At 5AM on Saturday morning, there was a scratching at the sliding glass door in my bedroom.
Outside, looking huge and muscular and scared and pitiful was a full grown white and black male pitbull. At first I was unsure as to whether or not to let a strange dog in to my house – I have two kids. a pregnant belly, and a 6-month old pitbull named Leo, so letting in any strange dog, regardless of breed, is risky. But he looked so pathetic that I opened the door and held out my hand, which he sniffed gingerly before strolling in.
Leo was immediately excited to have a new friend, because Leo is a doofus and thinks everyone is his friend. In this case, he was right. Despite being twice his bulk and age, the new guy rolled around playfully with my little pup, nibbling gently and emitting a contented noise that can best be described as an oink.
When they calmed down I inspected this gentle giant who had likely become scared at the sound of fireworks and somehow escaped his home. Because he definitely belonged to someone – his nails were clipped and he was obviously well fed.
He also had, around his neck, a length of heavy five pound chain to serve as his “collar”. There were no tags attached. He was not neutered. He was far filthier than he should have been for a dog that had only been out a day or two. He had small wounds on his legs in various stages of healing. I concluded that he was probably kept outside most of the day. The weather here has been in the 90s and 100s for weeks. Given that he had no tags and his testicles were still in tact, I doubted if he had been adopted from a shelter, which meant he most likely didn’t have his shots either.
I removed the “collar” immediately.
I kept them both in the bedroom and set an alarm for myself to go off before my girls typically wake up – I still didn’t know how he’d be around children.
He met Evie first, and remained perfectly still as she stroked his massive head and cooed at him. He didn’t wiggle around or get excited, although he did try to put his paws on her shoulders but I intervened. He did just as well with Guin.
He didn’t bark. He didn’t bite. He didn’t scratch. He didn’t growl. By the middle of the day Saturday I was convinced that he was nothing more than a gargantuan baby who snored while he napped and made an oinking noise when he was happy. We wanted to keep him – an older dog, especially a pitbull, stands little chance of being adopted from a shelter. If his owners put up posters or came looking for him, they could have him back – but I made up my mind that they would not leave my home with that fucking chain that was around his neck and that I would thoroughly berate them for not neutering him, bathing him, or treating the numerous cuts and gashes on his legs.
That night, he fell asleep on Guin’s bed with her. She covered him up and gave him her stuffed pig. She fell asleep holding his paw.
Sunday, my landlord came over to fix the air conditioner. She took one look at our new addition and demanded we get rid of him – pitbulls are an “aggressive breed” and aren’t allowed by her insurance. Apparently there’s a clause buried somewhere in the lease that prohibits them as well. Leo, evidently, doesn’t look enough like a pitbull for her to notice because she said nothing about him.
So, these people at an insurance company who have never met this dog, or touched this dog, or played with him or snuggled him, have deemed him vicious, violent, dangerous, aggressive because of shitty fucking dog-owners who train them to be that way. The same can be said of Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Chows, and a laundry list of other breeds that are misunderstood.
Funny. Dalmatians are notorious for hating children. Every chihuahua I’ve met has bitten at least one person during their lifespan. I’ve known goldens who have attacked other dogs and Jack Russells who have turned on their owners. I’ve known labs that have killed cats.
But I could own any one of those breeds, and that would be acceptable. Because it’s not a pitbull.
Yes, I could register him as a therapy dog or I could have a vet sign off on papers that list him as a different breed (some vets are sympathetic to the plight of pitbulls and their owners and will do so discreetly). But I was honest with my landlord about how we found him, so any attempts I made to keep him would look sneaky and underhanded, and I am not sneaky and underhanded. Our lease is month to month, and I absolutely can’t risk getting tossed out.
But there shouldn’t be a risk at all. I shouldn’t have to defend a dog who has done nothing wrong.
I stayed in bed and cried for most of the afternoon over the sheer unfairness of it all.
Last night, he got out. I saw him in the field across the street from our house, just as he disappeared through an opening in the fence. That had happened twice before – the girls sometimes forget to close the door, and our front yard isn’t in fenced in. Both times he came back.
This time, he didn’t.
He was with us for two days, which isn’t a lot, but in that two days this big, beastly snugglemonster stole my heart. He was not dangerous or aggressive or vicious. All you had to do was look in to his big brown eyes and you could tell.
And that’s all that should matter. The name of the breed shouldn’t make a difference. The reason they were originally bred shouldn’t make a difference. A handful of shitty breeders, owners, or dog fighters shouldn’t make a difference. A dog can be unloved, but still sweet. They can be abused, and then become the best friend you’ve ever had. Just like people.
If you’re the type of person who shies away from certain dogs because of your preconceived notions that they will attack you or hurt you, then stop it. You’re part of the fucking problem. You’re part of the reason that shelters are filled to capacity with these misunderstood creatures who want what EVERY OTHER DOG WANTS – a home filled with love. And maybe a chew toy.
This. This is what people call vicious. Dangerous. Aggressive.
It has to stop. It HAS to stop.