‘Give Staffie’s a chance - they’re misunderstood’ says Linslade author

Cover star: Muriel. Credit: Natasha Balletta.
Cover star: Muriel. Credit: Natasha Balletta.

A Linslade author is on a mission to get tails wagging in favour of Staffordshire Bull Terriers, as she encourages people to love the misunderstood breed.

Natasha Balletta, 32, wishes to raise awareness about her book ‘Nothing Beats a Staffie Smile’ which tells heartwarming stories based on interviews with owners, foster carers, and dog walkers.

Credit: Natasha Balletta.

Credit: Natasha Balletta.

The writer’s moving book features tales which are bound to send readers reaching for their tissue boxes, as many of the dogs have been abandoned or mistreated.

Natasha said: “Staffies are one of the most misunderstood dog breeds. I used to be wary of them myself due to how they are portrayed in the media, and it was not until getting involved with ‘All Dogs Matter’ charity in London that I got to know the true characteristics of the Staffie breed and realised I had unfairly judged them.

“Since spending time with these dogs I have come to realise they are some of the most affectionate, playful and loving dogs you could ever meet.

“The book features dogs who have not only transformed their lives, but their owners’ lives, too.

Natsha and Muriel. Credit: Natsha Balletta. "I first met Muriel at All Dogs Matter's kennels when she was looking for her forever home. She was one of the most playful Staffies I have met. I did not get many photos as she mainly wanted cuddles. Unfortunately, since Muriel's story was written she passed away. I will always remember Muriel for her infectious Staffie smile."

Natsha and Muriel. Credit: Natsha Balletta. "I first met Muriel at All Dogs Matter's kennels when she was looking for her forever home. She was one of the most playful Staffies I have met. I did not get many photos as she mainly wanted cuddles. Unfortunately, since Muriel's story was written she passed away. I will always remember Muriel for her infectious Staffie smile."

“There are also some sad and shocking stories of how these dogs were used as breeding machines, and one was even found abandoned with a broken jaw!”

Natasha says that since the dogs have been rescued, some have gone on to become therapy dogs, for example, helping people with dementia.

She added: “You will also read about Bones who started out as a rescue dog and has since qualified as a therapy dog. Bones’s first case as a therapy dog resulted in a young lad getting a Staffie, and Bones’s owner, Marylyn, believes the phobia work is his speciality.”

Marylyn said: “It is great being able to work with kids that are nervous of dogs and help them overcome their fears. Bones is loved by all who have met him, all who have yet to meet him and a true ambassador for his breed.”

Credit: Natasha Balletta. "Barker is a lovely, affectionate Staffie I have got to know. He gives kisses to everyone he meets - even today at nearly three years old he licks everyone he meets, constantly showering them with his love and Staffie kisses. Dawn found Barker when he was only five weeks old. He was abandoned in a box on his own in a park on a cold winter day in February 2016. He was freezing and crying when she found him. Since Dawn rescued Barker he has changed people's perception, as people would go to Dawn's shop in North London to meet him. He became a local celebrity in the area and was invited to Art gallery launches and first nights of plays."

Credit: Natasha Balletta. "Barker is a lovely, affectionate Staffie I have got to know. He gives kisses to everyone he meets - even today at nearly three years old he licks everyone he meets, constantly showering them with his love and Staffie kisses. Dawn found Barker when he was only five weeks old. He was abandoned in a box on his own in a park on a cold winter day in February 2016. He was freezing and crying when she found him. Since Dawn rescued Barker he has changed people's perception, as people would go to Dawn's shop in North London to meet him. He became a local celebrity in the area and was invited to Art gallery launches and first nights of plays."

Since All Dogs Matter became a registered charity in 2009 they have rehomed 1500 to 2000 dogs.

However, 90 per cent of the dogs up for adoption are Staffies.

Ira Moss, All Dogs Matter general manager, said: “Please do not be put off by this as this is simply not because of the breed but by the deed of previous owners. A lot of these Staffies go through a tremendous amount of abuse and yet they are so forgiving towards humans.”

Natasha’s book is available to buy online.

Credit: Natasha Balletta. "Lola is a rescue Staffie from Mayhew Animal Home who has made a difference to people's lives. In August 2015, Charlie and Lola joined Mayhew's Therapaws Programme. Charlie wanted to give something back to Mayhew after adopting Lola. Since joining the programme Charlie and Lola have visited the Kenbrook Residental Home in Wembley, where they met residents who have dementia. Lola provided a calming influence and one resident used to sing to her. Lola is now enjoying a life of retirement after retiring from Therapaws in May 2018."

Credit: Natasha Balletta. "Lola is a rescue Staffie from Mayhew Animal Home who has made a difference to people's lives. In August 2015, Charlie and Lola joined Mayhew's Therapaws Programme. Charlie wanted to give something back to Mayhew after adopting Lola. Since joining the programme Charlie and Lola have visited the Kenbrook Residental Home in Wembley, where they met residents who have dementia. Lola provided a calming influence and one resident used to sing to her. Lola is now enjoying a life of retirement after retiring from Therapaws in May 2018."

> http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/9182043-nothing-beats-a-staffie-smile

> https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/NatashaBalletta

Credit: Natasha Balletta. "Obi is a lovely Staffie who was six months old when his owner Susan adopted him from Appledown Rescue and Rehoming Kennels. I recently spent the afternoon with Obi. He had such a playful character and was so full of energy. He loved exploring in the woods and meeting other dogs. He was great fun to spend time with but was a little minx to photograph, because I would get down to his eye level; he thought this was a game and would coming bouncing over for a cuddle which made me laugh. Obi also lives with another dog, a Shiba Inu, Chewie. Obi has clearly found his loving and forever home with Susan and Chewie."

Credit: Natasha Balletta. "Obi is a lovely Staffie who was six months old when his owner Susan adopted him from Appledown Rescue and Rehoming Kennels. I recently spent the afternoon with Obi. He had such a playful character and was so full of energy. He loved exploring in the woods and meeting other dogs. He was great fun to spend time with but was a little minx to photograph, because I would get down to his eye level; he thought this was a game and would coming bouncing over for a cuddle which made me laugh. Obi also lives with another dog, a Shiba Inu, Chewie. Obi has clearly found his loving and forever home with Susan and Chewie."

Credit: Natasha Balletta. "Abi was six months old when Ira Moss (the general manager of All Dogs Matter) rescued her. She was just a tiny puppy and abandoned in a cardboard box. Since Ira adopted Abi she is the Ambassador and Office Dog for All Dogs Matter. Even though Abi can be bossy at times she has a big Staffie heart."

Credit: Natasha Balletta. "Abi was six months old when Ira Moss (the general manager of All Dogs Matter) rescued her. She was just a tiny puppy and abandoned in a cardboard box. Since Ira adopted Abi she is the Ambassador and Office Dog for All Dogs Matter. Even though Abi can be bossy at times she has a big Staffie heart."