October 31 is my favorite holiday and the last day of one of my favorite months. Not just because I love fall and pumpkin flavored everything but because it’s National Pit Bull Awareness Month.
I discovered this fact last year when researching for my New Nodaway Humane Society duties. I even wrote an opinion piece on the significance of the month for The Missourian. But I never knew how much more this month, dedicated to the dogs, would mean to me after one year.
July 17th Nick and I officially adopted Rascal, our blue Pit Bull. You can read the beginning of his story in my previous post but after too many discussions, days without him and $80 we decided I should’ve wrote that first blog about how he was ours instead of finding him a home. He lived with Nick until school was over and then in August they visited me.
To make a very long, stressful and still very emotional story short, while Rascal was visiting he experienced a medical emergency, something that was probably created when he was younger and was now, suddenly, causing him to suffer. Within 72 hours of Nick first noticing his heavy panting we had to make the heart wrenching decision to let him go.
It was the first time either of us had to put down a pet. He was only ours for 37 days.
Over the next month I decided I wanted to get involved with another shelter. Anything to be around other dogs who needed love. Nick and I were dealing with our loss separately while he was at school with his dog and I was with Lilly. My apartment felt empty. My heart felt like it was missing a piece and maybe a little part of me felt like I needed a little more chaos. I emailed Stray Rescue about being more involved and after meeting with them I decided a temp (watching a pup when the foster family is out of town) would be best for me at the time.
After that I had convinced myself that was enough to fill the voids I was feeling. But then one Friday I got an email from Stray Rescue saying they needed fosters. It weighed on me. Distracted me from the weekend when my family had come for a visit and on Sunday after hugging them good-bye it was less than an hour before Lilly and I were in the car.
That Sunday, exactly one month from the day we said good-bye to Rascal, I brought home Aaliayh, my Pit Bull mix, foster dog.
She is not perfect. I am constantly trying to teach her new things. She is nothing like Rascal. I get frustrated with her. She is from the streets. I don’t think she understands why she is with me. She was adopted for a year and a half and they returned her.
Last October, last National Pit Bull Awareness Month, I was a dog lover. All shapes and sizes but I was also hesitant. I admit it in the first post about Rascal but this year I can admit I was wrong. This year I can say with complete confidence that anyone who thinks Pit Bulls are different than Lilly and Bailey besides their shape and size, are wrong.
If you don’t believe me, educate yourself. If you don’t believe the research and numbers, open your heart. Go to a shelter and get to know just ONE of the pitties they have there, because trust me, they will have at least one. Take him or her for a walk. Take him or her outside of their small cage. Spend time with that animal and tell me that it is different than the one that ‘looks friendly’ ‘wont bite’ ‘isn’t an aggressive breed’ or any other excuse or stereotype you can think of.
I can guarantee you Rascal would have laid down next to you.
I can guarantee you Aaliyah will, after getting to know you, want to play.
I can guarantee you, your opinion will change.
October is over after today but that doesn’t mean the abuse, neglect and stereotype that Pit Bulls encounter will be. It won’t be over until you, me and more people help to change society.
Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.