I was at my alma mater St. John Fisher College yesterday for a day long conference on Frederick Douglass and Ireland. Scattered around the room where actual issues of Douglass’ newspapers. I love history, and am always fascinated by the way the past mirrors the present. I’ll talk more about abolition later this week, but today I just wanted to share an animal-related thought that jumped out at me as I read the stories from the 1850s.
In one of the papers – and my stupid camera phone took such a terrible photo that I can’t even read what the date or issue is – there was a story about bloodhounds eating three children. I found another copy of the story that’s much easier to read:
In the days of slavery, bloodhounds were bred to track (and sometimes kill) runaway slaves . The mere mention of the word “bloodhound” caused panic in the hearts of not only those who might be their prey, but everyone else in the community. Why? Because bloodhounds were dangerous dogs and you didnt want one near you or your family. At all. Ever. The newspapers of the day were full of accounts like this – real and exaggerated – and word of mouth only helped spread the fear.
Sound familiar? Every generation has its most feared breed – over the decades that breed has been Rottweiler, Doberman, Bloodhound, and today, Pit Bull. Is there a legitmate reason to fear a dog bred for nefarious purposes? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that every dog in the breed is bred and trained to be vicious. And even if they were used for those purposes at one time, it doesn’t mean they are forever destined for evil. Dogs, like humans, are in the end a product of both their genetics and their environments. I’m sure there would be few of us who would be frightened of a bloodhound today.
It’s just a thought I wanted to share, especially on the heels of the story I shared this week about the pit bull mix newborn pups and local organization Pitty Love Rescue. Because of breed myth, some of the rescue’s amazingly wonderful, kind, smart, gentle dogs don’t even get a look when families are looking for a canine companion. People want little dogs (which are notoriously terrible with children, by the way) or Labs or Goldens (great family dogs but so overbred to meet demand that we’re seeing a huge increase in behavior and health problems).
Why not take a minute to educate yourself about Pit Bulls? Here are some of the amazing dogs looking for homes – Indigo pictured below, is the amazing mother dog featured in my other story this week:
Why should you consider an adult dog, you ask? For one thing, these dogs have been living with actual foster families alongside other dogs/cats/kids and so their temperments, likes/dislikes, etc. have been examined, addressed and are relatively predictable. An adult dog has a quicker housetraining adjustment (because it’s important to remember every dog needs a little time to figure out the potty routine). There’s no “puppy adolescence” teething to deal with. And you’ll get lots of love from an adult dog grateful for a loving furever home!