Our puppy Kelvin came home in January 2019 and although we thought we knew what it’d be like to have a puppy – specifically a pitbull – we had so much to learn. As time passed, we learned 3 very important things about owning a pitbull and sooo many things about puppies and dogs in general.
Hi, we’re David and Meivys, a husband and wife photography team based in South Florida. We photograph weddings, portraits, and brands. We share all about life, marriage, and business over at @suarezpartyoftwo. Welcome and we can’t wait to connect with you!
Let’s start with the #1 thing we didn’t really even think about – Sensitive skin + ears
Pitbulls have very sensitive skin especially around their underbelly, ears, mouth and head. I remember the first time Kelvin broke out in allergies, he must have been 3 months or so and it was because of his food. He started to get bumps all over his coat and redness and bumps at the top of his head. At the time we fed him Iams since we’ve seen so many commercials about it – but boy oh boy did we switch to another more expensive food after that. We started him on Blue Buffalo Chicken which was an upgrade and he was doing pretty well for about a year or so, then he started with the allergies again until we finally found Zignature through a friend’s local pet shop Urban Pets which is one of the best (and most expensive! omg!) foods out there because they are grain free and hypo-allergenic. We had no idea that a change in food would yield such great results – his coat got better, he had way less outbreaks and he was happy to get a change in his diet.
We also had a few cases of ear infections and constantly cleaned his ears. When he first came home we had a backyard for him to run in and so he would get filthy in a few minutes, ears included. Even when we moved to the apartment where we did not have a backyard, when he would go to his dog sitter’s house where they have a backyard he would come home with crazy dirty ears – sensitive too! We always were on top of his ears and making sure that they were clean. Our vet warned us about certain bacteria that could develop in their ears and could leave him deaf so we were on top of it! One day we were out of the state shooting a wedding and his babysitters called us and sent over a photo, he had such a severe ear infection that puss was coming out – this was out of nowhere and we were freaking out because we were so far away. Luckily the dog sitters took him to Banfied and the moment we got back we started to treat his ear infection. Since that day, with the help of antibiotics and a strict ear cleaning schedule he has not had any more ear infections.
Both the allergies and ear infection is characterized by redness, bumps, and scratching – when he scratches his body or his ear with his paws we know we need to act fast, we’re always on the lookout. We never imagined that dogs could even have the same illnesses that humans have, but they literally are like babies, especially the bully breed – their skin is like powder super soft and super sensitive and their ears are incredibly delicate and need to be tended to on a daily basis. While we had multiple types of ear cleaners throughout Kelvin’s reactions, the one we use on a regular basis and since he was tiny, is the Bayer Expert Care and for his baths and teeth we used a few different brands like Burt’s Bees, but now we use the Tropiclean line of shampoos, sprays and dental products – they seem to do well with his skin, they smell soooo good and The Fresh Breath is our favorite for his teeth.
Another thing we saw coming, but did not know how intense it was going to be was the stereotypes and judgments both on you and on the dog.
We all know poor pitbulls have had a bad rep since the 1970s TIME Magazine cover showcasing and pitbull with his mouth open and ready to “attack” But we didn’t realize how sever this was. IT is kind of like a hit or miss with people really, it’ black or white – they either love pitbulls or they are deathly afraid of them. We could be walking him and people literally see him and cross the street – especially families with small kids — and we totally get it because Kelvin is pretty big and very strong, but it has been mindblowing!
The history of pitbulls dates back to the 1800s and yes, they were bred for fighting but there’s so much more to them. Just before the Civil War where many British families moved to America, they brought their pitbulls with them and they soon became more than just sport or fighting dogs – their caring, brave, strong and hard working qualities shined through as they now needed to step in as sheepherders, guard dogs for families, and so much more. The pitbull’s loyal and loving ways with their owners and with kids deemed them “The Nanny Dog” Before the 1980’s pitbulls had had a chance to “redeem” themselves and people no longer saw them as fighting dogs, rather as a part of the American family. When dog-fighting became illegal and the Animal Welfare Act of 1976 was signed it attracted criminals to act – they began fighting dogs and breeding them in let’s call it a black market – they were expensive and mistreated, taught anti-social behaviors and used as a way to make money versus becoming a part of the family. Soon enough the media got ahold of these stories and TIME Magazine’s 1987 Cover showed a pitbull terrier with its teeth out and categorizing them as a “friend and killer” Soon after that more and more cases of bad media changed the reputation of these dogs leading to breed-specific legislation, of which still exist today in places near us like Miami, FL. More and more people are coming back from those negative views of the pitbull thanks to many organizations standing up for them, but it’s a slow progress. To view a much more in depth history of the pitbull terrier, visit Love-A-Bull.org
So, our responsibility as pitbull owners is to educate our dogs, give them love and take care of them as any dog should be cared for. They should make part of your family and while they will be stereotyped (as will we as their owners) we need to give people grace because they have only had the media teach them about this beautiful, sweet, and loving breed. We must work hard to show that pit bulls’ bad rep is a thing of upbringing versus nature of the dog.
Kelvin is the sweetest dog and loves to cuddle and enjoys human interaction so very much, but he is constantly judged and given mean looks – heck people have even murmured terrible things under their breath about him and about us as his owners. The most important thing of all as it is with humans – is to raise them in a loving home with rules and tough love.
Last but not least, they need a whole lot of exercise because they are strong!
Our pittie Kelvin is currently 1 year and 10 months old and he weighs about 67lbs more or less, but we tell you something – that is pure muscle! Since he was a baby we take Kelvin on walks three times a day and on a daily run or bike ride. He developed his muscles very early on when we used to run around the block with him. Those times were challenging because he was just learning to walk with a leash and now run on a leash. Let’s just say I think he thought running required a zig zag motion, there were many moments where we’d have to avoid tripping over his leash! We would also play tug of war and had a ball tied around a rope for him to chase – the funniest thing, but also when we learned how smart he was!
If you’re thinking about taking home a pitbull puppy, you must properly train them (because they are strong when they grow up and you’ll need to have a handle on them) have a backyard to allow them to run around and play or you have to make time, at least 30 minutes a day, to work out with him whether its running with him, riding your bike with him, or taking him to run around at the dog park. IF you don’t do this every day, he/she will become very hyper…and a hyper 70 lb animal doing zoomies around your house and jumping over the couch (literally picture the cow jumping over the moon) may not be what you want – trust us. There have been moments in our lives where we haven’t had the time to take him on a run every day or given him a place to be free and run on his own and we’ve noticed that it affects him so when we know we have a long day of work we take him to his dog sitter where he has their full attention and plenty to do and run.
Well, there you have it guys, the 3 things you need to know before you get a pitbull puppy.
We learned the hard way, and that is totally fine, but while we did our research, little came up about raising a pittie. We feel like we made the best decision in the world of bringing Kelvin home and he is the most loyal and loving dog we’ve ever met. We are so grateful to have such an incredible relationship with him and we are huge advocates of pitbulls.
If you’re interested in pitbulls we urge you to do your research and learn as much as you can about them before you bring them home. There are so many beautiful pitbulls that need rescuing and we strongly suggest that you go to your city’s humane society and open your hearts to this breed that can be so sweet and so loving.
Want to know Kelvin’s story? Click here to read where we got him, how we raised him, and so much more!
xoxo, David + Meivys