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Meeting the scariest-looking pit bull changed how I feel about the breed

I used to believe the stereotype that pit bulls are dangerous dogs. Whenever there was a dog-on-person attack in the news, it involved a pit bull or pit mix. Why would anyone want these dogs for pets? As far as I knew, the only people who wanted them were illegal dog fighters; boy was I wrong.

When I started volunteering for a pet rescue, I became more exposed to pit bulls. They still intimidated me, but I started to see that despite their neglect and abuse, they were still forgiving and trusting animals. It broke my heart. Then came the pit bull mix that forever changed the way I felt about the breed: Mr. Bones.

The big black dog

Image: Linda Morrissey Witmond

For starters, Mr. Bones is a bull mastiff/pit bull mix. Both breeds can be intimidating just by the way they look. I first saw Mr. Bones in a Facebook photo posted by a rescue dog foster group, begging for someone to foster him. To look at him was heart-wrenching; he was in such bad shape that initially, it was believed that he was hit by a car. Once the vets examined him, it was evident that his injuries were caused by attacks from other dogs. The poor dog was chained in a yard and repeatedly attacked by other dogs, resulting in several fractures in his jaw that had to be wired. On top of all of his physical injuries, he was also heartworm positive.

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A foster did step up to care for Mr. Bones, and she spent the next few weeks tending to his fractured jaw and injuries. More importantly, she gave him the love he’d never had while being chained and left defenseless in a yard. As his injuries healed, his foster mom started sharing pictures of her new charge on social media. She dressed him up in clothes and he modeled them with no complaint. What captured my attention the most were his eyes. They are the most beautiful shade of amber and full of kindness. Every day I would check my Facebook in hopes of seeing a new picture of Mr. Bones. Finally, I decided to meet him.

Meeting the famous Mr. Bones

Image: Linda Morrissey Witmond

As I approached the front door of Mr. Bones’ foster home, I heard a cacophony of noise behind the door: a combination of barks, excited whimpers and scurrying toenails. There was one bark in particular that caught my attention: deep, slow and deliberate. “That has got to be him,” I thought to myself.

Linda, Mr. Bones’ foster mom, poked her head out, apologized for the chaos and asked me to give her a minute to put her personal dogs outside. I saw a big, black head with striking amber eyes peeking at me behind Linda.

Once inside, I was face-to-face with the biggest dog I had ever met. Seriously, he was huge — 90 pounds of pure muscle. Linda was trying to restrain his excitement, but any average person would have a hard time hanging on to this guy. I gave her a nod to indicate it was fine to let him go. She did and he barreled into me and jumped up to give me the biggest, most slobbery kiss. After all he’d been through, his greeting somewhat shocked me. Dog, you don’t even know me, yet you are acting like I’m a best bud you haven’t seen in years.

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Linda told me that from the beginning, Mr. Bones was never aggressive toward people. Even when he was injured he was very sweet. Since he was probably used as a guard dog in someone’s yard, he had been chained up for most of his life. Neighborhood dogs would attack him, but no one ever broke up the fights. As a result, he has multiple scars all over his face and body. What landed him in the shelter were the multiple fractures to his jaw that his owners could not — or would not — treat.

Due to his experiences, he is suspicious of any dog that comes near him. Can you blame him? His foster mom has spent a tremendous amount of time rebuilding his trust. She has successfully integrated him into her pack of dogs. He still has a way to go in building up his trust toward other dogs, but he shows improvement each and every day.

Lessons learned

Image: Debbie Wolfe

As far as my opinion of one of the most intimidating looking dogs I’ve ever met? He’s a sweet little puppy in a big dog’s body. He’d gladly sit on your lap and catch the latest game. Overall, he’s so laid-back that even his game of chase-the-tail is in slow motion. This gentle giant has taught me a lot about first impressions. First, that first impressions can be misleading. Second, look at the eyes. The eyes of an animal will tell you everything. Finally, pit bull, bull mastiff, or Labrador — the outside doesn’t matter. It’s the inside we need to see. If only we could do this with people, too. Thank you, Mr. Bones, for teaching me a lesson about not judging the book by its cover. By the way, you look super dapper in a bow tie.

Mr. Bones is looking for a forever home. If you’d like to learn more about him, check out his Petfinder profile.

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