Sunday, November 11, 2007

Teflon Tuff

Oh my aching head. On the heels of a fantastic evening last night (see notes below), we're reminded just how tuff we really have to be to own and enjoy our pit bulls. Not tuff as in, "Wow am I tres cool and muy macho," but tuff enough to teflon biased opinions such as those in: Vallejo Times Herald's weekend piece on 'pet psychology.'

The headline of the article reads, "Pet Psychology What does your pet choice say about you?" Although I propose a different headline: "Pets and Armchair Psychology. What does your personal prejudice say about you?"

Apparently pit bull owners, we've been diagnosed.
The tens of thousands of us who own and enjoy pit bulls in the bay area, specifically in Solano County, are merely fine tuning our bad boy macho image. Oy vey. If we REALLY meant to have "family member type pets" according to clinical psychologist Dr. Kelly Horton, we'd be by-passing these fat head dogs up for labrador retrievers.

Baby Clare is much too busy enjoying her friend to care what people think about her parent's breed choice.

The article suggests that our income and even our EDUCATION level may have something to our breed choice. "Income and education level and where they live may dictate why some people have certain kinds of animals," one north bay shelter worker said. Presumably, the less educated we are, the more attracted we will be to pit bulls. More: "Terriers have a strong prey drive, which can be a problem with kids going by on skateboards or on bikes, or the postman or pizza delivery guy gets bit."

Whoa! Wait a minute. The last time we checked, responsibly owned pit bulls weren't chasing the pizza guy any more than responsibly owned labradors - the supposed ideal family pets. In fact, two irresponsibly owned lab-mixes made the paper this spring when they chased and bit up a passer-by in the North Bay. Lab Attack, Of course, we would never blame the breed or the income level of dog owner. But rather, we would look at the circumstances. Prior history? Yes, the dogs had been at large before, barking scarily at some neighborhood kids. Containment problems? Absolutely.

Solano County pit bull owners, you have a right to be pissy at your local paper today. Yes, yes, we know there are irresponsible pit bull owners out there as well as irresponsible lab owners, but generalizing and supporting stereotypes is sooo 1950's. Not to mention, it's sensationalistic and smacks of tabloid journalism. Kudos though to Darlene Jelonek, who does animal control for the Benicia Police Department. She said most of the dogs she picks up in town are loose running labs and retrievers. She rarely encounters an aggressive pit bull, and said. "We got the friendlier, family dogs here, I guess," she said. Thank you Darlene. Score one for Benicia.

Speaking of Tuff Love

Last night's event exceeded all expectations. The tasting room was packed, the guests were dressed to the nines, the sake was flowing, the music was jamming and atmosphere was all about love and appreciation for the breed. Sales were good and everyone seemed walk out the door with an auction score, a BR Exposed Calendar and/or an original work of art.
We'll post a link to fun photos when we unfog our brains, but for now, THANK YOU to everyone who came out and showed so much generosity and kindness.

Photographer Anne Truitt had good reason to celebrate. Her Exposed calendar photos were a hit and her framed prints nearly sold out. Congrats Anne! and thank you again.


Anonymous said...

Sigh...nothing new here, I'm afraid. I'm glad you are still fighting the media.

On the east coast, I spent the afternoon with Petey, a partially-deaf, formerly abused APBT, diagnosed with osteosarcoma, now here at a wonderful no-kill shelter in eastern Pa. I took him for a walk, let him eat lots of grass and then for a ride in the car.....he had a great time and so did reading the Sunday papers. They're about to enact BSL against bullies in Reading this year.

So glad your event went well....Can't wait for my calendar.


spongebrooke said...

As horrible as that article is, I must admit it did give me a good chuckle. As an assuming 5'1 female blonde biology nerd, I had no idea I had a "bad boy macho image" in the first place! Let alone one that needed fine tuning. You learn something new every day....

Anonymous said...

Hey Bad Rap Gang,

Thanks for another wonderful event - we from Northern Cal had a great time, were able to run off with some fantastic art, including Donna's piece on the beach and were honored to be part of the celebration. Thanks for all you do...


Jackelyn said...

I so wish I could have come to the's too bad I don't live closer. Sounds like a wonderful event!

As for the article, all I can do is shake my head. That people continue to stereotype is just beyond comprehension. I have to giggle about this. What people must think when they see me walking my pit bull. My blonde hair, make-up, high heels, handbag...oh let the stereotyping begin. I can say, this college educated, girly-girl LOVES her pit bulls

Anonymous said...

This female, Ivy educated, blondish (highlighted), German car driving, property owner loves her rescued, brindle, CGC, Therapy Dog Pit bull. In fact, I've found that our Pit Bull does incredibly well socializing with the "wine and cheese" crowd...he now gets personal invites to a couple of Holiday Black Tie affairs. Sorry Rachel, your information is sooo out of date!

Anonymous said...

My husband has an undergrad from Notre Dame and an MBA from Michigan. I am also college educated, (nothing as fancy as his) and I suspect after rescuing our first pittie nothing but pitties will be allowed in our home!

I suspect if the pitbulls in the metro-detroit area could make it to the suburban shelters, many more people would own them.

These kinds of articles make me want to scream!!!! I am a 5ft. tall, mini-van driving mom of 3, I don't have my pittie to look tough, quite the opposite as he is the sweetest snuggler around!

Anonymous said...

I think they have the wrong stereotype! I'm blondish (highlighted)drive a car that LOOKS like a German car, I LOVE wine and cheese and my female brindle Pit Bull, CGC, Registered Therapy Dog loves children and comforts sick people.Hey just like the above Pit Bull owner. Geez, am I in the wrong place or something?!
As a dog trainer/counselor, don't even get me started on the "Labs are the 'safe' dog to own" business....I know better through experience.

Anonymous said...

I really think this reporter and Dr. Kelly Horton need to make an appointment to have their heads examined by the one and only Dr. Jonny Sue (from BR's 2006 Happy Endings).

Anonymous said...

As a middle-aged, middle-class more than middle-weight white woman - does my pit-mix mean I finally have street cred?

Stupid, stupid people.


Anonymous said...

I just came by to check out your blog. I like. And that picture of Baby Claire and the pit bull is priceless! The pit bull is such sweet dog with a really bad rap for sure.
When you get a chance check out my blog.

Anonymous said...

Dina in Reading, PA: your state has a law against BSL. Be sure your city officials know that any BSL law they pass will not be legal. Though that may not stop them; it hasn't in New York...

Anonymous said...

O man...I thought that my pit mix was enough to convey my need to be macho! I guess I'd better get a fighting fish too! Man...then I'd probably rule the block! Anyway, if pitbull owners really do associate so closely with the dogs they get then I know a few of us must be really people friendly and have wiggly butts! So ignorant and broad that I can hardly take it seriously!

Unknown said...

Looks like I need to follow up with that reporter from the Vallejo Times. She did such a good pit bull piece a couple of years ago for us... Hmph.

I soooo don't fit the stereotype of the Vallejo pit bull owner! Guess I better change it up to match that huh?

Anonymous said...

Stereotypes are a real time saver. I didn't thing my rescued bullies made me or my 5'-1" wife look tough, so I got some fighting roosters that I keep in the cab of my truck when I drive around. I guess I can get rid of them now. Kinda messy. I suppose that means I should drop out of my graduate studies

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Donna would like to profile all of us and send the dossier to Dr. Kelly Horton.

Mine would read, 60 year old woman, totally grey and proud of it, drives a Subaru with lots of short dog hair embedded into the seat; does not deal in drugs, carries no gun; BA English Lit, BS Computer Science and AAS Veterinary Technology.

Once 'hated' APBTs for no reason other than believing stupid prejudice that people like Dr. Horton help to promulgate.

Now would have nothing but APBTs in her bed...LOL!


LibraryRat said...

The rain gods conspired against me and prevented my travels to Berkeley for the Tuff Love show (2 accidents on 880 in 30 minutes...yikes!). Bummer!! I did, however, order myself a calendar :)

I can't wait to hear from you all regarding my volunteer application and volunteer orientation! I really want to be a part of a community who are committed to nipping stereotypes like the ones in this article in the bud. Please contact me anytime!

-Keri Kirkpatrick