Years ago, I never would have imagined myself as an owner of four pit bulls. Really, three would have been plenty.
Over the last five years, I've learned a lot from these dogs. Yes, pit bulls may be controversial, but in reality, they're just dogs. People ask what it's like owning them and usually there's an interesting story brewing with one of them.
Lili is the queen bee of the household. She's the only female and she's the boss of the group. She's mostly white with a few large black spots, including a black and brindle eye patch over her left eye. She has large seal-like eyes. She craves attention on her terms. If she wants attention, she'll stare longingly with her big brown eyes, mutter a soft hum of a whine, and wait. If I don't respond, she'll rest a paw on my leg to remind me she's still there.
Next, there's Rufus. My sweet Roo. He's the only non-black and white dog of the group. He's a handsome fawn color, he looks like he's wearing eyeliner with the black outlines around his eyes, and he's the calming force of the group. He's everyone's best friend. His tail rarely stops wagging, his charm is constant, and his gentle, sweet demeanor wins the hearts of nearly everyone he meets.
Kane is my resident moose. He's mostly black with a white chest, he has white feet, and soft brown eyes. Kane is the largest of the group. Weighing it at a hefty 77 pounds, this gentle giant was my first attempt at fostering a dog. He had been scheduled to be euthanized in less than than 24 hours if someone didn't step up to save his life. That someone was me. Five months after I began fostering him, I adopted him. It's a compliment if Kane spins around and shoves his backside into you. He's telling you he'd like you to scratch his rump.
Finally, there's Simon. He's a pit bull-boxer mix that had been adopted, but later returned by his first adopters to the rescue group that saved his life. He's all white, but he has a pair of large black eyebrows that makes him look unlike any other dog. He didn't know any English commands when I took him in. Simon is a unique character that is alert to anything and everything going on inside or outside of the house. Simon was my second attempt at fostering a dog. After just over a month of fostering Simon, I adopted him.
Pit bulls have traits that many people recognize. They have short hair, large heads, many have perked ears, muscular bodies, and long, whip-like tails. Eye color in pit bulls can range from blue or green to gray or brown. They can be quick and agile, or they can be aloof and more of a couch potato. They can bark a lot, like Simon, or they can bark once or twice a year, like Lili.
If you own a pit bull, or four, you'll soon realize how loyal these dogs are. They'll be at your side as soon as you come home. They're the guardian of the car windows and watch all cars passing by with awe and excitement when they get to go for a R-I-D-E. You'll also learn you have to spell a select number of words, because they do know exactly what certain words or phrases mean.
They'll make sure your spot on bed is nice and warm. Kane will settle into a pile of pillows at the head of the bed in a compact little ball. Once I try to move him, he becomes more of a concrete block. I'll push, and his sleepy weight will just roll back to where he was comfortably resting. I'll shove his sleepy body over a few inches, and I'll hear a sigh or a grunt from him. He's not moving willingly. He'll make me work to earn that spot in my own mattress.
Their sense of hearing can disappear at times, but just know that they'll be at your side instantly if you open a plastic bag or open the fridge door. Rufus knows exactly what sound the fridge door makes when it opens. His attentive eyes refuse to blink, he focuses on what I'm holding, and that drooling, glazed over face will hypnotize me into sharing food with him.
Pit bulls are intelligent. They want to please their owners. Yes, they can have selective hearing, but they learn quickly. And so will you. Counter surfing, or browsing for goods that just might be in their reach, is a highly-skilled practice that you likely won't see, but pit bulls can be experts at remembering what you forgot was in his reach. You'll remember to put banana bread away when you realize a half of a loaf disappeared without a trace when you left the room for ten seconds.
Despite what you may have thought, 77-pound pit bulls, like Kane, make great lap dogs. You should make sure you don't need to get up for a while once you sit down on the couch. Once your lap dog is comfortably curled into a ball in your lap, you're staying right there until he's ready to move.
Trying to stretch while sitting on the floor may be impossible because this looks unnatural to pit bulls, so they're convinced there has to be something wrong with you, they need to make sure you're ok, therefore they'll smother you with kisses until you have no choice but to provide your uninterrupted attention to them.
You just might have a comedian living with you once you own a pit bull. Their antics will have you in tears. Once they've learned a few tricks, such as lie down, sit, stay, roll over, high-five, they'll unleash every trick they know to get your attention if you happen to have a piece of food in your hand. They'll even combine a couple of those tricks and high-five will turn into a high-five-knee-slap, and an instant flailing of their body onto the floor with the fastest flop you can imagine to roll that body over and then go back to sitting, waiting impatiently for that treasure you hold in your hand.
And then there's the magical skill of singing. The monthly tornado siren test may just be the most entertaining three minutes of your Wednesday afternoon. Simon may be a Sinatra in the making with his high-pitched yodel that hums along with the tornado siren. If you can maintain your composure long enough to not laugh, you'll be entertained month after month.
Owning a pit bull may be habit-forming. You just might own two, or maybe three, or if you're really lucky, you just might own four. Good things come in multiples sometimes.
You'll realize you're not alone in your adventures of owning pit bulls. You'll meet other people who have looked beyond a hyped-up negative stereotype and have unearthed the true characteristics of a loving, loyal, charming and intelligent dog.
What you may not know about owning a pit bull is just how much you'll grow to love these blocky-headed dogs. Your heart will overflow with feelings you didn't know you were able to share, and that sentiment will be returned immensely by them. You'll discover a lot of love behind those soulful pit bull eyes.
For the second year, The Huffington Post is holding a week-long, community-driven effort to bust the myths and raise awareness about pit bulls, a maligned "breed" that often bears the brunt of dated, discriminatory legislation that can make it near impossible for these dogs to find a forever home. You can follow along with HuffPost Pit Bull Week here, or on social media where we'll be using the hashtag #PitBullWeek.