I've said it before and I'll say it again: I never wanted a pit bull.
At least, not at first. Heck, I never wanted a dog. This all changed when Felanie was somewhat forced on me by circumstances. After she opened new avenues for me, broke down the walls in my mind and heart, and basically changed my entire life for the better, we got Dozer.
We got Dozer because he was a pit bull (even though, it turns out, he wasn't really) and I hoped to have the same experiences with him that I did with Fel. It is certainly the case that Dozer taught me even more about patience, understanding, and individuality, even if he didn't offer any new insights--he just reinforced the things Fel had already shown me.
But that wasn't the confession.
This is: For years, off and on, I've actually looked forward to the day when I would be pit bull-less again. I've repeatedly thought, "When my pit bulls die, I will replace them with something other than pit bulls." I have often wished secretly that my dogs were not pit bulls.
When I get tired of the struggles of pit bull ownership--the stigma, the stereotypes, the nasty comments from total strangers, the innocent-yet-hurtful comments from friends and family, the constant fight against legalized discrimination (BSL), the nonstop educational efforts (when you're a responsible pit bull owner, you know that every public excursion is an educational effort)--sometimes I just wish I had "easier" dogs. Dogs that people would look at and smile at and just accept, like a Lab or a Collie. Dogs that wouldn't make people think I'm a drug dealer, a thug, trailer trash, a mortgage-defaulting liar (no joke), or a gang member.
So when Fel got cancer a little over a year ago, I thought, "When I'm ready for a new dog, it won't be a pit bull. I'll get something else. A dog I don't have to fight for all the time. A dog that I don't have to justify owning. Something easy."
Then Fel died. Nine months later, I finally started looking for a new dog.
I wasn't looking for a pit bull. Not at first, anyway.
Yet, after I had carefully thought about and listed my criteria for my next dog and I knew what I was looking for in my next companion, I found myself drawn to the pit bulls at the shelter. While other people were cooing at the yappy Dachshund puppies or the jumping Jack Russell Terrier or the big goofy Lab, I was baby-talking to the butt-wiggling, grunting, grinning pit bulls.
My attempts to choose a dog other than a pit bull became increasingly feeble. This pit bull had a sweet smile, that pit bull was a good candidate for agility, and that one over there had obviously had a rough time and just wanted a quiet home of its own.
To be fair, I perused all the other types of dogs at the shelter. I did not want another pit bull! But that Dalmatian mix was deaf, the Lab mix shedded like crazy, that terrier was waaaay too hyper, and that really cute whatever-it-was pulled so hard on the leash, I couldn't walk it.
And so we got Star. A "pit bull." (I guess.) Even though I really didn't want another one.
Why? Maybe it's because, subconsciously, I know that the pleasures and positives of pit bull ownership ultimately outweigh the hardships. Or perhaps it's because I don't want to betray Felanie's memory by taking the easy way out, by giving up the fight even when I no longer have a stake in the outcome, by letting the bigots and the haters win. Or maybe it was selfish; Star looks a bit like Felanie, after all. Or maybe I just enjoy the stress and pain of discrimination. I don't know.
But it's clear I'm going to own pit bulls from now on. Even when I don't really want to.