As an animal welfare worker, Jana worked with Bull Terriers. She had a boarding home for the breed and currently owns a perky specimen.
Why Bullies End Up in Shelters
The Bull Terrier community is a special one. Many are addicted to the breed because of its unique look and engaging personality. For this reason, it can be hard to understand (from a bullie fan's point of view) how these dogs end up in shelters in the first place. They arrive for the same reasons other pets do. Unfortunately, they also come in because of concerns connected to the breed.
Divorce, illness or death of the owner have all been cited as reasons for a handover. A more rare reason, though not unheard of, is when the owner has been arrested and authorities bring the animal to the kennels. Authorities can also remove dogs from abusive situations. Moving to a place where dogs are not allowed, such as an old age home, is another.
Breed-specific reasons can include the following:
- The first-time owner failed to research the breed and found themselves unable to deal with the Bull Terrier's high energy and independent nature.
- Other behavioral issues such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Sudden Onset Aggression, refusal to listen, chewing everything and not getting along with other pets.
- The Bull Terrier in question is considered too old, sick or genetically flawed to be bred.
Very often, you will find that there are shelters that only keep Bull Terriers. Run by individuals who understand the breed down to the last detail, such shelters are actually the better place for bullies. Not that other rescue organizations are bad—they just cannot cater to every breed's needs under their roof. The care is adequate but more general.
Bullie shelters make sure the dogs get to spend their famous reserve of energy, receive enough attention and also the right owners. Be prepared for adoption hoops that might be more difficult to jump through than those at regular shelters. The breed is considered one that is at risk for exploitation and is also not the dog for everyone. For this reason, bullie organizations uphold stringent, but responsible, adoption qualifications.
Other things to expect can include:
- There most likely won't be any puppies.
- Your new pet will also be sterilized before going home. Few shelters support the breeding of dogs. They exist to provide each animal with its forever home, not perpetuate the problem of unwanted dogs.
Consider a Floppy Kid
Sadly, one reason bullies are left in shelters is that their ears fail to reach proper form. Due to backyard breeding or unlucky genes, some Bull Terriers grow up with one or both ears folded. The naturally erect ears of the breed are one of the things that make these dogs so attractive and prized. When people visit a special shelter, they are often amazed to find so many floppy-eared bullies in one place. Sometimes, it's the first time they ever see one. If you are interested in a puppy from a shelter, the youngest are often the ones with this ear condition. However, even then, they tend to be a few months old.
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The Dog's History
The first clues to what you can expect from your rescue bullie comes from the staff at the shelter. A good one will freely share the dog's history, its good points and anything that needs attention. Unfortunately, some shelters are so overloaded that they are glad just to find a home. But this desperation can lead to an incompatible match if the owner doesn't volunteer beforehand to deal with issues (if any). It's your right to ask about your chosen dog's past, its problems and most importantly, why it was given up for adoption. However, the shelter is also within its rights not to disclose the name or address of the previous owner.
A lot of bullies don't get along with cats, other dogs or knock small kids over. Others are lazy potatoes that allow cats, dogs and kids a fine time. A shelter dog can also be an absolute trooper and have no emotional scars from a bad past. Others bring mistrust, fearful or neurotic behavior into their new homes. Know what you are getting yourself into before saying yes. It's not fair to a dog to get used to a new family and environment only to be returned.
How Long Will a Dog's Issues Last?
You fell in love with a troubled soul. Maybe your doggy soul is fine and perky, but it loves to eat the mud flaps off your car no matter the deterrent. Either way, it's normal for an owner to want the best for their pet, and stressed or compulsive behavior doesn't exactly count. Unfortunately, there is no template that describes how long a dog takes to settle down; each is different with unique pasts, conditioning and personalities. Behavioral problems are complex topics, but there are basic things one can do, and often, they lessen the trouble at hand.
1. Provide for Its Needs
A shelter dog's brain holds memories of different places, people and getting moved around between the lot of them. It needs to know that it is safe where it is. This could take time, but usually, a Bull Terrier tends to move in by itself. Give that independent nature some credit. Make sure there are things that are only his; toys, a bed, water and food bowls. Give it a good feeding and healthy, tasty snacks and you will score big points. Respect its emotional boundaries but don't slack on your own. Always be loving and affectionate—bullies thrive on that.
2. Establish a Routine
The happiest dogs follow a routine. They know what comes next, and this fosters a feeling of safety. A routine can be as bare as having specific feeding times, a snack time, morning walk, evening brush and so on. Established daily activities settle the dog and give it something to look forward to.
3. Work With Shortcomings
Sometimes, what bullies see as great fun equals bad behavior for us. They're intelligent, inquisitive and strong-willed. Dogs from troubled backgrounds may have additional habits that go beyond the usual activity levels of the breed. It's important to understand what's normal with a Bull Terrier and what is not. They have high prey drives and protective instincts. These can sometimes go a little overboard, but fair discipline and preventive measures make for a better attitude than physical punishment or fear.
Similarly, children must also be educated to respect a dog's boundaries and not just a Bull Terrier's. Any canine might nip when its nose is being torn off by a toddler. Understanding the nuances of your pet's personality can help you to prevent or flow with its “lesser moments” until a relationship can be established that works for both the dog and family. Patience and persistence go a long way.
The Benefits of a Second-Chance Dog
In the end, you can expect a lot of good things. Whether you land an easy-going bullie or one with more challenges, the benefits reach beyond a solid companion and the funniest clown you'll ever meet.
- Bull Terriers are expensive. A rescue bullie's only price is the adoption fee, which is very affordable in comparison.
- You teach your kids about animal welfare.
- A living creature gets a second chance to live a full and happy life.
- Adopted dogs often provide their owners with a special kind of relationship. Knowing what they've been through, an instant bond is not unheard-of.
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit
Emma7777 from canada on June 25, 2018:
So eloquently written!