Make no mistake, in this household I serve at the pleasure of my two English Bulldogs Boz and Gracie. As pawed partners in crime, they couldn’t be more different. Gracie, the Greta Garbo of bulldogs, ‘vants’ to be alone and is happiest when splayed on a sofa or soaking up sun on one of three porches. My role in her daily life is less top dog and more personal chef, cosmetologist, masseur and Boy Friday. I cook and provide for her delicate palate, keep her ears, eyes and muzzle clean, perform needed butt rubs and neck massages, and fetch her favorite chew toys at the first hint of a whimper..
Boz, on the other hand, rules the roost in a different way; he is master and commander of this vessel called Tall Clover Farm. For example, take a look at our morning ritual. (Who’s the dog and who’s the master?) I get up early, go downstairs, make coffee, pour a cup, sit down, log on to my computer, and wait for the thud–the thud of a 65-pound bulldog trading in the comfort and heights of a heavenly bed upstairs for the company and indulgence of his subordinate downstairs.
As I sit in the kitchen nook, I can feel the reverberation of Boz’s approach in the wood frame bones of this old house. Gambol, shake, gambol, rattle. His first job is to circle the kitchen and vacuum up any morsels left behind before hitting the water dish on his way to the nook. Next, he sidles up to the table and gently paws at my leg, as if I am unaware of his arrival. Each morning we revel in our heartfelt reunion, a convivial Q&A on how well we slept and if we’re hungry. The answer to the latter question is always the same for both of us: yes!
Once Boz devours his crunchy kibble, he heads back to the table’s edge and resumes the paw-Tom-until-he-responds move. I stop what I’m doing, and reward his persistence (and my weakness) with an apple slice, his favorite healthy after-breakfast treat. Three chomps and it’s gone.
Pausing under the table to formulate his next treat extortion tactic, Boz then heads outside to do his business, well, just some of his business. From the window, I can see my little man trundling about the flower beds searching out the rarest and most delicate of plants to lift his leg on.
But does Boz trot back inside through the same dog door? Uh, no that would be too convenient (for me). Instead, the Bozman detours to the front yard, laps up water from the fountain basin and deposits himself at the front door and barks until I get up and let him in. When I scold him for not using his dog door, I find myself at the receiving end of a look that seems to be the bulldog equivalent of “whatever” or “did you say something?”
Back inside, Boz is back by my side under the table, looking up, beaming like a potty-trained toddler awaiting some praise. He rakes his paw against my pant leg, whimpers, and persists until he gets his good-dog-you-went-outside-to-go treat. Another slice of apple is dispensed into the awaiting jaws of Boz.
Back at my computer, Boz retreats outdoors once again. This time I can see he’s finishing up his business down by the barn. Back through the dog (this time), and back to Tom for round two of treats-because-I-poo, Boz is not quite ready to retire to his bed. He trundles back over to the glass front door and awaits his first deer sighting of the day. When Bambi appears, Boz barks until I open the door, and he tears out after the interloper. Deer now gone, Boz circles the lawn’s perimeter in triumph and returns for a victory rubdown and apple slice.
Now content to rest, Boz circles his bed like a lumbering top and settles in for a good snore and a break from eating. Back to the computer before my morning chores, I gather my thoughts. Then, like clockwork, a thud, a new gentler 55-pound thud rocks the ceiling. Gracie is up and heading downstairs.
And so the new cycle begins. Time to slice more apples.
Boz protects Tall Clover from an abominably-built snowman.