Keeper Of The Beast: One Pit Bull Owners Tale
I have always been a dog lover. Since I can recall, I have always had a canine companion. A few years ago, I became one of the most feared people on earth, a pit bull owner. These dogs are shrouded in myths and lies. The media has painted a gory portrait of what these dogs are, and many are quick to believe it. The news is flooded with stories of pit bull attacks. These stories are often misinformed, and do not report the entire story; thus pit bulls are dragged through the mud. Most reported pit bull attacks are not even caused by a pit bull. They are often caused by breeds mistaken for pit bulls such as Boxers, Dogo Argentinos, Cane Corsos, Labradors, or simply just mutts. My first pit bull, Bowser, instilled in me a passion to become a pit bull advocate and speak out on behalf of these misunderstood creatures.
In order to combat the ignorance and fear surrounding pit bulls, I had to become very knowledgeable. I learned all I could about these dogs; through articles, books, and documentaries. As I researched, I discovered the controversy surrounding these dogs was much greater than I had anticipated. I learned of their origin, of the cruelty and abuse they suffer as fighting dogs, of the ignorance and fear surrounding them, and of the love and loyalty they offer as pets. Armed with this knowledge I began writing informative articles called hubs on a web site. I also joined an online community dedicated to educating the public and uniting pit bull lovers.
The more I learned and the more I came to know Bowser, the hotter my passion burned. He was such a wonderful companion, yet so many judged him on breed alone. I began speaking out on his behalf. Every chance I got, I corrected those around me, including my boss, Steve. I can recall a time at the gas station where I worked. Steve was sitting at the round table conversing with some of the regulars. Their conversation sparked my interest when I realized he was giving false information about pit bulls. He was a typical pit bull hater and like most only knew the lies surrounding these dogs. He believed pit bulls were mindless killing machines incapable of being anything else. I jumped in to correct him and presented him with the facts I had learned. He did not acknowledge any of what I said; it simply went in one ear and out the other. His topic changed for the time being, but on several occasions I overheard him slandering the dogs I loved so dearly. Time and time again I shared the facts only to be ridiculed for standing up for these creatures
Bowser began to grow into a striking, powerful fellow. My boyfriend, Tim and I enjoyed taking him for rides and walks in the park. On countless occasions, people spotted us, stopped dead in their tracks, turned, and walked away. I remember one sunny afternoon in Millennium Park. We had been walking Bowser; he was so handsome with his sturdy build and reddish tan coat glistening in the sun. I spotted a lady walking towards us with her black lab. I intended to walk past her and go about my way. Upon seeing us a look of dread spread across her face; it was as if she had seen the devil himself. She turned and proceeded to walk back the other way. I stopped for a moment pondering my options. I could continue to walk straight, which would put us directly behind the lady, or turn right. We ended up turning right to avoid any confrontation. I also had people come up and pet Bowser telling us how pretty and sweet he was, only to have them recoil in fear when finding out he was a pit bull. I have engaged in many conversations with others about their dogs and shared stories about mine. Then the dreaded question arises, what kind of dog do you have? When I reply, “pit bull ,” the response is usually unpleasant. Sometimes I am given the opportunity to share the facts about these dogs; other times I am given the cold shoulder.
When trying to move from our home in the country to the city, we were faced with a problem. Not only did we have a dog, we had a pit bull. We looked and found several pet friendly places. I knew it would not be an easy task finding someone to rent to a pit bull owner, but I remained optimistic. Thankfully, Breed Specific Legislation, BSL, laws banning or restricting pit bull ownership were not an issue. However, many land lords are prejudice against pit bull type dogs. I began calling, eager to find a place that would accept us and Bowser. The calls always ended the same; pit bulls were not allowed. Sometimes before I even got a chance to ask about Bowser I was cut off with the same statement; as long as it is not a vicious breed such as a pit bull . My frustration began to grow as time after time we were turned away. If only they would meet Bowser, then they could see what kind of dog he really was. Finally, because of ignorance and fear we had to re-home Bowser. As it turned out, this was in vain as we were unable to move, we gave him up for nothing.
The day Bowser met his new family was heart breaking. He was such a good dog. He had been with us since he was eight weeks old. It felt as if I was losing a part of myself. The family was really nice. They had two kids at home and were experienced pit bull owners. I knew Bowser was going to a good home. I knew he would be well taken care of, but he was my dog and I had to watch him leave with strangers. Bowser seemed to love them right away. I received e-mails and pictures from his new family which reassured me he was happy. I regret letting such a wonderful dog go. I miss him even now.
It has been almost a year since we said goodbye to Bowser. We now have a gorgeous nine month old black and white American Pit Bull Terrier named Koopa. Koopa is a wonderful dog, he reminds me of Bowser. I cannot help but think of him. Losing him inspires me to keep fighting against BSL. These dogs were once the most popular family dogs in America. I dream of a future where they will again be known as America’s dog. I still face scrutiny for owning and loving these so called monsters. My pit bulls have shown me nothing but loyalty, devotion, dedication, and above all unconditional love. Despite my love for Koopa he can never take Bowser’s place. Bowser is the reason I am a pit bull advocate. He sparked my fire for these demonized creatures.
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