Monday, November 24, 2008

My Pit Bulls Are Now Therapy Dogs

Last Friday night my second pit bull and only whippet tested Part 2 for becoming therapy dogs. Happily they all (other pit bull already tested and passed both parts with flying colors) passed the test! All that's left is to send in the paperwork, and they'll receive their TDI badges in the mail and they can then go into nursing homes, hospitals, schools and libraries to visit, cheer up, listen and provide a soft, furry coat for hugging and touching, warm soulful eyes for people to look into and connect with, a cold nose that says, "Hello! I love you!", and just a general feeling of peace and calm as they sit patiently by a patient's bedside, or while a child builds his confidence in reading to a dog. 

Soon I will have pictures of Rocco and Cricket, and little 12 year old Mamie (the whippet) doing this good work. I am so happy to contribute my time in training these dogs for this wonderful work, but I can't say the whole reason completely revolves around a selfless drive to help people. I must be honest; I have a hidden agenda, and it stems from my passion to help this breed. I wanted my pits to be therapy dogs to help dispel the bad reputation these dogs have gotten, however unfair and untrue the reputation is. Pit bulls ARE a very challenging breed with a relentless drive and "gameness" that cannot be matched by any other breed. They are determined not to give up at whatever it is that they are doing, whether it be shredding your living room or exuberantly bestowing you with lovely pit bull kisses. This determination, coupled with their supreme physical and mental abilities, is what makes it a difficult breed for people who may be new to dog ownership or who may not have a lot of experience with dogs in the first place. 

The best thing about this breed is its desire to please people and its intelligence and eagerness to learn. I can't say it enough—there is nothing more important in owning this breed than to SOCIALIZE, SOCIALIZE, SOCIALIZE. The more different types of positive situations you can have this breed to experience while young, the better dog you'll have when he is an adult. 

Pit bulls are clowns. They are about as exhuberant, affectionate and fun-loving dog as you'll find. They are not for everyone, but what dog is? Also, though, why should they be crucified due to irrational fears that the ignorance about them has ignited? The answer is, they shouldn't. I am pledging to work tirelessly against it.

OK, off my soapbox. In closing, I will simply say that I love this breed and I'll do what it takes to save and help as many as I can. And if that means going in front of whatever audience I can get in front of, I'm there.