Jerry and I discovered early on in our relationship that we both had a love for the wrinkly nosed dog breeds: he favored Bulldogs while I was Pug obsessed. While I still love me some Pugs and have long considered them to be my favorite breed, I quickly became a Bulldog convert.
We knew that Bulldogs were hard to come by and very expensive, so we weren’t sure when our shared dream of becoming Bulldog parents would ever become a reality. Add that to the fact that I don’t EVER want a puppy and I really only support animal rescue as opposed to breeding, and it definitely seemed like a longshot. Then we found Bully. Y’all remember him? It was like a dream come true. He checked all of our boxes: English Bulldog? Check. Local? Check. Rescue? Check. Affordable? At $100… absolutely check. I still remember the day we drove up to meet him. He was sitting outside and we fell in love in an instant. We brought him home and it was heavenly… but not for long. You all know how he turned out to be a major alpha dog and terrorized our son and first dog, Dakota. After four months of trying to make it work, we reluctantly gave him up to a family where he could be the only dog and he’s lived happily ever since.
For awhile, I merely breathed a sigh of relief that the tension in our home was gone and that Dakota was no longer trembling in constant fear. I left all of my Bulldog groups and decided to move on. I stopped thinking of adding another dog to our family and was content with our status quo. It felt nice to go back to caring for only one dog.
Then it happened, as it always does when you’re a dog lover. I started feeling that pull again, that call for another one. Not only was there a small hole in my heart, but it was dog shaped. Bulldog shaped, to be specific.
“Hey, are you still in those Bulldog groups on Facebook?” I casually asked Jerry one weekend.
“Yeah. I know we don’t have one anymore, but I still like to look because I still love Bulldogs.”
“Can you add me back in?”
And so he did, and my heart was set. We needed another one.
I quickly went on the hunt for a Bulldog who was: 1. not a puppy, 2. needed rescuing, and 3. somewhat close by. I scoured all the Bulldog groups and stalked our local rescue pages, but to no avail. I applied to Bulldog groups as a foster and anxiously awaited replies. At last, a breeder in PA contacted us that she was rehoming one of her female mamas and that we were only four hours away. We made arrangements to meet, but had to put it off due to some car repairs and the rehoming fee being a bit higher than we wanted to pay.
Then fate stepped in! Doesn’t it always? The very same weekend we had originally planned to drive to PA but had to postpone, Ruffles appeared. My heart leapt into my chest! An adult rescue Bulldog with one of our local rescues! And not only that, but the very same rescue that Bully came from and my mom’s dogs, too! Was it meant to be?
Quickly, I reached out to her foster to find out that lo and behold, she was great with children and dogs. She was gentle and not an alpha in any way. She was sweet, affectionate, and in need of some rehabilitation. At five years old, Ruffles had spent her entire life in a mill, being used for breeding. She lived in a kennel, perhaps NEVER had a name, and was seen strictly as a source of income. She had never really learned to be a dog but finally, with love and a new family, could be treated like the queen that she was!
We kept up with all of the updates her foster mom shared in the rescue group’s Facebook page. We watched as she came out of her shell, learned to navigate stairs, and began house training. When her foster announced she would be bringing her to a meet and greet… we were there. We walked in and I excitedly gasped when I saw the mini queen scooting around on her butt. Caleb dropped to his knees anxiously, smiling and petting her as she covered him in kisses. After just a few moments, crowds of people gathered around and pushed us aside. She scooted from hand to hand, lapping up the love and attention she had always wanted and deserved. She received TONS of applicants and Jerry said “we won’t get her anyways.” I disagreed, but told him to say goodbye in case we would never see her again.
A few days later, we received an email that we were chosen for a home visit! Out of all the applicants?! We couldn’t believe our luck. When we found out that same day that we’d been selected to adopt her, we quickly jumped into action procuring all the things we’d need: new bed, food, etc. in preparation for our adoption just two days later. On September 2nd, we picked her up in the parking lot of a local pet store and made her ours.
It’s been nearly a week now with our new girl, and I won’t say it’s been easy, but it has been rewarding. We knew going into it that she was a mill dog and would need some extra help and loving. She pees in her bed and then lies in it. She’s pooped outside only once, preferring to poop on our kitchen tile. All of these behaviors stem from living in a kennel and peeing and pooping wherever you please and then sitting in it. We’re working on housebreaking her, with frequent potty breaks outside and heaps of praise when she does the deed where she should… outside.
On the other hand, she is grateful for her new life, and it’s evident. She slathers us with kisses, climbs into our laps when she can, and is exuberant with love and affection. She craves it after having lived her life for so long without a gentle hand or love from a person. Yes, the accidents are frustrating and gross, but she doesn’t know any different or any better. Despite her shortcomings, her ability to love, trust, and forgive humans astounds me. She is eager for love and shows no fear. Why are dogs so great? Why do they love us more than we could ever deserve?
One of the hallmarks of the breed is their ability to be stubborn above all else. And so, I watch her while I stand at the bottom of the stairs and she watches me from the top. She is both fearful to climb down the slippery stairs and too stubborn to try, preferring to be carried. I have to remind myself this is all brand new to her, and so I carry her with her round belly protruding and my leg cramping from the weight… and yes, we have ordered carpet squares to cover the stairs. We will be patient as she learns all over again.
I can’t help but smile at her little chiclet teeth, her tongue that hangs out, and her loud snores that I can hear from three rooms away. I remind myself to be patient, to give her grace, as she learns to be a dog after years of being anything but. Really… what did we do to deserve dogs, with their uncommon loyalty, their endless desire to please, and above all else, their unfailing love? I can only hope to love MY people half as much as my dogs love THEIRS.