In this post, I am not going to talk about a horse or a horseback riding experience, but about a certain dog breed that changed my life. It began five years ago when I traveled to California to visit a friend over a spring break. I was more then ready to go to her house after a long day of traveling and fun at the Santa Monica Pier. The second we stepped in the door, her puppy greeted us with a wagging tail and warm kisses. I was aware that he was a black lab pitbull mix, and did not think much of it. To me, he embodied everything that I want in a dog, friendly, affectionate, playful, goofy and a lap lover. He was one of the many things that made my trip worth it.
In the months that followed, I often thought of that sweet puppy. I knew enough about his labrador retriever side, since I've grown up with the labs. Yet I was more curious about the pitbull side, so I delved into my research and waves of shock continually crashed over me. Pitbulls killing people, pitbulls mauling children, and pitbulls discovered in a dog fighting ring were the top news stories. Now I am not in denial that those things happened, I believe that if an animal of any kind threatens innocent people, then they should be treated accordingly. The trouble I had was the assumption that all pitbulls were dangerous, because the puppy I met was nowhere close to that definition.
I researched positive pitbull stories in hopes that it balanced the negative. amd it turned out that there were pitbulls who embodied the pitbull mix that I met in California. Not only that, but I learned that when they are properly trained and socialized like any dog breed; pitbulls are loving, devoted to family, caring towards children, and have saved people from certain fates. Even though there is potential for dog/animal aggression, pitbulls can live with dogs and other pets if introduced the right way. Unfortunately the bad press on pitbulls tend to overrule this common sense approach, therefore pitbulls are judged as a whole and not as an individual.
When I realized this, I looked back on how challenging it was for me to be empathetic. This was something that been easy for me to know, yet hard to feel because of the difficulty with being social. Yet pitbulls gave me the ability to be empathetic, because I could relate to being judged for what I was, and not who I was as an individual. Like them, I was isolated, bullied, and subjected to conjectures on how I would learn and behave in certain situations. The only circumstance I have never faced is death, and it breaks my heart to know that wrongful judgement has put this breed in that situation.
Since pitbulls have taught me to be empathetic, I am motivated to return the favor, by adopting one or possibly two of them in my lifetime. I don't know when that will be, but I'm going to work hard to make it happen. I know that I cannot save every pitbull from wrongful judgement, yet if I can make a difference to one or two, then I will be satisfied knowing that ignorance did not lead me, it was empathy that did.
Empathy can come in several different forms. I know that people can be the primary source, and that is perfectly fine. However for those struggle to connect with their own kind, a misunderstood animal like a pitbull can make all of the difference. As always thank you all for your time, and I hope you find blessings in all you do!