Achieving Balance and Harmony

COMMUNITY

Growing Up with Pit Bulls

By Cesar Millan

My sons grew up with pit bulls. There was a lot of prejudice against pit bulls back then just as there is today, and I can remember them getting asked what they thought about pit bulls. They wouldn’t know how to respond to that question. Because my kids just like all children don’t think along the lines of breed. “Breedism” is something that society pushes on them later in life.

I have pictures of Andre with his bottle lying down on Daddy. The first time he played with water in a bucket, he was surrounded by 20 dogs, dogs jumping over him, water everywhere. They were having fun playing outside getting each other wet. To my kids, Daddy was a buddy to play with, a pillow to lie down on for comfort, a patient friend who always understood them.

Daddy was incredibly in touch with all of the members of the household. When someone wasn’t feeling well, he could sense it before entering the house and he would slow down to let me know. He knew the difference between adults and kids and was much more patient and tolerant with the kids, almost like a grandpa. That’s how my children saw him—as a proud and understanding friend to them. Daddy did so much to enrich my life and the lives of my kids.

So when I hear stories about parents wanting to separate their children from pit bulls, it makes me sad for the kids. There are children with disabilities who would rather read to a dog than their own parents. Whereas the parent sees a child with a disability, the dog only sees the necessity of what the child needs: to be accepted. The separation also makes me sad for the dogs since it prevents them from showing their other side as service dogs.

What kind of message does it send to our kids when we say “we love dogs” but then reject certain breeds of dogs? Just as I wouldn’t want my sons to be seen wrongly because they’re Mexicans, I wouldn’t want my dog to be seen wrongly because he’s a pit bull. I want people to evaluate them based on the actions they take and what they do for society—not what their breed or race attaches to them.

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