Mornings are my favorite. I sleep on the floor but when I feel my human stirring, I get so excited that I jump right on the bed and give her plenty of kisses. Sometimes, my human pulls the blankets over her head because she wants to sleep a little more. That’s when I sit at the foot of the bed and wait, patiently, for her to wake up. When she does, the day starts and the whole world is ours. I love bacon and when my human makes breakfast I sniff the air and sit quietly, licking my chops. Sometimes, she shares a little morsel and I get some bacon too. Like I said, I love mornings.
My human and I have a routine and this keeps us happy. We both like to be outside. These days, my human seems different. I’m a dog and I can feel these things. She wakes up and spends a lot of time in front of a screen, reading. Often, she sighs and gives me sideward glances. Sometimes, for no reason at all, she puts her forehead on my forehead and whispers: “It’s going to be ok, Lucy”. I’m a little nervous because I don’t know what’s going on but I know my human will take care of me.
One of our favorite activities in the city is going to the dog park. We go every day! There, I get to play with Milo, who is an Australian Shepherd with a heart of gold, and Sailor, who is a mix between a Boxer and a Labrador. These friends are big like me but we all have different personalities. Milo is a herding dog, that means that he likes to round everybody up to make sure they are safe and accounted for. Sometimes, if he feels like people or dogs aren’t listening, he’ll bark just to remind them that he is there. He’s not being mean, he just wants to make sure that his job is done. Sailor is a good boy and even though he is four years old, he still thinks he is a puppy! I love tussling with my friends, it’s a good way for big dogs like us to spend energy!
My human loves the dog park too because she gets to see other humans and swap stories. These days, it seems like all the humans are on edge. Many of them seem nervous, sad, apprehensive. We are dogs after all, we can feel it.
Sailor’s human and my human are in a deep conversation and Sailor’s human looks very upset. She is explaining that, the other day, she and Sailor were walking down the street when two women pointed at Sailor and said that he was the dog that had been terrorizing the neighborhood. Sailor’s human had tears in her eyes as she told her story. The thing is, I know Sailor and I know he wouldn’t hurt a fly. I run to the fountain and gulp down some cold water, thinking of how unfair it is that two strangers judged Sailor without even knowing him. The worse part is, these kinds of rumors spread and now people in the neighborhood are acting differently towards Sailor, even if he didn’t do anything wrong. Where is all this hate coming from, I wonder...
When we get back home, my human turns on the TV and sits nervously, on the edge of her chair, biting her nails. She’s throwing sideward glances at me again.
Morning. The smell of bacon. We eat in a hurry and head outside. The air is cool and crisp. I love being outside because the sights and smells stimulate me. I’m a dog, smell is very important to me because I “see” with my nose! I love being outside because I get to interact with other dogs and humans. Often, on the street, humans will ask my human permission to pet me and I get to make new friends! Now that I think of it, usually, everyone greets me with a pat and some kind words. These days, I barely get a smile. Some people even change their side of the street when they see me coming. I wonder what I did wrong…
Today, when we get to the dog park, we can feel tension the minute we step in. A man is yelling at Milo’s human. Apparently, Milo barked at a group of little dogs running and one of the owners is very upset. “Those kinds of dogs…” he spits, pointing at Milo. This human is being very silly, I think to myself. Milo is not being aggressive, he is just working. It’s important to know the difference. Everyone used to be so tolerant and accepting at the dog park. Now, it seems like everyone is filled with panic and blind hatred.
Back home, the light of the computer screen lights up my human’s face. I can see tears stream down her face. Why is she so sad? I rest my head on her lap.
This morning seems different. My human has given me an entire plate of bacon and watches me with a sad smile as I gulp the whole thing down. Instead of going to the dog park we head straight to the pet store. I love the pet store because Lawrence The Pet Store Clerk always gives me treats. My human and I walk in and Lawrence’s face falls slightly when he sees us. He chats a bit with my human and forces a sad smile at me as he gives me one, two, three, four treats? Wow. I’m pretty happy but I don’t know what I did to deserve this. We go to the back of the store. My human asks me to sit. Lawrence pulls down this weird contraption from a display on the wall. It looks like a small cage. Oh, I know what that is! That’s a muzzle and it’s for dogs who are aggressive. You see, dog temperaments are shaped by their environment. Sometimes, if a dog started off in a bad family they can develop aggression. I feel bad for those dogs because they are very unlucky. Lawrence and my human look at me. I am smiling. Do I get another treat?
I think what hurt me the most the first time my human put the muzzle on me was the fact that I didn’t know what I did to deserve it and I felt like a bad dog because my human was crying. I think I disappointed us both, even if I don’t know how or why. I think what I hate the most about wearing a muzzle is that nobody ever pats me on the street anymore.
Today, we did not go to the dog park. Instead, my human took me back home and had a conversation with me. She explained to me that now, in this city, pitbulls like me always have to be muzzled outside (how will I tussle with my friends if I have to wear a muzzle, I thought). She explained to me that some people think we’ll all the same, all mean; even dogs like Sailor, who are not even pitbulls, will be treated as such because they look like me. No new pitties will be allowed in the city. “Some people think that you are more dangerous than other breeds…” she whispers, patting me gently on the head. That’s ridiculous, I think. Any dog can be mean if he is ignored, abused, untrained or sick. The responsibility for the outcome lies with his owner. You can’t punish a dog for being alive! For a second, I get upset because this all seems so unjust. Humans bred us and now they want us to disappear? What will happen to my brothers and sisters, I think. I shudder just to think of this. Today, our lives have changed forever…
Morning. Today, I get to cuddle in bed with my human. I know she loves me and that’s all that matters. I’m afraid that this new law won’t help control dangerous dogs but instead create a climate of fear in my city. I know that informed and responsible humans will fight for me when the time comes and that’s why I still love mornings. Because every day means a new beginning and a new chance to stand up for what you believe in.
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