Monday, October 5, 2009


The home owner was a middle aged man with salt and pepper hair and a short, neatly trimmed white beard . With his golden tan he was quite attractive, reminding me a bit of Kenny Rogers. He had been waiting for me and walked out the door to greet me, a small child was at his side. She was eating a sandwich so I assumed I had interrupted lunch.

He smiled hopefully at me as he was obviously worried. The past month, his light bill had shot up by $300. He really hoped I had a simple answer. I went through some of the standard questions as we stood in the front yard.

Eventually I told him that I wanted to verify his meter reading and to check the disk speed. That way I could tell if what was drawing the excessive amount of power was on right then. His account was flagged that he had a bad pit bull in the back yard so I asked him if it were safe to go back there.

"Riley is aggressive but he won't bother you as long as you are with me." he assured me. "Besides, I have him on a chain because my granddaughter is visiti---"

His sentence broke off and he suddenly looked quickly about him in alarm. His granddaughter who had come out the door with him was nowhere in sight. His face at first showed concerned but then clouded in fear and his panic radiated to me. "Lost child" fills your head when they disappear like that.

"Sandy," he called loudly but calmly. There was no answer.

"Sandy," he again called out, no longer pretending to be calm.

Seeing the gate to the back yard partially open, he ran towards the back yard. This did not look good. I hurried behind him with my pepper spray drawn and feeling a sick dread.

At first we didn't see her, then terror closed my throat. Riley was a really huge pit bull cross. Just his head between his ears was a good 7 inches across. I was guessing he was at least a 60+ pound dog. He was standing spraddle legged over the still body on the ground. His face was inches from her face. She had evidently wandered inside the circle of his chain and he had knocked her to the ground.

Not realizing we were there, the child looked right into his face and with a three year old's petulance said,"This is MY sandwich." She was letting him know in no uncertain terms, she was not sharing.

Her assuming that the dog only wanted her sandwich saved her from what could have been an awful attack. Had she started screaming when he knocked her down, the predator/prey instinct would have taken over and he would have attacked, I have no doubt. I have seen supposedly gentle dogs do that very thing. A child's squeal is too much like wounded prey. It is instinctive and a pit bull, especially one used for hunting hogs, is bred for just such aggression.

The dog appeared to be deciding his next step when the Kenny Rogers look-a-like grabbed him by the collar. He spoke quietly but firmly to the dog as he pulled Riley away from the girl. The dog went with him but kept his eyes locked on the girl.

Calmly he told me to take Sandy out of the yard and lock the gate. She was still clutching her now gritty sandwich as I slowly picked her up. She was curious about me but thankfully oblivious of how close she had come to disaster. It took quite a while for me to stop shaking once we were safe.

Thankfully due to the little girls calmness, nothing happened that day. Riley was eventually sent to another home where there were no children.

I really want to state here that Pit Bulls often get a bad rap. Pit bull is a term commonly used to describe several breeds. The back yard Pit is usually only loosely related to the American Pit Bull Terrier or the Staffordshire Terrier.

Unfortunately the large net of fear covers them all.They can be and often are wonderful family dogs. I have rescued several that I would trust with an infant. I have also rescued some that are totally unpredictable and are down right scary.

Sadly backyard Pits are often bred for the very traits that make them unfit family pets. They are bred for the aggression needed to "catch" a large wild hog which takes them out of the "safe around children" category. They are bred for the aggression needed to fight another dog which takes them out of the "safe for society"category.

The Pit bred to fight other dogs are some of the most abused animals in the US. The fighters are torn to pieces in battle. If they lose and aren't all ready dead, they are destroyed. If rescued, they are considered unadoptable.

The training practices are barbaric. Often those nice "free to good home" dogs advertised in the paper, end up as brief sparing partners for the fighters. They have no chance. I can only ask that you never advertise "free to good home" for any animal unless you really check out the home it is going to. Putting a price on the dog is helpful in deterring the people looking for sparing partners for their fighters or the other sicko's that sell them to laboratories.

Those who participate in dog fighting deserve a pox on them that would make Job's days seem like a picnic. It is not the dogs, it is the people that train the dogs, fight the dogs and even those who stand around cheering, that are disgusting.

I have been seriously attacked by a Pit but that is for a future post. Even considering my attack, as a breed, I find them handsome animals and they do not frighten me. When properly bred and raised, they can be very sweet, loving creatures.

Guess that last sentence kind of applies all of us doesn't it?


  1. Alot of big dogs do get a bad wrap when most of them are quite sweet if brought up correctly. We have a pit bull next door and he is very placid but for some reason I don't trust him, yet I have been given no reason to think that.

    So I realise why some people cross the street when I walk's not her, it's her breed.

  2. Your story had me on pins and needles you proved to me...I'm quilty of that automatic fear!

  3. Gripping post. My heart was in my mouth. Thank God , that little girl's innocence literally saved her. Phew.. You must have been pretty shaken too right ?!

    Just for laughs - The moment I saw the title,I presumed the post was about a Bull. Forgive me for my sheer ignorance :D

  4. I am one of those who are not a fan of Pit Bulls. I have heard too many attack stories involving that breed. Thank God the little girl came out of that unharmed! I am against having ANY dog that bites!
    Great writing Patti!

  5. Many local governments blanket ban Pit Bull ownership within their city limits. It is too difficult to determine and screen the good from bad.

    Neighbor behind us had one, now deceased to old age and bad hips, which charged my fence through one German Shepherd and even Luckie,the Great Chipmunk Hunter.

    My German Shepherds never hurt a flea, but they sure scared the heck out of door-to-door solicitations, somewhat to my satisfacttion.

  6. It is all down to the training!
    but what I want to know is... what about his electric bill, did you resolve it? What was causing his big bills?
    I need to know!

    Love Granny

  7. Yes that last sentence should apply to all animals and humans, but I know a few humans who were treated great and still turned out to be the bad apple of the family.

    So happy the little girl didn't get attacked and glad the Grandfather decided to get rid of the pet.

  8. I know this will sound terrible but I think my last choice for a Dog would be a Pit Bull! Just too unprcictable for me. I understand they are all not like that, but even in your post, I hear a certain caution....My thing is: Why take a chance?
    What was the outcome of "Kennys" Light Bill problem? (LOL)

  9. Having worked for a vet for a number of years in the past, Pits are the only breed that I don't trust. My daughter raised a pit cross pup in a loving home. As soon as he was big enough he killed 100+ pheasants that my grand had spent months raising. After that he killed the goat, and finally one of the family cats that he was raised with. They rehomed him where there are no other animals. I much as I love dogs would have put him down. He cannot be trusted.
    And the answer to the electric bill was???

  10. I often feel bad for Pit Bulls, but they do have a reputation for ruthless attacks. I have done dog care for a friend who has a Pit Bull. I am always very conscious of Tug's breed when I enter the home. I make sure she knows it's me; call her name and make contact, before I even open the door. She's a very friendly, muscular, overly-rambunctious dog. I've read that even trusted Pit Bulls can turn. That's always in the back of my mind.

  11. Amanda,
    Yeah, I know, Rotties have pretty much the same reputation. They even have greater size to make them more fearsome. Yours however really has a sweet face. I'd trust her.

    Don't blame you, they affect most people that way. There are stories everyday of some terrible mauling and even killings.

    I see the pitbull hasn't made it to India yet. Maybe a good thing. I can see why you might think it was a bull though.

    All my working years I kept hearing from people that their dog didn't bite. I always told them that they hadn't bitten anyone--yet. Most dogs will bite given proper provocation but few do real damage like the Pits and others with similar reputations. Can't remember anyone having a Peke bite them though.

    A lot of cities ban them or require you have incredible cash funds available for most insurance companies won't insure your property for liability if you have one.
    The Shephard is third ranking in the most number of bites. I still think it comes down to responsibe breeding and proper training.

    I do agree with you and that dog had no business being around children. He was a responsible grandpa, fortunately in time.

    Grannie, OOLOH and Brighid,
    The poor fellow had 2 bad elements in his hot water heater that was eating up the kilowatts.
    The good thing about FPL in those days is when you proved you had fixed the faulty appliance, they wrote off the excessive amount and billed you for an average months bill. I was always proud of my company for doing that.

  12. I'm so glad this story had a good ending. My stomach dropped at the part when she was laying on the ground with her sandwich.

    Happy Monday!!

  13. robin
    OOPs you sneaked in on me while I was answering the others.
    Pits and Rotties always cast a doubt even when you know them. It is just that they are capable of such damage.
    Glad you are all moved and settling in with your deer friends.

  14. Cheffie mom,
    Truthfully when I first saw her so still, I thought we were too late. Her calm nature saved her life.

  15. Hi Friend, Thanks for your kinds words on my blog. I really appreciated it.

    I don't know what I think about Pit Bulls or Rotweilers... Whatever it is, my feelings aren't very good. I'm sure there are 'good' ones in those breeds--but I keep reading about children getting hurt or killed by them. That scares me.

    I love dogs--but would never choose one of those breeds. Glad the little girl in your story was okay. SCARY!!!

    When I was a little girl, I was chased and attacked by a boxer (didn't know they were like that)--so I've always had a fear of big, barking dogs.

  16. Betsy,
    Hope you are doing OK thru this trying time. You know my thoughts are with you. Hugs back.

    Boxers were the original dog that struck fear in people's hearts just by breed. At one time, they were banned like the pit bulls.

    Think little dog. They can still bite but they can't do much damage.

  17. I know what you say is true, but I would never chance having one. I have read of too many attacks on innocent children and people to even consider it.

  18. What a terrifying story. I am really afraid of big dogs. That's why I always go with the smaller ones. I just don't trust the big ones. Too many variables could cause their instincts to take over. You are very brave.

  19. You are an interesting person. Your posts so often surprise me. This post once again had me on the edge of my seat...what would happen next. I am learning a good bit from reading this here blog.

  20. Some dogs are really unpredictable. The only dog I ever had was. He bit little children and men in jeans. Why? I don't know: we had her from a
    kennel and before that she was with a family, who didn't want her any more.

  21. kenju,
    I would love to have one but only if I planned to never have small children in my home and that is impossible. Unfortunately for the Pits, as my mother said,"A bad reputation is almost impossible to live down."

    Janie B
    Not really brave, just an incurable dog lover. I was terrified of Riley that day. Little dogs still bite, but it is more of an annoyance than a danger.

    Thanks. I try to post only happy endings like this one--sometimes it isn't possible. Hopefully something that I have learned along the way gets passed along.

    Reader Wil
    I'd be willing to bet the previous family caused a lot of this behavior and I am pretty sure the man in the family wore jeans. His biting sounds like fear biting. Kind of a preemptive strike. You handled the situation just right.

  22. I absolutely agree about it all depends on how a dog is raised and trained

    I despise when people don't take the time and don't have the respect to understand animals and then blame the animals

    as for those who engage in dog fighting - well, I can't mind my language and describe how I feel about them at the same time

  23. I think chaining a dog increases their agressive nature too. And not giving it human companionship. I have seen so many folks with pets and they never "pet" them. They just have them as watch dogs.

  24. dianne,
    Know what you mean, I don't even swear but they bring out a rage in me that is sometimes scary.

    Linda Starr,
    I married a man who felt that if you made pets of animals, you ruined them for hunting. They were tools, not living breathing things. He would never abuse one but there was no affection---ever.
    We are no longer together.

  25. I think there is some wisdom in this post. I had not thought about it before.

  26. A while back it seemed like every other day there was an article in the paper about a dog attack that involved a Pit Bull. A lot of times it's how the animal is trained and treated, sometimes I think the their bad reputation should be blamed on their owners. I'm glad the little girl was not harmed.
    Just curious...why was his electric bill so high?
    Sunny :)

  27. Abe,
    Thanks, I hope so.

    You are not alone wondering about the light bill. He had bad elements in his electric hot water heater. When he corrected the problem, we wrote off the excess charges. Happy day for all.