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10 Friendly Facts About American Pit Bull Terriers

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The American pit bull terrier may have a bad reputation, but under all that muscle is a heart of gold. Learn more about what makes this misunderstood dog so lovable.

1. They come from violent beginnings. 

Pit bulls were bred for a brutal lifestyle in Great Britain. The bulldog was crossed with either the white English terrier or the black-and-tan terrier to create powerfully-built dogs for fighting. Blood sports such as bull and bear baiting were popular in England as early as the 1200s. Dogs would enter pits and fight the giant animals for entertainment (hence the name). When baiting became illegal in England in the 1800s, pit bulls were turned on each other and illegal dog fighting became prevalent. 

2. As a result, they have a bad rap.

These dogs were bred to be strong and fearsome, and as a result, have a reputation for being dangerous. The type of dog is banned from Denver, parts of Florida, and even whole countries like Great Britain and New Zealand

Fortunately, the tide is changing for the misunderstood breed, and many cities are reconsidering their ban

3. American pit bull terriers fall under the "pit bull" umbrella. 

Pit bull is a type of dog, but the American pit bull terrier is a breed. Other breeds that fall under the term pit bull include the American Staffordshire terrier, the American bulldog, and the Staffordshire bull terrier. All of these breeds derive from the dogs originally bred to fight in the pits in England.

4. The American pit bull terrier is not an accepted breed by the AKC. 

American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Kennel Club does not recognize the American pit bull terrier, but it does acknowledge an extremely similar breed called the Staffordshire terrier. This name distinction was created in an effort to separate the breed from its negative past. 

5. The breed has been through a number of name changes. 

The AKC wasn't the only group to attempt a rebranding. In the '90s, San Francisco tried to change the dogs' name to St. Francis terriers.

In 2004, the New York City Animal Care and Control tried to rename the dogs “New Yorkies.” According to director Ed Boks, "New Yorkers, like pit bulls, are sometimes perceived as a standoffish and mean breed—but are actually some of the most generous and open-hearted people I've ever met." Sadly, the plan was a flop. 

6. They were once the American family dog. 

American pit bull terriers may need some PR help nowadays, but there was a time when the breed was America’s favorite. Petey, the canine companion of the Little Rascals, was a pit, as well as Nipper, the RCA dog, and Tige, the Buster Brown shoe mascot

7. Snoop Dogg loves them. 

The famous rapper loves the breed so much, he once had a kennel of 20 pit bulls while living in Claremont, California. 

8. One photographer aimed to put them in a better light—with flowers. 

To showcase the softer side of pit bulls, photographer Sophie Gamand photographed a number of dogs with soft pastel colors and floral crowns. The combination of doe-eyed dogs and beautiful flowers make the pups impossible to resist.   

9. They make good bandmates. 

Caninus (pronounced kay-nine-us) was a pit bull-fronted grindcore band. The two lead singers, female pit bulls Budgie and Basil, would “sing” by barking. The group even made a split EP with a band called Hatebeak, which featured an African Parrot vocalist. 

9. The army used the pit bull as a mascot. 

World War I propaganda posters would adopt the images of dogs to symbolize different countries. Germany was represented by the dachshund, England by the bulldog, and the United States by the pit bull. Respected for their loyalty, determination and bravery, they were considered the ideal candidate

10. They’re very loving. 

When properly socialized and trained, pits can be some of the friendliest dogs you’ll meet. While you should never say hello to a dog you don’t know without first asking its owner, pit bulls are naturally warm and kind-hearted canines.

Keep in mind that every generation has a dog that it has decided is dangerous. In the 1800s, it was the bloodhound. Often dogs with bad reputations are guilty of the most dog attacks because they are bought, and trained, for the purpose of being aggressive—not because they're inherently so. Any poorly-trained dog can be violent; shower yours with love and attention, however, and you'll be rewarded with a cuddly, loyal companion.

Interested in adopting? The Merit Pit Bull Foundation is a good place to start. 

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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