Astounding Ways of Knowing Your Bull Terriers (Fast)
OWNING AN OLDER OR RESCUE DOG
Oldies but goodies. Gus and Giff were my first two Staffords.
CHOOSING AN OLDER DOG
Making the decision to buy a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy is an exciting prospect, but some people would prefer to give a home to an older dog. Whatever the reasons for the choice, there are always good opportunities available to them.
There are several advantages in choosing an older dog rather than a puppy. The older dog, for example, is likely to be house-trained, especially if he has ever lived in a house. Not everyone wants to go through the rigours of house-training a new puppy. He should also be over the chewing stage that puppies go through as they are teething and growing.
An older dog may already be able to demonstrate good behaviour and his capability of being a very good companion. This can be an important issue for a prospective new owner who may be physically impaired or in poor health and lacks the confidence to start at the beginning with training a puppy. He may already be trained to walk nicely on the lead and behave properly in public with people and other animals. He may already be familiar with basic commands such as ‘No!’, ‘Stay!’, ‘Leave!’ and so on. These are all practical points – but it may be, of course, that an older dog simply appeals to a prospective new owner.
If the intention is to show, there are certain advantages in obtaining an older dog. For instance, the opportunity may arise to purchase a dog with a proven show record and plenty of potential showing ability. This is a much safer bet than buying a puppy which may never achieve anything in the show ring. Bear in mind, though, that a proven dog that has already obtained high honours in the show ring but is still young enough to be successfully shown will be a very expensive purchase. Another option may be to purchase a proven sire of quality puppies. Again, this may be an expensive acquisition but such a dog is more likely to produce quality progeny than an as-yet-unproven puppy.
A much-loved old girl.
An older ex-show Stafford.
Perhaps the best time to obtain an older dog is when he is around one or two years old and has plenty of life ahead to be enjoyed.
Such dogs may perhaps require a new home due to a bereavement or because their owner can no longer care for them. Elderly dogs often require special care and attention, which their new owner will need to be aware of.
There can in old age be a reduction in the dog’s mobility that can lead to health-inhibiting weight gain. Older dogs are much more prone to gain weight than younger ones, especially if they have been neutered or spayed.
The maintenance of a sensible weight is a most important factor in ensuring good health. An elderly Stafford that is overweight will likely have mobility problems because of the strain on his bones, ligaments and tendons, as well as difficulties with his respiratory system, heart and other internal organs. It is inexcusable not to do all that can be done to prevent an old dog becoming obese.
Maintaining an old dog’s health and general well-being can be achieved by paying strict attention to his food requirements. Your veterinary surgeon will always be there to advise on this if necessary. Generally, a healthy dog only needs to be fed once a day to satisfy his dietary needs, but for an older dog it may be better to divide his food into two portions, fed in the morning and evening. This puts less wear and tear on his digestive system. Various high-quality specially prepared diets are available for older dogs.
An old girl happy to be out and about.
Enjoying the field.
The exercise regime for a dog of advanced years must be handled with care. Due to his very nature a Stafford will want to keep on going as if still a youngster. The owner must be sensible and never allow an ‘oldie’ to overstretch himself. Sensible exercise as long as he is capable and fit enough is one thing, but allowing him to harm himself is another.
A worming routine should continue during the dog’s advanced years but due care must be taken if he is unwell. A vet can advise you.
Old dogs often have bad breath, and it may indicate a problem that needs veterinary attention. It is often caused by insufficient or neglected cleaning of his teeth. If he is not accustomed to it, an ‘oldie’ may not take kindly to having his teeth brushed. Special chews that need to be properly chewed up and cannot just be quickly swallowed can help. For dogs that are missing some teeth, a softer type of chew is more appropriate.
Very old dogs may suffer from failing eyesight. They seem to adapt well to the problem, and even to their owners may not appear to be suffering unduly. Should his eyesight deteriorate or even fail, the dog will still be capable of leading as happy and relatively normal life as long as he is well cared for. Do not move the furniture around in your home, as this will confuse him and he will lose his bearings.
Problems with his toilet, and particularly with his water works, often occur with a dog of advanced years. He cannot help it and should never be scolded for his occasional mishaps. Any punishment would be totally non-effective and would simply cause unnecessary confusion and stress for the dog.
It is most important for a dog of very advanced years that he is allowed his dignity and an undisturbed place in the home, without being pushed around or out of place by boisterous children or younger animals.
The time will inevitably come when it becomes necessary to say goodbye. When an ‘oldie’ has reached the state where he is no longer able to maintain his life with dignity and freedom from pain, it is time to prevent any further suffering and see that he is gently put to his final rest.
Maybe old but very happy.
REASONS FOR REHOMING
Before making the decision to become the owner of an older dog, always determine exactly why he has become available for rehoming. There are many reasons why an owner may want or need to find a new home for a Stafford. Some of the most common are as follows:
a domestic breakdown means the dog can no longer be sufficiently cared for;
a family is going to live or work abroad and cannot take their dog with them;
the family is moving home and cannot have dogs in their new premises;
due to a genuine change of circumstances, perhaps unexpected unemployment or the like, an owner can no longer give the dog a good home;
a keen show-goer may have run a Stafford on, only to find he has developed a fault that disqualifies him from showing successfully;
breeders may want to find a good home for a sound and healthy dog that has been sold and returned because he simply didn’t fit in with his new family; or
breeders may want a good home for a young bitch who has whelped a litter of puppies but will no longer be used for breeding.
In any other circumstances, you are strongly advised to look into the real reason why the dog is up for rehoming. Perhaps he is dangerously or destructively out of control. Factors such as lack of proper training, poor home environment, ill treatment and even sometimes total frustration due to neglect can all play a part in creating a dog with difficulties. A dislike of small children may be given as a reason. Certainly it is very unusual for a Stafford to be guilty of this and it needs looking in to. It may be that the dog is simply attempting to protect himself from unbearable teasing by young children.
Be very wary if you are told that a dog needs a new home because he bites without warning. This is most unusual behaviour in a Stafford, and, if it is true, then you should consider very carefully the risks involved in rehoming such a dog. Sometimes dogs are put up for rehoming because they are not clean in the home and the owner is just passing the problem on to someone else. The Stafford is a very clean dog by nature, and the problem may have been caused by inadequate toilet training or anxiety due to an unsuitable environment. An owner may want to rehome a dog because the neighbours have complained about barking. This usually happens when the dog is left on his own for long periods without proper attention.
Unscrupulous breeders may wish to pass on a dog that cannot procreate or a bitch that cannot conceive. This will not always be given as a reason for rehoming. If you are hoping to breed from your rescue dog, you need to do some research into this to avoid any future disappointment. Likewise, an uncaring owner may wish to pass on a dog that has developed health problems. This can turn out to be very expensive, so make sure you have a health check done before purchasing any dog.
In any event, it is best to take the dog on approval for an agreed period before a transfer of ownership is completed.
More than forty years ago – an old Stafford enjoying life in a loving home.
A GOOD CHOICE?
There are various reasons why a Staffordshire Bull Terrier might be in need of a new home. Fortunately for these dogs, there are many people who want to share their homes with a pet and a rescue Stafford often makes an ideal choice. They are very special dogs with a reputation for outstanding character and temperament, and an admirable record for loyalty and devotion to all members of a family, young children and elderly alike.
Some Staffordshire Bull Terriers find themselves desperately in need of new homes, but seldom through any fault of their own. In many cases breakdowns in family relationships or bereavements result in them having to be rehomed. Others are the result of irresponsible over-breeding by the uncaring. Some are dumped or abandoned, and wander the streets as strays until picked up by the authorities or members of the public and put into rescue. It is not unheard of for owners to turn out a dog because it is inconvenient and they just want to get rid of him without particularly caring where he ends up. Such people should never have a dog in the first place. This is not to say that all Staffords that end up in rescue are unloved. Sometimes, especially in the case of bereavement or illness, an owner may simply be unable to look after the pet properly and there is nowhere else to turn for help. But sadly, the rescue authorities come across all too many cases of neglect, malnutrition (even starvation) and outrageous cruelty to Staffords. No matter the level of abuse such victims have endured, once safely in rescue they will be treated with enormous care, often at great expense, to help them overcome whatever trauma and injuries, whether psychological or physical, they have suffered. They will receive veterinary attention, be spayed or neutered (if not already) and generally prepared for rehoming with an approved new owner.
Three of the Staffords rescued by Northern Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue.
These dogs are crying out for a new start in life with owners they can love and be devoted to. A visit to any rescue kennels will clearly demonstrate this. But taking on a rescue Stafford is not easy. A prospective owner must expect to be thoroughly checked out as to their suitability to take on a rescue dog and a home visit will be arranged in order to ensure that the accommodation and environment will be satisfactory for the dog. In return, every Stafford will be carefully assessed prior to going to his new home. His character and temperament will be carefully matched to a prospective new owner, taking especial care where young children are present in a household. Rescue Staffords are there because they have fallen on hard times. No one wants to see that happen to them again.
A prospective rescue owner should ensure that the dog has been fully checked over by a qualified veterinary surgeon and received any necessary medical attention, including neutering where appropriate. Full vaccinations must have been carried out, and an identity microchip implanted.
RESCUE STAFFORD WALKS
To see a long trail of Staffordshire Bull Terriers with their devoted owners and families all together on one of their special organized weekend walks through beautiful countryside is a never-to-be-forgotten experience. They are of all ages, shapes and sizes, but they all have something in common: all are rescue Staffords owned by people who would never consider any other choice of dog!
There are many dedicated rescue organizations for dogs that are in need of new homes. The Kennel Club each year produces a Dog Rescue Directory which lists both general rescue organizations that deal with all breeds and breed-specific rescue groups. The Directory is intended to assist in the rescue of stray and unwanted dogs. It is not designed to replace the purchase of puppies from responsible breeders, but is a resource intended to help people who want to rehome an abandoned dog or who need to find a suitable home for their own dog. The Kennel Club endeavours to ensure that organizations included in the Rescue Directory are genuine, but has no control over the way in which they are run since they are not bound by Kennel Club regulations.
Below is a list of the Stafford rescue organizations included in the current (2015) Kennel Club Rescue Directory.
Much of the advice given in the chapter on bringing home a new puppy will apply equally to the older or rescue dog, but there are some significant differences and much depends on the dog’s circumstances. If he is not too old, and has come from a good home, he should be able to adapt to the change in his circumstances relatively easily. His new owners will generally have the advantage of knowing from the outset – from the information provided by his previous owners – of what is needed to help him adapt and settle down comfortably. For an elderly Stafford extra care must be taken to ensure his welfare. For example, he may need a special diet containing a lower protein content. Increasing his fluid consumption, perhaps by adding water to his meals, will help to keep him in good condition and protect his kidneys. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise on sensible calorie-controlled diets to avoid weight gain. An elderly Stafford needs exercise, but not as much as when he was young. Care needs to be taken to ensure he does enough, but not too much.
Two other potential problems are bad teeth and arthritis. The older dog may well be suffering from bad breath caused by tartar, decayed teeth or both. These conditions will require the attention of a veterinary surgeon. Arthritis in old age is a not uncommon problem, and can cause the older dog considerable pain. Your vet will be able to supply medicines and supplements to help relieve the condition.
Sometimes, especially in the case of abandoned dogs, little is known about the dog. Great care, dedication and patience will be required to help build his confidence and trust. Some may have been treated most cruelly and have suffered terrible trauma. The new owner must be prepared to be endlessly patient and dedicated in giving such a dog a new start. Retraining may be necessary, but it will all be worthwhile in the end – for at the end of the journey there will be a healthy and happy Staffordshire Bull Terrier who loves and trusts his owners.