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Odds & Sods
Chunky Joins the Telegraph Haters
Wednesday, 17th January, 2006  - Richard Farmer

Chunky Bannister, my white headed and brindle backed grand son of the distinguished Hankey Bannister, who was himself named after the elegant and refined brand of Scotch whisky, was greatly disturbed this morning when he met a Sydney Daily Telegraph reader on his walk. The enthusiastic tail wagging was not greeted by the accustomed friendly remark and a pat but by a snarled "Get that savage beast away from me."

The reader, you see, is one of those unfortunate souls who believes, in the words of the Lionel Bart song, "It must be true, ‘cos I read it in the paper, didn’t you". And the Daily Terror, in its latest campaign to spread alarm through the populace of New South Wales, has turned its guns on the noble Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The Staffie has now joined Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilali as an embodiment of unacceptable citizenship. According to the Tele, the dog breed, like the Muslim cleric, should henceforth be muzzled. "Despite their lovable, boisterous nature Staffordshire terriers have earned the dubious honour of being our most attack-prone dog", thundered the paper’s editorial. "Staffies were involved in 279 incidents over a recent 16-month period – the most of any breed."

The time had come for Staffies to be treated like "their infamous cousins the American pit bull terrier" with a first step being wearing a muzzle when in public.

Such persecution of an amiable terrier like Chunky – a dog who during his four years has never bitten another in anger – is not confined to NSW as the heroic story of Bella from Whitby earlier this week reveals. Mr David Sneap, a 49 year old Yorkshire care assistant, had taken to walking his 18 month old Staffordshire bull terrier on remote cliffs because of renewed public concern about dangerous dogs. Bella, not at all like those pit bull cousins who give a cuddly and "soft as washing" dog a bad name, happened to venture too near a cliff edge to chase gulls and the earth gave way beneath her. She tumbled over the cliff down 200 feet to the bottom in rough grass known as Hawsker Bottoms where she spent several hours battered and bruised until rescued by the 15-strong coastguard team from Whitby and nearby Robin Hood's Bay.

At least in Yorkshire Bella is allowed to walk without the indignity of a muzzle even though the spokesman for Humber Coastguard says anyone walking dogs near cliff edges should keep them on a lead.

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