In defence of pit bulls

Take it from a former dog-hater, they’re the best pets you could want

Entering any front yard with a ‘BEWARE OF THE DOG’ sign is a scary idea for all individuals with a phobia or even mild fear of dogs. Will they jump? Do they bite? That fear is only increased when the dog in question is a pit bull. With reputations for vicious attacks, brutality against humans and animals alike, pit bulls are the dons of the dog world.

Last June, crouching behind the enormously talented and physical build of actor Clayton Cardenas, I edged into one such gate; the home of a pit bull.

Little did I know that this one dog would change everything I thought I knew about dogs.

Falling in love is far from easy, we all know that. Going from total fear and absolute hatred is even harder. I am proud to say that I am a convert, and I have Bella and Calvin to thank for that. These are the two creatures that have made me love dogs – as a dedicated cat -person – and they are pit and part-pit.

Yes, they are a couple.

Every morning Bella and I have a five minute cuddle before I go about my day. The connection between owner and pet is strong with most animals. It is even stronger with pits. Despite popular belief, pits are the most loyal dogs. If you fall over or hurt yourself, your pit will be the first one kissing you better. They can sense pain and are incredibly sympathetic, even though their own pain threshold is extremely high. When I gouged my foot open on a dragon’s tooth on the boardwalk, Cal sat by trying to kiss the wound better. He didn’t get close though, dog’s mouths are gross.

The only downside to this loyalty is that sometimes pits see themselves as alpha: they literally believe they are your protector because you cannot protect yourself. I argue that this fact explains the generalisation that all pits are aggressive. Some of them are, but they are dog-aggressive, which is a completely different trait to people-aggressive.

Calvin is the poster boy for the anti-aggressive pit. He is fearful of smaller dogs, often hiding behind me when faced with a barky breed like a chihuahua. However, Calvin has been known to bark at the gunshots that echo out at night in Venice, California, as well as the stupid firework displays at midnight hosted by the Kardashians.

The only time I have ever seen him get his hackles up in when a mentally ill woman was hurling abuse at me from the street. I had not noticed her until Calvin started acting so out of character. We quickly left.

During play time (Calvin never wins)

Don’t be misled by my admiration of these types of dogs (“pit bull” is not a specific breed but a variety of terriers); pit bulls are dogs that often need management. Getting a good trainer is essential for almost all pit owners.

Though they do not lock their jaws, another popular myth of the type, pits are known for the bite-and-shake method of attack. This looks significantly worse than it really is and is often what leads to them being put down. According to recent statistics, somewhere between 800,000 to 1 million pit bulls are put down every year in the USA. Considering they are just like any other type of dog, this is a drastically high number and should definitely be dropped.

There are so many myths about pits that could be debunked in this article, and some have been, but here are the top three that everyone should know:

  1. Pit bulls cannot be around other dogs and animals. WRONG. Pits are fine with all dogs. The only creature your dog should not be allowed near is the opossum. One bite from one of those bastards and your pet will likely die of infection. Oh, and squirrels, but they’re asking for it.
  2. Pits are bad with children. WRONG. Some dogs like everyone. Some dogs don’t. They have personalities just like people.
  3. But aren’t they bred for fighting? WRONG. Of course they’re not. They’re not bred for anything.

The thing everyone has to remember about pit bulls, and all dogs, is that they need training. I see so many people wandering around Los Angeles with dogs they can barely take care of that are completely out of control. If your dog attacks anything, it is your fault for not teaching or being able to restrain it.

They are perpetual children. They do not grow up and go to college or university, they are children forever and should be treated, loved, and respected as such.

Take it from a former dog-hater. Pit bulls are everyone’s best friend.