I'm often asked about my love of the Pit Bull breed(s).
Why do I love them?
How did I come to love them?
Was I always drawn to these dogs?
Growing up, my family had many dogs of many different breeds.
But I'd be lying if I said that we ever had a "Pit Bull." I'd also be lying if I said I'd ever wanted to have a "Pit Bull" ... or that my parents would've ever allowed us to have a "Pit Bull."
It's not that my parents were "bad" people... they just didn't know any better. Therefore, I didn't know any better. I was never "against" Pit Bulls, but I also wasn't "for" them, either. Mostly because... I just didn't know much about them.
But what I *knew* about them... all that I *knew* about them... was based on what I'd *heard* about them.
And it wasn't good.
Back then, I'd never heard anything positive said about "Pit Bulls."
No one I knew ever had a "Pit Bull."
No one I knew ever wanted a "Pit Bull."
No one I knew had ever even encountered a "Pit Bull."
Therefore, even though I never "judged" these dogs, I honestly never thought much about them. And I certainly never thought: "One day... I'll grow up and save them."
So... when did this change for me?
Well, it was in 2009, and his name was Rudy.
By then, I was 24 years old, and I'd met many other Pit Bulls. So... I knew a little more about these dogs, and I cared a lot more about them. But even still, at the time, I wasn't using my voice to help them, nor was I using my rescue efforts to save them.
Until... I met Rudy.
He was the one who changed everything.
Ask any "Pit Bull lover."
Many of us weren't always "Pit Bull lovers."
Instead, it took one dog... one "Pit Bull" ... to change everything.
And almost every "Pit Bull lover" can name who "that dog" was for them.
For me, "that dog" was Rudy.
I'll be honest. I didn't fully trust him at first.
Not because he was a "Pit Bull," but because he was a dog who had been chained, beaten, and starved for his whole life. I didn't know him... he didn't know me. I was unsure... he was unsure. I didn't know what to expect... he didn't know what to expect.
But I saved him, and he knew it.
So he loved me, and I knew it.
Rudy came to me as a "rescue dog." As with every other rescue dog I take in, I was simply planning to bring him back to health, and then find a family to love him forever.
Of course, I soon realized... I could never let him go.
Because he was the Pit Bull who would change my life.
At the time, I didn't fully realize just how much he would change my life, my mission, my future. I also didn't realize just how much unnecessary judgment I'd face, as a result of that decision... simply because, I loved a "Pit Bull" ...
Before Rudy, I'd saved many dogs, and I'd always been praised by others for my love of dogs, for my rescue efforts, for my commitment to my cause. But when I saved Rudy, and I began to rescue other Pit Bulls like him... that's when the public scrutiny entered my life:
"OMG Ashley!!! A Pit Bull?!"
"Why would you?!"
"How could you?!"
"What the hell are you thinking?!"
Initially, I was utterly shocked, and offended. I'd done nothing wrong. In fact, I was trying to do something "right."
I didn't rescue Rudy, simply because he was a "Pit Bull." I didn't trust Rudy, simply because (or in spite of the fact that) he was a "Pit Bull." I didn't love Rudy, simply because he was a "Pit Bull."
Instead, I rescued Rudy, because he needed me. I trusted Rudy, because he trusted me. I loved Rudy, because he loved me.
He was the most amazing, incredible, loving dog I've ever known.
And... he just-so-happened to be... a Pit Bull.
Soon, I realized that very few others were willing to rescue Pit Bulls. Therefore, I started saving more of them. Clearly, it was a choice I made, based on my experience with Rudy. I wanted to save others like my baby, the dogs who had no other hope.
But it didn't take long for me to understand the weight of my decision.
When I started rescuing Pit Bulls, I suddenly realized that I was now "different."
In the minds of many, my rescue dogs were not "dogs" at all.
Instead, I was saving "monsters."
This realization changed me, in so many ways. I was hurt; I was angry; I was disgusted.
Suddenly... I was on a mission... to prove every critic wrong. Because they WERE wrong.
That being said, I don't save Pit Bulls, simply because they're the only dogs worth saving. I save Pit Bulls, because these dogs are equally deserving, equally amazing, and equally loving, when compared to any other dog (maybe moreso?). Plus, they're the most judged, most misunderstood, and most hated breed in existence. And very few other rescuers can/will save them. That's where I come in...
I mean... if you were hated, based on nothing more than how you look, wouldn't YOU want someone to stand-up for you?? I know I would...
I could go on for days about how incredible the Pit Bull breed(s) are, but please... don't just take my word for it.
Instead, go to a shelter, and meet a Pit Bull. Contact an animal rescue group... and ask to walk a Pit Bull. Seriously, go freaking love-on a Pit Bull.
Trust me... it just takes one... to change your perspective.
And that one "Pit Bull" ... just may change your life.
*Written in loving memory of "the one" who changed me, Rudy