LA Shelters are filled with dogs who are labeled with the slang term “pit bull”. What we call a “pit bull” is usually a mix of the American Staffordshire Terrier and another breed. Up until about 30 years ago, these dogs were known as cuddly, loyal, and friendly family dogs. In fact, Petey from the iconic “Little Rascals” television show was a Staffy, and there are hundreds of examples from the past and present of these dogs exhibiting loving and friendly behaviors that are as much a part of the breed as their telltale done-like heads. Unfortunately, people have also bred these dogs for fighting and then neglected them, and when those dogs have acted out, they make the 6 o’clock news.
As those of us who have dogs and work with dogs know, when a dog behaves aggressively or irraticcaly, most likely it was prompted to do so by his human care giver.
Enter LAYLA! This beautiful girl was adopted by a loving family, who recently shared their success story with us:
Pretty Layla was in bad shape when Much Love volunteers met her at the West L.A. animal shelter. She’d recently given birth to a litter of puppies who had been taken away from her and was suffering from an undiagnosed infection. But the rescuers could still see her sweet, friendly personality. They also knew that, because she was a pit bull, Layla’s chances at the shelter weren’t very good.
Blame Michael Vick, and the entire dog fighting subculture, for creating the false impression that pit bulls are naturally aggressive. They’re not. In Victorian England, pits were called “nanny dogs” because they were so good with children, tolerating all kinds of poking and pulling without complaint. They’re extremely loyal, and people-friendly almost to a fault. They’re not very good guard dogs, more likely to lick the face of a burglar than attack him. Pit bulls were originally bred as working dogs. They’re strong and very tenacious. Once they begin a task, they’re unlikely to quit, even if exhausted or in pain. They’re intelligent and easy to train. They’ll do anything to please their people. All they want in return is love.
So when the Much Love crew saw Layla, they knew she could be a terrific pet. She just needed to learn how. She bonded quickly with her foster family and became possessive of them. On walks, she sometimes reacted too excitedly to other dogs and got frustrated at being restricted by the leash. Much Love turned to trainer Colleen Steckloff for help. Colleen paired Layla with a calm male dog, who demonstrated basic canine manners. She also taught the humans how to set consistent rules and boundaries. Layla learned quickly. She became more secure, relaxed, and trusting of her people. All she needed was the right forever home.
She found one. As these pictures clearly show, Layla is happy and very well loved. She even gets along with her rabbit “brother.” Adoptive mom Esther tells Much Love that “we couldn’t ask for a better dog.”