Originally Posted by dcg
Jan, re: the bolded - is it your opinion that an adult shelter dog is more of a crapshoot than a shelter pup? I've been thinking the opposite, so would be interested in hearing more if that's the case. If you're saying that an adult shelter dog is more of a crapshoot and a purebred from a reputable breeder (and the biggest question of all is a shelter pup), that makes sense to me.
That said, I hope to always have a pit bull in the family. Love 'em.
I would say that an adult shelter dog is more of a crapshoot than a shelter puppy. A shelter puppy is most probably the product of an accidental or otherwise unwanted breeding, but with an adult dog you know nothing about its life experience or why it was turned over to the shelter. A lot of perfectly good dogs do end up in shelters for rotten reasons. On the other hand, many dogs are abandoned to shelters for bad behavior on their parts, which may or may not be capable of being corrected. Many of these behavioral problems may not be evident in a shelter environment. To my mind there are four cardinal sins in a dog: Owner aggression; other unwarranted human aggression (especially toward children!); inability to be housebroken; destructive chewing (beyond the puppy stage).
Were I adopting a Pit Bull, I would take one with the good old-fashioned, extroverted, exuberant, hail-fellow well-met Pit Bull temperament. He (or she) may be hell with other dogs and will probably be a lousy property guardian, but I can live with that. I'd even take one with fighting scars if I liked the temperament. With most of the mastiff breeds, a degree of genetic shyness is pretty much endemic. I don't like it in Pit Bulls, though. Interestingly, many game-bred Pit Bulls are quite shy. They have been bred exclusively for gameness and ability; shyness is immaterial as long as the dog is not human aggressive (a very undesirable trait in a fighting dog). During the Michael Vick case, it was claimed that some of the dogs had been so "traumatized" by their experiences in Vick's yard that they could not be adopted out. I suspect these highly bred fighting dogs were so genetically shy that they would have been equally fearful had Michael Vick and his henchmen been the kindliest men in the world.
I might tell here the story of my adoption of Tessa, the Tosa bitch who had been returned to her breeder because she had killed and eaten the neighbor's 100-pound Akita bitch. An extremely dog-wise friend who had owned several Tosas was worried about the cannibalism aspect. He advised me to spend a couple of hours with her before making a decision, also to put myself in a position of vulnerability by sitting down to see if that triggered any aggression from her. On the day I went down to Rick the breeder's place ("Everybody comes to Rick's Place."), Rick left Tessa alone with me in his exercise yard. The first thing she did was to roll over on her back so I could scratch her tummy. I then sat down to make myself vulnerable. She came up and licked my face all over. Then she lay down and snuggled up to me as close as she could and wouldn't budge. Do you think I took long to make up my mind? We were out of there in no time. Although I'm sure Rick would have let me have her for free, I gave him a nice folding knife and 350 rounds of 7x39mm Russian ammo as a token of gratitude.