We’re all, by now, well aware of the US Humane Society’s (USHS) support of convicted dog fighter Michael Vick. Most of us, a few Philadelphia Eagles fans excepted, are also aware that while Vick talks the reform talk, he has yet to publicly prove that he feels remorse for the treatment of the dogs in his “care” at his Bad Newz Kennels and that he comprehends the inhumanity of his actions. (We do understand that he’s very sorry for the impact his actions have had on his wealth and his career, but that’s an entirely different sort of regret.) Throughout Vick’s continued failure to show true remorse for his actions, the USHS continues to tap into Vick’s status as a professional athlete and continues to hope that he will come through for them in terms of PR opps more often than he fails them. It makes it hard to take them seriously as a true animal advocacy group.
This year I wasn’t able to be as hands-on with the program as I had in the past, but was asked if I might be able to bring Téa in to a few classrooms (actually, five classrooms at two schools for 45 minutes each—enough even to wear out Téa, it turns out). We could hardly wait!
A lot of kids screamed and scrambled when they came into their classroom and saw a pit bull (even though Téa’s tail was wagging and she had on her goofy pit grin the whole time). We made a deal—Téa and I would stay for a whole 45 minutes if they could help her behave by behaving themselves. (I’m always happy to bribe people get what I want—in this case, well-behaved seventh graders.) I talked about T2, passed photos and explained why Toni wasn’t with us in the classroom (treated badly in the past, she gets very nervous in new situations; it just wouldn’t be kind). No, we do not fight our dogs and no we do not worry that they will just decide to kill each other one day. In fact, our dogs go to dog daycare just so they can play with other dogs. No, we also do not worry that they might kill us one day. No, we did not crop their ears; we would not have liked it if our parents had decided one day to cut our own ears off so we would never do that to our dogs. Pit bulls with no ears are harder to place in homes, which is why we open our home to pits with cropped ears. No, we don’t yell at our dogs and we don’t hit them to make them behave. If someone yelled at me or hit me every time they wanted me to do something or to not do it, I would eventually be very irritated by it…and then I might behave badly. Dogs are not very different. We treat our dogs as we want to be treated: we use calm voices to ask them to do things; we say thank you by giving them a biscuit.
In one class, a student shared with us that her uncle was in jail because he had strung his pit bull up in their tree and beat it to death. We used that as a conversation about humane behavior and consequences.
To wrap things up for each session, everyone who wanted to pet Téa was invited to line up single file and quietly for a pet before we left. Even in the last class, when I was tired of my own stories and ready for a nap, Téa was ready with a butt wiggle and an occasional back roll for every single student and teacher who wanted her attention.
I think Elvis Costello got it right: “As I walk through this wicked world searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity…there's one thing I wanna know: What's so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?”
|Exhausted after a long day of promoting peace for pit bulls!|