The big news this week was that I would be fostering a dog. Well, I picked up sweet Murphy—an eight-year-old female bull terrier—yesterday at the Sam’s Club in Goldsboro, North Carolina. As I write this post, Murphy is sleeping soundly in her crate, and seems to have made herself very much at home already.
It is thanks to the efforts of The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission, Inc., that Murphy is alive and well (I hope!—we go to the veterinarian this morning) today. My post from Wednesday details how I stumbled upon the organization, so I won’t rehash that here; that said, I am thrilled that I discovered them, and would like to encourage readers to check out the organization (and to consider making a donation to them).
The bull terrier is a notoriously difficult breed: they are stubborn and, like many terrier breeds, highly independent. They were bred to be independent, because they were initially fighting dogs. In the 1860s (per the American Kennel Club), Englishman James Hinks took a breed known as the “bull-and-terrier” and bred it to be a gentleman’s companion, sporting a pure white coat that was popular with Victorian aristocrats. The dog quickly became popular among young, idle gentlemen of the aristocracy, and the modern bull terrier has been a favorite companion dog ever since.
That fighting instinct makes bull terriers tricky with other dogs, and some of them cannot live with other dogs—or even some other animals. On the other hand, many of them do well with other dogs, and even cats and smaller critters. It’s a breed of extremes, and from what I have read, the dogs can become quite unpredictable. It’s due to their intelligence and independence that they can be quite mischievous and crafty, so their training is not for the faint of heart.
That’s all to say that many folks adopt bull terriers without understanding their sometimes radically different nature from other dogs. People remember Spuds MacKenzie, Bullseye, or the dog from Little Rascals (who was actually an American Pitbull Terrier and a Staffordshire Terrier), and want a fun-loving Target mascot running around their homes.
Unfortunately, the desire to bum it on the beach with Spuds ends up with many of these bull terriers turned over to local shelters. My understanding is that it’s not unusual for the cycle to continue—a family might adopt a shelter bull terrier, only to return it when they, too, realize they don’t know how to train the dog properly.
To be clear, I’m not saying I know how to do it, but that’s where The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission really shines: they require anyone wishing to adopt one of the dogs under their care to undergo a thirty-day foster-to-adopt process (I guess I am now on Day 2). The Mission covers costs of medical care for the dog, and requires a vet visit during the foster process to identify any potential health issues and to ensure vaccines are up-to-date.
During that time, they also give foster families a ton of support. I was not considering the breed at all in my quest for a canine companion, but their placement coordinator, Anja, really demystified the process for me. She was right: I am in a chat now with several members of the Mission (including its chill-yet-passionate founder, Arn), and they’re constantly giving me tips, noting behaviors of the breed, etc. It’s been an amazing education, and knowing that I can go to them at virtually any time with questions is a huge relief, because I know I will likely have many. They are also committed to the dogs in their program for life, so if someone adopts and, for some tragic reason, must give up the dog, the Mission will take it back and re-home it.
As such, I think it’s safe to say that these folks are my friends, so I’m happy to dedicated this week’s Support Friends Friday to The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission. If you can help foster a bull terrier, wonderful! They are always in need.
If you can’t do that, no worries! I’d encourage you to make a donation to the BTRM. Vet bills are outrageous, and the Mission covers all of them for fosters. Considering they only charge a $400 adoption fee, they rely upon donations to cover those costs.
That appeal aside, here is what you really came for: pictures of Murphy:
I promise that the blog won’t become a dog blog full-time—this week notwithstanding—though that would probably generate way more clicks than my usual fare. Still, I’ll be happy to post some updates on Murphy in the weeks ahead. “Bull Terrier Tuesday” has a nice ring to it, no?
Happy Friday, and God Bless!