The sun was shining and we were heading to Ruscombe, where the streams are cool and the long grass tickles my tummy as I run through it chasing birds that I know I will never actually catch, as they swoop up and down, taunting me from the sky above my head.
Not only was I about to embark on my favourite part of the day, I was doing it with four of the humans I love the most. Life couldn’t really get much better!
I jumped out of the car and waited as patiently as I could while my humans swapped their trainers for wellies in anticipation of the mud – for some reason they don’t want to feel it between their toes – weird, I know!
And, finally, we were off….
But, barely two minutes down the lane we stopped abruptly. I had been so busy sniffing the sweet summer air that I hadn’t even noticed a human and her army of dogs walking toward us. That was until I heard her shout that I should have a muzzle on. That stopped me in my tracks. I looked up at her in shock. Why on earth would I be wearing a muzzle? My humans know that I wouldn’t hurt a fly – even if I ever caught up with one of those birds I love to run beneath I wouldn’t dream of touching it. It’s the thrill of the chase, isn’t it girls?
I knew why she was saying it though – I’m a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and through no fault of our own, I and the rest of my breed, have got a bad reputation.
Some humans – mine included – know that these stereotypes against us are unjust. But, others are the reasons they came about in the first place and even more help to spread them. My breed have suffered greatly at the hands of irresponsible owners but, more often that not, the generalised blame falls on us rather than them.
I don’t make decisions for myself – it is the hand holding my lead making them for me; deciding if and when I get to go out for a walk, how long to leave me home alone, when and how much to feed me and how much affection to show me.
I am one of the lucky ones, I know that. I get long walks in the countryside, followed by a delicious meal and snuggles with my family. But, I have heard of others left home alone for hours on end, barely getting out in the fresh air, let alone walking anywhere – it is enough to send anyone crazy, isn’t it?
But, those decisions are out of our paws… and in someone else’s hands.
Unfortunately I cannot speak for myself – I have wished on many occasions that I could – to tell my humans how much I love them and how grateful I am, to ask them to hurry up when they get ready SO slowly to walk with me, to ask for just one more treat as I watch the box soar over my head and back into the cupboard….
But, I have never wished it more so than I did in this moment – now all I wanted to do was show this woman the injustice of her accusations – explain to her my side of the story and that her prejudice against me is unfounded.
I know some humans don’t like me – it hurts when I see them cross the road to avoid me or pick their dog up when they have no choice but to walk past us – like I am some kind of monster. Although I suppose they could be avoiding mum, she can be one scary lady when she wants to be…
However, this… this I had never experienced before. As their voices grew louder, I tucked myself as close to my dad as I could and continued to stare up at her in bemusement. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this human was basing her opinion on another’s views – who has never met me. A woman that had called me an ‘aggressive’ dog and reported me to the dog warden because apparently she thought I could hurt a child – knowing no more about me as a dog, than my breed. If she had met me she would know that the worst I am likely to do to anyone is an overly slobbery kiss – but how else do I show my affection?
Why can humans not understand that my breed has been named a Nanny dog by The Kennel Club (those that know far more than the humans who base their views on what they read in the media) making us better with children than any other breed.
I love children – if for nothing more than their innocence – which hasn’t yet been manipulated by others opinions. Actually just a week after this incident I was playing catch with a little boy and was praised by my humans for how very I gentle I was him.
Luckily for me I have humans who will stand up for me – not all dogs are so fortunate. By fighting my corner they helped to expose the lies being spread about me and avoid what ultimately can become a death sentence for some dogs.
If only all humans were like mine – my breed wouldn’t be in this situation to start with.
Unfortunately though this situation has not ended with exposing the lies. This situation has caused my mum untold stress and nerves on every walk- which she has never before experienced during nearly six years of walking together.
I wish I could tell her that everything will be alright, but I understand how she feels because I feel the same. When lies are started about you they become rumours and rumours spread – evolving and getting further and further from the truth as they go. Even though I did absolutely nothing wrong those lies, the stress that comes with it plus input from those that really have no business commenting on the situation, are enough to put anyone on edge..
I even heard that someone – on hearing what happened – expressed a small minded opinion that all dogs should be muzzled. How cruel. Maybe those humans should try wearing a muzzle for the day and see how they like it. I think they would quickly want it off their face – particularly if there was no reason for it to be there.
Oh and do you know what else I would tell people if I could speak? That I am not a boy! I am fed up of being referred to as ‘him’ ‘he’ and ‘his’…
If only I had a voice…