How I got my first Stafford - Lynn Heimbuch
Our first encounter with the Stafford was through our almost nine year old daughter. We told her she could get a dog for her birthday when she became nine.
At this time my husband and I were totally into Rottweilers. We showed in conformation in both the American Kennel Club shows and the USA Sieger Shows. We also did obedience and Schutzhund with our dogs. Now mind you, our daughter wanted a male dog. We told her "not a Rottie" as they would never respect some little 70 pound child telling them what to do, especially not a male. We told her to come to the Portland bench show and start with the "A" dogs and work through all the breeds.
In December, 1987, she went to the bench show and began her search. About some she was told :No," about because of the time needed to groom them and some because they didn't live well with other dogs. "No" to others because they didn't do obedience. Now she was almost to the end of the alphabet without a breed that could live at our house.
Mandy return with the biggest smile, and the breed that was perfect, according to her: Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Her dad and I said "What?"
"The Staffy," she replied.
How are they with kids... nanny dogs. How are they in obedience... they'll do what ever you ask. How are they with other dogs... fine as long as they are raised with them. How much grooming... wash and wear.
So I agreed to go and look. Now let me tell you to this day I am convinced that Mandy and Jenny Merritt planned to convince me of this being the perfect dog for her. They must have told that dog Jenny had too as here he sat with the biggest grin and his head in Mandy's lap. My first encounter with the breed was with Am Can Ch Trugrip Teddy Bear. I said, "Well it'd have to be like him" and Jenny said, "Oh good, I have his son at home." So arrangements were made to meet at Jenny's that week.
When we arrived, the little brown bundle came out and jumped in Mandy's lap where he stayed until she moved, then he followed her. We agreed that Jenny had primed him perfectly as he didn't get confused as to whose dog he would be. Smart little buggers they are!
Off we went with our first Stafford.
Mandy and Decker were the best buddies. She trained him herself and showed him to his American/Canadian Championships and then to his American/Canadian Companion Dog Title. Decker visited her school during Pet Week every year. They were the High Scoring Junior Handler team in Canada at one show. He was her first dog, and there will never be one as good in her eyes. He led us into forcibly into the Stafford world.
My second daughter wanted her own Stafford, so back to Jenny we went for our first female Stafford puppy. She grew up to be Am Ca Ch Trugrip Lasting Joy. She has just turned nine years old and is still as delightful as she was when we brought her home at six weeks although possibly better behaved.
Watching these two train their dogs while I struggled with my obstinate male Rottweiler made me wonder how I'd do with a Stafford. So along came Angel whose actions sometime belied her name. She grew up to become Am Ca Ch Trugrip Mannstaff Snow Angel, 1993 SBTCI Top Stafford, until then a feat reserved for males. She was a show-girl through and through. She'd wag her tail, smile and give kisses. If the judge passed her by she'd give a little bark as if to say, "Get back here! The best is standing right here."
Then came my pride and joy, Am Int Ch Classy Staffys Rock N Roll, A/C CD ,CGC, our first homebred champion and our first homebred High In Trial dog. He will always be first in my heart. I can't imagine what life will be like when the # 1 dog for Classy Staffys is gone.
We chose the name Classy Staffy, thanks to Jenny. Every show we'd go to someone would say something like, "Boy, those dogs are classy" or "Oh, here come the King and Queen of Staffords" when the girls walked Decker and Joey. And those two loved it as much as their owners. So when we tried to think of a name, up came Classy along with what they are Staffys.
Since our youngsters have always handled the dogs, we used the slogan "Where kids and dogs go hand in paw" although it may have to be dropped though as the kids are fast becoming young adults while the grandkids aren't old enough yet. But Classy Staffys will be forever because those that know my dogs can tell you they are indeed Classy Staffys!