How can we manage conflict over a pitbull mix in our family?
February 12, 2020 1:50 PM   Subscribe

My sister has adopted a pitbull mix and my father and his wife hate the dog. We are a close family, and this is becoming a Big Deal. How can we manage perceived risk and outdated perceptions of pitbulls and keep the family peace?

I’m submitting this question on behalf of my sister, who knows I’m writing. She and I will be reading responses together. So. Two days before Christmas of 2019, my sister saw a notice on Instagram that a friend of ours had a acquired a dog that needed to be rehomed. (This is complicated, so I’ll try to make it plain.) Our friend, Ben, lives next door to a family that had two dogs, a male and female that are pitbull mixes. This family has four children and to his knowledge, the family interacted with the dogs when they were puppies, but as they grew older, they spent more and more time in the backyard, alone. During the winter of 2018-2019, when the puppies would have been approximately 6 months old, Ben spotted the dogs in the backyard without shelter during a particularly cold snap. We live in Houston, so winters are quite mild, but shelter for a pet is still a necessity. He called Animal Control, but never saw them come to the home.

Fast forward a year…during the year, Ben has continued to keep tabs on the pups, and has noticed they were alone a lot. In November 2019, the dogs escaped their yard, and only the female returned. She was then chained to a tree in the yard. She would howl and cry a lot, and Ben noticed she was often without water.

He approached the family and asked if they would consider turning over the dog to him so that he could find her a new home. After a bit of consideration (less than an hour), they showed up at his house with Layla.

Ben posted to IG that he needed to find Layla a home, and that’s where my sister Jen found her. Jen and I went to get her that night (December 22). She is a sweet girl, not aggressive at all, but she needs training to learn manners. Given that she was owned by a family with four children, all under the age of twelve, Jennifer wasn’t hesitant about bringing Layla (now renamed Chrissy) into her own home, with children ages 5, 6, and 7.

Jennifer has been looking for a family dog for some time and felt this was serendipity. We grew up in a home with a Doberman Pincher, and know that a dog’s reputation can cloud perception. Our family dog, and the Dobies owned by my parents, and then by my Dad after my mom passed away, have been uniformly Good Dogs. They have been loverly couch-potato-Velcro pups and we have loved them from nose to toes and back.

So what’s the problem? Our Dad and his wife hate Jen’s dog. They are making snide remarks about Chrissy being violent and are sending her news clips and whatnot about people who have been hurt or killed by their pet pits. I don’t think Chrissy is dangerous. Jennifer and her husband don’t think Chrissy is dangerous. She is always supervised when she’s around Jennifer’s kids.

I live with my Dad and his wife, Jennifer lives in her own home four miles away. We are a close family, and we are all adults (Jen and I are both in our forties). We see each other often and Jennifer hosts holiday dinners, birthday celebrations and family get togethers at her home. We don’t want this dang dog to come between us, but I think my father and his wife are being unfair, and so does Jen. Does she stand her ground, get the training for Chrissy and let this be an agree-to-disagree thing?

Chrissy is scheduled to be begin training Saturday and has not shown any aggression toward Jennifer, her husband, or their kids. She has taken food off of the table and tried to take a pop-tart out of the hand of the 5 year old, which was scary for her. There was not any biting and no skin was broken or torn. After she was scolded, Chrissy immediately laid on her back, showing her belly. She is now kenneled while the kids eat (they have no awareness of personal space!)

Jennifer would never be able to live with herself if Chrissy hurt someone, but that’s a risk with any dog, right? I have a mutt, adopted from a shelter, and she’s medium sized and has a great personality, but she could potentially hurt me, too, right? How do we establish the risk and manage it, or is it just too great? Is there a way to test for aggression for dogs? I know shelters do it, but is something like that available to pet owners?

Chrissy is a strong dog, but has shown great affection for her new family, and the kids adore her. Is there a way to manage the conflict caused by this dog, or do we need to find her a new home? Is this an opportunity for Jennifer to stand up to our dad (which is something we both have a difficult time doing…authoritarian parenting rearing its ugly head).
posted by heathergirl to Pets & Animals (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Chrissy tax.
posted by heathergirl at 1:54 PM on February 12, 2020 [14 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds to me like your sister is doing everything right, and I think your parents are being unreasonable. I hang out with pits and pit mixes all the time (my own dog might have a little pit in her but she only weighs 30 pounds so she’s not intimidating-looking), and have for years, they’re just not inherently bad or violent dogs. At all. Exuberant at times and strong, but so are a lot of other breeds.
posted by outfielder at 1:59 PM on February 12, 2020 [18 favorites]

Best answer: She is absolutely adorable! I love me some pibbles.

This dog really sounds like a good fit for Jennifer's family. Even the most sweetest wouldn't hurt a fly dog I know has stolen MANY a snack from a small child -- eventually the kids learn to watch their food, and keeping her crated is a good way to handle it too. I'm glad she's going to go get some training and socializing but really, Chrissy already sounds like a good dog.

Your parents...that's where the trouble is. Have you reminded them that many, many people STILL see Dobies as aggressive and scary, but that was not at all their own experience? The parents need to STOP sending these clips, it's passive-aggressive and just not nice, and learn to deal.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:10 PM on February 12, 2020 [18 favorites]

I don't subscribe to the "bad breed" theory. It sounds like your father does.

Your father is also implicitly criticizing your sister's child-rearing abilities and general responsibility as an adult by bringing a purportedly dangerous dog into the same house as her kids. That would get my back up too. So, I'd call my father on his shit and tell him to either lay off or call Child Protective Services right now. Knowing, of course, that he'd be severing any future relationship with his daughter and grandkids if he did that.
posted by adamrice at 2:13 PM on February 12, 2020 [8 favorites]

I've been reading the book Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon and it is both incredibly fascinating and relevant to your question. Also, very well researched!

Based on the book I've learned:
1) dog breed is incredibly hard to determine without a genetic test
2) certain dog breeds are not more prone than others to biting
3) there are plenty of dogs that come from abused homes that make perfectly wonderful pets
4) although there are fatal dog bites/attacks, they are incredibly rare and usually occur under very specific circumstances

It sounds like Chrissy needs to learn some manners. It also sounds like the children should be supervised when playing with Chrissy, as they would with any other dog, since they are still learning how to interact with animals. But...all this is to say, this seems like a human problem more than a dog one.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 2:13 PM on February 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Ask your parents what their true concerns are, and then make reasonable accommodations. Could Chrissy go in her crate when they come over to visit? If they're concerned about the safety of other pets, is there a way to keep them separate?

My sister has pit mixes and they're very sweet to humans, but very dangerous to my smaller dogs (and have gotten into conflict with other dogs in the past, and caused severe injuries, so it's not just theoretical), so we just don't bring our dogs to their house. Or vice-versa. It's a good boundary that works well.

If your parents insist on bringing it up in conversation, even after the reasonable accommodations have been made, just change the subject. You can't change their minds, because they're coming from a place of fear. So just change the subject.
posted by witchen at 2:16 PM on February 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics Behind Dog Bites.

Your sister is doing all the right things. It is entirely reasonable for your sister to tell your father that she and her husband have made the best choice for their family, and ask your father to stop sending her the news articles. (Will he? Well if he doesn't stop you can send him back adorable videos from the dodo.
posted by oceano at 2:29 PM on February 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the insight, everyone. Jennifer and I are reading the responses, and are thankful to everyone who's taken the time to read and respond so far.
posted by heathergirl at 2:40 PM on February 12, 2020

Best answer: I want to be clear and state my bias based on the dogs I was raised around: upon sight I am generally afraid of dogs I perceive to be pit bulls.

BUT I have also met sweet pits that have won my heart over. As an adult I’ve never met a pit that was aggressive. I try not to peddle false info on an entire breed but yeah I generally start off scared of them. I’ve gotten more comfortable around the breed by being around them.

I would invite your dad and his wife to the training. They may be wrong but they’re coming from a place of feeling like they need to protect their grandchildren. Let them see for themselves that Chrissy isn’t aggressive. Do it away from your sisters kids and hopefully they’ll see what a great dog she is. If they won’t come, ask
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 2:46 PM on February 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Stand up to your parents. Seriously, the dog is no more likely to attack than any other dog. I say this as someone that watched her brother savagely mauled by a neighbours boxer dog and is always low level nervous about dogs around kids since then and even I think your parents are over reacting. Make sure the dog get's plenty of exercise, teach the kids to read the dogs body language & to give it space and take it to training classes, more to make sure it can behave around other dogs & new people & as a fun bonding activity. The dogs body language in the photo you posted looks relaxed, content & watchful all good signs.

Honestly this just sounds like your parents trying to exert control than anything else. Keep the dog away from them, tell them not to visit unannounced so you can crate the dog while they are there if you want to keep the peace, but your authoritarian comment makes me suspect that the issue here isn't the dog, it's the making a decision Dad doesn't approve of that's the problem. With people like that compromise can be difficult so I sympathize.
posted by wwax at 3:07 PM on February 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Does she stand her ground, get the training for Chrissy and let this be an agree-to-disagree thing?

Yes, definitely. When you're an adult making reasonable decisions, you shouldn't give your parents veto power over those decisions. When my dad is concerned about something in my life, I find a confident, "Well, actually . . ." followed by some facts or a sensible opinion works well to dampen his concern. Your parents don't want to be worried about your sister and her family. They would probably love to be convinced they don't have to be. Your sister should send them articles like this one about the dangers of Dobermans and encourage them to think about the reality of living with their Dobermans compared to the "Dobermans are dangerous" message. (But maybe don't send this specific article, because its message is that Dobermans are dangerous but pit bulls are even more dangerous.) She can send some pro-pitbull information too. But the best way to change their minds is simply to get training for Chrissy and give them a chance to see what she's like. If she really isn't dangerous (and it sounds like there's no reason at all to think she is), that should become completely obvious over the next few months and they'll probably relax.
posted by Redstart at 3:08 PM on February 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think this sounds like a perfect situation to kindly but firmly tell your parents that their opinion has been noted but they really don't get a vote on this.

I would also be a bit concerned they will inappropriately police or dissect the dog/kid interactions in Jen's house, so I would be prepared that you may also need to say "stop interfering with the dog and kids or we will not be socializing at Jen's house anymore."
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:09 PM on February 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's the last line in your post that gives me pause: this isn't about the dog.
"which is something we both have a difficult time doing…authoritarian parenting rearing its ugly head"

This is about control.
This isn't about the dog at all.
posted by msamye at 3:26 PM on February 12, 2020 [17 favorites]

Seriously, the dog is no more likely to attack than any other dog.

That's not true, an unsocialized dog IS more likely to bite. As is one attaining sexual maturity 18 months to 36 months or one in a changed environment, especially where it's suddenly no longer the smallest, youngest or weakest animal. Female dogs, especially spayed late, are snappier too Every responsible dog rescue trainer or breeder knows this, btw.

The odds are this dog will be fine but the grandparents have met it and find it of questionable temperment. The rescuer and new owners don't. That's common. A professional trainer familiar with rescue dogs will absolutely be able to objectively test for aggression in common scenarios like food handling, toy handling, excited play, other pets etc. Getting that evaluation done is the best step to reconciling everyone. Then working with the trainer to instill manners and recognize if things are changing is the next step. The trainer may want someone else to do the temperment testing btw, not everyone does it. One of my dogs bit a temperament tester once over food.

Also before you value judge everyone here keep in mind that pit bulls, boxers, bulldogs, pugs etc are hard to read, they don't have quite the same facial expressions nor do they make the same noises as dogs with regular snouts. This makes a lot of people, myself included, somewhat uneasy and more cautious around them especially unfamiliar individuals. It also makes it hard to recognize early signs of aggression if you're used to other dogs. You can't change that: it is what it is.

The nicest rescue dog I ever fostered was a very large and rambunctious un-neutered 18 month old male pit boxer cross with zero training or socialisation. He turned out to be an absolute doll with people and animals and just a wise old soul in general with one of the most generous and calm natures I've seen in a dog. But you bet we were extremely slow and careful with him and he underwent extensive temperament testing.
posted by fshgrl at 3:28 PM on February 12, 2020 [18 favorites]

Also that dog almost certainly has questionable hips, the way she is lying in the photo is a tip off. Talk to the vet about an exam and getting her on preventative supplements, be cautious with twisting or speed exercise (frisbee, fetching) and watch as she ages for pain. Kids like to lean and lay on dogs and dogs with bad hips don't appreciate being used as a pillow.
posted by fshgrl at 3:35 PM on February 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just don't see how this is your dad's business at all. He is showing poor boundaries. This is about control. Why on earth should he get to decide this?
posted by bluedaisy at 3:38 PM on February 12, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: How do we establish the risk and manage it

This is the most important question in my mind - if you have to ask, you don't really know, and that's not being very responsible. Get a professional dog trainer/animal behaviorist to come over to the house for a day and observe your family's interactions with the dog in her everyday environment. A qualified professional will pick up on cues that you, your brother, sister, dad, etc, have not been trained to recognize. From there they can suggest the appropriate level of contact with the kids and what training is appropriate. Your dog could be an angel or a time bomb waiting to go off, **no one** is qualified to assess that over the internet. Find someone who is and get their advice. Your father's biases don't play into this.
posted by aiglet at 4:08 PM on February 12, 2020 [10 favorites]

That's a beautiful pup! Everything you've described sounds like typical young dog behavior. It's lucky she's so sweet and friendly after being neglected, but that's pitties for you.

Bottom line, your sister is an adult in her own home and what she decides to do is none of her father's business. It sounds like your dad is being antagonistic for the sake of being antagonistic (snide comments? sheesh, grow up, Dad). Yes, set boundaries. "I understand your concerns but we've done the research and are taking appropriate steps to integrate this dog--who we love--into our home. The next time you criticise our choices and our new family member, the conversation will be over." And then stick to it. Hang up the phone, leave the party, whatever.

Because the family is close, and you want to continue to have pleasant family get-togethers, I would: meet with the trainer (I assume they use positive reinforcement methods, yes?) and ask them to assess the dog. When they sign off, which based on everything you've described here they will, you can offer that to your dad as "proof." Still set and maintain those boundaries.

And beyond "proving" anything to your dad, continued training and enrichment will make life more fun and interesting with the dog, so keep it up! Go to classes, read up on enrichment activities, make sure the whole family is on board with the appropriate way to interact with a dog. Any dog. Continue to give that sweet pup the loving and active life she deserves!

I will say, as a looooongtime pittie parent and rescue's tough to argue with people who are intent on citing the same old bad sources about why these dogs are any more dangerous or difficult than other breeds. There are plenty of reputable sources available to counter their arguments, but, well, good luck. It's no longer an argument I entertain. The best you can do is set that boundary, continue to train and socialize your adorable dog, and lead by example.
posted by adastra at 4:09 PM on February 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

The whole time I was reading this, I was trying to figure out what the actual conflict was. I was expecting something like "grandma babysits the kids sometimes and she's afraid of pitbulls" or "the dog nipped grandpas hand."

I was confused until I got to the end and realized this is just all about the fact that your parents are opining about the (very normal and reasonable) choice your sister has made, and your sister is wondering whether or not she has the right to make a choice your parents disagree with. And the answer to that is: yes, of course. You're all adults here. Your parents are free to think pitbulls make bad pets, but they don't get to dictate what kind of pet their adult daughter adopts.

Frankly, part of being an adult is accepting that your parents may not approve of every choice you make. You say you are all really close, and that's wonderful, but is the price of that closeness that your parents still get to lay down the law in terms of how everyone lives, and you and your sister toe that line? Are you "allowed" to disagree? Sorry if these questions seem intrusive, and you certainly don't need to answer them here, but I just want to make it clear as I can that there's nothing wrong with getting a dog your parents disapprove of.

Though of course hire a trainer!
posted by lunasol at 4:21 PM on February 12, 2020 [15 favorites]

Best answer: nthing that this is entirely about authoritarian parenting and not at all about the dog, and the only solution is to stand up to your dad.

Do get the dog professionally trained and socialized (this is worth doing for any dog, including your mutt) and do avoid ever letting the kids be unsupervised around the dog (also true of any dog, as much for the dog's sake as for the kids' - a small child can easily hurt a dog by accident!). But don't frame any of this to your dad as concessions or compromises. The only thing to do with him is let him know that his feedback has been noted and appreciated, but the decision has been made and the discussion is over and it is inappropriate for him to continue to bring it up. Follow through on this: if he insists on talking about it or making snide comments, end the conversation.
posted by waffleriot at 4:41 PM on February 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

I had some traumatic childhood experiences with pitbulls and dogs in general. I wouldn't trust any untrained dog around children, regardless of breed. That said, I think there are at least two separate concerns here: 1) whether your parents get to override your adult sister's decisions and 2) whether this particular dog has any aggression issues.

1) Has been covered well by lunasol and nakedmolerats above.

2) Do whatever it takes to assess the dog for any aggression issues and get it properly trained. That may include "training" the kids too, because they need to know how to act around the dog for their own safety. I like aiglet's advice in this regard.
posted by purple_bird at 4:47 PM on February 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Like lunasol, I was expecting some behavioral basis for the grandparents' objections. But...there wasn't one?

Listen, any large, muscular dog can injure or kill. That includes labs and goldens! (Sadly, it happens!) So this objection is particularly bizarre coming from someone who has a Doberman, which was a byword for "dangerous dog" before anyone started worrying about pit bulls, and really does make it sound like grandparents are more motivated by a power play than by the safety of the kids.

Get the dog trained. Don't leave the kids unsupervised around her until they're older. Teach them to respect her space (can be hard for little kids). Understand that a dog from a tough background may understandably have more and firmer boundaries than a dog who grew up safe and loved, and don't push them. Enjoy your sweet pittie girl.

(Pit bulls aren't generally brachycephalic, so I'm a little confused by the comparison to pugs, etc.)
posted by praemunire at 5:21 PM on February 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

You say that the dogs were raised by a family (which is why you’re not concerned about sister’s kids) but they weren’t really, they were left alone in a yard for most of their life so I wouldn’t actually assume they’re good with kids. The only assumption I’d make is that the dog was neglected. The point someone made about getting a trainer to make an independent assessment is a good one and if I was the parent, I’d be doing that straight away. I’m not saying Chrissy is a dangerous dog, I’m saying you don’t know - no one does.

Re your parents, well they’re allowed to have an opinion. Everyone is. What they’re not allowed to do is assume it carries any weight or that anyone has to act on it. If they don’t want to come over because of the dog, no problem. Meet them at a restaurant. But if the parent of the kids has decided that they’re comfortable with the dog, theirs is the only opinion that matters and your parents can and should butt out.
posted by Jubey at 7:00 PM on February 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The dog is not the problem; your parents are. Don’t punish the dog by rehoming her yet again because your humans are being unreasonable. Since your parents are the problem, they need to be the ones to solve the problem. Your sister and her family and her dog should just go on living their lives, and let your parents be the ones to adjust their lives to accommodate their own prejudices.

Do not cause yourselves and an innocent animal harm by giving in to what is, ultimately, bullying. Bullying should never be allowed to win, and if nothing else, the kids shouldn’t witness someone getting their way because they’re a bully.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:00 PM on February 12, 2020

nthing that your dad needs to step back.
We got a dog seven years ago, the kids had always wanted one, and he is adorable. But he is a big dog, and a lot of people in my family don't like dogs and are scared of big dogs. Specially my brother, who I often spend holidays with, is not a dog lover. He did not like the idea, and often opined that I should find another home for our pup. But over time, he has begun to like him and now it is a family joke that they might even get their own dog. Since your dad already is a dog person, I think it's only a matter of time before he changes his mind.
posted by mumimor at 1:09 AM on February 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Pit bulls aren't generally brachycephalic, so I'm a little confused by the comparison to pugs, etc.)

They don't have a normal dog face basically which makes it harder to read them if you're not used to them. People don't have an innate ability to read dogs, it's learned.

They also don't have the normal signs of aggression: for example most PBs don't growl or snarl before biting but they do go up on their toes and kind of lean forward. Other breeds with low bite inhibition will also often surprise people too. You often hear that dogs showed no signs of aggression before biting but that's never true, people just miss it. PBs tend to be dog aggressive, not people aggressive, so novice owners just don't pick up on it. Its much easier to notice a Karelian or Malinois winding up to throw down with all the posturing and lifted lips / barking and lunging.
posted by fshgrl at 1:33 AM on February 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

As for how to deal with your father's completely inappropriate and uneducated comments, I'd suggest she let him know that every time she hears one from him, she will end contact for a period of time; depending on how often they're in communication now, that might be 24 hours, a week, etc. If he is at her house, he will need to leave. If she is at his, she will pack up the kids and leave. If he e-mails her, she will delete his messages unread. Etc.
posted by metasarah at 5:23 AM on February 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It's entirely unclear why any solution here doesn't begin and end with your dad and stepmother butting right the hell out, because the dog doesn't belong to them and does not live with them.

The "Chrissy took a pop-tart" story isn't a story of menace. It's a story of food being at dog level, and the 5-year-old not being coordinated enough or tall enough to stop it (&, of course, Chrissy not really understanding that she's not allowed to do that). None of that is scary. That is all 100% normal with a puppy/young dog.

Chrissy is going to be a very strong, stout dog. As with any such dog, it's going to be important that she learn good behavior, and understand that she has to do what her people tell her to do. This is not normally difficult, but it takes consistency and time. If you've never done this before, get help, but it's not really rocket science. Give her lots of love and lots of positive reinforcement, and socialize her A LOT ALL THE TIME. (And all of this is true for any breed over 25 pounds; it's not a pibble thing.)

Some folks with dogs make the mistake of isolating the dog whenever new people come over. This is a mistake, because then the dog never learns how to act around new people. You can limit the exposure, especially for an exuberant & excitable puppy, but don't just reflexively crate when people are coming over. Let her meet them, sniff them. Encourage the new people to pet her. Normalize the event, so it's less exciting and strange. Don't allow jumping or excessive licking, but be sure Chrissy sees that the new people are friendly and part of the extended tribe, etc.

This should be the default pattern, but there's room for exceptions with people who are super phobic or whatever (obviously).

When you have adequate control, take her places -- for runs, to obedience classes, to dog parks if you're sure she's not dog-aggressive, to outdoor patios for a beer if that's allowed where you live, etc. The best dogs I've ever known have been dogs that got to Go and Do with their people, because they learn a LOT about expected behavior norms that way, almost by osmosis.
I think this sounds like a perfect situation to kindly but firmly tell your parents that their opinion has been noted but they really don't get a vote on this.
Also that dog almost certainly has questionable hips, the way she is lying in the photo is a tip off.
Uh, citation needed. I grew up with a vet for a dad; we never parsed dogs lying with splayed hips like that as an issue. Lots of dogs do it deliberately on cool surfaces when the weather's hot.
posted by uberchet at 7:54 AM on February 13, 2020 [5 favorites]

You often hear that dogs showed no signs of aggression before biting but that's never true, people just miss it.

This is absolutely true and very important. Barring actual health issues, dogs never bite without warning, but people often don't know what the warnings look like. Fortunately, it is very easy to learn, and I'm not sure we don't regard this as a basic life skill to be picked up at the same time you're learning to look both ways when you cross the street. Youtube videos are a good place to start - make sure everybody in the dog's household, especially the kids, have a firm grasp of this.
posted by waffleriot at 11:23 AM on February 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Uh, citation needed. I grew up with a vet for a dad; we never parsed dogs lying with splayed hips like that as an issue. Lots of dogs do it deliberately on cool surfaces when the weather's hot.

Its not normal for an adult canine to do so habitually though while many adult dogs with hip dysplasia lay like that all the time or most of the time. Google it, its one of the "things to look for". And that breed is pre disposed. It may be minor or non existent but why not take action now? Progression is often preventable.
posted by fshgrl at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2020

The "Chrissy took a pop-tart" story isn't a story of menace. It's a story of food being at dog level, and the 5-year-old not being coordinated enough or tall enough to stop it (&, of course, Chrissy not really understanding that she's not allowed to do that). None of that is scary.

That story is very scary with an unknown dog! Thats how kids get bitten and dogs get euthanized. They need to get the dog evaluated and everyone trained. It sounds like they're working on that but let's not downplay the real potential for a problem here in people's zeal to defend their favourite breed. Any dog can bite, remember
posted by fshgrl at 6:13 PM on February 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Minority vote here. The Pitty-club might rather disown parents over cute puppers cause puppers are so cute (no denying the cuteness), but we are talking about a rescue from a difficult background, so there are some flags that shouldn't just be waved away with "gramps is just being dumb". And the worse case scenario is not what everyone wants.

Getting a decent professional canine behaviour specialist in to consult is obviously the best thing for everyone involved.
posted by ovvl at 3:34 PM on February 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to this long-ago AskMe. Chrissy (and her humans) has had several sessions of training with a trainer who specializes in working with dogs in the Pittie family. She goes on walks, goes to the dog park. There's still a ways to go with her, but she is a Very Good Girl. As some predicted, my father has come to love Chrissy. His wife has not been over to Jen's house since Christmas Eve, which, you know, whatever. Thank you, again, to everyone who responded. This is the best community on the Internet.
posted by heathergirl at 2:09 PM on September 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I also want to add that my sister and I are both working on our individual relationships with our father, but we are facing increasing dementia with him, so we take each day as it comes, and that is a pretty decent way to get through this dumpster fire of a year. Thanks for the fresh eyes.
posted by heathergirl at 2:13 PM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

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