Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Responsibility, my take on "Out of the Blue" at ArtPrize

Twenty-three years ago, just before my husband and I purchased a beautiful Rottweiler puppy from a responsible breeder, I read a book penned by an expert who worked with dogs in the military. You see, I did my research. I wanted a wonderful family dog, one that would also defend my family in our Detroit-Metro area home. My husband liked Rottweilers and my best friend raised them. The author discussed each and every breed, its origins, the original work these canines did, and modern day uses for these breeds. He didn't malign Rottweilers or even German Shepherds. The only breeds he DID NOT recommend for families were the pit breeds and Dobermans. Why? Because in the case of pits and associated canines, the meticulous breeding used to refine a killing, fighting machine. For Dobies, it was the fact that they only came into being to be used for guard duty and ONLY guard duty. He went on to explain that despite a few bad apples, most other dogs made great family pets. For instance, Rotties were used to herd cattle; German Shepherds were used to guard sheep, etc. As for aggressive dogs, many can bite. The larger the canine the more likely harm and death may occur. When you put two or more of these dogs, or any dogs, in what they perceive as THEIR territory they will suddenly go into instinct mode and form a pack mentality.

Recently at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a multi-media piece called "Out of the Blue" was put on exhibit. It was a memorial to the victims of deadly dog maulings. Just the facts were posted. There were many breeds featured. Unfortunately the pitty-lovers, screamed foul and said the memorial was putting their pit-bulls in an unfair spotlight. MANY OF THESE PEOPLE DIDN'T EVEN SEE THE EXHIBIT BEFORE COMPLAINING! About thirty more people picketed the art piece, disrespecting the fact that this was a memorial to the victims of deadly dog attacks perpetrated by several breeds. They went on to say that it's irresponsible owners that should be blamed. I agree. I see way too many irresponsible owners of all breeds. They let their dogs harass children, pets, livestock. . . lawns.

The thing is, too many pit-bull owners are irresponsible. For instance the ones that use the breed as a street-cred symbol, much like other people use lap dogs in purses as a status icon in their life-styles. These are the kinds of individuals that continue to fight pit-bulls and breed the most aggressive canines. This has been going on for decades. These folks use their pits and mixes to defend illegal activities. That kind of irresponsible ownership and poor breeding has done nothing to improve the progeny of the breed and related dogs. Unfortunately I see way too many people arguing about pit-bulls, too many robotic responses on forums and on facebook. It isn't just pits. It’s a fact that any dog can attack out of fear or instinct. Any owner, including me, can be baffled by an escape artist (please, see my previous post “Dog-gonnit!" for more information) but a loose pit-bull is like a loaded cannon careening down the hillside. It is like a satellite falling to the earth. Its ancestors were bred to fight and hold on tight. My father was in awe of these dogs when he hunted boar with his cousin’s husband in Hawaii in the 1950s.

Personally, I'd rather confront one little cocker-spaniel with a bad hair day than a Cane Corso or a couple of Staffordshire Terriers. Pitbull ownership is like gun ownership. Don’t leave your guns lying around for strangers and toddlers to play with. Don’t let your hounds run loose to chase horses, rip cats in half and tear out the throats of children. In a worse-case scenario, if your loving family pet wanders around, it might get picked up by someone who fights dogs and could be used horribly to experience a short, violent life. Be responsible for the sake of your dog and the community.

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