“Jock, Jock!” called my dad early one weekday morning (that’s not my name but he had nicknames for everyone). Charlie’s got a dog! I jumped out of bed and raced downstairs to find my dad trying to choke Charlie off a brown mongrel dog that made the mistake of straying into our garden whilst Sally (our other Stafford) was in season! In nothing but my pants, I dove into action in the dirt, under the hedge and got Charlie off the now screaming dog.
Charlie was brought by my parents, for my good school results when I was 12. He was by Yankeestaff Bolivar, so carried a lot of the Rapparee, Hydiamond King breeding. On Sunday afternoon’s my friend Glen and I would take our dogs out and often we passed Patrick’s house and they had a Sheltie that would go nuts at the gate at us as we walked past. Sally and Charlie, our two staffords would ignore the dog and would often give a casual glance at him making all the noise.
One day the gate was open and Glen and I blissfully unaware of this, were talking as we walked past. The Sheltie came from nowhere and before I knew it Charlie had it by the ear! I can still hear the screaming sound that poor dog made. I had been shown how to choke a Stafford off so this was my first go….problem was I wasn’t strong enough to hold my grip whilst my 30lbs of terror refused to let go! Glen jumped in and grabbed Charlie’s mouth and tried to prize it open, Charlie simply bit Glen’s thumb as he adjusted his grip. It was a nightmare, Patrick and his family were out, the neighbours were out and I remember looking at how somehow, Charlie still had hold of the dog and had dragged us all across the road? We eventually got Charlie off and when we got back to my house I remember when my mum asked Glen what had happened he looked at his bleeding thumb and got upset and began to cry. At the time I thought he was a bit wimpy for doing that, but as I look back now it was just the shock of it all coming home to him, not the pain of his thumb that made him cry.
JT gave me Jodie and she would just not mate. I tried everything to get her bred but never was able. One day I took her out with Diesel into the fields whilst she was in season to let the dogs run naturally and let nature take its course! Well, after a good half hour or so, I could see Diesel needed help with her, so, on my knees over and over trying to calm her and get him positioned. Every time he hit the mark, she would go nuts and wriggle away. I stood up again to take a breather (and probably say a prayer) and I looked down and they were tied!!! YESSS!!! BINGO!!! I couldn’t believe it, I had tried so many times over numerous seasons to make a mating with her and here, I had cracked it! I knelt down and to my horror saw that they had tied alright…with him up her bum!! My heart sank, but not as much as it was about to. I stood up and as I did from over the hedge row I was stood next to, two rifles were pointed at me! “What are you playing at?” said the voice from behind one of the shotguns. Well to be honest, I thought that was Ironic as I was just asking myself that very same question! Lol. I gathered myself and said “Trying to breed these dogs, why what’s it got to do with you?”
“We are the gamekeepers here, and we’ve been watching you mess about around the hedges, have you got any birds on you?” “No” I replied, and soon I was on my way and not a shot fired!
A couple of months ago I was on the bike with Barclay and as we approached an all-weather 3G pitch I could hear the guys on the pitch starting to get angry with each other. I peddled past a small coppice and over to where they were playing. The guys were calling each other and trading insults. Whilst this was going on I heard a bark from the bushes, which I just didn’t register. Anyway, two of the guys start going for each other and are pulled apart by their friends. It was all handbags really. I then hear a deep growl and as I turn to see where Barclay was my heart sank, as I now know he has hold of something in that coppice. Bear in mind, this coppice is in the middle of a secondary school playing field, with a tram close by and roads. I know there are two vixens in the vicinity because I have seen them numerous times, but I have just been distracted. Now Barclay’s sire Hank would crush a fox easily and kill it in short order, so I knew what was going on over there and I quickly equated the time I had been watching the footballers, that the fox would be dead or nearly there by now. Barclay is one of the most driven dogs I have ever owned, he just does not stop….at anything! So I walked over to the Coppice, which was about 50m away, hoping he would just come out and I would not have to witness the horror taking place in there. Well he didn’t and as I got over there, again I heard the tussle taking place. I walked around to where the noise was coming from to take stock of whatever was about to face me. It was about 10.00pm, so was very dark. I got close but because of all the brambles I could not see. I had an idea, I got my phone out and popped the torch on. What a surprise I saw, as the light hit Barclay and his foe! A big male badger!! “A badger”? I said out loud, “How the hell does a badger get here”? I have never seen one there before and I have been walking these areas for 20 yrs!!! As I looked I could see that Barclay had him by the ear and was shaking him with his usual enthusiasm! The badger was trying to get away but Barclay was throwing him onto his back and shaking him hard. They then tumbled out of view down deeper into the Coppice where I could not see. I then walked around to another side where they went. This time as I shone the torch I could see Barclay had him by the snout and was completely dominating the badger who was just trying to snap at him to get him off. They were just out of reach now, and I must admit, I did not fancy getting my hands in the way of a snapping badger, but to break this thing up, I would have to take that risk. After a couple of minutes they came close enough and I simply grabbed Barclay by his collar and lifted him up and twisted to choke him off. This he soon did and the poor badger disappeared quickly. I reckon they were at this for a good 10 minutes, maybe more. I clipped Barclay on his lead, he was going mad to get back at the now long gone badger. We rode back home, Barclay as usual, full canter, as if nothing had happened, no dog trots for him! When I got home I examined him to see that the inside of his lip had been split. I gave him a full wash, fed him and put him back in his kennel. I hasten to add, Barclay has not been off the lead in that area since, and will never do again!
I’m sure the reader/owner of staffords will no doubt read the above and will fully understand how such unfortunate situations come about. But it is at times like these I have often wondered why on earth would I be involved with a breed of dog that gets one into all these crazy situations? After all, surely owning a springer or Labrador would be much easier??
Well for one I love the look of a good Stafford, especially if he is in good nick. There is just something about a strong head and neck, rippling athletic body and a whip tail that I like. My dogs are always in good shape and that leads me to the next point. I just love getting out and about with them. They are great fun to walk and out in the fields and this is also great for the mind and soul. Don’t you think?
And that leads me to my final point and this is deep, so grab your snorkel and flippers, we’re going under! Another reason I like them is because they are as hard as nails and will defend me or mine with everything they have got. When they stand to attention when something catches their eye, I just know that whatever it is, best not tangle with this dog here as it will likely to get messy! It’s not like I think I am hard for having them, it’s just an appreciation of that trait.
But at this time of year, it is important to remember the man who gave his all for us too…and that my friend’s is Jesus! I told you it was going deep, you were warned. I believe all creation was made by God, the resilience in the dogs reflects something of God’s character (as all things do), kind of like an arrow pointing the way saying something like “You think that dog is tough, look what Jesus went through for you”. And the story of the prodigal son, the story of God’s love for his people and even Jesus life, show’s us, if you believe it, how much more God will not give up on us and love us no matter what! Amazing!!
Enjoy your staffords folks, breed them into families using only the very best ones you can find and look after them well. Happy Christmas!
There’s a few tenuous links in the song to the story, I hope you enjoy it?
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