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Dogs are perfect, even pit bulls Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Aug 16 2014 12:00 PM

Things I’ve learned from owning a pit bull:

• Pit bull is not a breed. It’s a descriptor. It’s a lazy, all encompassing way of describing a dog that is a descendant of an English bull dog. There are more authoritative, experienced and professional animal people that do a better job than I of explaining the dogs’ history. But just know that if you call a pit bull a pit bull, it doesn’t mind.

• I can change. Until the moment Gracie came bounding into my life nine years ago, “those dogs” made me nervous. I believed the anecdotes I heard about locking jaws and bad temperaments. I rarely, if ever, questioned the news stories that depicted pit bulls as aggressive killing machines. But in those first moments after we sized each other up and Gracie started chasing his wagging tail, knocking over an end table and flower pot, I figured I could outsmart the clumsy dope long enough to run for my life.

• People can change given time. Including mothers and siblings who are convinced “that dog” would turn on me. They are the same people who, within a couple of months, were sneaking Gracie treats and pats on the head because, well, maybe “this one isn’t so bad.”

• Like all dogs, pits bleed. Gracie lost his first “fight” under my roof to a deaf, toothless, old and grumpy cat with sharp claws that decided it didn’t like the way pit bulls slept beneath its favorite sun-filled window. (Pit bulls also yelp and cower like Chihuahuas.)

• Little kids don’t know that pit bulls are supposed to be dangerous. Neither do pit bulls. But they do know little kids taste good and will lick them until their parents usher them away.

• Pit bulls will lie on the floor until you fall asleep and then force their way under the covers in the middle of the night. They will then pass wind and blame it on you.

• Pits think your arrival day after day, year after year is the greatest event since breakfast — or dinner.

• Pits, like all dogs, get sick and they cost money to fix. Lots and lots of money. But even sick, pits are happy to see you.

• Pits, like all dogs, are perfect. They live in the moment. They don’t care about what you did yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. They are here with you now. That is what matters. You and the moment.

• When the veterinarian tells you your pit has cancer and there is not much time and the pit is in pain, that moment becomes an eternity. And you realize the moments before — even the ones you spent holding your nose as you picked up his poo —were beautiful and fleeting and you would give anything to have more. Please.

• When a pit breathes for the last time the following silence is thunderous. The only things louder are the lingering questions and memories.

• When a pit dies it is the same as when any other dog dies, which is the same as the passing of any other loved being. It hurts. That is what I learned from owning a dog you’d describe as a pit bull but I would describe as my family.

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