Passively Positive Pit Bull Advocating

Almost without fail every time I take my dogs for a walk someone (if not multiple people) say something like, “Wow, is that a pit bull?”  or “Oh, that’s a pit bull, isn’t it?!” referring to Maggie and ignoring the other two dogs.  I always respond with something like, “They’re my rescues, aren’t they great!?”  Remember this post about just calling them “rescues” or something like that?  I still love it and am pleased when I am able to politely dodge their question and reply with something cute instead.  But then I’ll get home from that walk and check my google alerts.  For every one alert I have set up to flag a variety of different topics, I get literally ten about pit bulls.  (I have it set to give me ten per day per topic, I only wish I was exaggerating this since they are almost always negative!)  So then I post a cute picture of Maggie on Instagram with something like #mypitbullisalover #notafighter but guess what? #I’mFeedingIntoTheProblem!

You gotta love a pit bull's smile.

I recognized once before that my good intentions were in fact adding to the problem and I talked about it here.  It’s a good read for anyone that means well by saying, “It’s all in how they’re raised!” and I would recommend taking a peek at it.  I also recently read a fantastic article about a former “pit bull” rescue that realized their community was beginning to view pit bulls in a positive light so they dropped “pit bull” entirely from their mission and now just focus on rescuing all dogs and educating the public on responsible pet ownership.  It occurred to them that if they continued to focus on just pit bulls, all the attention could undo what they had accomplished.  Check it out here.  But then I read this article by And Foster Makes Five and literally hung my head in shame.  Uh oh, guilty as charged!  If you stop reading this post right now and head over to read AFM5’s piece I would be happy as a clam, because she says it perfectly, and much better than I will.  Go on, I’ll wait.

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It was great, right?  And makes SO much sense, right?  I fear that we have almost made pit bulls too popular.  “But that should be a great thing!” you say.  Well yes and no.  The reason it is concerning to me is directly linked to the incredible number of pit bull stories in the news, which I am fully aware of because of those google alerts I was talking about earlier.  Did you know there is no standard definition of what a “pit bull” is?  Click here for an absolutely fantastic article that illustrates beautifully how varied the definition of a “pit bull” can be.  Imagine this scenario: a dog bite occurs.  The first reporter on the scene asks around about the type of dog involved and no one could give them a definitive answer.  A couple of people mention it had a “big head” and was “muscular”.  The reporter doesn’t know much about breeds.  They think back to all the other stories they’ve heard about dog fighting and pit bull attacks and decide that this must have been a pit bull, too.  And there you have it, another negative “pit bull” story makes it to the news.  The dog very well could have any other breed but it doesn’t matter.  The damage is done.

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So what’s my point in all this?  Basically exactly what Stephanie was saying in her post.  Let’s stop victimizing pit bulls and coming off as coo-coo pit bull fanatics which is just pushing away those that aren’t sure yet how they feel about the breed.  I don’t know about you, but the quickest way to get me to either tune out or disregard what someone with an opposing view point has to say, is for them to be loud, obnoxious, or worst of all, come off as uneducated or pushy.  Am I saying we should all go into hiding with our pit bulls so that they are never seen?  Never share a picture on Facebook or Instagram?  Never write a positive pit bull story on our blogs?  Of course not!  But I for one am going to stop using things like #lovernotfighter and instead do my best to always focus on being passively positive.  That’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  “Passively Positive”.  I’m not going to scream and shout to anyone within a 10 mile radius that pit bulls are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I am just going to continue writing pieces and sharing pictures of all the wonderful dogs I encounter, pit bull and everything else alike.

17 thoughts on “Passively Positive Pit Bull Advocating

  1. Love your post!! A few jumbles of thoughts:

    When people ask what ours are, we generally respond with “they’re mutts – the best kind.” I love Ken Foster’s definition of a pitbull from his book: “A pitbull is exuberant, affectionate, loyal, block-headed, athletic, ridiculous, occasionally stubborn, challenging, rewarding, and loved. A pitbull is American, and like most Americans these dogs are a jumble of DNA and contradictions, which is, naturally, what pit bull lovers love most about their dogs.”

    Unfortunately, to your point, because a pitbull is a TYPE of dog, not a BREED (which I love), it’s so easy to use the label in bad scenarios. I try to use “dog” where I can – Tess isn’t exceptional because she’s a pitbull, but because she’s a dog that I have learned to communicate with. Edi’s not a terror because he’s a pitbull, it’s because he’s a dog that likely was taken from him mother too early.

    I also try to have the mindset of “why wouldn’t they.” Using your example, #lovernotafighter, why wouldn’t Tesla be? What would make that even possible? Surely not her block-head. That’s helped me be “passively possitive” — love the terminology.

  2. Great idea. As someone who is a anti-BSL advocate and who used to be petrified of *all* dogs. It’s hard for me not to want to come off a bit preachy or defensive when someone says something negative about pit bulls. I think I should make a resolution next year to feature at least one pit bull interview a month under the theme of “Pittie Love”. Thanks for the idea.

    • I love that idea! It’s been years since I’ve been “preachy” but I definitely was at one point too. All that matters is that we do our best to politely change minds and when we can’t, peacefully move along so as not to give them anymore reason to dislike pit bulls or their owners.

  3. Very excellent post. The rescue I work with tend to pull a lot of pitties (which is wonderful since we live in a high-BSL state) but fortunately are an all-breed rescue as well so people who would not usually look for a bully breed is faced with so many GREAT ambassadors.

    • That’s definitely the way I think all rescues should operate. When a rescue takes the time to find out what an adopter is really looking for in a dog, their lifestyle, etc and then provide said adopter with the dogs that match those wants and needs, regardless of breed, that is when I think the adoptions are the most successful and permanent.

  4. Chuckle…. when people catch us with Sarah (our pure pitty) out in public, and ask the very same question, we look at her in a shocked fashion, gasp and say, “Is she?”. It’s a hold over from the days I had a ferret in NY, would walk him like a dog and people would ask if he was a squirrel or a raccoon. Instead I would say he was a Yiddish Dweezlehound. A rare, Isreali breed used to keep rodents out of desert gardens. If people are so out of touch with the world they don’t know what a squirrel or a raccoon looks like, stupid question doesn’t deserve an intelligent answer.

    Of course in Sare Bear’s case, by the time we get done with the sarcasm, she is already rubbing up against the person, said person scritching her vigorously and smiling back at Sarah’s big smile.

    Just like our Otis, Sarah explains herself much better than we ever could. On first encounters, we never actually acknowledge she’s (or back with Otis, he’s) a pitty, but the person we’re addressing does. They make the connection all on their own that the delightful, now twice, tele tubby with the goofy grin is indeed, one of “Them” and can formulate their own opinion. Given the time spent visiting and scritching, they leave with a positive oppinion!

  5. As stated above, I let my dogs speak for themselves. I’m not one to insist my dogs be accepted or loved on or whatever. If someone wants to say hello to them, great! If someone crosses the street to avoid us, so be it. I’ve had just about every comment you can imagine, but surprisingly, I’ve never had anyone say anything flat out nasty. Maybe it’s because I live in the Austin area, a very dog (and pit bull) friendly town, or maybe it’s because I have three pit bulls in tow (I guess they could be construed as a formidable entourage–others don’t know how truly wimpy my dogs are). Either way, I educate when it seems appropriate, but never force my opinion on others. I can only tell them about my experiences and what works for me. A pit bull type dog is definitely not for everyone, but when you own these types of canines, setting a good example shows others that these big, goofy knuckleheads are just, in fact, dogs.

    • I agree! My post probably made it sound like I am kooky or pushier than I really am, but in reality I tend to let my dogs speak for themselves as well. When people come up to talk to us I usually try and sneak in something about rescues. Very rarely do “pit bulls” even get brought up (by me at least). I have been known to get into it online though, and that’s where I’ve realized I need to knock it off completely since I don’t have a sweet, snuggly dog that can do the mind changing for me and I therefore come off as kooky….which is never good lol

  6. Stephanie’s post opened my eyes a bit when I read it a while back, I guess I’d never thought about it from that standpoint. And, your post just brings it all home!

    After all dogs are just dogs regardless of breed and for the most part all need advocates for loving homes. I feel if a situation comes up and I need to educate someone I will but try not to come off as a crazy dog lady.

  7. I’m still thinking this one through. Seriously. And on the funny side — does this mean I can’t buy my mother the Pit Bull Grandma tshirt I was going to get her for Christmas?

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