An Open Letter to the Rich Woman at Biltmore Fashion Park Who Sneered at Me While I Was Walking My Pit Bull, Athena

First, let me apologize. Initially, as I passed you and your fancy friends, I tried to smile disarmingly. That didn't seem to work, as you just kept scowling at me. Looking back, pointing at Athena and snottily saying "Do you have a problem with this?" was wrong. I should have stopped to talk and explain my situation. I should have been friendly. Instead, I probably confirmed your disdain. I hope to do better in the future. Or at least be more witty.

I'm not sure what exactly caused your disdain, but I assume it had something to do with me walking a pit bull which was carrying water bottles in a doggie backpack. I was wearing a plain green t-shirt and reasonably nice jeans, so I can't imagine my clothing offended you. My hair was uncombed, but this is the fashion nowadays.

So, I've narrowed it down to my dog, and I assume you were offended by one of these things:
1. Athena is a pit bull.
a. You don't like pit bulls.
b. You don't think Athena is pretty.
2. Athena was wearing a backpack.
a. You don't think dogs should wear backpacks.
b. You believe I'm training Athena for a dog fight.
I assure you, immediately, 2b is not true. Dog fighting is deporable. Also, as the photos above and below attest, Athena is exceedingly pretty. She gets comments all the time (from nice people).

But allow me to address your other concerns.

As a pit bull owner, I am painfully aware of the negative connotations inherent. I, myself, had those concerns before Athena became my wife's (then girlfriend) pet five years ago.

Unlike pit bull supporters blind to the negative aspects of the breed, I understand the news reports of pit bull attacks are not solely the fault of media fear-mongering (though there were only 23 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States last year). The fact remains, pit bulls have attacked, maimed and killed people.

It's not all bad: pit bulls are recognized as loyal, intelligent, and excellent with children. Pit bull attacks are, in nearly every circumstance, the fault of the owner. Pit bulls are strong and powerful. They are also working dogs, bred for tireless activity. Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, estimates working-class breeds should be walked four hours per day to properly drain their energy. As such, owning a pit bull is a massive responsibility.

I am not the best dog owner, that's for sure. According to Cesar, exercising your dog is 50% of dog ownership (25% discipline and 25% affection). There are days I'm unforgivably lazy, and don't walk Athena at all. There's absolutely no way I'm going to walk her for four hours. If I'd been aware of how high-energy pits are, I would've picked a less active dog. Instead, it's up to me to step up.

Which is why I bought Athena a doggie backpack. Cesar recommends this for folks without four hours to kill walking. A backpack weighing 25% of your dog's body weight can cut a four hour walk down to one. Besides that, dogs are made to serve a purpose. Like humans, they derive satisfaction from accomplishing tasks. That's why herding dogs herd, and retrievers fetch. For a working dog like Athena, tasks are essential. This is why you might see pit bulls dragging weighted tires around. It might look scary, but those dogs are more fulfilled, more calm, and far less likely to behave erratically. By carrying the backpack, Athena feels she is working, and she walks beside me calmly.

So, what I'm saying, Rich Woman at Biltmore Fashion Park, is walking Athena with a backpack was the best thing I could possibly be doing as a dog owner at that time. I should not be subjected to haughty stares or ignorant whispering among you and your swanky fellow divorcees. There are plenty of debatable aspects to dog ownership...walking my dog with a backpack is not one of them.

Jordan Green and Athena


  1. Dude, I completely feel your pain. I get this same reaction every time I take my shark to the water park. (Just kidding.) But seriously, Athena looks like a fun pup.

  2. Isn't the fact that you hang out at some place called the "Biltmore Fashion Park" a bigger problem than the Pit Bull? I'm just sayin' . . .

  3. Can you post a picture of Athena wearing the backpack?

  4. @steve:

    I just walk through there.

    But they do have an Apple store and a place for purses you could just die for.


    I'll see if i can take one...i don't really have one available.

  5. Biltmore's a great place. I can never decide if I want to laugh, or cry. At least it's always entertaining!

  6. Jordan has conveniently left out the fact that he dresses Athena in an Atlanta Falcon #7 jersey to help her fit in at Biltmore.

  7. Great letter about Athena's backpack and rich woman's haughty stares. Visit http://www.outdoordogstore.com/ and submit Athena's photo to our new gallery. She will be welcomed there.

  8. Totally feel your pain. I'm the owner of a beautiful, sweet Rottweiler. (Also working breed) We get the looks, snide remarks, and people moving to the other side of the sidewalk all the time. I'm not very accomodating either. I say things like, "Heel, Fang! (her name is Sally) "Don't eat the nice lady." I guess I should try to do better too!
    Ps. Where do you get a backpack?! I TOTALLY need one of those!

  9. @jenksym:

    Well, there's the website posted one comment above yours. I'm sure you can find them online. I bought mine at an independent store in Portland, which would likely have all sorts of camping/backpacking gear.

    Also, REI.