The High And Lows Of Owning A Pitbull Service Dog

Meet Achilles The Pitbull Service Dog

Meet Achilles, he is a Boxer/Pitbull mix… A big ole’boy (he is eight years old), full gait, huge head, wagging tail, brown puppy dog eyes and softer than butter on a warm summers day. Oh, and he also a Service Dog in training for my wife.

Achilles came into our life after a trip to BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter), we didn’t plan on getting a new dog, we went to adopt a new cat; as a companion for our older cat. We did a tour of the adopted dog kennels and we met Achilles, the first thing he did was wag his tail, walk to his door and then lick our fingers- the second thing he did was steal our hearts and we adopted him.

One thing that stuck out about Achilles was his gentleness, he was a huge softie, the second thing was how well-trained he already was. This old man’s previous owner had taken the time to teach him the basic commands, house train and walk to heel – I actually can verbally walk him without a leash if I wanted too. He even had a few surprises, including picking up his leash, hand to paw and understood hand signals. This got us thinking… My wife (who is disabled) was in need of a Service Dog, nothing fancy, just an animal that could pick things up, and help her if she fell down – Achilles seem’s to be a perfectly sized candidate for this.

Meet Achilles The Pitbull Service Dog And His Kitten

And so began his training, Achilles is a fast learner and now has his skills mostly down to rote and has improved the quality of life for my wife tremendously. You could argue correctly that along with his service, he acts like an emotional support dog for her as he is very emphatic. The only thing we need to continue to work on is environment training i.e – store/public gatherings.

He does well in stores, great on crowded streets, is patient and calm at conventions. He still gets a little distracted, but down to rote again he is almost there now. Yesterday, he went out to the local Mall, a new environment for him and he handled it perfectly, he walked on heel, helped my wife, obeyed all his commands and flew the flag for service dogs everywhere.

The only problem is, he is a Pitbull cross, and although I would argue that I’ve seen so many Boxer/Pitbull cross breeds like Achilles (at BARCS he was one of five) that it is a breed of its own now, he still has that stigma over him. This means when walking him around the Mall we saw two types of folk.

  1. The folk that said he was a good-looking dog, or just smile as he pads past tongue lolling out
  2. The folk that glare at him, like he was going to attack them at any second

We’ve pretty much got used to the Type 2 Folk, (some folk just have had bad dog experiences), this big-headed, brown-eyed, full of slobber dog can look a might intimidating. It doesn’t stop it from being hurtful, here he is tethered up a response leash to an obvious disabled woman, wearing his service dog colors and walking perfectly. Doing his job and all you can do is glare at him – instead of thinking here is a super-smart dog helping, they think the worse of him.

We also get the high, as I waited outside a store that was playing insanely loud music, I think its to make the customers as uncomfortable as possible so they buy faster, which Achilles was also finding intensely uncomfortable. I got into a discussion about Service Animal training with an older couple, and as they leave, a disabled lady in a mobility chair comes up and he puts his paw on her knee, and sits up to his full size to make himself easier to pet.

That day in the mall not only was he a billboard for service animals everywhere, but he also raised awareness that Pitbull breeds are as smart, as loyal, as loving as any other working dog breed that is out there right now.

I am very proud of him.

We go home, unload the car, Achilles gets out, the Neighborhood kids are out and they all love him, so we let him go over to say hello (they are all hanging next to our yard and asked to pet him) – a reward for being simply amazing at the Mall today, he loves the attention and we always see it as a teaching moment for the children, that Pitbulls are just regular dogs (and you should ask permission before petting). One of our Adult Neighbors appear, then backs away behind her car, saying she doesn’t like ‘that dog’ off his leash. I sadly gather him up on his handling harness and take him in the house, being glared at all the way.

A hard low.

Sometimes folk suck.

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About Nick

Just an Englishman lost in the USA who happens to write now and again... Anyone got a cup of tea?

6 Responses to The High And Lows Of Owning A Pitbull Service Dog

  1. avatarJoanna McGinn says:

    And how much liability insurance are you carrying since the average medical damage to a victim is about $500,000.00 and $10,000.00 for a vet damages….. more if your ‘service’ PB goes off and shredds a REAL service dog which are in the neighborhood of $75,000.00 to replace. There cannot be a worse and more undependable breed than a Pit Bull/ PB mix for vulnerable populations who NEED REAL service dogs or who suffer from psychological damages…. none could be worse. Despite that they look goofy clownlike when they go off or as the term is ‘go Pit’ and rip their client’s arm to pieces or deglove their child’s arm and face.

    • avatarterrell says:

      Can you provide a link to that pic? I’ll like to know if it was a attack by a family dog, a loose dog, or a service dog. If it’s the first two, what you said about any service pit is bogus.

      You can take your personal dog in and think it can become one. You have to have a licence and take a class. You go before a board and they’ll determine if the dog will pass. The list ranges from social behavior to performance of task.

      And these are not dogs who have a fighting past, or aggressive temperament. But yes, like all service dogs, you have to have insurance.

      But German Shepherds are service dogs, but yet they are on a list of dangerous dogs.

      • avatarNick Davis says:

        Hello Terrell, I agree Joanne needs to show proof of what type of animal and its status. It appears she is just anti-pit in general.

        Achilles has had a lot of training, he is a working dog, that happens to be a service dog. The Pit breed is a working dog breed and like all breeds of that type they require special upkeep, one of which is constant exercise. He is a service dog first for my wife and part of the family now. Socially he is amazing, especially since he started his service dog training older than most dogs would.

        Dogs are what you train them to be, and is largely down to the owner. I will recognize that some breeds are so inbred that something goes wrong in their head (bipolar), but Achilles is a Mutt (Boxer/Pit) and does not have those genetic issues. So it is how they are trained.

        You train a dog to be aggressive, to fight, to attack that is what a dog will do. That is the owner training that dog to do that task, you can do that to any animal.

        Pitbills carry a stigma… Dogs like Achilles are slowly removing that. Thank you for your kind words.

    • avatarNick Davis says:

      Joanne, it is obvious you know nothing about the training and keeping of working dogs, especially service dogs like Achilles.

      Did you know that most dog attacks are by Labradors Retrievers? Or your more likely going to die from eating a Hot Dog, than ever get attacked by a dog – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steffen-baldwin/the-lies-damn-lies-and-st_b_8112394.html

      While the pictures of that attack look horrific, you didn’t clarify if that was a family dog, loose dog, stray, or a dog trained to be aggressive for fighting (which is a sad reality that the Pitbull breed has been subject too). I guarantee it wasn’t from a working dog, or a service dog. All you want to do is post BS propaganda, it is folk like you that are the problem, that we do our best to avoid because of your prejudice.

      You really know nothing.

  2. avatarJoanna McGinn says:

    there are no real ‘highs’ of owning a Pit as a fake service dog… only lows…the lowest of all lows.

    • avatarNick Davis says:

      Five minutes of reviewing your Disqus posting history shows your hugely biased, it would be easy to call you something else based on other posts you’ve made, but I think you’re scared. You might need an emotional support animal to help you keep you calm, so you might want to look into that.

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