the early years
i grew up in small midwestern town. i never saw or heard of pit bulls until about the age of 9. the first pit bull i ever saw, hid under the chair of its owner when our 120 lb great dane growled at it. my father was amused, as the pit bull owner had just been bragging about his "bad ass" dog. i didn't lay eyes on another pit bull for a very long time. the next time i would hear the words pit bull, it would be in the context of dog fighting.
i was about 18 years old and an acquaintance from milwaukee was fairly obsessed with the topic. i didn't yet understand the brutality of dog fighting but i remember asking him why he would want to fight dogs, i don't remember his answer or if he even gave one. i tried to listen to him without judgement, but the topic was uncomfortable for me. i couldn't quite wrap my brain around why anyone would want to do this. outside of that brief friendship, i wouldn't hear about dog fighting or pit bulls for another 5 years.
one day as i was tending bar, some skinny little dirt bag of a redneck came in and sat down at the bar. it was early afternoon and he and i were the only two in the bar. before he finished his first beer, he started talking about dog fighting and kitten bait and newspaper ads for free kittens. although i still didn't know anything about dog fighting, this conversation was very different from the one i had with the guy from milwaukee, it was very graphic. the pleasure he derived from the violence was undeniable and disturbing. i was a little older and a little wiser. i knew this was a brutal "sport". i didn't need to ask why he fought dogs and i was incapable of listening to him without judgment. surprisingly, i was capable of masking my anger and disgust and i pretended to be interested. i had grand plans for this fucktard. i was surprised at just how easy he was to manipulate. i had him convinced that i was interested in him and his obscene hobby. a few more beers and we made arrangements to meet up at the bar on my next day off. unfortunately, i made the mistake of confiding in a co-worker who immediately blew my cover, citing concern for my safety. i never saw the skinny little dirt bag of a redneck again.
years later i worked part time in a shelter. there wasn't the 50%+ pit population back then but there were always a few. i never had a problem with any of them. they never growled, lunged, barked, curled their lip, shot me one of those creepy reptilian stares or acted in any way other than they were thrilled to see me. i never experienced a moment of anxiety or fear with the pit bulls at the shelter. they were just dogs to me. i did notice one striking difference between pits and the other shelter dogs and that was the amount of energy they had. i always exercised the pit bulls twice as long as the other dogs. my time at the shelter put the finishing touches on my pit nutter education with the "it's all how you raise 'em, nanny dogs, blame the deed not the breed" propaganda. i didn't go out and actively defend pit bulls like some non pit bull owning nutters but if the subject ever came up and anyone expressed negativity against them, i would come to their defense.
i was dogless for a few years and then i adopted an older puppy. within two months, a neighbor's chow mix charged out and tried to attack him as i walked him down the street. less than a week later, another incident at a park with a lab and a chihuahua. they charged my leashed puppy full of bluster and empty threats, sniffed and retreated. although he wasn't bitten in either incident, my puppy was developing a fear of dogs, so i decided to take him to an offleash park. he snapped right out of his fear of dogs within 3 visits. he always had a great time playing with other age appropriate puppies, including one brindle pit bull puppy, which i have a photo of. one day a young bimbo came in with her fawn colored amstaff puppy. she was well dressed, bleach blond late 20's and professional looking. she looked nothing like the drug addled atavistic cretins that you see in the news in the aftermath of an attack. her staffy was about the same age as my puppy but about half the size. they played well for a few minutes. then my puppy froze as the staffy hung off of his cheek. the nutter giggled and said something to the effect "that's okay, that's his thing right now. he grabs a hold of the cheek and just hangs there". i proceeded to tell her that it was not okay and to get her dog. she minimized. i escalated. i said to her the same words that i would repeat to several other idiot dog owners over the years, "you will control your dog, or i will and you won't like it". i have had not so great interactions with dogs other than pits; gsds, greyhounds, akitas, lab mixes, a springer spaniel, rott mixes and a pair of whippets, yes whippets. only the altercation with the akitas was in the same league as the pit bulls.
at this point, i am still drunk on the nutter kool aid. i am not at all anti pit bull. i would often talk to the cult nutters with their ambassadogs, which by the way were always aged, overweight and tired looking. i would have many more uncomfortable or potentially serious encounters with pits and each time i would walk away still believing pit bulls were no different from other dogs.
then the pit bulls began to populate my neighborhood. the first one was an intact buckskin male. his owner: a 20 yr old male. the pit was contained in the front yard by a 4 ft chain link fence. i heard from other neighbors that he jumped out and went roaming on a few occasions but i never saw it and i never heard of any attacks. of course, they got rid of him before he reached the magical mauling age of 2. this was the first pit bull that i noticed with that creepy reptilian stare. even as a pup, he was demonstrating the look warren lane bred for, "a bulldog should look at you and through you". it is an eerie stare, especially in a puppy. it is as if they are somewhere else. that somewhere i imagine is some kind of mauling fantasy land. a few more pits moved in and out but my full awakening would not occur until the petey look a like took up residence in my neighborhood. this one is important in my pit bull education and needs a name, so i'll refer to him as petey. same situation as the other pit, intact male contained behind a 4 ft chain link fence with that bone-chilling stare (even as a puppy) and occasional escape without incident (to my knowledge). petey was critical in my pit bull education and he will be addressed in greater detail later. in the meantime, as petey continues to grow from puppy to dog, i continue to have close encounters with pit bulls and i continue to brush them off as owner issues.
my dogs have never been bitten. i suspect my dogs have escaped injury for one of three reasons. first is just good old fashioned luck. second, my dogs are very well adjusted and confident and they don't buy into the pit bull head games. they are very much like trish king's gsd strider. the other possible explanation why my dogs have escaped injury, when they are threatened, i become extremely aggressive. i have no fear of the owners or their dogs. dogs will never smell fear on me. i have only one emotion: rage. a few months before my epiphany with petey, i had 2 scary encounters very close together that prompted me to start questioning everything i thought i knew about pit bulls. there were just too many coincidences. i couldn't deny they were different and i started to view pits with a critical eye. the second one lead me to begin researching pit bulls.
i was walking my dogs in a very isolated wooded area. i turned a corner and there was a male, late 20's with 2 white with brown spotted pit bulls. i saw him and asked the question i ask all dog owners "are your dogs friendly?" he replied yes and so we proceeded. as our dogs got close to each other, things went downhill fast. lots of growling and quick maneuvering. his female was facing off with my malamute mix and his male was facing off with my pointer mix. i delivered a loud deep short sharp "HEY!" it startled all 4 of the dogs and all 4 dogs turned their attention to me for a couple of seconds, then started up again. i yelled "NO!" in a loud deep voice. it again distracted them for the second that i needed to step in between his male and my pointer mix. my pointer mix is behind me, the male pit bull is in front of me, a mere 2 inches, maybe less from my stomach and looking straight up into my face. i could feel his breath. the punk nutter is panicking now. he said to me, "don't yell, it makes them want to fight." huh? he starts to scramble towards the cluster fuck with me in the middle to leash his dogs and i keep glancing down at the ugly fucker who is now completely focused on me and then to his female who is still in a focused trance on my malamute mix while both of my dogs are focused on me. the punk then nervously starts rattling on about how yelling incites them to fight. i am thinking to myself, "wtf are you bringing dogs like that out into the public for asshole?" i am furious but doing my best to remain calm, quiet and motionless. the nutter is now close to me and all i can think about is how badly i want to strangle him with my leashes but this male pit will surely attack me. the punk finally grabs the male and he manages to break the female from her trance. i begin to slowly back away. i was in a rage for hours, it wasn't until much later that i realized how dangerous that situation was. i haven't been out with my dogs without some kind of deadly weapon since that day.
the pit nutter's comment about how yelling would incite his dogs to fight, kept looping in my brain and the the next day, my research into pit bulls began. i understand how high pitched continuous screaming mimics prey and incites dogs to attack but not what i did. i began to put together all of the pit bull problems that i had been experiencing and i began to pay attention to the media. prior to that incident, the only dog attack that made it through my news filter was the tragic fatal attack of diane wipple and that really had more to do with the creepy attorneys and their adopted racist dog fighting lifer son sitting in pelican bay.
a few months after the encounter in the woods, my experience with petey who was now 1.5 years old would be the final nail in the pit bull coffin. petey had been living on my street for approximately a year and then moved into the house next to me. after living next door to petey for just a few months, i developed a new and deep respect for this breed. i have always thought that the bully breeds were rather dumb. not anymore, not after getting to know this mutant. i am absolutely amazed what a brilliant predator he is and how quickly he learns and adapts. he doesn't just take advantage of opportunities to attack like normal dogs, he creates them. i was never in favor of breed specific legislation, until i met this dog. i had scary interactions with pit bulls prior to this dog. but this dog pushed me over the edge. i began to lean towards BSL based solely on my interaction with him.
petey is neutered now but when he first became a problem, he was intact and had just reached the age of 1 1/2 yrs old. he was chained AND kenneled INSIDE a 6 ft fenced yard. not only could he get out of the previous (electric) fenced yard where he resided but he destroyed at least one kennel and busted several chains and collars. my neighbor is a typical clueless idiot pit nutter. he used to brag about how many collars and chains he had to purchase because petey kept breaking them. my neighbor told me that petey discovered the one narrow window of the fence perimeter that lacked an electric charge in his previous yard and jumped the fence on more than one occasion. petey was kept outside during the day while they are at work and he comes in at night.
i suspected that the dog was potentially dangerous during the 6 months leading up to him crashing through my fence. whenever i walked my dogs by him, he had the creepiest coldest deadest stare. i've never seen another breed of dog do this. i broached the subject of dangerousness with my idiot neighbor and i quoted dog bite statistics. i cited the 1991 denver study which showed that biters were 6.2 times as likely to be male than female, and 2.6 times as likely to be intact than neutered and that biters were 2.8 times as likely to be chained as unchained. i am a spay neuter freak and am not afraid to tell people they need to fix their animals. i have strongly and many times told him to get the pit neutered but every time he says, "yeah, i got to get that done". i quoted another study that found most dogs that bite do so between the age of 1 and 2. i told my neighbor his pit is a perfect candidate for not only biting, but doing very serious harm. i would say that at that point in my life, i was not at all anti-pit bull. i still thought the crazy pit nutter nanny dog it's all how you raise 'em bull shit, even though i was not having great encounters with them.
petey and my two dogs have had a couple of minor "disagreements" through the fence. i can say minor on my side but not so minor on the other side of the fence. my dogs have never been allowed to fence fight and i always correct them. it takes very little effort to redirect them, they know it is not acceptable but occasionally give it a half hearted attempt after the other dog makes an issue of it. my dogs are never left outside when i am not home and i am always vigilant when they are out.
petey goes absolutely insane when i work in the garden. the first time, he was loose in the yard (the nutters were home) he hit the fence running and i thought he was going to come through it. the boards were bulging and the entire fence panel wobbled as he repeatedly hit the fence. i braced myself against the fence which caused him to hit it harder and go even crazier. one board came loose at the bottom. the pit nutter came out and got him.
the second time he was chained in his kennel which is a couple of feet or so from my 6 ft fence which runs the property line. i was pruning a large shrub and making a lot of noise. he was going nuts, barking, growling and making a disturbing frustrated screaming sound while trying to climb out of his kennel, at least that is what it sounded like. the owner came out and got him.
the third time, i was about 8-10 feet from the fence weeding with a hoe. my dogs were lying quietly in the shade 50+ ft from the fence that separates me from the pit. petey would bark and growl at me and charge the fence and pace along the fence line. and the pit nutter would call to him from the house. within minutes petey would start up again but a little quieter, the pit nutter would call to him from the house and within minutes the pit would start up again, each time a little quieter. this happened i would guess about 5 times over ~20 minutes. i could hear him running back and forth along the fence line. although he wasn't barking or growling (he figured out that he needs to be quiet to fly under the radar of the nutters), i could tell he was agitated with all of the huffing and puffing and heavy snorting to catch a scent of me. then suddenly all fell quiet. i thought he got bored and went inside or laid down in the yard. a few seconds later he burst through the fence near me. i jumped up and rushed the fence, while trying to keep my dogs back. i forced petey back with the hoe. he would retreat but only temporarily, then lunge back in. his head and entire neck were through the fence. he knocked one board out and split another board. the 2 boards that he knocked out didn't allow enough space for his shoulders to pass through. his shoulders would hit the sides hard and the boards would rattle, i charged him again with the hoe, he retreated. turning my back on him and going into the house was risky, so was fighting him back because acting aggressively towards him was making him even more aggressive and determined to get me. although it was only 3-5 minutes, it seemed like an eternity before the pit nutter came outside (he was inside blasting tv sports). he said, "i guess he knocked out another board". i haven't been in my yard without some kind of lethal weapon since that day.
petey knocked boards loose before between us and he ripped the bottom of a few fence boards out with his teeth between him and another neighbor to get to their 3 dogs but hadn't gotten hold of them, yet. petey actually understands the difference between the framed side and the finished side of fences and knows how to breach them. my neighbor responded by installing an electric fence around his yard. years later and petey still shocks himself when he hears me in the yard.
my neighbor was in complete denial about the threat his mutant posed until he finally witnessed what petey was capable of. about a month after he crashed through my fence, he ripped a board off of the fence between him and another neighbor and grabbed their dog. petey got a hold of the much larger dog's face and was trying to pull her through. both owners finally responded to the piercing screams that the much larger spayed mixed breed female was making. the pit nutter (a very large strong man) was straddling his pit and beating him. the pit would not let go. the whole thing lasted maybe 5 minutes. somehow, the two owners broke up the fight. i am not sure how. i didn't see it because i walked away in disgust. before during and after this attack, the pit was absolutely silent, he never growled, never barked, never snorted, huffed or puffed, he never touched the fence. i didn't even know he was outside. and i am sure that the other dogs didn't know he was there either because they bark at everything. and they always try to engage in fence fighting. this was different from the attempted attack on me. out of dead silence, there was a loud crack (the breaking of the fence board) and then a dog started to scream which became progressively louder and more frantic. i don't know if you have ever heard it but that is a hideous sound. petey quietly stalked the neighbor's dog and in rapid succession ripped a board off and grabbed the dog's face. this pit is a true psychopath and i have come to believe that he is not atypical of pit bulls. if you know anything about psychopaths, you know that they do not benefit from therapy. in fact, what the psychopath learns from therapy is how to continue engaging in his deviant behavior and avoid detection. btw, the pit nutter finally neutered that ugly fucker after the attack on the dog. but i believe he is just as dangerous without testicles.
i have many many many more stories about different pits trying to attack my dogs. this is the only pit that tried to attack me and my dogs. and this is the pit responsible for my epiphany.
my hater education
my negative opinion of pit bulls was not shaped by the news media or dogsbite.org. in fact, i probably helped to influence dogsbite.org. my realization that pit bulls were different and dangerous arose from my experience with petey and was reinforced by pro-pit bull websites and books. during the early period of my research on pit bulls, i would read "educate yourself!" in nearly every heated on line discussion. occasionally the nutters were generous enough to include links for the haters. one of the first links that i followed was BADRAP. (in the good old days, donna reynolds acknowledged that pits were naturally dog aggressive) i am an information junkie and once my need to know switch has been flipped, look out. i must read everything. after BADRAP, it was on to diane jessup, pbrc, pitbullforum, pitbulltalk, pitbullchat, game-dog, gamedogs and a few others that shall remain anonymous and of course pit bull books.
i have been a member of these pit bull forums for a very long time. when i first joined them, it was purely a quest for knowledge about pit bulls. i was not there to spy and collect damaging evidence on pit nutters but that is ultimately what occurred when i realized that what they say among themselves, even openly, is much different from what they say to the non-pit bull owning public. the more dishonesty i discovered, the deeper i went into their world. the deeper i went into their world of lies, the more i realized that the owners are just as corrupt as their dogs. my focus began to shift away from the dogs and towards the owners. i became a kind of cyber sociologist.
it is important to stress that i didn't just go from pit nutter to pit hater over night. it was a slow process. when i first came to realize that pit bulls were different, i thought they could be handled properly by responsible owners and i felt strongly that felons should be banned from owning them. but the more time i spent on the pit bull forums, the more exposure i got to the "responsible" pit bull owners. the more i learned about the true nature of pit bulls and their owners, the more restrictions on owners i thought needed to be in place to protect people and their animals. i eventually came to believe that few people can safely manage pit bulls and that truly responsible, honest pit bull owners were scarce as hen's teeth.
how could i have been so gullible?
i've asked myself this many times. few people that i know are less gullible than i. the only possible answer that i can come up with, i wanted to believe the propaganda. as a dog lover, i didn't want to believe that any dog was inherently bad or problematic. and my misanthropy made it easy for me to blame the human. i have come to realize that true dog lovers accept the reality of what dogs are, whatever that reality may be. true dog lovers acknowledge breed specific temperaments and behaviors. true dog lovers don't hide behind nanny dog myths, false ATTS statistics or rewrite dog history to suit their agenda. true dog lovers don't have the blood of the poodles, ponies, pigs or pit bulls on their conscience.
part three my agenda