Thursday, May 3, 2012
When I'm Feeling Down
I just look into this face and know it's all okay.
An appellate court in Maryland recently ruled that Pit Bull type dogs are inherently vicious. The court ruled that the guardians of Pit Bull type dogs (b/c it just says "Pit Bulls" which is a bit like saying "Retrievers") are 100% liable for any damage their dogs may cause, whether a bite is provoked or not. Further, the court ruled that landlords can be sued for any damage their tenant's Pit Bull type dog causes.
When I adopted Mina, I did not realize I'd be entering the batshit insane world of Life With a Pit Bull.
I did not know I'd have a hard time finding a landlord willing to accept me with Mina.
I did not know that most renter's and home owner's insurance agencies would outright deny me coverage based on what Mina looked like, in lieu of how she behaved.
I did not know people would walk across the street to avoid me or that on more than a dozen occasions in ten years, someone would actually suggest to my face that Mina should be killed based on how she looked.
I did not know EVERYONE and their mother would be the first in line to say, "Hey, did you hear about that Pit Bull attack?" as if somehow having a Pit Bull gives me insight into why other unrelated dogs bite. Here's my advice, dear readers, if you see a story about an alleged Pit Bull biting anyone, keep that shit to yourself. Pit Bull guardians don't want to hear about it nor do they want to offer assurances that their dog - who has not eaten anyone in 10 years - is safe.
I did not know that I would have to rethink any roadtrips to include avoiding cities and states that have banned Mina from visiting.
I did not know that how Mina acted would be examined 10 times closer than how Celeste acted.
I did not know I would hear "it's all in how they're raised" or "she's so nice...for a Pit Bull" approximately 1,000 times in ten years. I did not know how much I would find the first phrase so annoying, the second so humorous.
I did not know that people I respected and cared about would be afraid or paranoid around Mina, despite overwhelming evidence suggesting Mina is an emotastic, serious canine who really just wants to snuggle and give kisses (sometimes in slow motion).
It used to bother me greatly how people perceived Mina and Pit Bulls in general. It used to bother me that I was held to a different standard of responsibility.
I care a lot less.
Really. It's true. Not about all of it. I still care that Pit Bulls are being killed more frequently than other types of dogs. I care that Pit Bulls take longer to adopt out. I care that dogs are being denied a chance at life based on how they look. And I also care about the people who end up with Pit Bulls and how they are marginalized and unfairly maligned. I care about that, but about the public's view on me and Mina? Not so much.
At the end of the day, I adopted Mina because she was going to be killed by the shelter. I rescued a dog no one else wanted, no one else deemed "adoptable". And when she playbowed to me that first night, perched on my bed, I was sold.
Not on Pit Bulls.
She may be the most challenging dog I've ever been a guardian of, and I'm okay with that. Celeste's problems are easy-peasy. Fostering dogs with reactivity issues or thick skulls or who pull on the leash? Bring them on, because they are nothing compared to the 3-yr-old bitch of a sassy mama dog named Mina. She's mellowed considerably after ten years, but damn! I can remember feeling like such a failure of a dog guardian in the early years. Not because Mina ate anyone, but because she did whatever she damn well pleased and I had no clue how to teach her otherwise.
So when I read shit like what's going on in Maryland, I look to my right and see a dog snoring. A dog breathing in and out, a motion all of us take for granted. I see a small, warm being who deserves love and respect as much as any other canine. I see a nonhuman friend who gives back as much as she is capable of to me and anyone interested.
I see Mina. And I love her deeply and profoundly, not because of her breed, but because of who she is and what she brings to my world...and how comfortably she allows me into hers.