Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Henry and Pitt Bull Love

my Texas man in the Texas bluebonnets
Yesterday was my baby boy's birthday. I think. I adopted him on December 21, 2008 and calculated that his birthday should have been approximately November 16, so that's when we celebrate it.

Henry (that's his name) is some sort of pit bull mutt (heavy on the pit bull). When most people here that, they kind of bristle and say, "pit bull, huh?" like I said "man eating pirrahna". And I use to be one of those people. Before adopting Henry I definitely bought into the pit bull stigma that the breed by nature is vicious and dangerous.

So how did I end up with a pit bull? The answer is: I didn't mean to! My uncle told me that his friend had a box of abandoned puppies and since I was in the market for a dog/puppy I decided to go check them out. I took one look at these faces and I was sold. I picked one out for my best friend AJ and one for myself.

Henry & Cali
I took them home and was on cloud 9 until my dad casually said, "Melanie, I think these might be pit bulls". My heart suddenly felt like it was full of cement. I quickly googled images of "pit bull puppies" and was shocked to see that my puppies did indeed look exactly like pit bull puppies. Honestly, I was scared of them after that, they were tiny puppies and I was already reading aggressiveness into their every move.

See how vicious?
But then I decided to do a little research about pit bulls (and I also asked our vet) and quickly discovered that pit bulls are not, infact, inherently mean, evil, highly dangerous, killing machines. They're just dogs. They are strong and they are strong-willed and they do have a lot of energy (all of which could be harnessed into a fighting dog), but they are no more aggressive than any other dog. They're just dogs. And any dog can be dangerous. My senior year in high school I was bitten by a miniature daschund!

Here are some important facts about pit bulls that I found on this website:


Pit Bulls have locking jaws. Pit Bulls do not have locking jaws. The fact is they have very strong jaws in comparison to other dogs which make them more powerful; they are stronger than many other breeds. A Pit Bull's body composition is comparable to a body builder and an average person. Just because one person enjoys body building and is therefore stronger than another person, it does not mean that that person is any less gentle or friendly

Pit bulls are inherently mean and vicious. Pit Bulls by nature are not mean and vicious-they are very sweet and friendly. They are easily trainable and respond well to commands which can change their happy go lucky personality into something monstrous. Their desire to please, paired with their strength, high prey drive and malleability make them a great candidate for use as guard and attack dogs and in fighting rings.


People cause Pit Bulls to be vicious. In most cases Pit Bulls are vicious and dangerous because they were trained to be. The training methods used by dog fighters cause the dog to be indiscriminate about what it attacks. Trainers will starve, beat and harass these dogs in order to make them aggressive. A dog does not understand that it may only attack other dogs when it is in the ring. The saying 'Guns do not kill people, people kill people' can be applied to these dogs: Pit Bulls do not attack people, people attack people. Pit Bulls are used as a weapon. Furthermore these dogs are most often grossly abused themselves.

Some Pit Bulls (not all) tend to have a high prey drive. A high prey drive means that an animal has a natural inclination to chase and possibly attack other animals that they see as food. Though we would like to think that domestic dogs are civilized, they are still animals and instinctive behaviors are difficult if not impossible to eliminate. This fact means that responsibility, vigilance and knowledge are imperative on the part of the owner of a Pit Bull as with any dog.

Dog fighting has been around for centuries. When most people think of dog fighting they envision thugs in rough inner-city neighborhoods with drugs, guns and seething, drooling Pit Bulls. In the 1800's Pit Bulls that were used for fighting were trusted with children and seen as their nannies. Dogs that fought by night would be left alone with children by day to guard and protect them.

Pit bulls are not the right breed for everyone. Although Pit Bulls do not deserve the reputation they have gained they are not suitable for everyone. These dogs can be difficult to handle due to their intelligence, energy and power. People who are considering owning a Pit Bull should research the breed in order to ensure an appropriate life for the dog as well as a duty to public safety.

Responsibility and education are key in destroying the undue prejudice and stereotypes associated with this wonderful breed.

And I can attest, my pit bull is a wonderful dog! He is not remotely vicious, he is sweet, gentle and loving. The only thing he's ever even come close to attacking is his stuffed animals and he's passionately in love with an 8-pound cat that he treats with the utmost care.

Henry and his one true love: Olivia

Henry, I love you!

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