Sunday, July 14, 2013

a pit bull odyssey


I have considered sending you our story a number of times.  The story might not even interest you.  And it certainly isn't as horrid as a lot of stuff on your website.  But in the interest of (maybe) understanding the poor 'soccer moms' who end up with these dogs, I think I should give it a go.  I ask that you please not vilify me for this story.  I made my share of mistakes.  I don't know how I could have done it any differently, besides giving up earlier or not trying at all.  But no hindsight frees me from the ultimate result.  And I know the conclusion sucks.  I am much, much wiser now, and back then I hadn't yet realized that it isn't all just hype, and there is a possibility (even if remote) that it wasn't all my fault.  When this story opens, I had a lifetime of dog-owning experience.  I love dogs, consider myself a dog person with a special soft-spot for the terrified ones.  I have trained a few, loved many, and always felt like I could handle myself well around a variety of them.  I have been growled at, lunged at, and once got a nip from a tiny dog when I was a kid (totally justified).  I've read many books, attended a few obedience classes (none were at a chain store), and was extremely comfortable. 

After coveting the sweet pit/lab mix a relative had bought, we finally received our new pal.  They are neglectful people who throw off pets when they get bored, so it was only a matter of time. At a tender 5mos old, the puppy already came with a laundry list of bad behaviors, but they all seemed like uncorrected puppy-shenanigans to me, and I wasn't scared off.  She was cute, and calm, and I was no newbie to 'rescues'.  The only things they had done for this puppy was good socialization with people and dogs, and teaching her to sit on command. 

It is quite a long story, but I will try to sum it up here:

Within two weeks, there were multiple dog fights in my house.  The resident dogs (a lab/husky and a lab) were both 12 years old, and neither was prone to fighting.  Actually, they NEVER fought each other.  One particular fight ended with my daughter getting a dog-tooth shaped bruise on her leg, even though she had just been sitting nearby.  If I could have been sure it was the new puppy, it would have ended the roller coaster ride immediately.  I worked hard to establish pack hierarchy here (as I always did with multiple dogs), but the fighting continued.  When she wasn't fighting with our elderly dogs, the new dog was licking our male (neutered) labX's mouth until he growled at her.  The rest of the time she just ignored us completely.  She did not initiate play, did not ask to be petted.  And anything said to her (praise, her name, anything) was met with a blank stare and no body language at all.  More like a shark than a dog.  I (probably wrongly) assumed her neglectful past had left her with no idea how to read inflection, so I exaggerated my facial expressions and tone.  It made no difference.  I describe her behavior as 'an island', she truly didn't seem to care if we were there or not.

On an almost daily bases I was training her in basic obedience.  I think it helps to strengthen a bond, and gives everybody confidence.  I tried praise, then food rewards.  In desperation, I re-read articles and books on dog training.  I tried play-training next.  But no matter what I tried, the results were abysmal.  It took me a month and a half to teach her to lie down.  The worst part: I only knew she knew the command because dh got frustrated and told her to "Go lie down!" in a much less-nice voice than I was using.  She did it immediately.  She only became housebroken after 5 months, and only because there was snow outside.  (that sounds like a joke, but it's not).  All the sweet talking, cajoling, treats, and catching her in the act didn't work.

She became an escape artist.  She broke the tie out potty-break line we had used with the labs for years.  Dh fixed it, and she broke her collar.  She was constantly running off, and we had to go catch her.   Another time, she got loose and launched herself onto my goat's back (going for the back of his neck/base of his skull).  Thankfully, he escaped. We came home from a trip to town to a slaughter of chickens and a broken window.  We changed our management style, bought a crate, and used it religiously anytime the door was opened, if an adult couldn't watch her, if we were going to be out in the yard (she couldn't be brought out on a leash due to the most abhorrent leash manners I have ever seen in a dog), or if we were leaving.  It's a miracle she didn't harass the neighbor's livestock during one of her.. outings.  No dogs were attacked, either.  I worked to teach her to come for the 'oh shit!' moment that happens to everyone.  She gave me a blank stare and didn't comply.

Inside the house, with supervision, things weren't going as well.  She got in the trash if we weren't directly in the room with her, or went after it as soon as we went to the bathroom.  She stole food from the counters, becoming so bold she would steal even if I was a foot away.  She kept picking fights with our dogs.

And I cried.

I consulted books, questioned everyone I could talk to, relied on the vet and behaviorist.  I could feel something brewing, something seething under the surface.  It was there in the blank stare, the mid-level head, the not showing interest in us at all otherwise.  Something undefinable.  I told my husband I could feel it.   Our lives became crating, dog fights, ripped trash, and stealing.  The puppy who would play with the kids in the yard never materialized.  She did sit patiently to wait for her food bowl, and wasn't food aggressive, but that was the extent of what she would give us.

After 6 months of this, I decided she needed to be rehomed.  In my heart, I felt that she needed someone with a much harsher method of discipline than I could or would give out.  Despite what I thought I knew, and what I had tried, the bad behaviors were getting worse.  I did manage to teach her some basics commands, but there was zero connection between her and the rest of us (oh how we tried!).  I contacted people and kept my ears open for the right home for this dog. 

And then the growling began.  Only at my son.  The first time, she was next to my chair.  I thought it was guarding me.  Concerning, but in an young dog, correctable still.  And a few days later she growled at him for no discernible reason at all.  Discussions and websearches offered nothing: it wasn't about a resource, wasn't about territory, wasn't about me, wasn't about anything he had done.  He wasn't yelling, running, or less than 10 feet away from her.  He wasn't threatening her at all.  He had no food and hadn't been around any other dogs. 

My husband revealed, in our conversation that day, that she had been growling at him, too,  from her crate for weeks.  I just didn't know.  We immediately put her back in her crate to stay (except to go outside) until we could decide what to do.

And here's where we did what I would not do now.  We discussed options.  I would not keep her here to train because I have children, and I had clearly failed already.  I was no longer comfortable just giving her away: I had screwed things up so badly, how the hell would I pick out the right person for this?  We could have her pts.  Or we could bring her to the shelter (well funded in this area), let their professionals assess her and treat her in a safe environment, and find her a home or have her pts if they thought she was too dangerous.  I absolutely abhor shelters- I think they are dens of disease.  Taking a supremely pack oriented animal and locking it in a cage, by itself, with limited human contact would drive a less sensitive creature mad.  (and I get it.  I know most shelter staff have their hearts in the right place.  But the entire thing is just so... wrong).  I promised myself I would never send any animal to one, ever.  Now, I would have her pts in a heartbeat.  But at the time, I didn't know as much as I do now, and I thought, as horrid as the idea was, that at least it might give her a chance.  I thought maybe a different owner could bring her back before she crossed into actual biting.  A note here: if she was, say, a generally friendly dog who had started resource guarding, it would have been a different story.  But she was neither overly friendly nor was she guarding anything.  The blank stare, the lack of interest, the absolute refusal to be part of our 'pack' coupled with the growling was like a cauldron set to boil a nasty green goo all over.  With no loyalty, what was to stop her from attacking us all?  She was just 11 months old.

The shelter told dh that they 'don't do that anymore' when he said we thought pts might be the best answer.  I'm still horrified by that.  Not necessarily for this particular dog (who knows there), but for the ones who have already bitten.  They don't put any of them to sleep for aggression?

Does this dog represent pit bulls?  I don't know.  I certainly don't have enough experience with that breed to make such a conclusion.  I'm sure similar stories could be told about lots of different breeds of dogs.  What strikes me is how often, and how terrifyingly awful, this stuff is when it happens in a pit bull.  How permanent the results of mistakes can be.  I certainly can't bring back my birds, no matter how much I regret it.  I have seen that same blank look in the eyes of another pit bull very recently.  The owner (pit bull savvy and honest about this breed) has said he is sweet but dumb.  Who am I to question that assessment?  I wish her luck with him.  I'll be keeping the kids away.

It was an extremely difficult time for us.  I will say that that dog changed my life.  She taught me that love isn't enough.  She taught me that 5 months old is too old, that rescues aren't to be trusted, no matter what source.  She taught me that no matter how hard I try, how patient I am, dogs don't give a flying fuck.  She taught me that dogs aren't safe, and that maybe I'm not.  She taught me that I could be angrier than I thought.  She broke parts of me, and I don't know how many kisses, belly tickles, and perfect heels it will take to get that back. For awhile I tried to blame her (unknown) parentage, the first people who owned her (who got a strongly worded letter from me, to which they replied in asshole fashion: she was a fucking PERFECT dog when we gave her to you!), and ultimately.. I was just left blaming myself.  Oh, she changed my life, exactly like they tell you.  It is only by the good graces of a supremely wonderful Border Collie - the dog worth waiting for- that I am not terrified of dogs now.  He'll exchange a kiss for every tear you give, check on you if you fall down, and loves everyone furred or feathered, no matter how small.  He wears his heart on his collar, and spares no display of giddy enjoyment at your company.  He is what all dogs ought to be- what all good dogs, from balanced breeds and mixes- ARE.  He is the fundamental dogness of dogs, with no shark blood coursing through his veins.  Just like millions of other, non-shark dogs.  The only thing lurking beneath his surface is more him.. the same him you see.  And yes, I'm grateful every day that I have this dog, who is patient and kind with me.  Who reminds me that I can still get it right, sometimes, when I trust myself.  Maybe I truly suck with other dogs, but not with this one.

So those fur-mommies with their 'babies', who's dog rips the face off a child, get zero sympathy from me.  I did my absolute, no-holds-barred, every day in the trenches best with that pitX.  And knowing how hard I tried- how hard my entire family tried- we would still have taken total blame if she had hurt someone.  While in our care, we tried harder than I certainly have with any other dog, and yet it would still be my fault if she had done something terrible.  I don't believe dogs suddenly bite- well, almost never anyway.  I don't believe 'he's never been like that before!'  I think it's a crock of poo excuse to cover the fact that they saw it coming but don't want to admit it.  At any time on that train wreck they could have stopped it, but they didn't.  They had a million excuses, until it was too late.  These people make me far more angry than the dog-fighters.  Those assholes know what they have, know what they are doing, and know why their dogs are killers.  The lipstick and high-heeled set pretend until they can't.  They flood my fb page with cutesy pictures, with stories, with nauseating messages.  They would have to have never been around any other dog, ever, close enough to breathe on to believe the crock about how extra cuddly, or extra friendly, or reliable those dogs are.  They would have to have turned off their brain and ignored their newspaper.  They would have to be willfully, illogically ignorant.  I get it- I fed into it (albeit briefly, and I was never a nutter.. I fell into the 'it's how you raise them' clan, though, and pretended the news stories were mistaken identity).

And maybe my reaction seems like an over-reaction to everyone else.  There was no attack on a human.  We were never bitten.  I know I was had by the propaganda machine, but so what.  That is nameless, faceless.  What I see, when I think about that time, is my exaggerated facial expression, my constantly calling her name in a happy voice, the love we tried so hard to project, with the shark-eyes staring back at us. In some primal way, it is like we had a murderer living in our attic, stealing our food, and we never knew it until we heard him on the stairs.  The police may have caught him in time, but I still feel violated.  We loved that dog, we cried for her, we gave her structure, time, patience.  We trusted her.  And in the end, she betrayed us all, she told us as clearly as if she had spoken that she would come for us when she was ready.  And I think about those other poor morons, the ones hugging their doll's-eyes dogs.  The ones who don't see the nearly indefinable danger, who don't feel that undercurrent pulling them down.  The women in the SUVs, with their prettied up pitties, who wear bandanas that say 'kiss-a-bul' or something else grotesquely dangerous.  Maybe they don't want to lie, when they see the signs.  Maybe, like me, they just don't want to be the one who sent that sad old pit dog back to the shelter, who work so hard to balance it all that they can't -can't- admit they made a mistake.  They don't hear the footsteps on the stairs.  They don't call the police.  And by the time they realize who they have, he's already in the livingroom blocking the tv. 

I don't know what you will draw from this e-mail.  I don't know how I feel about sending it.  But ultimately, I think I need to say this: sometimes good people are suckered into things they are convinced they can handle (by dog trainers, by the shelter staff, by their own good intentions), and only educating people about the truth can combat that sort of.. innocent disaster.  We can vilify assholes in high heels who set these dogs up as princes and princesses (and when their satan dog kills/maims someone or something, and they claim surprise or blame the victim, we SHOULD) but they won't stop adopting these dogs until they learn the truth.  I'd like to see the stats on how many first-time pit owners go on to have a second.  I know I will never be among that number (nor will I own any other 'bully' breed.  Who needs the fucking headache?   Give me a dog that actually likes people). 

And shelters should be ashamed.  They know, they know far more than the middle class women trying to do a good deed.  They feed on the ignorance, the malleability of people who just want to do the right thing.  It's a slogan for a pyramid scheme: counter their excuses until they run out!  Then SELL THEM THAT PIT BULL!  Smile as they head out the door- no matter how it ends up, you know the dog won't be back up for adoption.  Don't waste time on the popular dogs of yesterday, they are so out of fashion.  More fighters!  More ticking time bombs!  More sharks in the tank for naked ladies to swim with!  And who cares if they are so heartbroken they never adopt again, there are 17 million more next year.  It's all in how you raise 'em, you know!

Your website has been instrumental to me.  I can let go of some of the guilt, some of the regret, some of the blame.  But not all- for who knows what happened with that dog we sent to the shelter.  I hope, more fervently than I have ever hoped before, that the shelter listened to my husband, that some foster mom or dad had her pts before she ever made it out into public.  It's a lie I tell myself.  I know my border collie will kiss my tears away long enough for me to believe it.

Thank you for your time.


Rumpelstiltskin said...

"...check on you if you fall down, and loves everyone furred or feathered, no matter how small."

There were a few times where the owner of a pit bull has fallen down and their pit attacked them. I don't know of any other breed that does this.

Anonymous said...

Are "the not showing interest in us at all" and not learning commands typical pit traits? I thought they had many bad traits, but not the above two.

In today's climate responsible owners must pts their dogs themselves, if there is any suspicion of danger, not give them to shelter to be "evaluated" and then sold to unknowing or foolish. What if the dog attacks or kills a person in the future? The brave, right thing is to shoot the dog yourself or pay to a vet to pts, not leave it in "we don't pts" shelter.

Anonymous said...

// who knows what happened with that dog we sent to the shelter. I hope ...

Can't you find out? Ask people at the shelter and probably phone to the new owners?

Miss Margo said...

GREAT letter. Whoever wrote it is a powerful writer; I felt like I was actually there in the house with that creepy dog.

Her story closely resembles that of another well-meaning pit bull owner who adopted a pit and did everything RIGHT and unfortunately the dog just turned out to be a canine psychopath. It's the on the DBO website...I'll try to find it.

Actually, now that I think of it, I've heard this story a LOT. One of my best friends back home is living it. She adopted a "lab mix" from the shelter and it may actually be part lab but it DEFINITELY has pit in it and the dog is a block of ice. They've trained the hell out of it, and it's still wrong. I'm scared for her and I won't go over to her house anymore; I always have to suggest meeting at a restaurant or some other place. That dog came right up to me and growled, staring me down, while I was just sitting on the couch, not even eating or doing anything. It scared me. I have never seen a dog act like that.

Miss Margo said...

This woman's story also reminds me of this:

She is lucky that she got rid of the dog before it bit her kid. This pit owner knew the dog was bad and kept it anyway and it bit her daughter's face. Check out the gruesome photos. Mom of the Year here was too ashamed to take her daughter to the hospital for the dog bite. I guess that would be admitting defeat, or something.

PutMeInCharge4OneDay said...

An excellent post.

I actually got goosebumps as I read one of the paragraphs.

To the person who wrote this,(and anyone who has not read it) read the article on 17 Barks called "Our pit bull experience" its a great read. At the end of the article they have a link for the full post and very insightful and educational comments by Alexandra Semyonova.

Anonymous said...

a regular "non shark" dog can be a dud too but they dont usually attack you when you fall down . its definitely a mix of nurture and nature that creates a dog or a person but nature can triumph over nurture. a neglected rescue dog can be great whereas a loved dog from good people can still turn out bad. just like people who triumph over adversity there are others who have no excuses for their bad temparments.

scorched earth said...

This woman admits she bought the propaganda and that she found it to be a lie. She worked VERY hard to make it right and deserves to forgive herself. Ira Glass has never figured this out. Some people are smarter than others.

orangedog said...

Really awesome post! All anyone has to do is go read that Truth About Smilin' Pit Bull Rescue page and see this scenario playing out over and over again. There is so much crate and rotate going on it will make your head spin.

And I agree that people who say they would never own anything but a pit must have never felt the love of a non-shark dog. I have sweet, goofy, cuddly dogs too with the added bonus of not having to worry about any of the nonsense pit people put up with on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Great post and I thank the person for writing it and sending it; although I think you badly shirked your responsibility in not having the dog PTS when you realized it was a danger. If you have my karma you'll be walking your sweet collie someday when that same pit comes around a corner, pulls the leash free, and you watch your nice dog get disemboweled. It damn near happened to me and my collie on a walk. So you see now why we need BSL?

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i would have killed the mutant too but i don't think these people should be harshly criticized for turning it over to the shelter.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

My pit bull experience

Miss Margo said...

Yes, that is the story I was referring to in my earlier comment, Dawn. Thanks for posting the link!

I finally read the book "Successful Dog Adoption." I recommend it. It taught me a lot about dogs and their body language. One thing I found fascinating was the difference in display between a dog bring "aroused" (not sexually...I mean, excited) and "happy n playful n hyper." I keep that in mind when I see an excited, lunging dog now.

Anyway, the pit bull in this story would flunk the adoption test bigtime. Like, F- for this pittie. Just reading about it gave me the chills. Murderer in the attic stealing the food? This lady ought to write for TV. That's not sarcasm.

The owner was a softie, but people make mistakes, and she said that she'd have it PTS if she knew then what she knows now. I hope to God the pit was never rehomed, but she sounds like she learned from the experience and she is beating herself up.

Anonymous said...

Her feelings will be put to much better use if she beats up the pit advocates instead. That might keep someone else's kid from getting killed or their nice, normal pet.

Anonymous said...

Great heart-rending letter; I, too, have seen this scenario over and over as shelters try to repackage aggressive dogs as pets. The saddest thing is the tens of thousands of hopeless non-pets that will rot away in a no-kill shelter for eternity.

It's ironic because the no-kill model does allow for euthanasia for aggression, but the no-kill extremists don't seem to believe that any dog is hopelessly dangerous. Remember Oreo in NYC? NK people used that poster pitbull to try to pass a "shelter access law" so that scary dogs could be "saved" by the rescue angels (hoarders) at the last minute.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

"... the no-kill extremists don't seem to believe that any dog is hopelessly dangerous."

plus i think they have some kind of bizarro canine equivalent to every sperm is sacred nonsense.

"Her feelings will be put to much better use if she beats up the pit advocates instead. That might keep someone else's kid from getting killed or their nice, normal pet."

i doubt it. i think the number of people who are receptive to that teaching are statistically insignificant. they need to find it on their own.

Miss Margo said...

Dawn @ 3:45 PM

Approximate quote from 'The Libertine,' w/Johnny of my favorite films.

"Every lesson worth learning in life is inevitably learned at your own expense."

Branwyne Finch said...

Wow...thanks to this poster for allowing her e-mail to be posted. I think that the traits that pit bulls have been bred for are really antithetical to the traits we value in a domestic pet. Think about it....this animal was bred to attack and kill its social partners without warning or dogs are supposed to consider the humans they live with social partners. If they are dangerous to other dogs, they are dangerous to us....fighting dogs should not be considered pets.

What you had in your home was a predator, not a pet. What parents need to understand is that shelters and rescue groups, for the most part, do NOT have your children's best interest at heart...they are there for the dogs and the dogs only.

I hope the writer reads advice for you is to invest $35.00 in Sue Sternberg's video.... "Understanding Sociability".

Watch it carefully...more than once. Sue has developed an ethogram of domestic dog behaviors. She demonstrates the difference between dogs that exhibit high sociability with people...they make frequent gentle social contact, give "soft eye" contact, a low wagging tail, etc.

She shows dogs with moderate sociability, dogs with low sociability....finally, she demonstrates the most dangerous dogs, dogs who show no sociability towards humans. That was what you had in that pit bull.....a dog that had none of the characteristics of a domestic pet. Dogs like this cannot be trained or rehabilitated into safe pets, because they have NO desire to connect with people. One dog in this video is so scary, it is amazing no one was hurt filming it. It never growled or did anything overtly aggressive....just a hard, soulless stare, refused to face or look at the handler, and tensed up when it was petted.

You dodged a bullet, and should be grateful. I think anything you can do to educate people about this breed by telling them your experience will help you feel less guilty. Your children could have died, because of the dog you may be able to save the life of someone elses child by telling your story and convincing other parents not to make the same mistake.

Anonymous said...

I've read both essays, and Alexandra Semyonova's response. I am astounded at how much energy is put into these dogs before the obvious conclusion is reached. If every dog needed that much research, reassurance, monitoring, understanding, training, behavior modification, and expert intervention, I think people would not have dogs as pets. Who has that kind of time, or is willing to expend that level of commitment?

orangedog said...

"Her feelings will be put to much better use if she beats up the pit advocates instead. That might keep someone else's kid from getting killed or their nice, normal pet."

i doubt it. i think the number of people who are receptive to that teaching are statistically insignificant. they need to find it on their own.

Sometimes they find out on their own and STILL can't be swayed. I know most of you have already read this, but I am still amazed at what these do gooders will put up with and explain away.

Be sure to click on the follow up to see people wailing about the freaking dog being set up to fail, and not the outrageously dangerous situation this family has chosen to put their kid in.
My mind. It boggles.

Anonymous said...

"Every lesson worth learning in life is inevitably learned at your own expense."

"i think the number of people who are receptive to that teaching are statistically insignificant. they need to find it on their own."

And THAT is the problem. By the time they 'learn it on their own' if they do at all it's not at THEIR expense but OUR expense, as someone's kid or normal pet is mauled or killed.

Rumpelstiltskin said...

Miss Margo,

I read the pb chat thread. This is an interesting comment from the mother, "You're right. It was stupid of me to keep him. I really thought moving all food/high value items to his kennel fixed it. We did this 4 months ago, when he was 4 months old. But I am at fault, and will always carry the blame. And you all have no need to worry, I won't own a bully breed again."

I about passed out when I read it.

tropical storms said...

This took a lot of courage to write, kudos. I do understand how, when you're in the experience, you focus on each item rather than the complete package that brings the picture into focus and context. Something you might find useful would be some of the works on child psychopaths. They are rather similar and the experiences of people who have lived through it may be of help to you in coming to terms and moving on with confidence in yourself.
No matter what lies and platitudes you're told remember there is only one reality about bulldogs. They were created exclusively for the sole purpose of attacking and killing other living creatures. People can repeat from now until doomsday that a particular dog wasn't bred from fighting stock but they are ignoring the fact that all of the dogs in that breed ARE bred from fighting stock a few generations back. Nothing can be done to alter this reality.
I wish you well.

S.K.Y. said...

Great post, and kudos to the brave woman who wrote and posted it.

To that woman, and any other readers who haven't seen my frequent recommendation...

*** PLEASE *** read the book "Successful Dog Adoption," by Sue Sternberg. Sternberg is a shelter owner who does not have on rose colored glasses, and knows that many dogs are NOT redeemable. Some dogs, just like some people, are basically psychopaths. In her book, she explains how to read between the lines when reading descriptions of adoptable dogs... what kind of shelter or rescue to avoid...and a testing procedure to get the perfect dog every time.

I feel bad that the poster got the wrong idea that rescued dogs are bad or have baggage. That one sure did, but it's because she didn't do any temperament testing on it. If she had used Sue's test, I guarantee the dog would have failed in the first few seconds. You can even learn this if the dog is in a shelter on the other side of a chain link gate.

I have used this test to pick the three most safe and fabulous dogs I've ever had in 37 year of competing in dog sports. These are dogs that love everything from day-old baby bunnies to parakeets, to cats, kids, adults, men with beards, people who are screaming and acting weird, etc. Just totally bombproof.

In fact, in her later talks that I've attended, she says you can learn pretty much everything you need to know in two simple ways.

With the dog behind a chainlink gate or fence, you press the flat palm of your hand against the fence. The dog should come over and press against the fence for petting within a few seconds. If not, don't adopt. You should then move your hand to several new locations, and the dog should come over and press against your hand each time.

If the dog is still passing, you can let it out into a fenced area or room with you. The dog should be attentive to you and not want to leave your side. This said, pushy attention is as bad as lack of attention towards humans. A dog that gently puts its feet on your leg so you can reach him for petting is fine. A dog that repeatedly bounces on you, body slams you, or pesters constantly for attention, or mouths you is a fail. A dog that leaves to check out another dog or person outside the fence is fine, but they should return to you within a few seconds. The stranger in the room with the dog... and offering to give attention to the dog...should be the most interesting thing in the world, from the dog's point of view.

It sounds like this dog would have failed the test from the start. I don't think it would have approached a fence to press quietly up against the fence for petting by somebody on the other side.

It's hard to sum this up in a comment, because there's a lot more background in Sue's book. But I hope those of you who haven't read it give it a try.

I should note that Sue, in general, has a reputation as "pit hater"--just like us! :-) This comes across a bit in the book. However, she has an anecdote where a pit was the ideal pet for a particular situation, and I agree that there are a few exceptional ones that make reliable pets. The problem is that it's almost impossible to tell which ones they are until adulthood, and massive amounts of temperament testing. And NOT the temperament testing normally done at shelters, but the whole battery of Sue's tests, of which I only mentioned two.

S.K.Y. said...

I wanted to also mention: this book is available in many libraries. If your library doesn't carry it, try your inter-library loan program. I just discovered ours last year, and order books almost every week. I order them online (our system is, and they send me an e-mail when my book is ready to pick up. I live in a city of 10,000 with a small library, but have yet to find a book that wasn't available free through LinkCat within a few days.

Anonymous said...

i think many land shark owners dont appreciate their land sharks for what they are , they think of them as awesome nanny dogs that go around giving kisses to all the little trailer people at bedtimes, and attacking pediphiles or intruder cocker spaniels and fighting to the death just to please their owners . all this is just pure b.s.....they are land sharks , the ultimate canine predator in colours from white to shit brown and they dont care who they slash up , even their loving owners sometimes .

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i haven't gotten that book yet. branwyne raves about it too. she sent me this video a while back. i might have posted it here before or she might have posted it but this looks like a good time to post it again.

Dog shelter training - Predicting & Handling Aggression - Sue Sternberg

Alexandra said...

I completely and totally disagree with SKY (and thus I suppose Sternberg) that there are any pit bull type dogs that make reliable pets. Wait until adulthood to know? My ass. Enough of them are fine -- including with the children -- for five or eight or twelve years, then suddenly do kill.

The only way to know a pit bull type dog won't go pit all its life is the day you take its deceased body for cremation without it ever having attacked or killed anything.

I'd also like to point up that Sternberg was apparently cowed by the reactions she got from the Satanic Church of Pit Bull Worship. She's nowadays being quite apologist, even profiling herself cuddling a pit bull at this page:

Anonymous said...

SKY, Sue Sternberg got beat up on in an organized manner from your fellow AKC Rott and pit breeders and she gave in to the harassment. She was getting death threats from some of them.

There is NO temperament test on earth that is really accurate, certainly not for pit bulls. They pass them all like a charm and then kill somebody.

The "breeders" temperament testing is as useless as the "shelters"

SKY, when are you going to stop shilling for the breeders? They all claim they are super special and have the real knowledge and they are all as lame as the shelter idiots.

Branwyne Finch said...

SKY, I have the book and have begged friends who are considering dog adoption to read it. I am planning on buying it for my sister.

If you liked the book, you would be fascinated by the video. It focuses on just the sociability portion of her temperament test. The video gives you multiple examples of dogs that exhibit different levels of sociability, and what little behaviors indicate the dog is not the "shake off"; when the dog shakes himself off after being petted. Or the freeze....when the dog freezes and tenses up after being stroked.

The video even demonstrates the temperament test being done on puppy, at the tender age of about 7-8 weeks, shows no sociability. It is amazing. He makes no effort to connect with the person sitting in his ex-pen...he actually freezes and muscles up when petted. He clearly dislikes being touched. Sue points out that most shelters would simply declare that this puppy needs more socialization and turns out that the puppy's mother was fostered by one of the shelter staff, and the puppy has been handled, socialized, and exposed to people extensively since it was born. "More socialization" won't change what this puppy will become....a dog that genuinely dislikes people.

In the video dawn posted above, the final dog is a pit bull.....he is the type of dog most pit rescue groups would quickly try to place, yet he gives multiple warning signs that he is very dangerous. She declares at the end of the video that this dog has "no domestic dog qualities."

One more comment to the author....I think the author of the e-mail is an exceptional writer, and if this e-mail was polished and rewritten as an essay, she should have it published...maybe on or

Packhorse said...

This is a chilling story, because this could have been me.

As an animal advocate I have been exposed to perhaps more pit propaganda than most. I believed what Best Friends, ASPCA, etc. said about pit bulls because I had no other reference points.

One of the dogs we looked at for possible adoption was a 1-year black lab/pit cross at one of the local animal shelters. We took him outside to the exercise yard and he did nothing but stand stiffly and stare beyond the fence. He was not aggressive, but not interactive at all. We gave him a ball. He held the ball briefly in his mouth for a few seconds, and then dropped it on the ground and continued to stand and stare.

It struck me that if I had not returned this dog to his kennel that day, I could have been writing this story. Knowing what I do now, of course, I am infinitely glad I did not adopt this dog.

S.K.Y. said...

Anonymous 1:31 A.M.

WTF??? "Shilling for my fellow Rottie and pit breeders"?

It's pretty obvious you have no idea who I am, or have me confused with somebody else. I have been involved in dog sports for years, but have never bred a single litter.

I have a retired Border Collie and a currently-competing 8.8 pound Papillon. I have never in my life had a Rottie or a pit bull... much less BRED them. Ugh.

My only breeder "friends" are the individual people in distant states that I buy a puppy from once every 7-9 years, in between the rescues I adopt. Each breed and show only the one breed (BC or Pap), and breed a litter every 1-2 years, placing every puppy in a competition home.

How on earth are you confusing me with being a Rottie or pit breeder?

S.K.Y. said...

Dawn, loved the video clip you posted of Sue and the pit bull. The anal swipes, sniffing, and being oriented facing the human are all HUGE danger signs.

The problem with 99.9999% of people, including even some experienced dog owners, is that they think an "aggressive" or "dangerous" dog will be showing aggression ALL THE TIME. They think that if the dog is fine during a 2-minute temperament test (i.e., doesn't bite or growl)... or if the dog has been fine in a foster home for a few weeks... that the dog is not an "aggressive dog."

In fact, a dog that was so aggressive as to be growling and biting on a daily basis would be euthanized as a puppy (whether by the breeder/owner/shelter, etc.). So you just never see dogs like that. Nobody would keep a dog without a single redeeming quality.

The VAST majority of aggressive/dangerous dogs act perfectly normal 99% of the time. They appear fine with kids, greet people on walks, and allow people to pet them. Until they don't...

Through experience with thousands of dogs, and a genius for observation, Sue has developed a very accurate way of judging which "ordinary-appearing" behaviors signal that a dog is likely to be dangerous in the long term.

Watching the red pit bull, most people would not have thought anything about it. They would have thought the dog was interested in the audience, or "just looking around."

But with my own experience with thousands of dogs, I agree 100% with Sue's opinion of this dog. Dogs that are safe ALWAYS orient sideways to humans... both their owners and strangers. Dogs that are safe do NOT do massive amounts of sniffing of a person they are hanging out with. Remember that a dog can learn everything it needs to know about scent from 20+ yards away. The sniffing is a pushy behavior at best, and a major threat when combined with other behaviors that Sue is pointing out in this video.

The anal wipe thing is classic. Most laypeople would never notice this, but I saw it in a ton of aggressive dogs, and have never seen it in a safe dog. I worked with biters that acted perfectly friendly with me during consultations (and indeed, with most people in most situations)... and the dog would deliberately rub his butt across my shoe. Or back up his butt so he was practically sitting on my lap. These are not normal behaviors. The dog is not "accidentally" rubbing his anus on a shoe or knee. This is a deliberately power play by a dog that is showing he is perfectly capable of taking you down...

This is not to be confused with a docile, friendly dog that is coming up to be petted (and orients sideways--which is good) and accidentally puts a paw or hind foot on your foot. The anal swipe is more deliberate, though not seen as such by most laypeople unless you're looking for it.

I mainly saw it in pits, Rotties, and breeds like huskies--which are around #1, 2 and 3 for most human fatalities. Conversely, I never saw it in a German Shepherd, though I saw more GSDs for biting than I saw pits. (Because GSDs at that time were probably 10x more common than pits). So not all biters are anal swipers, but (IMO) all anal swipers are either biters, or future biters.

Jake said...

@S.K.Y. - you brought up an interesting factoid that I hadn't heard before. A neighbor a few doors down from me has a pit bull (N.B. "He's no pit bull, he's a staffy bull!" - but I digress)

I sometimes chat with the guy, but I don't bring my dog there. Although it's never bit her, it likes to charge at her and she doesn't like that.

He likes to sit in his garage and watch the world go by, with friends and relatives and his non pit bull.

One afternoon I was walking by his house sans dog and he invited me to hang out for a bit, so we were sitting there in his garage, with his non pit bull. at some point I noticed that it had lain down at my feet and parked its butt on my shoe. I thought that was endearing in a way, but in retrospect, could there be more to that than meets the eye?

april 29 said...

S.K.Y. give no thought to the anonymous poster, she/he has commented here many times under several names, always digresses into calling someone a breeder or a shill for breeders. Personally, I was called a shill for the Farm Bureau and an AKC drone.

Miss Margo said...

I detect CandorMD. The perfume of paranoia and hostility is very unique.

Of course, I could be wrong.

orangedog said...

Sniffing can also be a stress release. My dog does this at the vet. He will spend a large amount of time sniffing the floor in the cubicle. It's not because he's sniffing for other dogs. A lot of dogs will express normal behaviors like sniffing and scratching when stressed.

Miss Margo, I think you are correct about the identity of that anon.

Packhorse said...

I was hoping maybe you could give me some insight. My dog likes to sniff. The first thing he does when he meets a dog or cat is to sniff their butt, then their ears. He also likes to sniff people. Crotch sniffing is his embarrassing habit.

He doesn't do anything else that indicates an aggressive nature. He approaches with soft eyes, ears back, tail wagging low, and doing a little tapdance with his feet. He doesn't stamp, growl, stare, or freeze.

What do you think?

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

yes sky, i too am in cahoots with evil breeders.

"The perfume of paranoia and hostility is very unique."


what i find interesting about the pit behaviors in that video is that the typical nutter would be FLATTERED by the pit for "owning" her like that, much like the women who fall for psychopathic stare. they misread it as "wow, he is really into me." the mutant laying on your foot, i'm not sure if that is the same but it does appear to be more of that other annoying behavior they have of lying on top of others, dogs and people. much like a float of crocodiles.

S.K.Y. said...

Hi guys,

About sniffing:

Sniffing other dogs or cats may have some basic cause that's the same as for sniffing humans. I have no idea. However, I do know that most dogs do not view being the "subject of sniffing" with much favor. They'll tolerate it for a few seconds, but if it goes on longer, they may growl or snap. So the dog doing the sniffing long-term is not viewed as a "nice guy" by other dogs (or cats).

My dogs will sniff strangers, or strange dogs, or strange cats... but ONLY for < 5 seconds, and only when they first go up to one another. Then they leave off and try to engage the person or pet in a game, walk, etc.

The exception I've seen for some dogs (including one I had 15 years ago) is they will sometimes sniff at a woman having her period. That does tend to get dogs sniffing that might not normally sniff.

And I recently read a book by a great competitive obedience trainer who had a female GSD that was a compulsive human crotch sniffer. Despite the dog being able to score 199.5/200 in advanced obedience, they could never get her to stop sniffing. They had to use work-arounds, like putting her on down-stays when visitors came over. This was said to be a dog with a stellar temperament, other than pestering people by sticking her nose in their crotch.

So no, just the sniffing all by itself would NOT be a danger sign from my point of view. I would venture that it has a correlation with a generally "pushy" dog, but that doesn't mean the dog need be aggressive.

Another thing I should mention is that there is a difference between gentle, friendly eye-contact and a hard stare. A dog making friendly eye-contact is preferable to a dog that doesn't look at you at all. And it's better that a dog not look at you at all, than that he give you a hard stare with icy eyes.

To summarize, it's only when lengthy or repeated sniffing is combined with other things, such as a stare, stiff posture, orienting to face the human, anal wiping, etc. that I would worry.

I think the point Sue is making is that the pit in the video is doing a whole bunch of behaviors that are correlated with aggression.

He is orienting to Sue head on, and basically non-responsive to her friendly gestures. He then violates her personal space when HE wants to--on his own terms--by sniffing for extended periods of time. He doesn't come and stay with her for petting, but--on his own terms--is happy to wipe his butt on her knee.

So it's more of a "group" of traits rather than just one thing.

So your sniffers that approach with soft eyes and a sideways orientation and hang out with you for petting are 100% exonerated. :-)

Small Survivors said...

Thank you anon author for having the courage to share your story despite your reservations about how it would be received. I think there are thousands of people like you. Most probably sent the pit to the shelter after much less effort or skill, but we never hear about these stories publicly because of the very vocal army of morons who will tell anyone who gives up they're a horrible person or, if they wait until after an attack, that they're an irresponsible owner.

This year seems to be a watershed year for former pit bull owners to speak up and stand their ground. Thank you! Keep telling your story!

orangedog said...

How many pictures have we seen where the nutter has the dog on top of them? They think this is cute behavior. "Haha, he will climb in your lap and lick you to death!"

There's that one with Onion on top of his owner, and he doesn't look particularly friendly.

Branwyne Finch said...

FYI....I meant to post this here, I posted it in the wrong thread. I am not sure if any of you remember the story from this anonymous poster 2 years ago...
very similar to this writer, only the end result was tragic...

I was an upper middle-class pit bull owner just like you. My husband is a doctor and I am a stay-at-home soccer mom and we live in a lovely suburban neighbourhood. We got our dog as a puppy from a reputable breeder and put her through puppy classes and basic obedience. She was spayed and properly vaccinated, stayed indoors and was very loved. I used to defend the breed to everyone I met, just like you. I used to think I knew my dog inside and out, and I was sure she would never, ever hurt my child.

Then my dog turned 3 and, literally overnight, her dog-aggression came out. She tried to attack the neighbour's poodle through the backyard fence (she had been in a fenced yard beside this same dog literally thousands of times with no show of aggression). When my 8 year old daughter tried to pull her away from the fence, our pit bull locked onto her forearm (she only got her forearm because my daughter threw it up to protect her face, she was going for the face) and it took 8 minutes for my husband to beat her off, he eventually wound up using the weed whacker, after a baseball bat broke over the dog's back without even being noticed by her. My daughter lost partial use of her right arm and she is still relearning all of the basic skills with her left. Her life will never be the same.

We have been accused of being at fault for not "being there to call off the dog". Well, we were there, we were sitting on patio chairs watching my daughter throw a ball for our pet, who she had spent three years playing with and which had never shown so much as a lip lift to anyone or anything up to that point. We couldn't, physically, call off the dog. We couldn't physically BEAT off the dog for over 5 minutes. After the dog was off my daughter, my husband was on the ground struggling with it to keep it from going at her again as I pulled her into the house. There was so mcuh blood that I kept sliding on it and falling down. There are still blood stains on the patio almost 2 years later. All the dog wanted was to get back on my daughter and finish the job. The dog didn't make any noise while she was attacking and her tail was wagging faster and harder than it had ever wagged before. I believed then, and I believe now, that that dog was the happiest it had ever been when it was locked onto my daughter and trying to kill her.

Let me tell you, you have no idea - none - how completely different pit bulls are from normal pet dogs. When that dog was triggered she went from being a goofy pet and companion to being a cold-blooded predator in a millisecond. You cannot imagine what it is like knowing that your dog is trying to kill your child and knowing that it might just succeed because it is stronger than you are. There is nothing like it in the world.

There was no news coverage of my dog's attack on my daughter. None. So much for the overhyped media aspect, hush?

You are insane to own a fighting dog when you have children. Absolutely insane. I wish we had been protected from our own stupidity by legislation. What is worse is that you are also, by your own admission of a picket fence the dog could easily escape over, putting other people's children at risk. Fighting dogs are not pets and we need laws in place to protect people from them

Jake said...

@Branwyne Finch -

Yep that comment is a keeper, and worth repeating - as it turns out, it was re-posted earlier today as a standalone article over at 17 barks.

Dayna said...

Well written letter. It gave me the creeps reading about how cold that dog was.

Anonymous said...

Why I hate breeders:

And it's not just the pits. I'd send you the AKC ad with the Mastiff posed next to the toddler, but that one's on the wall in the feed store and hard to attach here.

And no, I'm not the Anon from above. Just another Anon with the same distaste for Quick Buck and Any Cost most of the breeders these days are looking for.

orangedog said...

As far as I know none of us posting are breeders of any kind of dog much less pits and rotts!

Anonymous said...

im not against dog breeders as a whole although i prefer non purebred dogs for my own pets. what i am against is breeding for show and profit and prestige at the expense of producing , smart , healthy , happy , non aggressive dogs . as far as rescue orgs are concerned they are for people who like to be bullied by hefty dominatrixes .

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i made a comment a few months back about a breeder who sends me attacks and inside info and stated that the kennel clubs' official position on BSL and BS behaviors is much different from individual breeders and breed fanciers, as they are experiencing the pit bull problem too. i was accused of being brainwashed and in cahoots with breeders.

Anonymous said...

What I am against is fighting breed dogs-pit bulls, dogo argentino, Cuban bloodhound, etc-and dogs BRED with a dislike for people-like the Caucasian mountain dog-being allowed as pets. The characteristics bred into these dogs makes then inherently unsuitable as pet animals.

Rumpelstiltskin said...


I prefer the pure breed dogs because the size, color, build, behavior and temperament are relatively predictable when you observe the parents. I do agree that true mutts, not pit mixes, are generally healthier but for GSDs the health and temperament issues are minimal if you get a pup from a reputable breeder.

For pit mixes, you really don't know if you have a time bomb on your hands or a pet.

Rumpelstiltskin said...

I read the craigslist ad from Anon:

"Female not spayed pocket pit doesn't like cats good with some dogs doesn't start fights 150$"

WTF? The "pocket pit" does not start fights. What they leave out is that this pocket pit finishes them. OMFG! What other breed puts that shit in the ad?

Bunch of half truths and lies from the pit nutters!

Branwyne Finch said...

This thread got me to thinking....I wonder how many adopted pit bulls end up being returned to the shelter/rescue? I wonder how many adopted pit bulls are with the owner that adopted them three years later?

I don't think the majority of rescue/shelters keep track of their dogs, and they certainly wouldn't be keeping track of them by breed, since that would reflect poorly on pit bulls. I am willing to bet that most pit bulls adopted out are no longer with that same owner three years later. Either returned to the shelter for behavioral problems, given away to family or friends, sold on Craigslist, dumped at another open-admission shelter, etc.

I think the profile of most pit bull owners seems to be that they are typically very young people, in their 20's, who tend to be transient and not home owners. I think also the types of folks who walk into a shelter an adopt a pit bull tend to be inexperienced dog owners, impulsive people who don't really have a lot of experience with dogs.

I think that the profile of the typical pit bull adopter, combined with the fact that so many of these dogs have serious behavior issues....most notably dangerous levels of aggression toward people and/or other dogs, but also destructiveness, extreme strength and high energy, being difficult to train and physically control....would mean that very few of these dogs end up in permanent homes.

Jake said...

@anon 8:03 -

I agree with your point about bully breeds, but their main aggression is towards animals. Their attacks on people are are dwarfed by the number of attacks on animals. Even so, pit bulls at around 5% of the dog population manage to maim and kill more humans than the other 95% of dogs combined.

As far as Caucasian mountain dogs, (Caucasian Ovcharka aka Caucasian Shepherd) they are not for everyone, but a CO most definitely does love people. A very small set of people, or one person, with whom he has bonded, and he don't much care for anyone else - they are a lot like chihuahuas in that way, and that's one of the qualities that make COs excellent guard dogs.

COs don't really have much prey drive; their aggression is defensive in nature, unlike that of a pit bull. While a CO will guard his territory tenaciously, a pit bull will go roaming, looking for something to attack.

Say what you will about COs - they may tend to be aggressive towards strangers but you'll never hear of a CO killing his owner, and that's a huge difference from pit bulls.

Jake said...

@Branwyne -

According to Merritt Clifton, the average shelter pit is re-homed 3 times before being put down at taxpayer expense, if memory serves.

Miss Margo said...

My friend whom I mentioned upthread, who unwittingly adopted a black pit-mix, never owned a dog before. She has a Master's degree and a great job, but naive about dogs. She just wanted something athletic that could go jogging and hiking with her and her boyfriend.

What makes me furious is that the shelter LIED to her. SHOCKER, I know. They said he was good with other dogs. He's not. They said he was good with cats. He's not. She can't take him jogging, because when he sees another dog, she has to stop.

"Black-lab mix." Uh-huh.

She has invested so much time and money into him that she's committed to keeping him. And I'm like, the dog is a loser! He's a dangerous pain in the ass! Ditch the zero and get a canine hero, woman! It's not like you had a disabled kid whom you love and have to alter your life and make sacrifices for. This relationship with your dog should be reciprocal. My FISH contribute more to my life than your dog. They are pretty and it is soothing to watch them swim to and fro.

I want to send her to Dogsbite, but I'm afraid that it will cause a serious argument between us. "How dare you suggest that buddy could eat my face?"

Sorry, I'm just venting. I really am worried, but there is nothing I can do.

Anonymous said...

Miss Margo-yeah, I lost a friend of 12 years after trying to tell her she should not have a pit bull around her grandkids.

Jake: Dogs who are dog aggressive ARE a danger to people:

"they may tend to be aggressive towards strangers but you'll never hear of a CO killing his owner"-If it kills its owner I don't care. It's everyone else who didn't choose to have a 180 pound dog with a serious hate for people next door I'm worried about. Take a look at this video and tell me how this situation is going to end up well:

Jake said...

@anon 11:02 -

Yep, that guy has a lot of dog on his hands, maybe too much for him. Notice how he always had the extreme dog du jour? (first it was the dobermans, then it was the german shepherds, then it was the rottweilers...)

His protector acts like the military type CO, not the mountain type. The mountain type is more of a generic LSG while the military type was bred by the Russian military to be more trainable and more aggressive towards intruders.

At any rate, the bottom line for me is that we don't have a CO problem. We have a pit bull problem.

I'm not so concerned with big dogs that could potentially be dangerous as with dogs that are being hyped and promoted as "family safe" while committing horrific attacks on a daily basis.

Branwyne Finch said...

"Ditch the zero and get a canine hero, woman!"

Love it, Miss Margo!

I think rescues prey on people like your friend, who don't have a lot of dog experience. For those of us who grew up loving a "normal" dog, and who are surrounded by family members who own normal dogs, it becomes obvious to us very quickly when a dog falls outside what is acceptable behavior for a pet. If you have no frame of reference, you may just believe that owning a dog is this much work. If I adopted a dog that ended up showing that level of aggression toward other dogs, with the size and strength of a pit bull, it would have to go back to the shelter. Life's too short to live with a dog that makes me unhappy or stresses me out, there are a million dogs out there who would thrive in a home like mine.

I think folks like your friend just have a warped view of what a companion dog should be.

Anonymous said...

which is most dangerous mutant ? the one on a chain , snapping and snarling , that even a three year old can see and fear for what it is , or the nanny dog mutant that has been trained to give kisses and to tolerate being ridden and used as a pillow and a plaything ? i think the answer to that is in the number of attacks that involve "good family oriententated pits that never hurt anyone or anything before" as long as idiots and dingbats think that "its all the owner and no dogs are bad " these nanny dog attacks will continue and even increase . years ago ppl had more effing sense to think these dogs were cool and safe . now we are in the minority .

tropical storms said...

Which is why dogfighters kept them on chains in a dog yard and kept so few as house dogs. That should be a lesson in itself.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

ugly little dog, doesn't start fights but will finish them.

looks like it might be staffy bull mix.

vintage said...

Anyone else disturbed that she used "I" 95 frickin' times in her defeated Nutter treatise?

Hard to believe one doesn't know the danger of inviting the Dogmen of Stafford into their home at this point...

Just sayin'

Opalina said...

Wow. Talk about coming back from the dark side. A lot of her statements bear scrutiny, but I'll let it go, because it does seem like she had an aha moment. Yet I still get the feeling that she is playing the fence, being PC, on the inherent dangers of pit bulls.

But this statement: " I certainly can't bring back my birds, no matter how much I regret it. "

So, the beast killed her chickens, and the response was to crate, etc. That should have been the ultimate defining moment, the aha moment. But too many people see that as dogs being dogs.

Anonymous said...

I don't know of any other pronouns she could have used writing HER story.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

having a caucasian ovtcharka as a pet is like driving a hummer to the grocery store. CO ownership should be restricted to sheep ranches the same as military assault vehicles should be restricted to military personnel.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i think the overwhelming majority of people are not dog savvy.

regarding the % of grippers sent back to shelters or passed on to others, i would love to know that figure. it seems like 50% of the pit bulls around me, don't last long, maybe a year. three mutants around me have been here over 4 years. all 3 of the canine psychopaths have "criminal" records and are on the radar of LE.

tropical storms said...

^^ True. If I lived in a vast, largely unpopulated region they would be high on my short list. They are absolutely not urban, suburban or neighborhood dogs. The needs for which a working breed was created frequently is dependent on the environment. They're great dogs in the right places.

tropical storms said...

Dawn this was obviously aimed at your prior post, lol no grippers anywhere but true working breeds where they can fulfill their genetic imperative in the environment appropriate to them.

Alexandra said...

@Branwyne: "If I adopted a dog that ended up showing that level of aggression toward other dogs, with the size and strength of a pit bull, it would have to go back to the shelter."

Me, I'd choose to have it put down myself, knowing that a shelter would re-home it to someone more idiotic, so it could go on to kill lots of people's other dogs.

DubV said...

I'm sorry for the writer and her family.

I was especially moved by the following:

"The only thing lurking beneath his surface is more him.. the same him you see."

My dog is that type of dog, and I hope to be that type of person.


" In some primal way, it is like we had a murderer living in our attic, stealing our food, and we never knew it until we heard him on the stairs. The police may have caught him in time, but I still feel violated. We loved that dog, we cried for her, we gave her structure, time, patience. We trusted her. And in the end, she betrayed us all, she told us as clearly as if she had spoken that she would come for us when she was ready. And I think about those other poor morons, the ones hugging their doll's-eyes dogs. The ones who don't see the nearly indefinable danger, who don't feel that undercurrent pulling them down. The women in the SUVs, with their prettied up pitties, who wear bandanas that say 'kiss-a-bul' or something else grotesquely dangerous. Maybe they don't want to lie, when they see the signs. Maybe, like me, they just don't want to be the one who sent that sad old pit dog back to the shelter, who work so hard to balance it all that they can't -can't- admit they made a mistake. They don't hear the footsteps on the stairs. They don't call the police. And by the time they realize who they have, he's already in the livingroom blocking the tv."

This last one is making me want to look over my shoulder while I type this!

DubV said...

I really enjoyed SKY's description of how to spot a good dog.

If someone is intellectually and psychologically normal, and has many dogs to choose from in a shelter, then, I hope, they would naturally gravitate towards dogs of SKY's description. Perhaps this is why people with common sense tend to have safe dogs?

Non-nutters can interact with several dogs for a period of time and, without being expert, can generally pick out those that are most likely to be trustworthy. And those dogs fit the description SKY gave. They are friendly and attentive in a gentle manner.

What strikes me is how similar this sorting is to how most people identify other people with which they would like to associate. And this puts a fine point on why antisocial behavior is so common in die hard bully breed owners.

So, most of our human ancestors valued a set of traits in other humans like sociability and gentleness. They would tend to like non-human animals with similar traits. The enterprise of dog domestication followed this outline. And now we find that dogs with traits that most people find appealing on some visceral level also, quite handily, end up being the most stable and safe dogs.

It really seems like perfect set up, if nutters were like most people.

DubV said...


I think that this:

" but we never hear about these stories publicly because of the very vocal army of morons who will tell anyone who gives up they're a horrible person or, if they wait until after an attack, that they're an irresponsible owner."

is a very important observation.

What strikes me is that nutters will drone on about media hype/conspiracy yet state you are crazy when it is pointed out how their group tends to behave.

DubV said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DubV said...

"As far as Caucasian mountain dogs, (Caucasian Ovcharka aka Caucasian Shepherd) they are not for everyone, but a CO most definitely does love people. A very small set of people, or one person, with whom he has bonded, and he don't much care for anyone else - they are a lot like chihuahuas in that way, and that's one of the qualities that make COs excellent guard dogs."

I disagree that a breed can generally like people, yet, only like a very small subset of all possible people. A dog that only likes 4 people doesn't really like people in the way that "people" would be applied in that context.

DubV said...

"Anyone else disturbed that she used "I" 95 frickin' times in her defeated Nutter treatise?"

I (oops) didn't notice that it was used too often. It was a long post and so you'd have to look at the number of uses per total work count, I suppose. As someone else pointed out, she was very explicitly telling the story in first person.