Monday, September 5, 2011

The quick lesson

I have no quarrel with the pit bull breed. In fact, I’m not even sure what constitutes the breed. Sure, some are type-y, but most dogs that fall under the pit umbrella come in different shapes, sizes, colors. They share, perhaps, a muscular body, broad forehead, and stretched-back eyes.

When I first got Phoebe, some people thought she was at least part pit, but her eyes are saucer-round. In her dotage, she bears a striking resemblance to Estelle Winwood.




Dogs are reactive, and mirror their owners. If treated harshly, they think the world is one pretty bad ass place to live. But they’re also flexible. Change the conditions and the quality of care, and they respond in kind. Dogs are the most forgiving creatures on earth.

Dogs don’t hold grudges because they haven’t the time. They know they’re not long for this world. So if something good comes their way, they take it. No questions asked. Unlike us, they won’t continue to brood about the past; rehash old wars and family quarrels.

In this respect, they have a leg up on us.

37 comments:

  1. It's interesting that the dog in 'The Little Rascals' movies, Petey, was a pit bull; at the time, pit bulls were considered great family dogs. Like so many breeds, it isn't the dogs themselves, but people who've ruined the breed. Your statement about how flexible and forgiving they are is amply demonstrated by the fact that all but one of Michael Vick's pits have been placed in homes and at least one is a therapy dog now. Would that human beings were so flexible and forgiving, eh?

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  2. A pit bull is a Staffordshire Terrier, a believe. It's an actual breed. They are beautiful, smart, trainable dogs.
    http://tinyurl.com/3h7eucx

    I haven't read your piece but I can anticipate what it says. I don't know about pit bull breeders but one can't be too hard on those who support dog fighting. It's like being too hard on supporters of child labor or feeding Christians to lions.

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  3. Hey Diana -- the pit rescued from Michael Vick's hellhole is in my piece, plus a video link of the dog visiting patients at a hospital.

    I agree with everything you say (forgot about Petey), except I don't think the breed has been ruined. I think individual dogs have been ruined.

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  5. I assume you cover the recent killing of a woman in Northern California by her pet pit bull. By all accounts, the dogs were well treated and this was out of the blue.

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  6. I'd say, Earl, the story sounds very strange:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/12/us-pitbull-death-idUSTRE77B5WA20110812

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  7. When I see a pit bull with a spiky metal collar and am with my dog, I cross the street. I'm not willing to risk it.

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  8. Pheobe's got a leg up on Estelle. (I LOL'd so loudly I woke the sleeping beasties here).
    My friend Annie's got the sweetest mostly pit bull rescue.
    Want to read that patch article.

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  9. That's a nice tribute, AH. Bellis' comment probably goes to the heart of it. Why would you put a spiky collar on a dog that most people already consider nasty, unless you're out to look macho-fearsome? That owner's probably not gonna have, or similarly ruin, a Jack Russel or Pug.

    But how quickly that dog can be transformed into a therapy dog, for example, is a problem, isn't it? For every success story, how many failures? And how many innocent bystander dogs or humans paid a price for the failure? It's complicated, but I say kudos to those humans who hang in there and try to make the best of it. It's good to hear about the successes.

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  10. Oh you speak the truth. Dogs really are sometimes much much smarter than we humans. Which may be one of the reasons they intimidate me.

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  11. I think Phoebe favors Gladys Cooper.

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  12. Phoebe is gorgeous, and I love that Estelle comparison!

    You are so right, ANY dog can be lethal, if raised in a brutal environment. Sadly, although some may recover (with huge amounts of care, training and love), some are never able to be rehabilitated.

    Shamefully, illegal dog-fighting is still seen as a popular sport in pockets of the UK, and particularly in Ireland. In the rare instances where the police or Garda do discover and prosecute these cases, the poor creatures are most usually beyond help, and only end up being destroyed.

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  13. I'll be interested to hear the upshot of that SF pit bull story. Very strange. It seems there's something else going on and it seems the cops think so, too.

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  14. It's a tragic event but very odd. BAD RAP, a great site for anyone interested in pit bulls, has a very good article on the story:
    http://badrap-blog.blogspot.com/2011/08/reflections-on-case-in-pacifica-ca.html

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  15. I've been on the good side of Pit Bulls and I've been on the wrong side of them. I prefer the good side.

    Having said that, let us acknowledge Phoebe's resemblance to Ms Winwood. Why it's uncanny!

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  16. Minni Haha of PasadownerSeptember 6, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I agree. Phoebe's resemblance to Estelle Winwood is striking.


    My neighbors recently asked if I'd like to buy a puppy for $350. Then, they showed me to two pens hidden behind their garage. Beautiful grey pitbulls in separate 10 x10 cages. I had no idea they even had dogs. This experience has deepened my depression and replanted inertia. What can Be done?

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  17. Minnihaha, I know this will wreak havoc with my gangster image, but when I suspect cruelty to children or animals, including puppy mills, I rat the people out.

    And it can have a happy ending. One dog who was living in a pile of uncleaned shit, with flies chewing away at his ears, I called the humane society. Next time I walked by, the yard was clean, and the ears were healing. And I swear the dog thanked me.

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  18. Oh yes, Minni. I'd rat them out, too. Call the cops. You've been given an opportunity to do something wonderful.

    My WV is "nopilin." It's what I've taught Boz for neighborhood walks. However, I let him pile when we're in the wilderness. It makes him feel like a dog's dog.

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  19. Miss J for one thought the Patch article was great. Backyard breeders are a menace.

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  21. Part of the charm of the internet has been you are your own publisher! You don't need a Patch, Life, LATimes, Look, or whatever corp/organization publication to approve what you want to say to the masses.

    So my quick lesson is: don't wait too long on the approval of others to get your word out. They may not even be around when you come a calling next time.

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  22. My dog has been mauled by a pit bull so I have a primal fear of - roaming dogs, any kind. Just ask a neighbor whose dog recently made an unscheduled appearance when I was having breakfast on the veranda with my cat and dog in attendance. Not a pretty sight. I find it's always about the owners, not the dogs and pitties are no exception. By the way, if you can't get a pit bull to let go, jamb the end of a broom handle in the corner of their mouth and pry, it breaks the grip. I know of which I speak.

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  23. I admire you for reporting abuse like that . . . so many people see it and don't do anything. I'm sure that dog was thanking you!`

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  24. I got a story . . . but screw it.

    Patience, Susan, patience. I wish you, Louise and Tommy all the best in the world.

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  25. any dog roaming can be dangerous---regardless of breed. this is part of the reason for leash laws. I deal with dogs every day and have been surprised while out and about sometimes.

    we've got at least 4 clients with pure pit or pit mix pups. 2 of them are Bad Rap rescues, both of which are hospital visit dogs. without question, all of them just want to be loved, all of them mostly just want to snuggle and be near you. wouldn't hurt to toss a tennis ball now and again, but when done, they're happy to plunk down near you.

    and yes MiniHaha, REPORT the puppy mill!

    Paula---yikes. yes broom handle works. If any dog bites, shove your hand down the throat--should make them gag and spit out your hand, failing that, strangle it. Not advocating killing anything, but if it is a choice between you and the animal trying to kill you...I choose to live and save the life of another animal or many others.

    wv: dastrdly--darn dastrdly owners of animals, teaching them to fight!

    Hiker---I've always thought Phoebe was boxer mixed with something (something less dense than most boxers).

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  26. "I've got a story, but screw it." What a great line.

    Trish, hand down the throat is a new one on me. Don't know if I'd have the guts to try that one.

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  27. Are there any dogs running for political office in the upcoming national election? Based on your description, dogs have the qualities I'm seeking in a candidate.

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  28. WC Girlie Blather, it's a certainty that there will be some real dogs in the running...

    wv nipirr
    This one's for The Nipirr

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  29. You are so right. I got my two male mastiffs at 7 weeks, and they just knew they were exceedingly hairy people. The female (between the 2 boys) came to us at 4 months old, and she never did come to believe she was just one of the children. She was faithful and loyal, but not one of the kids.

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  30. They used to call pit bulls nanny dogs, you know, because they were so good with kids. It's in the book Lost Dogs, which is about the Michael Vick dogs. Good book, but sad, of course

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  31. Estelle.....Pheobster. Gotta love it. You are the best Hiker. Where in the hell does it all come from?

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  32. Hey! Here's a good book. You guys are pretty sharp, probably read it already, but here it is again:

    Don't Shoot The DogSusan Pryor

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  33. karin, thanks for checking in ! I am down in NC...cleaning out mom's house...pit bull puppy next door is a total spazz riot!

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  34. I agree that a lot of how a dog is has to do with the upbringing by their people...but there is something to the genetic component. My stepdaughter's Border Collie mix herds the other two dogs...she follows them, nips at their heels and gets them to go where she wants them to...all on her own. Our new dog, Kelly, is a "typical" Golden Retriever...she loves everybody...wants to be with us 24/7...

    I used to have a Bassett Hound....great dog until two Akidas attacked him and went for his throat...we couldn't get the Akidas off him until the owner literally kicked them in their faces to get them to let go...poor Jake was never the same after that....

    Genetics are a big part of the dog's make up. It can't be ignored...but training and humane treatment... and of course lot's of love certainly can mitigate the genetic instincts...but I still think the human companions need to take into account the genetic makeup of their animal and take precautions while loving and working with them...

    and Phoebe is beautiful...

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