Tuesday, October 15, 2013

{Tuesday Truths} The Truth about being a Pitbull Owner

Hey hey everyone!

So in a small effort to get myself posting a bit more, I've decided to start a little weekly series called Tuesday Truths. Eventually, I'd like to open up a linky for these, but for now while I have minimal followers, if you'd like to join in, please link to your post in the comments!

Please note, these are truths from my experiences and perspectives. Due to the innate differences of every human on this planet, what I take as truth  may not be what you do! The point of this is not to judge others or criticize what they believe to be true, but to see something through another's eyes.

On that note, I will kick things off with probably one of the most controversial topics in my life, being a Pitbull owner.

This breed, or shall I say mix of breeds, is one of the most sensationalized around. Its seems as though every week there is a new article about the dangers of Pitbulls and Breed Specific Legislation that is being put in place to help 'protect' people from these misunderstood animals.

The truth about 'Pitbulls', is that most of them aren't actually a true pitbull at all! Many dogs are lumped into this category due to physical features, such as a blocky head or a strong, full chest. Many different breeds also possess these characteristics, thus the term, 'Pitbull Type Dog' or PTD for future reference in this post.  Our dog, Cash is a PTD. We rescued him at 8 weeks old from a local group called Saving Grace, in Roseburg, Oregon. Rescues make an attempt to label breeds, for adoption purposes, but often the dogs are an oops litter from mixed breed parents, so its a roll of the dice. Cash was labeled a Rottweiler/Pitbull mix, which was fine with us. Now that a couple years have passed, we are pretty convinced that he is Boxer/Pitbull/Heeler of some sort. In all honesty, who cares?

The truth is, a breed is a label, just like race. He is a dog, and he is loved, that's what matters to us.Sure, some people will cross to the other side of the street when they see us out walking, due to the fact that he has a blocky head. That's fine.

But the truth is, Cash loves people, especially children, and I trust him almost limitlessly with them. Nothing makes my heart smile more than looking outside and seeing Cash following my sister Sophia (age 7) around the yard, her little companion and protector.

The group of dogs commonly referred to as Pitbull, actually encompasses more than one AKC recognized breed, the Staffordshire terrier, and the American Staffordshire terrier. The American Pitbull terrier is recognized by the UKC, but the breed traits are mostly the same.

The truth about PTD's is they are excellent family dogs WHEN THEY ARE RAISED CORRECTLY, which means with love, discipline, exercise, patience and routine. Cash is at his best when he is walked daily, preferably for at least an hour. It puts his mind at peace, and allows him to socialize in a controlled environment. This temperment description is from the UKC, and I believe it to be nearly correct from my experiences:
             'The essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable. This breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work.'

The truth about PTD's is that some, like any other breed of dog, may have some level of dog aggression. It is up to the owner to be responsible about managing this. Cash is not a dominant dog in general, but when he first meets another dog, he has a tendency towards dominance. It generally comes out initially as an attempt to hump, followed by some growls and hackle raising. However, James and I know this about him, and have learned the correct way for him to meet other dogs, which results in better peace of mind for all of us.

Instead of face to face meetings, we prefer to walk with the new dogs and their people, on leash in a human controlled environment. This puts us as owners in the dominant position, and allows the dogs to get to know one another through smell, while exercising and moving as a pack, which is natural to them. I have no problem asking people I meet during our walks to just walk with us for a block or two instead of standing around awkwardly while our dogs attempt to meet in an unnatural way. I have never had a dog owner say no to this situation, and it allows for a moment of conversation between us as owners as well.

The truth about PTD's, is that they are the worlds best snugglers, and most believe they are lap dogs and will do their best to convince you as well.

To my dismay, Cash sleeps most nights in bed with us, under the covers. As much as I try to resist, he is so warm and cuddly that its hard to send him to his bed on the floor. He is usually the first to crash at night and the last to crawl out from under the covers. He also runs the couch, but is happy to share. 

The truth about PTD's is they love to work, play, exercise, whatever the activity maybe be, they are happiest when pleasing their master. 

Cash loves this green toy, which has no squeaker, but still works well. He loves to fetch, play hide and seek, or just carry it around on our walks. We enrolled him in a 4 week agility course when he was 5 months old, and he came out on top as champion of his class, which included a goldendoodle, golden retriever, german shorthair, and blue heeler. He loves to run behind the bike on trail rides, and will hike for miles with no complaints. He is truely an ideal companion.

The truth is, we are lucky to live in a beautiful city where PTD's are accepted as part of the community of dogs with no questions asked. They are all over town, in all shapes and sizes and nearly all are a perfect representation of what the breed has to offer. Just yesterday, after I had initially written this post, I was enjoying lunch at one of our many local brew pubs. On the patio, there was a couple with two beautiful PTD's who were quietly lying under the table, just enjoying a day out with their people. 

The truth is, now that I've owned a pitbull type dog, I don't think I will ever have another breed. Cash, and all the other pit-mixes I know, have opened my eyes to the bigger picture of being a dog owner, which is to enrich their lives and your own.

The truth is, PTD's are the most euthanized breed in the country, according to Don', due to being misunderstood and grossly overbred, whether on purpose or oops litters. Next time you're looking for a new family dog, I highly encourage you to check out your local shelter, and just take a PTD for a walk. You may find your new best friend in the most unlikely form.

Please link your Tuesday Truth in the comments, and let me know how you feel about Pitties! Please be constructive in your comments, disrespectful ones will be deleted. Thank you!

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