How I got my first Stafford - Dru Ransdell
The Heart of a Stafford
Thirteen years ago, a sorry looking creature came hobbling down our country road. I could see that it was a little dog, but just barely, in light of her extreme state of neglect. She was the poster child for mangy elephant skin, and the secondary infection oozed an odor that made my nostrils cringe. Her belly bulging with worms gave her a distinct pot belly pig profile. She was hobbling because the pads on her little three month old puppy feet were so worn down. But she came and sat by us on our front walk, osmosing the concrete after-warmth in the setting sun, and gazed up at us shyly, asking to stay. I didn't want another dog. My beloved Pit/Shepherd cross wanted to dispatch her on the spot. I let the poor thing spend the night in our laundry shed, where she blissfully curled up into our piles of dirty laundry. (That's where we first learned one of the Stafford mottoes: "The whole world is full of puppy beds!") The next day I decided I'd better clean her up before I took her to the SPCA, and proceeded to give her a hose bath on the front lawn. She slipped away from the mean lady (me!) with the cold water. I called her back, and she came, with tail wagging. My heart swelled. I now had another dog. Her rehab was a wondrous thing to behold. The vet said her hair might never grow back properly. But with each hair that grew back, so did her beautiful heart and soul blossom. All that remained of her past were the scars from cigarette burns on her darling rump.
Micah always made us laugh with her enormous froggy smile, her Fred Flintstone snoring, her crazy antics with her toys, and her incredible ability to play dumb but always get the prize toy away from our other dog, Lupine, who ruled the household with an iron fist. (Well, an iron fist in a velvet glove.) With Micah we now had a snuggler supreme. Lupine was too alpha to go for that silly stuff. But Micah knew how to give the sparkly eye and the hula butt that enticed us to offer our lap, and up she would spring.
In summer, the way she would propel herself around in her wading pool like a seal made any onlooker long to do the same; she was like a paid advertisement for wading pools. Another favorite of hers was tug (of course!) during which she would sometimes "rest" and make us do all the work by flopping on her side so that we were compelled to drag her around on the ground. Her eyes would be brimming with joy as she got her "ride". One time she got up from being dragged with a puncture wound in her side from a sharp bit of ground stubble. She hadn't even flinched. That's a Stafford for you.
We didn't learn that Micah was a Staffordshire Terrier until after she had been part of our family many years, from a doggy friend. As I then learned about the breed, I could only agree with everything I read. No one needed to tell me that Micah was a nanny; she took that role upon herself with earnestness and zeal. Despite the fact that someone in her past had felt they needed to stub their cigarettes out on her body, she lavished her love so freely and the extra special care she gave to children was magical.
Micah left us before Thanksgiving, and left a gaping hole in our family. We battled her kidney disease and seemed to be winning, but then a possible spinal lesion took her down quickly. When Micah was sick and saw me getting her subQ fluids ready, she would come sit at my feet so I could slip the needle into her. No, she didn't enjoy the needle, but that smart little girl knew the fluids made her feel better. We lost Lupine, my ever so brave and noble protector, a few months before that, just short of her 15th birthday. I think the Pit passion for life and strength of character in Lupine is what made me love her so much too. They were both dogs of a lifetime. I can still see Micah's sweet rose ears flopping as she bounded around looking for a game to play....
Our hearts are bereft, but it has helped me to write about Micah's life. Perhaps this will help someone else looking for the most wonderful dog in the world. If you're looking for a trustworthy, zesty, loyal, happy, brave, loving, exuberant, uncannily intelligent, intuitive, amusing friend; Staffords are supreme. (I know I essentially said 'happy' more than once; that was not an error!) They are not pushovers. They cannot be a piece of backyard furniture. They must be your friend, and they will be your best friend. I would say the only drawback to Staffords is that they don't live forever. Nevertheless, I will be looking for my new best friend with mischievous eyes shining out of a black brindle face when my heart has healed.