Wednesday, January 03, 2007

We are a FAMILY

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.

Bambi @BR

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.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful entry.
We get negative comments about our dog Angus here in Ontario who is an English Bull Terrier x German Shepherd mix. People don't realize that he's not a pit bull, they just here "bull" and they freak. They ask me and my husband how we could allow "THAT dog" to sleep with us on our bed, and let "THAT dog" share our home. It hurts, but just thinking about how wonderful he is vs. a ton of the neighbourhood dogs who will nip and bite a child in a second - it makes me glad that I'm standing strong on my stance about bull breeds. Piper is a lucky little girl :)

Anonymous said...

Bambi, I know the feeling. It especially hurt when my husband and I were walking our two dogs, one pit bull and one mixed breed. A bunch of kids wanted to pet the dogs, until I heard one young girl whisper to the others not to pet Dottie since she's a pit bull. So while Juneau got all the attention, Dottie stood there tail wagging, waiting for attention which never came. I felt so bad for her.

You are so right about never leaving any dog alone with a young child. If people only used their brains many of these dog-child tragedies would have been prevented. It's a shame what has happened to this breed due to the irresponsible and negligent behavior of some owners.

Anonymous said...

Generalizations can be so painful. People who aren't racists or bigots will somehow use that kind of outdated, flawed logic on pit bulls. Perhaps a carefully bred, expensive dog is somehow better? It's more likely just inbred.

You're teaching people not to judge a book by it's cover. It's a good lesson for your daughter and even those people who don't want to understand it. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Family is Family.....2 or 4 legs.

Anonymous said...

I always get funny looks when I mention that I rank Pits on the same level as Golden Retrievers as far as being good with families and their many many potential uses. The most frequent response is "Are you kidding me?!!??!!!1oneoneoeneee!!! -insert spazzing here!-" Hey, they don't know what they're missing and it's a shame!


Anonymous said...

My old boss has two lovely pit bulls, prime examples of the breed. One day, he had one of them, Diamond in the store and a little girl toddled up to pet her. The little girl tripped, and grabbed Diamond's cheek to keep from falling.

Darling Diamond stood stoically until the girl regained her balance, then licked her face all over. True bully spirit.

Your pictures and your post are lovely. Thank you for sharing them.

Anonymous said...

you shouldnt let your baby get eaten by your dog!

just kiddinggggg!
these pics are really nice.
i like them!