#petpeeves

Today’s blog entry is just a short #petpeeve list.

STOP using phrases which anthropomorphize your dog! Seriously. Stop.

Some of the phrases which really rustle my feathers are ‘pet parent’, ‘fur baby’, ‘nanny dog’ and referring to owners as ‘guardian’.

These animals are our pets. We own them. They are not children. We may spoil them and love them very much – but they are not tiny fur covered human children. You are doing your dogs a huge disrespect by not understanding that they are animals whom we choose to allow to live in our homes. Respect them as animals. Respect them as individuals.

And I have written before about how much I detest the ‘nanny dog’ phrase. It’s terribly misleading. Staffords can be quite tolerant to abuse, sadly. And it is because of their patience and reliable nature that kids who aren’t respectful can get away with abusing them. By abuse I mean – climbing on them, laying on top of them, pulling fur, ears, tails, lips, hugging them and basically using their dogs as furniture and toys. They try so hard to put up with this but as the dogs owners and as parents its up to us to train our children NOT to treat the dogs this way. Not only is it disrespectful to the dog, its harming them mentally and sometimes physically. Learn to understand your dogs body language and you will see – they hate this. Look at the eyes, tails, body posturing.

Don’t allow your kids to hug your dog. Don’t allow your kids to sit on the dog. Dogs hate that. Offer your dogs the choice to get away, always. Not all Staffords love kids either. Most do. Not all. Dogs are individuals.

As someone who has worked in Stafford rescue I can tell you the #1 reason Staffords are surrendered is due to the misunderstanding of one of two key Stafford behaviors. Number one is the misunderstanding by the adults in the home of how ‘nanny dog’ doesn’t mean Staffords will put up with EVERYTHING forever. It doesn’t mean you can leave your Stafford alone with your kids all day long without supervision. Doesn’t mean your Stafford will always tolerate being teased.

Train your kids. Supervise always. Treat your dog with respect. Using the nickname ‘nanny dog’ or ‘staffy’ is confusing and misleading. This breed is a gladiator not a teddy bear. Yes, of course they can be super soft and loving and wonderful with children and adults – but they also are dogs. They can only take so much. Every single Stafford bite case I have seen ends up being a humans fault. Let’s help this breed succeed.

Let’s begin by understanding how these cutsie phrases need to go away.

What in the world are they thinking?

Lately I am receiving a lot of puppy inquiries, rescue requests and questions about getting a Staffordshire Bull Terrier to add to a family. I noticed that many…most…of them seem to not exactly understand this breed at all. People are asking for ‘calm’ dogs and all refer to them as ‘staffies’ and many also are asking for a protective dog, calm and trustworthy around young kids, and most importantly people seem to think Staffords will be totally fine around other animals. Also, somehow people think ‘its all in how you raise them’ and I get people saying things like – ‘I know they are stubborn but I can train them to behave how I want them to’ and I have to wonder WHERE IS ALL THIS TERRIBLE INFORMATION COMING FROM?????

And then it hit me. American Kennel Club website. Who is responsible for this terrible information? Who wrote this stuff? No wonder I have been so overwhelmed this year helping people re-home their Staffords. People read this stuff and go to the first pop up breeder advertised in the Marketplace or FB and buy a puppy and they think (or perhaps even told) they will have a calm, easy to manage but stubborn, protective dog they can leave alone with their toddlers…..then they are shocked when the ‘staffie’ turns out to be a NORMAL Stafford! Easily excitable, boisterous, full of energy, mouthy, jumpy, clingy, busy bowling ball who doesn’t always get along with other animals.

When I tell potential buyers or adopters the truth I get told my dogs must not be normal. This makes me chuckle. I try to get people to meet Staffords (not staffies) in person before they decide on the breed. They are NOT the right breed for everyone.

Staffords are not dog park dogs.

Staffords are not dog day care dogs.

Staffords are not what I would call a calm breed. They are energetic terriers. If you want a doormat get another breed, not a terrier.

I would NEVER leave ANY breed alone with young children. Always supervise. ALWAYS. Kids can be very overwhelming for dogs. Lots of loud noises, quick movements, grabbing, tugging, climbing, pulling – all things dogs dislike. Staffords are more tolerant of these behaviors and that’s what they are known for – BUT – please do not think they can put up with this forever. Also Staffords can and will bowl down young children. Heck they bowl down adults! Be prepared for your kids to be knocked down, mouthed and sat upon by normal Stafford activity.

Let me also mention – Staffords require POSITIVE training protocols ONLY! Stop with the prong and shock collars already! Stop with the chain choke collars. Stop the old fashioned ‘dominance’, pack leader crap and roll over theories. And FFS STOP following that ‘TV personality man’ whose name doesn’t need mentioning here. Just stop. Instead – seek out certified Fear Free and +R training to become a happy, positive, confident teammate with your Stafford. LEARNING SHOULD NOT HURT.

I don’t know who can get the terrible information changed from the AKC website but it really needs to be changed as soon as possible. This breed deserves better.

Rehome and Rescue

Recently I made a request to the Stafford community asking for more volunteers to please step up and help rescue and re-home. We need people in all areas of the country to help fund raise, transport, identify, foster, screen, do home checks and help communicate with the rescue and re-home volunteers for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed in America. I thought this was a reasonable request because basically the same few people have been bearing the weight of this task for many many years and its impossible for so few volunteers to do the work of an entire country. Also it sucks. We are tired.

This breed is becoming way too popular and every day more and more ‘pop up’ breeders and new breeders are selling puppies – some do the proper amount of screening and education and they also have solid contracts in place, microchip and register with their names and require dogs come back to them if needed…..the ‘pop ups’ and casual breeders are basically making puppies to pay their bills.

I received several earnest messages saying I live here, this is my experience with Staffords and this is what I am willing to do. AMAZING and THANK YOU!

I also received some super angry replies. In fact, one in particular was so full of hate I don’t know why she send me a message at all. She states where she lives and that she is only willing to help ID, transport and possibly foster if there are no issues or complications (ahem, this is rescue not perfect puppy school) and then she went into a tirade about how she refuses to help Staffords who are in need of re-homing because that’s not her job and shouldn’t be the job of ‘rescue’ either.

What this angry person fails to realize (mainly because she has not helped rescue in the same capacity as we have) sometimes re-home means a breeder cannot be found, has died, is ill and cant care for their dogs, or otherwise finds themselves in a situation requiring outside assistance. Sometimes re-home is helping a breeder who took back a dog, elderly or otherwise and requests our help because we have the reach and marketing available. Sometimes re-home means a family must give up a dog and the breeder is very far away, or in another country, and we are here to help.

I have said this a million times and will say it again – we are here for the STAFFORDS.

Let me add – the person who detests our efforts with such vitriol and spit for doing any sort of re-home misses the point in two ways.

  1. Calling what we do ‘rescue’ is usually not a true rescue. Unless a dog is in a shelter on death row – we are re-homing. We aren’t diving into a building on fire pulling Staffords to safety. We are taking in Staffords in need and finding suitable homes. We also ask for a small donation back to TSK to help replenish funds used – look at it this way – what we spend on YOU we get back to spend on the next one. We ask for this donation from re-home also.
  2. By NOT supporting good breeders by assisting them if we can, what she is essentially supporting is ONLY aiding those pop up and BYB’ers who don’t give a shit where the dogs end up as long as they get paid.

SO either decide you are able and willing to help STAFFORDS in need – or don’t. Personally I don’t care. If you volunteer then I welcome you with open arms but please don’t place rules and restrictions. (Exceptions are understandable such as cant foster dogs who hate cats/chickens and you have cats/chickens, etc….fosters are screened and appropriate placements made – we aren’t stupid) I am already faced with difficult tasks doing this. As I have said in past blog posts – I have been yelled at, cussed, threatened with lawsuits, accused of all sorts of horrible things from those same people who begged me to come to their aid.

SO that all being said – thank you to the people who have opened up their homes, wallets and cars to help Staffords in need.

Greetings

How many of you reading this blog have experienced sending an email, PM/DM, making a phone call or text and not having it returned? Frustrating isn’t it?

How many of you make a second attempt? A third? Not many Ill bet.

Now imagine if you are looking for a new puppy for yourself, your family and you have done all the research you know to do. You did a Google search, you read about the breed on AKC, you read breeder websites, you may have even attended a trial, show or meet the breed booth…or maybe you have not done any of those things but you saw what you think was a breed you have interest in and just want to learn more about them. Naturally you would try to reach out to breeders or clubs or rescues, right? Think about that for a minute . . .

Every morning while I have my coffee I sit at my desk and catch up on news stories, social media posts, emails and other messages. On Social Media I see breeders spouting off about how can we distinguish ourselves from ‘people making puppies’, ‘back yard breeders’, ‘puppy farmers’ – basically – how can we help the general public who just wants a puppy see the work that goes into breeding for preservation and passion of a breed and give that work value vs those selling puppies to pay their bills? How do we differentiate ourselves? How do we help the public see the difference in breeders who put in all the time, money, energy, work for decades just to produce healthy, sound dogs? How do we show them that we are willing to be there for the life of that dog for any reason? (As I type this, I understand of course the many levels of breeders, both good and bad…but this applies to us and our respected fellow breeder friends with similar goals as us) I will tell you one great place to begin!

COMMUNICATION!

Look at it from the other side for a minute. In order too educate and get through we must respond to emails, calls and yes – sadly – even texts! Now, don’t get me wrong – I detest getting a text which simply says – ‘any puppies for sale’ – its an awful way to begin dialog. I prefer a nice introductory email from someone who has seen this website and understands what we do here…..but that isn’t always how it goes. I answer every single email, call, text, PM that I receive even the ones that are rude…because maybe, just maybe, I can help educate that person and explain to them more about this breed. Maybe I can explain to them why it is important to be polite and use words – not just – ‘how much for a puppy’ type inquiries. Trust me, I get some ridiculous messages – some are rude, some are ignorant, some are clueless and some are just uneducated on how the process should go in order to find the right breed, the right breeder and hopefully the right puppy for them.

Guess what those other ‘puppy makers’ (I refuse to refer to them as breeders) are doing? Yep, you guessed it. They return messages because to them – that’s a sale they can’t afford to miss. If we do not communicate in the same manner we risk losing the opportunity to educate. It won’t always be heard – in fact – most of the time it is not…but we must change our ways and COMMUNICATE the same as those people putting dogs together and $elling puppie$ to anyone who call$.

To me, that’s part of what a responsible breeder does. We educate. We mentor. We support. I almost never have a puppy for sale that I already don’t have many people waiting for – but the opportunity to educate is always available.

Breed rescue

Rescue sounds like something people do when houses are burning down, rivers are flooding, dog fighting rings get busted . . . purebred dog rescue isn’t nearly as dramatic as all of that usually. It’s more normally a small very tired group of breed enthusiasts who are constantly fielding messages such as – URGENT will be PTS in one hour if you don’t respond – or – we have seventeen Staffords in the shelter please come get them – or we have a Stafford and won’t allow a breeder to pull we would rather euthanize than support breeders – or I bought a Stafford but my breeder never told me he might grow up to hate other dogs please come get him – or – my brother passed away and now I have a 12 year old Stafford who needs a home and I cant keep him – or even – we have two staffords but are having a baby, moved to an apartment, got deployed, went to jail, new girlfriend who hates dogs and need to get rid of them. . . SIGH.

Purebred rescue is not something I enjoy. It is mentally exhausting. It takes up a lot of bandwidth in my life which I sure could use elsewhere….but it is also something I feel obligated to do as a lover of the breed, as a breeder and as a responsible person.

Purebred rescue costs money. Purebred rescue takes a LOT of my free time. Purebred rescue means lots of fund raising to help cover the cost of transporting, shelter release expenses, veterinary bills, training costs, foster care, transportation, feeding and caring for dogs whom another person produced and another person owned. And now the dog is our responsibility.

Purebred rescue means making decisions. Deciding whether or not a dog is indeed a Stafford. Deciding what we need to pull a dog from a shelter (not always easy). Deciding who will foster, train, care for the dog. Deciding how to market the dog and how to screen potential homes. Deciding who can do home checks, background checks and transport the dog to a new home.

Purebred rescue means paperwork. Paperwork to provide shelters showing we (The Stafford Knot, Inc.) are a non profit 501(c)(3). Paperwork to locate breeder. Paperwork to get owners to sign release forms for owner surrenders. Paperwork for applications. Paperwork for contracts. Paperwork to register microchips into new owners names. Paperwork to keep in touch with new owners. Paperwork to offer new owners to help educate them on the breed. Paperwork to try to get new owners to join breed and all breed clubs to remain active and involved.

Purebred rescue also includes owner surrender and helping breeders Rehome Staffords. Owner surrenders are usually quite emotional. This means 100’s of texts and phone calls. Emotionally draining phone calls. Phone calls with tears, excuses, anger, frustration and heartbreak. Purebred rescue can sometimes mean making difficult decisions regarding the future of a dogs life.

With all of this my job is to remain calm and compassionate. When the phone gets put down – I can then break down myself. But not before then.

Purebred rescue means being yelled at, cussed at, lied to, gossiped about, rumors told, accusations hurled about, abused in so many ways by breeders, shelters, other rescues, owners and strangers on social media. And throughout all of the abuse it also means remaining calm and true to the goal which is the safety of the dog in question.

The Staffords are why I do this. I would love to stop and let others take over. I have tried to quit. The sad truth is that we ALL need to be involved. This is not a job for a couple of people in each breed. We all need to work together and do the best we can do. Breeders need to step up – carefully screen new owners. Remain in contact with those owners. Be their support. Microchip and register that chip for life and put your name on the chip along with the owners and veterinarians. Sponsor owners club memberships to encourage participation with other Stafford owners. Get owners involved. Make it well known in your contracts, in your conversations and on your web pages and FB pages that you are available for the lifetime of the Stafford you produced or rescued. Make it well known that there exists a community of Stafford enthusiasts all Stafford owners can turn to for any reason.

Purebred rescue is not the enemy nor is it something nice to have to do. BUT it is something we ALL should be doing.