Through the course of becoming a mom I have experienced my fair share of raised eyebrows and well-meaning unsolicited advice sessions. Our choice to have a homebirth, to skip purees and head straight for solids, our stance on vaccines — all of it and more, important and not, has been held under a microscope. I mean it’s just what we all go through as parents, right? Everyone else has done it before, or at least their cousin has, and now they know better and want me to know better, too. It’s understandable really and mostly forgivable. But sometimes concern crosses into uninformed hysteria and that’s where I get a little stabby.
The most persisting hot topic in my life as a mom is the fact that we have two Pit bulls. Well, an American Staffordshire Terrier and a Pit mix extraordinaire to be exact, but really we all know regardless of what I call them they’ll always just be Pit bulls. Are you nervous? Oh please don’t be!
People we know and people we don’t know get really concerned about our housing two strong dogs next to such a tiny, tasty little babe. Even Google is sending out its fair share of warnings! Do a quick search of CUTE Pit bulls and you’re guaranteed to come up with an image of a poor baby missing its face on the first few pages. It’s awful! And definitely something I don’t want for my kid, just for the record.
Look, I get it. Strong dogs are intimidating, especially when they’re widely portrayed as unfriendly and violent. I’ve never tried to pet a bear for that very same reason! (But I must say, if a bear licked my hand while being all consumed with happy wiggles I might reconsider.) If someone doesn’t feel safe around my dogs by all means don’t interact with them, I certainly won’t be offended. That being said, last week I didn’t see the necessity in a woman’s pressing herself against a building and exclaiming, “I have roast beef in my bag! And WHY would you have a baby with THOSE dogs??” Oh, I see. The old Pit bull roast beef blood lust…
I’m not here to say my dogs are just like puggles or cockapoos. They are clearly not. Having them in our family means that there isn’t any unsupervised play between the dogs and our son. There are also regular lessons on animal/baby kindness for all involved. But these things happen not because it’s in my dogs’ nature to attack. (Pit bulls were long called nanny dogs because of how great they are with children!) The supervision and the boundaries I set happen simply because we aim to be responsible parents and dog owners.
When I change my son’s diaper, Blueberry, our AmStaff, sits on the threshold of the door with her back to us as gatekeeper. My son’s first real word, aside from the babbling hi’s and mama’s, was the name of our dog, Sassy. The kid even calls me Sassy, which I certainly won’t put an end to if he decides to keep it up. Watching the bond between all my little creatures unfold is one of the greatest things I get to be a part of. There is a mutual understanding of shared love and food spoken in a language I’m clearly not privy to. When people ask me if I’m scared having two Pit bulls and a baby it takes everything in me to not say, “No, friend, you are!”