"Oh my God that's a pit bull! Aren't you scared?"
"Pit bulls should be put down. They're so viscous."
Excuse my French, but, bitch please. I've been volunteering for seven years now, with all kinds of dogs from all kinds of situations. The only dog that ever came close to biting me was some little dachshund mix that I could have picked up with one hand.
Pit bulls do not scare me. I would much rather go in to a cage with a pit bull rescued from a fighting ring than a little yappy dog. Why? Never once have I been even remotely nervous about being bitten by a pit bull. Originally the first nanny dogs for their loyal, loving demeanor, pits are the most resilient breed. They have a rough reputation, but so did German Shepherds, who are now the focal point of some Disney movies (ie Max). Many of them have scars from their past, but so do the majority of us humans. People give us second chances, so why can't people give these dogs another chance?
Before I started volunteering, I too was scared of pit bulls, based solely on what I had heard and seen through the media. However, that changed when I met a dog named after a fish. The easiest way to describe Salmon is by explaining that she pulled a surgical pin out of her knee using her teeth. When she was supposed to be resting and healing, she wanted to go on long walks and go and play with toys in the play yard. Also, when this dog got frustrated, she would chew on your shoes. It was not nefarious or anything, just a moment of acting out when she did not get her way. I was in eighth grade at the time, and middle school/junior high school was a rough time for me, as it is for most people. My differences, at the time, were negative because they made me stand out. All I wanted to do was hide and blend in with all of the other girls, even though, to this day, I can not for the life of me tell you anything about makeup, let alone apply it myself. I was an outsider. Salmon helped me find myself.
She came from a rough background, being rescued by the shelter's animal cops. Even though she could have been sad/mad because of her background, she wasn't. She loved life at the shelter, which, compared to where she came from, was the Four Seasons. A while later, a group rescued from a fighting ring came to the shelter. Scarred physically and mentally, these dogs took a lot of rehabilitation before they were able to be adopted in to loving homes. O'Bannon, mostly deaf with some scars, was a little nervous at first, but, after he found his friends, he warmed up and became the goofy goober that his family knows and loves today.
Salmon and O'Bannon taught me valuable lessons that I hope to pass on to anyone who will listen. If you find yourself, whether it be middle school or high school or current you, in a dog, both your and their lives will be changed for the better. I wish I could explain it better, but words can not describe that feeling. Also, be willing to give dogs a second chance, because they give humanity a second chance no matter the situation they came from, and, frankly, you would want someone to do it for you.
O'Bannon, rescued from a fighting ring, with his dog siblings. He is in green with the reindeer antlers. Photo Credit: Michelle Smith (aka Momma Ban Man)
Salmon, striking a pose. Photo Credit: Karen Grant