When you wade into the world of pit bull enthusiasts, you’d better be wearing protective gear. I took the plunge over 12 years ago, when things were very different than they are today. Incessant talk of “danger,” “locking jaws,” “viciousness,” and “unpredictability” dominated any conversation that revolved around pit bull type dogs.
The chorus sings a different tune these days in most circles, and advocates have learned that subtle shifts in language matters. We’ve almost completely retired “I’m a lover not a fighter!” and espouse more meaningful, positive refrains focusing on the fact that all dogs are individuals.
It’s a refreshing change for those of us that share our hearts, sofas, and beds with these dogs. Unfortunately, there’s still a good deal of misinformation, ignorance, and fear about pit bulls out there. New breed-specific legislation — BSL — proposals still rear up around the world, as do failed attempts to put longstanding misguided laws to rest when the final votes are tallied.
Just last month, the mayor of the city of Montreal in Canada, Denis Coderre, was successful in convincing the city council to institute sweeping restrictive legislation across the city that would result in hundreds of dogs being euthanized and current owners of pit bulls to have to muzzle their dogs in public and apply for a special permit by the end of the year in order to legally keep their pet.
Thankfully, the Montreal SPCA succeeded in obtaining a court injunction to beat back the new laws, at least temporarily. The courts will ultimately decide.
When you love these dogs and experience the joy their giant smiles and goofy antics bring you each and every day, BSL and misinformation about them can really take its toll on your heart.
You see a blocky headed numbskull rolling around on the grass in pure joy, while your neighbor across the street sees a menace and tells you as much. Your dog is trotting happily along at your side at the end of the leash, minding his own business while another dog owner lets their barking/snarling 15 pounds of fur startle you both as she clucks her tongue muttering something about “those dogs” when she changes direction.
It happens frequently. It hurts.
Pit bull people know the truth, though. Pit bulls are sensitive. Silly. Delicate. Ask anyone who has a pit bull and they will tell you they have a very strict temperature comfort zone. It ranges from 68 to 75 degrees. Anything below and you will find them at the bottom of heap of blankets, anything above and they will look like they’ve melted.
They have grievances. Dozens, in fact. We leave them alone while working, dinner is never on time, we’ve allowed the rain to keep falling, or the squirrels to raid their yard.
So, we’ve given them a place to talk about their problems, a secret Facebook group just for “pibbles” (as they are affectionately known) called “What’s Our Little Pit Bull Problem Today?” Membership is highly guarded and invite only, but the 1300-plus current members share their complaints about their “staff”— i.e., their human caretakers — all day and all night. It’s like a support group for everyone involved.
Mel Brooks said, “Humor is just another defense against the universe,” and it’s abundantly true in this group. Photos of pit bulls and their human or furry family members are shared with hilarious captions about why something isn’t going exactly as the pibble had planned.
Captions are written in their voice for added effect and members laugh nonstop. As a founder of the group, along with my dear friend Eden DiBianco, I can’t tell you how often we’re told by the membership that the group is their “happy place” and they seek it out when stressed or sad or just need a break from reality.
Hearing this positive feedback is so heartwarming that I’ve personally spent quite a bit of time reading those comments with tears of joy in my eyes. We have people from all over the world participating in the fun, too, along with trainers, “celebrity” dogs, shelter workers, pet sitters, and average everyday people who just happen to like their dogs a little on the blockier side. We have some plans in store for expanding the group and holding some fundraising activities to benefit various pit bull organizations, so be on the lookout for that.
In the meantime, perhaps you want to start gathering your pit bull’s problems to report when the time comes.
PupJournal is proudly hosting National #PitBullWeek, or #NPBW, to celebrate blocky-headed wigglebutts, otherwise known as “pit bulls.” It’s time these pups are able to live their lives free from discrimination and harm. You can find articles, videos, and adoptable dogs on our National Pit Bull Week page and on Facebook. Join us by tagging National #PitBullWeek, or #NPBW!