Monday, October 18, 2010

Is Bully The Right Image?


a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.
In 2002, Dog Fancy magazine issued a Popular Dogs series with "BULLY BREEDS" emblazoned at the top. The cover implores us to "Get the Truth" about "bully breeds", including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs and Bull Terriers.

The term has stuck, with organizations like HSUS, Best Friends, and multiple Pit Bull rescues using it to refer to Bulldog-type dogs (or, "Pit Bull type" dogs, which is a bit like saying "Golden Retriever type" dogs and referring to Goldens, Labs, and Chessies...admittedly, I'm guilty of using "Pit Bull type"). The term sometimes is used to refer to Rottweilers and Boxers. "Bully breeds" has been used in news stories, both positive and negative, about Pit Bulls and, sometimes Rottweilers. 

It is bandied about almost blithely without any real consideration to the message it sends and the connotations your average person makes. Heck, I love Pit Bulls, and when I hear them referred to as members of the "bully breeds", I cringe. Really cringe. 

When you think bully, do you think "family pet"? Or, like anti-pit bull zealotry*, do you think mean, dangerous, aggressive? In the absence of context, "bully breed" is hardly an endearing term. Even in context, it's use does not inspire a great faith in the stability of the dog.

So I would ask Pit Bull lovers, rescues and animal welfare/rights organizations to refrain from using this term. I am not suggesting we refer to Pit Bulls as Fluffy Pants. I am just asking we be cognizant and considerate of what terms we choose to use in reference to these dogs. A bully is not nice. They do not do nice things. This is something that anti-pit bull zealots believe, not what normal, average, run-of-the-mill dog lovers should be encouraged to believe. 

What are your thoughts? If not "bully breeds" or "Pit Bull type dogs", what? Should we just be calling dogs by their breed, if known, rather than grouping?

- Marji B.

*At the very least, I use the term correctly. They are militant with the smear campaigns. Ironically, many of their outbursts and fear-mongering could be classified as "nutter" behavior, but they like to save that term for average folks who happen to like Pit Bulls. Plus, "zealotry" is used as a descriptive behavior, while anti pit bull folk use "nutter" in a derogatory, offensive and unkind to people who really have psychological disorders manner.

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