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“Judge not, ye who would give her life for me”. Those are the words that come to mind whenever I think about how quick I was to judge the entire breed of “Pit Bulls” the first time I read anything bad about their behavior in the newspaper. In fact, I clearly recall the first derogatory news that I read; about two Pit Bulls who attacked an elderly veterinarian even as he attempted to climb onto the roof of an automobile for protection. As near as I can recall, those two dogs killed that elderly gentleman, I proceeded to climb, from that day forward, right onto the bandwagon to end this terrible canine breed for once and for all! “They should be illegal and those that are living should be destroyed!” Yes, those were my exact words. I’m ashamed to say that I spoke those words, time and time again. Did I ever take the time to research the breed to find out how those two dogs might have become violent and dangerous? Nope! It was all I needed to know that they could kill an innocent person. In my mind, those dogs should all be condemned to death. Off and on, over the years, I’d see additional stories of a pair of Pit Bulls attacking and either seriously maiming and/or killing a human . . . sometimes even a child. I was raising my own two children at the time, and so it was easy to use my protective maternal instinct to excuse my damnation of the American Staffordshire Terrier breed. Of course, while I was at it, I made certain to get on the bandwagon against all dogs labeled “aggressive”. Did I need an excuse? Heck no! The media very conveniently provided all the excuses in the world for my hatred of these dogs.
As fate would have it, many years later, I met my (now) husband. I’d looked incredibly forward to finally visiting him at home . . . EXCEPT for the fact that he’d informed me that his son, who was living at home again, owns a PIT BULL!! Needless to say, I wasn’t happy to hear that news. I went around and around with myself about whether or not I wanted to place myself in the same abode with a “god-forsaken Pit Bull”! The problem at hand however, was that I really liked this guy, so I had a talk with Ralph and asked him if he would promise to keep the dog on a short leash, and a muzzle, if necessary. He agreed to do so and was most respectful, at all times, of my sheer gut level terror of the Pit Bull breed.
I’ll never forget the day I drove to Ralph’s house. He invited me inside as I nervously asked, “Where’s the dog”? At the same moment I asked that question, I heard a frightening growling, snarling sound and realized that Ralph had a huge rope wrapped around his hand. At the other end of that short rope, stood Dazie; and she WASN’T happy at the idea of having company! I had to fight hard to resist the urge to run right back out that door. Instead, I looked up at Ralph and asked, “Are you SURE she’s not going to hurt me”? He reassured me that he had a good grip on the rope and that it was a horse rope so that there was no chance of her getting loose. I swallowed hard, and reluctantly followed him into the house (while saying a silent prayer).
Over that entire weekend, Ralph kept Dazie on that horse rope. Of course, it hadn’t even registered in my mind yet that after the initial four or five minutes she wasn’t even growling or snarling anymore. Dazie and I spent the weekend together with her at the far end of a huge horse rope just staring at me as though wondering, “Why in the world am I being kept on this rope, and who in the world IS this Nervous-Nelly anyway”? Much to my shock and amazement, I made it through that weekend without Dazie ever trying to approach or growl at me again. Of course, I’d always heard that Pit Bulls sneak-up on their prey without making a sound . . . WRONG! (Little did I know at the time, she was more afraid of ME than I could EVER have been of HER!)
By the time my second visit at Ralph’s occurred, I’d decided that he’d might as well remove the rope because Dazie didn’t seem to want to hurt me. Then, the best thing in the world that could have happened, happened. Ralph and his son had to go to an auto model show up-north for the weekend and they had no one to stay with Dazie. Ralph asked me if I would consider doing the honors. Needless to say, it was with the greatest hesitation and apprehension that I said, “Okay”.
My first evening with Dazie, she didn’t even enter the family room with me. Finally, bed time rolled around and I wondered how in the world I was going to deal with that. (Ralph had informed me that Dazie always sleeps in bed with him.) So . . . up the stairs we climbed. Amazingly to me, Dazie seemed agreeable to giving me the right-of-way as we ascended the stairs, side-by-side. Then, we entered the bedroom, and she just quietly lay on the floor watching me as I got ready for bed. Soon I climbed into the bed, and called her name so that she would join me. (Yes, I was slightly nervous about the idea.)
Ralph had explained to me that Dazie had gained some weight before he left, so when I called her name to jump up onto the bed, she couldn’t make it. I turned off the lamp, reached down to pet her, and told her to “Lie down” on the floor. Soon I could hear her crying; and she cried and cried. This dog has got the most pathetic cry I think that I have ever heard. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. Upon finally overcoming my apprehension, I turned on the light, climbed out of bed, and tried to help her get onto the bed. I realized that it was no use. She just couldn’t do it.
I decided, “What the heck, if Dazie can’t come to the bed, I’ll bring the bed to HER!” So, I slid the mattress off the bed onto the floor, she climbed onto it beside me, and we slept all night there together. (Amazingly, she hadn’t tried to chew me apart during the night!)
From that time forward, this Pit Bull and I have bonded so much that when I can’t be with her I worry about her all the time. If she accidentally bumps into a piece of furniture, she jumps nervously; when we take her to the vet, she runs and hides underneath the receptionist’s desk and we literally have to drag her back out again with her rope!
Honestly, I look back today (two years later) at that first weekend we spent together, and I really have to wonder how in the world either she or Ralph put-up with me! Dazie is a funny little clown who wags her entire body rather than only her tail, and who covers my face with big kisses every chance she gets. She is by far, the absolute light of my life and I wouldn’t trade her for all the money in the world.
Take it from one who knows . . . it really pays to know what you’re talking about before putting anybody “down”. Yes, even a Pit Bull!
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