02.10.2005 02:27 - He's Only Trying To Be Friendly.
My sister had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. His name was George, which was an abbreviation of his full pedigree name. George was an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which is to say, a proper Staffy, as specified by the Kennel Club. American Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not, mainly because the Americans seem to have a compulsive drive to fiddle about with specifications, as it were, coupled to a bloody-minded attitude that any dog breed from anywhere else in the world can be "improved" and made bigger and better. They're currently "improving" whippets at the moment, to the point where American whippets are indistinguishable from Greyhounds, or tank-busting fighter planes. But I digress.
When George joined the family, he was a cute rubber-faced little puppy. He was quite intelligent as well. One of George's favorite tricks, as a puppy, was to climb onto my head. This was all very cute and loveable, at the time. There's a couple of videotapes of me sitting watching television with this cute, lovable little rubber-faced thing sitting on my head. No, he didn't lose control of his bladder, either. He was fully house-trained within a week.
The problem is, George grew up to be an extremely strong and boisterous dog. He was the sort of dog who will go into an absolute frenzy if anyone says the word "catsssssssssss!".
You do not want to be in the same room as a Staffy who is in an absolute frenzy. It is also inadvisible to have furniture in the same room as a Staffy in an absolute frenzy, if you want the furniture to be recognizable as furniture for the forseeable future.
This dog had a grin that could only be described as "labial". His mouth consisted of about two inches worth of teeth, and a further inch each side of muscle. His jaws would close with a loud SNAP, something he seemed to find immensely satisfying, as he would run around snapping them. Often these jaws would not be empty when they closed. Sometimes they had furniture between them. My sister never needed to buy a nut-cracker. She could just use George.
Furthermore, the concept of pain was unknown to this animal. Slapping him when he was bad must have felt like a mild tickle. You could hit this dog with a baseball bat (Note to Animal Lovers : I am not advocating that anyone should even consider something as cruel as using a baseball bat on a dog. With the possible exception of Paris Hilton's Chihuahua. Mind you, in this case I'd forget the dog and go straight for the owner.) and it would think you were playing. Other dog's toys would last about a minute with George. I know this for a fact, because my parent's dog Bob once looked aghast as George ripped his favorite squeaky ball to little unsqueaking shreds. Bob, a golden-retriever based mongrel who was about twice the size (but only a quarter of the strength) of George, exchanged a shocked glance with me, and then went and hid under a bed. A cow-hide chew that Bob had been working on for three months lasted two minutes with George. After a while, Bob would pack himself off upstairs to hide under the bed whenever my Sister came to visit.
This wasn't the problem, though. Oh no.
Despite his strength, George was not a vicious dog - in fact, he was quite the opposite. It was just that he just didn't realise his own strength. The real problem was, that even though George had developed into a densely-muscled creature capable of going one-on-one with a bull, he still wanted to sit on people's heads.
I will not go into detail as to the shredded suites, clothes and nerves. I will not describe the violence that often ensued, and I will definitely not go into what it feels like to have the willy of a fully-grown unnneutered male Staffordshire Bull Terrier inserted into your ear, other than to say I learned to keep my mouth shut for fear of him altering his ascent plan. I will not detail the near hysteria as my Sister came out with the classic dog-owner line "He's only trying to be friendly" during one of these assaults.
All I will say is this : If any of the breeders who make up the American Kennel Club had been on the end of one of these assaults, they'd soon change their mind about making Staffies bigger.