TYPO OF THE WEEK
Real Mistakes, Real Laughs:
Air bases were built on captured islands of Tinian, Saipan, and Guam but they were barley within the range of the long-range bombers.
(hope the bombadiers weren't on gluten-free diets)
Didn't catch the typo? Scroll to bottom of page
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
What's In a Name? Everything.
While I was researching my dog book The American Pit Bull Terrier (2006 TFH Publications), I learned that the APBT's "sister breed," the American Staffordshire Terrier, developed its breed name largely to distance itself from the dark connotations of the word pit. The American Kennel Club would not register a breed with the word in it, so the AmStaff was born and the APBT became the founding breed of the United Kennel Club. Heck, even the URL to my APBT book on Amazon omits the word "pit." Very telling. And I'm beginning to think the AKC was right.
Although the catchall term "pit bull" is NOT an official breed name, it's the term most often used by the general public to refer to the AmStaff, the APBT, and a host of other "bully" breeds linked by their ancient heritage. Because of the disturbing -- and illegal -- connection to dog fighting, dog enthusiasts eschew the moniker in favor of the proper breed names, but I've found that even knowledgeable bully-breed owners use "pit bull" for brevity's sake. I confess that I've done the same. Two monosyllabic words are so much easier than three or four confusing ones, especially when talking to someone with little knowledge of the breeds. By the time I get to the end of "The American Pit Bull Terrier," I've lost them. Yet these are the very people I want to reach with the truth behind the myths of the bully breeds. Ain't irony grand?
Like so many politically incorrect terms with legitimate origins that evolved into offensive slurs, "pit bull" is an unfair label for dogs who are methodically and cruelly conditioned to fight others. It is true that the bully breeds have a certain genetic predisposition to dog-aggression, but so do mild-mannered breeds like the Jack Russell Terrier. Yet nobody crosses the street when they see you walking your Jack. No one looks at you askance while walking your Boxer, wondering if you use him for dastardly purposes. Nobody who's seen the film "Turner and Hooch" looks fearfully at your Dogue de Bordeaux because his ancestors fought battles side by side with Attila the Hun.
"Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt me." Isn't that what we're taught when some ignoramus hurls epithets like nigger, mick, kike, dago, faggot, etc? While we are rightfully insulted, so-called "pit bulls" potentially face needless euthanasia simply because "pit bull" translates as "hopelessly vicious." By using correct breed names, or at least avoiding the use of "pit bull," we can speak for all bully-breed dogs who can't defend themselves against life-threatening libel.