Guest Colomn: Doggone it! Part 2

July 1, 1993

Guest Colomn: Doggone it! Part 2

By Brendon O. Doherty

The “dog gone people problem” is most pronounced when it comes to the ownership of dogs that were bred for fighting—the short-haired, pug-nosed breeds, primarily put bulls. Let’s face it, any dog can suddenly turn aggressive, turn on a baby, or even kill someone. However, this volatility is most serious in poorly disciplined dogs, dogs bred for fighting, and dogs in a group. Enter the pit bull, which is sometimes all three. Pit bulls in Rockford are assumed to be mean. That is one reason why some people buy them—as tokens of intimidation. Consequently, pit bulls are encouraged to look, or sometimes to act, mean—both by owners and by strangers. It is a vicious cycle. Why should we ban or regulate the pit bull because of a people problem? For the same reason we take guns away from children—for the greater social good.

Every pit bull owner thinks his dog is true blue, lovable and cuddly. That’s because, even more than other breeds, pit bulls were bred to fight, and they fight because they are loyal. They can be sweet to everyone they know, but if they believe they own a turf, they may kill for it. That’s how it is. This “my dog is a special angel,” with a hint of, “well, it’s also nice that people are afraid of him” mentality can be a kind of narcissism, reinforced by the dreaded hippie cat people, who believe that all animals are blameless.

I was willing to keep an open mind to this “pitiful pit bull” philosophy when I met a potential volunteer for my charitable organization. This fellow wanted to “cooperate” on a citywide project, but mainly wasted hours of my time talking about himself and his agenda. It never entered his mind that, say, I might suffer from a serious medical condition or, say, the Nightingale Alliance has its own projects to advance. One thing he talked about was his pit bull. “People are amazed that my dog is so nice,” he said. “They ask me if I would let them make him meaner.” Too sad. But this guy went on and on like poor pit bulls should be everywhere. Come on, give it a break. Also, besides insulting me, he thought it was important that I know everything about how muscular he was. “I can even do push-ups with my side muscles!”—huh? When he laid down on the street, and started squirming around, barking, “See, look at me!” I suddenly realized.. “Hey! Wait a minute! This guy is a pit bull!”

Conclusion: There is a correlation of weirdness and pit bull owners. At least, this is what I am beginning to suspect. Why would someone own a pit bull in the first place, go around preaching about how wonderful he is, and also act as if he has a right to set everyone else’s agenda? Before I had a chance to get back to this guy, he was leaving rude messages on my answering machine.

Next week: more weirdness…

Brendan O. Doherty is a local environmental health advocate.

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