This is Dash.
Yes, we have extended our menagerie further and adopted a rescue staffy. And I’m classing this under Doing Good. Do Good. DOGood. DOG. Anyway.
At the beginning of April we were at a friend’s house for lunch. They had invited another couple too who had brought their rather stunning black spaniel. Husband and I had already talked about wanting a dog, but it not really being possible with both of us working and, until recently, living in rented accommodation.
I asked how the spaniel owners managed, both being in full time work, and they revealed that there are ABUNDANT dog care services in London for worker bees who can’t always be at home.
That was pretty much it for me. The dog-shaped lightbulb over my head went on, and that night (while my husband gently, practically and pointlessly argued against the idea) I scoured the internet for a rescue dog.
I found Rescue Remedies and, through them, I found Dash (then named Chilli).
Rescue Remedies are a wonderful charity who take in dogs on death row (so those about to be put down in other kennels due to no fault of their own). If you can support them, please please do.
Dash had been found wandering stray, was unchipped and unclaimed. He was days away from being put down by his first kennel when RR took him in. He was already very well trained and well behaved, loving the company of other dogs and people. He was small and handsome and I already loved him. I loved him just from a picture and short bio, just like the old internet romances of yore. This was it. He was the one.
I convinced my husband to go and meet him the following weekend. He argued it wasn’t a good time. I argued that it was the perfect time. We had no kids, no holidays booked, owned our own place with a garden and a park a stone’s throw away. I had found a fabulous dog walker, Diane, who could take him on for the three days a week I was at work.
“I’m not getting a dog this weekend, I tell you that now for nothing.” Is my favourite thing I keep quoting back to him, as that Saturday, after a jaunt around the woods in Guildford to get to know Dash, we returned home with a rather skinny new dog.
Kennels had taken their toll. He had lost a lot of weight from the stress, his tail was covered in cuts from him spinning and bashing it on the bars, and he had sores on his hocks. He also moulted. A LOT.
Bringing him home was nerve wracking. No matter how he’d behaved in the kennels, we didn’t know how he’d be in a home environment. Would he stay house trained? Would he tear our furniture to shreds? Would he get aggressive after being through so much?
That’ll be a no then.
We were very lucky. He slept through the night on his own in the living room, ate what he was given, chewed what he was supposed to and wee’d outside. He was very affectionate, wanting to sit across our laps if he could, wanting to be everywhere we went.
I’m not going to say there haven’t been challenges, it was stressful just opening our home to a very strong animal who’s background we didn’t know, but we’ve had a very smooth ride. He even gets on with our rabbits!
Rescuing a Staffy in particular has been a challenge in itself. Even with him being so sweet and well behaved (and the Staffy being known as the Nanny dog due to their good nature), people just react differently to a Staff than they do to other dogs.
Everyone knows the stigma attached to bull breeds, and even though there has been some amazing campaigning over the last few years (Battersea’s Softer than You Think Campaign, Cesar Milan’s blog and battle to end Pit Bull prejudice, the One Million Pibble March in the US, the change to the Dangerous Dogs Act to shift responsibility away from the dog and towards the owner), people are still nervous of them.
Firstly, several of the professional dog walkers I talked to wouldn’t take on bull breeds. One even had the audacity to tell me I wouldn’t find one who did (Diane not only takes them on, she has two lovely rescue Staffs of her own).
Then, keeping him on the lead while in the park (as he still needs to learn his new name) meant people thought he was dangerous and gave us a wide berth. And when he was running free, some people would put their own dogs back on the lead to move away from him.
Staffys also have a big ol’ bark, even when they’re saying they want to play, so that took some getting used to, and it can be tricky to convince strangers he’s a good dog when he’s making a racket. I get it, they’re strong dogs.
Just to add my opinion to all the noise, of all the dogs I’ve met, Staffys have been the most consistently friendly and soppy. I’ve met grumpy spaniels, noisy greyhounds, shy labradors, lazy terriers. You just can’t stereotype a whole breed.
Anyway. Staffys can definitely add me to their fan base. Dash is such a delight, so funny and so full of love.
I highly recommend rescuing rather than buying (maybe spend more than a week deciding to make the commitment though!). There are so many dogs in need of homes. If you can’t take on a dog long term, then look into fostering for a few weeks. If you can’t do that, then just volunteer your time to walk dogs at the kennels. When we took Dash home he’d only been walked twice a week for months due to lack of volunteers.
So the next time a sunny weekend comes up and you wish you had a dog pal you could take for a jaunt in the woods and fields, you can do just that.