I have served at the pleasure of each and every one of my Bulldogs: Maggie, Gracie, Buddy and Boz. I am neither proud of nor bothered by this role; it’s just the way it is. Those who chide me for my milquetoast approach have never bunked with bulldogs. The breed’s good-natured personality casts a spell; it’s like having a a four-legged Frodo underfoot.
For example, Buddy goes out one door, only to require me to get up to let him in another. If I fail to remember his after-dinner treat, he blocks my path and whines with the conviction of an Oscar-winning performance. If that approach still leaves him treat-less on the farm, he ditches the whimper, and ramps up his best baritone bark. When I cave in and feed him his treat, I assure him it has nothing to do with his vocal demands (of course, Buddy knows otherwise).
Recently, my friend Margo needed a dog-sitter, and I was happy to oblige. Buddy agreed to the sleepover, too — his languid nod and wet snort surely the bulldog equivalent of a “yes.” Gus, a huggable muppet of undeniable charm, was already one of Buddy’s best pals, so I knew Gus would be a delightful addition to the farm for a few nights.
Buddy doesn’t gush over visiting dogs, he plays it cool with a head-nod and quick sniff, seemingly canine cred for “hey, whazzup?” Oh, and did I mention Gus is a rescue dog (like Buddy) and canine-capable with three legs? The first evening, I carried Gus up the stairs thinking the two flights of stairs would be an obstacle or unnecessary challenge for him. When Buddy barked at the bottom of the stairs, Gus flew down to investigate the commotion. Seems he did not need my help, which is good because when I picked up Gus, he shift-shaped into a doggie blob with the tensile strength of an under-filled water ballon, but not before rolling over to expose his underside and cue the belly rub.
Buddy and Gus enjoyed some quality time napping on the sofa and napping on me. Dinner time was a bit of comedy sketch, each dog would prefer what was in the other’s bowl and swap places only to find disappointment was on the menu. When they wouldn’t eat, and stared right back at me like “This is what we waited for?” I grated a little pecorino cheese over the chow and the hounds were at the trough. Yep, discerning little gourmands needed a soupçon of umami goodness.
Yes, we had a fine time. During the day, I kept Gus by my side as he’s a wanderer. Buddy took command of the porches, following the sun and staking his claim. Treats were aplenty and the dandy duo knew how to work me. At night, Buddy took the foot of the bed, while Gus wedged himself between me and the pillows, worming his way under the covers. Buddy decided he was missing out, and rooted his way under the duvet to join his scruffy pal. I think I had a full eleven inches of bed width to call my own.
Gus was a wonderful, compatible houseguest, but he did have one propensity not shared by Buddy; his need to chase chickens. Gus meant no harm. If he chased them, they would run, always run, which in his mind was play, play on demand. Buddy would stay put on the porch and watch his antics, with resolute disinterest. Naps and tug-a-war are his form of play.