The woman glared at me, her expression both angry and frightened as she hustled her child behind her frantically.
“He’s a pit bull?”
Five minutes prior to this encounter, Boscoe and I had been walking around the block and had encountered the woman and her 5-year-old daughter. As soon as she saw him, the little girl started toward Boscoe with a twinkling smile and a highpitched, “Doggie!” But the mother held her back and asked me, “Is your dog friendly?”
I assured her that he was, and the little girl proceeded to rub Boscoe’s ears and caress his face, as my dog smiled his happy dog smile and heavily flopped onto his back. The mother and I were chatting lightly about the neighborhood when she asked, “What breed of dog is he?”
“He’s a pit bull,” I replied.
From her reaction, you would have thought I was pointing a sawn-off shotgun at her and her child. She backed away slowly, eying Boscoe nervously, as if the very mention of his br eed would remind him that he had a nasty reputation to uphold, and turn him into a frothing, child-maiming beast.
I can’t change people’s concept of “what they know to be true” with my emphatic words any more than Boscoe can change them by his gentle actions.
Due to the fact that pit bulls have been considered the “devil dog” for so many years (and featured so prolifically and negatively in the media), I just assume that people know what pit bulls look like; everyone knew what Bin Laden looked like after all.
I also assume that in our tolerant society individuals are capable of looking beyond appearances, dismissing stereotypes, and making educated decisions based on their own experiences.
I find myself frequently disappointed. I find myself confused by society’s rules: It is unacceptable and morally wrong to judge a fellow sentient human being by their sex, race, religion or sexual orientation; but it is apparently perfectly permissible to deem an anima evil by virtue of their breed — an animal that has no moral concept of right or wrong other than what it is taught by its owners.
When a child throws a tantrum in a grocery store or bites a classmate in kindergarten, the parents are blamed, because children are supposed to learn right from wrong from their caregivers.
When a dog bites a person, the dog is blamed, and yet a dog is not credited with the intelligence to distinguish right or wrong. It comes down to humans.
Dogs learn — or don’t learn — from their owners. No breed is inherently bad any more than any race is inherently bad. All races of human and all breeds of dog have their unspeakable members.
Individuals should be accepted or rejected on an individual basis — whether human or otherwise — any other basis of judgment is stereotypical, ignorant or just flat out wrong.
I have experienced kindness from people of all kinds, and cruelty from the same, but I don’t like or dislike an entire faction because of the actions of a few.