One day I came home from work and I came face to face with a mean looking Pit Bull just hanging out in the front of my house. I thought, “Uh oh, I’m dead meat”. When the Pit saw me, it immediately stood up on all fours right away in full alert mode. It looked very confident, serious, and ready to attack. Its strong muscular build and chiseled face was very intimidating.
I thought if I don’t play this right I might have to fend off a dog attack. And the best thing for me to do is to show this Pit no fear. So I pretended to ignore the Pit as if it wasn’t there and I just went into my house minding my own business. I must have come within 10 feet of her but I didn’t flinch.
I was fearful of Pit Bulls and I didn’t trust them. Especially after everything I’ve heard about them. Everyone knows they can turn on you in a split second and I just didn’t like anything about Pits period.
The next morning, the Pit still there relaxing in my front yard. Later that day when I came home from work, yeah you guessed it. The Pit was still there. I had no idea why it hadn’t moved on. All I know is I wasn’t doing anything whatsoever to encourage it to stay.
After a couple of days, I sat down on my front porch. The Pit was laying on the grass relaxing on her belly with all four legs spread out like Superman ready to fly. She was nudging and wiggling herself toward me as if she was trying to crawl over to me. She seemed just as curious and unsure about me as I was about her.
I snapped my fingers and motioned for her to come over. She got up right away and came darting over to me without any hesitation. I noticed she was limping a little so her back leg was hurt. I also noticed strange scars on her front legs. But I didn’t try to pet or touch her since I didn’t trust it. And I definitely didn’t want to encourage it to stay. I wasn’t sure if it was groomed to be a fighting dog or exactly what its history was.
All I know is she was dirty, gritty, and looked thinner than normal. It would be safe to say she looked like she was having a rough time living out in the streets. I imagined her being lost or abandoned, having rocks thrown at her by kids, going to sleep hungry, or maybe even dodging a few cars.
The Pit walked all around me sniffing everything. But she kept a comfortable distance from me and didn’t get too close. I snapped my fingers again and motioned for her to leave and she went back to her spot without any delays. She seemed well-behaved for a dog I’ve never met.
After getting off work on the third day, the Pit was still there. This time though the post man left a note saying: “No Mail. PIT BULL!!!”. By then I noticed some of my neighbors were starting to leave her some food and water and I even saw them take picture while peeking thru the curtains. This Pit was definitely getting some unwanted attention but not from me.
I thought Oh no! Now I have to do something. So I decided to put her in my dog run on the side of my house. I called the dog pound on her and I let them know they need to come and pick her up right away. I can’t have another dog. Especially a Pit Bull. After a few days the pound still hadn’t showed up. So I called them back. But this time they told me if they pick her up, they will just put her down right away. They said we don’t keep Pits because no one wants them or they just end up getting abused.
It felt really terrible to hear this. I was hoping she would have some chance at finding someone who would want her. It didn’t seem right to be killed just because of a reputation. Everyone deserves a fair chance is kinda my motto and I have a soft spot for the underdog. I guess her life was now in my hands. Sigh.
The Pit wasn’t causing me any problems and it seemed she could behave herself, but I thought that maybe this was for the best. After all there is absolutely no way I can keep a Pit Bull. No way. Any other dog maybe, but definitely not a Pit. Pits are way too dangerous and unpredictable. And everyone knows they can turn on you in a split-second. So I told the the pound “come pick her up”.
I waited about a week and still no pound. During this time I would fill her water bowl using a water hose I put thru the chain link fence and feed her by cracking open the gate just enough to leave her her food. I tried to not pay her too much attention since I knew she wasn’t staying. I was all professional and business like.
Each time I fed her she would just sit there with a very stoic look on her face looking at me waiting for me to finish. I couldn’t imagine what she was thinking looking at me but she never showed me any aggression.
She seemed well rested by now so I decide to let her into my back yard to get some exercise. The instant I let her out she ran straight for an dusty old ball I had laying around. She brought it back and sat in front of me with the ball in her mouth looking at me. She must have been eyeing that ball thru the fence all this time and planning to get it the first chance she got. I couldn’t tell if she wanted to give it to me or if she wanted me to play with her.
I got a bit excited because I could never teach my other dogs to play fetch no matter what I did. So I carefully took the ball from her mouth, put the ball right in front of her so she can get a good hard look at it, slowly raised my arms back, and I threw it hollering “Go get it girl! Get it!”. The Pit kept her eye focused on the ball, chased it, and brought it back to me on the first try. Her ears were tucked back and her whole behind was wagging back and forth on the way back.
I played with her some more and the harder or more challenging I threw the ball, the harder she tried to catch it. She would leap into the air, dive head-first toward the ground, do partial back flips, and do other impressive ninja-like moves. Whatever it took to catch the ball she did. She liked to play rough and she had a whole lot of energy to unload.
I was very impressed with her athletic abilities and I secretly wished I had a camera to record some of her best moves. This way I could show her off to others. It was the first time I was able to play fetch and I actually bonded with her a bit. But I still didn’t trust her since I knew the Pit could turn on me at any time. It can’t be trusted.
A few days later, my cousin came over and saw the Pit in my back yard from the kitchen. He said “Cool! You have a Pit Bull. My favorite kind of dog! Do you mind if I go pet her? Does she bite?”. I was surprised. He didn’t seem like the type to like Pits. I really didn’t give it too much thought and I told him “No man, she doesn’t bite. She’s harmless. You can pet her”.
But before I could introduce the two of them slowly and properly, he opened the door and went charging out into the backyard to go greet her. He was dangling his arms wide open and hollering for her to come to him. “Come girl! Come girl!” he chanted loudly. I stood behind him trying to get in front but it was too late for me to save him. I cringed as I saw the Pit run full speed straight toward him. I thought “Oh no, he’s done for!”.
At the last minute the Pit leaped and crashed head first into him almost knocking him over. She was hopping up and down, head butting him, and trying her best to lick him everywhere. And my cousin was petting and rubbing her all over and saying over and over “Good girl! Good girl! What a good girl!”.
The Pits tail was wagging, spinning, and twirling faster than I thought was possible. I thought “WOW! What an impressive greeting!”. I have to admit, seeing it made me a little bit jealous. So now I think that maybe she’s not so ferocious after all. But still, there is no way I can keep her since everyone knows a Pit can turn on you at any time. I just can’t take a chance.
The pound never did come. If she was going to the pound, it was going to have to be me to bring her. And this was something I didn’t think I could do. So I decided she was friendly enough to at least try and find her a home. But after a few weeks of trying I had no luck. No one wanted a Pit Bull. Most said they were dangerous and told me stories about how they read someone got killed or maimed by one.
And the ones who knew someone, who knew someone who might want her, seemed pretty sketchy about why they might want her so I took a pass. I didn’t want her to go somewhere where I would go to sleep wondering if she was getting abused. I guess the dog pound was right. Everyone was afraid of them or just wants to abuse them.
So I guess now I will have to keep her around a little bit longer until something comes up. Sigh. After about a month, I took her to the vet. I wasn’t sure how everyone was going to react to me bringing in a Pit. I visualized other pet owners picking up their animals when they saw her. Or maybe the Pit would try to attack the other dogs after seeing them. Or maybe Pits are banned from the clinic. Or surely all Pits require a muzzle just in case they suddenly turned violent. I honestly didn’t know.
Nope. I was wrong. She was treated no differently than any other dog. In fact, the vet and assistants all complemented her good demeanor, cooperative behavior, and her good looks. I thought they would be afraid of her like me but no I was wrong. She seem to trust and be comfortable around strange people and didn’t show any interest in bothering the other dogs.
Eventually, I started taking the Pit for walks thru the neighborhood. I thought that maybe the other dog walkers would cross the street in fear when they saw her or lecture me about how irresponsible I am for having a dangerous Pit Bull in the neighborhood. Nope. I was wrong again. Just about all the people who I stopped to talk to gave her lots of compliments and usually wanted to pet her. I thought most Pit Bulls were owned by gangsters and other bad characters. But no. I came across plenty of good regular people who loved and admired Pits.
But the biggest and most important test was when I introduced her to my other dog. He was an old grouchy lab mix who was used to being the top and only dog. I let her loose in the backyard and when my lab came to her, I held my breath. She saw him coming over and she went flat on her belly with her chin to the ground like a wrestler who lost a match.
She stayed that way while my lab sniffed all around her. I guess maybe this was her way of saying she was not there to start any trouble and it’s OK for him to still be the top dog. My lab mix quickly lost interest in her and she got up and let him be. But whew that was close and what a relief.
Eventually she was named Bella since she would walk, hop, and start twirling around on her hind legs like a dancing Ballerina whenever she would get fed or anyone would come outside to greet her. I was always cautious and on guard around Bella for the next couple of months just in case. But every test Bella had to build trust, she passed. Bella was smart and she seemed to not have any trouble understanding what anyone was expecting of her.
I realized before long that I was wrong about about Pits. Instead of looking at Bella as a natural born killer like I first did, I began to see her for what she really was. A playful friend and companion who only craves the love and affection from people who will treat her right. Bella went from being lost and abandoned, locked in a dog dog run waiting for the pound to put her down, into being a fully trusted family member with full house privileges in a relatively short period of time.
Bella liked everyone I invited into my house and everyone always said Bella was their favorite dog. Any friend of mine was automatically a friend of hers no matter who it was. And Bella was an expert at getting people into giving her belly rubs, hugs and kisses, back scratches, ear rubs, and sometimes even their food. During social gatherings, you could always see Bella moving from guest to guest working the room. She was a real ham and a big flirt. She liked parties, social situations, and meeting new people more than I do. You would see her snuggling up to everyone and stealing kisses from them. The only thing ferocious about her was her big sloppy kisses. Bella was always making new friends and she did so quite easily. She always let her friends know that she loves them.
I had her for about six years before she passed away before her time. During this whole time, Bella was very loyal and protective. She was the self-appointed head of security and she would always patrol my property and be on the alert for any shenanigans. She let me know if I needed to come to the door or not. If anyone walked by, she would bark, growl, and jump at the fence to let them know she means business. But to me, it seemed to be mostly an act.
And Bella was brave. She was afraid of thunder but that would not stop her from facing her fear. She would go investigate with her head down kinda low and whimpering softly as if she’s not coming back from whatever is out there. But she always went no matter what. I would not doubt Bella would give her life defending her family. And I know she would give any villain a good run for their money if she ever caught them doing anything bad.
She was at my bedside when I went to sleep and when I woke up she was usually asleep at the bottom of my stairs in the best place possible to watch all the doors and windows. It always felt more secure having her on the lookout just in case.
It was Bella’s good demeanor, playful and protective nature, and her excellent people skills that changed the way I think about Pit Bulls. She never gave up and took a chance with me and she taught me they are not the killers I’ve always heard about.
Instead, they are affectionate and worthy animals that deserve to have a good family that treats them right and gives them the love and attention they crave. Everyone who met Bella liked Bella and Bella liked them. Bella made lots of good friends who still miss and talk about her to this day.
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, Pit bull owner.