We rarely get through 45 seconds of conversation with a stranger before mentioning our adopted dog Ivy. Small talk just isn’t quite scintillating enough unless it involves an anecdote or two about our favorite wiggly-hipped friend (yes, Ivy wiggles her hips when she’s happy and yes, it IS the cutest thing ever!)
But as soon as we mention Ivy, we will inevitably be asked what kind of dog she is. And every time we hear that question, our pulses quicken as our hearts prepare to sink. We smile and say that Ivy is a red nose Pit Bull with so much love and joy in our hearts that we could easily be mistaken for Snow White melodically describing her forest friends.
Except as soon as the word “Pit Bull” is out of our mouths, nine times out of ten the stranger looks at us like we’re the Evil Queen — which makes poor Ivy the poisoned apple in their twisted fairytale scenario.
Determined to prove all Pit naysayers wrong, we created Pit Bulls and Personal Branding, a campaign that engages our talent for branding with our passion for Pit Bull advocacy.
LIFE’S WORK MEETS LIFE’S PURPOSE
Our sweet red nose Pit Bull Ivy is KOTAW’s Brand Ambassador and she shows the world that a good personal branding coach can rectify even the harshest reputations.
It is our professional goal to brand you or your company as the most fascinating, exciting and intriguing personal or corporate brand in your field.
And it is our personal goal to rebrand Pit Bulls as the sweet, sensitive and loving dogs they are.
Being our own bosses, we have the lucky luxury of combining our personal and professional passions. Which is why you will very often find tales of Pit Bulls woven into our lessons on personal branding.
It’s also why many of our social media posts are devoted to spreading the Pit Bull love, either by sharing positive, feel-good Pit Bull stories, providing information on actionable steps you can take to support a Pit Bull cause, or writing stories and posting pictures of Ivy in her naturally sweet state, often with her adopted Poodle Doodle LuLU and magical kitten-cat fairy Doosis.
HERE ARE SOME OF OUR FAVORITE PIT BULLS AND PERSONAL BRANDING STORIES:
We hope you like them!
Photo credit: Ashley Ella Design
WHY PIT BULLS ARE A STORY WORTH SHARING
Pit Bull “type” dogs are the most neglected, abused and mistreated “type” of dog in America. Shamefully, because of this, they are also the most feared, hated and regulated.
Pit Bull “type” dogs are more likely to be the victims of human-organized dogfighting rings, backyard breeding, puppy mill breeding, and other acts of heinous abuse than any other “type” of dog.
Because humans breed, use and abuse, then discard Pit Bulls like trash, there are more homeless Pit Bull “type” dogs in shelters than any other “type” of dog.
Each year in the U.S. alone, approximately 1.2 million shelter dogs are euthanized; 1 million are Pit Bulls. 75% of shelters nationwide automatically euthanize all Pit Bulls without even trying to find them homes. Only 1 in every 600 Pit Bulls in U.S. shelters find forever homes.
Pit Bulls are the VICTIMS and yet they suffer unconscionable vilification and discrimination including, but not limited to, Breed Specific Legislation. This is beyond deplorable.
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE KOTAW GIRL GANG SPREAD THE PIT BULL LOVE
Because trying to change the world seems like an overwhelming, insurmountable task, it’s often difficult to know how or where to start. To make things easier for you, we’re sharing some of our favorite resources and actionable steps you can take to help spread the Pit Bull love.
STAND UP FOR PITS!
Rebecca Corry has proudly devoted herself to being the voice of Angel and all Pit Bull-type dogs or, as Rebecca affectionately calls them, “velvet hippos.”
In doing so, Rebecca has become the KOTAW Girl Gang’s personal megaphone, amplifying our own voices that we’ve used on a daily basis to dispel ugly myths and spread the Pit Bull love ever since our baby Ivy waddled into our lives and stole our hearts many moons ago.
Rebecca stands up for pits, but she also stands up for the people who love them, the people who endure the hurt of having hateful, ignorant nonsense spewed at and about their best friends.
The KOTAW Girl Gang believes it’s up to all of us to stand up for pits. To help us spread the Pit Bull love, we recommend that you check out the Stand Up For Pits website, as well as follow Rebecca and Stand Up For Pits across all social platforms.
We also wholeheartedly recommend that you take these steps to support the Stand Up For Pits Foundation like we do, because in doing so, you’ll be helping to end dog fighting and abuse, as well as save Pit Bull lives:
1. Shop for ANGEL merchandise at the Stand Up for Pits online store! (Don’t KOTAW Girl Gang members Bri and Kelsey look adorable in their ANGEL “Be My Voice” t-shirts?) All proceeds from purchases go directly to the Stand Up For Pits Foundation.
2. Make your Amazon purchases through Amazon Smile for Stand Up For Pits and Amazon will donate .5% of each purchase directly to Stand Up For Pits. The KOTAW Girl Gang uses Amazon Smile to make our purchases for Stand Up For Pits — usually to buy toys and treats for our pittie-pie Ivy, Poodle Doodle LuLU and kitten-cat Doosis!
3. Use the “Walk For a Dog” app and select that you want to walk for the Stand Up For Pits Foundation. The KOTAW Girl Gang walks for Stand Up For Pits on all our walks with Ivy and LuLU and it’s extra special because we get to feel like we’re walking with Angel, while at the same time having our walks donate money to the Stand Up For Pits Foundation.
4. Attend Stand Up For Pits live events. Every year Rebecca Corry organizes a multi-city Stand Up For Pits tour in which, as Rebecca describes, “we gather as one voice for the voiceless and celebrate our inherently good dogs through laughter and positivity.” Each Stand Up For Pits live event includes a hilarious comedy show as well as a Pit Bull adoption fair, silent auction, merchandise for sale, and the Stand Up For Pits Donation Drive benefiting shelter animals in need.
5. Contribute to Stand Up For Pits Donation Drives. You don’t need to purchase tickets to participate in the SUFP Donation Drives, so even if you can’t attend the SUFP show, you can still drop off shelter supplies at the event. In 2016 the SUFP Donation Drive raised over $39,000.00 worth of food, treats, toys, medical supplies, blankets and other comfort items for shelter pets.
6. Share Stand Up For Pits Foundation’s social media posts about individual Pit Bulls in need of adoption or fostering. Or better yet, adopt or foster one (or many!) yourself.
7. Share Stand Up For Pits Foundation’s educational social media posts that debunk widespread myths and stereotypes regarding pit bull “type” dogs.
Advocating takes many forms and every effort helps. It’s up to all of us to be their voice.
Other things you can do to make a positive impact:
· Share any positive images, stories, or videos you find about Pit Bulls.
· Adopt responsibly. Do not buy pets.
· Save the ones no one wants, don’t rely on shelter staff’s “temperament tests” as truth.
· Spay/neuter your pets. Just 1 unaltered animal and their offspring over a 6 year period can create 67,000 animals.
· Report dog fighters and those who neglect and abuse animals. To report dogfighting in LOS ANGELES County call 1-877-777-2585. To report dogfighting in cities other than Los Angeles, call the Humane Society’s national tip line at 1-877-TIP-HSUS. If a dog fight is in progress, immediately call 911.
· Contact law makers and city officials who support BSL and demand change.
· Educate yourself then educate others.
POSITIVE PIT BULL AND ADOPTION GROUPS
Ivy, KOTAW’s sweet Pit Bull Brand Ambassador, would love nothing more than to open her very own animal sanctuary. The KOTAW Girl Gang hopes to one day have our very own non-profit dedicated to helping save Pit Bulls and promoting Pit Bull love, as an extension of our Pit Bulls and Personal Branding passion project.
In the meantime, though, we would like to share with you some other Pit Bull advocacy and pet adoption groups that we support:
Best Friends Animal Society is committed to ending Pit Bull discrimination and — like the KOTAW Girl Gang — spreading Pit Bull love. We encourage you to read about the KOTAWesome work they’re doing to “ensure that every loving pet — no matter the breed — receives a loving home.”
· Angel City Pit Bulls, a foster-based program here in Los Angeles, dedicated to finding loving Pit Bulls happy forever homes.
These groups do groundbreaking, lifesaving work rescuing Pit Bulls from high-kill shelters, advocating and rehabilitating abused Pit Bulls who were wrongfully and despicably declared “too damaged” or “beyond hope” to live, and fighting against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).
Not only do these groups do incredible work in terms of Pit Bull rescue, rehabilitation and advocacy, they do so in a positive, uplifting way (because let’s face it, what true animal lover can tolerate seeing the graphic and devastating posts churned out by some well-intentioned but misguided organizations in the animal rights community?) At KOTAW, we are firm believers in the power of POSITIVE education and we are convinced that the amazing achievements made by Best Friends, NKLA and Angel City Pit Bulls are proof of that power.
PIT BULLS AND PERSONAL BRANDING SUCCESS STORIES
The KOTAW Girl Gang believes it’s the small, daily interactions with those around us that have the most significant influence on how we see the world.
Think about it — as a society, we place enormous value on the opinions of our friends, coworkers and neighbors. And sometimes, it’s the brief comment from a perfect stranger that stays with you for life.
The KOTAW Girl Gang has had a lot of success converting people into Pit Bull lovers simply by using the power of storytelling to share Ivy’s silly, sweet, nurturing and kind-hearted nature with the world. Over time, people can’t help but fall in love with Ivy, which in turn helps change their minds about Pit Bulls in general.
Some of KOTAW’s Pit Bulls And Personal Branding Success Stories Include:
· A self-declared “cat lover only” telling the KOTAW Girl Gang that because of our stories and photos of Ivy on social media and in our Pit Bulls and Personal Branding blogs, she has now fallen in love with Pit Bulls, when previously she thought of them negatively. She professed this during a podcast she hosted in which KOTAW’s founder and chief storyteller, Katherine Kotaw, was the featured guest. She even named the podcast episode “Pit Bulls, Pie and Storytelling for Business” and used a photo of Ivy in the promo graphic for the podcast.
· Another person we met through social media telling us she was deathly afraid of ALL dogs until reading our stories about Ivy and seeing all of Ivy’s sweet pictures. Because of KOTAW and our “adopt, don’t shop” message, she not only adopted a dog (when just SEEING a dog used to make her cry hysterically) but also regularly fosters dogs. In fact, her 5th foster dog recently became a foster fail (and her second adopted fur baby!) She now also advocates for Pit Bulls through her writing and on social media.
· A neighbor who used to highly discriminate against our sweet pittie-pie Ivy even though she had never met her (her discrimination was based solely on seeing sweet, loving pictures of Ivy kissing and cuddling with her sister Woofie — one of the dogs that inspired the KOTAW name and philosophy) going from hurling hateful, false information about Pit Bulls, to advocating for Pit Bull adoption through her Facebook page. How did this happen? Not quickly. First the KOTAW Girl Gang was told her dog could no longer play with Woofie now that we had Ivy because (insert ignorant, false, hurtful and untrue prejudices about Pit Bulls here). No matter how much we rebuffed her false claims with actual facts, her steadfast discrimination continued. We stayed friends with her on Facebook because we love her dog, and over time she started to fall in love with Ivy’s sweet stories, videos and pictures. Of course then she concluded Ivy was the “exception,” that she’s only sweet and loving because we are. We told her that was not the case and went about our life’s work of posting story after story of sweet and loving Pit Bulls to our social media accounts. Years later — to the KOTAW Girl Gang’s complete surprise, shock and amazement — our Pit Bulls and Personal Branding message of Pit Bull love finally sunk in for this neighbor. Because of Ivy’s natural sweetness and because of the KOTAW Girl Gang’s persistent positive storytelling about Pit Bulls, our neighbor finally let Ivy meet and play with her dog — and they became instant friends. This neighbor now routinely shares Pit Bulls in need of adoption to her Facebook page. She also fosters dogs (because of the KOTAW Girl Gang’s influence) and advocates for pet adoption through social media after falling in love with the stories behind all of the KOTAW Girl Gang’s adopted fur babies (she even rescued a dog herself, when previously she went to breeders).
· Nary a day goes by that the KOTAW Girl Gang doesn’t receive positive Pit Bull related notes. People love tweeting to us to say they were just kissed by a Pit Bull or that because of Ivy, they feel compelled to spread Pit Bull love in their own daily interactions. Our social media friends and followers consistently tag us on Facebook in uplifting and inspiring Pit Bull stories, and even write to us saying they’ve given our names as resources for friends of theirs who are having a hard time dealing with discrimination of their beloved pitties. And yes, we’ve always been more than willing to help!
SPREADING TRUTH AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE, ONE INTERACTION AT A TIME
Take any and every opportunity to spread the Pit Bull love. If the person at the grocery store checkout mentions they’ve been thinking about getting a dog, suggest that they look into adopting a Pit Bull. If the person seems misguided (genuinely misinformed, NOT hateful — do not waste your time arguing with irrational cruelty) when it comes to Pit Bulls (they reply, “but aren’t Pit Bulls vicious?… aren’t they bad with kids?… aren’t shelter Pit Bulls who have been abused dangerous because temperament is determined by ‘how they’re raised?’’) take the opportunity to debunk these myths and speak the truth.
Need some help? KOTAW’s got you covered.
1. Know the Facts
There’s absolutely nothing to fear when it comes to Pit Bull “type” dogs. They’re just like any other dog (except wigglier — and in the KOTAW Girl Gang’s opinion, cuter! )
Zero data exists to support the widespread myth that Pit Bull “type” dogs are more dangerous or aggressive than other dogs. On the contrary, it’s a statistical fact that Pit Bulls are no more likely to bite or attack than any other type of dog. Pit Bull “type” dogs score better in temperament evaluations than almost every other “type” of dog, according to the American Temperament Test Society. Pit Bulls even score higher than golden retrievers, the highly regarded all-American, happy-go-lucky family dog.
Deplorably, bites and other incidents are far more likely to be widely featured in the news if the dog is identified (or in most cases, misidentified) as a pit bull, which is one reason this damaging myth continues to exist.
2. Stop Saying “It’s How They’re Raised”
All Pit Bull “type” dogs are inherently good; their goodness is not conditional on how their owners treat them.
There are countless Pit Bulls who have suffered nothing but cruelty and abuse at the hands of humans, and yet they are the most wonderful dogs.
When given the chance, pit bulls who have been rescued from heinous dog fighting rings, who have been treated horrendously by humans their entire lives, go on to live peaceful, happy, loving existences with their new families. Their spirits are truly incredible and their capacity for love and forgiveness is beyond anything any human could possibly hope to live up to.
Click here to read one of KOTAW’s favorite Pit Bull advocacy articles from The Lazy Pit Bull, advocating for the end of the perhaps well-intentioned (though incredibly misinformed) cliche “Pit Bulls can be really sweet, loving dogs if they’re raised right.”
Spoiler alert, this article contains an incredibly sweet and loving picture of a Pit Bull “raised” under the most heinous, abusive conditions who sweetly lies in bed with his human baby sister and listens to her read him her storybooks every night.
Want an even more visual representation of shelter Pit Bulls who were previously abused and are now the most loving, loyal family dogs? Check out this video by BarkBox. We guarantee your heart will be warmed.
3. Eff “Friendly”
Dogs are individuals and require different things. They have unique stories and sadly, humans have damaged many to such a degree, that they may spend the rest of their lives overcoming the hell they’ve endured.
As a society, we need to reject the mentality that dogs need to be friendly to be good. Some dogs do not like other dogs; some dogs do not like people. That is their right.
These dogs are just as amazing and deserving of love, respect and homes as any dog-loving or human-loving dog is.
Dogs with so-called “poor temperaments” are not bad dogs. They simply require responsible, vigilant, nurturing parents who are dedicated to taking extra steps and precautions to keeping their dogs and their communities safe.
If you adopted a pit bull (or any dog) who has been through some kind of trauma and now doesn’t like males or doesn’t like other dogs or doesn’t like skateboards — that’s completely understandable. You take care of the dog and shield her from what scares her and maybe in time she will outgrow her fear. But if she doesn’t, that’s OK too. As long as you tend to her needs and make sure she and her community are safe, she can be anything she wants to be.
We must reprogram ourselves to think, speak, act and react from a place of compassion when it comes to dogs with behavioral issues. It’s essential to remember that when a dog is being reactive, she is not giving you a hard time, but rather, she is having a hard time.
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Make small talk matter. Daily interactions — morning coffee runs to Starbucks, service repairs at the Apple store, blowouts at the hair salon — offer some of the easiest, most effective ways to spread the Pit Bull love.