Whenever I tell people that we have a pit bull as a family pet, one of two things usually happens: they either roll their eyes with fierce judgment, or quickly offer a cautionary tale about how dangerous of a breed they are for children. It's annoying, but I get it — I used to be one of those people, too.
When I first heard the news that a pit bull was coming to live at my stepdad's house, I wasn't exactly jumping for joy. I was never a dog person (we have a lazy, orange cat who naps for sport), and the only adjectives I ever heard to describe pit bulls were pretty terrifying — usually things like aggressive, angry, and unpredictable. But like most things involving adorable and cuddly animals, my heart instantly melted as soon as I saw Pancake (yes, her real name). She was just as scared of us as I thought I would be of her. My stepdad and his son stopped at nothing to train her to the best of their abilities, and our pit bull soon became the most affectionate, loving, and obedient dog on the block.
The only time we've ever had to pull our pit bull off of her is when the dog gets too carried away with giving her slobbery puppy kisses.
Despite how much I trusted and loved Pancake, it was still a huge adjustment when my daughter, Grace, was born. My new mommy instincts kicked into overdrive, especially the very first time I took her to meet our fun-loving pit bull. Even though I trusted that she was a good dog, she was still a dog — and that meant there would always be a chance, even if it was small, that something unsafe could potentially happen. This has, and always will be, my mindset regarding any animal who spends time around a child.
Grace is almost two years old now, and the only time we've ever had to pull our pit bull off of her is when the dog gets too carried away with giving her slobbery puppy kisses and unconditional love. It's basically a love fest 24/7. They play catch together, cuddle together, watch TV together, and go on walks. Not once have I ever seen Pancake get aggressive or angry, especially not with Grace. In fact, I've only ever seen the good qualities that are characteristic of a pit bull in our dog.
Our pit bull is strong-willed, but not so stubborn that she won't listen to us. She is tough as hell, but she has never used that strength to hurt my daughter. She is also extremely affectionate, friendly, and completely kind-hearted. We couldn't have asked for a better family pet, and it's been nothing short of amazing to see the bond that the two of them have formed.
Even to this day, a lot of people wonder how we make it work — aka how our pit bull is so affectionate and not a detriment toward my daughter. Our answer is always an easy one, and it doesn't just apply to our dog because she is a pit bull. We always put safety first. We make sure that our pit bull knows who is in charge. We set boundaries and rules for both my daughter and our dog, and we make sure that they are followed. Always.