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I Love My Pit Bull
National Pit Bull Day celebrates this misunderstood breed
Gremlin, a former bait dog, now doing her thing as a certified Therapy Dog.

I don't think of myself as particularly political or controversial. Yet the “I love my Pit Bull” magnet on my minivan makes some people see red. I've heard everything from, "Do you really have one?" to "Those dogs are horrible and should be banned." I wish I could say these words were spat out by complete strangers, but in fact, they were friendly acquaintances, which meant I had to keep listening to them instead of shrugging it off as the senseless mutterings of a crazy person. Truly, it was one of those do-you-not-know-me-at-all moments.

Hi, my name is Julia Lane and I love a Pit Bull. Her name is Shelby. She is the most beautiful reddish-orange color, which is why her nicknames are “Fawn” or “Honey Bear.” We also call her “Pup-A-Lup,” “Luppy, “ “Lupness” and any other Lup variations I can sneak into her favorite song, “Shelby Is My Pup-A-Lup.” This song is reserved for belly rub time after I’ve amused myself by shouting, “Get the pit! Now the other pit!” as I vigorously scratch under her arm pits. 

October 22 is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. It’s an opportunity to get to know this much maligned and misunderstood dog that was once a popular family pet. Did you know that Pit Bulls are not a breed, but rather a type of dog? Those infamous “locking jaws” are a myth; Shelby is a tough chewer, but it was my late Catahoula, Desoto, who managed to destroy the black Kong in three bites. According to the American Temperament Test Society,  pits are not more aggressive than other dogs. In your face, sensational headlines!

Hundreds of organizations including Best Friends, Bad Rap, Stubby Dog, Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue and The Sula Foundation are hosting special events  to educate the public. If you don’t know a Pit Bull, go to your local shelter and you’re guaranteed to meet one. Approximately one million Pit Bulls are euthanized in shelters every year. And that doesn’t even count the dogs who are abused and discarded by fighting rings. Whoever said ignorance is bliss is dead wrong.

When I think of pits and second chances, there is always an extraordinary individual who made it possible, who saw past the stereotypes and in an appropriate turn, fought for their dog. Andrew Yori has written extensively about his two amazing pit bulls, Wallace, a national disc dog champion, and Hector,  a former Vick dog who is certified as a Therapy Dog. Wallace was brought to the local shelter as a puppy, and slated for euthanasia. In his new documentary, “Wallace: The Rise of An Underdog,” Yori shares the incredible story of how a seemingly uncontrollable Pit Bull defied the odds to “change minds one disc at a time.”   

Chris Hughes saw potential in Gremlin, a Pit Bull who, as a bait dog, was literally left for dead. By the time Odessa Second Chance Rescue and Rehabilitation pulled her from the shelter, she faced enormous challenges, all because of humans. Both of her back legs had been broken on purpose, and a bat had been rammed down her throat, causing ruptured vocal cords. After two years of rehabilitation, including hydrotherapy, Gremlin was able to walk normally. She went on to earn her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification and become a Therapy Dog. Together with Hughes, she makes weekly visits to Aristacrat Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for people who are mentally unstable. She also attends Avon East Elementary School, bringing joy to kids in the special education class. As Hughes puts it, “To have a dog that came from a fighting situation that is now a children’s therapy dog says a lot.”

Shelby is not a champion or certified in anything except Bellyrubology. But she is my Lup and I love her. Countless other Pit Bulls do the same for their people. They love. 


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

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Submitted by Kay | October 21 2011 |

actually there is an American Pit Bull Terrier breed in UKC and I *think* in the rare breed registry. The AKC equivalent is the AmStaff. If you go to a UKC conformation show, you will see lots of them - they may be the #1 breed registered with UKC. A good opportunity to see what they are really like!

Submitted by Carey | October 26 2011 |

I have a pit and worked in a no kill shelter with many pit bulls...they were all extremely smart and took to our obedience classes like naturals...however two of my favorites are still available for adoption due to the ignorance of society. My pit is by far the most obedient, loyal, and sensitive out of my three dogs (rottie and shep/lab). The only two times I was bitten by a dog, they were each under 5 pounds!

Submitted by Anonymous | October 21 2011 |

"Those dogs are horrible and should be banned." I wish I could say these words were spat out by complete strangers, but in fact, they were friendly acquaintances, which meant I had to keep listening to them instead of shrugging it off as the senseless mutterings of a crazy person. Truly, it was one of those do-you-not-know-me-at-all moments."

All that means is that those friendly acquantances also need to be shrugged off as senseless mutterings of crazy people.....=) Just cause their acquaintances doesn't make em safe-n-sane.....

Submitted by Anonymous | October 22 2011 |

Pit bulls are the sweetest, most loving and loyal dogs I have ever run across without being clingy. I did have a rott/beagle mix who was amazing also.

Submitted by ashley | October 23 2011 |

I loved this article. I wish more people would get educated about these dogs. I currently have 2 and am now expecting, people keep asking what I'm going to do with the dogs? And I ask what do they mean, they say well they are pitbulls. And I have to inform them just how well they do with children. One day these dogs will hopefully come out on top. All thanks to these wonderful rescues.

Submitted by Julie | October 23 2011 |

Technically, they are American Staffordshire Terriers. Wonderful, loyal, gentle dogs who have gotten a bad rap because of irresponsible humans. I know several I would trust with my life. Hopefully, word will get out that these are NOT dangerous or bad dogs; just victims of some of the humans they've been unlucky enough to come in contact with.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 1 2011 |

Just a slight correction...the three official breeds that are lumped into the term "pit bull" are American Staffordshire Terriers (as you've suggested), Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers. There are other breeds that are often mistaken for these other breeds and also lumped into the term "pit bull". I just wanted to add to your post, not contradict or cause tension. Just education.

I am owned by two Am-Staff mixes and don't actually care what they are except that they are 100% amazing, not dangerous and are really...just dogs. MY dogs.

Submitted by scargosun | October 24 2011 |

When people tell me that pit bulls should be banned I just tell them that I think ignorant people should be banned. I then ask them if I can ban them first. :)

Submitted by Jessica | October 25 2011 |

I own four dogs two of which are Pits (one is Johnny the crooked puppy)and they are best friends with my four kids. I just wanted to thank you for writing this article. I personally want to scream from the rooftops what amazing dogs these creatures are! You have a much louder voice and thank you for using it! Give Shelby a belly rub from Bella and Johnny :)

Submitted by Anonymous | October 30 2011 |

I loved your article. I am an "accidental" pit bull owner - I met a 7 month old pup that was scheduled for euthanization at our county shelter and could not let that happen. I tried to find a rescue group to take him, and of course there are so many of these dogs in need that I ended up keeping him. My gain. I love my little 64 pound bundle of love and muscle - he is such a comedian, and a great snuggler. Strange how having one of these dogs instantly turned me into an advocate. I want everyone to see how friendly he is, so I walk him frequently in public areas of my community. I get some judgemental looks, and a few awful comments, but have found that most people are completely taken by my wiggly tail-wagging dog. That's what he is - a wonderful dog.

Submitted by Marie C | October 31 2011 |

What a great article! I laughed out loud when reading "This song is reserved for belly rub time after I’ve amused myself by shouting, “Get the pit! Now the other pit!” as I vigorously scratch under her arm pits." I can definitely relate!

Our pit, Lotus (aka Baby), is the most beautiful, loving rescue dog ever. She loves to play with our godchildren, and most of the day she sleeps surrounded by one (or all) of our four cats.

Thus far, every pit we've met has been goofy and loving like our Lotus, even if, like her, they were abused in early life. Now that they have safe, stable, loving homes, their true nature shows -- and they love everybody!

Submitted by Anonymous | November 1 2011 |

Thank you so much for articles such as this. My boyfriend and I have an American Staffordshire Terrier (Junior), and his parents have a Pit Bull Terrier (Hooch) & an Am Staff (Rocky) as well. All three are the most loving, loyal and friendliest dogs that I have ever seen. I've brought Junior to my softball games and I can't count how many people (including children) have pet him & told me how wonderful & beautiful he is. My roommate has twin 7 yr old girls & they love playing outside with Junior all the time :). Never once have I had to worry about him around the girls. My bf's nephew is 9 months old & Hooch loves to give him kisses all the time! Thanks again for this article & for supporting these wonderful dogs :)

<3 <3

Submitted by Patricia | December 6 2011 |

I own a beautiful red/fawn Pit named Brandy, whom I also call 'Honey Bear' or just 'Bear'. I adopted her in February 2011 and just absolutely adore her. She had no life before coming to live with me. No walks, no play time, no love. She was leashed to a stairway railing all day because she would get into trouble when the owners weren't home. The only reason she did this, was because she didn't get any exercise or attention and was bored. She was also abused. Thrown through walls and slapped around. Saddens me to think about her life, before she came to be with me. She also has allergies and was always itchy, and had scratched a large amount of her hair out. Due to this she was a bit scabby and had raw, red skin.
Now she is a happy happy girl, with beautiful healthy skin, a constantly wagging tail, big grin and soulful eyes.
This was a great read, and thank you for sharing your love of pitbulls. It's hard to own one a live in a world that always discriminates against them. We have to be advocates for this breed and educate the public on what wonderful dogs they truly are. I do this everyday and believe that in my own way, I am saving the world one Pitbull at a time.

Submitted by Richard | December 7 2011 |

I was lucky enough to be rescued by Kalli (AKA Wiggle. E. Butt) a Black with white trim 2yr old AmStaff about a yr ago. She was hours away from being put to sleep in a NV. shelter but thanks to some wonderful people she was pulled out of there for me. Then was shipped to the west coast to be with me in her forever home.
This last year has been amazing, I honestly cant picture life without her. Yes I get the "you have a Pit Bull??" question all the time. Much to my parents dismay I proudly admit that I do and will always have one. she is my pride and joy! They are an amazing breed,and I do admit they are not for everyone but they are for me!

Submitted by Rhonda | December 29 2011 |

I lost my pit bull, Mischief, on Monday 12/26. She was 13 years old. Mischief was my first pit bull--I went to the shelter back in 99 looking for a yellow lab type dog; instead, Mischief picked me to take her home. I fell in love with her right away and she became my best, inseperable friend. When I took her in, I was 23 and really had no idea of the troubles I would encounter later and the looks I would get when I told people I had a pit. But, I was loyal to my dog as she was to me, and we made it through 13 years of always finding a place to live and we found other supportive pit families. There is always a way when there's a will. I grew SO PROUD to tell people that yes, my girl IS a pit. I like to think that because of her, many people i knew otherwise would have kept the bad stereotypes in their mind, but after meeting her at our home, and seeing that she was a silly clown and a lover, left with good experiences and saw she was a sweet, affectionate best friend like any other, alebit stronger and bigger than some LOL.
Her loss has been particularly hard as many who don't understand not only the gravity of the grief when losing a pet, also don't realize how bonded I felt with her in the sense that I believe SHE helped make ME the person I am today--someone who fights for the underdog, who will go in and handle the dogs other people are afraid of, who stands firm against society's acceptance of mistreatment of these dogs.
I have another little pittie girl, her name is Maggie. She has big shoes to fill now. I also have a pittie mix boy I'm fostering. Maggie and I are going to give ourselves some alone time before we pick the next pittie to be a permanent family member but now I can't see ever choosing a different type of dog since I was blessed with Mischief. She is so, so missed.

Submitted by Carol B. | January 30 2012 |

I love the article - I too wish more people would quit buying into the
bad hype and realize there is no such thing as a "bad" breed. Only
ignorant people under misconceptions. I have been personally acquainted with several pit bulls and every one a real sweetheart.

Submitted by tensiometro | March 4 2012 |

Pit2fX I am getting married on the 15th of November. Congratulate me! Then will be here rarely!...

Submitted by Jennifer | October 27 2012 |

Thank you for this great article. Those of us who know the love and goofy nature of pits understand how amazing these dogs are. We have rescued two pit bulls who have faced enormous challenges from people, one taught to fight and the other used as a bait dog. They are both extraordinary dogs who are now the most lovable, kind, sweet-hearted souls. After spending time with trainers and people who care, our two pits are the loves of our lives. Thank you for spreading the awareness.

Submitted by Rayne | October 27 2012 |

Thanks for this lovely article. I hope people re-post it and share it like crazy. We don't have a pitt, but we do have an English Bull Terrier - you know a little tank with a big egg head! So many people think she is some sort of pitt and they react negatively. You can't convert everyone, but we try. In our house, our Carmen is a love bug and comedian and she has such a lovely life. She is super gentle with her 16-year-old terrier deaf and blind "dog uncle" and we couldn't be happier with her. Thanks again for writing about the merits of bull-breeds.

Submitted by Danielle | January 6 2013 |

i couldnt agree with you more. My 2 pitts are amazing. And they LOVE LOVE all children and all other animals. I was never a dog person by any means. Then, i met my boyfriend who had a pit. The moment i met this beautiful pit named "Blue" he had me wrapped. Blue has passed and we got 2 more together. Daisy and Levi, and i couldnt ask for a better love. They are 100 percent love and happiness, and they are my world....

Submitted by marion | March 26 2013 |

I also have a great pitt, her name is buffy and she is a beautiful red. She is not the perfectly behaved dog but but she is a well behaved dog. She is my perfect friend. She loves people and runs with other dogs with no issues, shes alot of fun and loves me and my family completely. It would never enter her head that a person may hurt her, and I hope she never has to experience it xx

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