs only 10 pounds).

She comes with some challenges, too. She is full of energy and when I try to walk her, she tries to walk me.

But the biggest challenge with Colbie is managing the reactions from others. Because of her outward appearance, many people detest her before they even get to know her. One day, Colbie ran out of the house when she saw someone walking a small dog. When the neighbor saw Colbie playfully running around, she shouted, “Get a hold of your dog. That thing is going to kill somebody.”

I learned that while Colbie is capable of protecting our family, she needs us to protect her as well. She needs someone to stand in her corner when others are erroneously judging her.

Colbie is the type of dog who makes you grow. She has layers to her. She challenges preconceived notions about dogs, proving the old cliché “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

It’s something that I have always looked for in people, but didn’t realize until recently that you could also look for in dogs. As both Rosie and Colbie sit side by side at my parents’ house, I see how this translates into relationships with people. You can have the partner who you think is sweet and adorable, and whom you like to take care of. And that’s fine. And you can also have the protector, the guard dog, who tries to take care of you. And that’s fine, too.

If you’re lucky, though, you can have both. A Colbie. A best friend who leans on you as much as you lean on them.

Someone who makes you laugh, who might bother you at times for being themselves, but whom you love for it. Someone you will always be discovering new things about, who loves you for who you are, and who enables you to grow. I choose that.

Adapted, with permission, from an original article on K9 Magazine at

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