I rarely back down from confrontation where Pit Bulls are concerned. I found myself doing just that earlier this week during a discussion regarding packaging for a pepper spray product.
It was not the discussion I found distasteful or even the lack of understanding of why any form of negative promotion of breed image is a problem. The realization that a majority of people just do not care what happens to this breed, plus another instance of someone reading the printed word and not having any understanding of what was actually said, led to me excusing myself. I cannot get into discussions where I feel my head may explode at any moment without taking a moment to compose myself. This entry is not about blind comprehension, it is about the different degrees of dog fancy.
The original poster is someone I admire for many reasons. First is the fact that she has a dog from the breeding program of someone I still hold very dear, Lora Bauer Brashear. Lora was one of the most dedicated APBT/AST fanciers and rescuers I have ever known. Upon her death, the dogs she bred for were cast to the winds. I have been blessed with having some of those responsible for preserving her legacy come into my life. This has also been a way of staying in touch with the dogs related to my own dog Ricky. Lora would be very proud of how far her dogs have come and what her contribution to the preservation of this breed has meant.
Another reason I am fond of this particular poster is her dedication to her training discipline. I admire anyone from any dog fancy that hones their craft and successfully competes in their field of interest. Training in any degree is the first sign of responsibility but to train to the heights that will garner the respect of your peers is to be admired. In this case, the discipline is Schutzhund or Protection Dog Training.
I myself do not pursue this type of training but I greatly admire the skill, tenacity and yes beauty, my breed exhibits in this work and the dedication of the trainers which pursue this field. I am not in the majority of those fighting to save this breed in my admiration. Many rescuers take exception to this sport because of the image promoted by a dog trained in bite work. Like most training disciplines, Schutzhund is misunderstood in that it is not about producing a "mean" dog; it is about producing a highly disciplined dog.
The realization that the woman, who has now retired the Hartagold dog in favor of library reading programs, is not a dedicated breed fancier but is in fact a true fancier of the Schutzhund discipline was sobering. I do not in any way think less of her but it made me aware of a different perspective.
In my previous entry I called for the breed fanciers to take a stand against negative promotion and reporting. The particular post that initiated this conversation was regarding packaging for pepper spray. Actually I had not given this product a second glance and found it done in good taste. The dog is not some snarling, rabid looking animal it is a handsome "smiling" specimen. There is a lot of advertising out there portraying their product as "Pit Bull" tough. I take no exception as long as it is not the type of negative advertising we have seen from companies like Verizon or McDonalds.
What drew me into this conversation was the question about why Pit Fanciers get sensitive over the portrayal of their breed in a perceived negative manner? I am guessing I did not explain things very well. How do you explain to someone what it is like to face each day knowing somewhere, someone is going to bring up breed legislation that could very well call for the destruction of a dog simply because of a manufactured image or because some irresponsible idiot allowed a dog to run out of control? That is what my days have been like a month shy of 27 years. Yes, I am sensitive but I do ask that those who have never faced that kind of prejudice be patient with those of us who love this breed beyond what they are capable of being trained to do.
In a way their trainability is what drew me to them in the first place but for the majority of us, it goes much deeper. We will not be acquiring other dog breeds when our seniors pass away, we will still be dedicated to this breed because anything else is unacceptable to us. We fight for these dogs not because we have nothing better to do but because we are truly dedicated to preserving this breed. It is not about image or accolades or ribbons. It is about something as much a part of our soul as our DNA makeup. That is what being a breed fancier is about. This is not some exclusive club. Most breeds have a following of fanciers that would never consider having another breed. It is no different than being attracted to a certain person or liking the color red. It is a matter of personal choice.
No one is trying to ban the color red. They are pushing for the genocide of a breed of dog being held responsible for the crimes of humans. Why are we sensitive? Because there is real collateral damage in being indifferent to something as seemingly insignificant as packaging for pepper spray and we will continue to demand respect where we perceive none.
I have great admiration for those dedicated to dog breeds, dog training and dog companionship. I only ask that those on the outside of this fight empathize with those of us unable to simply move on to another breed of dog and let this one be legislated out of existence.