An Undiscovered Obsession

November 21, 2011  

A family discovers a new love: pit bulls

By Erin Clifton

Our family has always had cats. We have three cats currently and felt that we were ready for a change. We decided to get a dog. That’s a big decision! We asked ourselves so many questions: What breed? What are the yearly expenses? How much time can we give him or her?

I was nervous about the idea, since I overanalyze things. My husband, on the other hand, was sure that we could do it, so we started our search on There were thousands of dogs to choose from. We didn’t even know what we were looking for. Then we noticed a trend. Every other dog was a pit bull.

My husband and I started to discuss pit bulls. Why were there so many? Is there something wrong with them? We hadn’t had much interaction with them before, but had heard stories in the news or from other people. We decided that we really didn’t know much about pit bulls, so we started researching the breed. We came across an area rescue group, Ring Dog Rescue. We thought our best bet was to start with people who knew about the breed and could help us with our first dog. We had no idea what we were getting into – or maybe my husband had no idea what he was getting us into!

I contacted the organization to learn about adoption. After looking at their website and studying each dog and reading all their biographies, we decided to meet a couple different dogs and completed an application. Within a few days, a couple of volunteers brought the dogs to our house to conduct the home inspection, an important requirement of a good rescue group.

The first dog we met was a cute puppy named Huey. After meeting Huey, we decided we were definitely not puppy people! We already have two daughters and figured that was enough children in our house. The next dog that came along was Jay Jay, the first dog I have ever fallen in love with. I wanted him so badly!

We still had to meet my husband’s choice, Violet. A few days later we met Violet, and Jay Jay got outvoted by the family (outvoted three to one). It wasn’t that I didn’t love Violet; there was just something that I found compelling about Jay Jay. After we returned home, we made a decision. The next day, we contacted the foster family to let them know we wanted Violet. We got the house prepared for a new dog. Helpfully, Ring Dog Rescue had sent us information to read prior to getting a dog, and I felt like a new parent bringing home a baby. Did we have everything we would need? I started to feel overwhelmed, and I wasn’t sure if we were making the right decision.

Miley and Violet

I have never again questioned that decision! It is now a year later, and we have just adopted our second rescue pit bull, Miley.

When we got Violet, we never thought about what our family would think or if our neighbors would be upset. We didn’t realize how big a decision it was and how it would affect so many people. Our first walk in the neighborhood showed me the truth about the myths the media has created. The neighbors we talk to on a regular basis came out to meet Violet, and they told us that they love all dogs. We had some neighbors who looked at us nervously or just turned and walked the other way. At first, it upset me that people didn’t even get to know Violet before making a judgment. I no longer care what others think. I love my dogs!

Sometimes I look at my girls’ faces and just laugh. They have the funniest expressions and are always into something. Violet is adventurous, lovable and loyal, and Miley is laid-back, curious and shy. Our family knows that we have found the perfect match. Violet and Miley blend together so well that they bring the best out in each other.

Miley has really opened up since we brought her home. When we first went to visit her at the Heritage Humane Society, she seemed so sad. She just sat staring out the window, like she was wishing to go outside. She was an owner surrender and had already had three adoptions pending that were not successful. Looking at her that day, it was the moment of truth, whether we wanted to take on the responsibility of a second dog. Even my husband couldn’t say no!

True Love

Sometimes you realize that no matter what you say, you can’t change someone else’s perception. Of course, we had to tell our extended family that we got a dog back when we adopted our first pit bull. My parents were worried, but knew that I had done a lot of research and were comfortable with the idea. Some family members thought, however, that we were putting our children in harm’s way and that we should get rid of the dog. I couldn’t believe that was their reaction, but I had to realize that some people couldn’t understand.

Eventually our families realized that we knew what we were doing. We are trying to be ambassadors for a breed that is not usually in the positive limelight. We want our dogs to shine! There are many groups and individuals out there who are striving to do the same thing. I realize that a pit bull isn’t suitable for everyone. However, to make a decision on a dog based on breed alone is unfair not only to the dog, but also to the family who has fallen in love that dog.

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10 Responses to “An Undiscovered Obsession”
  1. PamilaSchwartz says:

    Two beautiful girls!!! They are beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing and saving them!! Pamila & BabySnaps

  2. blazer says:


  3. LindsayK says:

    I’m interested in how you got your cats to accept the dog, and how you found a dog that had a low prey drive!

    • blazer says:


      There are definitely dogs out there with low prey drive! I adopted a 3 year old boy from a shelter — they had let him see the shelter cats and were fairly confident he could live with them happily. Boy does he ever! Two weeks after we adopted our PB, we went and adopted two kittens and he was great with them from the get-go. Over the last three years of owning him, we’ve added several more cats. His prey drive is SO crazy low – two instances where a rabbit has been flushed from under our deck and run literally right under his nose and didn’t even blink — in fact, turned and trotted in the opposite direction. It IS possible!

      • blazer says:

        Now we have a new foster (8 yrs old) who does have a prey drive outside – watch out squirrels! We took three weeks to aclimate her to our cats and vice versa — she looked overly interested and chase-y in the beginning. No contact for the first week – maybe a peek at each other but lots of sniffing to find out who was sharing the house. The second week we tethered the dog to ourselves or a bannister and worked on good eye contact with us and calmly looking at a kitty. lots of treats when the dog looked away from the cat. We could tell she would eventually be okay as she calmed down. She wore a harness and leash for a couple weeks — we just read her body language and progressed from there. There have been times where she wanted to pounce or snap — lots of supervision. Foster pays no attention to them anymore. It helps that our cats are dog-savvy and love them. Only one cat does not care for the dogs – she puts up with them & we makes sure she has comfy places to rest and feel safe. A slow introduction is the best – I don’t know that you can take it too slow? Help them associate happy things when they are around each other. It is possible for them to coexist with the right personalities!

        • LindsayK says:

          @blazer@ErinClifton Thanks for your responses! We fostered a dog who had a super high prey drive once, and it made us nervous. The dog was always on leash around the cats or we kept them separated. He would just get this look in his eyes and get really quiet. Without the cats around he was just a goofy, happy dog. We ended up finding a great home for him. He was a great dog and I would love to get another pittie when we get out of our townhouse (35 lb weight limit here) that we can adopt and commit to integrating with the cats. Erin, we have the same attitude as you all with the cats–they’re our first priority when it will be time for us find (rescue!) a dog.

  4. ErinClifton says:

    We were worried about our cats when we first got Violet. Ring Dog Rescue has a great policy of a week trial with the dog. We told them that our cats were our main concern and if they weren’t happy; it was a no go. The cats had never been around a dog and the fosters who had Violet didn’t have a cat. The first introduction was nose sniffing, however Violet is an extremely happy dog and she has a hard time keeping her wiggly butt under control. The cats have learned to tolerate her and Violet follows commands well. It has taken awhile to get our house into a routine.

    You have to find a dog that matches your family. Our dogs don’t have a low prey drive; they are alert on walks and with cats that are outside. I am not sure why it is this way, but I have worked with both dogs to be gentle with the cats. I’m not saying they are perfectly behaved at all times. Violet sometimes wants to play with the cats and she gets her nose smacked by Magic (one of our cats). It seems to stop her at that moment. You just have to find the perfect fit as well as a lot of training!

  5. Eloquently said, you can’t change mind but you can change their perception and that’s what you’ve done; great story. My family was the same way when we adopted Sasha (our first pittie) now they can’t image life without her. My mom was terrified and for no good reason, my sister has never interacted with a pit bull not even mine however, she mentioned the information I have forwarded has changed her “perception but not her mind.” My baby niece loves both of my pitties to pieces and back again, she walks, feed and plays with him with no problem. They allow her to do whatever she wants to them as long as she’s happy. I’ve had a neighbor to be rude to my second my pittie (Krusher) for no reason however; he loves Sasha (first pittie) it pieces, too funny. In the end you love who you love and they’ll love who they love

  6. skreidle says:

    Love Ring Dog Rescue! 😀

  7. JenFortin says:

    Once you own a pittie you will always want one in your life. We own 3 right now, and have for 12 years. I take the baby with me everywhere so people can see what a good dog she is.