because they ARE
In light of the recent ill-fated evaluation of my own dogs, Lizs' struggles w/Inara, and the many posts from other members looking for help regarding their dogs behaviors... is "being owned by a Pittie" making us more anxious because
of public perceptions, and are we sometimes forgetting that they are dogs first and Pit Bulls second?
For me, personally, I think this definitely seems to be the case.
I'm one of those people who usually "doesn't sweat the small stuff", even though I'd like to think of myself as a very responsible pet owner. I provide adequate vet care, good food, and a more than nice shelter for all my animals. I teach basic obedience and good manners, I have infinite patience when it comes to potty training, and I understand that "dogs are dogs" and not really little furry people
BUT... I've definitely noticed that I approach our training/daily living by breed
rather than by species lately, and it's making things more difficult than they should be.
Daisy gets to be a dog more than the boys do... she's a snarky, crotchety old lady w/a stubborn streak, yet I don't eye-ball her every move w/suspicion or analyze every little thing she does ad nauseum.
I don't get frustrated when she yips and yaps at every dog who walks past our yard, or when she starts chasing them (and their people) up and down our fence. When she growls at the boys over a toy or a treat I don't automatically think "DA"... I think "now there is a dog who doesn't like to share"...
She has growled at the groomer and the vet before, and not one person suggested a muzzle. As a matter of fact - it never occured to me that she should wear one either. We chalk it up to her not wanting to be touched in certain places by certain people, and it's no big deal.
Daisy doesn't like most small dogs, and the ones she does encounter she tries to "herd" and/or dominate... it doesn't bother me, and I've never tried to train that trait out of her. She also likes to herd people, which I find amusing rather than annoying or alarming.
Her obedience is so-so on a good day, and she likes to test me when we have visitors... kinda like a child will test a parent when company comes over. It usually takes several commands to get her to obey, but I'm past being embarrassed or apprehensive about it. I manage her quite well, considering, and I'm fine with that. She's a DOG first, after all... and a Border Collie Mix second.
Now, the boys are held to higher standards by me and
other people, unfortunately... and it's taking some of the fun out of being owned by two Pit Bulls. Maybe it's because people approach them differently (most are either afraid or very cautious)... or maybe it's because I'm looking at them differently myself lately. I know
these dogs better than anyone, but the "what ifs..." about any number of potential disasters/mishaps/misunderstandings is always lurking in the back of my head - and I hate it.
What if one of the boys jumps on someone when greeting them? What if someone thinks they're dangerous for barking at passer-bys/strange dogs on the street? What if one of them gets out of the yard? (Daisy has... and I was not
in a panic about it, just simply called her back in. However... when Faust followed me to the mail box one time because I didn't latch the gate right - I think I had a full-blown anxiety attack, even though he came to me immediately when I called him.)
What if Sepp growls at the vet? What if he reacts badly to another dog? Yadda... yadda... yadda... the "what ifs" are endless, because the boys are Pit Bulls first, dogs second.
Neither of them has ever
given me a good reason to worry about something bad happening, but since they are
Pit Bulls - I worry anyway.
And in my quest to be a responsible owner who has two outstanding breed ambassadors I'm driving all of us crazy, and I expect sometimes almost-impossible results by trying to "out-train" things that are completely natural for a dog.
at other dogs. Not all dogs like
all other dogs or people. Dogs jump, chase, growl, get in scuffles, don't always listen... because they're dogs
, and that's what they do
Living in a place where Pit Bulls are automatically euthanized for the smallest infraction, and are never adopted out once they enter the shelter system, puts a lot of additional pressure on a person.
I hate that I've become so worried about "public opinion" that I expect mine to be perfect. A little paranoia goes a long way...
I need an intervention.