Ball 3 – Wildlife 0

You can know your dog very well, you can trust them with your life really but there are just some things that you can’t predict in their behavior. You just never know what they are going to do.

People say that a lot when it comes to general pit bull breeds. ‘Sure,’ they say, ‘you can have a good one, but you just never know when something will make them snap.’ Actually you do pretty much know and dogs are pack animals so you can also extrapolate based on circumstances and triggers and pack role. And some dogs are stronger than others so when you get bad behavior it is different in a very strong dog versus a very small, not strong dog. My pit mix is harmless intentionally. She has inadvertently head-butted me a couple of times giving me kisses, and it hurts a lot when her head hits your knee, she doesn’t notice but I sure do. My newer eskie however is harmful. That is he is full of harm, with intent. The difference is that he weighs twenty pounds and is easily transportable. If I don’t like something he is doing I can pick him up and move him, when he attacks my feet I can push him away. I could do that with Apricot too but it would be harder for sure.

Anyway she is ‘one of those dogs,’ the kind that people give a sideways glance at when you walk down the street because ‘you never know about her kind.’ In the last three days I have had a chance to learn a lot about her, all things I basically already knew and can extrapolate out to the breed at large but it does feel good to be validated in one’s opinions. After working at the shelter for about two years I can safely say that pits in general, like balls. They are ball dogs. This means that if you introduce them to a ball at a young age you have the power to control their happiness for the rest of their lives. I worked with a litter of 8 week old puppies and while they already knew that they liked cookies, I got to show them a tennis ball for the first time and oh boy did that ever change the nature of the universe. 8 week old puppies don’t need a lot to help them be cute, 8 week old pit puppies who just discovered that you could chase a tennis ball might be the best thing ever.

So Apricot loves balls. She does not chase just anything. She is not into frisbees or sticks, it has to be round(ish) and if it can roll and bounce all the better. Pinecones will do in a pinch. A rock is okay if there is nothing else available. But a bouncy ball is doggie manna from heaven. But she is also a vicious beast, according to some, who will take any opportunity she can to rip the throat out of some other innocent animal. She was put to the test these last few days and maybe controlling violence is as simple as providing the world with more tennis balls.

I was throwing the ball for her at the end of the block. There is a sort of wilderness down there created by a decades old mudslide that split the street. No cars and relatively straight surrounded by hill and canyon so a good place to throw a ball. Which I did, throw the ball. And there was a deer. The deer fled, the dog considered the chase but her ball was rolling away and so the deer was safe. This time. The next day there were turkey who were quite upset by the presence of a dog. Until I threw the ball and then they didn’t care because the dog didn’t care about them at all. I mean not at all. She ran by the turkey three times: fetch, chase, fetch, chase, fetch, chase until we went home. Today was the squirrel, her nemesis. He shook his tail at her from outside the fence, she was halfway up the hill panting hard, body stiff, ball in mouth having just caught my throw. I said, “it’s a squirrel, you want me to throw the ball again or not?” And she abandoned the squirrel to drop the ball at my feet.

So the wildlife are safe, protect yourself from vicious dogs – carry a tennis ball, maybe that will help with everything.

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