Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Bruno by Any Other Name...

I tend to take Bruno to the puppy store at least twice a week, because every time we go, he becomes a little more accustomed to all the smells, and every time we see another puppy in public and it doesn't result in a fight, that's a good, positive thing. We've made huge progress in just a few months, and just this week I actually got him to sit, with a big German Shepherd only four feet away from him.

That's huge. HYOOGE, I tell you.

Twice weekly trips to the puppy store mean we don't generally come home with much from each trip. A new chew rope here. A bag of goodies there. Today, we went for a frisbee, because Bruno's such an amazing jumper, I figure some frisbee training would put that to good, productive, healthy use.

People, of course, are just drawn to the child like a magnet. So it's good that he likes people. But whereas parents used to just let their spawn dogpile on Max Bear without a moment's hesitation, they see Bruno's ginormous mouth and ask first, which I appreciate.

"Will he bite?"

"Not if you only have two legs," I say.

And as their children are wallowing all over him (and he's adoring every moment of it), the parents always ask: "What is he?"

And since I got his DNA test back, I always give the same answer: "He's an American Staffordshire Terrier!"

The responses are usually the same: "Hmm... never heard of one of them. He looks like a Boxer or a pit bull, though."

I never say much, if anything, to that.

We were standing by the aviary today, though -- Bruno with his hands up on the glass so he could keep an eye on the little dinosaurs -- and this itsy bitsy little girl comes up and asks, "What's his name?" I tell her, she looks at him, and says, "Bruno, can I pet you?" And this is the first time I've seen him take his eyes off the birds without being dragged away, but he turns, buries his massive cranium in her chest, and nuzzles her, as if to say, "I thought you'd never ask." She's wrapped around him, loving on him, and he's loving on her, and she says to him, "Bruno, you look a lot like my Brutus, but he died." Then she turns to me and asks, "What is he?"

And, of course, I say, "He's an American Staffordshire Terrier."

She scrunches her face and says, "Brutus was a pit bull. I don't know what a 'Merican Haffershur Terrier is."

And I leaned down and whispered in her ear, "It's basically the same thing. American Staffordshire Terrier is just a fancy way of saying pit bull."

And right there, in the middle of the store, this miniature person -- she seriously couldn't be more than six -- frowns up at me and says, "Mister, you should just tell people he's a pit bull when they ask. People don't know what 'Merican Haffershur Terriers are, but they do know what pit bulls are, and they think they're 'posed to eat people. You could show 'em that's dumb by letting them pet Bruno and show 'em that he doesn't eat people and maybe then they'll like pit bulls."


Seriously, when the hell did kids get so damned smart?

You know what, though? I minded her. On the way out, Bruno saw a group of kids he just couldn't resist, and while they were loving all over him, the dad asked -- as all dads do -- "What is he?"

"A pit bull," I said. "He's a pit bull."


  1. I was really hesitant to call Arnieman a pit at first too. I wanted to protect him from being unfairly judged. But in the years Ive had him "Hes a pitbull!" just keeps going down smoother and smoother, for me, and for the asker. At this point its like about half of the people will say something along the lines of 'Hes so nice/sweet/pretty/etc', and the other half will tell me about a pit they rescued. The people who immediately get scared or say something mean are an extreme minority.

    Re the kids: My partner has two little girls, and Arnieman is in heaven. He has always loved kids, and I knew he wanted a kid to call his own and to snuggle with and protect, and now hes got TWO. His JOB is those two little girls now, and he LOVES IT.

    Well one day we were at a park we have been to a million times for the girls to play. Arnieman was on a leash, as always, and we were just minding our own business as a birthday party was gathered at another end of the park. This woman was ranting and raving LOUDLY (but not to my face, of course) about 'WHY WOULD YOU BRING A PIT TO A PARK THERE ARE KIDS HERE ITS GOING TO KILL A KID HOW DARE THEY THAT IS DISGUSTING etc etc'. While I was annoyed I didnt say anything and sat on a park bench and let the girls play. (crazy lady was in the minority. I heard another mom say, obviously embarrassed 'Shut up! Hes on a leash, Jesus Christ!'

    Two things happened.
    1-- The girls ran over to me, with tears in their eyes "Why is that lady being mean to Arnie? He didnt do anything to her!" Me: "Some people think dogs who look like Arnie are mean." Six year-old "You shouldnt judge somebody by the way they look. **wraps arms around Arnie**"

    *That* is when I started tearing up.

    2-- Arnies alligator smile is irresistible to kids, and while the older kids at the party were enviously eyeballing the girls playing with him (but were too scared to come over thanks to crazy lady), a baby from the birthday party toddled right over to pull Arnies tongue/ears/tail, smacking him in the face ('petting' Arnie), and trying to eat Arnies ear. After all of the ranting and raving about how a kid was going to die, this baby, totally unsupervised, comes over to play with Arnie. Not a little kid. A barely walking BABY. While its ironic how Baby and Arnie interacted considering crazy ladys tantrum, its also ironic that the baby could have wandered into the street and gotten hit by a car or fallen down a drain. *throws arms up in the air* WTF???

    Anyway, pits were bred to fight other animals. They were also bred to be nannys. You can tame the former out of em, but not the latter. :-D

    1. Abbie, you need to read the book I'm reading right now. It's called Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls--One Flying Disc at a Time. Not the best-written stretch of prose I've ever consumed, but Wallace's story makes for an awesome read, nonetheless.

  2. close to tears with your post, and then again with Abbie's comment. shhhh... don't tell anyone I can be a softie.