This is a very special Staffy Tale; introducing Soul…

Tell us a bit about Soul’s age, personality… My Staffie is Soul. He is now getting onto 5 years old, and he was rescued by my best friend and roommate in Angel, Islington from outside a pub four years ago. My friend brought him home and the poor little things was so small and had been quite neglected.

We just started out with our life with him when I became very ill. But Soul was such an incredible dog, he turned into my little helper. I trained him how to help me with all kinds of things, from helping me walk (when I could do a little) to helping me put groceries away and helping me off the floor. When I could no longer walk, he helped pull my wheelchair (one of his funnest things to do – and what bully doesn’t love pulling!).

As I became more ill, it incredibly affected my Asperger Syndrome, and this is when he also became my “meltdown angel” – he is the only one who can calm me down, always coming running and helping me with licks, pawing me, or lying down with me – and my parents now even call for him when they can’t help me. He gives me confidence when I go outside in my wheelchair, because I’m otherwise quite scared. He’s the most loving, friendliest, bounciest, clown dog I’ve come across and is able to make me laugh and feel loved when I need it.

Without Soul, I would be helpless and in much greater difficulty than I am now. He is so special, he has saved me.

Tell us a funny story about Soul’s… Soul is a clown and is always doing funny things. When he was younger our next door neighbour had a couple of tortoises living in a small rock-garden – and these things completely bemused poor Soul. He used to stare through the fence at them so hard, barking at them occasionally because he just could not understand them. When he figured he could jump the fence, I went out to the garden one day to find him sitting in their tiny enclosure with his paws all tucked up under him together, looking down and still barking at the tortoises. They were of course nonplussed about it, and he couldn’t understand why they were ignoring him and eating their lettuce! He was fascinated by them until we moved – he never really managed to work them out.

What do you love most about Soul’s? He looks after me when I need it. He is the only one who can help bring me out of my most serious Asperger meltdowns – just touch him or him licking my face can snap that “fire” from my brain and help me back again. I love the fact he enjoys helping me too, from pulling my wheelchair (we sometimes go “Chariot Racing” down Llandudno Prom or other long straight paths, and he’s pretty fast!) and that he wants to help and do things makes me feel like I’m not alone in dealing with my illnesses.

What is Soul’s’s favourity toy?  His favourite thing to play with is actually my father – he is a grandpup to a very doting “puppy grandfather”! Otherwise, he loves tennis balls and his foot-long rawhide bones.

What’s Soul’s’s favourite dog food? Soul’s favourite food is eating fresh and freshly-frozen chicken drumsticks – they’re like crunchy ice lollies to him and he thinks they’re absolutely brilliant. Strangely, he also really loves gluten-free bread and coconut oil!

Where does Soul’s sleep? Most of us staffy owners already know the answer to this one! Soul will sleep almost anywhere – my bed, my parents’ bed, on his own little blanket, on the sofa, in the garden, in the car… absolutely anywhere!

Any good advice you would offer someone who’s thinking of getting a staffy? Don’t be frightened of them! They’re not scary dogs at all – even when they’re being “bad” or growl – it’s just a form of communication that just needs to be dealt with by being more stubborn than they are, in a very calm and controlled manner. My Soul went through some “turbulent teen” years, got quite stroppy, tried to get the upper hand, but just standing my ground and proving I was “boss” (not shouting it at them) by being able to just stand my ground with him – and now he doesn’t dare cross me because he knows he’s going to get a long and boring lecture from me!

Staffies require patience, strict rules, fun, and the ability to take things being chewed in their stride. Watch, listen and emulate good behaviourist strategies (I marathoned Cesar Milan for the first 3 years and it worked like a charm!) and a calm, stoic and firm attitude works really well.

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