I love my dogs. Anyone who knows me knows that very well. A couple of years ago, I decided to merge two activities that I love together—volunteering, and being with my dogs. I got two of my dogs certified as pet therapy dogs, and I take them volunteering at Chrysalis, a family crisis center, through Gabriel’s Angels, and to a senior group home with Hospice of the Valley. I love both of these organizations and the amazing work that they do, and really cherish the time with my dogs. I take out their vests, and they start to sing and dance with excitement to go to “their job.”
One of my therapy dogs is a pitbull mix named Che. I brought him to Chrysalis last week to “work.” The visit started as they always do. We went into the office first so Che could love on the staff, and then spent some time with some of the moms before going to see the kids.
One of the mothers was walking with her son, and when she saw Che, she grabbed her son and backed away.
“Is that a pitbull? They are bad dogs. How could you bring him here?”
Recognizing an education opportunity, I responded. “No, pitbulls are not bad dogs. Judging a dog by their breed is in my opinion, the same as judging a person by their race. If an animal is raised with love, they will interact with others with love. Che is a really good dog, is well trained, and was certified to be a therapy dog because he is very social and well mannered.”
She visibly reacted to my response, thought for a minute, and said, “I’m so sorry. I had no idea. I have always heard that they are bad dogs. I need to think about that.”
I told her I really appreciate her willingness to reconsider, and that if she wanted to meet Che, he would love to meet her.
We went in to see the kids, and I saw the woman talking to her son before he went into the room. He didn’t engage with Che a lot, though he did go over to him to pet him a little bit.
After we were done and walked out, the mother was in the lobby area. She came over and asked if she could meet Che.
Che was all too thrilled to meet her.
We all judge people to certain levels based on what they look like, how they are dressed, how they speak, and in other ways. Is it right? Maybe, maybe not.
Che would tell you he’s just a dog. He’s not just a pitbull, but a dog. A wonderful, happy dog filled with so much love for everyone and everything. I love that about him.
He doesn’t judge people because they judge him. What a beautiful lesson.
The top two photos are by DeeDee Purcell, 2013.