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I recently read a Viewpoint condemning a "pit bull" as being a potentially dangerous dog, even though the writer admitted that his foxhound instigated the confrontation. As a dog lover, bully breed owner and responsible animal guardian living in Oak Park, I must reply.
Let me start by sharing, I empathize with the pain of taking your dog, or human family member, to the hospital after an encounter with a dog. As a child, my beloved Chihuahua was mauled by a Golden Retriever on two separate occasions (eight cracked ribs, but my dog lived to the old age of 18). My sister also was the recipient of a nasty bite from a friend's German Shepherd. The point is, all dogs, regardless of breed, have the potential to react to confrontation.
However, in the Viewpoints letter (Nov. 16), the writer had his dog on a leash, and his dog wriggled out of his control to confront the other dog, who was also on a leash in the alley near the writer's garage. He commended his dog for going into "protection" mode and vilified the other bully breed dog for reacting to the charge. Living in an urban environment, we simply don't have the physical space to allow territorial behavior in our pets, let alone applaud them for it. It sets them up for failure, as the writer experienced.
Also, why mention the dogs' breeds at all? The writer came to the correct conclusion in the second half of the article. Both owners' behavior caused this confrontation, not the "foxhound" or "pit bull." There were no boundaries — pulling, lunging and screaming does not neutralize high-levels of dog excitement.
While I agree with the final point — walk your dog on sidewalks, not near trashcans in alley (alleyway scents and critters send dog senses on high alert) — I don't agree with the accusation that his dog was acting any more nobly than the other. Dogs are dogs. When allowed, they simply react on instinct, and when properly trained, they should look to their pack-leader for guidance before reacting. However, that didn't happen in this story. The writer's dog showed territorial, dog-aggressive behavior and defied his master by bolting out of control, and the other acted similarly.
I'm the owner a Boxer/Pitbull mix that I adopted from the Animal Care League. He's the third bully breed I've had in my life, and he couldn't be sweeter. I'm familiar with bully breeds, but even more, I'm familiar with dogs. Dog-on-dog aggression is not the same as dog-on-human aggression. This is a case of the writer's dog and the bully breed acting dog-aggressive, and neither owner being a strong pack-leader.
In the end, above all, I'm glad everyone is OK.
Julia is a marketing professional and yoga instructor living in Oak Park with her boyfriend and their rescued bully breed, Niko.