Artist Writes Children’s Book About Pit Bulls
Tell that to Wilmington artist Cammeron Batanides.
Or better yet, tell that to Batanides’ dog, Panda, a 3½-year-old, back-and-white pit bull with a perpetually wagging tail who threatens to lick any passersby soggy.
A 2000 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control identified Rottweilers and pit bulls as the breeds most often involved in fatal dog attacks. Batanides, however, says pit bulls aren’t the problem – their owners are.
“Bad people target them,” she said. “They’re very owner-loyal, and they want to please their masters.”
Batanides feels so strongly about the breed, she wrote, illustrated and self-published a children’s book to introduce and defend her friend. In recent weeks, she’s been reading “Meet Panda” to audiences at the Cameron Art Museum, the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, the Brigade Boys and Girls Club and other locations.
Although names have been changed, the book roughly parallels the true life story of how Panda entered Batanides’ life. Panda was literally a gift from the artist’s cousin.
“They knew I was looking for a dog, and they knew I liked pit bulls,” Batanides said. She had formed a close bond with an ex-roommate’s pit bull, Max, and she missed Max a lot.
When the cousin and her friend came for a visit in December 2008, Batanides didn’t even notice at first that they’d brought a puppy with them. The pink-skinned ball of fur was so tiny, it could fit in her two cupped hands.
Coming from an abusive background, underweight with some crooked bones, the female pup might not have seemed very impressive. For Batanides, it was love at first sight.
Nearly four years later, Panda is an energetic and curious 40-pound dog, still with a puppyish disposition, chasing a red lacrosse ball. Batanides, who sometimes calls her “Panda-monium,” had to learn tough love, calling out a stern “down!” or “no ma’am!” when the dog occasionally misbehaves.
Which, according to her owner, isn’t that often.
“She’s a really agreeable, friendly dog,” Batanides said. “She’ll sleep in hotel rooms. When I went to Greensboro for an art show, she slept in the tent with me. She loves to go on road trips – she’s great in the car.”