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A Playful Pit Bull Breakthrough!

Blue SleepingIt’s been tough on Tonks these last few weeks as she and Blue haven’t been able to find their level.  She’s going on nine years old now and just doesn’t have the same energy levels as a 12 month old Pit Bull.  Because he’d spent most of his puppy months either chained up in a yard with no mental stimulation or in the pound he really hadn’t had any socialisation so tended to be a bit too boisterous while playing.

Tonks, quite rightly so, didn’t really appreciate being pinned down or stamped on.  He was very obviously trying to play and be affectionate, but he really doesn’t realise his own size.  I mean just look at the picture to the left; he honestly thought he was small enough to fit on that single seat sofa!  For weeks now she’s been a little ‘back off buddy!’ whenever he came too close, but for the first time last night she actually started to play with him.

It’s amazing to see the change in him now that he’s being socialised.  He understands now that he can’t be too rough with her, and if he wants to play he has to do it on her terms.  He rolled over, showed her his belly and she pinned him down and they were off!  Lots of affectionate ear nibbling and some playful growls, waggy tails and now they can’t get enough of each other.  It’s wonderful how fast he learns.

Today I was lucky enough to catch them on video playing.  Hearing two bull breeds play can be a bit daunting to the uninitiated, so rest assured that they are happy playful sounds.  I remember the first time I heard Tonks play with her rope toy I thought she was murdering something in the next room.  But seeing these beautiful, powerful animals be so happy and aligned with each other has really given me an even greater appreciation for both their breeds.  Tonks, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is about a quarter of the size of Blue, a Pit Bull, but she pins him down and gives as good as she gets.  He now knows he’s big and is respectful of her size and she won’t hold back to make sure that he gets a good old play as well.

They’re rubbing along fine now.  Every day he gets better and better, and every day we fall more and more in love with him.  It’ll be hard to let him go when he finds his forever home.  We’d keep him if it weren’t for BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) in the UK which has banned him for being a ‘dangerous’ dog.  The only thing dangerous is that archaic law which punishes the breed, and not the deed.  It removes all responsibility from the owners to raise a happy, socialised and well trained dog, and instead allows them to hide behind a law which has punished their dog for just being born.

 

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The Challenges of Fostering a Pitbull

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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Blue is available for adoption from Pitbull Rescue Cyprus.

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