I started this blog a few years ago because I wanted to share my life with pit bulls with advocates, as well as with those who have negative opinions about the breed. However, because breed specific legislation is such an important issue to me, it didn’t take long for that subject to dominate the majority of my posts. The need to fight the ignorance that exists regarding “pit bull type” dogs is persistent, but at the same time, I am mindful that the other side of the pit bull story still must be told. The side of the loyal and loving companion that gets little to no media attention. But media is changing, and the sources from which people are getting their information is changing as a result. In that sense, blogging can play a huge part in changing minds about pit bulls.
I came across this quote the other day, and it got me thinking about how pit bull advocates as a whole can change the perceptions about the breed.
“I honestly believe that the future is going to be millions of little things saving us. I imagine a big seesaw. One end of the seesaw is on the ground with a basket half-full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air. It’s got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us got teaspoons, and we’re trying to fill up sand. A lot of people are laughing at us, and they say, “Ah, people like you have been trying to do that for thousands of years, and it’s leaking out as fast as you’re putting it in.” But we’re saying, “We’re getting more people with teaspoons all the time.” And we think, “One of these years, you’ll see that whole seesaw go zooop in the other direction.” And people will say, “Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?” Us and all our little teaspoons…” ~ Pete Seeger
The reality is, attitudes toward pit bulls aren’t going to change by themselves, but we all have a little teaspoon. At our fingertips, we all have access to a tool that can reach thousands of people. The internet gives us a platform by which to illustrate in words and pictures the positive side of pit bulls, the loyal, loving and beloved family member. Do you have to blog about something profound? No, not at all. You can post a couple of paragraphs, or better yet, pictures of your family companion doing what he or she does best…being a meaningful, loving, important member of your family. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I came across Tiffin’s PBRC listing that I printed off in 1998 before I adopted him. He was being boarded at kennel in State College, Pennsylvania. At that time, shelters in that area euthanized all pit bulls, so while his owner dumped him, he did see to it that Tiffin would be given at least a chance at a new life. The image of a defeated little dog stared back at me and pulled at my every emotion. I was going to save this dog. Little did I know, it was he who would change my life forever and, in effect, he saved me.
I remember so clearly the day I fell in love with Tiffin. I drove out to the kennel – 5 or so hours from my home in Wilmington, Delaware – and I was placed in a big, empty room. The kennel owner brought Tiffin in, and gave us some time to get to know each other. For about twenty minutes, I sat on the floor in one corner, and Tif sat on the floor in the other. He kept his head down, not looking at me, as I tried my hardest to get him to come to me. When the owner finally came back and asked what I thought, I opened my mouth to tell him I didn’t think Tiffin liked me. Before I could answer, almost as if he realized this was his last opportunity for a new life, Tiffin walked over to me and sat in my lap. As I put my arms around him, I could feel his tense muscles relax, and I told the owner I would take him home. The best $25 dollars I ever spent!
Being a new pit bull owner and having no knowledge about the breed, I never realized the challenges I would face. Those challenges weren’t from Tiffin. Oh no. The challenges came in the form of fear, bias, and in some cases, absolute hatred, from people – everyone from family and friends to strangers. I never realized that humans could have such horribly awful feelings toward a dog, after all, they are “man’s best friend.” Of course, Tiffin himself was a walking endorsement for the breed, and he was the key to changing the minds of family and friends. Typical of the breed, he was so affectionate and so silly, he quickly showed them what a pit bull really was. Unfortunately, changing the minds of strangers isn’t quite so easy. They don’t get to spend extensive time with a dog, but they are inundated with negative information about them. But while they may not get actual one-on-one time with them, they can experience life with pit bulls through my website and though blogging. In that respect, I think blogging is a key tool in changing perceptions.
It may sound corny, but through Tiffin, I found my purpose in life. I initially thought that purpose was to help others know the absolute love and incredible bond with a pit bull through rescue and adoption. I realize now that my true calling is to do everything I can to ensure that discrimination and biased laws don’t interfere with those bonds. And even though Tif has passed on, he left in me a dedication and a desire to make positive change for all dogs like him. Dogs that are judged by their appearance, feared because of media hype, and hated based on falsehoods and manipulated information. For the dog that affected me so powerfully, I owe it to him to him and to his memory to never give up the fight for change. In that sense, I owe it to him to encourage others to be catalysts for change, as well.
I am hopeful that like me, you have a dog in your life that inspires you to make change, and I want to encourage you to blog about your experience. Pick up your little teaspoon and start filling up that basket. Sure, its going to take some time for the seesaw to come down, but if we all work together, we will see the end of breed discrimination in the future…of that, I am sure.