Thursday, August 13, 2009

When the Past & Present Collide

With all the talk about fighting dogs recently – the big busts, for instance, and the finally-wide-spread realization that fighting dogs are actually victims that deserve a chance at life – we thought we’d talk a little bit about breed history, and how it relates to the dogs today: both those rescued fighters AND the typical Pit Bull that shares a home with humans as a companion dog.

Pit Bulls as a breed were originally created to fight other dogs in the pit. This much we know as fact. Something else we know as fact: Pit Bulls from the very beginning have also been…Companion Dogs! The scrappy, brave fighting dog also a family animal? You betcha! The APBT breed has historically walked parallel paths – one of fighting dog, one of family, farm, and companion dog. Through the course of the breed’s history, these two paths often crossed and at times they were barely distinguishable from each other. A fighting dog might be a companion dog might be a fighting dog; and sometimes a dog was just a companion, sometimes just a fighting dog. But the breed had two distinct roles and it often hopped from one to the other.

Eventually, the fighting path began to fade away, grown over with the thoughts and ideals of more humane, enlightened attitudes. What was left for the APBT? The job of purely companion dog within the modern dog fancy. People continued to keep the breed as a pet, a show dog, a working dog. Hey! These are the jobs these dogs are REALLY good at, anyway. There is a reason that the breed has flourished since the outlawing of the so-called ‘sport’ of dog fighting.

When people ask, “Why are Pit Bulls good companions when they were bred to fight other dogs?”, the simple answer is, “But they have always been companion dogs too! We just eliminated one crappy element: the dog fighting!”

Well, not REALLY eliminated. Because despite its felony status, dog fighting still continues on today. Pit Bulls, although legally freed from the cruelty of dog fighting, are still in reality subjected to this brutality.

RPB has always recommended that rescued Pit Bulls be treated the same, regardless of their backgrounds: dog dumped by someone who lacked the means to care for him, or dog rescued from a fighting bust. A Pit Bull is a Pit Bull is a Pit Bull. A fighting dog isn’t so different from the companion dog snoring on your couch (gawd we love those bulldawg snores!) It’s just that one dog had the misfortune of being born into a dog fighter’s yard. The other landed on your couch.

And sometimes....a dog goes *from* the fighter’s yard TO a savior’s couch!

This has been happening more and more as of late, due to new attitudes about the rescued canine victims of fight abuse. Dogs being confiscated from dog fighter raids are starting to trickle down into rescue on a greater scale. And guess where they end up? In new homes, as companion dogs. Wow!

In a sense, times have changed little. Some Pit Bulls are still companion dogs. Some Pit Bulls – sadly, tragically – are still fighting dogs. And some Pit Bulls are just lucky enough to be given the opportunity to make that leap from fighter to companion dog.

We hope and pray to doG for the day when NO Pit Bull will ever to be placed on the path to fighting dog. But until that day comes, the way is paved for the rescued victims to cross over onto the path of loved, cherished, family companion.

The majority of Pit Bulls today will never be within sniffing distance of a fighting pit. But they are still playing one role they've always played throughout their history, in good times and bad: loving, intelligent companion, partner, best friend, and family member. And these dogs are so good at what they do that we think their future in this job is pretty much nailed down.

To learn more about breed history and dog fighting, visit our fresh page, Dog Fighting: Then, Now.

1 comment:

Our Pack said...

Great blog! AND great article on the history and present social changes of this breed.
Great work!!!