I am a 27-year-old mother of two boys. My oldest is the most sensitive thing in the world; he will look at you with his big brown eyes and long lashes and break your heart. He takes everything far too seriously. Sometimes we joke and call him Eeyore, because he just kind of lumbers around with a “thanks for noticing” attitude. He’s the best at cuddling. At night, we all crawl into bed (I know; they should sleep in their own beds, but my oldest just loves being in mine.He gets in-between his Daddy and I and lays his head on one of us, and within minutes he starts to snore). He loves his little brother. I think he idolizes him. And even though he’s bigger and older, he still tries to get my youngest to include him. When they play outside together, my older boy often tries to keep up with my youngest, running and jumping with him. But my oldest just isn’t as athletic as my youngest, so he often falls behind or gets tired.
My youngest is the complete opposite. He’s fast and fearless and rebounds quickly. He always wants to be outside. When he was really little, he was a handful. You could never get a hold of him, a hug turned into a wrestling match, and he got into as much trouble as he possibly could. Now, he’s sweet and calm and likes to be cuddled and kissed. We’re a lot closer than we were a year ago. We have our inside jokes and he knows when I’m sad without me having to say a word. If I’m having a rough day, he’ll crawl up beside me and put his head on my chest, then he slowly moves closer and closer until I can feel his breath on my face and hear all the faint sounds he makes. I love my boys more than anything in the world. Sometimes I look at them and I squeal with pride and love. Sometimes I have to just grab them and hold them, like I can’t take all the love that’s inside of me for them and if I don’t squeeze them in that moment I’m going to explode.
I’m 27 and they are huge anchors of responsibility. I couldn’t take an intern job or work for low pay in order to pay my dues and get into the studio like everyone else. I had to make enough money to keep us in a house in a neighborhood where they were safe. I can’t go on vacation. We gave up a free trip to New Orleans because we couldn’t find anyone to look after them. We’re currently planning a trip to Cabo in October and I’m already panicking about being away from them for four days.
Their names are Riot and Ruckus and I’m not sure how old they are … somewhere between three and five. They were both rescues, so their past is a mystery. All I know is both were going to be killed for being Pits. Ruckus is a purebred blue-nosed Pit-Bull and Riot is a tri-colored Pit-Bull mix. I don’t see them as just dogs. I see them as family. They’re my little fur babies. And they saved my life.
I’ve never openly discussed this because I find it extremely embarrassing, but I have an anxiety and panic disorder. It’s bad. I’m going to be in a psychology book because of how bad it is. I have all the usual symptoms, I can’t breathe, my heart races, and I cramp up and shake. Sedatives have never worked, I just had to ride them out which caused some damage to my heart. Please refrain from …
.. sending me your numbers, gentleman … I know how hot and appealing this all must sound to you, but really … do try and control your urges to date me. Anyway, I finally managed to control them on my own through years of hard work, but sometimes they come back.
I hadn’t had an attack for almost a year … and then one hit. This is when I learned that Riot can anticipate when I’m going to have an attack. I didn’t train him to do this. I was walking around pacing, angry, and Riot kept leaning against me. That’s almost 50 pounds of pure muscle leaning on you. He was making it hard for me to walk. Finally, he leaned up against me so hard he made me lean up against a wall. He was pinning me there and I was yelling at him to move … but he wouldn’t be moved. That’s when I found that I couldn’t breathe. I grabbed my chest because my heart felt like it was going to explode. I started sliding down the wall. I ended up sitting with my back against the wall and my legs to my chest. That’s when I realized that Riot knew I was going to have trouble breathing and would probably fall. He got me against the wall so I wouldn’t get hurt.
As I sat there, unable to breathe, my chest on fire, my legs to my chest—the cramping and shaking started. When I was younger my parents would sit with me during an attack and straighten out my legs and try to keep me from pulling them in and curling into a ball. If I do that it’s a pretty solid bet I will be too sore to walk the next day. I told you—these attacks are intense. So, I’m sitting there and here come the shakes. All that’s going through my head is “F***, I’m going to miss work tomorrow because I’m going to die here on the floor tonight.” My boyfriend is standing there scared stiff, as he has no idea what’s happening or what to do … but Riot did. That little mutt took his front paws, placed them on my thigh and pressed my legs out. Then he placed himself on my legs and laid there with all his weight on them. The shaking turned into little tremors under his body weight. He stayed that way until the whole attack ended.
I mentioned earlier that Riot was a handful, and he is. He’s dog-aggressive and has attacked smaller dogs. He couldn’t be held or cuddled, and he’d nip at you if you tried to kiss him—he was a bad dog. After that night, though, he has never left my side. I can’t go anywhere without Riot behind me. I sleep with his little body curled up next to me. You can kiss him right on the mouth and he leans into it. He’s a completely different dog than when I first met him. He’s well-trained, does tricks, doesn’t attack other dogs, and walks off leash. But one thing is true … he’s a Pit Bull.
That means that anyone can make a complaint against him and he can be taken from me and killed. There’s something called BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) and it means, that even though Riot is technically a service dog, and Ruckus is so scared of thunder and the dark that I have to take a flashlight out at night with us, they are dangerous dogs because this legislation says they are. They can be killed on a whim.
My dogs have never hurt anyone, and they never would hurt anyone. Pit Bulls are not bad dogs; they were sold as “nanny dogs” in the 20’s. There are ads that say “You don’t need a baby sitter, you need a Pit Bull!” No, it was humans who turned them into fighting dogs, and humans who branded them dangerous. Me, I’ve worked with people who rehab fighting dogs. One little girl was a fighting dog for seven years; she was rescued and is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. She’s just a ball of love.
The great thing about dogs is they are pure love. They forgive everything. They love you unconditionally. BSL is just another form of racism. Ban stupid people that fight animals not a breed of dog that didn’t have a choice. Fighting dogs are MADE. They are turned into killers they do not start out that way and most don’t stay that way.
If you are so inclined—write your congress and tell them you want the ban lifted in your state. When you see a pit walking remember that it’s not a “bad, dangerous dog”; it’s someone’s fur baby. It’s someone’s family. And who knows—maybe they saved their life like Riot and Ruckus saved mine.