The Challenges of Fostering a Pitbull

July 21, 2016

If you’d asked me three years ago, before I met Owen, whether I could imagine owning an enormous Pit Bull the answer would certainly have been no.  I’ve actually always been a cat person, but since moving in to a home with the lush indecently naked-bellied fur ball that is Tonks the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, she just won me over and I now can’t imagine ever being in a home without one.

Pit Bulls have a terrible reputation (as do Staffies, but people are more lenient with their opinions because they’re comparatively dinky!) and in my experiences with them it is entirely undeserved.  The stunning, yet gargantuan, Mr. Blue came to us a few days ago from a pound near Ayia Napa.  Despite being abandoned and kept caged at the pound he was immediately friendly, happy and craving as much attention as he could get.  Due to his rough start in life he’s not yet learned what we term ‘polite’ behaviour, and he’s constantly testing his limits.  Despite his size, he’s really still just a puppy.

Blue is one of the most affectionate dogs I have ever known.  He’s constantly desperate for a fuss, but doesn’t know his own size!  Since the day he walked through the door he’s tried to get on my lap as if he were a puppy, but he’s bigger than I am and just has no concept of that.  He’s awkward and ungraceful, falling over himself constantly and tries to play and instead will trip himself on the tiles and slide head first in to the furniture.  He gets up again though, unfazed, and goes about his day.  He’s still learning.

Tonks is perfectly behaved, and I think it came as a rude awakening when Blue came in to our lives.  He’s untrained and has no manners, but equally he’s quite thoughtful.  When we walk, he could easily pull me over and drag me along.  But he doesn’t.  He’ll pull just enough to let me know he wants to go faster, but never enough to trip me up.  He can be a bit boisterous when he plays, but a few well deserved snaps from our girl and he’s learning fast what is too hard and too rough.

The biggest toll fostering this dog has taken on Owen and I is the fact that we’ve barely been able to sleep.  And definitely not together.  We can’t have Tonks on the bed but explain to him that he can’t.  For the first few nights he was so destructive.  He kept trying to chew the blankets and pillows, and everything was treated as a toy, including our hands and feet.  He’d never been inside before, he just didn’t know what anything was!  We split the two dogs between us and tried to keep him calm so at least one of us could sleep and get some work done the next day.  We alternated like that for a few nights.  Then, one night he just came upstairs, flopped on the bed next to Tonks and fell straight to sleep.  We could have cried with relief!

Since then he’s been getting better and better.  He’s a really fast learner.  He’s learned not to play so rough, he’s learned not to bite hands and feet, and has started replacing it with gentle nibbles.  His furniture biting is now reserved for the minutes he knows are pre-walk, and he will never try and steal our food while we eat!  He knows how to sit, and he takes direction very well.  He’s a gorgeous dog, and if it weren’t for the tragedy that is BSL (breed specific legislation) which states that dogs like Blue are ‘dangerous’ and therefore couldn’t be brought to certain countries we may move to in the future, we’d love to keep him and make him a permanent part of our family.

The biggest thing we’re getting out of this is knowing that, as hard it’s been to constantly supervise this dog, the sleepless nights, the bruises as he navigates his own strength, after all this is over we’ve prepared him for a loving forever home. Because of us he’s alive, and not being put to sleep after languishing in a pound until his last day. The family that gets him will know nothing but the boundless love he has to give.  (I must admit, although it’s been tough with Owen and I sleeping in separate rooms, it’s been so wonderful having such a big dog to cuddle.  He backs in to me so I can spoon him!)  I want his tough start in life to be nothing but a distant memory as he learns to be the best he can be and that he can be loved completely and unconditionally.

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