Yes, I brought a Pit Bull
Some time back, I wrote about the prejudices that pit bulls (and those who love them) must endure. ( http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2006/10/346856.shtml) This prejudice, like any other, is a dangerous and ignorant thing. Pits are actually being murdered in many places in this country, just because of who they are. It's important to speak out about this, and so I did. I was shocked to find that readers of this site can be as bigoted as anyone when it comes to Rhodie and Romeo, the dogs that I love. So I want to share a story with you. And I'd like it if you'd think about it.
A few days ago, I was walking Romeo along the river. He was happily trotting along in front of me, ears flapping like little wings as he went. For both our sakes, Romeo and I were on a leash, of course. As always. Suddenly, I heard a loud and threatening ruckus coming from the top of a nearby hill. I turned to see a woman with two large, standard poodles walking down a trail toward us. I smiled and waved, and she tried to do the same. But her dogs were lunging wildly, and the trail was slippery, and the woman lost her balance and fell. As she slid down the bank, the dogs pulled loose and came lunging and snarling and barking down at us. She screamed for them, and I shouted "NO!" But they kept coming, all gnashing teeth and wild eyes, and trailing a long, slippery green leash which bound them both together. It was a very frightening moment.
They came wheeling upon us, and surrounded us. Their leash tangled around us, and i tried to grab it, but they were snapping and visciously snarling at my little Romeo, and I could not get them away. Each of them outweighed Romeo by a substantial margin, and they were attacking him. I tried to pull Romeo out of their grasp, but we were so tangled in their damn leash that there was no way to get away. Through the entire ordeal, Romeo stood there in terror, trying to turn away from them, trying to press against my legs, just trying to keep out of their grasp. As they snapped at his ears and haunches, I shouted at them and pushed them off him with my boot. I flung my arm between the meaner of the two and Romeo, and the poodle tried to snap at my arm, though I was able to pull away before it reached the skin. After what seemed like much too long, the woman who had recovered her feet came running down the trail, shouting and flailing at them. Another person came running over to help. Grabbing at leashes and dog parts, they eventually managed to get a firm enough grip on the white-toothed assailants to get them off my dog.
"Oh shit!" The woman exclaimed. "I SO apologize! Shit! SHIT!"
I knelt down and checked Romeo, who was shaken and covered with foamy dog slobber, and had a few cuts, but did not seem too badly injured. I asked the woman if she was all right (she had taken a bad spill down the bank). She, too, was shaken but not badly hurt. She continued to apologize profusly for her dogs' very bad behavior. What could I say? She had had them on a leash, and it was not her fault that she fell. I've seen people give stern lectures at times like this, but the woman was already so clearly aware of her dogs' transgressions, without my having to say anything. I asked her, again, if she was all right, and then continued on my way.
As I walked away, though, I thought about all the people who wrote on this site about how dangerous and mean and iredeemable pit bulls are. (But thank God, it wasn't everyone. And thanks, Madam Hatter.) And I thought, again, about mindless prejudices. Because if my dog had acted like hers did, everyone would have taken it as "proof." "See? Pit bulls. That's how they are." And if my dog had acted like that, he would be in danger of being taken away by "the authorities." But my dog, the pit bull, did not act like that. My dog stood there trembling in terror as two big, standard poodles attacked him.
And yet, to my knowledge no one has ever proposed a ban on poodles.
This story is made more ironic by an experience we had today, as the two of us walked through downtown. We were down near the max tracks when the yearly parade of drunken santas came jostling past. Several of them stopped to admire Romeo, and one stopped for a long bear hug with him. A family walked by, and three little girls asked if they could pet him. Sure, I said. He loves the attention. So they surrounded him and pet him and hugged him, and he licked their faces and put his paws on their shoulders. A little while later, as we wandered through the crowd, a man in a levi jacket pushed past, looked down at Romeo, and snarled, "Oh, great. Yeh, bring a pit bull here. Nice."
(I offered my observation to him that he would do better to fear the toe of my boot in his ass than the dog, and he continued on his way.) Still, it was an odd experience. To have some complete stranger come up and offer such a thoughtless and ignorant remark like that, which had no grounding in reality, was really annoying. Some people can be such dumbasses. But then, of course, that's what prejudice is all about. A block later, we passed a woman with a little black cocker spaniel. The spaniel took one look at Romeo and went into a frenzy. Barking and leaping and pulling at his leash, he made quite a spectacle of himself. Romeo glanced nonchalantly at him, and sauntered away.
That's my boy.
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