I love Staffordshire Bull Terriers

We adopted Zoey as a 10 week old puppy. By all accounts she should have been a nightmare to handle; we believe her original owner bought her from a pet shop (pet shop puppies usually have a number of behavioural problems, including being hard to house train). After he acquired Zoey at 8 weeks old, he tried introducing her to his adult male dog. His intention was to breed Zoey as soon as she was old enough…eugh!

I doubt he introduced them correctly, or gave the adult dog enough time to get used to the puppy. Zoey was banished to the yard out back; a tiny concrete space with no shelter. This was in Yorkshire. In winter. There’s a lot of snow in a Yorkshire winter, I am amazed Zoey survived.

Zoey had been living out there a week or so when their neighbour asked someone who asked us if we could take her. We said yes; we’d look after her then rehome her.

Whilst picking her up from the man’s house, Zoey was leaping about joyfully. The man explained that when Zoey misbehaved, what you should do is grab her by the scruff, and twist it until she yelps!! Oh dear god…

Zoey was an amazing puppy. She got on with Kasper (who HATED her for the first few days!), she excelled at obedience training and picked up house training with no problems. As long as we (I say we, it was mostly my partner doing the night runs!) took her out every hour in the day and three times during the night, we had no accidents.

Zoey learns sit!

Puppy Zoey wrestles Kasper

The weeks passed, and we knew Zoey was here to stay.

16a

Zoey makes herself at home

Zoey simply adores other dogs. Unfortunately, since moving to Lancashire, she has been attacked four times by different dogs; two hung off her face, one got her scruff and one didn’t quite get to her. Idiotic owners also allowed their reactive / rude dogs to run up to Zoey. One time four obnoxious Golden Retrievers surrounded her, and when I picked her up for safety they leapt at me, covering me in mud. Their owner didn’t even apologise.

After all these terrible experiences, Zoey is understandably confused about other dogs. She really, really wants to say hello…but when she does, she lies on her back and shows her belly, scared. I hate what those dogs have done to her.

I have heard Zoey bark without being asked a handful of times, and I’ve only heard Zoey growl twice: once when a dog latched onto her face and wouldn’t let go, and once at the horse that charged up to us and bit my arm. I think they’re good times to growl 🙂

What I don’t understand about the whole “Staffies are evil dogs” thing…is how you can brandish an entire breed of dog as being the same?! Over the years I’ve had Zoey, people have told me:

  • Staffies are vicious dogs
  • They are impossible to train
  • They’re very dominant (whatever the hell that means…)
  • You WILL get bitten by your Staffordshire Bull Terrier

You can’t say those things, it’s stupid. Zoey is the softest dog I have ever met!  She licks spiders, for Pete’s sake! She greets every stranger like a long lost friend, she’s never resource guarded anything from anyone, and she’s never directed any aggression towards humans no matter what they have done to her.

Kasper on the other hand, who is a Border Collie x English Springer Spaniel, is a nightmare dog. When we tell people his breed mix, they say “Oh! So he has the intelligence of a Border Collie and the goofiness of a Springer! What a perfect dog!”

Aha…no.

Kasper resource guards. He gets fearful over stupid things, and will tell you to back off fiercely. He doesn’t like strangers, and will growl at them. He has placed his teeth on mine / my partner’s arms several times – they would have been a bite if he didn’t have such awesome bite inhibition.

And yet Zoey is the one that people fear. Zoey is, automatically because of her breed, a bad dog.

tw9

Please not: this face was pulled in play!

I’ve met a ton of Staffies. I’ve volunteered at three rescue centres, and rescue centres in the UK are full of Staffies. I’ve never met a bad Staffy. Even Kiri, who had been treated so badly and was terrified of everyone, befriended me and would run to the end of her kennel, tail wagging, for treats and a fuss. (on a happy note, after 4 years in rescue Kiri was adopted about 5 years ago 🙂 )

But many people hate Staffies on sight, and many more fear them. Even my cousin, who is somewhat a dog lover, asked me incredulously “But do you actually like Staffies?” Um…yes. Why is that so hard to believe?

When I think of what could have happened to Zoey, had her original owner dumped her, it breaks my heart. There are very, very few people who want Staffies. Rescues are overrun with them. If you’re a lucky Staffy, you will stay in rescue for a number of years until somebody finally notices you. If you are unlucky, the staff at the rescue will see how hopeless it is keeping you alive, and you will be PTS.

Here are just some of the special Staffies I have known over the years, and what happened to them:

rescue

Abbey

Abbey was a young, energetic Staffy girl who loved her walks. She loved everybody and everything and was always very eager. And, obviously, she was beautiful 😉 She was also one of the few dogs that could complete the agility course. Abbey stayed at the rescue for two years before being adopted.

rescue5

Joey

Joey was utterly adorable. He was friendly and loved other dogs. Unfortunately he had epilepsy. This, coupled with him being a Staffy, meant nobody wanted to adopt him. He was at the rescue for six years before he unfortunately passed away.

rescue4

Buddy

Buddy was a real cheeky chappy! He loved his walks so much that, if you tried to turn around and walk him back towards the rescue centre, he would quite often refuse to move!! He was a cheerful boy and very loving. If I recall correctly he was four years old and had been with the rescue for two years. I don’t know what happened to him as we moved away from the area.

rescue10

The puppies!

Harvey (left – 5 months old) and Tico (right – 4 months old) were two adorable Staffy puppies. Both were adopted within a month but, unfortunately, Harvey was returned soon after and is still in rescue now at a year old. Even as puppies Staffies can be very hard to rehome, and are often returned.

rescue6

Rossie

Rossie was a fantastic older gent, who came into rescue at 6 years old. He was loving (oh so loving!), placid and sweet. Unfortunately he was an older dog AND a Staffy, and he spent three long miserable years in rescue. Thankfully he was adopted not long ago, here’s hoping he has found his forever home 🙂

rescue2

Samba

Samba was one of my all-time favourite dogs. He was a tank of a Staffy; large and chunky. He was very loving, and would scramble at the bars of the kennel to be closer to you. If you put your face to the bars he would cover you in kisses. He also enjoyed bringing a toy over, placing it in your hands and having you throw it! Samba stayed at the rescue for four years; nobody was ever interested in offering him a home. It pains me to think of such a loving dollop of a dog spending so much time in a small kennel. After many years in rescue, Samba was PTS. I don’t know why.

rescue1

Gypsy

Here is Gypsy. I wanted to adopt Gyspy as my first dog; I had fallen for her hook, line and sinker. She was FANTASTIC. She came into rescue at 7 months old – so many dogs are dumped when they hit adolescence. She was super intelligent, had masses of energy, ran like a whippet, and loved people and other dogs. Almost every time we volunteered we would take Gypsy out. If our landlord had allowed bull breeds and Gypsy had good recall (as we didn’t have a garden at the time) I would have adopted her in a heart beat! Gypsy was at the rescue for approximately four years. In that time she had one small walk a day and little human interaction. There was no interest in homing her. After four years Gypsy vanished from the rescue’s site. I like to hope she was adopted and is now happy in a home.

If you take anything from this (painfully long!) post, let it be this: Give Staffies a chance! 

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5 thoughts on “I love Staffordshire Bull Terriers

  1. Unfortunately, and as you probably already know, Staffies are not the only victims of human stupidity and/or irresponsibility. We have similar situations here with Rottweilers and Pitbulls and until there is some political will to get involved (unlikely), I really cannot see much changing. The best we can do is to keep promoting the idea that having a dog is a responsibility which needs to be taken seriously. They generally do not come ready trained and, like children, will be challenging at times. We have been working with Ray for just over two years now and, while he has made huge progress, we still have to work on a number of areas. He is, however, a priceless member of our family and we love him dearly.

    • I think over here the breeds that were previously thought to be ‘dangerous’ were GSD and Rotties…now, unfortunately, it’s the Staffies turn 😦

      And of course the media is doing everything it can to up the hype, referring to Staffies as “devil dogs” and, whenever a dog attack makes the news (even if they don’t know the breed of the dog involved) they use a photo of a Staffy…

      We’ve had some really poor reactions to Zoey before. Thankfully the area we live in now is a little more understanding, there are a few Staffies that live in our tiny village so I think people have gotten used to seeing those big bull heads walking about! 🙂

  2. At my rescue we get lots of staffies and bully variants with happy outcomes. Partly it is the location. Breed specific laws are illegal here. Partly it is a more open public. The longest we have had a staff was over a year; an old girl who barked when she first met people. Puppies get adopted quickly. The others we work with if they need it, and they have all been adopted between weeks and months. They often come to us sick /or in need of behavioral help, so we take care of that before they are up for adoption. We have a lot of fosters, which keep the dogs in good mental state, and also post-adoption owner-dog training to reduce returns.
    It’s getting better, there’s hope

    • I like the sound of the way your rescue is run! Foster homes, training to help the dog be ready for adoption and post-adoption help really should be standard for all rescues.

      It’s really sad seeing Staffies left waiting at the rescue centres here. At the rescue we volunteer with, ‘nice’ breeds (Labs, Collies etc) often get reserved in the first few days of arriving. Even ones with behavioural issues don’t last long.

      Then you get the Rotties, and Staffies especially, that just constantly get overlooked. They might be the perfect dog with no issues, but there’s so little interest. At the rescue we’re with, it’s far more common for a Staffy to spend over a year waiting than for it to be adopted quickly. They unfortunately only offer foster homes to puppies under 10 / 12 weeks old, too, so the long timers never get a break from kennel life.

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