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Pencil Shavings | Tessa Blair

Photo credit: Bobby Jones

My dogs Luna and Coco recently had a DNA test, which found that they are a hodgepodge of breeds—from toys to herders, and everything in between. But one breed in particular is a significant part of their makeup: American staffordshire terrier. Even knowing this, I still just respond, “They’re mutts” when someone asks what breed they are.

For those who don’t know, here are a few lesser-known facts about the American staffordshire terrier: (1) They were originally bred for bull- and bear-baiting, but were later used as “nanny dogs” because of their extremely gentle and loving nature toward children. (2) According to DogTime, they are rated as one of the top 10 most family- and kid-friendly breeds. (3) They are very poor guard dogs due to their trust of and unwillingness to bite humans; they will most often greet an intruder as a new friend.

If you haven’t heard of an American staffordshire terrier, maybe you have heard the more commonly-used term for the breed: pit bull. Suddenly, my facts don’t seem to match your preconceived notion of the breed, do they? I didn’t start with this term because of the widespread negative connotation and misunderstanding of the breed—the same reason I am vague in my answer to people who ask my dogs’ breeds. So how is it that people distrust pit bulls without even knowing what they are?

Pit bulls have a bad reputation due to just a few negligent people who chose to harness the dog’s loyalty to do something awful: dog fighting. This minority of dogs have become the face of the breed, causing an unfair stigma to be created. And this creation of false stigmas is not something only seen with dog breeds. People have negative connotations with people, places, groups, things, etc. And most of these stigmas are created from just a few non-representative samples.

I urge you, if you have a negative reaction to something or someone, think why. Research it, think about it, learn about it; you may be surprised.

Pit bulls are just one example of a larger systemic issue. We need to think about how our biases affect how we treat others. Let’s work to become a more well-informed society and break down false stigmas. My sweet pups deserve to have their breeds known without being falsely judged.

Tessa Blair
Tessa Blair

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