For one breed, this day isn’t the pits

Annual event celebrates image-challenged pit bull, owners

OlympianOctober 14, 2013 

Every dog has its day, including the pit bull terrier, that image-challenged canine often associated with some kind of bad news.

But a Sunday gathering at the Thurston County Fairgrounds set out to dispel that image , seeking to educate the public about pit bulls as well as invite pit bull owners to participate in a day of activities to help socialize their pet.

The fourth annual gathering, the third held at the fairgrounds, was organized by a nonprofit called Covenant Creatures, an Olympia organization that helps the disabled, poor and homeless communities with their pet care, founder and director Leanne Johnson said.

Sunday’s focus grew out of the nonprofit’s work, because the pit bull is a common pet among the homeless, she said.

“We are working to change the image of the dog,” said Johnson, who also has a pet pit bull.

“They are a dog,” she added, saying that all dogs can be aggressive if they are not properly raised, which includes the right training with a conscientious owner.

Good weather helped stimulate attendance. Some 150 to 200 visitors and their dogs were on hand by about noon.

There was a grooming expert on hand, as well as a massage therapist who offered rubdowns to both pet and human. Owners could pose for a picture with their pet in front of a harvest background of pumpkins

and corn stalks.

Meanwhile, pit bulls of all ages and all sizes scurried about, wagging tails and sniffing at everything in sight, most of them clearly excited to be with their peers.

David Friedl of Olympia brought Glen, his nearly 4-month-old puppy, a bundle of energy that soon had his owner trying to extricate the leash from around a pole.

Friedl said the dog was his first as an adult. He decided on a pit bull because he knew other people who owned them and had described them as a terrific family dog. He said he takes the occasional bad-news story about the pit bull with a grain of salt.

“No dog is born mean,” he said.

Pit bulls will be in the spotlight next Sunday as well as part of a “bully walk,” a chance for pit bull owners to gather and take their dogs for a walk at Marathon Park in Olympia. The walk begins at 12:30 p.m. .

“The goal is to use this day to foster positive attention for pit bulls across the country,” according to a flier for the event.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com  

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