Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day Twelve: A Picture of Something I Love

 There are many things in life that I appreciate -- the perfect cup of coffee, a well written novel, a hot cup of tea, just about any type of food (especially if avocado is one of the ingredients), fruit.  I would even use the term "love" to describe my appreciation for some of these things, although one might argue that's a bit of an exaggeration.  I do, however, know for certain what I do love, at least as far as non-people go: my pets.  And while I love my cats, I am especially protective of my love for my dog, Lotus, at least in part because she is part of a misaligned breed: she's a pit bull.

Pit bulls have a very bad reputation -- none of it really deserved, in my mind, since the majority of news reports regarding "pit bull attacks" are then later redacted because the attacking dogs are generally not pit bulls.  And while pit bulls are bred as fighters so they don't always get along with other dogs, they are, perhaps, the most people-friendly dogs you would ever hope to meet.  That, too, is a byproduct of being bred for fights -- the breeders had to be sure that the dogs would never turn on people, even when hopped up on adrenaline from a dog fight.

Not all dogs are aggressive toward other dogs.  Lotus is rather a wuss, really, when it comes to...anything.  The cats rule the house, so Lotus lets them get away with anything. (As you can see with these videos of Lotus, Nora, and Nicky.

When we're out for a walk, she's good about ignoring dogs unless they bark at her -- then she barks back.  She tends to hate meeting dogs when she's on the leash, and I am told that is because of her overly sensitive fight or flight -- she wants to run away from other dogs and if she can't, she becomes aggressive. But for the most part, she lets other dogs, even her shit zhu friends, dominate her.

For the next eleven days, we are puppy-sitting for my friend, Bestie #1.  She has an adorable lab-heeler mix that is 11 weeks old.  She decided on this puppy rather spur-of-the-moment and so needed to have a place for her when she went to a wedding and a vowel renewal (in two different states, both far away, in the same week!).  I said that we would watch the puppy, little Charlize (aka "Charlie"), as long as the puppy and Lotus, my lovely baby, were able to get along (I didn't quite realize it was for 11 days, but that's my fault for not looking at a calendar!).

Lotus loves this dog.  She gets a bit tired having a puppy around all the time -- Lotus would much rather sleep about 20 hours a day and that's just not possible with a puppy -- but she is good with Charlie.  She even taught Charlie to play tug-of-war (see the video, starting at the 45 second mark)!

The puppy is exhausting.  I remember why I never wanted a puppy -- we adopted Lotus when she was two, potty-trained and at least knew the command "sit."  This puppy is no where even close to potty-trained, and I hear that's what I should expect because it's under 12 weeks old and can't always sense its bladder.  The puppy also has an incredible amount of energy.  And I realized having two dogs (plus three people, four cats....maybe even a partridge in a pear tree) means that my house gets dirty very, very quickly.

I hate messes.  I am always cleaning, vacuuming, mopping.  Now, with this menagerie, we vacuum at least once, usually twice a day, sweep three or four times, and try to keep up with the rest of life.  I am exhausted.  But it is worth it because it gives my baby, Lotus, a playmate, even if only for a few days, and that makes her happy.

I get very upset when people judge the breed, as in the case of a library that shut down a children's reading program rather than allowing a certified therapy dog (who happened to be a pit bull) participate.  I can't even begin to express how angry that makes me!  But sadly, I am used to it.  When we applied at the rescue to adopt Lotus, one of the first questions we were asked was whether we'd be okay with strangers telling us we were irresponsible because we owned a pit bull, with people looking at us and crossing the street to get away from us merely because of the dog's look, with always having to fight public opinion.  I said yes, I understood the ramifications of this adoption.  It was worth it to me to have the most wonderful dog in the world.  But that does not make these situations any less difficult.  One day I hope that pit bulls will overcome this stereotype and people will understand that it's not a breed that is good or bad -- a number of cities and countries have overturned bans on pit bulls because the incidents of dog bites did not decrease at all, proving that BSL (breed specific legislation) does nothing except break the hearts of responsible owners who love their dogs and have to suddenly give them up -- people are responsible for whether they train and care for their animals.  And so I will keep advocating for my beloved breed and showing off my wonderful baby to whomever will listen and see her value.

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