The image-challenged canine known as the pit bull had its day in the park Sunday as a number of pit bulls and their owners gathered on the southwest side of Capitol Lake for a stroll and to take part in other dog-friendly activities.
The “bully walk” was organized by Covenant Creatures, an Olympia nonprofit best known for its animal care center in west Olympia, said Leanne Johnson, executive director and founder of the group.
But for the past six years, including for the second time at Marathon Park at Capitol Lake, the group has organized an event devoted to the pit bull.
The pit bull is not a breed but a type of dog, Johnson said, with the most common breeds being the Staffordshire bull terrier and the American pit bull terrier.
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Both were represented Sunday.
Johnson previously had her pit bull gathering indoors at the county fairgrounds, but being crowded inside stressed out the dogs, she said.
“This is a far better setting,” Johnson said of the park.
The event also gives pit bull owners, who face the “challenge of acceptability,” a place to go and meet other people who aren’t afraid of the dog.
“They are grateful to have a place to go,” she said.
The event always comes with some ground rules, Johnson said. Each owner is asked to mark their dog with a different color bandanna: green means totally friendly; yellow, take caution; and red, do not approach.
Given the ground rules, some might view that as a sign of the dog’s inherent violent nature. But Johnson, who owns two pit bulls, said that all dog breeds have their bad apples, not just the pit bull.
“There’s no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner,” said Thomas Roseberry of Olympia, a longtime pit bull owner who was busy walking Rainbow around the lake on Sunday.
He thinks the dog is simply the current focus of a culture of fear. At one time people raised concerns about the Doberman pinscher, followed by the Rottweiler, followed by the pit bull, he said.
Other dog-friendly activities Sunday included a jumping course and a “quicker licker” task in which the dog, following the successful completion of a command, was rewarded with a lick of peanut butter.