As I began to write this, I am sitting on my bed with two of my dogs lying at my feet. Luce is larger with a mustache collar while Penelope is slightly smaller with a pink collar, however, they are mirror images of each other. Both Luce and Penelope are pit bulls. Our story starts many years ago during one particularly hot summer.
It was the summer of 2009 and a hot one, at that. My two older sisters, Emma and Mara, spent a lot of time at the Humane Society volunteering that summer. After one particular visit, they came home and told us about a pair of pit bull puppies, Luce and Zeus.
Luce and Zeus were the cutest puppies at the shelter, but also the naughtiest. Especially Luce. Emma and Mara came bearing horror stories about Luce and his bad behavior. However, they continued to go to the shelter almost every day to play with Luce and Zeus. They often brought them special treats and toys. Luce was nicknamed Lucifer by my sister Emma.
After awhile, Emma and Mara began trying to persuade my mom into adopting them. At the time, we had no dog since our boxer, Maggie, was put down a few months earlier. My mom agreed to meet them and I came along.
On the day we met Luce and Zeus, it was clear that they had improved immensely in the short time my sisters had been working with them. My mom and I fell in love with them both immediately, but we could only take one. The decision wasn’t easy; Mara was in love with Zeus, while Luce was Emma’s baby.
When I met them, it became clear who we were going to adopt. At the time, I was terrified of dogs, you see, but when I met Luce, it was like he knew and he was trying his very best to behave for me. He was extremely patient, tolerant, and gentle with me. I felt comfortable around him and soon I began coming to the shelter with my sisters to visit Luce and Zeus.
It took us a long time to go through the adoption process; the shelter staff was being a bit difficult because Luce was a pit bull. While my sister Mara and I were in Austria, the shelter finalized the adoption. I wasn’t there to see Luce come home but I know the stories.
When my mom and Emma first brought him home, he was scared to go up the stairs. It took several days for him to go up them. Luce was also very lazy. One afternoon, my mom tried to take him for a walk. Well, they got a couple houses down the street and Luce laid down and refused to walk. After much tugging and begging, my mom gave in and turned around to go home. Luce jumped up and raced back to the house.
My mom, Mara, Emma, and I fell in love with Luce. He was the most patient, sweetest dog and an avid soccer player.
A year later, we met Anthony Barnett, the founder of Game Dog Guardian.
He encouraged us to bring Luce to their Pit bull E.D.U. class. We did and so began our fight to advocate for all pitties.
The class taught basic obedience skills, but also education in regards to pit bulls and the stigmas they face. It was through this class that we learned of one Game Dog Guardian’s rescue dogs: Penelope. According to Katie and Anthony (The husband and wife who run GDG), Penelope looked exactly like Luce. Intrigued, we decided to meet Penelope.
We took her home that day.
We had the joy of adopting Penelope when she was pretty little and very needy. Much like a human baby would be.
Another year went by and my sister, Mara began working with a deaf pit bull, Reggie, from the shelter. We soon became his foster family. Reggie was by far, the biggest challenge of a dog we had ever worked with.
Because he was deaf, we had to use sign language to train him. Potty training him was awful because no matter how loud you yelled at him to stop peeing it wouldn’t work. I resorted to jumping up and down like a crazy person to get his attention. He was NAUGHTY. I like to think of him as a beaver because he chewed everything. The walls, the tables, chairs, the trees. He had no limits.
It took a solid nine months for Game Dog Guardian to find Reggie a home. Deaf dogs aren’t exactly in high demand. His adoption was very emotional for my family, especially Mara. We loved him and Mara had worked with him so much, but we were also very happy.
We only fostered one other dog after Reggie: Susie.
Susie was different. She came from a fighting ring in Montgomery County. She was part of the group of Montgomery dogs that Game Dog Guardian among other rescues and shelters had taken on. She was mostly used as a breeder dog, but she had been fought a few times.
Susie was extremely shut down when we got her. She was scared of everyone and would spend all day hiding under the table, shaking from fear anytime anyone got close to her. It was devastating to watch.
Over the course of several months, we watched Susie take tiny baby steps. Every minor improvement thrilled us. Eventually, we adopted her, realizing that she would back track if she had to go to a new home. To this day, she is still not like normal dogs. She doesn’t sleep on the couch or get in your lap. However, she loves to give kisses.
Not very long after, my sister, Emma, decided she wanted a dog. She had just gotten her first apartment and wanted a companion. She adopted Wayne from Game Dog Guardian. They are a match made in heaven.
Since Wayne, we haven’t adopted any dogs.
However, I still feel very strongly about pit bulls. I believe that they are judged based on the bad rap they have been given, when they are harmless. You can’t judge a dog based on what breed they are. Every dog is unique just like every person is. To make a general assumption is unfair.
Also, no pit bull is born mean. It’s about how they are trained. The same goes for all dogs. If you raise a dog properly and with love, they will be loving.
To make another point, people who fight dogs, do not train dogs to be people aggressive, they train them to be dog aggressive. There is a very big difference. If a dog turns people aggressive, the dog fighters kill it.
The cruelty that these animals suffer in fighting rings is unreal. They don’t want to be in that situation anymore than you want to be forced to kill someone. It is not their fault. They are beaten, fought, and bred forcefully.
To be cruel to an innocent animal is one of the biggest offense you can make, to me.
I hope this has opened your mind. I want you to realize that not all pit bulls are bad and certainly not by choice. The prejudice against them does not do them justice. In my opinion, they are some of the best dogs you can own. For example, Luce is a registered therapy dog.
I won’t stop advocating for pits and I hope that I can change at least on persons view on pit bulls through this post.