"I know this sounds odd," I asked, "But could you change the breed on his certificate to Honorary Pit Bull?" The woman on the phone didn't think it was odd at all, but when I posted this decision on Facebook, the response was mixed. Many people cheered the decision, while others asked "Why would you call him a pit bull if that's not what he was?" I couldn't quite tell what this question meant. Were they wondering why I would associate him unnecessarily with a breed that carries some negative baggage, or were they purists who didn't like the idea of a mutt taking on the name of "their dog." I was still too busy mourning to ask.
In the past few years, there has been a growing movement to talk about dogs as individuals and demote the question of breed to a footnote. And I've certainly been a part of that important discussion. Too often we let our ideas of breed get in the way of evaluating and appreciating dogs as individuals. When people ask me why I love pit bulls, much of what I say-they are affectionate, funny, intelligent, more human than other dogs-are naturally what every dog lover says about their dog, regardless of breed. But for those of us who have devoted our time to pit bulls, there must be a reason that this is the dog who pulled us in. And there's nothing wrong with that.