Almost two years ago, my fat piglet of a dog (yes that makes sense to me) Lola first entered this world and knowing Lola, I think she made a fuss of that first appearance. She has a dusty coating of brown in her otherwise black hair, expressive ears that appear overexaggerated and she, like her older “brother”, is a Staffy (Staffordshire Bull Terrier). Yes, I have two of these crazy creatures. Yes, I do go around my house singing “The hills are alive with the sound of madness”. There is a special type of madness reserved for Staffy lovers and I’ve been stricken. Thinking about Lola’s second birthday and the fact that Stitch, the grey muzzled snorer on the couch beside me, is a newly minted six-year-old got me wondering whether I was ever prepared for these creatures in my life. I doubt that anyone could be prepared for the depth of love, the sense of humour and stubbornness that these dogs seem to possess. But if I had to give it my best shot these are the three steps I would recommend to anyone thinking of getting a Staffy.
Step 1: Collect and Cleanse
Collect everything you love; sentimental keepsakes, wedding pictures, your favourite dress (you know the expensive one that hides the terrible bits and shows off the good ones), shoes and even any furniture that means something to you. I’ll give you some time, go ready yourself. Good, do you have them ready? Now, spread out your bounty before you and take some time to remember why it is that you really love each item, don’t skip this part, it is crucial to the process. Once you’ve done that, pick up each item in turn, gently now, and then as tender as a lover’s embrace, set fire to it. Remember to do this in a controlled environment and of course to shed your tears now. You see, a Staffy is a rather unsentimental being with a penchant for, how shall I put this, “redecorating”. He or she will see that stone statue you brought back from Bali to remind you of your honeymoon and decide that it does not go with the rest of your furniture. They are problem solvers extraordinaire. They are also avid gardeners and have a keen sense of fashion. Of course, your Staffy is only acting in your best interest when a tooth snags the bottom of your new dress – that colour did nothing for you skin tone anyway. There is no guarantee that this step will allow you to forgive your Staffy when the time comes, but as you can see below Staffies have a built in cuteness fail-safe for this exact purpose.
Step 2: Dogs are people too
Stitch, the older cuddle monkey, nestles in my lap, head resting on my chest as though he is completely unaware of his 18kg body. I reprimand Lola for jumping up on the couch uninvited and when she sulks off the couch and sits obediently on the floor, Stitch seems to look at me and with a sigh, say “Dogs, they’ll never learn”. Someone once told me that Staffies believe that they’re human and maybe it is because Stitch was raised by a cat, I think he displays some very undog like behaviour. Whatever the case, ready yourself for an animal that wants to be by your side at all times, on the couch, in your bed, in the bathroom. Ready yourself for a dog that is not shy to voice his or her concerns, Stitch will readily complain to me when he feels like I’m neglecting him. And while you’re readying yourself for that, also ready yourself for the weird looks you’re going to get when you tell people how human your dog is.
Step 3: Prepare for embarrassment
I love meeting other people who have Staffies, the first thing we generally do is swap embarrassing Staffy stories. My all-time favourite story is the one where a light brown nine-year-old male Staffy, Kublai, was the protagonist. I loved this dog the moment I met him and you’ll see that I obviously was not the only one. Kublai, as it turns out was a bit of an adventurer, he wandered off one day when his owners were renovating and had accidentally left the front gate open. He had done this once or twice before and somehow managed to meander to his local vet where he would wait patiently to be “rescued”. On this one occasion however, dear Kublai was feeling a bit more daring and decided that getting rescued from the vet was dated and boring, instead he wandered off to the home of Concerned Dog Lover. I must at this point state a few vital facts for those who have never had a Staffy before:
- Staffies greet everyone as though they are the best friend they have been waiting their entire lives for. Everyone is the best person they’ve ever met. EVER
- Staffies are always hungry and are experts in the sad puppy dog eyes whenever food is in the picture
- Staffies generally behave as though they are not loved and do not get any attention from their owners. They will readily climb into your lap and love you with such conviction that you will be convinced of the fact that their owners are, in fact, terrible human beings
In the few short hours between Kublai arriving at Concerned Dog Lover’s home and his owner coming to fetch him, he had done a few very important things. One, he had managed to secure himself a prime spot on the couch in front of the TV. Two, he had guilted himself into some treats and a bowl of food and three, it would appear that he had seemed to forget his real owner. When an excited and relieved owner called out Kublai’s name, Kublai did not initially respond. He merely sat on the couch in anticipation of his favourite soapy, prompting Concerned Dog Lover to ask the question “Is this really your dog?”. An urgent plea later and Kublai was in the arms of his rightful owner.
So there you have it, my Staffy readiness programme which is neither conclusive or scientific but there is one thing I should mention in parting. Where ever it is that you make space for your Staffy, be sure to make space in your heart that is most certainly the biggest space they’d occupy in your life.