When we got Ella, the volunteer told us that she was a pit mix. Those two small words. And I think we both worried a little about what that meant to have a pit mix because of the pit in that mix. What reputations they have. Tough dogs, fighting dogs, vicious dogs.† Banned dogs.
That they could just turn on you and attack.†
That they have jaws that can unhinge so that they can get a better bite and not let go.‡
So we did what any normal new pit mix parents do: we watched Our Gang episodes.
God that Petey is a good dog.
Watch Pups Is Pups and you’ll see. When Petey loses his puppies, he does everything he can to find them — cuz pitties are nanny dogs: they have big hearts for kids and puppies.
Ella is obviously a chip off the ol’ Petey block.
We’d only had her for about six months when we took her to a brewery in Ballard. She made her way to the patio — making an entrance with her wagging tail and big smile.
A little boy, a toddler no older than two, slipped out of his mom’s lap and waddled straight up to Ella before his dad could grab him. I remember a collective gasp — of time slowing down.
Baby plus unknown dog… dear God, what would happen?
That little boy got right up to Ella and there it was: the big lick. The little boy giggled as Ella licked his hands, his face, wagging her tail as he stood there, loving every minute of it. His dad stood behind him, smiling, saying that his son loves all dogs. And I thought, watching the two of them together, how wonderful that they found each other. Like they just knew this special thing about the other: I will love you and you will love me. Instantly, just like that.
The last thing the staff at the humane society said to us was that Ella was a good ambassador for her breed. At the time I didn’t really know what that meant. But over the last two years I’ve figured out that every time Ella meets someone, she’s shown them what a loving, smart, friendly girl she is. A good ambassador, indeed.
For the record:
†According to the American Temperament Test Society “Pit Bulls had a passing rate of 82% or better — compared to only 77% of the general dog population.”
‡From Petfinder: “Pit Bulls do not have any special physical mechanism or enzyme that allows them to ‘lock’ their jaws.”
From Ella’s DNA test: she’s a mix of American Staffordshire, Great Dane, and Spaniel.