I then skipped ahead 22 years, and once again showed the pictures of how the dogs were portrayed in these very same magazines.
On Sunday, the cover to the left will show up in 32 million homes delivered in Parade magazine.
Hardly the image of an intimidating dog - in fact could he be more cute?
The accompanying article is "Can you teach a bad dog new tricks?"
The article covers the journy of the dogs from Mike Vick's Bad Newz Kennels and the success, and the struggles of the dogs as they have gone through rehabilitation. Some have had great success -- getting Canine Good Citizen Certifications, becoming therapy dogs, living in homes with other dogs and with children. Some still struggle.
But what they are proving is what most bahaviorists have known all along -- that dogs are individuals.
"Some are better than others, but overall these are happy dogs, says Dr. Frank McMillan, director of well-being studies at Best Friends (which took in the 22 toughest cases). "At the same time, it's hard to make blanket statements. The results are very individual to each dog."
The article also features more information for 19 of the dogs - including some awesome photographs.
My how far we've come.
This is the new image of the American Pit Bull Terrier. While the local media largely remains pretty bad (although there are notable exceptions) in their coverage of dog issues, the narrative in the national media is beginning to change. The dogs are being seen as individuals. They're being seen as dogs that have been failed by humans -- but who are individuals and can be molded and shaped into good, loving dogs.
And this is what they are.
And on Sunday, 32 million homes -- nearly 1/3 of all US Households -- will see these images -- and will see the 'pit bull' as just a dog. One that is an underdog. One that is worthy of rooting for.
I am a firm believer that the narrative is changing. Nationally at first, but I do think other media will follow. I think they will begin to listen to the experts out there - -who all, almost unanimously, think dogs are individuals and should be treated as such. People realize that broadly generalized laws that target types of dogs instead of based on individual dog behavior do not work. And the breed identification issues and legal challenges of such laws make them impossible to enforce.
We're making progress. And this is a great article that will help in changing the narrative.
Speaking of narratives -- also publicized in the article is a new book: The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption. The author of the book is Jim Gorant -- who was the writer of the article that ran in Sports Illustrated 18 months ago. I'm excited for the book, and excited for the changing image portrayed by the media of the American Pit Bull Terrier, because America needs to see these dogs the way the way we see them.