About a year and a half ago John and I purchased a vintage canned ham camper. I grew up camping and have always loved spending time off the grid, but John, a native New Yorker, prefers vacations spent in hotel rooms. As it turns out, a camper was the perfect compromise for us. I get my fill of hiking trails and campfires, while he doesn’t have to sleep on the ground. Win/Win
Shortly after our first excursion, John and I started talking about hitting the road for good when our retirement rolls around. An introverted life, roaming wherever our desires take us, on our own schedule, sounds perfect for both of us.
There’s just one hitch in our plan… (See what I did there?)
Because of my terrible blogging habits, you may not have been introduced to Bronx yet. After Jack’s heart failed earlier this year, it didn’t take us long to realize that our family wasn’t complete without a big block-head dog in it.
She has big, derpy ears, and wears a heart on her shoulder. She has a scary bark if you don’t know her, but also an enthusiastic jump for joy, that lifts her three feet off the ground, when she sees someone she loves. She tenderly cares for my daughter’s hamster when it’s out of the cage, and has no idea why the kitty won’t be her friend. She’s a sixty pound lapdog who knows she is loved, and returns that love one hundred-fold.
In short, she is the second most amazing dog you’ll ever meet. The first most amazing was her predecessor.
Now back to our dilemma…
Bronx is technically a mixed breed dog. Some people would label her a Pit Bull Mix, which I wouldn’t disagree with, but that’s also kind of unfair. Without DNA testing, we have no idea what her lineage is. Sure, she could have some APBT in her, but she also looks remarkably similar to a Dalmatian/Boxer mix. She has no papers or pedigree, she’s just a block head.
I look Irish, but I’m not. It’s human nature that we want to label things, and put them neatly in boxes, but sometimes things just aren’t what they look like.
Now all over the US there are places that have BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) or BDL (Breed Discriminatory Legislation). Some states, cities, towns, parks, and campgrounds won’t allow me to travel through or stop there just because of how my dog looks. This isn’t just unfair to my dog, who may or may not be what she looks like, but all of the pure bred restricted breeds who are good dogs in spite of what their appearance implies. Like Jack. He was a papered APBT, and he was a good boy, going his whole life without snapping and biting someone’s face off. There’s no such thing as a bad breed, just bad owners and a select few bad dogs.
So lets think about this. If I were restricted from being in a place because I look Irish, would that be fair? Even if I were Irish, we wouldn’t stand for that type of discrimination. It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you act. My dog deserves to be put on even footing with every other domesticated canine living in the US today. She’s not a wild animal waiting to pounce. She’s just a dog.
And sometimes she’s a coffee table.
John and I have to be careful when planning trips. We make sure we research where we’re going and what dog laws are in place. We avoid places where we’re not welcome, and we’ve already had to cancel plans to attend rallies for a vintage trailer group we belong to called Tin Can Tourists, because they’re held at campgrounds that have breed restrictions in place. Frankly it stinks. We’re being excluded because of something that only a tiny percentage of the population of dogs and dog owners are responsible for. And by tiny, I mean about .001%. Think about that…
So today, as I was reading a blog written by a full time RV’er, looking at the photos of her and her dogs hiking together, and dreaming about the day when that will be me; it occurred to me that it may not ever be me.
My life will never be complete again without a block head by my side. So until our society learns that a dog is just a dog, and a person with red hair isn’t always Irish, my retirement dreams aren’t realistic. My hope for the future is that they will be, before it’s too late for Bronx and all the good dogs like her. Before it’s too late for me.