When a South-east European father welcomed his baby son to the world in 2014, he wanted to make sure there would be no issues with another beloved member of the family. With this in mind, the new dad had trained the four-legged family member – a pit bull called Diesel – to do something remarkable. And, after the owner had captured the unbelievable moment between newborn and pet on camera and subsequently uploaded it to the internet, the video quickly went viral and people got emotional.
Pit bulls are generally considered to be dangerously vicious. Historically, the breed has been bred for fighting other dogs and therefore they can be trained to be overwhelmingly aggressive. Dog fighting is thankfully largely a thing of the past, but nevertheless the bad rep remains. As a result, the media is full of reports of a great many pit bull attacks and these canines are now restricted in several U.S. states. Indeed, the breed is banned outright in various countries, including Australia and the U.K. where they are known in the tabloid press, along with Dobermans and Rottweilers, as “Devil Dogs.”
But these pedigree animals were not always seen in this hostile light. In fact, pit bulls were once known as the perfect “nanny breed,” that could be relied on to look after and protect children. And it is dogs like Diesel who are working hard towards getting rid of the pooches’ collectively poor reputation.
Diesel is a brown, male American pit bull terrier who was born in May, 2010. According to his Facebook page, he is 20 inches tall, weighs 60 pounds and lives in Tirana, the capital city of the South-eastern European state of Albania. Diesel has been with his owner since the pup was small, but when he got to four years old, the family grew by a total of one.
Indeed, in late 2014, Diesel’s master had a son named Ridley. As many pet owners know, introducing a dog to a baby can be difficult. The animal may get jealous and it is recommended that they are specially trained in anticipation months before a newborn’s arrival to prevent any potential problems.
And it is abundantly clear from the uploaded footage that Diesel’s dad did a great job of training the canine to be gentle around the baby. In fact, the owner even taught the doggo a new trick. In December, 2014, a short film was shared to the video sharing website YouTube that showed a chilled Diesel being asked to locate the newborn Ridley. And the reaction from the pit bull left people stunned.
The short video begins with the lens trained on Diesel, who is pictured lying peacefully in his bed underneath a TV in a cosy and compact apartment. The camera then pans around to reveal tiny baby Ridley asleep on the sofa. The dog’s owner then snaps his fingers…
It turns out that this is a signal the man has developed to alert Diesel. We witness the disciplined dog dutifully oblige and walk over to his master’s feet, where he sits calmly and awaits further instructions. “Diesel, find Ridley,” the unseen owner says. “Go find him. Where is Ridley?”
Immediately, we see the canine slowly and calmly stroll to where the newborn is dozing away. The powerful pooch goes right up to Ridley’s face but we can observe no sign of menace in the dog’s demeanor. “Bravo, come back Diesel,” his owner says, snapping his fingers once again.
An obedient Diesel trots back to his master where he is praised for being so well-trained and behaved. Indeed, the doggo appears to be pleased with himself and gives his tail a little wag of celebration. The pooch is then instructed to find the baby again. This time, the camera zooms in to adorably show Diesel and Ridley’s noses actually touching.
We then hear the man ordering his four-legged friend, “Stop. Come back.” The pit bull takes some paces away and sits down nearby, looking up at his owner. “Bravo Diesel,” the dad tells the happy pup one more time before the 34-second video clip comes to an end.
When the segment was subsequently shared on YouTube, it was not long before it went super viral. Since December 2014, Diesel’s good-boy baby behavior has almost been viewed an astonishing 2.5 million times. And commenters on the clip had a lot to say about the post – both good and bad.
For while the response to the clip was mostly positive, it certainly sparked a heated debate online. Many internet users believed the footage proved that pit bulls are not dangerous unless they are trained to be. But others thought that it was foolhardy for Diesel’s owner to allow his dog to get so close to the newborn.
One skeptical YouTube viewer wrote, “It’s cute until that dog makes a meal out of your baby.” Another naysayer added, “I know you’re trying to prove a point, and yes, it’s the dog and its upbringing and not the breed that’s at fault. But to use a baby to prove this point is like setting fire to your head to prove that your fireproof hat works!”
Meanwhile, over on Facebook, an aghast contributor exclaimed, “OMG! I can’t believe these people let that vicious dog go near [their] baby! That child should be taken away from them, that’s child abuse!” Moreover, another viewer weighed in, “People get so defensive of dogs and act like they are human. They are animals with sharp teeth and claws and it is irresponsible parenting to let any dog near a baby without very, very close supervision.”
Nonetheless, several other commenters disagreed and maintained that the evident bond between Diesel and Ridley in the clip was truly precious. “That baby will always have a protector in that dog. He is a good dog,” one wrote on Facebook. Another advocate added, “That’s awesome, pit bulls are sweet, loving dogs unless they are raised by the wrong people.”
And some went on to argue that the video demonstrated that pit bulls deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. “Look at that wiggly butt! Only thing dangerous about him is his tail,” one YouTube user declared. Another agreed, “Makes perfect sense, as they were known as the ‘nanny breed’ for a long time. Shame they have such a bad stigma, as they are a wonderful breed.”
And Diesel has done his bit in the furtherance of said breed. Indeed, in the years since the footage was released, the pit bull has fathered several litters of puppies. All of this has been detailed on Diesel’s very own Facebook profile, which has attracted almost 20,000 likes. There, his proud owner shares plenty of photos and videos of the doggo dad’s antics. These include footage and stills of the canine in question flying through the air while jumping into some water for a swim and helping out with a workout routine.
Two other videos on the dedicated community page demonstrate Diesel’s fascination with bubbles, and one shows him playing soccer with a group of kids when he was just five months old. The visual evidence is that this animal has always liked children. And it is clear that as Ridley has grown up, boy and dog have only become closer.
Indeed, Ridley appears to adore the pup in return and is seen petting Diesel and giggling in their photos together. One snapshot even shows the little boy helping to celebrate his “big brother” Diesel’s birthday. Although the dog owner’s actions divided the internet when his baby was a newborn, the special bond between Ridley and Diesel seems undeniable.