Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Don't Profile My Dog

Walking your dog can be a relaxing, uplifting almost meditative activity. I love my dog. He is a gentle, lumbering, big 'ol doofus who is only dangerous if you are allergic to dog slobber. He loves to kiss and get his enormous wet nose all over you. It's annoying, but not life threatening.

So when I walk him why do I get scowls and looks of disgust. Mothers herd their children behind them as hens protecting their chicks. People with dogs cross the street to keep out of our path. It's really sad to see people are actually "racially profiling" my dog. You see, he is a pit bull. There, I said it. Did it make you cringe. Send a shiver up your spine. Remind you of all of those over dramatized "killer dog" media stories. (Hey we've got space and time to sell. Make that story big.)

I own the evil spawn of ghetto raised, blood thirsty killers. It is truly sad that we continually allow our opinions to be molded by a media centered on sound bites and the uniformed quotes of "neighbors" not reliable and professional resources. "Yup, I saw the whole deal happen from the kitchen winder of mah trailer. That there dog got loose and started biting those kids that where pokin' it with a stick. 'Majin a dog turning on ya just cause it din't like getting hit with a stick."

The facts are that pit bulls are just like any other dog. They are as good or as bad as the owner. An owner sets the stage for a dogs life whether it is a pit bull or a poodle. Statistically, small dogs bite more often than large breeds, but don't get the headlines because their teeth do less damage. Of course it is no less damaging to the poor child or adult who then has dog fear deeply instilled in them.

This story best illustrates what information and experience can provide. I was walking my pitty and was coming up on two families on a fairly narrow sidewalk. Two little girls about four years old and two sets of parents. As a responsible pet owner I always take caution when approaching others. I never know if they have fear of dogs or are ignorantly aggressive. I also need to respect their space.

In this case the girls were giggling and not fearful at all. I approached cautiously and asked the parents if their daughters would like to pet my dog. "Sure," was the reply. "We own two pit bulls and they are the most gentle, loving dogs we have ever had." I guess that's why at one time they were referred to as the nanny dog. Loyal. Loving. Gentle to the kids (if they can tolerate wet noses and sloppy kisses).

I once saw a bumper sticker that said, "too bad ignorance isn't painful". Now I wouldn't go that far, but to judge an entire breed of dogs by the actions of a few is nothing more than the same type of profiling looked down upon by most of our society. Only a bigot would compartmentalize all members of a group as one in the same. The same holds true for dogs. Judge a dog by its actions not by the reputation of its group.

Remember there isn't such a thing as a bad dog, just bad dog owners. Next time you see someone walking a pitty, take the time to pet the velvety hair on its head. Notice its awareness and gentleness. Risk that sloppy pitty kiss.