Listen to this post:
Ask me what my breed I love to have appear at a photo shoot.
If you guessed anything big white and fluffy, you’d probably be pretty close.
In runner-up position, though, is the beautiful, noble, muscular pit bull. Now don’t you huskies, German shepherds and golden retrievers get your noses out of joint. I love you too but you don’t get the bad rap pit bulls do.
Every pittie that has come across my lens in the last six years has been snuggly and loving, and they are all adoption success stories, some a little more tear-jerking than the others.
The case for pit bulls
In truth, there is no “pit bull” breed. It’s an umbrella term that refers to a number of breeds that share similar physical characteristics.
The following breeds fall under the pit bull term:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
They’re medium to large-sized dogs with a strong, muscular build. They tend to have broad heads, powerful jaws, short snouts and expressive, round eyes.
And when they smile, oh how they smile. Velvet’s infectious grin spreads from ear to ear. I think she may have been the happiest dog I’ve ever met in my life.
Velvet’s family found her through Rescue4All. She is a very active girl who loves going for runs with her mama and swimming in the lake.
Pitties, like Velvet, are affectionate, loyal and smart as hell. All of the pit bulls I’ve met have been friendly, gentle, patient and eager to pose for me.
Yes, there are horror stories. Those are due mostly to bad guardianship. Many of these dogs have been abused, forced into dog-fighting organizations and discriminated against.
Because, folks … and you know I don’t pull punches … some humans are just pieces of shit. Complete garbage. Absolutely devoid of the right to exist in this world. And we’re stuck walking among them.
The dogs are dumped when they become useless, left at shelters and rescues when the aggression they’ve been taught becomes unmanageable, and their breed sensationalized in headlines as big, bad killers.
In these following words, we are going to focus instead on the adoption success stories of pit bulls.
Find the good humans
Historically, pit bulls were known as “nanny dogs” because of their gentle nature and affinity for children.
When I put out a call for rescue stories in the early days of my business, operating under Noses & Toes Pet Photography, I had only heard the horror stories. Of course, I’d encountered pit bulls as I walked among the dog-lover communities in Calgary, Alberta; Kamloops and Kelowna, British Columbia; and here in the Inland Northwest.
My good friend Jamie – the individual responsible for me being here after introducing me to my husband – has Riley. She’s small compared to a lot of pibbles I’ve met but her love and kindness outsize her wee frame.
I approached my first two sessions more carefully than others (one should always approach carefully when meeting a new dog no matter the breed) and my trepidation around pit bulls was quickly resolved.
Mr. Wiggles, who left our physical world in summer of 2022, and his sister Betty eyed me suspiciously but proved to be incredible characters in front of my camera.
Betty returned to my lens last December for a special senior session.
Sweet Dobby was a stray and made her way to Heath’s Haven in Athol, Idaho, where she found her forever home. She arrived with broken bones and ligature marks around her neck, indicating she’d likely been tied up in a backyard and neglected.
And Zeevah and Otis, two 9-year-old hippos who found their way from California to the Companions Animal Center, formerly known as the Kootenai Humane Society.
They were littermates and Otis went to his forever home first.
But mama, who had just lost her pit bull rescue of many years, couldn’t stop thinking about Zeevah and went back to get her too.
Yep, Otis and Zeevah had their session at the same spot as Dobby. The Spokane River at Post Falls Community Forest might just be one of my favorite places for your dog’s photo shoot.
Changing the way we think about pit bulls
It is so incredibly important to challenge the fear and misconceptions we may have around pit bulls, or any breed.
Would you believe that as a child I was bitten by a 15-year-old Scottie and a German shepherd, each one on separate occasions? Both were my fault as a stupid kid, and I harbor no ill will toward either breed.
Because I was a stupid kid.
Pit bulls, like many dogs, are loving, loyal and deserving of fair treatment and understanding. We humans fail them when we cross the street, snatch our children into the air and tsk-tsk at the good humans who love pit bulls, have adoption success stories and give them good homes.
If we focus on those stories and give accurate information around the breed, instead of sensational headlines, we can all work toward dispelling the unfounded fears and prejudices associated with this misrepresented breed.
October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month. Give a lug a hug, eh?