I grew up with dogs. I had my own as a kid, my step-brother had one, my dad, friends of mine, and in my neighborhood dogs of all shapes, sizes, and temperaments roamed so freely that I have to wonder if my childhood memories have over the years become a little romanticized. It seems now, looking back, that if so many rugged dogs were running around, that someone, somewhere would have been crying for a little regulation. Or were they?
If you were to read through the Miami-Dade municipal code, Sec 5-17. would begin, “This article is intended to utilize the authority and powers of Miami-Dade County in order to secure for the citizens of this County the protection of their health, safety and. welfare. It is intended to be applicable to dogs which are commonly referred to as “pit bulls” and which are defined herein.” It would continue, all the way to to Sec 5-17.7, to describe regulation specific to Pit Bull breeds. Over 600 cities in the U.S. have enacted breed-specific legislation (BSL).
Until recently, I had never kept a Pit Bull of my own. Perhaps because the breed was always talked about as the benchmark of how ‘tough’ a dog was, maybe because I remembered the energy that seemed to course through the body of that buckskin APBT my dad’s ex kept on her farm, maybe it was because the mainstream media and a certain number of sheltered, caustic city officials considered them dangerous, the Pit Bull was one of the few breeds I decided to look for in searching for a canine companion.
I met my little black dog at a ‘Pit Bull walk’ in Broward County. It was a sort of response to the sad failure to overturn the BSL in Miami-Dade. I recognized him from the photos and walked the few miles with this little energetic, insanely curious puppy. There were probably more than 70 dangerous dogs on this walk, all within arms reach of each other. The march ended completely without incident, and I was about to know first hand what life is like with a Pit Bull Dog.
The history of the American Pit Bull Terrier is a fascinating one. And understanding a bit of how these dogs came to be, I understand more about my dog. Boz is, though I can never know his lineage (or even breed), a very true to breed Pit Bull. In a world without other animals, Boz would be an angel. It becomes instantly obvious to welcomed visitors in my home that he wants nothing more than to be loved. His desire to keep me happy is perfectly exemplified by the bursts of speed his tired legs find, exhausted from pulling me and my bicycle for miles at a time, coaxed by a “Come on, buddy!” and a little slap on the rump. He has never once sat down and said ‘I can’t do this any more.” Boz has helped me carry gear through weeks at a time of hiking, and has sat patiently across numerous cross-country drives. Here is a dog that is as equally comforable hunting game as he is sleeping belly-up on the couch next to my little sister. I could not ask for a more beautiful dog.
In singing the praises of this wonderful breed one must include a verse of warning. APBTs were bred for a purpose, and to deny that purpose is to invite failure. This is not to say that all Pit Bulls, and all the breeds that have borrowed DNA from them are necessarily dangerous. But it doesn’t take much imagination to see how a dog like this could be directed toward any activity- blood and all. His natural instincts and prey drive are something I must remain vigilant over. Is this what makes the breed ‘unsuitable’ for life with man? Or all the more desirable? Is a Ferrari more dangerous than a Honda Accord? Do we then, as a people, erase Ferraris from existence or demand so many more dollars for one? Dogs, ALL dogs, are a product of human manipulation. We own a responsibility to prepare ourselves for their care. For all the damage thats been done to them, responsible, knowledgeable care is something that Pit Bulls- dog, bitch, and breed- surely deserve. I couldn’t be happier to do what I can with the one I have.