Dog who Found Me
By Sangamithra Iyer
Sangamithra ‘Mommy’ with
Photo by Wan “Daddy” Park
this year, when an abandoned brown and white spotted pit bull entered
my life and I was thrust into motherhood, my coworker and fellow
pit bull mommy told me, “You are going to fall in love with
pit bulls.” At the time, I didn’t really know what she
meant. I didn’t see a bull, but rather a cow, a moo cow, and
I did fall in love.
It’s hard to explain what I love about Moo Cow, but maybe it’s how
expressive and affectionate she is. How loyal and forgiving she is. How strong
yet gentle she is. She’s a lover not a fighter. Fellow pit bull parents
may know what I mean, but that’s not always what most people see.
When we are out for a walk, sometimes people are wary and grab hold of their
dogs or small children and cross the street. Sometimes they are confrontational,
exclaiming things like, “you better hold that leash tight” or “I’m
going to kill that dog if she bites.” Sometimes they go straight for the
uterus (which she no longer has), wondering whether she’ll be bred and
if they can have the babies.
Sometimes I really don’t know how to respond. Most people only know what
they’ve been told or what they’ve been exposed to about pits. And,
unfortunately, pits are one of the most abused and neglected animals. Their bad
behaviors, however, are not inherent but a result of who has been raising them.
I wonder what it must be like to always be perceived as a monster or worse, what
it’s like to be made into one.
Before my pit bull motherhood, I can’t say I could really identify them,
but now I notice them everywhere. I wonder what their home situations are like,
if they were rescued, bred, bought or fought. Are their ears cropped or tails
docked? I wonder how they entered this world, and what is to become of them in
Some major cities like Denver, Cincinnati and Miami have adopted pit bull bans,
believing that pits pose a threat to humans. But as Malcolm Gladwell pointed
out in his piece in the New Yorker (2/6/06) about pit bulls and racial profiling, “A
pit bull is dangerous to people, not to the extent that it expresses its essential
pit bullness but to the extent that it deviates from it. A pit bull ban is a
generalization about a generalization about a trait that is not, in fact, general. ” He
further notes, “When pit bulls set out to provide comfort, they are as
resolute as they are when they fight, but what they are resolute about is being
gentle. And, because they are fearless, they can be gentle with anybody.”
Many people get to know this gentle side of pit bulls and fall in love. However,
the folks who breed pit bulls and the folks who buy them are not necessarily
the folks who love them. Their interests are selling them, keeping them for status,
or worse, fighting them, and many eventually end up on the streets. In the New
York City shelter system, pit bulls and pit mixes made up about 37 percent of
all dogs admitted and 50 percent of all dogs euthanized in 2004. It’s almost
as if they are doubly abandoned—by people who mistreat them and a society
that neglects them. It saddens me, because I know pit bulls like Moo Cow are
beautiful and affectionate companions; they just need humans to be the same.
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