* iStock photo. The eyes have it: Pit bulls have a reputation for being a dangerous breed but a lot has to do with the way their owners raise them.
* iStock photo. The eyes have it: Pit bulls have a reputation for being a dangerous breed but a lot has to do with the way their owners raise them.
Welcome to the eleventh in a new series of Animal Tales from the Bermuda S.P.C.A., which have kindly been sponsored by our good friends at Noah's Ark.

PIT BULL TO THE RESCUE

Despite the frightening stories that come to light from time to time about so-called dangerous breeds (of dog) that have attacked and even killed people, especially children, it has repeatedly been said that the owners (and the way that they raise their animals) are primarily to blame for their dog's reputations, and not the individual dogs themselves.

The following story is a case in point.

A Florida woman was leaving a playground with her young son, when a man who was wielding a knife approached her. He told her not to make any noise or sudden movements.

At that point a wandering pit bull mix emerged and it instinctively charged at the man, growling and baring its teeth, though it didn't actually make contact.

The would-be offender quickly fled the scene. Afterwards the woman stated that she had never seen this particular dog before, which she described as her guardian angel.

Following the frightening confrontation, the woman quickly placed her son inside her car and she tried to drive off.

But the pit bull was quicker and it jumped onto the back seat, and that's where it remained until the Police and Animal Control Officers arrived on the scene.

From the condition and temperament of the dog, the officers concluded that it was lost and not a stray, and they took it to a nearby animal shelter.

If the pit bull's owners don't come forward within a specific number of days, then the woman and her son will adopt the dog; they plan to name him Angel.

INSPIRATIONAL FAITH

Perhaps the most heart-warming animal story to emerge during the past year involved Faith, a mid-sized, crossbreed dog, born without forelegs.

Faith was actually born just before Christmas 2002, and like several of her siblings, she suffered from limb deformities. Even her own mother gave up on the pitiful, helpless pup, and it seemed just a matter of time before she succumbed to her adversities.

Her life changed completely, however, after she was first rescued, and then adopted at just seven weeks old.

Veterinarians recommended euthanasia, but her new family believed that they could give Faith a meaningful life. With much love and lots of patience (and the aid of their other dog), they taught Faith to walk on her hind legs - just like a human being.

Then they started taking Faith to schools to inspire students with disabilities, and the results were really impressive.

These children, who had previously been reclusive and depressed, were inspired to overcome their adversities and to lead a life as close to normal as was possible.

But the story didn't stop there. Faith's owners are now taking her to visit military hospitals in the States and overseas, where she is inspiring severely injured war veterans to take a leaf out of her own book. Her message is to be thankful for every day, and to live life to the fullest.

ANIMAL MANNERS

People are frequently amazed at the intelligence and ability of wild animals to imitate human behaviour, especially when the end product is food!

A recent example involved a family living in a wooded area of Croatia. They heard a soft knock on their door, and when they opened it, they couldn't believe their eyes. Before them stood a 35-stone brown bear.

While members of the family fled in every direction, the bear simply sauntered inside 'as if it was the most normal thing in the world', and proceeded to raid their kitchen.

The bear has apparently come knocking on their door on three separate occasions, and perhaps not surprisingly, they now refuse to open it anymore.

Experts believe that the bear was actually nudging the door, which the family mistook for a knock.

Since they responded to the bear's initial knock/nudge by opening their door (to the bear's evident delight), it has been trying the same manoeuvre again - but without success!

As the owner of the property remarked, bears are common in the woods in Croatia, but nobody has ever previously encountered such a polite one, which actually knocks on your door when it's looking for food!