There's a saying that you don't know what it's like to be someone until you've lived a day walking in their shoes. Now I know that's true:
Since the end of February, I have been taking care of a friend's 6-year old pit bull, Rusty. Because this was a dog I didn't know, I tried to be responsible, when I picked Rusty up from my friend's house, I asked him certain things about his temperament. I knew that he had male dog aggression, but asked how he was with female dogs, guests in the house, children, etc. I was told that other than the male dog aggression, Rusty was great with everyone else (but to also use my judgment). I also looked into my county Gov't to make sure there was no BSL (my neighboring county has BSL agains pits, and there they actually have the right to go into someone's home and take the pit, even if there's been no complaint lodged against it. Because Rusty wasn't my dog, I really didn't want someone coming into my home to take him). Since I also live in a townhome community, I also let the board of directors (of which I am the VP) and the mgmt company know that I would have him in my house. I just didn't want them to get complaints, and have the same prejudices that other people would have: I offered to have them come over and meet him for themselves (so they could see what a sweetheart he is). Well, there was no BSL, and my board of directors had no issues. I figured "No problem." Right?
Rusty immediately won a place in my heart, and we started to go running every day (2 miles), we would go for walks, I'd take him to practice my tennis serves, etc. Immediately, I noticed that people would cross the street when I would run with him. Understand that I don't live in the worst neighborhood, but we have our share of problems over here, so in some ways I liked the extra "protection" that Rusty brought. I didn't think anything of people crossing the street...I didn't realize why they were doing it...I think I forgot that Rusty was a pit bull....
Well, last week, I took Rusty for a nice long walk. We have a playground in my neighborhood, there were 5 or 6 neighborhood girls playing on the playground (between the ages of ~8 and ~12). When I walked past with Rusty, one of the girls asked if they could pet him. I didn't feel that he was "on alert" so I said sure. I put him in a down-stay, and instructed each girl to put their hands out so that he could sniff them before they reached to pet him (I didn't know how much they knew about dogs, which is why I told them to do that). I also asked that one girl go at a time. Well, each girl got to pet Rusty, and he just loved the attention. When they were done, I released him. Because I had no treats with me, I let him jump on me for "love" as his reward. When Rusty jumps on me, he jumps straight up so that he's eye level with me, then lands on his hind legs with his front legs on me (standing up). I was loving on him, he had "wiggle butt," and he was smiling up at me. At that point, a lady came out of her house (from across the street), came running over and said "How could you let children pet such a vicious dog?"
My reaction: "huh?" I had no idea what do she was talking about. Rusty is by NO MEANS vicious...he's a love bug (just don't break into my house). Also, keep in mind that this is not an "untrained" dog. He belongs to a trainer, and is a PSA-titled dog...his obedience is INCREDIBLE.
I have since learned that several homeowners have called the mgmt company and other board directors to complain about my "vicious" dog. When asked what evidence they had as to why they deemed my dog "vicious," not one of them had an answer...
Anyway, my point to this long-winded post is that I just don't get people. I NEVER realized that people could be this prejudiced towards a breed of dog....a breed that, in my opinion, doesn't deserve to be prejudiced against.