Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just Stop It


It is time to knock it off.

 What a Load of Crap.

Our dogs need to be treated like dogs. Not like our children and definitely not like fairy princesses.

I am really angry. I am very, very sad. I have also had a reality dose right here at home -- a great big, much needed, slap in the face.

This past week, a family friend has been hit right in the gut. She had to put down her soul mate, the love of her life, her beach buddy and her best friend. He was her teenage pitbull mix.

He was an unaltered male, over a year, but under 18 months. This dog was a delight. He was everybody's friend, obedient and gentle, a walking promo for the "Pit Bulls are Just Like Any Other Dog" campaign.

What happened? Essentially, this best friend, the partying, social, loved-to-death puppy, grew up.
It began with an altercation with another dog. I'm pretty sure it wasn't even started by the pit, or should I call him a "pittie" to make him cuter? The fight was broken up, nobody died, but blood was drawn.

Over the next three days, the love of this young woman's life, went on a whirlwind of violence. He was in two more dog fights, this time initiated by him and resulting in one of the other dogs being seriously injured. He then went home and attacked and almost killed the dog he grew up with, a 14-year-old yorkie. Until that day, the yorkie had been the "pittie's" soul-mate. When the young woman's sister stepped in to intervene she was also attacked and severely bitten.

The next day, the young dog was put down.

What the hell happened here?

In my very angry, and not normal Mugwump opinion, the young woman had no business owning this dog. Absolutely none. I can't blame her, he wasn't the first dog she had ever had, she is a capable and responsible dog owner.

Unfortunately, she didn't understand pit bulls. Just like all the owners of the pit bulls filling our shelters and rescues. She didn't see the little changes coming over him, didn't know the level of control needed to keep him happy and socially acceptable.

Yes, I mean a pit bull. Or, just so I don't get caught up in semantics, a pit mix, an American Staffordshire Terrier, or any dog that fits the type.

What do I mean by type? Any breed which was developed for the purpose of bull baiting, the original use, or dog fighting, the current one.

From what I understand, essentially, there are TWO different breeds, which originated from the same stock.

AKC registers dogs called American Staffordshire Terriers, they are bigger, more muscular, with squarer heads. They are showing dogs, not working ones.

UKC registers dogs called American Pit Bull Terriers. These dogs are tall, slender, athletic, with longer, wedgier heads. They are working dogs.

AmStaff and APBT originated from the same stock, however, when AKC decided to accept the breed into it's registry, it didn't want to have the words "pit bull" associated with it's organization, so they changed the name to Staffordshire Terrier, and later, American Staffordshire Terrier.


Just to get myself completely buried here, I'm going go add ANY dog which has been bred to grab on and kill stuff and weighs over 35 pounds to my list.

Why am I sad? I feel terrible for this young woman. She really loved her dog. She adored him. He was an extremely lovable dog. 

I feel even worse about the dog. This was a good, young dog, who, in the right hands, would have grown up to be a great dog. He needed an owner who honestly understood his breeding. Who was capable of handling a powerful dog with hair trigger responses and a high, high prey drive. Better yet, this dog deserved to be owned by someone with the ability to channel those instincts so they never had to be handled.  

I am completely confused by the raging war over pit bulls. 

These dogs were/are bred to fight and bite. They bite hard and other dogs get hurt. So do people. They have an incredible prey drive and kittens, hamsters and sometimes innocent pedestrians get hurt too.

You can show me all the photos you want of your darling pittie sleeping with the kids. I know and hopefully you know, if the pittie feels the need to protect the family, the yard, his dog bowl,or satisfy that highly developed prey drive, chances are very high, somebody is going to get hurt.

I think people who choose to own dogs that might kill somebody should be required to take a dog handling class, kind of like drivers ed, before they are allowed to own said scary dog. It seems simple to me. The punishment could then fit the crime, and all be heaped on the owners head.

I am not saying pits are mean. I am not saying pits are killers. You see, I like dogs, all dogs. I don't like idiotic dog owners, especially the ones who won't take responsibility for what their choice of dog is capable of. I am saying, unless you are honest about what a pit bull is and are willing to learn how to properly handle one, then you should be fined or imprisoned any time your dog hurts someone. 

I am soooo tired of the pro-pittie folks yelling at me about misunderstanding the breed. No, I don't. I get them. I know all dogs within a breed don't behave the same. I also don't understand the blind eye continually being turned to how complicated and difficult these dogs can be.

If I used the same pro-pittie arguments on another popular breed, say, a Lab, maybe I can get across how STUPID most of the defending arguments are.

"One of the most popular breeds in the USA, the Labrador Retriever is loyal, loving, affectionate and patient, making a great family dog. Highly intelligent, good-natured, very willing and eager to please, it is among the top choices for service dog work. Labs love to play, especially in water, never wanting to pass up the opportunity for a good swim. These lively dogs have an excellent, reliable temperament and are friendly, superb with children and equable with other dogs."

"Oooh, you have a Lab, let's go to the lake."

"Labs don't like water."

"Of course they do."

"Labs don't like to fetch either."

"That's what they're bred for."

"No it isn't. It's all a lie. Nobody understands Labs."

"Labs love the water and they're born playing fetch."

"No, they're not. You're breed profiling. My Lab would never get in the water or fetch something. Ever."

"What does your Lab do?"

"She cuddles my children and wears a mean pink bandanna."

"Well, yeah, any dog can do that, but how do you stop her from playing in water and fetching?"

"We never take her outside."

"Ever?"

"Never, ever. She doesn't want to go outside."

"Well, I hope that keeps working for you."

"You are nothing but a hater."

Another favorite argument is, "All dogs bite. Chihuahuas bite more people every year than pit bulls."

My answer to anybody who tosses this lame, tired, stupid cliche at me is this:



Yeah, I thought so. Shut up about the chihuahuas, OK?

Here are a few hard core stats about pitties.

Pitbulls 



1. In December 2010, the American Temperament Test Society showed the American pit bull terrier scored an overall temperament rating of 83.9%, compared to the 77% score of the general dog population.
2. A five-year review of dog-bite injuries from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, published in 2009 in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, found that almost 51 percent of the attacks were from pit bulls, almost 9 percent were from Rottweilers and 6 percent were from mixes of those two breeds.
3. There are nearly 35,000 PitBulls available for adoption in shelters across America. That doesn’t even consider the backyard and professional Pit Bull breeders.
4. Nearly one million pit bulls are euthanized EVERY YEAR.
5. Animal Welfare of Albuquerque Director, Barbara Bruin said nation wide, pit bulls make of up 18 percent of new shelter animals, account for 29 percent of the shelter population and 34 percent of euthanasias.
What does this tell me? That the Pit bull fan club is made up of a bunch of freaking idiots. 
I was visiting with a local animal shelter employee and asked about relinquished pit bulls. 

"We get more pit bulls turned in, or found as strays, than any other breed. The next largest and most hard to adopt group behind them are young, male dogs, and of course most of them are pit bulls. Once the dogs start to grow up they are too much for most people to handle."

These dogs have proven time and again they can have lovely temperaments. I agree with this whole heartedly. All the years they were being bred to kill stuff they were also being bred to be good with people. They are dogs who will do anything they think their owner wants. It's how they translate their owner's desires and how they behave once out of human control that gets them in trouble.

The sad story about the young pit bull I just shared made me wake up and smell the coffee too. 
I adopted Brockle and found out he had the potential to be aggressive. I jumped on it, quickly admitted I had more dog than I knew what to do with and slapped us into training with a pro so fast our heads are still spinning. I don't try to kid myself he's something he's not. I don't dress him up in cute outfits either. I try to keep my eyes open as to who he is.

I still fell into the tar pit of false confidence so many pit owners seemed to be drowning in. 

Brockle still has a habit of charging dogs. Not all, not most, but some. He will periodically break away from me, and refuse to come back, when his prey drive gets the upper hand.

I have been working on it, but still letting him out of the house off leash, or out of my car off leash. I mean, I'm careful, I keep an eye out. I know, in my heart he has a good temperament. I know he has no bad intentions. I have been letting my faith in him overpower my common sense. 

I can't guarantee he won't jump the poodle up the street when his owner lets him poop on our grass. He can feel my irritation. Brockle's big, he's powerful and he comes from a variety of breeds known to be highly protective. 

I can bluster and yell and point fingers at the littering poodle and his jerk owner, but that wouldn't change a thing if Brockle hurt either the dog or his owner.

I need to keep my damn dog on his leash, except under controlled circumstances. Essentially, I need to quit tempting him to get into trouble. Trouble that we can't overcome. Instead, we can collect all that little dog's poop and keep it in a paper bag.When it's full enough, it might just find it's way onto the obnoxious owner's porch, maybe lit up and smoking. We can exact our revenge with Brockle on his leash and my neighbors safe.

I understand how easy it is to forget our dogs are just that, dogs. They react like dogs, they love us like dogs, they're awesome...as dogs. We start thinking they are just like us. That they would never hurt anyone because we wouldn't. It's not fair to anyone. Us, our dogs, or the people and animals potentially hurt by our dogs.

We need to keep them safe. So I will continue to train my dog, bust my butt to be honest about what he's capable of and be sure to learn how to handle him. 

Boy, I am still torn up about that poor pit.













69 comments:

KB said...

I have a similar story of a loving pitt bull that was raised in a good home until she was just over 2 years old. Nothing ever bad happened to her. She was raised in a loving family with other dogs, kids, a fenced yard, and all the biscuits she could eat.

One day, with no warning, she turned on her OWNER. They were playing tug, a game she played every day, and all of a sudden she dropped her end of the rope and went after her owner, who had been sitting on the floor. She bit him in the face and he almost lost an eye. Luckily, she just got the loose skin/eye brow area, but she basically degloved his forehead. He needed soemthing like 5 plastic surgeries. Amazingly, you can barely tell he was ever attacked.

She was euthanized almost immediatley as the family had young kids and didnt want to take the risk of finding her a new home. They were devastated.

It's a sad story all around, but the people that are so adamant that all "pitties" can be saved, need to hear more stories like this.

I have a dog-agressive Westie at home with the worst case of small-dog syndrome you have ever seen. Thing is i can pick her up before she goes to attack anything...

mugwump said...

Yes.I think these at home incidents happen because the owners don't understand the warning signs, changes in stance, eye contact, whatever.
They don't know it's coming.
With a Westie you can pick him up, with a pit, well, you can't.

lauraatkins said...

This is just tragic. All of it.

I linked to it on FB, and am well expecting a couple of my friends to come out of the woodwork defending their "pibbles."

I don't care.

I live in a high-gang area. There are lots of pits (mostly unneutered males) around. Yeah, I do react differently to them than I do the little dogs. Sue me.

Becky said...

Brilliant.

I want to stand up and clap and fist pump for this article, here in my living room. You said everything I wanted to say.

When I was shopping for a dog for our family, I daydreamed about getting the breed I really wanted - a German Shepherd. I've got a thing for Shepherds, and that's probably never going to change, no matter how awesome Artemis is.

The thing is... I had to be realistic. Shepherds are amazing dogs - provided you WORK YOUR HEINY OFF making sure they are socialized beyond belief while they are puppies... and constantly stay on top of them.

I wasn't sure I had the time to spend hours each day making sure I could train my dog out of what she would be bred for....

And I also had to think about what was fair for the dog. Shepherds are highly intelligent and SENSITIVE. It's what they're bred for.

Was it fair to the dog to bring it into a noisy, chaotic, physically rambunctious household?

And now you know why I own a lab - a breed specifically bred to be thick skinned, not flighty, and who thinks the entire world is a friendly member of her pack.

You hit the nail on the head just right. It's not fair to the dog, to just ignore what they're bred for in terms of what you want a dog to be. Sure, you can work it out of them, but that's just it - it's a lot of WORK.

Sorry for the lectury tone of this comment - this is just one of my hot buttons, too.

Becky said...

PS: I froth so much at the mouth about this subject because my next door neighbor is a pit owner.

He's about five to six months old and has broken through the fence into my yard more than once....

And when I approach him to put him back in his yard, he curls his tail up underneath him, raises his hackles, and fear barks.

This scares the crap out of me... as far as I can tell, he's an inside dog that gets zero socialization outside of the house. If my neighbors set out to create a problem dog, they couldn't do a better job.


Marsha said...

Preach it, Sister Mugs. This is a topic that just lights my fire. I hate the “misunderstood Pitt Bull whine.” Admit your dog can be dangerous and deal with it. As the owner of a Dutch Shepherd, I know my well trained dog could be dangerous. Most of the problems develop when the dogs starts to mature. At around 18 months (give or take,) dogs really start to develop their aggressions and their drives kick into high gear. You better have your dog (any dog) under control before that happens. It sounds like that happened to your friend and KB’s friend. A trainer (a REAL trainer, not a PetsMart trainer) would have known that and helped the dog get through it. That trainer also would have said neuter your dog, it cuts down on dog-dog aggression.

I like my dog to be able to range on our ranch so we use an electric collar. Before people jump on me hear me out. Used correctly, it's a tool like any other. Like horses in spade bits, they must have the proper training background to prepare the dog and make the tool effective. Failure to prepare a dog or a horse properly, and using a tool as a crutch is cruel. At some point when your dog has a really bitchin' recall and he knows what “leave it” means, the e-collar replaces the leash. Having used the collar on myself (product testing is a requirement in my book), I know the low setting is a mild correction which is not more uncomfortable than the choke chain. On the high setting, it can stop a police dog in mid-flight. My dog has never needed the high setting but it gives me peace of mind knowing that if I needed it, it's there.

I do disagree with your dissing of dog dress-up! Our (older, not young) kids do it all the time. It’s not unusual to come home to find her in loungewear, wearing my husband’s boxers with her tail through the hole and a girly tank top. I consider it part of her obedience training. And if I ever do have to use for real personal protection, I hope she’s wearing something that sparkles.

Anonymous said...

I to ended up with a pittie. He seemed to be the one all dogs would go after. He usually ended up on the other side of a parking lot looking at them going WTF??? Why me? He was great on the trail. He and my lab were not the brightest bulb in the lot. I blame myself as he ended up getting kicked by my horse when I should have dogged proofed my pasture better. My horse is a dog hater and goes after anything in his pasture. But I worked with him got him fixed as soon as he ended up on my watch. My stepdaughter was not happy but that was the condition of me keeping him. And I always was on the look out for ANY behavioral changes. Fenced Yard, lots of exercise. He was never allowed around small children and was on a leash anytime we were around children. Even though he was just a big slobbery mush around kids. But I see a lot of people walking intact males and think that's a disaster just waiting to happen.

Austen Gage said...

Oh, I agree. I'm the owner of two high energy dogs. One is a Shepherd/Siberian Husky and one is a full blooded Siberian female. Both have incredibly high prey drives, incredibly high exercise needs, and are incredibly playful. The shepherd cross does exhibit some protective tendencies, and is wary of strangers. Both were rescued as adults.

I don't gloss over my dog's "failings" or nature. They are bred to run - far, fast and without stopping. So, they are on leashes all the time. Their prey drive means that I am always scanning for squirrels and rabbits and don't let them come up to small dogs or barn cats without my full attention (fully expecting my little one to pounce). My shepherd cross is monitored with strangers, and never left alone in stressful situations.

That said, they are both impeccably trained. They have to be to overcome their extreme tendencies. They are exercised miles (MILES) daily (DAILY). They must perform tricks and training before being allowed to eat. Instead of lusting after cats and squirrels, they are instead required to work -- sit stay, roll over, heel through figure eights, etc.

This is normal to me, and anything else is unfair to my dogs. They are happy and well-adjusted. My home is quiet and not destroyed by bored huskies (the most destructive of the canine creatures...).

Why can't people with pitt bulls realize that their dogs also have special needs that require a unique approach?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I live in an area that has had many attacks and deaths from pits. Up till now, everybody just says, oh what a terrible accident. At last we have a case going though the courts where the owner is being tried for murder. Unless we get some laws, there will be more deaths. And I'm a dog lover, no problem with pits that are properly trained.

Hannah said...

Wow. It's plenty clear which way the wind is blowing and I am really not interested in having this argument, but I am really disappointed by this post.

Yes, please do work on training and managing your dog, and on giving your friends advice if it's so clear to you that they're going wrong.

Just leave my dog out of it. Or if that's too much to ask, at least engage with the actual issues and arguments instead of through mocking generalizations, thirty-second Google searches, and straw men.

Anonymous said...

I love mutts! What I find very interesting is you can see the bred tendencies that make them what they are. I have a German shepherd, Lab, and Blue Tick Coonhound mix. German shepherd prevails as far as his overall nature. He really is a great smart, athletic goof of a dog!

Great post.

colleen said...

This dog might not have flipped this badly if it had been neutered. He was at just the right age where his hormones would have started to effect his behavior. Not sure it would have been a complete solution, but it might have helped.

colleen said...

This dog might not have flipped this badly if it had been neutered. He was at just the right age where his hormones would have started to effect his behavior. Not sure it would have been a complete solution, but it might have helped.

KB said...

Hannah, I think you are missing the forest despite the trees here.... Mugs is not making a personal attack on pitt bulls, more she is stating facts and how a missed opportunity on the part of how her friends dog was handled, ended up costing the animal it's life.

Training a dog like mug's or my friend's pitt bull takes a lot of effort and isnt intuitive. Did my friend think that his loving pet would bite him in the face? Of course not, but she did, out of nowhere. This was a dog that he had raised from a puppy, that he thought he knew in and out.

When it comes down to it, he and his wife are concientious expereienced dog owners. Probably some of the best I know. Did they fail the dog? I dont really think you can say that. Their intentions were awesome, any dog would be lucky to have them as owners. It's just one of those unfortunate situations that may have been avoided, but with a lot more forethought to what could have happened, but hindsight is 20:20.

It is tough to hear, but has to be acknowledged, breed reputations are grounded in fact. Whether people like it or not, more major injuries are caused by pitt bulls than any other dog. This is not about the individual dog, but a type of dog. No one is saying your poochie is going to attack someone tomorrow (assuming you have a pitt), but instead that this type of dog is prone to respond with agression based upon its instinct to chase and bite. Their reputation as dogs that are dangerous/cause injuries is only exacerbated by their size and jaw strength.

Again, my Westie has some of the worst dog aggression I have ever seen, she portrays some of the worst terrier traits out there. She is very prey driven, quick to react, territorial, and overly protective. And she has NO self preservation. Thing is, she is cute as a button and only pushing 20 lbs. People dont believe me that she is like this. They think i am overly protective and paranoid of her when i will not schedule play dates and cross the street when i see another dog coming. It's so bad and I am so untrustworthy of others not being aware of her tendencies, I wont send her to the groomers any more, out of fear they will unwittingly leave her and she will bite another dog or worse a handler.

As a puppy she was well socialized with other dogs, people, cats, horses, and tons of other farm animals.

One dog attack when she was 4 (60 lb boxer that she knew her entire life) and $1500 in vet bills (for both dogs) cured me of any doubt that she is or would be agressive. One of her saving graces is that i can pick her up quickly and hold her above just about anything she might want to bite, but imagine if she was 60lb of squirming pitt bull...

I am lucky that she is small (and cute) and to be honest, she is lucky that she has me. She is not a dog that is appropriate for everyone,and i love her oodles so i choose to adjust my behavior to make sure she has no opportunity to sink her teeth into other puppies.

Not all dog owners have the opportunity to do what i am able before their dog hurts a person or another animal.

Anyway, this is much longer than I intended. Sorry for the rant.

DeeDee said...

Thank you to mugs and all of you for sharing you love and sensibilty about dogs. We are looking for a rescue and friends say, Get one of those abandoned pitbulls. From this post and all your sharing I know we are not the ones for that type dog. We will be more thoughtful about our search because of your sharing.

greenie said...

Large powerful high drive dog + aggressive nature + the wrong owner = danger.
(mugs don't stick yourself in there, your awesome)

Any dog of any or no breed can have temperament issues but they don't all have the potential to be dangerous. Pit bulls, other fighting breeds, large working dogs like shepards, rottweilers, dobermans, large hunting dogs that are ment to run things down and kill them, and huskies for good measure, all have the *potential* and the *power* to be extremely dangerous. We've designed them to be exactly that way because we needed a dog like that to do a job. The problem is people like the look of these dogs or they like the idea of having a k9 guardian but they often don't realize what they're really getting into when they pick up that cute little puppy.
Part of the problem is in owners not knowing how to handle these dogs and part of it is in the breeding. Breeders can change dogs and dog breeds. When I say that I'm thinking of the show dogs who have had a lot of their original purpose and drive reduced so they were easier to handle.
Breed legislation is such a sticky and messy business. You can't make stupid illegal.
Anyway...
Leashes = good all around.

Anonymous said...

I commented earlier about having a pitt and I feel the same way toward boarder collies and Aussies. People who work/live in town have no business with a working dog. I have seen neurotic and destructive behavior because people saw a well behaved boarder collie and wanted on "just like it". They take work and a large yard and exercise. And before someone comments. Yes there are exceptions to the rule. But you know who you are and what it takes to have a working dog in town. That's why there are B/C and Aussie rescue sites everywhere. Do your research before you get that cute puppy.

Cindy D. said...

Thank you!!!
Not for the stuff on the pits, because everyone has already said that, although I agree with your take on that. But about the "Keeping my dog on a leash, because deep down I know who he is" part.

For some reason TC seems to think that letting our dogs wander around with him while he is out and about on the new property is the most awesome thing to do. Sometimes it is (kind of)....if he isn't trying to do something else and can actually WATCH what they are doing and where they are headed. But I still HATE IT when he does it.

There is a guy next door who breeds hounds of some kind. That means that he has unspayed bitches over there and (as we have discussed before on this very blog) I have 3 intact males labs (which has suddenly gone up very high on the priority list of being changed) My intact males have never been an issue for anyone because they never left the confines of their dog yard, unless they were on a leash. Now suddenly they are, and one of them is deaf and can't even hear you if you call him to come back.

On top of that, my dogs will fight a strange male dog if provoked...and sometimes even if they are not provoked, Especially the one who is deaf. Of course he is not bred to kill, or take down a bull. He is not blessed with lightening fast speed or jaws that crush steel, so the chances of him doing any real damage is pretty slim. But, what about those hound dogs next door? What about that dang stud dog who is trained to hunt and kill bears? (or so his owner brags) Do I really want to risk letting my "Sweet Pea" get into a fight with that dog? NO! Do I really want to risk the chance of one of my dogs tying on to his bitch in heat because for some reason, since we moved in he can't seem to keep them in their kennels? Definitely not.

So TC and I continue to go round and round about this very subject. I don't want my dogs out running loose with you while you are "working". And it is time for the boys to get fixed. Period!

I completely applaud your ability to see Brockle for who he is and not put him into a position where he could be the bad guy just for being who he is. It is the same as not setting our horses up for failure...isn't it?

redhorse said...

Becky, please please please get a gun and a better fence, you have a non-fighting dog and two small children.

I agree with Colleen that the dog should have been neutered, it could have been prevented.

Way back, when I used to train Obedience and Agility, I knew some beautiful AmStaffs and Pits. One in particular was a Utility dog and she was such a joy to watch, especially in the off lead work, that it made people cry. But she worked, and worked hard. I also never knew a happy, balanced Pittie that didn't do regular road work, for one thing, they look awesome with a lean body and ripped muscles. For another, Cesar is just right.

Anonymous said...

What horrible timing. Today's paper, yet another pit attack. The owner only cited for the animals "straying". The paper lists the attacks for mauling and killing humans so far this year in my area, 7 incidents. This does not include the case where the owner is being tried for murder, that is in another county.

Anonymous said...

My Parents own a pit mix. They take no chances with him. I have to admit it has annoyed me from time to time. This dog is a complete mush ball. Mugs, your post made me realize that I have been mistaking responsibility for paranoia.

Snipe said...

Becky, I would highly recommend that you call the police the next time that dog breaks into your yard. Either that, or maybe take redhorse's suggestion and get a gun. I felt chills when I read your description of his behavior. Not good.

mugwump said...

Anon. - "What horrible timing. Today's paper, yet another pit attack. The owner only cited for the animals "straying"."

This sad story will be touted as the press demonizing pit bulls yet again, by those who like to protect their right to ignorance.
I am not a fan of piling on more laws, but I am a firm believer in required training and licensing for the OWNERS of dogs bred to bite. Then heavy, heavy fines for bites that maim,disfigure or kill.
So yeah, the chihuahuas would be off the hook, no matter how nasty they may be.
Then and only then, when there are realistic penalties for people owning dangerous dogs will I want to hear from those who scream "straw men."

Darcy Jayne said...

Pits have become the victims of the good intentions of idiots.

Let me break that out a bit - yes, the breed is fscked up. It got real popular with the "I want a mean dog" crowd when the gangster rap-stars and wannabes latched onto them. Then Pits started showing up with a higher rate of bite incidents than other breeds (Rotties were the previous "mean dog" champs) - big surprise, given that their owners wanted them mean. People were breeding them for it and encouraging the behavior. I'm not talking about the "dog men" who would immediately put down any fighting Pitty that attacked anything outside of the ring, and do it even faster if it attacked a person. I'm talking about people who were breeding to satisfy the market for a particular type of lifestyle/status-symbol dog.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and you have well-meaning idiots who are rescuing these dogs - mostly still carelessly bred - and setting out to prove how harmless they are. Without knowing the stock, without knowing the individual dog's background, and without (in too many cases) even knowing how to read anything more complex than a Lab's wagging tail and happy face.

There are several Pits in my neighborhood, and I've only ever seen one of them on a leash. If I see a dog running loose in my neighborhood, odds are it's one the Pits. One is worrisome because she's heading towards fear-biter behavior. Another because he's an intact male and is fine with people, but headed for my dog (on-leash) with body language that was a touch beyond "assertive".

I wish everyone who wants to rescue a dog would stop rescuing based on image or feeling sorry for a particular dog, and rescue based on the dog they really want/need.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned border collies above but they're a completely different ball game.

The biggest difference would be bite strength and style. If a border collie bites it's going to nail something with a handful of fast comparatively light bites. A Pit bull type hits hard with a devastatingly powerful bite, locks on and gives a good shake. The prey drive is different too, herding dogs are ment to chase but not kill.
Another big difference is in how they're sold. Border collies are not touted as good pets, sweet natured and patient with children, or good for the city life. No one tries to say they're misunderstood when someone say they're neurotic when they herd shadows... Because they're border collies. When I bought mine the breeder racked me over the hot coals questioning why do you want one of my puppies? There are no "the truth about border collies" or "love a border collie" campaigns... And most border collie people are probably ok with that.

Jill said...

In the UK it's a similar story, except there is now the dangerous dogs act and I think american pitbulls are banned from being owned by someone without extensive licensing and preventative handling - muzzling etc.

Staffies are not on the list but the number of stories like that, dog mauls baby or toddler are nearly always about them.

I was bitten by a german shepherd as a kid and as such am wary of that breed from that experience. My mum has owned a loving staffie for 13 years and she is a gentle soul. However the male dogs bred for and by street gangsters terrify me way more than an innocent german shepherd. These dogs have no chance and it is these idiots who exploit the breed that make me so mad.

Andrea said...

Well, I'm not going to say what I really feel about pits, because it won't go over here well.

But, I will say that the dogs I am most terrified of are Golden Retrievers. They are the meanest, scariest, most unpredictable beasts I have ever met. I've been bitten by three different ones in my lifetime, and have a fourth that I will intentionally hit if it chases and attacks my truck tires one more time. But nobody ever listens to me on that one. They scare me to DEATH.

Snipe said...

Anon 7:16, the border collie comment was not saying that border collies are dangerous. The comment pointed out that people should be honest about their lifestyles and pass on a puppy if it's from a breed that isn't compatible with their lifestyle. I've seen this in action personally. My parents love the look of Australian shepherds, so they usually have one, but they never take it for walks or spend time with it except to dump some food in its bowl. It's a lonely, purposeless existence for an intelligent working dog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Snipe tat is exactly what I ment. Research the breed. If you are not willing to work with what the breed is bred for , dont get it. I have had both assie and pit both take training and exercise dependant on breed.

tailsfromprovence.com said...

We've got a rescue JRT/whippet mix. She's got the hunting drive of a JRT and the speed & hyperactivity of a whippet.
She's a killing machine - no cat, chicken, hedgehog, rabbit or even the neighbours pet tortoise would be safe if she was off leash. She's dog-aggressive on-leash and child intolerant in any situation. There are no small kids in our family so she doesn't get exposed to them very often unfortunately. You can't really borrow a toddler to train your dog...
Yes, we have attempted to train her - she's sharp as a tack and does sit-stay-down-heel easy peasy, but when that hunting drive takes over, her brain goes somewhere else. She knows she's doing wrong, but she just can't stop herself. We acknowledge what we've got, despite the protestations of well-meaning friends "But she's a lovely dog!"
No. She's not a lovely dog. She's a liability, but we love her and accept her issues. She's never off-leash unless we're out in the open where we can watch out for approaching animals or kids, and even that's a risk.
She weighs about 16lbs. At least I can hang on to her when she dives at the neighbours chooks as we walk down the lane. Can't imagine trying to hang on to a pitbull or a rottie.

zebradreams07 said...

I would like to counter this with the story of when my pit bull was attacked. He was five years old, I had just gotten him and was "fostering" another pit bull - this one an unaltered female. She had gotten along with other dogs but for whatever reason decided my dog had a target on his head. When she laid into him he responded in kind, and it became a big bloody mess. I had her picked up by the humane society (and presumably euthanized.) Over the next few weeks I noticed whenever my dog saw another dog (he was on leash) he started behaving defensively. So I re-socialized him from step one, the way I would a puppy who hadn't grown up with other dogs. He learned that most dogs will not attack him but he is not under any circumstances allowed to act aggressively, regardless of their behavior. He has had other dogs come after him since then but there has never been blood drawn, he snaps and snarls without touching them but backs down the minute someone yells.
This same dog attacked a horse the first time he saw one. For the next two weeks he was tied up every time I went to the barn, and the next time I brought him with he wouldn't even look at the horse. To this day I can take him to any barn or dog park off leash and the most I have to worry about is him wandering off. I know what he's capable of but I know without a doubt that he will listen to me in any situation, and respond better than many dogs from less aggressive breeds.

zebradreams07 said...

In regards to your statistics - it's not fair to compare the number of pit bulls in shelters/euthanized etc to other breeds because there are simply more of these dogs. A percentage comparison would be more accurate.

zebradreams07 said...

And many of those dogs were bred or purchased by people for all the wrong reasons, not by responsible owners. Which I guess is pretty much the same point you're trying to make. Here, you can have the soapbox back.

mugwump said...

Andrea, you are completely missing the point. This is not about attacking pits.
It's about attacking their naive/stupid/ignorant (pick one) owners.
So, it's not about attacking Golden Retrievers. It's about their naive/stupid/ignorant owners (pick one)Having grown up with the breed, loved them to death and will never, ever own one again, I could write volumes about how I feel about the breeders of Golden Retrievers.

mugwump said...

tailsfromprovence: yet, I'm in the middle of reading a book of short stories about lurchers, working terriers, etc.
Your dog, in that world, would be a hot commodity, fulfilled and not a liability...
She's lucky to have you.

mugwump said...

zebrasdreams - again...you're not countering anything,you are agreeing with my post.
You took the responsibility on and retrained your dog. You euthed the dog who presented the obvious danger.
You are a dog owning ideal as far as I'm concerned and I'd be comfortable with any dog, no matter what the breed, you chose to have.

mugwump said...

zebradreams and hannah - ease off of my statistics - "Animal Welfare of Albuquerque Director, Barbara Bruin said, nation wide, pit bulls make of up 18 percent of new shelter animals, account for 29 percent of the shelter population and 34 percent of euthanasias."
Find the fault here please.
18% of ALL new shelter animals are pits.
They make up 29% of ALL of the shelter population.
34% of ALL euthanasias.
These stats came from as good a resource as I could find, an actual resource, not an internet search BTW.
So...are you having problems with my stats that show pits win most temperament tests against other breeds?
Or the ones that came from the five-year review of dog-bite injuries from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia? Really?

Jennifer said...

Oooh.. This is a fun read. All full of good information.

Here's a loaded question..

If you know your dog, regardless of breed, to be aggressive, why call Animal Control to euth the dog? Why not take the dog to your vet (with a scheduled appointment) and pay for it yourself? You chose to take on that animal while it was alive. Why not take the responsibility of seeing it through?

mugwump said...

Jennifer - I'm confused. Who suggested using animal control to euth their dog? Besides, I am advocating training and education, not destroying dogs.

Jennifer said...

zebradreams07 said...
I had her picked up by the humane society (and presumably euthanized.)

mugwump said...

Gotcha.

KD said...

Confession time thru my stinging eyes. Many, many years ago I had a perfectly healthy 6 year old pit mix euthanized that was my daughter's favorite playmate. Because of husband issues that don't need to be discussed, I had to rehome this dog. I could not in clear conscience at the time, allow another family who was not familiar with the breed to have her, so I had her put down. I stayed with her during the last second of her life. This dog was awesome but would try to attack other dogs and was fearful of strangers. I feel awful about that decision to this day.

mugwump said...

KD - I think you did the best you could. You did not turn your dog over to a situation that could have been disastrous.
This is a sad, sad story,it's a life lesson, but not a place to beat yourself up over. I'm sorry.

KD said...

Thanks Janet, it was 18 years ago, her name was Mindy and I still use her leash on my current dog. It's amazing how the feelings can rush back just like the day it happened.

Anyhoo.... I appreciate the breed, know what they are capable of, but do not adopt any pit mixes anymore because of the great responsibility.

Where I live; unaltered, (very beautiful) male pits seem to be a status symbol with both young white and young black men. I see them all the time being dragged down the street with their well muscled dogs with 3 inch wide collars and big chains. I always want to recommend obedience classes, but keep my mouth shut.

ponyfan said...

A little late to the party, but I must admit I have some serious issues about responsible dog ownership.
My neighbours are the perfect examples of the pittie-loving breed. They They are a couple, in their thirties, just starting to settle down.
The funny thing is, their first dog is a pitbull who is the epitome of a responsibly managed dog. She has great manners, and boundaries, and her heel is lovely, just perfect. Actually, I can count on one hand the number of dogs in my neighbourhood who have a reliable heel, which given that I estimate there are roughly one hundred and fifty dogs in my neighbourhood is pretty darn sad. Lady with the choco lab, and old dude with the golden, who walk around leashless all the time, I am not counting you. Just because your dog ambles along, generally following you, does not mean you have control of your dog.
This pittie had been theirs as a young couple, and they had included her in every aspect of their life, they went for runs, took her camping, and hiking, to the lake for the weekend and to the corner store for milk.
Of course, they settled down predictably, new house, new dog, new baby. I saw the writing on the wall almost immediately. Their new dog was also a pittie, (The Very Best Breed, Dontcha Know). But their new lifestyle no longer supported the training, responsibility and dedication that had gone into their first dog. He was too boistorous, large, and clumsy for their new house. He spent a lot of time confined in the backyard, became loud and aggressive towards anything on the other side of that fence. He played rougher, and rougher with their first dog. He was unhandleable for the wife in her delicate condition, and unsafe anywhere near the baby once it was born.
He ended up at a shelter, where I imagine he fit right in with all those other large, aggressive and untrained young male dogs.
They will still tell you with glowing smiles how pitties are just the safest, gentle-ist dogs, and point fondly at their toddler climbing all over their older, obedient and faithful pittbull. You know, the one they kept.

RHF said...

Just because you CAN own something doesn't mean you have enough skills to handle it. Stilettos, Lamborghini's, and green horses fall into this category, in my mind, as well as pits. I fail to see the point in deceiving myself or others when somebody's life could be affected. Right on, Mugs!

mugwump said...

Ponyfan and RHF - Yes! Yes! Yes! I was beginning to think I had written this entire post in Mandarin.

Heather said...

I own a heeler who bites. Not everyone, not all the time. Every so often, he just sneaks up on someone and takes a chomp. He was very poorly socialized as a pup, so we think it is heeler instinct gone way wacky.

It's actually a pretty classic case. A couple in town bought him and his sister for their small children. Of course, we know that buying heelers as pets for a city family is a great idea. (I'm being facetious.) They then put the two puppies in their backyard and ignored them until they were about 18 months old and started biting the kids. Anyone shocked by this? No? Me either. Anyhow, at that point, the pups were given to some people we know. Since the boy still had all his parts, he was used as a stud dog. (Don't get me going on that.) He spent all but 1 hour of every day in a 24x36 (that's inches) crate. Again, no socialization and with testosterone added. So, when his breeding career was over, he was scheduled to literally "take a bullet to the head."

We rescued him knowing that he was messed up. He is a sweet dog with/for us and it just seemed like a waste for him to be put down. The dog is downright HAPPY 99.9% of the time - he seems to enjoy life like no other. So we volunteered to take him instead of having him take a bullet, which was the original owner's solution. We were hoping that, with enough work, we could fix the problem and he could be our "traveling dog."

Unfortunately, it didn't work out. Our other two dogs have free run of our isolated property. The biter has a nice 10'x16' kennel we built for him. That is where he stays when he is not with us. He is never out unsupervised. We tried having him neutered, we tried socializing him. We tried talking to an animal behaviorist. The truth is that the dog will never be trustworthy, so we don't trust him.

He will stay with us until he dies. Then we will tear the kennel down and put something else in its place.

But the bottom line here is that this dog is an exact example of what you're talking about Mugs. Pet owners who bought "cute puppies" without considering the breed and the effort involved. They "over-dogged" themselves and then proceeded to put no effort into the puppies and created the potential for tragedy. Once the damage was done, they passed the mess on to an irresponsible breeder, who took his pound of flesh from the animal - again with no real effort invested.

So now we have him. We really should put him down, but we haven't the heart. He is so HAPPY - ridiculously so and it seems like a shame to snuff that out. We make sure he gets out of his kennel and that he has the best life we can give him. Is it ideal? Probably not, but it's the best we can do for him and it seems better than putting him down.

Interestingly, we have one of his daughters that we acquired as a puppy. We socialized and worked with her from day 1. She is smart, easy to work with, and is an amazing farm dog. She actually tells us when animals are sick and will stay with the sick animal until it is well again. She's that good.

Honestly, I think he could have been that good, if he had been put into the right home and socialized properly.

Making a careful choice about the kind of dog you get and then being willing to put the necessary amount of effort in is (I believe) critical. There are all kinds of breeds we won't have on our farm because we know that they require more effort than we have to spend and they're a poor match for farm living.

The thing I find most ironic is that, if you take the time to choose the right kind of dog, it's usually way less effort to create a good canine citizen than if you choose the wrong kind. :-|





maryka said...

You have touched a nerve with me with this one Mugs as our eldest son has a pittbull. They also have a daughter who is fast approaching her first birthday. The dog exhibits no aggression to my granddaughter & never has,she can take his bone out of his mouth & swap it for a toy, but has always been watchful of her trying to keep her safe. My son spit his dummy out bigtime when someone he knows was hitting & trying to get a 6wk old puppy to become aggressive. This of course is why he has a Pittbull, he shoved £100 into the blokes hands & took the pup off him. The pup is now a beautiful dog of about 18mths old. They got a dog behaviour woman out because they realise that the dog could well be dangerous if they get it wrong. Would certainly not like to get a bite from him as he is the equivalent of double muscled cattle in the he has great bulging muscles & a massive head. Can confirm he weighs a large amount too as last time we went over I had taken a couple of dog chews & given him one when I got as far as the gate( which I hasten to add is a tall wrought iron one ). When I go into the house my daughter-in-law waits for us to sit in case he knocks me over lol. When he was allowed in the great lump landed in my lap & did a quick search of my pockets & my handbag to find the other chews & weighed a ton damn him. Always feel sad about the thing he's not allowed to do as he can't be allowed loose when they go out & in this country it is the law that he's muzzled in public. But can see why as the damage he could do would be very serious indeed & do worry that when my GD has her friends calling if one slaps her that he'll eat them lol . A joke but they have to make sure others & their dogs are safe as even a nip would mean that he would be taken from them by the police & put down.

maryka said...
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maryka said...
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Anonymous said...

The thought of needing a break stick to get a dog to let go because there bite and determination as bred is so powerful well I really don’t have a working use for those skills. I see many used as status symbols literally dragging their owners down the sidewalk with leather spiked collars and balls a swinging. Stupid kids with very powerful dogs who they neither have control of or put any effort into their training.

The Pit Bull suffers thru its ownership. Powerful dog that can cause allot of damage owned by irresponsible people.

On the flip side I love to see the tatoo’ed mad-max looking dude trotting his set of pugs down the sidewalk. Do pugs always come in twos?

Joy said...

Pit bull lover & AmStaff owner of 20 years here. I agree with this post. BE RESPONSIBLE!!!!! There is no reason on earth for un-neutered & un-spayed pit bulls. None. There is an over-abundance of them in this country. It pisses me the hell off.

A wonderful example of doing it right: http://badrapbarncrew.blogspot.com/

That being said, nothing is worse for my male (neutered) am staff than an aggressive off-leash dog. If Brockle came after Brad, I would have to choke Brad out because he would die trying to defend himself. And I wouldn't want him to hurt Brockle. And he would try very hard to hurt Brockle.

I can't tell you how many times off leash dogs have come after my ALWAYS on-leash dog. It sucks ass. And I've been bitten by the off leash dogs as well. It goes both ways, see. I have a great "leave it" on my dog, but when the off leash dog is between my fuckin legs, it's all over but the shouting.

There are great resources out there for folks who would like to rescue a pit or pit mix (it's PIT not PITT). Training, education, training and more training. And get the damn dog fixed.

ahem. done now.

mugwump said...

Um, Joy? You did get the part where I said Brockle stays on leash unless in controlled situations, right?
Plus, he's not stupid, he only charges poodles, preferably miniature.

Joy said...

No no! I totally got that about Brockle mugs. I just was using the poor guy as an example. Sorry! Yes I can see that Brockle is a smart one. I think I mentioned before that poor Brad is reallllly dumb. No I appreciate what you're saying in the post.
I apologize to Brockle for the inadvertent slander on his good name.

Becky said...

Joy - I think it's an Orange County thing.

Back in the day I used to own a dog-aggressive male German Shepherd. He was good 95% of the time, but since there was that 5%, I always kept him on a leash.

I can't count the amount of times people let their dogs charge up to my dog, and when I started desperately crossing the street, they'd call out, "Don't worry! My dog is friendly!" with a huge smile.

"Well, MINE ISN'T!" I'd holler back... and then they'd get a horrified expression and call their dog back, desperately... and glare at me like I was the one with the problem.

I love the idea of mandatory classes for people with high maintenance breeds - or, heck, at the very least, some kind of web exam where they'd have to score above a certain percentage.

In the end it might not do anything, but at least they wouldn't be able to claim "Oh, gee, I didn't know!"

Joy said...

I think you're right about Oc Becky. And it would be great if training of some kind were required for the more powerful breed ownership. The dog always pays in the end. (PS fellow HB person here. Lived there for 27 yrs).

mugwump said...

Thanks Joy - Brockle would be embarrassed to hear I'm onto him. He prefers for everyone to think I keep him leashed so he won't attack the Boerboel across the road. He's actually hoping to terrorize the pair of King Charles Cavalier behind the mastiff.

Anonymous said...

Sigh.
I have a dachshund. I think of them as the ponies of the dog world. They are lower to the ground with an "extra" dose of personality. I think that whatever type of dog you have, it is vital to research the breed. Dachshunds may look cute and cuddly but they were bred to be vicious, killing machines. They are difficult to train as they are extremely stubborn and smart. Dachshunds aren't particularly interested in pleasing their owners; they are more interested in their owners pleasing them. They need regular exercise so they have less energy to use for evil. However, I have met so many we'll meaning people who clueless purchased the cute little dachsie, didn't train them, let them get fat (terrible for their backs), and soon enough the dog is destroying the house and snapping at the children (after peeing behind the couch).

Don't get me wrong, they can make marvelous pets (if you're a masochist-kidding!), but we can't expect them and other dogs to be different from their basic genetics.
A masochist in Clackamas

Anonymous said...

The best guard dog I had was Zeke a daushound who would ackually protect me from my older brothers who picked on their little sister. He also killed chickens, squirrels, skunks and peed in the house till his back gave out at 10 years old. Loved him dearly but I will never have another. However I currently have a neurotic Aussie that hates my husband. I keep an eye on her constantly and will have her forever. I also had a heeler that I lovingly called psycho for 19 hellis years.

zebradreams07 said...

Jennifer - she was not my dog. I took her off the streets because someone begged me to, only long enough to find her a home. Clearly that was not going to be a safe option. I never intended to put more than a few weeks of food into her, and she would have ended up with animal control if I hadn't done that. I guess it's a good thing I found out she was dangerous before anyone got seriously hurt.

zebradreams07 said...

Mugs - my point about the statistics is that it makes it sound like so many pits end up in shelters, and euthanized, because the dogs are so dangerous or undesirable. When the truth is that there's just so many of them to start with, that more of them will end up there than other breeds as a matter of fact. By the same logic it's extremely unlikely that you'll find an Otterhound at your local shelter. A more accurate comparison would be the percentages of a certain breed that end up in shelters, out of the total number of that breed in the country. It still might not cast pit bulls in a favorable light but at least the statistics wouldn't be prejudiced.

mugwump said...

zebradreams- that would mean I was after pitbulls. I'm not. I am after people who own dogs they aren't able to control.
I have never, ever seen the amount of cover up and denial by breed owners that goes on with pits.
GSD owners don't say their dogs won't bite, or that they don't bite any more than a golden retriever.
Neither do Boerbel owners.
We could keep going.

Half Dozen Farm said...

Just a quick question because I'm too lazy to google it:
Do Pits "do" shutzhund? Are there pits out there who actually compete at agility, obedience, whatever competitions?

Oldredhorse said...

Half dozen- look up ultimatepitbullforum.com
It is a great forum for responsible owners and many of them do schutzhund, ipo, hog hunting etc. the originator of the forum has bred pits for law enforcement and is very knowledgeable about the good and bad of the breed.

Shadow Rider said...

Years ago a (former) friend of mine had a female Pit. She was obedience trained, neutered, a pleasure to be around. She was socialized with other dogs, kids, etc. My friend stopped by with her, and my 4 year old son ran by playing. In a flash the Pit tripped him, and jumped on his back when he fell grabbing him by the back of the head and neck. This all happened in an instant with no warning at all. This was a dog I had known, and trusted! We pulled her off, my son was ok, but I of course said the dog wasn't welcome on my property anymore. The owner got quite mad and said she was only playing! Um, no, that was a kill hold. Her jaws were powerful enough to crush my son's skull or sever his spine. We were lucky we were right there. No amount of training can overcome instinct.

mugwump said...

Shadow Rider - I had the same thing happen to my daughter when she was six. Except it was my step-daughter's dalmatian and dalmatian/heeler x who were the culprits.
The dogs were kenneled.
She let them out to play in the yard, after expressly being forbidden to let the dogs out.
I rushed outside when I heard her screaming, the mix had her by the same hold you describe, the purebred had her arm and was shaking it like the death shake my terriers use on rats.
I flew in, cannot tell you exactly what happened, because I don't remember, but there were screaming dogs who never looked at me the same again when I got my daughter out of there.
Daughter had major scratches, minor bite marks, but four were on the back of her neck, and bumps and bruises. They had been dragging her around the yard before she got to where she could scream for help.
The response from my DIL?
"She shouldn't have let them out. We told her they played rough."
Dogs were banned and there is still tension between me and DIL.

Shadow Rider said...

You know, I love my dogs, but if one went after a child like that I would have it put down immediately. I don't understand people who can see their animal attack like that, and excuse it.

clydesdalesocks said...

I know I'm way late to the party (catching up on Mugs posts) but I have two Pit stories (neither were my dogs, I have a wimpy little Corgi, lol).

One was a friend. He had a pit (neutered male). Very sweet dog. He's one of those people who will defend to the death that pits are "misunderstood." His girlfriend was taking his pit out to use the bathroom (on leash). He ripped the leash out of her hand, ran down the stairs, and killed a yorkie of a girl who was exiting her apartment with it (also on leash). The pit had never shown aggression before to another dog, but it only took once. He was euthanized.

The second was when my husband and I entertained the idea of getting a second dog. We loaded up my Corgi and headed to the pound. One of the shelter ladies was walking a pit and pushing for us to adopt her. I, of course, firmly said no thanks. She went on and on about how sweet she was. And she was. She was sweet on my dog and kept trying to play with him. Fast forward, my husband has our Corgi on his leash and shelter lady has the pit on a leash. Another shelter dog gets loose in the back, gets out into the waiting room and attacks our Corgi. Being the wimp that he is, he runs squealing in fear into the waiting room. He was headed for the chairs to hide, but had to run past his new "friend", the pit. She obviously smelled blood in the water because she lunged for my pig squealing Corgi as he ran by - she was aiming for his neck and would have gotten it if I hadn't reacted with a kick to the side of the jaw to deflect her and the shelter lady held her back with the leash. Needless to say we didn't leave with any dogs that day and our Corgi is still wimpy and enjoying his single-dog household status. Haha.

So no, I would never have a pit. Would never have one around my horses, my other animals, or my baby. It's not worth it. What do you gain from owning one that a non-aggreessive breed can't also provide?

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