Daisy Howarth
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Why Breed Standards Are Bullshit

The Life of a Staffy Owner

Killer eyes...

I always grew up with dogs. As a baby, we had a “Heinz 57” type mongrel called Gazza, who would permanently be by my side according to my parents. If I started crying, he would go and get my mum and make her follow him to me, and all I remember is how attentive he was, and how he grew old. He started to forget he had been fed, or been let out and the time came to say goodbye. I am forever thankful that my parents were honest when I was 6 and explained that Gazza was in a lot of pain, and it would be the kinder thing to let him sleep forever. I didn’t have to feel that pain for another 13 years when we lost one of our Jack Russell’s, Minnie. 

As a biased owner, Minnie was one of the best dogs I had ever had the pleasure to interact with. When she became ill, she deteriorated so quickly, we didn’t have time to prepare ourselves for her passing. I grieved horrifically for at least a month. It left our existing dog, Murphy, by himself. Murphy was less than a year old when Gazza was put down, and he had seen Minnie come in to our family, and leave it before him. It was because of Murphy's loneliness we got another dog.

I had driven up to Leicester to spend the weekend with my boyfriend; upon arriving at his sport centre to pick him up from football, I saw about 56 messages from my family about what to call this new puppy my parents suddenly had, playing with Murph. That’s how Frank joined us. He still likes to make an entrance!

Frank is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a breed I had longed for, for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, the problems started there. “He’s very sweet, for a Staffy.” “Don’t let that dog near my darling.” On one occasion, he got kicked by an elderly gentlemen, at 13 weeks old, for being a Staffy. It didn’t matter where we were, or how friendly he was; people would pick up their dogs, or put them on a lead whenever they saw him coming down the beach. 

It even got to the point where a Labrador, an Akita, a Whippet, and a Poodle had pinned our puppy down until he was yelping and we had to pull the other dogs off of him, all within his first few weeks of going on walks. Through all of these incidents, it was Frank’s fault. Frank’s fault for being a Staffy. Other breed owners could not possibly comprehend that their dog was aggressive and the Staffordshire Bull Terrer didn’t start it. I don’t believe any dog breed is born aggressive, just as no human is born racist, or homophobic. 

I promise you if you ask any Staffy owner how their dog is, they will tell you that they could never have another breed after their Staff. 

Frank is beyond lovely. He likes to cuddle, he demands attention and he adores Murphy, who is 15 years his senior and on his last lap in our world. He understands commands far better than any of our previous dogs have, and we do see many many people who will stop and ask to stroke him, then exclaim, “Oh, he’s lovely! He’s not a Staffy, is he?” Even the very day that I am writing this, a Black Labrador drew blood by biting Frank's ear, pinning him to the sand and dragging him a metre or so, and the owner proceeded to say, “Oh he’s so sweet, don’t worry about it!” We were dumbfounded. No apology, didn’t ask if he was okay, just assumed that Frank had started the show of aggression and her beloved lab simply retaliated. 

All that I hope for is that people keep an open mind when they come across “bully” breeds. Don’t label them before you know them please. On a final note, be nice to other dog owners. If they ask for advice, be constructive. Dog people are dog people, and it should be regardless of breed. Ban bad owners, not breeds.

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