Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pooches: The Unidentifiable Pitbulls

With the nicer weather lately, the streets of Chicago have been crowded, and we've been taking longer walks and meeting even more people. I am always proud when parents come running over to our pitties and ask if their child can pet our dog. We show the child how to put out its hand first and that our dogs will give them kisses on their fingers.
It does amaze me that parents so excitedly will want their kid to pet a pitbull, until the point, when their child's hand is already half-way down our dogs' mouths, the parents ask "What kind of dogs are they"?I've answered this a couple of different ways. If I say that they're "types of pit bulls" you usually see the parents' faces change to horror as they snatch their child away, glaring at us as if we tricked them into petting our dogs.
Sometimes I say an American Staffordshire Terrier and an American Bulldog/ Boxer mix; this usually doesn't register with the parent that they are pitbulls. This also makes me feel bad because we do want to do our part abolishing the pitbull stereotype, which could help seeing how friendly and well-mannered our dogs are.
What does everyone think? What is the best way to answer this question to demonstrate how pit bulls are friendly dogs without frightening and alarming people?


Unknown said...

It's sad that these parents freak out when you tell them considering your pups are loving on their kids.

I think you should continue to tell people they are pit bull mixes. These two lovies are going to start winning people over at some point. I'm in love with them and I've never met them!!

Anonymous said...

How could you not love faces like that?

Anonymous said...

I have a pit mix, who from a distance just looks like a lab but once you look at her face the pittie is really clear.

I'm very much a supporter of breed advocacy, local laws permitting. Pibbles aren't allowed in our municipality, so as far is the city is concerned she's a "lab mix". But when we take her on hikes, or to my parents' in Kansas City, I'm always proud to tell people she's a pit mix.

(Though that brings its own frustration, when people respond "Oh so that's why she's so nice! It's the ___[insert other breed they think she is]____ in her!")

Nicole said...

Since my dog is possibly a pit mix, I usually let the people meet him first. If they like him and ask what he is, I usually just tell them. But I list it off really quickly and plug the pit in the middle. He's a lab/ pit/ boxer/ shepherd mix... maybe. It's a tough call between telling people to help dispel the myth and not freaking people out. It's amazing though that people will walk up to your dogs and not realize what they are.

pibble said...

You could give the long answer first (AmStaff/Bulldog-Boxer X), then after the kids pet the dogs, you can engage the parents and kids in a short conversation, then say "I'll bet you never thought you'd let your kids pet a Pit Bull! Wasn't that great! Aren't they sweet?" and put a positive spin on it. You'll get your point across, and maybe win them over at the same time.

I've done something similar at the shelter with good results.

Jenny said...

Maybe say "we are not sure, we got them from a shelter and don't know who the parents are" It could be any mix of breeds- boxer, pit, terrier, etc.

kissa-bull said...

we love the pooches sweathers they look extra adorabull. we usually tell them they are pitbulls but in our area their is alot of them and people are use to seeing these type of dogs . thankfully we are starting to see alot of pibbles comin out of houses for tinkle time and we know that slowly people are starting to view them as real family members.

Mack and Mia said...

Some people are SO ignorant! I would just tell those ding bat people the truth flat out and say it with a big smile on your face as Miss M and Mr. B slop on the kissies and smoochies and just smile and walk away with your head held high and if they give you attitude maybe tell them that they
must be really misriable to be as close minded as they apear to be.
and that you can only imagine the type of person they are and it makes you sick. PUNISH THE DEED NOT THE BREED!

Wooo...sorry...let me get off my soap box. My sister has a blue pit and I have experienced this with her on NUMEROUS occasions and it's sad and annoying. Some people are just idiots.

Wags and Woofs,
Mack and Mia

Anonymous said...

First, those sweaters are to die for. I love them!

Second, I am always in a quandry about this, too. As you know, we have no idea what Mayzie is. So when people ask, we usually just say she's a bully mix. But I don't know. It seems like a cop-out. I think the more people see friendly, well-behaved pit bulls, the more the stereotype will change. But to tell you the truth, as much as Mayzie loves people, it would break my heart for someone to refuse to pet her or quit petting her because I said she was a pit mix.

Isn't it weird to own a dog that people judge not on who they are, but on who they THINK they are? No other dog owners have to deal with that extent of prejudice.


Unknown said...

Miss M is, for sure, a mixed breed. Call her whatever you want! Mr. B is either a backyard-bred APBT or a mixed breed. I'd call him a Pit Bull, but that's me.

I call Mina a Pit Bull. Always and forever. I don't feel any shame about it. I used to. I used to feel so sad when people cringed. But not anymore. Eight plus years will do that, I guess. Now I just calmly say she is a Pit Bull or sometimes American Pit Bull Terrier, for giggles.

If people are afraid, that is their business. At the very least, you've shown them that Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes can be well-behaved, polite dogs. Planting a seed and all that.

Heather said...

According to our county, ours is a "terrier mix", but when we meet kids and parents, we tell them that he is a pit bull if they ask. We always walk him with our crazy beagle, so maybe that makes him more approachable? I want to promote his breed, and walking him with our beagle seems to work well. Lately, I've noticed that people are very receptive to him - he gets lots of compliments about how handsome he is and how "different" he looks (he has markings like a Holstein cow). Slowly, I think people are realizing that pit bulls are more than meets the eye and that they truly are incredible creatures.

Anonymous said...

It is funny how people react only after being told about the dogs' breed.

I say with a very straight face that they are pit bulls, as nonchalantly as I would say they were labs or chihuahuas. I'm usually petting the dogs as the kids are (to keep errant fingers out of eyes and mouths), and I continue to pet the dogs as I give the information. Some people start gushing about pit bulls they've known, but some people clam up and walk away.

Some, though, some kind of cock their heads and say "huh, I never realized they were so friendly."


Anonymous said...

People who hide behind their dog's breed drive me nuts (not directed at anyone here, it's just a peeve). If you're ashamed of what your dog is, or you're going to tip-toe around it to please people, get a different breed.

My mom has always tried to hide the fact that the family pit is a pit. "Boxer mix," "she was a rescue, who knows" ... while she's playing games with the neighborhood kids - what better example of the breed to give people??

I tell people that Napoleon, Ivan and Elsie are pit bulls. They're not Am Staffs anymore than they are Boxers, and they're certainly not Staffy Bulls. If I think people are going to be horrified at the words "pit bull," I start off with "Believe it or not ... " or "Actually ... " - that way it sounds like I understand their surprise (which I do, actually), and they're usually more curious than freaked out at that point.

Kari in Alaska said...

We always say ours are Pit Bulls and then talk to the parents if they start to look horrified

The Adventures of the LLB Gang said...

I am all for just telling them like it is...The are pit bulls, friendly, loving...not to mention adorable...pit bulls.

Rescued Pittie Family said...

Where did you get those awesome sweaters!!
Please send me the link; I have to have those!

We try to feel people out before we answer the loaded question of what kind of dog is that?

One guy asked what blood line Haleigh was and I told him I had no idea, she was rescued.
He said; "Rescued? I've never heard of that blood line."
It took everything in me not to laugh.

"They're pit bulls." is my general response with the same nonchalance as "they're labs". I hope that if I act as if it's no big deal, that they're just regular-'ol-dogs then other people will too.

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

I like to say, "She's a rescue, some kind of pitbull cross. [fit in really quickly] Doesn't it just baffle you when people make the silly assumption that pillbulls are mean? Look at how sweet Kayloo is! It's really important to me to show how nice pitbulls are to help change people's minds."

Believe it or not, there is usually time to fit all of that in :)

houndstooth said...

I'd be friendly and upfront and tell them whatever term you yourselves usually use. We often get asked about the greyhounds, and once people know that's what they are, we then get the opportunity to answer other questions that people often have. It often becomes a teachable moment. Some of it depends on your comfort level with explaining things to people, or how much time you have to talk with them about it.

1000 Goldens said...

Their faces are so beautiful and sweet, I wish people understood too. P.S. Adore the sweaters :)

the booker man said...

whenever anyone asks about asa, we tell them that she is an english pointer/pit mix. sometimes we get raised eyebrows or wariness, but in the end, they have had a positive interaction with a pittie, and that's one of the best things we can do for the breed.

the booker man's mama

Dottie said...

Hm, interesting issue. As a cat person and an outsider to this sort of advocacy, "pit bull" does sound kinda scary to me. Maybe you could start with the long/official names, and then after a few beats you could say that those are types of pit bulls.

Unknown said...

Hi, Not sure where to leave this post, but I hope you read it: I'm an owner of an 80lb male pit bull myself, and I applaud you for the strides you take to share your amazing animals with society. I do not agree to start calling them 'mixes' as I've seen suggested on here. We need more positive breed examples out there to help prove our case that its not the breed that is the problem. That said, I have one grief that I've noticed throughout your photos: for someone who loves their dogs as much as you clearly do, please spend a few less minutes each day blogging their every move and a bit more time learning about the harm you're causing them with prong/choke collars. Prong collars are designed to inflict pain as a control/redirect, not to 'train' or teach a wanted behavior. If you want your dogs to live to their fullest (and keep your blog going for a few more years), please don't subtract years from their precious lives by damaging their tracheas among other problems that prongs cause. Look into martingales if you need a training collar, or work with your pups so that they can be walked on a flat buckle collar. Heads that large won't allow for a pull-out. It can be done, I do it every day.

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