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.

Recognition

I used to think it did not matter if our hard work was recognized by our peers or not. I have since decided that it does make a difference. It does matter.

Over the last 15 years we have actively supported both financially and voluntarily, donated time and work for, served on, created and led committees, served as board officer and director roles, designed artwork for the magazine, set up health testing discounts at several specialties, actively promoted the club and breed by working breed booths, seeking new members – sponsoring and paying for new members and much much more.

Nealie and I are currently one of the (if not the only) only Stafford teams recognized by the AKC as a Breed Ambassador which means we have fulfilled and been signed off what it takes to be trusted to attend classrooms, libraries, scouting groups and any public place to speak about and promote the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. We visit classrooms where children can read to Nealie and listen to me discuss responsible pet ownership and more.

Nealie is also honored as a Register of Merit honoree by producing 4+ champions (and all done without handlers or taking them to shows week in and week out), although her name is not yet listed on the club website as such.

The Illustrated Breed Standard the club uses has almost identical text as the one Jason and I did for the rescue fundraising yet no mention of The Stafford Knot has been made. We agreed to allow the club to use our text in exchange for referencing and crediting the many people who contributed to the body off work which took years to produce. Sadly they did not. The parent club used the TSK seminar, both in full or parts of it, and we have always been happy to supply the club with the presentation when asked to do so. We also try to volunteer dogs for hands on assessments when possible including being at shows which we had not planned on attending just for this purpose.

For many many years I have spent countless hours and money of my own promoting the club. I have (for free) designed logos and artwork, made videos and fliers, uploaded to FB and IG for the club, designed trophies and shirts, and volunteered in person at most of the big specialties over the last 15 years. I have raised 1000’s of dollars for the club over the years beginning with selling 500 silicone anti BSL bracelets our first year of membership. We also ran several RDO days, rescue fun days and breed booths.

For years I did not say NO. I always said yes, of course I will help. This year I finally said no. I have done enough. It’s now time for others to do the work.

Recently, TSK was recognized by our Area Director only because she and I worked closely for a year to put on our most recent Specialty event. It was an overwhelming success in that people had a great time and it not only paid for itself but also raised in excess of $4000 for the club. A first. The club has always lost money. Always. Every. Single. National. I appreciated the AD recognizing my efforts and the contribution TSK has made. That gesture almost took away the hurt of the rejection of the others.

There were still complaints from the usual suspects. In fact, there were lots of complaints. All made by the same people who ALWAYS complain and rarely work. These same few people make it very difficult for those who do work hard. You know what they say about one bad apple – its very true. By the way – it’s not a bath mat you won at a DOG SHOW it’s a crate pad, DOH. And there WAS hospitality in the form of food in the free welcome bags, a free pizza party, a free spaghetti dinner, coffee pastries and sandwiches in the morning, coolers of drinks ringside and a cookout one evening. All free. No donation jar. A few ungrateful people leave a very bad taste especially when its constant.

Wouldn’t it be terrific if we could work together like I have been asking for the last 10-15 years? If we could endorse each other we would have more impact and more reach. TSK has ten years of articles available for free and if the club endorsed TSK all those articles would be known by all new members and new Stafford owners, not just followers of The Stafford Knot. TSK has a huge worldwide following. This could only help the parent club. If we could endorse one another and this would help everyone. One would think that would be a no brainer. No clue why the resistance.

I have worked with several former rescue chairs in some capacity – I have always been heavily involved. TSK (me) has been responsible for a great deal of rescue and rehoming work for the breed for many many years. We raise the money, we reach out and find homes, we pull dogs, we arrange transport and foster care – we have done everything we could. I would love to retire from this exhausting task! It would be wonderful if others would step up so I can retire.

The club talks big about promoting good sportsmanship. Let’s see some action behind those words. Endorse the hard work of all people working to Promote, Protect and Preserve. How about it?

So yes, it does matter if there is recognition.

“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”

There is much controversy as to who first spoke those words. There is little controversy over the truth those words speak.

Lately we have been discussing how interesting it is that for some people their default action/reaction is negative. It’s as if an immediate response must be made on each and every topic being discussed and they feel compelled to complain, bring in drama, point fingers, attack or bully. It almost seems out of the persons control, a conditioned response that may have taken a lifetime to develop and perfect.

In my transformation to try to become a more reasonable, peaceful, forgiving, tolerant and kind person I sometimes will play little games to amuse myself. One game is to keep mental notes of names of people who are either as described above or who is directly involved in the history of a dog we get into rescue or a re-home situation. This game is similar to the one you might play to make an important decision- making lists of pro and con – except in this instance the only conclusion which can be made is that the same names remain on each list. Those names become so familiar that when I log into FB to post my feed is littered with their drama and I see the pattern emerging daily.

These same people are great at grandstanding, playing the victim or creating drama. Always. The. Drama. If you didn’t know better you may think they work very hard and are wonderful giving responsible people. And in some parts of their lives they are just that. BUT when it really comes to selfless contribution you won’t want to count on these folks. Don’t put them on your team. Acknowledge that drama if you must, however walk, scroll, move away from it quickly. It’s contagious.

These folks will do their very best to sabotage those hard at work, no matter who they are, and instead somehow create a scenario where they are the heroes and save the day while holding the true workers under their hand, underwater, for as long as possible attempting to drown out reality. Don’t allow their actions to deter you from your goals. These people are little more than annoying flies, buzzing around, always. Flies never live long lives.

Addition by subtraction

I’ve blogged before about how its super important to support one another, work together or if you can’t just remain silent. We all have at least one important interest in common. Staffordshire Bull Terriers. If we didn’t share this interest you wouldn’t be here.

We don’t have to be best friends with all Stafford owners. We don’t have to invite them all into our homes or even into our lives. We don’t even really have to like them or agree with their choices. But we can work together. We can have one another backs instead of stabbing them. We can support and preserve Staffords by letting go of petty unimportant feelings and setting all of the negative opinions aside and come together for the dogs. We can’t change others behaviors anyway. Its difficult enough to change our own!

In the past I have been guilty of saying things I am ashamed of. I have attempted to right these wrongs and try to be a better person. I recognize my weakness as lacking the confidence to be myself and now I am stronger. I was a weak follower. I did and said what was currently expected or popular and I never felt right about that. During my transition to becoming a stronger person if I saw a group acting disrespectfully I would try to defend or stand up for the person being bullied or wrongly accused. In those attempt it usually made things worse, not better. This may sound selfish but now I worry less about others and more about myself and the breed. I avoid bullies and crowds of lemmings and now stand on my own. I am honest with my words and actions. Its not a popular place to be but its right for me.

You are probably saying what does this blog entry have to do with Staffords? In the world of dogs I’ve been told I need thicker skin, get over it, just go with the flow…all words meant to ‘help’ me. The world of dogs is ugly. People act and speak standing precariously balancing between ego, self importance  lacking confidence and masking that with bully behavior. I’m at the point now that what others say about me just doesn’t matter. I know ugly things are said about me – untruths, half truths, I am given petty labels, gossip is spread –  just plain meanness. I know a person who told a potential puppy buyer that I was ‘intense’ as that would be an insult. Its not. I am. Another breeder told a potential buyer upon hearing she was on my wait list ‘good luck with that’. I don’t even know what she meant by that.  Recently two of my buyers were accused of cheating by their competition – they had not cheated – so I stood up and defended them. I was laughed at. I have had accusations that I was pocketing money from my rescue efforts – how laughable is that? I don’t need the money and anyone can look up the public records since its a registered non profit. We simply don’t bring in a ton of money and we keep excellent accounting records – people who accuse others of doing wrong actions generally are not above doing those things themselves. The dog world is an ugly place.

In another situation, last March we showed Marina at Crufts in Birmingham, England. This was a highlight in our lives as breeders – Marina qualified four times and deserved to be seen on that green carpet. You would think my ‘friends’ and fellow Stafford owners would be excited for us and say nice supportive words  – and most did/were – yet one person whom I have known a very long time not only had nothing nice to say but instead made ugly comments about my shoes. 😳

What other people say about you says more about them actually.

If you are excited about an achievement or a new puppy or title or anything you want to share the happiness about – share that with the world. Then sit back and watch how others respond to your happiness. Are people excited for you? Do they seem genuine when they congratulate you? Or do they instead say ‘when my dog did that …..”. People who are not your VIPs will always turn your success around to relate a story about themselves. They usually will also not have the time to type out words of true encouragement or say meaningful comments – usually its a ‘thumbs up’ emoji or a shortened ‘congrats’ or something about themselves – because they feel they need to remind the world that they are important, they are the focus of every conversation, their achievements mustn’t be forgotten. They may make ugly comments about your dog or your efforts or accuse you of cheating. These are not your VIPs.

In my growth and struggles with being a better person I have learned to let people go. I don’t say unkind things about them personally, and I wouldn’t say unkind things about their dogs (although in my past confidence  lacking behaviors those were my go to actions embarrassingly enough)  but I simply move on. As far as I’m concerned, the fastest way to live our best lives and have more of what we want is to remove more of what we don’t want. This is addition by subtraction, and if you choose to give yourself this gift, it has the power to positively change your life. Can you afford to put off giving yourself that gift any longer? Your best life may depend on your answer. People who choose to hurt others are the broken souls of the world who are deeply hurting themselves whether or not they recognize this. Their hate has nothing to do with how they feel about you, it’s a reflection about how they feel about themselves.

If we are to remain ‘in dogs’ then some changes had to be made. From now on, the front row is for real fans only, and the VIP section is only for the special people who have earned the right to be there. Let’s face it, not everyone in our lives can be “very important.” If everyone in our lives is “very important,” that’s the same thing as saying that no one is. Only the real fans deserve the privilege of being the “Very Important People” in our lives. Who are these very important people?

• They are the first ones to help us up when we fall down.

• They encourage our hopes and dreams instead of stomping on them.

• They stick around when everyone else is bailing out on us.

• They build us up instead of tear us down.

• They treat us with dignity and respect at all times.

• They offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on when we need it.

• They love us unconditionally.

The bar is set pretty damn high for VIPs– that’s why these people are “very important.” Try to surround yourself with your VIP’s. Gravitate towards those who help you feel the sunshine, not those who live in a constant storm.