Oh, the lessons life teaches us! One after another, the lessons arrive and teach us.
This morning, Life kissed me on the cheek.
And dissolved yet another pre-conceived idea, another pre-conceived prejudice. Here’s what happened:
I sat on my friend Jan’s couch. We held cups of steaming coffee between us and shared stories of our lives. Her dog, Sasha, and her guest-dog, Fannie, frolicked at our feet.
Fannie leaped on my lap and kissed my cheek, licking voraciously. I have loved Fannie (yep, you too, Sasha!) since last summer when we met.
Here is a picture from last August, which appeared in the Opening the door, Walking Outside blog:
Fannie is a Love. A sweetheart. A licky-lovey-wonderful dog. One of the sweetest dogs I have ever encountered.
I lazily asked Jan (after the sixth lick and kiss): “What kind of breed is this dog anyway? I have never known a sweeter dog.”
Jan answered, “A pit bull.”
I thought I would fall off the couch.
A PIT BULL? Fannie? One of the most evil nasty breeds of dogs known to mankind? My heart stopped. A pit bull? How could the sweetest dog I have ever known be a pit bull?
That was the moment when a pre-conceived idea met with a reality and realized that any overall labels we place on dogs or humans or nature…might not be entirely accurate.
How many times have we labeled people, places or things based on a pre-conceived idea? How many times have we allowed fear to direct our lives, without realizing that a culture is made up of many, many individuals, all with different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, challenges, desires?
How many times in our lives have we labeled someone a “pit bull” just because our culture told us a pit bull was dangerous?
I met my pre-conceived judgments today and they fell apart.
My friend suggested I research pit-bulls and discover more about them. Click here for one article called The Truth about Pit bulls. Fascinating reading.
Did you know that the American pit bull terrier was the most popular family dog during the first part of the twentieth century? Did you know that, according to the American Canine Temperament Testing Association, 85.3% of American Pit Bull Terriers passed the temperament test, compared to 81.9% of all breeds on the average. The first sign of aggression or panic is a failure of the test. Pit bulls achieved the fourth highest rate of 122 breeds tested. No kidding.
Furthermore, Petey of the Little Rascals fame was a Pit bull.
Helen Keller owned a pit bull, for goodness sakes.
So why do pit bulls have such a bad reputation? Why do we hear stories about pit bulls mauling and killing children?
I really don’t know the whole scoop. But several on-line articles suggest that the very endearing qualities of pit bulls –loyalty, intelligence, trainability and courage–attract folks to teach the breed methods which increase their aggressiveness and loyalty. The dogs are often trained by people to increase vicious behavioral responses. They are also often trained to fight other dogs as a sport.
Other on-line articles suggest the opposite, indicating that Pit Bulls do have a higher tendency toward aggression than other breeds. Click here to read a Wikipedia article.
We probably would not choose to buy a pit bull dog–but then again, we are not in the market for ANY animals at this stage of our life. I also do not know how I would feel if I had witnessed child mauled by a pitt bull.
I do feel, however, that Fannie is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever had the opportunity to meet. It was an honor to be kissed by her. And she can have the other cheek next time we meet.