Michael Vick’s Pit bulls: Beyond the Breed

December 8th, 2010

This Christmas, I plan to take my dogs to PetSmart to have their picture taken with Santa. I’ve never done this before, and they are four-years old. I feel I should celebrate in this way so I don’t regret not doing it in the future.

My dog Daisy gets anxious around some dogs, so I was hesitant to do this in previous years. But I have worked with Daisy for many months, and she has improved a lot. Now, she looks to me for guidance rather than flipping out and biting me.

Some people advised me to euthanize Daisy because of her behavior. But I knew that Daisy’s reactions to unstable dogs were due to something I wasn’t doing right. I kept trying to figure out what would make her remain calm when we walked past other dogs.

Yes, I was injured, and I have many scars from her biting me because she was scared of certain dogs. It may be hard to believe that a Rottweiler could be frightened by other canines, but Daisy is not the stereotypical Rottweiler that has been portrayed as a vicious killer.

When people look beyond her exterior, they will discover that she is a very spunky, enthusiastic Rottie that loves people, children, and almost any attention. She is eager to please and incredibly smart, just like the Pit Bull breed. Daisy welcomes affection as people pet her head. When I teach her new tricks or how to behave, Daisy picks up quickly on what I want and is eager to be rewarded as the “good girl.”

As I read The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant, I often thought about my dogs and how they are judged just by their breed. But dogs, regardless of whether they are Rottweilers, Pit bulls, or German Shepherds, possess special qualities and are not the portrait of myths that have sparked breed bans.

Apollo, Zeus and Daisy

My three Rottweilers each have their own unique personalities, despite being the same breed. Daisy is insecure, spunky, and energetic. Apollo, a Rottweiler and yellow Labrador mix is shy, loving, and very protective. Zeus, a Rottweiler, black Labrador, and cattle dog mix, is a thinker who is laid back and stubborn.

The Vick dogs were given the chance to show the world who they were beyond their Pit Bull exterior. Gorant shares with us each dog’s unique personality and shows us that these so called “vicious fight dogs” are actually very loving creatures that could be the perfect pet, therapy dog, or lovable canine.

Georgia, a.k.a. Jane, was one of Vick’s champion fighters. She has the battle wounds that she suffered from being the best. Her tail zigzags from being broken, her jaw has not healed properly due to the lack of proper care, and all of her teeth were pulled out so that she wouldn’t harm the dogs with which she was forced to mate.

Beyond Georgia’s scars, I read about how spirited she is and how she perseveres, which reminds me of my Daisy.

Lucas was another of Vick’s champion fight dogs, and this poor pup’s body is covered with scars. He was sent to stay at Best Friend’s Sanctuary for the remainder of his life. When he’s not ill from babesia (a blood disease that fight dogs contract from being forced to fight), Lucas is a confident canine, who is very friendly towards people and loves to be the center of attention. Again, he reminds me of Daisy.

Handsome Dan was terrified of the world when he arrived at Best Friend’s Sanctuary. My dog, Apollo, was a timid, shy puppy who was shaking as he hid in the corner of the kennel at the animal shelter. Just like Handsome Dan, who gained more confidence in the loving environment of the sanctuary, Apollo thrived due to all the love and affection I showered on him daily.

A dog shouldn’t be judged by their breed, their physical appearance, or their past behavior. In Gorant’s book, we are able to see beyond the Vick Pit Bulls’ past as fighters and to read about the spirit of these canines’ souls. It’s amazing how they survived the cruelty that they were exposed to, and how they still possess  a loving spirit, despite being trained as fight dogs or bait.


This holiday season, as you are figuring out what to buy your pets and family, think about the many Pit Bulls that are waiting for forever homes, the rescue shelters that are helping to rehabilitate these fight dogs, and the many other type of animals in the shelters. A great holiday gift to these fight dogs would be to make a donation, sponsor an animal, or adopt one of the canines.

Here are some Pit Bull rescues:
Misunderstood Pit Bull Rescue in Richmond, Virginia
Bad Rap in San Francisco, California
Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue in Chicago, Illinois
Paw Printz Pit bull Rescue in California
Pit bull Rescue San Diego in California
Villalobos Rescue in Canyon Country, California
Best Friends Society in Utah
All or Nothing Pit Bull Rescue

Another gift you can give this Christmas, is Jim Gorant’s book The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, and read about who the Pit Bulls are beyond their breed, beyond their appearance, and learn how their “fight dog” status doesn’t define their behavior.

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  • Jenishort

    Thank you so much for posting all of this information and photos.nI very much enjoyed reading it.nI have read The Lost Dogs and plan to buy several more copies to donate to animal charities during 2011.nnIt was a wonderful book. At the time I read it I had just adopted a dog and the book explained a few things about the behaviour of my new dog. I’m a more aware person for reading this book and am so glad that it was written.nAll the very best with your pups.nJenny