Amstaff, Frankie, Pit bull, Spay and Neuter

My One and Only Amstaff

Amstaff?

I read the labels below the puppies in the puppy bowl bios and asked, “What’s an Amstaff?”

I thought maybe this was some new designer breed I’d never heard of, when in fact, my very own Amstaff was lying beside me. Or rather, at that particular moment, careening around Nancy’s living room.

Frankie, Nick, and I watched the Puppy Bowl on Sunday with Nancy and Matt, who adopted Edith Wharton. While we sampled some excellent beers, Edith and Frankie wrestled and played with abandon. Frankie was thrilled to discover the huge cache of toys Edith had – many with squeakers intact! (There are very few of those at our house, as Gala considers it her job to keep the squeakers silent.)

We arrived just in the nick of time to see Frankie and Buford on the television. Unbeknownst to me, the pregame show started earlier than three, and Frankie and Buford turned up larger than lifesize around 2:40. (I apologize to any of you who had hoped to catch it. You can see it here. Forward to minute 30 and then wait through a batch of forced-commercials and you’ll see their segment.)

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The game was fun to watch, but what was more fun was watching Frankie watch the game:

As the parade of Amstaffs went by on the screen, I understood quickly. American Staffordshire Terrier = Amstaff. Whether the name was shortened to fit on the screen or whether it is intentional rebranding, it has a certain ring to it. Now if only a name change could make people give this remarkable breed the respect and affection it deserves.

Normally, when we are out and about, which is quite often as I’m trying to socialize Frankie, people comment on his blue eyes and ask what breed he is.

I answer, “He’s an American Staffordshire Terrier.”

Their eyes widen and someone always says, “You mean a pitbull?”

I’m tempted at that point to say, “Pitbull isn’t a breed,” but I keep my snarky comments to myself in the interest of allowing Frankie to change perceptions. I’m confident he has, and he will continue to.

On Saturday he participated in a program at our library we called K9&Kds (Canine and Kids) which builds on the Muttigrees program that OPH participates in, but focuses specifically on teaching children how to safely interact with dogs and also educates them about dog rescue.

While the first part of the program was taking place (instruction, story time, crafts), we had to wait in an overly warm room for the kid-dog interaction time (it’s best to keep dogs out of sight when you want to keep children’s attention). Frankie was hot; we all were, but Frankie, being a boy dog, sprawled on his back, spread eagle, his maleness on full display. (For reasons, most likely biological, in the last few weeks his little nuggets seem to have doubled in size.)

I’ve noticed this particular lounging position is a mostly male dog habit. Not that girls don’t do it too, but it seems to be a default position for many of the male dogs and puppies I’ve fostered, starting nearly from birth. Note this PICTURE of Hemingway, the only boy puppy in Edith’s litter from last year.

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Anyway, Frankie was airing out and more than one volunteer gasped at the sight of his jewels. “I know,” I apologized, “They’re coming off on Wednesday.” One volunteer commented that she just never sees an intact dog anymore. Which is a great thing to hear. The mindset, at least of the library-frequenting folk, is different from the man I once heard say, in regards to his unneutered male dog, “I would never do that to him!”

How do we change that mindset? I have no answer for you, but World Spay (and Neuter) Day is a start. We need to be loud in our disapproval of unneutered/unspayed pets, and we need to be generous with resources to get the job done. OPH is sponsoring several World Spay Day clinics in the US and one in India.

I’m not naive enough to think spaying and neutering all the animals is possible, let alone, the answer, but it’s one thing that can make a difference. I love puppies, in fact, I’m counting the days until I can welcome another precious tribe to my house, but I wish there would be no need of me and my puppy room.

Tomorrow morning early, I’ll drive my little Amstaff to the vet clinic and change the course of his life for the better. Because there’s really only one Frankie, and I’d like to keep it that way.

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My best,

Cara

14 thoughts on “My One and Only Amstaff”

  1. Hooray for AmStaffs! My Sophie has some of that in her, and I call it “the nice part of her.” She’s also part Aussie Cattle Dog, which while very loving can involve a lot of barking at others to stay in line. Thanks for promoting the best of this very sweet breed.

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  2. Funny video. I guess when it comes to your close dog-loving friends, Frankie has a standing invitation at their homes when you visit? Here in Winnipeg, pitbull-type dogs are banned because of past incidents where they’ve attacked people. I’ve never been around one myself, and used to be completely against them, wanting nothing to do with them, but perhaps, despite being a dog-disliker, if I was in the right mood and the setting was right, I’d consider meeting one that was able to stay calm when we did introductions. I’ve come around a bit more to the fact that part of the reason why pitbull-type dogs are given such a bad reputation is because they’re raised to be aggressive and vicious towards other people and animals, while only being trained to be nice and loyal to one or a few people. Any dog breed could be trained to be nasty. Some breeds have more intense natures, but given the right training and a good quality of care, they too can be taught to behave well around people and other animals they may be in regular contact with.

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    1. Ana – you said that so beautifully and that’s exactly it – pitbulls are an intense breed and they need lots of training and lots of constant management. Many people are not up to the task and hence, their bad rap. We still have to manage Frankie all the time. He gets overly excited when meeting new people, so he is never loose at the door when they come in. No one is allowed to touch him until he sits nicely for them. He’s still very young, so he doesn’t get it perfect all the time, but he’s getting there. I take him to classes every week. He’s just finished his first ‘rally obedience’ course (doing obedience moves on a prescribed course) and in another week, he will be starting with agility classes (which I’m SUPER excited about). I don’t imagine there will ever be a time when I don’t need to manage him and challenge him, while he’s a lover, he also has a busy mind that needs to be properly engaged and not left to his own devices.

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  3. Sounds like you have quite the dog. Earlier today I was thinking about your posts about him and thought that, if we personally knew each other and I lived much closer to you, that I might cave a little and let you introduce me to him, keeping him calm and still when we met. I listened to your video of Daisy in your most recent blog post, and I like hearing how gently you speak to your dogs, praising their progress and working with Nick to rid them of their fears. The two of you make a good team, and he’s obviously another dog lover.

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