In early 2006, we decided to get a second dog, primarily as a companion for our dog, Ellie Mae. It was a Sunday, and the only shelter open was Escondido Humane Society.
We wandered through rows of pit bulls, and other large breed dogs. Then a kennel card caught my eye – “Special Adoption Needed”. As I read the story on the card, about how the dog hadn’t walked and the special efforts the shelter made to heal him, I started crying. I looked into the kennel, and there was this little tan and white pit bull, looking up at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen. I was pretty sure that we were taking this dog home.
We waited in a large room while the adoption counselor got him from his kennel. I chose to sit on the floor so I would be less intimidating for the dog. Upon shuffling into the room, he immediately came over and laid down in my lap. A successful introduction to Ellie Mae, and he was in the car, on his way home with us.
Ellie Mae was a timid dog, and Joey’s confidence and general zest for life helped her come out of her shell. His silly antics won over everyone. He loved the dog park, chasing the bigger (and smaller) dogs, regardless of the fact that he was so much slower than everyone else. Every dog owner fell in love with him.
In 4 years, we’ve only had 3 people make negative comments about him, or about him being a pit bull.
I admit, I bought the hype at first. I worried I’d come home one day and he would have hurt Ellie, or that he’d “snap” as news articles were so fond of saying. I had a run in with the media as a teenager and learned how stories and words can be manipulated to completely change their meaning, so I decided to do some research on the breed.
What I found out was that pit bulls are loyal, silly, smart, stubborn, loving, and in general, awesome dogs. Any dog raised poorly has the potential to act inappropriately.
It wasn’t until we moved to Indianapolis that I became an advocate. In San Diego, there wasn’t the discrimination against pit bulls that you find in other parts of the country (in fact, BSL is illegal per state law).
We knew we were going to be out of town the weekend after we moved, and we needed a reliable dog sitter. I wanted a sitter with experience with pit bulls, as they are strong dogs. Pit Bull Rescue San Diego had helped us find a dog trainer, so I thought that was a good place to start. Google brought me to the Indy Pit Crew page.
It was through Indy Pit Crew that my eyes were opened to the plight of the pit bull. The mistreatment, the fighting, the banning. I got to connect with other pit bull owners and cement my belief that these were awesome dogs, not worthy of the terrible reputation they have.
When BSL was proposed here in Indianapolis last year, I got angry, and decided to REALLY get involved. Joey has become a beloved member of my family, and I can’t imagine my life without him. He likes to snuggle on Saturday mornings. He rolls around on the floor, with his legs swaying in the air. He likes to dance to pop music, and enjoys when I sing silly songs made up of words that rhyme with his name. He routinely makes me laugh, and he comforts me when I am sad. He likes to “help”, whether that’s when I’m tying my shoes, or packing up boxes, or even when we laid new flooring in the basement.
He’s just a dog, a hilarious, sweet, funny, adorable dog, but a dog. Not a monster. When my eyes were opened, how could I stand by and not try to save more pit bulls?