The title Bulldog Confidential may be misleading, because nothing about my bulldog Buddy is hush-hush. He is a larger than life presence who lives and loves with his heart on his sleeve, make that paw. What you see is what you get. When Buddy’s sad, he’s the Pagliacci of pooches. When he’s happy, Robin Williams seems subdued by comparison. When he’s pondering a situation, he has the focus and determination of Steve Jobs. When he’s decided upon his approach to a situation, Buddy channels the unwavering ethos of Churchill (resemblance notwithstanding). When Buddy sleeps, the term hibernation comes to mind.
When Buddy loves you, he does so unconditionally, more as a response then a consideration. He makes Pepe Le Pew look like an amateur. And when he demands a butt rub or belly scratch, all bets are off to saying “no” so multitasking ensues with one hand on the laptop and one hand on said tuchus (like now, as I type).
Buddy treats various inanimate objects as sentient beings. Every night, he plods up a flight of stairs to present me with a gift as cherished and beloved to him as a bone wrapped in bacon, sprinkled with cheese and basted in butter. My boots are his favorite tribute, though it’s a tough ascent when the toes or boot shaft get caught on every tread. When all my footwear has risen to a pile of soleful love on the landing, Buddy turns to his dog dish, not as a mere food vessel but as his second most revered treasure and objet d’art. When he climbs the stairs with stainless saucer locked in his jaws, it clips every riser, and the house awakens to a musical sampling of bangs, clangs, and pings usually reserved for fledgling marimba bands. It would not be a normal day at my house if I did not have to search for matching pairs of shoes, boots, slippers or flip flops should I wish to leave the house clad in footwear.
Buddy also likes to see eye-to-eye. No, I really mean eye-to-eye, pupil-to-pupil, so we are at the same elevation head-to-head. Buddy likes to watch me work from the vantage point of the kitchen table. He lifts his heft onto a captains chair with a lower rung, turns around to face the table and completes his ascent. He then sidles up to my laptop screen, dutifully surveying the grounds through a bay of windows only to pause, turn and half mask the screen by peering over it with a very moist muzzle. (Out come the screen wipes.) Some of my friends are mortified that he hangs out on my kitchen table, but others just laugh over it. Me, well I’m a total patsy and enjoy his editorial skills and good company. Needless to say, bipeds in the house dine on the dogless perch known as the dining-room table. My kitchen table has been relegated to a more appropriate use, that of a workspace.
As a watchdog, Buddy is more like a visiting dignitary or governor. Based on where I’m working—the greenhouse, orchard or front field—Buddy holds court either on the back stoop, roundabout, or front porch. He tends to his duty as if knighted by the queen, extracting a ear-scratch or butt-rub toll from each visitor as a proper and diplomatic introduction. If you ignore him, he will bark with an incredulous whimper that in dog talk is undeniably translated as “Did you not see me? Do you have no manners?”
When I first adopted Buddy, I had to convince him of one thing if our relationship was going to work; that the hammock was not a suspended chew toy. My other bulldogs, Maggie, Buddy and Gracie, took to the hammock like Popeye to spinach, but Buddy thought it was the fabric form of tetherball. I would splay out on the hammock for my well-deserved break and Buddy would go full-on bombastic, not understanding that this swinging cot was a tool for relaxation. He would growl, attack and tug on the hammock relentlessly. I have to say, with a modicum of training and treat bribery, Buddy came to realize the hammock was more about repose than roughhousing and rumble. We are now at one with hammocks and swaying.
All in all my two years with Buddy have been the best, and for clarification he is my landlord. Hopefully he won’t raise my rent or kick me out should the butt rubs stop or the treats go missing. As a sidekick, he’s very patient with me, knowing with a little time, a few whimpers and a couple barks, I can be trained.