Nikki just celebrated her 2-year anniversary of being adopted into the McLoughlin family of Monroe. My editor might say this is not news, since the dog was adopted so long ago, but anytime I can help the public’s perception of the “breed” pit bull, I’m going to take it.

According to the American Kennel Club, there’s no such breed as a pit bull. Pit bull is a generic term to describe a group of dogs with similar characteristics and encompasses both mixes and purebred dogs. It is applied to the American Staffordshire terrier, Dogo Argentino and Staffordshire bull terrier. Even a boxer can be called a pit.

So, if your dog has almond-shaped eyes, a heavy and muscular neck, a broad chest and a short coat, it could be called a pit bull. This “breed” suffers from a horrible reputation because of irresponsible owners.

Nikki was at the Warwick Valley Humane Society for three years. Her crime? She wasn’t trained. She and her brother were impounded four times in their first three years for escaping their owner and running amok. The judge ordered them surrendered to the shelter in 2013.

Brother Buster was adopted after a year. Nikki needed a home with a fenced-in yard without other pets or small kids who could accidentally let her out. Not easy to find.

“She became a shelter favorite despite her impish, looking for trouble, personality,” said WVHS President Suzyn Barron. “Nikki loved to be hugged and enjoyed playing dress-up.”

The years passed, and Nikki thrived on the staff's love and attention.

The McLoughlin family was ready for a new dog. Mom Kathy expected to get another small breed when they went to the shelter in 2016, but Nikki had other ideas.

When the family told Barron about their family and lifestyle, Barron suggested Nikki, a “pit bull mix.”

“My face dropped,” said Kathy. “I said, ‘No way.’ She said, ‘If I told you she was a short-haired terrier mix, would you have reacted that way?’”

Kathy realized she was being a bigot and agreed to meet Nikki, who pulled out all the stops to win her over. She jumped up and gave Tom a hug and kisses.

The McLoughlins visited Nikki a few times at the shelter and adopted her in November 2016. After working with the Canine Case Squad, she is “the best-behaved dog in our neighborhood,” reported Kathy. “Most of the other dogs are loose in fenced-in backyards and bark like crazy when we walk by, but she has learned to ignore them.”

Nikki loves playing Hide and Seek with her toy, traveling with the family, hanging out on the back deck and lounging with Erin.

“They are great buddies,” said Kathy, “and her morning job is to wake Erin up for school.”

Nikki prefers walks only in perfect weather and blankets when she’s cold.

“Of course, we spoil her,” said Kathy, “and probably feed into these diva behaviors, but she deserves it. She is just so loving, it’s hard not to.”

“Pit bulls are not for every family,” said Barron. “They need responsible owners because of their unfair notoriety, because of their irresponsible owners. All too often, great family pets are overlooked because of breed. It's important to try and find the right match with every adoption, and pit bull-type dogs are no different, except they are usually high energy, entertaining, over the top loving, strong, smart, and require spoiling.”

Kathy is a true pit convert.

“She makes us happy,” she said.