Monday, September 27, 2010
The Pit Bull Problem: The Nanny Dog and Pit Bull Heroes
Some of the famous Pit Bulls and Pit Bull owners throughout history include:
Jack of Little House on the Prairie
As a child I loved the Little House books (and go figure, I'm now living a slightly modernized version). Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved dog Jack, was -you guessed it - a Pit Bull. Never mind whatever sheepdogs and collies appeared on the TV versions, it's pretty obvious from the illustrations by Garth Williams. One of the later books (I'll have to re-read the series to recall which one) featured a stray dog who having been fed by Charles Ingalls (Laura's father) hung around and warded off intruders. This dog also fits the description of a Pit Bull, but who knows?!
Petey from the Little Rascals/Our Gang
The first Petey, makeup enhanced to create the signature ring around his eye (his ring mark actually was an almost-complete circle) was played by Pal the Wonder Dog, who had also earlier played Buster Brown's best friend Tige. Pal was an American Pit Bull Terrier and his son, Lucenay's Peter who also played Petey was an AKC registered American Staffordshire Terrier (also considered a Pit Bull breed).
Petey is perhaps the most well-known and most-recognized dog in the world to this day.
As the eptiome of the Nanny Dog, Petey joins his human children in creating comedy, mayhem and fun. Can you imagine a "vicious dog" being used in this series? Petey was obviously chosen because he was good with children, safe, stable and playful, far beyond his charismatic screen presence.
Helen Keller owned several pit bulls, perhaps some of the first dogs ever to be recognized as what we now call "therapy dogs." Pits are now used as therapy dogs because their high pain threshold prevents them from being upset when bumped by wheelchairs. Their smarts, gentleness and sheer desire to help certainly doesn't hurt here.
The classic American Dog, Pit Bulls were a beloved of early 20th century advertising. Besides Tige of Buster Brown Shoes, there was Nipper, the Victor RCA dog, and the Pit Bull from Pup Brand lemons are but a few.
Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson owned Pit Bulls, and General George Patton owned some sort of Bully breed. During WW1 and WW2, Pit Bulls were used to represent strength, courage and freedom and loyalty, and were featured on many WW1 and WW2 era posters. Pit Bulls are also the only breed to appear on the cover of Life magazine three times.
Not the first dog or Pit Bull to serve in distiguished combat, Sgt. Stubby is certainly the most famous, and he well earned the honor. His remains are now housed in the Smithsonian.
Oddly enough, when Reader's Digest later published the news of her heroism, they refused to mention that Weela was a Pit Bull.
Those I've mentioned are just a few of the Pit Bulls that have achieved heroic status. Pits have served as search and rescue dogs at 9/11's Ground Zero and throughout the world. They act as police dogs, drug sniffing dogs, and therapy dogs. And perhaps more than all else, they are kind and loving family dogs for people worldwide, keeping us sane and standing by us with their gentleness, their wisdom and their ever-faithful generosity.
And with that...What Makes Pit Bulls Special