Larger-Than-Life Lap Dogs- Reposting a DW favorite!

Posted by Pia

I originally posted this blog in October of 2009 and even now, I still hear from people who greatly appreciated it! So it must still be making the cyberspace rounds after all this time. I'm honored and can only hope it has helped many of these misunderstood pooches get loving homes!

Note: I have updated the gallery with photos of dogs who are currently in desperate need of rescue. One great way to help these pooches is to go to their links below, and click the share button on each dog's post so that they can be seen on your Face book page, Twitter feed, etc. When animals get seen, they get saved!

Pit Bulls as Nannies and National Spokes-Beings? Who knew?


Helen Keller and her pit bull, Sir Thomas (photo courtesy

Pit bulls....what just happened as you read that? Did your hair stand on end with fear or did you fill up with a warm sense of love and comfort? Sadly, many among us have been conditioned by the myriad sensationalist pit bull-related stories put forth in the media. And whether you love the breed or not, it is important to know that the vast majority of these stories are misinformed, partial accounts that have come to represent a minority of incidents. The fact-based reports and statistics on this breed offer an entirely different picture.

For starters, you may be surprised to learn that in the 1940's and 50's pit bulls were affectionately referred to as "America's Nanny Dog." Their stability, natural affinity for humans, and good nature with kids had many American families "employing" pit bulls to watch over precious new family members. And if any of you has had the good fortune to know a pittie personally, you'll agree that their ongoing wish to make their love and affection known with kisses likely kept these kids "well groomed" to boot!

1 of 6
Baby Ruth
Maryland Heights,  MO 
See link to info. re: this pooch at end of post

1 Baby Ruth Maryland Heights, MO See link to info. re: this pooch at end of post

Ladue, MO.
See link to info. re: this pooch at end of postedit

2 Harlow Ladue, MO. See link to info. re: this pooch at end of postedit

Palatka, Fla.
See link to info. re: this pooch at end of post

3 Kitty Palatka, Fla. See link to info. re: this pooch at end of post

West Valley, Utah
See link to info. re: this pooch at end of postedit

4 Triton West Valley, Utah See link to info. re: this pooch at end of postedit

Salt Lake City, Utah.
See link to info. re: this pooch at end of post

5 Juno Salt Lake City, Utah. See link to info. re: this pooch at end of post

Bunnell, Fla.
See link to info. re: this pooch at end of post

6 Jolie Bunnell, Fla. See link to info. re: this pooch at end of post

But the impressive history of this now-maligned breed does not stop here. Their praises could be sung by every municipal chorus and there would still be more content upon which to write an opera!

Pit bulls have not only been trusted to care for human infants, but also, large companies, and even countries, have branded them as "spokes-beings" for their products and causes! Their professional portfolio includes serving as the face for Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and they were America's choice to convey loyalty and integrity on WWI and WWII campaign posters to enroll troops. In today's market, if pit bulls had agents they'd land all sorts of coveted gigs.

Sergeant Stubby (photo courtesy

Sergeant Stubby (photo courtesy

President Woodrow Wilson's best friend was not only a pit bull but he was also a war hero. Canine Sgt. Stubby served our country in WWI and was reportedly wounded in action twice. Stubby actually captured a German spy and succeeded in saving his entire platoon by warning them to retreat from a poisonous gas attack. If that doesn't define "man's best friend," what does?

Woodrow Wilson was not the only national leader loved by a member of this breed. As a young boy, Jimmy Carter had a loyal pit bull companion. And General George S. Patton's faithful bull pooch, Willie, was noted to have mourned his master's loss for a long time after the general's passing.

Helen Keller also shared her life and travails with a beloved pit bull companion. And who can forget the famed Petey from the little rascals?

More modern celebrity figures, such as Jon Stewart, Brad Pitt, Jessica Alba, Mary Tyler Moore and Justin Timberlake, have been seen out and about, walking proud with their rescued pit bull companions.

My own work helping rescue animals after Hurricane Katrina had me working side by side with actress Linda Blair (of Exorcist fame) who also came to the Gulf Coast to help rescue animals. Linda was right there in the trenches and is so committed to these canines that she runs her own not-for-profit rescue group to help the breed.

So if history is any indication, I'd say we have a lot to learn about this misunderstood breed. I know you to be a crowd always up for debunking myths about our fellow animals, so I vote that we spread the real story on this "dogged" dog. Hopefully we can educate others missing out on the "bottomless pit" of love these guys have to offer the world.

The only confusion that should remain when we finish reporting the real deal is the one that exists in nearly every pit bull's head -- They seem to be confused as to their size: Most believe they are cuddly little lap dogs and see no reason why they, too, can't accompany their human everywhere in a chic little purse... I guess it's worth a try...

In Kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Baby Ruth

PS: We'd love to hear your stories about these loyal canines and the humans who love their larger than life lap dogs. Send us your stories and photos!

Comments (7)

  • Thank you for continuing to champion the sweetness of the Pit Bull TERRIER. People forget that last part. I'm seeing more and more Pit Bull Terriers in Chicago in with loving families. Keep up the great work Dr. Pia :smile:

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    And hello to you too Dr. Pia. Again I thank you for your information about these dogs. I have seen plenty of these “Pit Bulls” in my day and can tell you that the human factor has changed this dog greatly. Here in the south, people breed these dogs to fight in rings. Sure it’s against the law, but it happens everyday here. Law enforcement has enough to do and doesn’t have time to stop this cruel action of owners who just want to have the “meanest” dog on the block. Talk to your elected officials and see if you can help stop this abuse of, sometimes lovely, dogs.
    Catch you later, Kirby

  • I went back again and read about Sergeant Stubby on the internet...what an awesome dog he's hard to believe any animal had to endure war, dogs, horses and other types of animals used for sad that most of the dogs could not come home with their handlers...I hate thinking about that.
    I really like Cesar Millan for his ability to save Pit bulls that have been wrongly treated.

    The Pit Bulls available in your adopt a pet are adorable...I see a couple are not available anymore...I pray they got forever loving homes, and the ones still listed as well.
    Thanks for sharing this Dr.Pia

    I'm going to share those pups on Facebook.

  • You cannot compare a Pit Bull of today with Helen Keller's dog or even Petey on the little Rascals! the Pit bulls of today have been so inbred and trained to FIGHT! there is no two ways about it and you cannot sugar coat\it and call them "PIttie's" which sounds cute and adorable i have seen Pit bull's who are Okay with a family for years and then all of a sudden RIP one of the members to shreds!! trust them with a baby not on your life! for everyone that may be good dog, there are 5 that will do serious harm if they felt like it!In my OPINION only a well trained animal owner should own Pit Bulls and certainly no one with children.

  • Hi Dr. Pia, Wow! OMG! Wouldn't it be wonderful if more and more humans would understand that ALL animals will behave however they have been treated by them. It is so frustrating to have Pit Bulls raised as fighting dogs when they can be as sweet and loving as my little Dudley Do Right because I treat him with loving care. I certainly agree with Kirby Bear-hope people will do what they can to stop this abuse. This was another super blog post today! Sure hope things do improve. Thanks! Jan

  • We adopted our first pit bull last may, 2010. Our 10 year old chow-sharpei passed away, and our female bull terrier-shar pei was very lonely. I did a search on pet for shar pei or bull terriers. All of the bully breeds came up on the search. I found a very underweight sweet male pit bull named Oliver at the Colorado Pit Bull Rescue website and read his description. I researched the breed info extensivley and decded to give Oliver a try. It was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT FOR OUR FEMALE(6 yrs old). We renamed him Louie, and we have never had a more well behaved loving dog!!!! Louie is also a Canine Good Citizen Certified dog, who has aspirations of becomming a therapy dog. He loves everyone he meets including the 7 children in our culdesac 5 yrs ole and under!!

  • I adopted my first bull terrier or pit bull June 2010 . She was underweight, had recently been nursing puppies, had demodex mange and would barely eat. But I took her home and showed her love and caring and she wouldn't leave my side for weeks. She let's children ride her and if you cry or act hurt she will lick you to death trying to make it better. I couldn't ask for a better companion. And she's not even two years old yet.

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