DUKE SAYS “I’M NOT A DOG!”

This week, Duke rejected a meal — which all the people in the house had happily eaten the previous day — because it had potatoes in it. Duke, who claims he is not a dog, does not like potatoes. Any potatoes. Not even salty, curly, spiced French Fries!  “But,” said my son, “ALL dogs love fries.” Not El Duque. He used to like potatoes, mind you. In fact, he used to beg for them. Now? He puts a fry in his mouth, carries it to a corner where he drops it, then comes back to beg for another. Because the new one might be better than the last.

 

Having him reject the same chicken stew we all loved was my final straw as a chef.

“It’s dog food for you,” I announced. How spoiled is your dog when he gets picky about human food? I had actually begun to carefully pick out the cooked peppers from food since Duke refuses to eat them. Clearly, a few weeks of dog food should clarify his position in the food chain. For the first time in recent memory, he didn’t get any leftovers last night. There really weren’t any leftovers anyhow, but I usually save my last bite or two for him because he’s a good boy. But good boys do NOT reject my chicken stew (which had actually been a pot-pie, but humans ate the crust).

I couldn’t help myself. I was insulted by my dog. As permanent full-time cook, his rejection of my chicken stew — good chicken stew — was more than I could handle. I am convinced before the week is out, Duke will start to recognize his doghood. He is not a person. He is a dog because he is eating dog food. Which is probably better for him anyway, though frankly, all that chicken with onions and mushrooms and tiny cut-up (by hand!) potatoes looked pretty good to me.

THINGS THAT GO BUMP, THE EPILOGUE – By ELLIN CURLEY

I recently wrote a blog called “Things That Go Bump In The Night”, documenting our search for an invisible rodent making noises and leaving acorns in and around our bedroom.

Last night we saw him! He ran across the kitchen and I brought my husband, Tom in to help me look for him, to no avail. Then he suddenly ran across the family room while we were watching TV. When Tom, got up to look for him again, the little guy ran through the hallway and back into the kitchen. He was smaller than a squirrel but had a short, bushy tail. Poor guy must have been terrified. Was this the same guy who made noises all through the night a few weeks ago? We think it was.

We went to sleep and were awakened twice when the dogs went ballistic and raced from the bedroom into the hallway. We didn’t even bother to get up to check out whatever they might have heard. I fed the dogs at 6:00 AM without incident. When Tom got up, he went downstairs and found our nocturnal visitor dead at the bottom of the stairs. We had hoped to get him out of the house unscathed, but it looks like our hunting dog got to him before we could rescue him and release him into the wild.

RIP little guy!

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I live in the woods so I’m no stranger to the little woodland creatures I share real estate with. So when I entered my bedroom the other night, I wasn’t totally surprised to see that something was off. A vase that is usually on a lamp table in the corner, was now on the floor. And next to it were two, fresh, green acorns. Something, or someone, was clearly afoot.

We’ve found squirrels scampering around other parts of the house before. It presents a problem because we don’t want to hurt the cute little guys but we definitely want them out of the house. Once my husband chased a baby squirrel out of our powder room and straight out the front door. Another time he caught one hiding in the fireplace in a large Tupperware container and deposited him outside, away from the house.

So we assumed we were looking for another squirrel. We searched the bedroom and hallway as well as the second floor laundry room. We found nothing. So we went to sleep.

Around 2:30 AM, we were startled awake by the two dogs leaping off the bed and charging down the hallway, shrieking at top volume. The dogs were in an unusual frenzy and we were on immediate squirrel alert. We turned on the lights and searched the whole second floor but again, found nothing out of the ordinary. So we got back into bed.

Remy

A few minutes later, we clearly heard scratching and scurrying and the dogs went crazy again. We got up and went through the squirrel search routine yet again to find the source of the animal noises we had heard. Nothing. By the third time this happened, we decided to stay in bed and leave the police work to the dogs. This went on for a solid hour. Just as we would start drifting off to sleep, we’d hear scratching and/or stereo dog hysteria in our ears.

Lexi

I wish I had a satisfying ending for this story. But the next night, and every night since then, have been quiet, so maybe the dogs scared our nocturnal guest away and he’ll find another house in which to store acorns. I hope so, because I’m not looking forward to another episode of nighttime drama!

Our two dogs in a quiet moment together.

THE FIVE-SECOND RULE FOR FLOOR AND LIFE

Curious Thoughts by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


Admit it!  You have probably invoked the five second rule many times in your life.  Maybe you tend to do it when no one else is around, but you do it nonetheless.  No matter what some in society may say, you can not help yourself.  You may think it just a little bit evil, but you do it anyway.  You may even do it openly, not caring what others may think.  Don’t worry.  They do it too.

In case you are one of the few who have not heard about it and have not followed the widely disputed practice, the “Five Second Rule” is the belief that if you drop some food on the floor, it is alright to eat if you pick it up right away, say in five seconds.  While common sense may speak against such a practice, some science seems to be coming down in favor of what once was folklore or an “old wives’ tale.”  A recent study seems to suggest that a few seconds on the floor does not matter much.  Your wet gummy bears are not likely to pick up much in the way of bacteria if you pick them up right away.

the special

Unbelievably, dropping food on your carpet seems to pick up less bacteria than dropping it on your tile or linoleum floor.  Of course, if you own a dog or a cat, the food item may pick up some animal hair or dander you might not want to pop in your mouth. Animal hair is basically a condiment in a hairy pet home. No matter how clean Fido looks to you, all that rolling around on the floor is not good for dropped food. You have to consider that Fido might beat you to the item, in which case your dog has the treat you lost and let’s face it, your dog never seems to get sick after eating food off the floor. Or from anywhere else including many items that are blatantly inedible. While I would not care to eat off my floors, considering what I know, I may be less reluctant elsewhere.  You may have heard that Aunt Matilda’s house was so clean you could eat off the floors. That may literally be true, although I do not think I would try it on a dare.

Who funds this type of study, you may wonder? Who cares? This particular science is extremely important when you consider the number of people who drop food then pop it in their mouths. Isn’t it time we got the answer to this eternal question?

Does the five second rule exist? Now we know (or maybe we know, but let’s say we know). There are studies that say the opposite, but we’ll ignore them for now in the name of brevity.

Your life has its own Five Second Rule: The longer you are down, the more likely you are to pick up dirt.  When you fall, are knocked down, trip, slip, or slide to the ground — whatever has caused you to land on your butt or face — get up and get moving. The world doesn’t look right when you’re on the floor. Forget science. The quicker you get up and move on, the better.  If it has been a particularly bad day, it can be hard to convince yourself to get up. You may feel inclined to wallow for a while. Don’t do it. Like food on the floor, as long as you’re down, dirt accumulates. It’s the nature of life.

There is one more thing to consider while we are invoking scientific (?) studies. If you fall and stay down, you will look like a dropped treat to people-eating monsters. If you aren’t careful, one of them will scoop you up and pop you in his mouth.  Another thing to know from the most recent study is that monsters have a longer time “safe” down time, like maybe a 5-day rule. Wallowing in the muck with one of Fido’s playmates can do you in. Being chomped on by monsters is definitely worse than eating candy off the floor. You have been warned.

See also: “Does the five second rule really work?” 

HALLWAYS OF MEMORY

Every night, I fill up my cup, grab my bag of medications, give the Duke his nighttime treats, and hike the hallway to the bedroom at the other end of the house. After arriving, I put the bag where it belongs. Adjust the bed. Garry watches with headphones while I read or listen to an audiobook. I fire up my Blue-tooth speaker. I never remember to do everything that needs doing before bed. I almost always forget to turn off the fans in the living room. I sit on the edge of the bed trying to remember what I should have done but didn’t. “Ah,” I think. “Fans.” I hike to the living room. Turn off the fans. Assure Duke that he already got his treats and no, he’s not getting more. Then I feel guilty about it.

Back down the hall. Brush teeth. Sit on the edge of the bed. Oh, right. I have to refill the antihistamine bottle. It’s empty. Back to the kitchen where the huge bottle is stored. I ramble back to the bedroom. I have the nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something else. Oh, right. I didn’t close the kitchen door. It’s a dutch door and we leave the top of it open during the day to catch the breeze. Tonight, it’s supposed to rain so I should close it. Back up the hall to the kitchen. Close the door. Back to bedroom.

Garry shows up, having done whatever it is he does for however long he does it in the bathroom. Forty-five minutes later, I’ve got a headache. I’m not sleepy and everything hurts. Why are my medications not working? There’s nothing more I can take. Panic is setting in. That is when I realize all the pills are still in the cup. What with all the hiking up and down the hall, I never took them. It probably explains why they aren’t working.

I laugh. Continued laughing. Garry took off his headphones long enough for me to explain why I’m laughing. I got to the punchline, he looked at me and said: “You didn’t take them, right? Yup, that’s classic.” He smiled. Nodded. Put the headphones back in place.

As our memory — collectively and individually — gets less dependable, we have substituted routines and calendars. I take one of my medications only once a week, so I have a calendar reminder. All appointments are on that calendar, Garry’s and mine, because otherwise, we will forget. No maybe. Forgetting has become normal. If we do everything the same way at the same time every day, we’re much less likely to forget. Still, it can be pretty funny.

Yesterday, we were watching a show that included a dog. Garry assumes I know every dog breed at a glance. He’s right. I know the breeds, but these days, I may not remember its name. I will usually remember the group — guarding, herding, hunting, hound, terrier, non-sporting (“other”), toy. If I can remember that, I can go to the AKC site, find the group, scroll the list and find the dog. But they’ve changed the AKC website, so it’s not as easy as it used to be. I wish they’d stop fixing stuff that isn’t broken.

I knew the dog that Garry was asking about was the same as the dog Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) had on his show. The dog’s name was Eddy. I remembered that. No problem. The breed name was on the edge of my brain, but not coming into focus. I gave up and Googled it. (Search: “Breed of dog on Frasier TV show.”) Except I couldn’t remember the name of the TV show, either. So I first had to find the name of the show. (Search: “long-running comedy on TV about psychiatrist.”)

Up popped Frasier. Phew. I could have also found it by looking up that other long-running comedy, “Cheers,” in which Frasier first showed up as a character, but I couldn’t remember its name either. One of these days, I’m going to have to Google my own name. I hope I find it.

THE DOGS OF OUR LIFE

Dogs we have had and loved. Now, only the Duke remains, but the memories … sometimes, the house is full of the ghosts of dogs we have owned and loved.

Life can’t be all treats, I guess.
This is one cute dog
Gibbs and Bonnie
Bishop with a very young Bonnie
Gibbs and The Duke
Bishop was the most beautiful Australian Shepherd I’ve ever seen, including at dog shows — and also the gentlest dog in the world
Bonnie and Garry
Pagan – Ch. Goose Creek’s Dancing In The Dark

Divot was a champion and she knew it. She was Garry and my first dog and from that moment on, Garry was more in love with Divot than with me.

HOW GRIFFIN BROKE TINKER’S HEART

Tinker and Griffon were almost exactly the same age. We got them a few months apart. Griffon was deemed not-breedable because he had a problem with a rear leg. It was fixed before he came to us and was neutered. His intended bride had been Tinker who was fine and healthy. I got her on a “one litter” contingency. But when the time for breeding arrived, I was afraid. I had a lot of breeder friends by then. I knew at least one woman who had lost not only the pups, but also the mother. She was devastated, She stopped breeding and showing. These weren’t just show dogs. They were her family pets and the mother had been her favorite.

Tinker

Breeding isn’t always easy. Depending on the dog’s structure — how the hips are built — short-legged dogs can be difficult and may require a Caesarean. You need to know what’s going on to know when the bitch is in trouble. They sometimes decide to give birth in the middle of the night and you don’t know until morning that you’ve become a grandmother. I decided I was not the right person to breed. Too much danger and I knew too little. I am sure I was right.

Both hounds were Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (French rabbit hounds), typically called “Petites” or “PBGVs.”

I had never heard of these dogs. They were newly registered in the U.S. As a dedicated dog show watcher, I saw them first at Westminster and they were such deliciously goofy dogs, I wanted one. I didn’t want three, though that is what I ultimately got. We already had Divot, our little former champion who became ours when she retired from the ring. I wanted one more and thus acquired Pagan (Goose Creek’s Ch. Dancing in the Dark) because she already had two litters by Caesarean and her owner felt that was enough.

Pagan was the sweetest dog I ever knew — unless she had a bone. Give that girl a bone and she became a dragon guarding treasure in her lair — which was the crate we use as an end table. I keep it because you never know when you might need a crate, especially if you have an injured dog and you need to keep them from hurting themselves.

Dogs like their crates. To them, it’s the cave. They store things in it. Old bones, pieces of torn up napkins, toys, parts of things that used to be something else. They safeguard these treasures by hiding them under the blankets in the crate. Our dogs have all been crate decorators. We would wash all the blankets and whatever other items got tossed into the crate, In it, you’d find old towels, nightgowns, old bathmats, blankets from your last move — you name it. Periodically, when it got too smelly, Garry would remove everything (so THAT’S where the remote control went!), wash and fold them all neatly. Next, whoever was King or Queen of the crate, would go inside and tear the place up, drag out all the bedding, then drag it back in until it was properly arranged. Dog-style.

 

Sometimes this re-decorating process could take a whole day. As a blanket got dragged out, dragged in, rearranged, then redone until it formed the perfect heap. That’s were Pagan went with her bones and after a while, the crate began to look like a dinosaur’s graveyard. And eventually, because the competition for bones got too dangerous, we stopped giving them bones. Besides, Pagan always wound up with all of them anyway.

Pagan died at age 7 of nothing we could figure out. The vet thought it might have been Lyme disease, but it never came up in a test. Whatever it was, it destroyed her kidneys. She was in a lot of pain. By then, we already owned Tinker who was Pagan’s granddaughter so we did an autopsy see if something was wrong with Pagan that might be genetic. Nothing showed up and we never knew what killed her. After Pagan passed, we had Divot, our beautiful little Norwich Terrier and Tinker, which was when another breeder offered us Griffin. He and Tinker were meant to be a pair and since he was not going to be shown or bred, he was shipped to us.

He was such a gorgeous boy! Handsome and he had a sense of humor. PBGVs love to make you laugh. People sometimes call them “clown dogs” because they will go out of their way to make you laugh.

Griffin and Tinker fell in love. Tinker adored him and you never saw them apart. They ate together, slept together, played together. Quite literally, they were inseparable. But then, another girl showed up. A friend had a spare Norwich Terrier from an unusually large litter and since we already had Divot, she though we might need another one. From the moment she came into the house, Griffin started to drool over her. He dumped Tinker and went after Sally.

 

Tinker was devastated. She got depressed and wouldn’t come out of the corner. She started to destroy anything she could get her teeth around, especially Kaity’s toys and remote controls. We didn’t get along with Sally and found another home for her. She had, it turned out, bad hips and couldn’t manage the stairs and was, as dogs go, the stupidest dog I ever met. She couldn’t figure out how to use a step stool to get from floor to sofa, something that every dog we’ve owned has figured out with no teaching involved. And getting her to use the doggy door took four people and about a pound of liverwurst. Between the bad hips and the lack of brain power, she was rehomed and adored in the home to which she went.

Griffin tried to make up with Tinker, but Tinker would have none of it. She was the smartest dog we’ve ever had. Tinker the Thinker. She could open any gate AND close it silently. If there was a complex dog problem — like how to get that loaf of bread out of the breadbox and open it, Tinker would drag furniture over for climbing, get up on the counter, open the breadbox, get the bread, open the bag neatly, without an tearing or chewing. She could open new jars of peanut butter without leaving a fang mark on the lid and tear the guts our of any electronic device in seconds. She was as close to human as a dog gets and she never, ever forgave Griffin. She never played with him and wouldn’t share the sofa.

Poor boy. He was such a dog and Tinker was not the girl to put up with an unfaithful hound. She never played with any dog again until Bonnie came here as a tiny puppy and then, for the next year, Tinker came out of her shell and played. She even sometimes let Griffin sleep next to her.

A year later, Griffin had a massive stroke and died … and six weeks later, Tinker collapsed. She had, as it turned out, cancer just about everywhere. And that was the end of the hounds.

The hounds had beautiful singing voices and every morning, they would start the dawn howl and all the other dogs would join in. it was how they greeted the morning. When Griffin and Tinker were gone, no dog has howled since. If I ever open a pub, I’ll call it “The Hounds and Terriers.” And everyone will howl.

SERVICE DOGS FOR VETERANS By ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve always been fascinated by service dogs. I can barely get my dogs to sit, stay and come on command. So the idea that dogs can be trained to do complex tasks for the disabled seems like a miracle to me. The Guide Dog Foundation For The Blind expanded in 2003 to include America’s VetDogs. This organization gives assistance to wounded veterans to help them return to a normal life. America’s VetDogs still shares staff and resources with the Guide Dog Foundation.

VetDogs provides service dogs to veterans who have a wide variety of disabilities and issues which prevent them from getting around independently. Service dogs help those with physical limitations, those who are blind or have low vision, those who are deaf and those who have PTSD.

Veterans who are paired with dogs go to the VetDogs ten-acre campus in Smithtown, New York, for a two-week, residential training program. The student and his or her dog bond and learn to work together as a team. The classes are small and there are lots of individual attention and instruction.

VetDogs has a wonderful Prison Puppy Program that allows prison inmates to train potential service dogs from early puppyhood. The prisoners also get invaluable benefits. I used to watch a TV series about prisoners training puppies and it was a joy to watch. The inmates developed a sense of responsibility toward the dogs and a sense of accomplishment at their dogs’ progress. Puppies also create a calmer climate in correctional facilities and bring some normalcy to the prison environment.

Puppies get sent to the prisons at eight to nine weeks old. They live in the handler’s cell where the inmate works on house breaking and other basic skills. The dogs attend classes with their handlers, participate in recreational activities and even go to meals with their handlers. An American VetDogs instructor comes once a week to provide training instructions and monitor progress. The inmates learn about canine socialization, puppy development, behavior theories, grooming, and canine first aid.

Prison handlers do more than teach basic obedience skills. They also train the dogs for service dog tasks, like retrieving dropped items, opening doors and refrigerators and providing support and balance on stairs. The prisoners also acclimate their dogs to objects in the outside world, like umbrellas, skateboards, and battery operated toys.

But a prison environment is limited. So the puppies go to the home of an outside family on weekends, often prison staff members. Here they learn house manners and they become familiar with cars and traffic noise. Dogs are taken to stores, restaurants, and hospitals so they can confidently go wherever their future veteran partner will take them.

When the puppies reach adulthood, the dogs go back to VetDogs for assessment, final training, and client matching. Statistics show that prison-raised dogs go through these final phases in half the time as home-raised dogs. One dog trained in the prison program has become an overnight celebrity. His name is Sully and when he was two, in June of 2018, he was matched with former President George H.W. Bush.

Sully with Bush and Clinton

Bush, Sr. was always a dog lover and he welcomed Sully enthusiastically into his home and his heart. Sully helped Bush, who was in a wheelchair, pick up dropped items, open and close doors, push an emergency button and support him when the 94-year-old former president stood. Sully developed a following on social media. His own Instagram account had more than 98,000 followers. Since George H.W. Bush’s death, Sully has become even more popular. A photo of Sully forlornly lying in front of Bush’s casket in the Capitol Rotunda went viral. Sully seemed heartbroken, but also seemed to still be keeping watch over his partner. His devotion exploded the internet.

Sully’s service to President Bush is over, but his career as a service dog is not. America’s VetDogs will send Sully to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. There he will assist with physical and occupational therapy for wounded soldiers. The Bush family found comfort in knowing that Sully would continue to help veterans for many years to come.

The relationship between President Bush and Sully has shined a spotlight on the amazing things that service dogs can do for people with physical and emotional limitations. Maybe Sully’s fifteen minutes of fame will result in more money being donated to training more dogs for civilians as well as for veterans. It costs more than $50,000 to breed, raise, train and place one assistance dog. Dogs are provided to veterans free of charge. America’s VetDogs is a non-profit organization. Funding comes exclusively from donations.

Please donate to America’s VetDogs by going to their website. It’s a wonderful cause.

PETS AND THE PANDEMIC

Fandango’s Dog Days of August #6

It’s ironic that we lost both of our Scotties during this pandemic. Gibbs, who had never shown any sign of illness, simply died one afternoon on the sofa — soundlessly in his sleep and Bonnie, who had been failing for a couple of years, just about a month ago. And suddenly, Duke is the king of the household. He always seemed to want to be the Head Hound of our home, but after Bonnie passed, he was pretty mournful for a few weeks. I think it hit him harder than it hit us.

We knew it was just a matter of time before Bonnie would be gone. We kept her alive longer than we probably should have because she seemed suprisingly lively, even though her hearing and most of her sight was gone and her dementia was pretty advanced.

This is a time when a houseful of happy hounds would be a great thing, but the Duke will have to be our dog. He seems to have passed through his grief at Bonnie’s passing and is a very good boy. A little nutsy, but a lot of fun. He makes us laugh.

I don’t even know how many dogs and cats we’ve had over the years. It’s odd to have just one dog. He’s a very good boy. Furry, friendly, and permanently looking for something good to eat. If nothing to eat shows up? A good cuddle is just fine.

THE LAST PICTURE ON MY LAST CARD – STILL IN MY COMPUTER

bushboys world

I actually published this one already, but I’ll post one that hasn’t been processed, Though to be fair, aside from cropping I didn’t really process these much. They were taken in good light with the right lens, so there wasn’t a lot remaining to be done. It’s the Duke, again. Looking handsome. Garry vacuumed up enough hair for a second dog today. He sure is a good shedder!

Duke on the deck, watching for the dreadful squirrels and birds

SHARING MY WORLD

Share Your World 7-21-2020


Life is getting weirder and weirder. it is so weird that I’m at a loss to even describe it.  In all of my bizarre imaginings, I never imagined this life we are living and apparently will continue to live for the foreseeable future. Seeing friends this week, we all realized that this could REALLY be the new normal for us. All of us. We are retired, so it’s not that different from day to day … yet somehow, it is different and I’m not entirely sure how. Just … different.

Where do you not mind waiting?

At this point, I simply don’t mind waiting … except maybe for traffic jams when rubberneckers are the reason for the tie-up. And even that isn’t so bad. We just turn up Sirius and sing along. If I’ve learned nothing else, it’s that you can’t hurry traffic. Yelling at them doesn’t make them move any faster.

What is in your fridge right now?  

Honestly, I’m not sure. Half-and-half, ginger ale, sports drinks (because it is REALLY hot). Some incredible desserts we brought back from Connecticut. Yogurt. Salad makings. Many small containers with biologic experiments within. I’m afraid to look.Two peppers i really need to use tomorrow. That reminds me — I have to defrost something for tomorrow. I’ll be right back.

Okay, so tomorrow is boneless chicken thighs and something else.

If you could speak only one word today, what would it be?

I don’t think there IS one word. You’d have to ask me something. I can’t decide to answer anything that occurs with one word. And in the middle of a refinance, it would probably be a really bad idea anyway.

Would you rather be trapped in an elevator full of men with BO — OR — be locked in that same elevator with three wet dogs? 

I probably wouldn’t even notice the dogs. My whole house smells like dog. We are very doggish.

Back when we had three dogs … just three months ago!

Please feel free to share something good about last week.  

We seem to be getting a really good mortgage with money out to get the boiler repaired AND fix the back door and maybe something else. Amazing because the banks wouldn’t give us a $7,000 zero percent mortgage. I really don’t get it.

DOGGY DISCRIMINATION – BY ELLIN CURLEY

The TSA uses about 1200 dogs at airports to screen passengers and baggage. These dogs are from seven breeds, two of which have pointy ears, including German Shepherds. But four out of five of the recent additions to the canine corps have droopy ears. Why?

Because the TSA decided, purely anecdotally, that people generally view floppy-eared dogs as more docile and friendly and pointy-eared dogs as more aggressive.

Allegedly, floppy-eared dogs don’t scare children but the pointy-eared dogs do.

Floppy-eared Golden Retriever

There is some research that supports the idea that people view pointy-eared dogs as more intimidating. This is a totally unsupported prejudice and it’s unfair to dogs because many dogs with pointy ears have had their naturally floppy ears cropped as puppies. Others have been genetically engineered by breeders to look that way.

Let’s be clear – pointy ears do not indicate an aggressive or dominant temperament. Ear configuration has no relationship to a dog’s disposition. This fear of pointy-eared dogs has been called ‘canine racism.’

Pointy-eared German Shepard at airport

I know a lot about doggie discrimination.

My daughter, Sarah, works with a Pit Bull rescue group in LA called Angel City Pit Bulls. One of their missions is to fight breed discrimination, like breed specific legislation which prohibits Pits from certain buildings and even certain cities. London had a Pit Bull ban and Montreal is trying to enact one. This forces people to choose between living where they want and giving up their beloved pet or finding somewhere else to live with their dog.

Pit Bulls are the canine ‘bad guys’ du jour. In the past, German Shepherds were shunned as aggressive and dangerous but now are used as companions and seeing-eye dogs. Then Rottweilers became the ‘bad dog’ du jour — and they don’t even have pointy ears!

Rottweiler

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Pit Bulls were used as the ‘nanny’ dog – to protect children and be their early companions. They were considered the ideal family pet and many family photos from the period include young children with their Pit Bulls.

Old photo of Pit Bull with his child

What’s even more galling about Pit Bull discrimination is that ‘Pit Bull’ isn’t even a legitimate breed. It’s an umbrella label that encompasses dogs from at least four different breeds, including Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Bulldog.

In shelters, dogs are labeled ‘Pit Bull’ if someone thinks they have some Pit Bull in them. The designation is totally arbitrary and subjective. And there are more Pits in shelters than any other breed and they are euthanized at a higher rate than any other breed.

Modern Pit and baby

To add insult to injury, the breeds that make up the faux category ‘Pit Bull’, are smack in the middle of the ratings for aggressiveness by breed. They are rated between Labs and Golden Retrievers! Clearly, these dogs are nowhere near being the most aggressive dogs.

In fact, the two most aggressive breeds are Chihuahuas and Dachshunds. But no one lodges complaints when attacked by a Chihuahua, probably because it would be embarrassing.

Sweet-faced Pit Bull

The most dominant traits in Pit Bull breeds are their gentleness and sweetness, their friendliness and their desire to please their humans. They got a bad reputation decades ago when dog fight promoters started training Pit Bulls to fight.

Remember, any dog can be trained to be aggressive and fight. And Pits are especially trainable because of their desire to please. Many Pits who have been rescued from dog fighting rings have been successfully rehabilitated and have been adopted as family pets – even after being trained to be aggressive.

So there is no basis for the widespread perception that Pit Bulls are more dangerous than other breeds. There is also no basis for the perception that pointy-eared dogs should be feared more than floppy eared dogs.

People seem to need to discriminate. They discriminate against people and dogs. We should fight prejudice and discrimination wherever we find it, even when it’s dogs. Mostly, dogs are nicer than people anyway.

Support dogs!