I know it’s a cliché, but our dog Buster is our child. Since my husband Dan and I don’t have human children, our furry, brown one is the spoiled-rotten center of our lives. We got him in October 2009, from a friend of a friend on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t realize that the puppy being fostered by a lady who worked with the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) was an American Staffordshire Terrier, otherwise known as a pitbull. Sadly, since they are often used in illegal dog-fighting rings and banned in many places around the United States, pitbulls have a rotten reputation. Although often viewed as dangerous, they are actually loving, people-oriented dogs. In fact, they make excellent therapy dogs and have been featured like Petey on The Little Rascals in classic television and movies.
Buster is far from the stereotyped menacing pitbull. Being an English teacher, I had envisioned naming him after some literary character like Atticus or Gatsby, but as soon as I saw his clownish face, I knew Buster Brown was the more fitting name. He is scared of his own shadow and loves to snuggle with us on the sofa and in bed. In truth, at 75 pounds he is quite heavy when he insists on lying on top of me! Playful and energetic, he loves going to the dog park that is down the street from our house, and in warmer weather he gets regular walks on the beach at Assateague Island National Seashore, where wild ponies just seem to be bigger dogs.
Dogs aren’t as complicated as children, so Buster entertains us every day. Whether he’s spinning in circles trying to catch his tail, racing to the window in search of squirrels, or tilting his head as though he can understand what we are saying to him, he makes us giggle regularly. I keep telling him to learn English, but so far he hasn’t complied.
It’s unfortunate that pitbulls get maligned in the press. BARCS rescues up to 11,000 homeless and abused animals each year, many of them pitbulls. Each day, 300 hundred animals live on-site at the non-profit shelter, while another 200 remain in foster care. For one of BARCS’ recent fundraisers, they coordinated with the Baltimore Orioles Baseball Team to create a calendar. Buster was a featured “Happy Tail”!
Kim is a National Board Certified English teacher who is currently teaching American Literature and AP English Literature and Composition. She shares classroom ideas and tips on her OCBeachTeacher Facebook Page.