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John Nippolt
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In defense of Chewy
          What do you do when you have a terrific dog that so many people think is a killer but you know is not? Iíve been hearing public outcry by those who want to rid the world of pitbulls. Who can blame them with these dangerous critters gnashing their teeth at every baby, child, woman, the elderly, and any other kind of animal known to man. These people are positive those dogs were raised on blood and guts and even if they are trained properly all they know is how to kill, or at the least impair. Hogwash. Please, hear me out.
          I owned an American brown nose and British pitbull mix for 14 years. His color was golden brindle. He was the smartest, kindest, and gentlest dog I ever owned. My wife claimed he was a retriever in a pitbull uniform; I thought he was a born again baseball player. He did not jump on people, young or old. He did not growl at you if you were near him when he was eating. If you were eating and he was looking at you with that faraway look, all you had to do was say, ďNo,Ē and he would turn away and not bother you.
          He was my pal and companion on many walks up until the mean end to his life. I say mean because he was hit by a car and left to die on the side of the road. A tragedy for sure, but I digress.
          He looked like a little like a baby Wookie (Star War hero) so my children named him Chewbacca, and we called him Chewy for short. The name sounded ominous but thatís as far as his ominousness went. There wasnít a mean bone in his body and we werenít mean to him. I tried different things with him, one was not to wrestle roughly with him, and we went swimming instead. I never fought him for his stick, instead I taught him to drop it. As a puppy, I tossed him snacks, and he learned how to catch at an early age. When he was in his prime, I could throw a tennis ball pretty fast to him and he didnít miss a catch. I taught him hand signals, right and left, stop, sit. He mastered everything I needed him to know except donít go up on the highway.
          Chewy was treated as one of the family. Once when he was a year old, he was hit on that damned highway and had his right rear leg shattered. I just sold a painting the day before and that leg took every penny. My wife saved him from dying of heartworm. He gave her a look one day and she got the message, ďIím not feeling to good,Ē it said.
          He was friends with everyone in our neighborhood, man, woman, and child. He did not chase the cats around here because he knew better. He didnít chase the chickens because we taught him not to. All the things we wanted and didnít want he picked up on simply because we trained him that way.
          When he was getting up there in years he did do a couple of things that were different like the howls for female companions when they were in heat. He didnít do that as a young dog but that changed when he turned 12 or so.
          It was hard watching that great dog get old. His leg bothered him so he kind of limped in his gait. He lost his hearing at age 14 and I could tell he was losing his will to stick around. One rainy evening he gave me one of those looks that said Iím going to walk off into the night, and he did. The next morning I found his collar attached to his leash and he was gone. I had to leave for work early, so I had no time to look for him. I knew it was the last Iíd seen of my old friend.
          About three weeks after he disappeared (Iíd looked for him every day afterward) I heard how he died. Heíd been a victim of hit and run, when he tried to cross the road to get back home. I learned that he died across the street and the department of highway people dug a hole and buried him right there. It makes both me and my wife sad that we couldnít have been there with him in his last hours, he deserved that much; he was such a damn good dog.
          So you out there who wish the end of pitbulls, too bad, it ainít gonna happen. Perhaps if you took a closer look, you would find that the owners of such ferocious pets could be at the heart of the problem, not the dog. I like the philosophy of that dog whisperer guy on T.V.- dog owners have to be trained even more than the dog.