American Pit Pull Terrier


Mickey: Good dags. D'ya like dags? Tommy: Dags? Mickey: What? Mrs. O'Neil: Yeah, dags. Mickey: Dags. D'ya like dags.. Tommy: Oh, dogs. Sure, I like dags.

- Dialogue from the movie Snatch.

I like dags.

I like dags so much, I wonder why sometimes some people don't like them. At a guess, it breaks down like this.

  • They smell.
  • They can be loud.
  • They need your attention all the time.
  • They'll put anything in their mouth.
  • They're unpredictable.
  • Their behavior, good and bad, is ultimately the caretaker's responsibility.
  • They can be dangerous.

Now, every one except for that last one applies equally to children. Which is probably why most of us like dogs so much.

I thought that with my first entry I'd go ahead and address that 'dangerous' part. American Pit Bull Terriers are only the most recent breed to be considered uniquely dangerous. Before that it was Rottweilers, and before that German Shepherds.

Part of the reason Pit Bulls are considered dangerous is that a Pit Bull bite tends to be a scary bite. A Rottweiler bite is no joke, but a Pit Bull may exhibit 'bully breed' behavior- Which is to say they bite and hold. And shake. And hold. And are not dissuaded by such interventions as being hit over the head with a bat.

Studies are inconclusive, but seem to indicate that the most dangerous breed at any given time is whatever is large enough to bite fatally and popular enough to skew statistics. So really the way to reduce bites from 'dangerous' breeds is to reduce bites overall. Which puts the blame squarely back on people. We need to take dog ownership more seriously, and education about dog psychology needs to be more than a 45 minute show that only dog nuts watch. It's a public health issue.

As much as Pit Bulls have a reputation for being dangerous they also have a reputation for being excellent companion animals, particularly for children. This aspect of their character makes them good therapy animals. They typically don't come across as intelligent on first meeting but that characterization is usually unfair. They have the ability to conveniently ignore whatever isn't important to them (including verbal commands and physical discomfort) which can come across as either stubborn or stupid. While they don't have anything resembling an independent work ethic they are strongly motivated by an eagerness to please. This quality plus strength, endurance and enthusiasm means they are regularly highly trained for use as rescue dogs or service dogs-  professions which don't recruit dumb dogs. Some are stalwart and some are goofy, but they are all a little needy. More so than many other working breeds they need affection and affirmation from humans. They make particularly poor guard dogs because they are usually too friendly with strangers.

On an artistic note, I'll be working on two things with this series- paintings that don't take two weeks, and paintings that don't look like plastic. I'm pleased with this as a first effort... even if that one on the left looks like she's got a screw loose.