I Was Brainwashed Once
I have a dog. He has a big head, large muscles, and he is very sensitive. He knows when you don’t like him. He knows when people are sad, mad, happy, and all our other mix of emotions. He will gladly lick your face, clean the inside of your ears, and sniff your feet.
He cuddles. He leans on you and uses your body as a recliner. He wants to be with you at all times. When he can’t, he patiently waits for your arrival.
He scared me at first. I was unsure. I was worried that he would turn vicious. I was brainwashed.
Before my dog, I was a volunteer at a humane society. I was one of their dog trainers. They saw a large number of dogs. Some dogs could be saved, some could not. I’ve seen all types of dogs, especially pit bulls.
There came a day when I met my first pit bull. When I walked into his cage, I was nervous. He came from a bad past.
He sat in the corner and watched as I entered his space. I didn’t make eye contact. I came in, locked the cage, and took a seat on the cold floor. I sat against the cage wall. I sat away from him. I was nervous.
He walked over slowly. He was sniffing. I kept my eyes directly ahead. When he was close, he stopped, then he sat. I always kept a stash of delicious treats in my hand and a training device in the other. When his butt hit the floor, I clicked my device and put a treat next to his paw. I stayed looking ahead. He stayed focused on me. This routine kept until the treats were gone.
I was still nervous. What if all the news reals were true? What if he snapped and went for my throat? What if his jaw locked, (not possible), and I couldn’t break free? The “what ifs” flooded my brain.
His tail wagged so hard it thumped on the concrete. He was staring at me, waiting for my next move.
During his life, humans beat him, shocked him, left him out in the Florida heat, and tied heavy chains around his neck. If there are any “what ifs”, it should be coming from the dog.
He should be wondering if I am going to beat him, shock him, or make him fight for his life. He’s the one who should be nervous.
Instead, he wags his tail. He takes the treats. He waits for me. He watches my behavior. He trusts me. He is still hopeful. He has so much love that he can’t help but be happy even though I might be the next human that does him harm.
I hold out my hand. He leans forward, sniffs, and licks my skin. His tongue can’t help it so he licks my arm. His tail wags harder and he licks my face. I give him a gentle pat and before you know it, we are playing, cuddling, and loving with all our hearts.
It was in that moment my closed, brainwashed heart became bigger. I fell in love with a breed that is hated for how they look. They are hated for their sheer power. They are hated and they are feared.
When a human is scared, it is the most scariest place to be.
I love my dog. When I first saw his face, I knew he would be great. However, the media is a powerful thing. My nerves took over, once again. I knew my new love would become big. I knew he would become my greatest protector. I knew his strength would make others and even me stand on edge.
He tested me.
He is four now. He loves, he plays, and he shows people he isn’t what the media says. He isn’t what the scared human creates. He is just a dog.
I saw him change a mind today. He changes minds all the time, but something struck me with this lady.
I come out of my car. She is standing on my steps that lead to my home. She is nervous. I see me standing there, opening a cage, and not knowing if I would leave.
He approached. She asked if he was vicious because “he looks vicious”. I calmly said no. He’s a lover. He licked her hand gently, as if he knew he should. “Here, let me lick your hand so you can know I’m not mean, I just look that way”.
She smiled and giggled.
A wet nose and a soft tongue can make the worst cynic smile. She followed me into my home and while we talked, my dog sat and waited. She commented on how good he was and I said, they all are. We just have to give them a chance.
This piece is fueled by my own previous bias. This piece is fueled by a public who knows only what they read and what they hear. My piece is fueled by all the abused dogs who only want to love. They only want to be friends. They only want to teach us to love the same; without bias.
A large head, large muscles, and a strong will mean only one thing to me now — a dog with a heart large enough to change a brainwashed mind.
I own a pit bull. He owns my heart