For the Love of Pit Bulls

On April 22, 2010 my husband and I adopted a pit bull named Fred. If you have followed me on GoodBlogs you may know a bit about him. You will know he has a sweet face and soul-filled eyes, and that people stop us on walks to ask to pet his fawn-colored fur. He has been dubbed “Sir Fred,” “Frederick McHandsome Face” and “Golden Boy,” among many other names. He makes us exercise whether we want to or not and he has increased our quality of life tenfold.

But there’s this thing about pit bulls; you learn to love one and you somehow love them all. My dream was to write a book, buy a house with a large yard and then hire a staff; friends that were interested, trainers, people who just got it when it came to pit bulls. I imagined what it would be like to adopt every pit bull at the shelter, take them to this house and let them live together, surrounded by people who loved them. There, my Pit Bull Paradise would be complete.

I don’t even know how much it would cost to do that. I would probably have to write ten books, and one is scary enough. So instead, I suggested a second dog.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

My husband agreed wholeheartedly. It felt like he had wanted this forever. Volunteering at the Humane Society made him want to adopt them all even more so than I did. We agreed that Fred looked a little sad sometimes…or maybe lonely was a better word.

Even though I had mentioned it first, I suddenly had second thoughts. I hardly let Fred go up to other dogs, let alone invite one to come live in our house. Mostly, I fear he will intimidate the dog or I’ll get a nasty look from the dog’s owner. I imagined the looks I would get when I was seen walking two pit bulls. And before you call me paranoid, please know that has happened multiple times. A sweet older woman once asked me if she could pet Fred, and as he sniffed her outstretched hand, she asked, “What type of dog is he?”

When I replied, “Pit bull,” she instantly ripped her hand away and backed up several feet. “Pit bulls are terrible dogs!” She exclaimed. “I certainly hope you don’t have children.” My heart broke for Fred and I was happy he couldn’t understand her cruel words. Five seconds beforehand, she was petting him, smiling at him and he was certainly not attacking her.

But after months of research, long talks with my husband, even longer talks with God and a determination to stop living in fear, I told him I was ready. I wanted Fred to have a friend, a deep bond with another creature that he could never have with me. I loved him and I loved my husband, and that love was stronger than my fear.

We started to prepare. We applied to be fosters and were quickly approved. The crate was set up, the essentials were purchased and our house braced itself for a major life change.

When we got the call that Angel was ready to be picked up, I was surprised at the peace that filled my mind. Having anxiety means always, always worrying. I’ve joked that I have anxiety about my anxiety, and seem to find the “what if” in everything. But this felt right. I knew it was possible the two dogs wouldn’t get along or would never fully adjust to each other. I knew I now had less time to write, to watch my favorite shows or even to do laundry. The “what if” was slowly fading away, replaced by “We will make this work.”

I’m not going to sugar coat this and say it was rainbows and butterflies from the beginning. We have had her since Sunday and there have been a few moments. They have not tried to fight, but we are being overly cautious especially when they start to play. My poor sweet Fred keeps getting corrected, and he often walks off to sulk. We have found ourselves correcting him, following him, apologizing and waiting for his kisses, all to make sure he knows he is our number one man. He does need to learn how to act with another dog.

And Angel? I could write a thousand words about how amazing she is. She is so like Fred in some ways and completely opposite in others. While Fred loves to snuggle under a blanket and prefers a closed-in crate, she sleeps on top of the covers and breaks out of said crate. Thankfully we had another one ready, the metal type that allows her to see her surroundings. But she is like Fred in the sweetness of her manner, and when I look into her eyes, I can once again almost hear the whispers, “Thank you for saving me.”

They are so much fun to take on walks and jogs, and their strong bodies line up to trot with each other in sync. Each night we have had Angel, they have inched closer and closer before plopping down for naps. In the picture above, they were finally on the same couch, but seem to know they are not ready for full cuddling quite yet.

My heart smiles when I think of the day that can happen. Every time Fred licks her face, I melt a little inside. If I thought loving one pit bull was amazing, who knows what is to come? All I know is, I am happy to find out.

Fred may be our number one man, but we have added a beautiful baby girl to the family. And that picture just couldn’t be sweeter.

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5 thoughts on “For the Love of Pit Bulls

  1. talleygilly says:

    Jen – So happy for you! Love this line: The “what if” was slowly fading away, replaced by “We will make this work.” This resonates so much in your change in your family with Angel’s arrival, and with our life in general. How many times could we shift our mindset so distinctly in this way. I also am so struck by the story of the woman petting Fred and then reacting so fiercely to him once she knew his breed. I seriously think pit bulls need to be rebranded with a different name so people focus on the actual dog, not the terror associated with that breed. Give Angel and her brother Fred some hugs for me. -Alexandra

  2. Dayle says:

    I love the picture!!!

    I’m so happy that everything is working out so well, and I can’t wait to read about the day that they’re snuggling up together!

    I’ve never owned a pit bull. In fact, I’ve had very little exposure to them. But I have several friends and family members with pits and none of them have ever had a problem and all of them adore their babies! . . . I know the prejudice isn’t on the same level, but I’ve had a few comments about my ferrets. “Don’t they bite?” “They’re like rats!” and so on . . . I try to explain politely, “Well, actually the only time Charlie’s bitten me is when he does it accidently while trying to take the socks off of my feet, and they’re part of the weasle family, not rodents. They’re wild relatives EAT rats. Thank you very much!” But I’ve still had dirty looks!

  3. Mysti says:

    This is beautiful, Jen!!! I am so glad that you have Angel in your lives!

  4. Pounder says:

    Admittedly, pitbulls scare me a little bit. I have had a German Shepherd and a Jack Russell. They were both wonderful dogs. My best friend has a pitbull. He ha stwo young kids, and they are the most loving protective dogs. He would have no other dog. So, say good for you, and it is great you are giving them a loving home where they are not threatened and in fear for their lives and thus viscious.

    • Jen says:

      Thank you Pounder! My husband and I are like your friend, we want no other dog but a pit bull. I always say, if you abuse ANY dog, they can become vicious. We love them for their loyalty, athleticism, energy and the unconditional way they love us back. 🙂

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