He was born in a cage, a small one. He lived in his own filth and didn’t walk until four months of age. His skin was so riddled with mange, fungus and sores that he was almost put down. A Pitbull rescuer came to his aid. She brought him home, nursed him back to health and put him up for adoption. Two months later he came home with me.
My Pitbull was not vicious. He was adorable. My children could literally pull on his face; he would lick them into submission and they would gross-out on his breath. His best friend, and some think his forbidden love, was a Siamese cat. He went to doggy daycare and was attacked by a Golden Retriever. He slept in bed, under the covers. But he looked vicious to people who only knew the breed through a lense of fear and violence. These people would cross the street when I walked him. I was even told that I shouldn’t have an animal so dangerous, that he should be put down. A man accosted me once when Benny walked up to say hello.
Benny did bite someone, by accident. Benny liked basketball a little too much. It overexcited him, put him in a frenzy of play. He accidentally bit the guy while trying to get to the ball. The guy called the police and sued me. Benny had a record after that and I had to take him to an animal behaviorist; it was a Marley and Me moment when Benny pulled the behaviorist down and dragged her across the park after he saw another dog — he didn’t go for a hump like Marley. In retrospect, it was funny, back then I was afraid she would report him as dangerous. She didn’t report him but she was annoyed about the whole being dragged thing.
Benny was not a vicious killing machine set to tear everything in his path to shreds. Benny the Pitbull was a gentle soul who taught me patience, responsibility, love and understanding. He was born into a shitty environment to a person who was irresponsible. This is an all-to0-familiar story with the breed. They are vilified because of who raises them. I chose to embrace the animal who needed me most and I will forever be grateful that I knew him.
At thirteen years of age Benny died in my arms, surrounded by his family. Someday I will mix his ashes with my father’s who loved him dearly, and spread them over the sand on a beach in Oregon, the one place Benny could run with care-free vigor — it was an empty beach back then, no people to get scared. I miss him all the time and I hope that somewhere he is playing a gentle game with my father — he knew better than to play basketball or fetch with Benny.