A couple of years ago, my husband I decided to get a second dog to keep our dog Elvis company and for our youngest daughter to grow up with.
We went to Pet Smart to see the Pets Connect rescue puppies, naively thinking we'd just look and not get the puppy until Christmas. Then we spotted a black and white puppy with white sock paws, weighing about 30 pounds. He had already been named Dudley Do Right by the foster family. A snuggler, he instantly climbed into my daughter’s lap and fell asleep. Sure enough, we took him home.
When we filled out the paperwork, the agent told us he was a “bull-terrier” mix. A few weeks later, our vet informed us that he is a pit bull mix, and by saying "bull-terrier," they were trying to ease any fears we may have had about pit bulls.
Dudley is the sweetest, most loving dog I've ever owned. He allows my daughter to hang on him, sleep on him, even dress him up in a tutu. While Dudley is extremely friendly and loves everyone instantly, he is not always received well. Many people are scared of pit bulls and are not as naïve as I was about the fact that he's part pit bull.
Through owning and loving Dudley, I have experienced true prejudice for the first time in my life. Some people will just automatically
hate him and assume he is mean and ill-tempered simply because he is a pit bull.
Here are ten things I have learned from loving this wonderful dog:
1. Labels are powerful. Be careful what you say you yourself.
Dudley has been labeled a pit bull and is therefore feared. He is gentle and sweet, but he looks powerful and muscular. People have heard all the scary stories about pit bulls and automatically assume he will be mean.
Be careful what you say to yourself internally and how you label yourself, because it carries weight. If you label yourself stupid, or fat, or lazy, others will believe it and ultimately you will believe it of yourself.
2. Be friendly to everyone, even if it's not reciprocated.
Dudley gets very excited whenever he meets anyone. He rushes over to say hello and shows his enthusiasm to get to know them. Some people will never respond, but many do.
Be friendly and continue to be friendly even if you don’t get the response you are hoping for. People will come to see that you are genuine and some will be won over if you remain true to yourself.
3. Love them even if they don't like you.
Dudley loves everyone regardless of whether they love him back. He does not allow their distance or coldness to sway him otherwise. He is consistently friendly and doesn’t take it personally if they don’t like him back. He just likes them.
4. There's always time for a good hug.
This may not have to do with being a pit bull and may just be Dudley but he is always ready for a good snuggle. He will hug you for hours if you want and when is there ever a time when a hug is not just what you need?
5. Others' opinions of us do not change who we are.
Dudley can be as nice as possible to someone and they will still be scared of him. He could give them licks and hug up against them and they'd still break out into a sweat of fear. Dudley does not change, no matter how many people react badly to him. He remains friendly, loving, and eager to meet new people.
So often we long for other people’s approval. We go out of our way to say or act in a way that we know the other person would like. We change to fit their wants and needs. If someone does not approve of you or dislikes you, that will never change who you are, it simply reflects who THEY are.
6. Enthusiasm can win over most people.
If someone is reluctant to be around Dudley at first, he will continue to come up to them and invite them to pat him. They can usually be won over by how happy he is just to be with them. He will be so excited to see them that they can’t help but melt into liking him. He is enthusiastic and genuinely thrilled to be with everyone.
How can you not want to be with someone who so obviously adores you?
7. Play hard and sleep hard.
When he plays, he runs at top speed, plays tug of war with all his strength, wrestles with Elvis with gusto, and goes full out in every activity. Then he sleeps hard and long. You can pick up his paws and move them around or drag him off his bed and into your lap and he will sleep through the whole thing.
Whatever you're doing, be it play or rest, do it with all your might and live every moment to the fullest.
8. You are you who are, so you might as well be proud.
as much as we may fudge by calling Dudley a bull-terrier mix, he is a pit bull. As much as you may want to change and be different from whom you are, you are you and you will always be you. Be proud of that. Declare yourself. Be you to the best of your ability. Others are going to think what they want of you. Their thoughts do not change who you are. Your own thoughts do not change who you are. Be you and be proud.
9. Make up your own mind.
Most people have no direct experience with pit bulls, but have heard scary stories or seen news clips. They react to Dudley from stories they've heard that have nothing to do with Dudley. He is a gentle, big dog, who loves people. When people take the time to get to know him they realize that.
Make up your own mind about things. Do not write someone off before getting to know them. Learn who they are and make up your own mind how you want to feel about them.
10. You can't please everyone.
No matter how nice you are, someone is bound to dislike you. You can bend over backwards to be sweet, kind, and loving and someone will still judge you. You can never please everyone because people form judgments from their own experiences and beliefs which really have nothing to do with you. Those who dislike Dudley do so because of a belief they have about his breed of dog which has nothing to do with Dudley himself.
So stop worrying what other people think or how they feel about you. You could be the greatest person in the world and someone will not like you. It's always about them and not you.
If I had known Dudley was a pit bull at the time we adopted him, I may have been wary or nervous about bringing him into our home with children and another dog. Luckily, I brought him home and fell in love with his personality. I chose Dudley for himself and our family is now blessed with a lovable, big, goofball. I have learned a lot from loving a pit bull and I am sure there is still more to learn. Luckily I have Dudley to help me.