Like most other rational-minded people in the world, hearing about the passing of the law to ban Pit Bull type dogs in Montreal has me disgusted. I am sick thinking of the owners that have to muzzle their best friends out in public, because the government doesn’t get it. I am even sicker thinking of the Pit Bull type dogs that are currently in the shelters there – who will be killed (not humanely euthanized, they are being outright murdered). You see, I am the parent of an aggressive Pit Bull and I volunteer at a high-kill shelter filled to the brim with Pit Bulls. I could never imagine a life without them.
So, with an aggressive dog in my home, how can I not support the ban? Easy. I know every single dog is different, just as every single human in this world, is different. I know that I didn’t train my dog to be aggressive, nor can I train it out of him. He came to me, broken and afraid, and I vowed I would never, ever judge him on that based on his breed. I did not know his past (I adopted him at 4 years old) but I knew his future – his future would be with me , in my home with nothing but love and positivity.
Rewind a few years and I was a single mother that was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety. Being a single mom is hard all by itself, but add Depression & Anxiety into the mix and it was a party in my head every day – the kind of party at 4am when everyone is passed out, can’t move and isn’t having fun any longer. I went to counseling, I took anti-depressants, but I still couldn’t move besides going to work and couldn’t stop crying and I sure as hell couldn’t be a good mother. One day while browsing Facebook, I came across a page called Philly Urgents, which highlights all of the adoptable dogs & cats in the ONLY intake shelter in the entire city, and there he was, the one that saved me from myself, Caesar.
My Caesar then in his shelter photo
Caesar was a 4 year old black Pit Bull, surrendered by his owner with another dog (that dog was in a bad emaciated state). If you didn’t know, black dogs are one of the least adopted dogs in the shelters, which made me want one, and I adopted him the same day that I went there “just to look”. He was exhuberent, they said. He was fun, they said. He was dog friendly, they said. All of this was true. What they didn’t know, was that Caesar had a fearful, broken brain that showed itself in the form of fear aggression. He feared everything – the person walking behind us, the dog in the yard down the block, the plastic bag flying in the wind on a blustery day, his own shadow, being left alone, being around people and most of all, he feared me being harmed. I was the biggest culprit in his fear, and I couldn’t do anything about it. Caesar came to love me so much that the thought of someone or something hurting me was/is too much to handle in his broken brain. His reaction to a person he is afraid of is to bite. He bites out of fear.
Caesar saved my life, quite literally, and so my love for him is blind. I am not blind though to what he is capable of – what ANY dog is capable of. I try to walk him when I know there are less people outside but in a big city, it’s nearly impossible. I see his reaction to the people outside coming too close to us in his mind (in reality they’re a block away)- the ears back, the hair raised, the frozen state he gets in. I see the people approaching, already leary of this Pit Bull from their stigma and so I cross the street. I take my boy and I move out of the direction of the ‘scary people’ and I change the scene. Caesar forgets about the people because he can no longer see them. All I had to do was change the scene! Caesar wears a collar that says “I Need Space” to alert passerbys that he’s not a dog you can stop and pet. Do I wish he was? Of ourse, but he just isn’t, and I’m okay with that. Because he’s MY dog, and I can pet him and love him and hold him. He’s mine.
I am a responsible dog owner and an even more responsible Pit Bull parent. I know my boy has his limits and his faults but you know what else he has? Unsurmounting love for me and my daughter. No human has ever loved us as much as this dog does. I am, quite literally, never alone – he’s in the bathroom with me, on the sofa with me, looking in the fridge with me, sitting behind me while I do the dishes and sleeps in my bed with me. The happiness he has when he sees me – whether it is after a long day of work or the first opening of our eyes in the morning or the opening of the bathroom door on those limited occasions I would like to pee by myself and kicked him out – he wiggles his butt and drowns me in kisses – EVERY SINGLE TIME. If I get up, he gets up. If I eat a snack, he eats a snack (usually mine). If he isn’t asked onto the sofa, he barks at me until I invite him up (on the odd occasion when he is not already on there with me). If I am not paying attention to him, he stares at me. I am his person. He is my best friend.
When my daughter leaves for school in the morning, he cries. He watches her from the window and cries. When she goes upstairs to bed, he follows her. When she comes home after a weekend away, he jumps and wiggles and kisses like there’s no tomorrow. When she is home alone with him, SHE is his person. He follows her, he snuggles her, he watches over her. He loves her. We sleep at night face to face on the pillow or we spoon, and when he does his little huff, I know he’s out for the night – it’s the favorite part of my day. His little huff shows me he is content, feels safe and can rest easy. He’s happy.
Caesar doesn’t care for other people or dogs any more. They scare him & he thinks they’re going to harm him, myself or my daughter. I know what he can and can not handle and I don’t put him in situations that he can’t handle. I do everything I can to keep him and the public protected. Caesar believes his job is to protect us and he does. I can not fault him for that. You protect the ones you love no matter what. And I have a responsibility to protect him. Should he be banned because of this? I certainly don’t think so.
In Montreal, I am sure there are other broken-brained Caesars out there that have loving and responsible owners. Owners that shouldn’t have to hide their dogs or muzzle their dogs outside because the government is afraid of what they know nothing about. We wouldn’t ban people with red hair because a red-head killed someone else, would we? No – because every red-head is different just how every dog is different, no matter the breed. My mom has a Pit-mix and a Chihuahua. Guess who the one is that will try to bite you if you touch mom? The Chihuahua. Should we ban them next? I didn’t think so. The people and the dogs deserve better. May all of the killed dogs in the shelters in Montreal find peace and know they are loved.