Category Archives: AmStaffs

Skye, My Special Needs Dog

I have mentioned my American Staffordshire Terrier Skye in several of my articles. Some of you may know of her health issues, but I thought I would share them with you because dogs, cats and other animals with special needs need loving homes too.

I was not going to get another dog for a while after losing my last AmStaff Smokey Bear to old age at over 19 years old. I live in the country and have done so for over ten years now, with never a qualm of being in the “boonies,” as some of my friends call it. However, a violent crime a few miles from my house changed my thinking and after discussing it with my boyfriend, we began looking for another dog to share our lives with.

I found a breeder who had a retired AmStaff that needed a home; however, after discussing her with the breeder I found out that the dog’s handler wanted to adopt her, too. I didn’t feel right about taking her away from the only family she had ever known, and the breeder understood. The breeder mentioned she had another dog that needed a home, but she was hesitant because this dog (Skye) had special needs. Skye is a beautiful representation of the American Staffordshire breed. However, when she turned a year old and went into season for the first time, she began having idiopathic juvenile seizures.

What this means is that she began having seizures for no apparent reason. Skye was checked for epilepsy and did not have it, but that didn’t keep her from having seizures. The breeder had taken Skye to not only a regular vet, but a homeopath as well, and Skye had even been to the state university’s veterinary college to try and figure out what was wrong with her. Skye had grand mal seizures in clusters, which means that she had the most severe seizures and for hours at a time. The breeder mentioned that the seizures had gotten so bad, sometimes she would spend the night next to Skye’s crate to try and keep her calm. Some nights she would kiss Skye good night and say a prayer that Skye would still be here in the morning.

After hearing this story, I am sure you are saying “What were you thinking?” It may be hard to understand, but I had no other thought than to give this special girl a safe, caring, loving home of her own. Don’t get me wrong, I did lots of research into not only seizures but epilepsy as well, as that was the best information I could find that explained seizures and why they happen. I spoke with family and friends to get their opinions of whether or not they felt I was up to the task. I spoke with a trainer, who knows not only me but all the other AmStaffs I have lived with that had special training issues. I also spoke with a friend that said “Run like hell in the other direction,” so this story is not without its detractors.

I even spoke with an animal communicator to see how Skye felt about leaving the only home she had ever known. Speaking through the animal communicator, Skye said she couldn’t understand why she was still at the breeder’s. She knew that other dogs had gone home with families and didn’t know why she hadn’t. I asked Skye if she knew why she had seizures and got a surprising response: Skye thought all dogs had them and thought it was normal, but couldn’t tell me why she had them. I asked the animal communicator to ask Skye if she had any questions for me. Skye did, and what she asked me made me cry. Skye wanted to know if she didn’t live very long if I could still love her as much as I would love another dog. I asked the animal communicator to please tell Skye that I would love her if she was with me for three days or twenty years, but that I was aiming for the twenty year range. I also asked Skye if she wanted to come and live with me and she answered “Yes.” This was important to me, because she was coming from a place with a huge back yard she could run in safely to a place where we had no dog fences yet and where she would have to be walked on a leash until we could remedy the situation.

The breeder had a few requirements for me as well. I had to go for an interview to see if I would be able to handle an AmStaff to her satisfaction. A handsome boy named Henry helped me with that one. Henry got nosy and I didn’t back up or walk away, I just pushed him back and treated him as I would have treated any of my other AmStaffs if they got bossy. I passed the test and after learning about Skye’s requirements I got to bring her home with me.

We go to Skye’s vet every six months for blood tests, so her medication levels can be checked. She also has blood tests to make sure that her kidney and liver functions are normal, because the medication she is on can affect that also. Skye is completely off of Phenobarbital now but is still on Sodium Bromide, which keeps her seizures in check. Actually, my sweet Skye is closing in on her year and a half anniversary of being seizure free, and we have been blessed to never have seen one.

I believe that with love and faith all things are possible, and I have been blessed with a dog that proves it to me every day.

Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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American Staffordshire Terrier, Breed Profile

The beautiful lady in the picture is my dog, Skye. She is an American Staffordshire Terrier. The American Staffordshire Terrier is a breed that was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1936 and is a member of the Terrier group.
According to the breed standard of the AKC the general impression of the breed is as follows: “The American Staffordshire Terrier should give the impression of great strength for his size, a well put-together dog, muscular, but agile and graceful, keenly alive to his surroundings. He should be stocky, not long-legged or racy in outline. His courage is proverbial.” Skye is all that and more.
American Staffordshire Terriers (AmStaffs) are a true terrier breed. They are fearless, loyal, courageous and strong for their size. They are well-suited for many of the canine sports available to dog enthusiasts these days. They are good at agility, tracking, and obedience, as well as confirmation. Some of the jobs assigned to this plucky breed include police work, guarding stock, weight pulling, as well as being watch dogs. They need to have a job to do and are never happier than when they are active. This is a breed that needs a fair amount of exercise, and is perfectly happy whether going for a walk or playing a rousing game of ball or Frisbee in the yard.
The adult AmStaff should weigh about 50-65 pounds (23-30kg), and size range for males should be between 18 to 19 inches and bitches should be between 17 to 18 inches at the withers. They have a short coat that is easy to care for. Their life span is usually between 10 and 12 years, but Smokey, my last AmStaff was almost 20 when he passed. They don’t tend to be troubled by hip dysplasia, but congenital heart disease and hereditary cataracts have been reported. Because of their deep chest they can suffer bloat.
The AmStaff is a very social dog and loves their family. They are bred for their temperament and gentleness and make great family dogs. However, because of their keen intelligence like most terriers, they can be independent and stubborn, so they need to be trained and socialized properly. They are not a dog for everyone, and like any large strong dog they need to know you are the alpha dog. However, when raised with love and kindness they make fabulous companions.
Skye was raised in a kennel and only knew other AmStaffs, before she came to live with us. While she was good with other dogs and people, I wasn’t sure how she would be with my cats, chickens and geese, as she had never been around any. She does like to chase the chickens and I have never left her unsupervised with them. I did watch her chase a gander one day, but watching her, I noticed she wasn’t trying to catch him, even though I knew she was capable of it. She was just trying to put him in his place and establish her own place in the pecking order. As for the cats, when everyone gets into bed at night if Skye is up with us, Munchkin (a 6 pound adult) likes to sleep perched up on top of Skye; and the rest of the cats have a healthy respect for her, though she has never harmed any of them. 
AmStaffs can be a handful and are not for everyone, but with the right person, they can be a super companion and friend for life.
Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.