that Sarah Klem

I used to blog as the Devil. Then I was Tatiana. Now, I'm just me.

Meet Zuzu

Something I recently read on time.com filled me with so much rage, I found I once again had to come here and vent. You’ve been warned.

According to the article “The Problem With Pitbulls” the tragedy surrounding the little girl kicked out of KFC because her scarred face was upsetting other customers wasn’t that there are awful ignorant people in the world who would kick a girl out of a restaurant because of how she looks, but that very soon every school in America will have a child just like her. Why? Pit bulls.

And how do we solve this problem? Breed specific legislation: anything from outlawing certain breeds (pit bulls) to requiring sterilization of dangerous breeds (pit bulls). 

You know what the problem with this is? I mean beside the obvious that every few years the media decides to label a breed as vicious (German Shepherds were once blamed for mauling and killing more people in America than any other breed. They are now the number two dog owned by American families). The first and biggest problem with the pit bull problem is pit bull isn’t a breed. Shocked? Well, yeah, most people would be. It’s slang. A nickname given to a number of breeds in the terrier family. Don’t believe me? Go to the American Kennel Club and search for pit bull. I’ll wait.

Look at that sinister smile.

Look at that sinister smile.

When I got Zuzu (my pit bull) the co-owner of the rescue told me the woman who adopted Zuzu’s brother had his DNA tested and Zuzu was American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier and something else she couldn’t remember. I have filled in that blank with Dalmatian (because of her spots), pig (she snorts a lot) and frog (the way her legs splay out when she lays down sometimes makes her look like a frog). She also told me she has worked with other rescues that have labeled dogs just like Zuzu as lab mixes. Why? Because people are less scared of lab mixes.

So, how exactly would breed specific legislation work if there isn’t a specific breed to single out here? If typecasting this dog can be as arbitrary as a woman at a rescue’s decision to call it a pit bull mix or a lab mix, how would we determine if the legislation applies or doesn’t? What if I adopted a lab mix, but a cop disagreed when he saw me walking down the street where pit bulls were banned? Would I need to show her papers? Where would I get those papers? Couldn’t all this legislation be circumvented by all rescue organizations deciding to just call pit mixes lab mixes? Or what if a pit owner had their dog's DNA tested and it turned out it was a lab AND pit mix? Would it still be a pit bull? Does even a little American Staffordshire Terrier in your dog mean your dog is not welcome?

The other problem with this article and others like it, and this part is my opinion, is that most people only know the stories they read online about pit bulls viciously attacking, unprovoked, leaving small innocent children maimed for life. You hear about how they are trained to kill and tortured beyond comprehension and you think it is compassionate to do away with this breed but that's because you haven’t seen how these same dogs are rehabilitated and with love and patience become the sweetest, most loyal dogs that shower children with kisses and cuddles.  

You don’t hear about dogs like my Zuzu, who, for the record, was never tortured; she came to the rescue as a puppy.  

She knows she isn't supposed to be on that pillow, but yet there she is.

She knows she isn't supposed to be on that pillow, but yet there she is.

When Zuzu isn’t sleeping (and snoring) she is chewing on her toys, or trying to engage me in tug-of-war, or searching for more food, or running up the stairs because I seriously think my house might be haunted, or just cuddling with me on the couch (which almost always leads to her sleeping again). She follows me around, getting up from her nap, to lay next to me in the kitchen – approximately 15 feet from where she was napping. As I type this, she is under my desk chewing her Kong, occasionally giving me dirty looks because I suspect she would rather be sitting next to me on the couch watching Criminal Minds (I think she has a thing for Dr. Reid).

In the morning she wakes me up, not because she has to pee or because she’s hungry, but because she wants to cuddle and watch the news. This is perhaps her most vicious quality, as I wasn’t really a morning person before Zuzu came into my life. Her other favorite thing to do is stand at the window people watching. 

I have contemplated renaming her Pearl.

I have contemplated renaming her Pearl.

Everyone who meets Zuzu loves her. This isn’t an exaggeration. Neighbors on my street who tell my they are afraid of dogs pet Zuzu. As do small children whose parents tell me “Oh, she won’t pet a dog; she’s too scared.” Rifka, who isn’t a huge animal lover, tickle wrestled Zuzu the first night they met. And just recently on a walk, Zuzu and I came upon a Shih Tzu who returned Zuzu’s tail wagging, to which the Shih Tzu owner responded, “This is the first time he has ever been excited to see another dog.”

The only person who holds any ill will towards Zuzu is me, and that is because my hot neighbor showers her with attention and puppy kisses and he doesn’t even know my name.

And how does my dog, born and bred to bait bulls and attack and kill, respond to all of this attention. By licking people’s faces and arms and legs. By wagging her tail and doing her best to sit still because that is what she knows I want her to do, but she wants to jump and kiss the strangers. And then, as we walk away, she smiles at me, as if the say, “Wasn’t that the greatest?” Or, “Isn’t being beautiful awesome?”.

Or, "Hey, that guy's pretty cute you should talk to him."