Sunday, 23 November 2008

Disposable Dogs

Here is my dog, (thank you 'mm' ).

To appreciate my dog you must go for personality, rather than looks.

She looks a lot better than she did a year ago, when she came to live here. A year ago she had very little hair, she was covered in scabs, and had been so heavily used for breeding that her undercarriage was almost touching the ground.
She was found wandering in the cold, and was taken here, to 'W.A.R.S'.
She's a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a breed I specifically did not want because of their unfortunate reputation.

Animal Rescue Shelters, W.A.R.S. especially, are full of Staffies. Ben, the manager of W.A.R.S. is enthusiastic about the breed. Look at how many he has in rescue, waiting for new homes, at the moment. Staffies who end up at Ben's place are very lucky. Some Shelters won't take them in at all.
Staffies are disposable dogs. They are bred in large numbers, sold for high prices, sometimes used for appalling purposes, and may be thrown out when they have served their purpose.

I did not want a Staffie. They are street dogs, paraded in studded collars by young men with tattoos and baseball caps. They are not dogs for respectable old widows. Poodles, Yorkies, Cavaliers are dogs for old ladies.

So, of course, I ended up with a Staffie. I was doing a bit of dog-walking at the Rescue, to stop me having another dog. Tessa, on reception, rang me: "We have this dear old dog, in a bad way, so much in need of a home."
"Tell me about her," I said.
"She's a Staffie."
"No, absolutely not!" I said, and within four days she had moved in.

The personality shines through. The hair has grown back, the under-carriage has tightened up - and so has mine, thanks to regular exercise. Every time we go out, someone stops us for a talk, mainly to her, but they tend to involve me as well.

She's had a year with me, to recover from whatever horrors she had to face when she was made homeless, and to get me organised into her way of thinking.
Now, hopefully, she's going to start doing a bit of work for 'Pets as Therapy'. She'll enjoy it. She loves everyone. She probably still loves the people who used her and then disposed of her.

Staffies are like that.
(She's been described by a friend as, 'typically late 18th century - mahogany veneer on cabriole legs.' A very classy old bitch. Thank you,'Beth' for the photograph.)


Zhoen said...

She ain't pretty, but I think she's beautiful. Good on you for seeing her true and taking her in.

Awsa puppy!

Relatively Retiring said...

Oh, thank you, Zhoen. She's the easiest, nicest, most enjoyable dog I've ever had, and I've had some really good dogs in my time! She's snoring her head off in front of a log fire as I write this.

herhimnbryn said...

I, like you am wary of Staffs. When my hound was only 5 months old a Staff bit him and it resulted in a trip to the vet and several stitches. It WAS NOT the Staffs fault. It was the 'owner'.
Since then I have met grand Staff's with 'owners' who love them and respect them.

Your Grand Dame was fortunate to have found you.

mm said...

Ah ha! Lovely story, RR, well told. I can vouch that she is a beautiful in real life as she is here. Her good nature shines through.

Relatively Retiring said...

HHnB and mm, thank you. She's a great lesson about prejudice and about the power of personality over appearance. I realise I identify with her rather strongly!
I believe in the fact that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners, but sadly some owners can ruin a dog for life.

leslee said...

I think she looks sweet! I've known people with Staffies, too, very sweet dogs. Glad you were able to take her in - she's a lucky dog.

Beth said...

I disagree with you that she doesn't have the looks - what sort of looks do dogs come with anyway? There are some very ugly dog breeds/mixes out there and the rest, well I guess beauty is in the eye of the dog owner. She's a gorgeous, friendly, well behaved old lady! Credit to you for the hours spent getting her skin better, fur glossy and making her happy in her retirement. She's a lucky doggy! (Can I come round and snore my head off in front of your log fire too please)?

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee and Beth, thank you both for your comments. I must get hold of a picture of my friend's Chinese Crested and see what people make of him!
Any time, Beth, you know that - and many thanks for the additional photograph, which I'll add for all the Staffie fans out there!

pohanginapete said...

She looks great!

I read somewhere (a New Zealand study) that the most vicious dogs of all are chihuahuas, but that might be slander. All dogs are individuals, but despite the protestations of the breeders, I'd treat any pit bull with a great deal of respect. (Actually, I think I'd prefer to stay far enough away from a pit bull to be unable to show respect.)

I've also heard a lot of good things about the temperament of staffies, and yours clearly supports those reports.

herhimnbryn said...

Shouts of laughter here, for the second description.

Cabriole legs is perfect.

She looks very stately in the 2nd pic.

Relatively Retiring said...

PPete: so glad you approve! The trouble is that all the bull dog breeds were originally bred for fighting, attack, baiting etc, but they all have to be additionally (and savagely) trained to utilise these traits. When you meet a pit-bull you can't be sure which way it's been trained. I would never leave ANY dog, even this one, alone with a child, a cat, a squirrel. Even this arthritic and gentle soul managed to kill a rat in the garden in the first weeks of living here.

HHnB: Glad you appreciate antiques!

Avus said...

HerHimnBryn, a fellow dog lover and also my daughter recommended a visit to your blog. Glad I came.
I thoroughly agree that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners and it grieves me so much to see dogs so exploited and abandoned. Good on you for taking her in - most of my dogs over the years have been "rescues". One does not know what one is taking on - but, oh! the reward when they settle down and are obviously so happy to be loved and wanted.

Relatively Retiring said...

Hello Avus, and thank you!
I've always had rescued dogs. It's the best form of recycling. All my second-hand dogs have been charming, grateful, responsive and very rewarding.
For some years we had a sort of dogs' hospice, where several very ill dogs came for a peaceful end....but then they revived, lived for several more years and enjoyed a very delayed puppyhood!

peregrina said...

Like you, a Staffordshire definitely wouldn't have been my choice, R.R. Nor would I have chosen her for her looks.

But then, maybe no-one would have chosen me for my looks, either.

She, and the other second-hand dogs you have cared for, have been lucky to have found a home with you.

Relatively Retiring said...

Thank you, Peregrina.
At the death of each dog I resolve never to have another. I give away the beds and leads to the Dog Rescue. Then, a year or so later, I have to go out and buy more.....
Who do you think does the choosing around here?

Kat - Three Cent Stamp said...

Oh, I think she is adorable and very sweet. I love animals, particularly dogs. It's such a shame what we humans sometimes to do animals. I'm glad you were able to give her a second chance and a new leash on life. Good for you!

Relatively Retiring said...

Thank you, Kat. When I first had her she slept for about a week, with only the briefest breaks for food and comfort stops! Then she woke up many years younger, and has gone on getting younger. I wish I could say the same for myself.