“Hey! You’re the pit bull lady.” Pearl, my pit bull, and I turned, not knowing whom we’d be greeting. Yes, this is a pit bull, I said. “She’s big. She’s pretty. But why did you breed her?” the young man asked. He must have been 12, and he had a few friends with him. They were on bicycles, in a park in Boston, Massachusetts, where I live.
“I didn’t breed her; she was bred before she was rescued. She has been spayed since then.” “Well, who did?” Pearl was rescued in Florida, so I told Pearl’s fans the truth, which is that I don’t know who her first owner/abuser was. She was overbred, as her teats clearly show. “That’s just wrong,” the talker of the bunch said. “There are too many dogs without homes. My mama told me that all pets should be spayed.” Well, I damn near cried. Ever so slowly, the message is getting out there. “Your mom is right. Or at least I think she is,” I said. “There ARE too many homeless dogs, especially pit bulls.
“Pearl really is pretty,” he said, “but why doesn’t she have any ears?” AHHH, that’s the million-dollar question; the one that can make me cry if asked in the right setting. “Her ears were cut in Florida. Some people like the look. Some people crop dogs’ ears so they can’t be latched on to in fights.” “Fights!” he exclaimed. “Dog fighting is wrong. Michael Vick is an ass. My mama said he should still be in jail.” I wanted to hug that young man! What I said was: “It is wrong. And it is illegal. But some people think it’s cool. As for Michael Vick, while I think he should still be in jail, I hope his case prevents others from fighting their dogs.”
“If you walk Pearl in my ‘hood, people wouldn’t believe she’s your dog. You’re old, and a woman. All the pits in my ‘hood are owned by men. Especially the tough looking ones like Pearl.” What do I say to that? What SHOULD I say to that? “Well, she IS tough. And I AM old. But you have petted her, you know isn’t dangerous. And I knew the song you were singing when you approached me, even though I don’t sing it all of the time. The thing pit bulls can teach people is that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
“Lady, you and Pearl are cool by us.” It takes a village to raise a child, and I simply loved my village that day!