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Friday, January 06, 2006

Pit Bull Brainstorming: A Writing and Research Activity


Brainstorming is an invention strategy for composition that can take many forms. While some find it useful to use diagrams, outlines, decision trees, and clusters, those tactics tend to focus on the "what" instead of the "how" and the "why." In order to approach deeper issues, and to trigger chains of thoughts, a very powerful technique is to develop series of questions. The brainstorming revolves around questions that trigger questions. It is a chain of questions, or, one could say a "great concatenation of questions."

This approach is extremely useful for causal essays, as well as basic argumentation. One topic that certainly helps illustrate the technique is that of the pit bull, which can encompass a number of breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier. It seems that attacks by pit bulls just keep increasing.

Cities such as Denver are banning them. Neighboring towns are fearful that they will become "pit bull dumping grounds" (which leads to all kinds of rather bizarre mental images, back yards packed shoulder-to-shoulder with pit bulls). Why is the pit bull phenomenon happening? What are we doing about it? Are some dog breeds being labeled "bad breeds"?

Audio: I listened to an interesting report on National Public Radio entitled, "Targeting Aggressive Dog Breeds in California." I accessed it through the National Public Radio website located here:

I was able to listen to the show using Real Player, which I had downloaded for free from the Internet. Alternatively, I could have listened to it using Windows Media Player.

Questions immediately came to mind. I thought about the general questions, and I found my questions were helping me narrow my topic.

The perplexing questions first:
Why do pit pulls attack people, and how can such a tiny dog be so dangerous?
Who says they're bad? Why are they saying it?
What do some people want to do? Where? Why?

History and background thoughts:
Why are pit bulls aggressive? Were they bred that way?
What is a pit bull, and what makes it so dangerous?
Who uses the ultra-aggressive pit bulls?
Who might need such an aggressive dog?

The other side of the coin:
What is good about a pit bull?
Why do some people say the breed is very loving?
Can pit bulls be friendly, happy dogs?

Let's get personal:

What do you think about the idea that people create hyper-aggressive dogs as a fashion statement, or to be "cool"?

What would I do if I had a pit bull?
Training, conditioning, behavior modification
Are there any business opportunities here?
Dog chow for ultra aggressive dogs (make them more aggressive) -- is there an ethical issue here?
Pacifying dog chow (calm down and tranquilize the dogs)
"Pit Bull Friendly" town (a business opportunity for small communities near Denver and other urban areas where the breed is banned)

Useful Websites for Information

Woman dies in Pontotoc County after being mauled by local dogs (not pit bulls)

Towns Gird Against Influx of Pit Bulls. Denver Post, January 5, 2006

Pit Bull Primer: There are two sides to the pit bull banning debate
San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, 2005

Pit Bull Attack Places Breed Ban in the Spotlight
Suburban Chicago News, November 20, 2005

Pit Bull Apologists, Wake Up. San Francisco Chronicle, July 6, 2004.

Elmhurst Woman Mauled by Pit Bull, New York Daily News, November 23, 2005.

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