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Only fighting ignorance

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Obsidian ("Sid") stands far above your average dog.

"He's bombproof," says owner and All Breed Rescue & Training director Lauren Fox.

The 12-year-old instruction and therapy dog boasts more ribbons and medals than a high school swim team, enough to fill out his own wall of fame at the North End foster facility.

While prejudice and stigma surround his breed, Sid actually helps train other aggressive and unsocialized dogs. While they bark and pull at their leashes in front of him, he sits like a Buddha, offering calming signals (diverted eye contact, a turned back, a yawn).

Fox points to a critical socialization period during the puppy phase to achieve such outstanding behavior. Pit bull owners, she adds, must go "above and beyond" in their behavior training.

From parents who were fighters in south Georgia, Sid has grown to work in nursing homes and schools, and with other dogs. He's also won national recognition in agility competitions and an honorable mention as an Exemplary Companion Dog in the American Kennel Club's national ACE Awards in 2006.

Since the pit bull ban in Denver earlier this year, Colorado Springs' pet organizations have taken on hundreds of exiled pets. More than 1,000 have been euthanized in Denver, in what's come to be called the "pit bull holocaust" or "witch hunt."

"Pit bulls are the No. 1 abused dog in the country," says Fox. "The real problem is with the owners, not with the breed."

Photo and story by Matthew Schniper

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