As a Pit Bull owner, I am good at spotting other dog owners at the park who are uncomfortable with my breed of dog. When confronted with a snide remark or judgmental stare, I have found that the best response is no response at all. Most of the time, these people have already made up their minds. They don’t really want the opportunity to meet my dog and see that she is just like any other dog in the park.
I adopted Kess (named by her previous owner after Vancouver Canucks hockey player Ryan Kesler) at 10 months of age from a family who did not have the means to care for her. They posted an advertisement online, afraid to bring her to the shelter for fear that she would not be adopted. She was undersocialized and out of control, but very eager to learn about the world. I thought that she was bright and beautiful.
I was not prepared to face such enormous breed discrimination in my community. I thought that because I didn’t look like a “gangster” or someone just trying to look tough, I wouldn’t have to deal with all that.
One morning, I was taking Kess on her routine stroll through an off-leash dog park up the street from our home. A woman who was playing fetch with her black Lab saw us coming and quickly ushered her dog into her vehicle. She then leaned against her car, arms crossed, waiting for me to walk by.
As I came closer to the woman, Kess bounced over to her, tail wagging, hoping to say hello. The woman ignored my dog, and told me that she was really scared of Kess. I responded politely, “There’s no reason to be scared. She’s very friendly!” The woman replied that everyone claims his or her Pit Bull is friendly, “until the dog turns around and rips your arm off.” I knew where this was going. I called Kess and began to walk away. Unfortunately, this type of situation isn’t a shock to me anymore.
The woman continued to berate me. She told me that I had no right to be there because of a law that mandates Pit Bulls are not allowed off-leash and must be muzzled at all times. Completely untrue. I had to stop and inform her that our city has no breed-specific legislation. I had to tell her that I had been bringing my dog to this dog park nearly every day for almost a year. But no matter what I said, she ignored me, interrupted me, and kept insisting that my dog was dangerous.
Fed up and unable to take the high road, I started yelling at the woman. I asked her why — why do you feel the need to insult my dog? To insult me? You don’t know me. I would never allow my dog off-leash if I thought that there was a chance she would hurt someone. The conversation escalated until I was screaming and using expletives. I thanked her for ruining my morning, and she told me that I “deserved” this for owning a Pit Bull. It wasn’t even 8 a.m.! Meanwhile, Kess stood by, tail wagging, still determined to make a new friend.
We finally left, and I thought about the conversation the whole way home. I knew that this woman would tell her friends and family about our interaction and about how quickly I became emotional and angry. She would think of me as just another crazy Pit Bull owner, in denial about my dog’s “inherently dangerous” nature. Others who watched the situation escalate would likely avoid me in the future. I immediately regretted my behavior.
I’ve tried every explanation in the book to reassure skeptics: Kess was raised with young children, she was first in her puppy class, she loves small dogs! Most of the time, it doesn’t matter. I think that the best and least frustrating scenario results from respecting others’ opinions and letting them observe on their own how playful and friendly my dog is. But sometimes, I just can’t hold my tongue. Sometimes, I feel the need to stand up for myself and my dog. She doesn’t deserve this and neither do I.
So, let me ask: What do you do when someone insults your dog?
About the author: Cassandra is a bully breed fanatic. When she’s not exploring beautiful British Columbia with her two-year-old Pit Bull by her side, she can be found at the local watering hole enjoying an old fashioned burger and a pint of craft beer.
Read more about Pit Bulls:
- Pit Bulls and Discrimination: I Live in Fear of My Dogs Being Sentenced to Death
- My Pit Bull Is Not a Breed Ambassador, But I Am Not Ashamed!
- I Used to Think Pit Bulls were Monsters — Until I Got One
- 10 Common Misconceptions About Pit Bulls
5 thoughts on “So, I Lost My Temper at the Dog Park; What Would You Have Done?”
You will, deservedly, continue to face this every day. Pit bulls aren’t normal dogs and I question the mental stability and thought processes of anyone that decides to own before. Before the US federal dogfighting ban, almost no one owned these dogs except dogmen. Now every family hipster white girl wants one as a pet and they’re killing 30+ people per year on this continent. Pitbull-type dogs deserve every single ounce of their awful reputation.
Sorry to hear your experience, and I too am a pit bull owner and I know what my dog is capable of. I don’t try to make it a soft and light hearted thing when I bring my dog around people. I don’t do that with any breed I own actually but I know a pit bull is a lock jaw breed. It sucks that some people can’t find the beauty in the breed but you can’t dwell too much on this, I could never off leash my pit because I know something could possibly trigger my dog and whatever it is it isn’t worth losing my dog over or the damage caused, even if it’s just fear. I suggest not off leashing your pit and it’s not anything personal against you or your dog it’s for the safety of beautiful Kess and anyone else around, rude or not, and their animals, and yourself. I’ve been surprised by my own pits and my own friends pits, and they’re raised with a lot of careful attention, they just don’t take to some animals and some animals they fall in love with. It’s not worth the risk and finding that out though. If a dog scares your dog by being too aggressive or playful it will trigger most pits because everyone gets scared sometimes no matter how we are raised and the same goes for animals. I don’t think you should muzzle your dog but a leash I believe should never be off your dog especially a pit, and always take caution with everything and everyone and everywhere you go even if your dog is the sweetest dog ever, it’s not worth any of the what ifs. If my pit was leashed I would ignore the woman and pretend she’s not even there, I wouldn’t even spare her another glance or even think about her again after that day. Some people aren’t worth your precious head space, as long as you know you are doing everything correctly that’s all that should matter.
Sorry but pitbulls are unpredictable. Every single owner of a pitbull that’s attacked someone claimed their dog was friendly until they suddenly weren’t. I don’t trust pitbulls either considering I knew two kids in my old hometown who were attacked by pitbulls within a year of each other.
According to Forbes, pit bulls kill 300 people every decade in the United States. Four American children have already been mauled to death by pit bulls in 2002. So respect that lady. She is trying to protect herself and her dog.
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