Monday, April 30, 2012

Water Dogs?

As you regular followers of this blog know, we don't do much of anything in a  "normal" way.  We spent a winter aboard in Stamford, and are about to spend a summer in Savannah.  We bought on old, tired trawler, fixed it up a bit and cruised it down the east coast.  And our chosen boat dogs?  Not Portuguese Water Dogs, or something small and manageable like Jimmy Chew Choo (a Yorkie). 

We have pitbulls.

While our dogs, Ruby and Chevy, are great ambassadors for the breed, we have to deal with people's misconceptions about pitbulls.

First of all, pitbulls are not, by nature, aggressive dogs. No more so than any other breed of dog.   92% of dog attacks are made by male dogs, and 94% of those are unneutered, regardless of breed.  The problem is the owners. Pitbulls are very powerful for their size, and so anyone looking for a medium sized dog to train to be a fighting dog will often pick a pitbull. These are also the people who do not spay and neuter their dogs since champion fighters receive high stud fees.

100 years ago, the American Pitbull Terrier was the most popular breed of family dog. Over half of all American homes had a pitbull for a pet. Why? Because they're so good with children.
The American Temperament Test Society tests all breeds of dogs for aggressiveness.  The higher the percentage, the more evenly tempered the dog.  Here are a few numbers for you- Akitas (76%), Cocker Spaniels (82%), Dalmatians (83%), Golden Retrievers (85%), English Sheepdog (77%), Chihuahuas(68%), and mixed breeds (86%). rates pitbulls at 87%.

By now you're thinking "Wow, impressive numbers Dave.  I'm totally convinced and I'm going to go out of my way to hug every pitbull I come across.  But are they good boat dogs?"

Good question.  Yes they are.  One reason is that they love the water.  Well, I don't know if all pitbulls love the water, but our two do.  They snuck in the river again yesterday, and I had the camera.

First, they ran.  And ran and ran, getting very hot and sweaty.

Time to go swimming!  The bank is all marsh grass except for a couple of narrow parts.   Ruby was in one part and Chevy another.

Well, that simply won't do if you're a dog.

There are a couple of camera techniques to use when photographing shaking dogs.   One is to use a slow shutter speed which causes blur on fast moving objects and gives the sensation of speed.  I like to use a very fast shutter speed to freeze the action.   You get really funny results.  Look at Chevy's face.  Yes, it's perfectly fine to laugh out loud, and feel free to invite the person in the next cubicle to come look.

Ruby loves to stick her face in the water.  I think she blows bubbles.

Ruby swims like an otter.  I tossed a stick out aways for her to fetch.

She never brings them all the way back.  If she did, she knows I'd throw it out again and she'd have to go fetch it again.

There, all nice and clean now.


It's interesting that Ruby and Chevy love the water, but hate getting a bath or being hosed off.

Just look at the embarrassment and indignation on their faces.  Pitiful.

Pitbulls are great dogs, and make fine boat dogs.  Dealing with people's preconceived ideas of what a pitbull is can get tiring, though.  I think that, in the future, whenever I'm asked what kind of dogs they are, I'm going to say they're Georgia Bulldogs.  Everyone loves them here.


  1. I'm sure that the reason why Pitbulls have there reputation is because of the typical owner of Pitbulls-- You & Pam are not the typical owners of Pitbulls...

  2. Many breeds of dogs have a 'bad reputation and are labelled aggressive dogs.' We have come across several so called breeds, usually owned by cruisers and found them to be an absolute joy. The same can be said about the small toy dogs that are labelled as 'yappy'. Most four legged pets have owners that are well trained!