Sweet portraits of pitbulls: 'Flower Power,' Sophie Gamand

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Flower Power is about challenging myself to approach pit bulls with a fresh perspective and an open heart. I invite the viewer to do the same."—Sophie Gamand.

The dogs featured in her portrait series are available for adoption. tumblr_na2on8yIUH1tyuch8o4_1280 tumblr_na2on8yIUH1tyuch8o3_1280 tumblr_na2on8yIUH1tyuch8o6_r1_1280 tumblr_na2on8yIUH1tyuch8o1_1280 tumblr_na2on8yIUH1tyuch8o2_1280 tumblr_na2on8yIUH1tyuch8o5_r1_1280

[Thanks, Tara!]

Notable Replies

  1. Without exception, they believe that their dog is different, that they have a special bond with and understanding of the animal, and that their dog would never hurt a fly.

    No, not if we're responsible pitbull owners we don't, and this is the double-edged problem of a lot of pitbull advocacy that I see.

    I have a pitbull, and he is exceptionally sweet, friendly, and well-behaved towards people. He is young, and so he also still loves other dogs, but as I know from really studying the breed and its tendencies, his tolerance of other dogs may change.

    And flies, well, he would gladly hurt them, along with the deer he sees in our yard, squirrels, rabbits, etc. Part of pitbull's background is terrier, and they tend to be aggressive towards other critters. It's part of their genetic makeup, just like running is in a greyhound, or herding in a border collie.

    I'm all for promoting them in ways that counter their man-eating, child-attacking reputation; it's understood in knowledgable circles that dog aggression and human aggression are NOT the same. Pitbulls tend to be less likely to attack people than many other dogs, and this does make them better pets than most of the public would think, but they are not for everyone.

    They are very high energy, intelligent, and willful dogs, and they need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to be balanced and well-behaved. And they are likely to want to attack other animals, especially other dogs. We need to be honest about this, and careful about promoting them as always-sweet, completely docile creatures that anyone can handle.

    I'm not saying they are dangerous or should all be killed in shelters at the rate they are now- but as with any breed carrying strong genetic tendencies, we shouldn't sugar coat it and promote them as the perfect dog for anyone. Adopting them out to people who see them that way tends to lead to problems and hurts the breed even more.

  2. The way I see it there are 4 different kinds of Pibble owners:

    1)    Dogmen. These are people who raise them to fight. They breed them to fight, use treadmills, jennies, and other equipment to insure good muscle tone, feed them special diets, and train them to fight. Their methods may be cruel, both to the dog and the “bait” animals they use as the dog’s prey, but they by and large, keep the animal under lock and key, do not keep them in domestic situations, and the best of them train their dogs to obey their owner.Besides, you don't let $35 thousand dollars worth of Grand Champion breeding stock run loose in the neighborhood.. So, despite the legal and moral problems these owners create, their dogs generally do not generate problems on their own. 
    2)    “Bad-boy” dog fans. To certain parts of the urban underclass, “bad-boy” dogs are just as much of the culture as kerchiefs, guns and visible boxer shorts. In addition, the idea that this kind of dog can fight leads to the idea that this might be good for a vaguely defined “protection”, being smaller and more “American South” than the traditional German breeds (Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans). Unfortunately, many prospective urban owners haven’t the time or energy to properly walk, exercise or train an effective guard dog, and don’t have the money to build a good run or doghouse, and in many cases, can’t adequately feed such a dog. So, they rely on the vague assumption that “dogs protect their people” without much of an idea of who “their people” might be: certainly the members of the house, but they don’t trust their downstairs neighbor, certainly their families, but have only a tenuous family structure, and certainly they don’t want drug addicts burglarizing their place, but the also like having people over and smoking a little chronic now and then. Signs of animal aggression are considered good, if only because it shows the dog “cares”, instead of being construed as signs of being confused, angry, or frightened. Expect them to cry and act clueless when their poor little dog-gie , who never hurt no one, bites the arm off a neighbor’s toddler.
    3)    Animal “fluffs”. Their attitude can be summed up in two words: Pity Bulls. They’re convinced that they’re ideal Pitty owners, since they love, love, LOVE their cute ’n’ cuddly dogs, which they would have you know, have never had so much as a voice raised against them and nothing less than organically grown chilled dog chow. Unfortunately, some of these have much the same problems as #2, since they’ve never really had to deal with dogs, that need collars and leashes and walks (“it’s so, I dunno, like he was my slave, and I wouldn’t like to project human hangups on him”) and discipline, rather than vague love objects (“I just like looking in his eyes. He’s got like, aura”) that will probably do all right on a chain out back. Which they will, until the dog eats the neighbor’s cat. Messily. 
    4)Responsible owners. They’re not the kind of person who relies on a six-session obedience course at Adult Ed. They’re probably teaching it. They have a good sized yard, a run and a dog house, and spend at least an hour every day concentrated on the dog’s needs for care and companionship, on top of paying for spay/neutering, shots, toys, treats, boarding during vacations, and so forth. Such dogs almost never get into the news unless to be profiled in the “Meet my Dog” column in the local paper.

    Of the four, #1 and #4 are likely not to have problems with the dogs, and #4 with the law. Number 3 has some chance that they’ll succeed, despite the lack of discipline, and #2’s a recipe for disaster. The only problem is the comparative lack of #4’s and the number of #3’s, #2’s and even #1’s that will swear up and down that they’re doing it right. Number 2’s get conflated with #1’s (and cry “prejudice” and “animal racism” when it happens) , #3’s cry incessantly that “it’s not the dog, it’s the owner” despite the fact that aggressive animals do exist, and that temperament can be bred into animals. Unfortunatly, #2’s and #3’s comprise the majority of Pit owners nowadays, because they’re the canine version of a tattoo: a sign of toughness for some, a sign of hipster solidarity with the downtrodden for others, and wildly fashionable for both. And #4's just confuse everything!

    Such is my analysis. Take it for what it is.

  3. llazy8 says:

    Anybody else as put off as I am by these portrayals of the (surely not racialized) 'urban underclass'?

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