In my last blog post I mentioned that I worked at a pet expo last weekend. I love pet expos. There are tons of rescues, vendors, and other animal-related stuff all in one location, giving me the opportunity to buy dog-related products that I don't really need. One benefit of being an exhibitor at these events is that we can scope out the booths before the expo opens, which is exactly what I did on Saturday. And that's when I had the opportunity to meet a handsome fellow named Hector.
Hector is one of the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick's property a few years ago. Hector was adopted through Bad Rap. Many of the "Vicktory" dogs were evaluated, rehabilitated, and then placed through that organization. Some of the pit bulls, although people-friendly and well-behaved in general, were so conditioned to fight that they could could not be placed in adoptive homes. However, they are living out their lives at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. Not a bad deal considering some of the alternatives.
Hector is a certified therapy dog and came to the expo to tell his story. He serves as a reminder that his life is worth more than his original fate, that he and his brethren have value. He challenges myths about the breed. His stellar temperament and obedient behavior serve to make my own dogs look like colossal, ill-behaved slackers.
When it comes to Michael Vick, a lot of people - particularly many sports enthusiasts - seem to share the sentiment that "the man did his time - leave him be." They don't understand why the crazy dog people can't let it go. Well, here's why. We can't "let it go" because Michael Vick never truly admitted that he did very bad things. In press interviews he made vague comments along the lines of "I allowed this to happen, I allowed that to happen." Now, I am all for redemption and rehabilitation, but you can't be redeemed or rehabilitated if you remove yourself from the equation. Like Dr. Phil says, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge." There is ample evidence that Michael Vick knew about everything that went on at Bad Newz Kennel and that he actively participated in the horrifying abuse himself. Dogs that did not perform well in the fighting ring were summarily killed in all sorts of brutal ways. Vick may have agreed to say, "Yeah, I did it" in some sort of legal sense as part of the original plea agreement, but I don't think he ever came clean in a real way that the public could see and BELIEVE.
Maybe people who are rich and famous live in such an insular or sheltered world that they forget what normal is. Look at Michael Jackson. The dude was beyond talented but totally wackadoo. If there is no one in their immediate circle to say, "You know, I'm not so sure you should . . . " then they are free to make bad decisions out the wazoo. So, you take a gifted athlete with no moral conscience and give him a bunch of money and voila! It somehow seems to him like a good idea to start a dog fighting operation. They are, after all, just dogs. They won't mind if you electrocute them for not doing their job well enough. But, as it turns out, someone did mind. The law, for starters. And, of course, animal lovers everywhere. I wonder what Vick thinks now about the dogs that were removed from his property and went on to become therapy dogs, live in loving homes with families and, most of all, prove that they have value in the world. Nothing, probably. I imagine that he doesn't think about them at all.
So it was with great joy and excitement that I made the acquaintance of handsome Hector on Saturday. I said hello to his owner (who is not too hard on the eyes either) and knelt down next to the placid brown-eyed dog. "I'm so happy to meet you, Hector! I'm a fan on your Facebook page." Yes, I said that to a dog - don't look at me like I've gone 'round the bend. Hector just stood there sweetly while I gave him some pat-pats and then agreed to let me take his photo. I tell you, the dog is a professional.
Over 10,000 visitors came to the expo on Saturday so I'm guessing that by the time Hector got home, his head was probably flattened from all the petting. But, I'm sure it was worth it. Now there are thousands of additional people who know his story and know that sometimes good things do come out of very bad things. Good boy, Hector. Good boy.