So I started thinking about what a person actually needs to successfully own a pit bull. The trouble is that "pit bull" is a such a big category, and it covers a huge amount of variation in size, bidability, intelligence, and energy. There is no one pit-bull-type dog. However, there are a few common characteristics that I see in people who own - and actually enjoy owning - these dogs.
1. How are your reflexes? Can you catch the dog before they bolt out the door? How about before they grab the Thanksgiving turkey off the counter? Are you fast enough to catch them when they see you pull the winter coat/boots/snood/assorted winter torture items out of the closet and start running the other direction? Can you split up two dogs in the millisecond between when they start giving each other the stink eye and when they actually start a fight? Pull a whole squirrel out of your foster dog's throat like the world most disgusting spaghetti noodle? On the up side, if your reflexes aren't spot on, you'll learn. Really, really quickly.
2. How patient are you? Of course you need to be patient to own a dog - all dogs, not just pit bulls. I'm not talking about patience with dogs here. How patient can you be with other people? Because if I had a dollar for every time someone had crossed the street after seeing me walk my dogs toward them, or tell me about some horrible "pit bull" attack on the other side of the country as if it is somehow important to me and my dogs, or triumphantly announce, "It's all in how you raise them!," then I would be poor as hell because this stuff happens to me so often I don't even notice anymore, you guys. Patience. It's what keeps you from going on a murderous super-rampage.
3. Can you spell the word "pit bull"? I am not even kidding. It's P-I-T SPACE B-U-L-L. I'm sorry, I know it's probably unfair of me, but if you spell it wrong, I automatically assume you have no idea what you're talking about. And then I mentally deduct ten points from your IQ. I'm pretty sure there should be some sort of if-you-can't-spell-it, you-can't-own-it law. We could call it the Pittbull's Law.
4. Do you have at least the same amount of common sense as a toad? If your dog doesn't like children, can you keep her away from kids? Do you understand that nearly-nekkid dogs should not be left outside all winter? If you need help, can you ask for it? Can you keep your dog on a leash? If you are confused by these questions, let me know - I'm sure I have some rocks around here that could use a good home. I'll even paint them to look like pit bulls for you.
5. How's your sense of humor? I have yet to meet a breed of dog that has inspired so many laugh-so-you-don't-cry moments as my pit bulls. It's a survival mechanism at this point. Jai pulled all the pop cans out of the recycling again? Hilarious! Mikey jumped off the bed and ran into the wall and now there's giant hole there? Can't stop laughing - let's put the dresser in front of it! Rubi ate through that cat food container and ate so much that's she's bloated up to twice her size and needs to go to the e-vet to get her stomach pumped? Excellent! Somebody make sure there's some Ritalin and vodka for when we get back.
We are very glad he lives with someone else now.
6. How open is your mind? I think a closed mind is the cardinal sin of pit bull ownership. Pit bulls owners have an intimate knowledge of prejudice - the kind of prejudice that steals away your family members and kills them. And yet we're often so quick to judge others. There are Responsible Pit Bull Owners (where we of course place ourselves), Bad Pit Bull Owners whose dogs make the news, and then Everyone Else. And these snap judgments do no more to help our cause than snap judgments about our dogs do. Our dogs are individuals, just like people. Is that person a Bad Pit Bull Owner, or does he simply lack the resources to get his dog spayed? Believe it or not, there was a first time Jai jumped the fence to go visit another dog. Does that make me irresponsible? I suspect it means that I am, as always, merely human. Luckily, I have some of the Best Dogs Ever to make being human a little easier.