My Rescue Dog Turned Out To Be A Pit Bull Mix – But I Love Him Anyway

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Artwork by Drew Shannon

I can’t tell if it was love at first sight, but her big prick ears, watery brown eyes, lean body, and combination of boundless energy and shyness captured our hearts. That’s why we welcomed this rescue dog into our home.

My son worked at an animal shelter and he told us about adopting one of the dogs. He wanted to know if we would support him because, as we all knew, my husband and I would be the primary caregivers given the demands of his upbringing.

Dixie had been found on a country road. She was extremely thin and showed signs of having had a litter of puppies that were nowhere to be seen. Has she been abandoned? Was she part of a puppy mill? How long had she been wandering? Was she just lost? The last question was answered soon enough when no one came to the shelter to claim it.

We agreed to adopt this dog based on my son’s experience with her at the shelter and the next night she arrived. Dixie bounded into our house, running from room to room, up and down, sniffing every nook and cranny, a bundle of nervous energy.

We gave her a safe place to sleep, her own area for food and water, and took her for long walks to establish a routine. Fortunately, Dixie was trained at home. We began to take note of her temperament, demeanor, and quirks as she became more familiar with her new surroundings.

She liked to sleep under something: a towel, a blanket, a sheet, like in a tent. She had to have something in her mouth at all times – a ball, a toy – it’s still unclear why. Hunting mice was a favorite pastime and I always made sure to keep it away from those I spotted on our walks. She found joy in being able to run free and play with other dogs, the bigger the better.

How I bought my yappy dog ​​back from the neighborhood

I try to like this new dog, but I keep comparing him to my favorite

We wondered what kind of breed or mix she was. Dixie certainly had terrier characteristics and when she yawned she had the unmistakable jaw of what I thought was a pit bull. But I kept that thought to myself, because I wasn’t willing to accept that possibility. Her ears and the size of her body and her color suggested to me that she was a mix. We researched pit bulls and American Staffordshires (mentally noting that was a different breed name I could use). We learned that there is no recognized specific breed of “pit bull” but rather characteristics common to several breeds of bulldog and terrier. Pitbull covers a range of features. However, at the end of the day, there was no doubt that Dixie had these characteristics and traits in her.

I am at an age where fixed opinions have settled, hung, dug. One opinion I had – after reading horror stories of dog attacks – was that pit bulls were naturally aggressive and a danger to society. It wasn’t their fault, I thought, they were bred to fight. I applauded legislative bans, muzzles or whatever was needed to eliminate this danger.

But there I was, trying to reconcile those beliefs with the kind, shy, cheerful, mischievous animal that had crept into my heart. This contradiction took time to deal with.

At first, I was wary when people asked about Dixie’s race. “I’m not sure; she’s a rescue,” I said at first. It turned into “she’s kind of a mix with American Staffie.” Who was I kidding? What was I scared of When I dared that she might have pit bull in her, some neighbors recoiled: “A pit bull? Oh dear!”

I was not the only one to have some apprehension. Pit bull reputation has worked its way into our lexicon, as in: “she attacked her opponent like a pit bull” and I noticed a politician described as a “partisan pit bull” in the newspaper . In the dictionary, pit bull is an adjective described as “aggressive and tenacious”. Unfortunately, there are places in Canada where Dixie would be banned by law.

But I loved this animal! Dixie did not exhibit the nasty characteristics so widely advertised. The hardest reality I had to face was admitting my obvious concern about “what people would think”.

I would never want to minimize the terrible physical and psychological effects, even the trauma, that people have suffered from dog attacks. I also recognize the cruelty that pit bull-type dogs faced when they were bred solely to participate in the blood sport of dogfighting.

What I learned was that the wide brush I used to paint pit bulls was unfounded. Dixie and I have befriended many dogs and their owners who love her spirit, her playfulness, and yes, her friendliness. She also taught me a lot about myself, my false assumptions, prejudices and mistaken beliefs. And she exposed one of my human weaknesses: the need to be judged well by others.

Now I can say without reservation that I am a proud owner of this pit bull type dog. I owe him. There’s no doubt that Dixie showed me that it’s never too late to teach this old dog new tricks.

Leslie Shikaze lives in Calgary.

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