My husband and I had our first child this summer. A sweet little girl named Piper. Like all families we decided that we needed a family photo; and what better time than Christmas.
One Saturday morning in early December, we packed up the whole family and headed into San Francisco for our appointment with the photographer. There were toys, treats and games. We spent a few hours there and had a great time. Doesn’t sound like a typical photo shoot to you? It seemed perfectly logical to me – family photos with me, my husband, my infant daughter and our pit bull. Yet when people see the pictures, they often have a strong response.
I expect the occasional comments about how strange it is to have a dog in the family photo; usually from non-dog owners. I smile and explain that we are a FAMILY, Spencer included.
Non-dog owners are often outraged and explain to me that it isn’t safe to have ‘that’ kind of dog around children. I gently explain that Spencer is a stable and temperamentally correct pit bull which makes him the perfect dog to have with a child. While no dog should be left unattended with children, because he is a pit bull, not in spite of it, I do not worry about Spencer hurting our daughter. He is patient, gentle and very tolerant of her occasional pull at his ears (kids are so fast!). The same cannot be said for my mother’s Bichon’s. These cute, fluffy dogs need to be kept away from Piper as they are not as patient with any pulling and they don’t like to share their toys. After telling them all of that I add, we are a FAMILY, Spencer included.
I must say, the times that I am most surprised are when ‘dog people’ tell me that while I have a beautiful dog I really need to re-home him for the safety of our baby. These people are often the most adamant. They ‘know’ about dogs. They have never owned a pit bull, they don’t know the breed’s history as the all American family pet, they’ve never heard the of the breed’s nickname ‘nanny dog’ for their excellence with children and they definitely don’t understand that dog – dog aggression is different from aggression towards people. Sometimes they are interested in learning these things, other times they are not. The conversation always ends with me saying “we are a FAMILY, Spencer included”.
After each of these interactions, I walk away angry and hurt. Then I think of Piper and her ‘brother’ Spencer, of the fun we had getting our pictures taken, of the way she now smiles whenever she sees him, the way that she giggles as he licks her toes and the way that he likes to rest his head up against her while we sit on the couch. I think of the joy that she will know growing up with such a wonderful dog and the tolerance she’ll develop for people’s negative comments. It makes me proud and makes me smile. We are a FAMILY – me, Chris, Piper and Spencer.
Special thanks to Pat Boyd for being extra excited when I told her that I was also bringing my pit bull for our family photos. http://www.patboydphotography.com