I almost forgot to write about this interesting meeting between my dog Red (Rednose – American Staffordshire Terrier Mix) and an unenlightened human, at my hair dresser’s about 2 months ago.
I was late to my appointment and couldn’t drop off my dog at home, so I called the hair dresser and asked if I could bring my big dog with me. She said, “Of course you can bring your dog.” Red and I walked into the hair salon and he showered everyone who came near us with kisses, his tail constantly wagging for 10 minutes, and he loved the attention and affection. Before I sat down in my chair I asked everyone if they were comfortable with me having my dog nearby. No complaints, so I placed Red right in front of me on his blanket. He laid down and watched the people, calm and super sweet as usual. Everything seemed to be perfect and everyone enjoyed Red’s friendly attitude.
I was getting my hair cut when the customer to my right was finished and left. A new customer, a tall blonde lady, sat down. Red was excited to see the new woman and tried to get her attention by being super cute and staring at her. He got her attention, and she called him to come over. I let him go, and he was all over her, licking her face and trying to get as close to her as possible. He laid next to her and she patted him for awhile. Then, she asked me about his name and what kind of dog he is.
I said, “Red is a Pit Bull Mix.”
The woman (in her early 40’s, dressed in a business suit) stopped patting him and looked at me, repeating “A ‘PIT BULL’? I mean a ‘PIT BULL,’ PIT BULL?”
(*”Pit bull” is NOT a breed. It’s a generic term often used to describe all dogs with similar traits and characteristics known to the public as “pit bulls.” When we use the term “pit bull” here, it should be understood to encompass American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and mixes of those breeds. Source: Pit Bull Rescue Central).
I said, “YES, he is an American Staffordhshire Terrier and Rednose Mix, he probably has some other breeds him as well.”
I explained to her what a PIT BULL is and she listened, interested. She: “Oh my god, really? I can’t believe it. He is so sweet, loving and well behaved.” Her voice was not excited anymore – it sounded more like she had dry mouth and needed a glass of water. Me: “I know, he is a total sweetheart and an absolutely perfect dog.”
I could feel I was talking to someone who was totally prejudiced about Pit Bull-type breeds. The woman: “You know, I’m an attorney and I just heard of a case where a Pit Bull attacked a neighbor’s child. The child needed 14 stitches and we can be very happy that the dog did not rip the child apart.” Me (in my dry-German way): “Oh really? Why did the dog attack, and what happened to the dog?” She: “I don’t know why he attacked the innocent child. They took him to the pound and he got what he deserved.” Me: “What he deserved? I’m very sorry to hear that. What kind of experience have you had with Pit Bulls until now?”
I had second thoughts – should I start a heavy conversation with her or just ignore it?
She: “I’m usually not a dog person (I DISLIKE), but I kinda like your dog. I still can’t believe he is a Pit Bull. I hope he won’t go after your kids one day. My friend is a firefighter and he told me some ugly stories. What is it like having an outlaw dog?” I was not surprised she used the word “outlaw”… I mean, as an attorney she needed to do that. This is the point where my eyes and the eyes of my friend and hair dresser met in the mirror. I smiled and said: “It’s great. We love it. He is definitely an enrichment in our lives.” I turned around to her and said: “You should read more about this type of dog, educate yourself and meet more Pit Bull-type dogs, if you are interested in dismantling your prejudices.”
Now my hair dresser, another friend of hers and two customers got involved. A very interesting conversation was engaged by this woman. In the meantime, Red was busy licking the woman’s hand and legs, and being an ambassador for Pit Bull-type mixed breeds. I knew I was not with “dog-people” who knew a lot about dogs, and I had to handle this differently than the talks I have with rescue friends, dog advocates or dog lovers. I listened for the first 20 minutes and then I started asking questions, and educating them about Pit Bull-type dogs, their needs, temperaments, and of course about responsible dog ownership. I also told everyone about some really good resources where they could learn more about this (of course I mentioned PackPeople). The conversation ended at a nice point where everyone agreed to look at a dog as an individual and not to discriminate against an entire breed, with all the negative publicity surrounding it.
The responsible pit bull owner is aware of the heritable attributes of their breed’s behavioral makeup and recognizes that pit bulls have an inescapable genetic history. Pit bulls make wonderful and loyal family companions. Like all dogs, they require intelligent, responsible and dedicated ownership.
Bottom line of my visit at the hair dresser and the hour-long debate between hair dressers and customers: I got an awesome cut, and no one really knew the facts about Pit Bull-type dogs. Today, I know much more about this type of dog than I did 2 years ago, because I educated myself, did not discriminate, opened my mind, heart and view.
When I adopted Red I fell in love with his personality, and didn’t care about his look or his heritage.
Many Pit Bulls are waiting in U.S. shelters and animal rescues. Search here. Please always adopt never shop! ~ Thank you.