Saturday, December 29, 2007

The 7 Untrue Facts Meme: By Diva!

DCup's pussies over at Politits have tagged Diva for the 7 Untrue Facts Meme! So without any further ado, I'm turning this post over to Diva!

Hi everyone! In case anyone sees this who doesn't already know me, I'm Mauigirl's American Pit Bull Terrier, Diva! I'll start off by telling you a little about myself.

I don't remember much about my puppyhood but I remember being kept in a cage somewhere and eventually having puppies of my own. Sometime after that I ended up on the streets in the middle of New York City with nowhere to go. I was picked up and brought to New York City Animal Care & Control.

And then my life changed around. Some nice people from the
Animal Farm Foundation came to visit and picked me out of a whole bunch of other pit bull terriers to be rescued. It must've been because of the way I wag my tail at everyone when I meet them!

Lots of stuff happened after I went there. They gave me a new name, Lady Godiva (because of my chocolate brown coat!) but they called me Diva, which really fit my personality so much better.

I met lots of other pit bulls and we all had fun running and playing in the big fenced-in areas at the Animal Farm. And then I hurt my knee and they had both of my knees fixed so I'd be able to still run and play. After that I got to live with the manager of the Animal Farm and her dogs and cats for awhile, which was a lot of fun too!

Then, Mauigirl and her husband, who became my Mommy and Daddy, came and took me home with them and I've lived with them ever since. It's great being the only dog in the house! I pretty much tell them what to do and they do it, which is as it should be for a diva. But I know when I should behave myself too.

They have a cat named Baxter who's a lot of fun to chase. I know I'm not supposed to chase him but he always runs - and how can I resist? But at night I have this sneaking suspicion he sleeps on the bed with the rest of us while I'm too sound asleep to notice.

Anyway, DCup's pussies have tagged me for this meme (Mommy says a meme is something where everybody answers the same questions so I think I understand what to do).

This is a kind of different meme because I'm supposed to tell you "7 untrue facts" about myself. That should be really easy for a pit bull, because there are a lot of untrue facts about my breed out there. In fact, you could call them "myths." So I'm going to use this opportunity to dispel some of those myths for you!

7 "Untrue Facts" About Me and My Breed

(1) I make a great watchdog or guard dog! Um, actually, not so much. I am way too friendly to be a watchdog or guard dog. In fact, if someone comes into the house I am most apt to greet them with a frantically wagging tail and show them where the silver is. I'm not even so good at alerting Mommy and Daddy to someone trying to get in. It depends on if I'm sleeping or not. If I'm sleeping I don't wake up for anything, not even the mailman. If I'm awake and someone rings the bell, I will bark. But if I'm asleep, forget it.

Of course, if people know I live here it may discourage them from trying to break in since my breed has this reputation of being a guard dog. And that's OK with Mommy and Daddy.

(2) I have locking jaws and once I latch on to something I will never let it go. This is really silly since there is no such thing as a dog with "locking jaws." As for the holding-on thing, yes, I love to play tug-of-war and I do hold on as long as I can. But the nice people at the Animal Farm trained me to let go immediately if someone says "Out!" And I'm very proud of how good I am at it! All pit bulls are very trainable because we are so eager to please our owners.

(3) I can't be trusted and will "turn on" people with no provocation. This is one of the worst myths about my breed. In actuality, we pit bulls are very predictable in our interactions with people and aim to please them. My ancestors were bred to fight other dogs, not people. In fact, our masters had to be able to handle us in the ring when we were in the middle of fighting.

There is this thing called a Temperament Test that dog trainers give dogs to see if they react appropriately in various situations. American Pit Bull Terriers actually pass this test at a rate similar to most other well-loved breeds, including Golden Retrievers or Springer Spaniels, and better than Collies. Over 84% of us pass the test. (I, of course, aced it!)

I've even passed a more stringent test, called the
Canine Good Citizen Test. That's because the Animal Farm wants to be sure all the pit bulls they adopt out to people are "ambassadors for the breed" and help dispel some of the bad reputation our breed has. I think I fit the bill perfectly, if I say so myself!

(4) We're always aggressive to other dogs. Not so. The American Pit Bull Terrier has historically been used in dog fighting, and as a result, some members of my breed are aggressive to other dogs by nature. However, many of us get along great with other dogs.

Personally, I never start a fight. I know I could win so I'm pretty confident of myself when I'm walking along with Mommy or Daddy; I don't need to lower myself to start things with other dogs.

I get along great with the dogs in the yards next to mine; we sniff through the fence and play. One time I got into my friend Nikko's yard and we had a great time playing. Nikko is a little Cockapoo and he is kind of in love with me so this was a great thrill for him, I guess! And yesterday I had a great time playing with our neighbor's Rottweiler, whom we ran into in the park. I think he's a little in love with me too. Of course, as a Diva, all the boys love me. (But I'm just a tease - I've been spayed.)

I have another friend who lives in the house on the corner. She is a girl but she is very friendly and we get along really well too. So it's not just the boys I like!

Mommy and Daddy do have to keep me on my leash at all times when we're walking, as all dog owners should. If we dogs aren't on our leashes, we could get hit by cars, or run away. And our Mommies and Daddies can't control us if we're not on a leash. What if another dog picks a fight?

And I admit, if another dog does say something nasty to me first, I can get mad. I'm not a pushover, after all. I'm very sensitive to people saying things about my mother. So even with dogs I know, it's best if Mommy or Daddy supervises our play if we're playing in our own fenced-in yard.

Also, it is not a good idea to let me run loose in dog parks with strange dogs. Even if the other dog starts something, it is always the pit bull that will be blamed for it. We have enough problems with the media! Our owners shouldn't put us in situations where we might get into trouble.

But remember: Dog aggression has nothing to do with people aggression. Even my pit bull friends who don't get along with other dogs can be great with people of all ages, even babies and children, and many, like me, even get along with cats or other small animals.

(5) We don't feel pain. This is really silly, isn't it? Of course we feel pain! But some people claim that because we pit bulls are so tough from being used in dogfighting that we have an abnormally high ability to withstand pain. This is totally untrue and anyone would know it if they saw how I react when there's something wrong with my toes!

For instance, I was walking on the beach one day and I got some salty sand in a little crack in my paw pad. Boy, did that hurt. I kept having to sit down and chew on my toes and lick them. Mommy and Daddy got all worried but were relieved to see it was just sand. They washed my foot and it was all better after that.

(6) We attack more people than any other breed. This is not true. The statistics on dog bites are poorly kept and not scientifically accurate. My Mommy is what she calls a "market researcher" and she says that just recording the number of bites by breed is not the right way to measure something like this. It needs to be measured based on how many of our breed are out there! Of course if we pit bulls are one of the most popular breeds at any one time, we'll account for a larger number of bites. But for the number of us there are, this may be a very low number.

Another way you could look at it is, instead of "what percent of dog bites were by pit bulls," ask, "what percent of pit bulls bite?" These are two very different things, and the latter number would be a very low percentage, and probably similar to any other breed of dog.

Another problem is, she says it's not a "representative sample" that they are basing the statistics on. This means you need to be sure that the statistics are representative of the total picture, not just based on police reports or newspaper articles.

Back in the 70's Mommy remembers it was German Shepherds that had the bad reputation - and my other friends, the Dobermans. And that was because there were a lot of them around!

Unfortunately a lot of the so-called statistics compiled on this subject are done based on reports by the media. Mommy says you fellow bloggers know that the MSM is responsible for a lot of disinformation and this is no exception.

If a little kid gets attacked by the family Golden Retriever or Labrador, that's not a news story. But make it a "pit bull" and boy does that story have legs! So the media are much more apt to report on incidents involving MY breed than other breeds. And mixed breed dogs that even somewhat look like me, even if they are NO relation of mine, end up being called "pit bulls" as well. So beware of the statistics you may see.

Unfortunately, some places in this country and in other countries use these false statistics to say that my breed is inherently dangerous and should be banned or highly restricted. This is called "breed specific legislation" or BSL, and it is just a form of dog racism, as far as I'm concerned!

Here's what the
ASPCA has to say about breed-specific legislation and the statistics behind it:

"...the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did not support the breed-specific approach. They cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed breeds). They also noted the likelihood that as certain breeds are regulated, those who exploit dogs by making them aggressive will merely turn to other, unregulated breeds.

Significantly, the CDC also noted how many other factors beyond breed may affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression—things such as heredity, sex, early experience, reproductive status and socialization and training.

These last two concerns seem well-founded given that more than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs, and that an unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog. In addition, a chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered. Further, 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered; 78 percent were maintained not as pets but rather for guarding, image enhancement, fighting or breeding; and 84 percent were maintained by reckless owners—abused or neglected, not humanely controlled or contained, or allowed to interact with children unsupervised.

Perhaps the most unintended yet harmful consequence of breed-specific laws is their tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. When limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, without regard to behavior, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making our communities safer: dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, anti-tethering laws, laws facilitating spaying and neutering and laws that require all dog owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed."

The main thing to remember is, just don't leave any dog unsupervised, especially with little kids, and be a responsible pet owner! And you'll have no problems.

Let's see, one more "untrue fact" to debunk. What shall I pick? How about:

(7) Red or blue nose dogs are: a special type of Pit Bull/rare/worth more than black nose dogs. Being a red-nose myself, I like to think this is true. But apparently the experts say it isn't. We're just like any other example of our breed. Pit bulls come in all colors, from pure white to black and white, brindle, or shades of grey or red, like me.

I have to say, when we run into people in the park, lots of them ask if I'm a "Red Nose," and whether I could be bred with their dog. Mommy always answers that I'm not that kind of girl, as I've been spayed. Sometimes she also tells them they shouldn't be breeding their dog because there are already too many of us pit bulls around for the homes available.

I hope you enjoyed my "7 Untrue Facts" about me and my breed, and that you found it educational! I'm turning the blog back over to Mommy now. Have a good day!


Sue J said...

Great post! as the proud mama of a german shepherd mix, I know the preconceptions people can have about certain breeds. Thanks for setting the record straight!

Diva's a beauty!

Mauigirl said...

Thanks Sue! Diva was very happy to have the opportunity to address some of these things that are said about her breed!

Dorothy said...

Thank you, that was a great information. I'll pass this on. Well worth the reading....

Dorothy from grammology
remember to call gram

Wishing you many years with your puppy....glad you found em....

Anonymous said...

Maui - I love what you did with this. You know, it's very easy to see a pit bull and assume the worst. I'm glad to see those misperceptions dealt with here by Diva.

Thanks for picking up this meme and doing a great public service with it.

Larry said...

I've always thought a dog would act like he was treated from infancy.

There are as many bad owners as there are bad dogs.

Mauigirl said...

Hi Dorothy, thanks, I'd love it if you do pass it on. We need to educate as many people as possible about these great dogs!

DCup, I'm glad you liked what I did with the tag!

Larry, you are so right - dogs aren't "born mean" as some people think. People make them that way.

FreakyNick said...


I have known many people with Pit Bulls that are just as lovable as Diva. They are smart, easy to train and make great family pets. It's too bad that a few rare cases of abuse have spoiled the breeds rep. ANY dog can turn aggressive when raised in a climate of fear and mistreatment.

Thanks for educated us.

Fran said...

I am sitting here weeping. This is the best use of the 7 lies meme ever.

Really beautiful Mauigirl, oops I mean Diva.

How we love to vilify other people in our crazy world... and certainly vilify dogs.

So wrong!

Lots of doggie love to you Diva, you are a beautiful girl.

TomCat said...

They have a cat named Baxter who's a lot of fun to chase.

For Shame! :-(


Suzie-Q (S-Q) said...

Nice dog and post! :)

Have a Happy New Year!

Suzi Riot said...

This is such a wonderful post and the best use of a meme tag that I've ever read!

Nine, Kuma, Barley and Otis would like to thank Diva for educating people about the bully breeds!

Mauigirl said...

Nick, thanks. That's why the Animal Farm and other pit bull rescues make sure to only adopt out excellent examples of the breed (temperament-wise) and make sure that they go to people who will treat them properly. The more people who meet dogs like Diva, the better it is for the breed. People then realize that these dogs can be great family pets and are not the monsters depicted in the media.

Fran, so glad you liked the use of the meme! I wouldn't have thought of it if DCup hadn't tagged Diva, rather than me!

Tomcat, don't take it personally. Perhaps I'll have Baxter write a post and he can express his feelings about living in the house with Diva!

Suzie-Q, thanks, and have a wonderful New Year!

Suzi, thanks, and Diva sends her good wishes back to Nine, Kuma, Barley and Otis! Hopefully the more education we do the better our dogs will be perceived.

Anonymous said...

I think that it is very nice when doggies blog. Thank you for telling the world the truth about your breed.

Mauigirl said...

Thank you so much, Alex! It is an honor for a cat to comment on my post!

splord said...

Wonderful job, Diva!

What FranIAm and DCup said!

Who's a good doggy!

TomCat said...

OK, Maui, but he'd better stand up or his rights. Cats Rule! Dawgs Drool!

Mauigirl said...

Phydeaux, Diva gratefully receives your adulation like the diva she is!

Tomcat, never fear, Baxter is already starting to write his post about his side of things.

Liz Hinds said...

That was really interesting, Diva. Now I know a lot more about pit bulls.

I had a cross alsatian when I was younger and his appearance - rather like a wolf - did frighten people. Also I wasn't strong enough, physically or mentally, to control him so the story had a sad ending, but I loved him.

beachgirl said...

I had my sons part pit / lab mix with me for a long time. She was a total sweetheart. And people were more frightened of her by her looks. Jet black. Her biggest issue was with other unleashed dogs. If they were running at her or me all bets were off. I would end up with 8o lbs of snarling strong dog next to my head yelling at the pet owner. They always say the same thing, My doggie just wants to play. My response was my dog wants to eat your dog. Put it on a leash.

I always tell every child do not pet a strange dog. Every dog will bit. Even my 2 Shi Tzu's with enough provocation.

But I love the pit. Nothing like them. Kacie used to talk to me when I got home from work. And she loved my Pomeranian. The Pom would bite you just as soon as look at you. All 8 pounds of her. Now that was a nasty dog.

Have an awesome day. Kacie still graces my fridge and my sons.

Fleur said...

Wonderful story, and so true. I hate it when Pit bulls get a bad name, it's not the dog it's the owner! Thanks for highlighting what great dogs they are :0)