This morning my pack and I were running through the detour (because My Trail is STILL closed), past the diesel gas station when this big Rottweiler named George came running out of nowhere and barking his big, ugly face off at us. We didn’t know his name was George yet. We just knew that there was a big rottie that might have outweighed Mom and looked like your stereotypical junk yard dog coming at us and shouting, “YOU’D BETTER NOT BE HAVING FUN WITHOUT ME!”
“Go away! She’s our human!” I screamed at George. “Sit on it!” screamed Bodie. “Mind your own business!” “Help!” yelled Mom, not because she was scared, but because we wouldn’t let her between us and George and she didn’t know if George would be so jealous of our fabulous lifestyle that he would try something. We briefly considered making a run for it, but Bodie and I didn’t want George joining our running pack and Mom didn’t want George to lose his family.
Finally, George’s person came from behind one of the gas pumps yelling, “George! George! Come here!” After a few tense seconds, George’s dad had taken him back to the car and me and my pack were free to go. “I’m sorry about that!” George’s dad called after us. “Don’t worry about it! Escapes happen!” Mom called back as she led us back to solitude.
“But Mom,” I said. “George was a Rottweiler. Rottweilers are dangerous dogs! They are all gangsters and thugs and lead lives of crime! He could have mugged us and stolen you! Don’t you know anything about dogs?!” “I know that George stayed a few feet away from you guys and just barked at you. I know he didn’t bite you, and didn’t even get close enough to bite you” Mom said. “And I know that George has a Dad who loves him and brings him on adventures and was very worried about not only George’s safety, but both of your safety as well. George was just being a naughty boy who saw an opportunity and went for it, just like both of you do sometimes. Would you have been so upset if he were a yorkie or a chihuahua?” “But, Moooooom! He was a HUGE ROTTWEILER! Not some kickable dog.” “Oscar, don’t use racial slurs. They’re not nice. And anyway, George didn’t bite you when he could have, so he’s just big, not evil. There’s a difference.”
That really made me think. Maybe I was just scared of George because of what the TV says about Rottweilers. I have a big, round head that is perfectly shaped for Mom’s kisses, but sometimes people are scared of me because they think that my head means that I’m a pit bull. People are scared of pit bulls, but I’m not scary.
Since I’m adopted, no one knows what my heritage is, but whether I’m part pit bull, part pointer, part chihuahua or part bloodhound, I’m a lover, not a fighter. Whenever people ask what breed I am, Mom says that she doesn’t know but she thinks I’m made of love and rocks. We can prove the love part. We’re less sure about the rocks.
And anyway, it’s almost impossible to identify a mutt’s ethnicity by sight. Once, some scientists asked a bunch of vets and shelter workers to identify which of their shelter dogs are pit mixes. They all picked different dogs! But here’s the kicker: when they ran genetic tests on the mutts, not a single one of the “experts” had identified all of the bully descendants correctly! And did you know that when dog bites are reported, it’s the victims (who usually don’t know the dog, and may be completely ignorant of dog breeds) who identify the breed of the offending dog. If the experts can’t even identify a dog’s breed by sight, how can you give any credit to the victims’ identification? You simply can’t judge a dog by his appearance.
Which is why breed bans make Mom so angry. We have a friend named Cirilla whose family might get kicked out of their house because the dumb owners think that Cirilla (a Rhodesian ridgeback mix… maybe) might be a “pit bull.” This makes us sick. People have laws against kicking other people out of houses based on their appearance, but don’t see any problem with doing the same to dogs.
If you’ve ever wondered why I hired a stenographer and joined a group where I could share my adventures with the human world, it is because of dogs like Cirilla and George. Some people don’t understand dogs, and so they’re scared of us. By sharing my adventures, people can see that dogs are a lot like them. Maybe someday a dog like George will run up to a an exciting and charismatic runner like you, and instead of getting scared you will think, “This is a naughty dog made of love and rocks like Oscar. I bet he’s excited to run with me, excited he got loose, and maybe he’s coming on too strong, but maybe he just wants to be my friend…” If the people are less scared, maybe the dog will be less scared, and the story will have a happy ending. When people and dogs understand each other better, the people are safe, and most importantly the dogs stay safe too.
-Oscar the Activist