We asked Calli from Staffie and Stray Rescue to tell us why she set up a breed-specific shelter.
My name is Calli Byrne and I am the founder of Staffie and Stray Rescue.
Throughout my life, my family has fostered and adopted dogs. It wasn’t until I rehomed rescue dogs of my own that I realised this is not enough, I wanted to do more.
My rescue dog came to us in 2008, a sad soul hiding at the back of a kennel in a veterinary clinic; I just couldn’t leave him there.
Kenzie (as we named him, he was originally just a number, amongst the thousands of stray and unwanted dogs in the UK) is a Staffordshire bull terrier. We already had one Staffie of our own, Kira, who is good as gold.
Having two Staffies made me realise some things:
People cross the street when they see you walking with a Staffie
People make preconceptions about Staffies
There are more Staffies than any other breed in rescue centres
There is a huge problem of overbreeding, unwanted stray dogs and dog fighting in the UK.
Kenzie, our rescue Staffie, was really hard work. We knew very little about his background and it soon became apparent that he had never been walked on a lead before and that he had severe separation anxiety. On walks, he appeared petrified of other dogs and often acted aggressively towards them, despite being absolutely fine with Kira.
The journey towards helping Kenzie and training him was stressful, emotional and difficult. We sought advice from dog behavioural therapists, the dog warden and eventually attended dog training classes. At times we thought that we could no longer keep Kenzie. However, taking him back to the place where we first saw him – sad, alone and scared – was not an option.
Today, Kenzie is a perfect, lovable boy in the house; we have since had another Staffie, named Kodie. A very gentle introduction was key. Kenzie is still nervous towards some dogs, however he is always kept on the lead and we are always vigilant and looking out for dogs so that we can prepare for Kenzie as we know he will be anxious about it. On the dog walks, he may look badly behaved to some, although many of our neighbours know him well now! He is perfect to us and we know that we have genuinely done the best we could to help him become the dog he is today. He wakes up every day happy and excited, just grateful to wake up in a safe environment where he is loved.
For me, Staffies are very lovable dogs. From running a rescue, I have witnessed first-hand how incredibly grateful, adoring and trusting Staffies can be, even when they have been mistreated in the past.
I believe that for Staffie lovers, Staffies are most well-known and defined by how cuddly they are. They are most happy when they can be with the ones they love – to love and to be loved.
I love Staffies so much that I founded a Staffie Rescue!
Take a chance on a Staffie - don’t judge them without meeting one.