Cast of Characters

Penny (Nelly-bird)
8 years. Domestic Short-hair. The oldest of these four. Prefers being called Nelly or Penelope better. She's stuck up and opinionated and she lets you know her opinions in her LOUDEST voice possible. In your ear. In screeches. Likes stuffed mice and fire hose fabric dog frisbees. And socks. She likes sitting on shoulders, head butts, and pets. She's flighty and flirty.

Dr Suess cat socks



Ozzy (Prince of Darkness)
8 years. Maine Coon. Born a couple weeks after Penny. Mr Panic Attack. He's quiet, reserved, intelligent, and scared to be stuck somewhere with no way out. Especially when you are there with him. He enjoys hanging out in too small boxes, luggage, and at the top of the stairs overseeing everything.  He chirps and makes funny sounds. He loves dark places and likes to sit in the sink. 


Ozzy


Abby (She bounces)
6 years. English Bulldog. Goof ball, crazy, happy-go-lucky. She loves attention and she gets it easily from everybody. She loves destroying toys and happily will chew for hours. She loves tug, soccer, and walks the best. She loves to stare out the window at the world, especially if that window is open. She also loves sleep and her crate and her puppy dog doll. She used to be the owner of the only bionic knees in the family. She's nicknamed Rabbit for a reason.


Abby as a baby!!



Gus (It must be Gus)
5 years. English Bulldog. Shy, trouble maker, cow and Octopus lover, and mama's boy. He loves sitting in laps, taking very short walks inside with air conditioning and sitting in the yard baking in the sun. He hates naps. Also he likes to prove he's tall enough to get in a chair by himself but usually needs a boost. Now he can claim he's had a hole in his belly and earned himself a pair of bionic knees. He's not the biggest dog, but he never does anything in small ways.


Gus


All About the English Bulldogs: A letter I wrote to another Raverly member about bulldogs in response to her questions.

Hi!

Sorry I haven’t been ignoring you. I just wanted to wait for a moment to actually be able to write. Wow this is long too.

Miss Abigail, my girl, age 3, is very sweet and loving, and in no way a mean. She’s very friendly and has never met another dog or human she didn’t like. She’s also bursting with energy and always running around ready to go. Her two favorite things are walks and soccer in that order. I’m telling you that so you realize bulldogs do desire a walk. They also actually do need one as well for a healthy body. (Its a common misconception I think that they are somewhat lazy dogs. Mine in no way are lazy.) Abby gets a 1.5 to 2 mile walk daily (maybe less then you do for a lab?) as well as usually some soccer during the winter. During our hottest months it isn’t good for them to be outside for much longer then 20 or 25 minutes. They start to pant after about 15 minutes when its over 100 outside. (Incidentally, mine love to bake in the sun. We have baked bulldogs everyday in the summer. They just go outside and lay in the grass until I make them come in - usually 10 minutes or so. When they are babies up to a year or two its very important that they change temperatures slowly. As in if it is very hot outside you stand in the doorway for a few minutes so they can adjust to the coolness of the inside after the heat of the outside. They might have breathing issues with a quick change.) So no walks in summer, but that means that its never-ending games of fetch and tug because she still has to burn up that energy. She has never ending energy.

Mr Gus, my boy, age 2, is also incredibly sweet and loving. He’s calmer then Abby in temperament, but no less full of energy. He’s got rotten hips, but it doesn’t stop him from running around. He usually gets a half mile walk in winter (because he can’t physically keep going even though he wants too) and then gets put in the radio flyer for the rest of Abby’s and my walk. He loves to run around the back yard or around the house like a crazy guy. There isn’t rhyme, reason, or impetus to it, he just streaks around until he’s worn himself out and then starts again. He’s also in on the fetch games and the tug and chasing his sister.

Both my dogs are “lap” dogs. They would prefer to curl up with you on the couch or actually sit in your lap on the floor or in a chair if you’ll let them. They can stay there indefinitely. Also they will sit on your feet while you do things like cook or iron or whatever else is standing and still. Many of them have toe fetishes (happily mine don’t) and they will sit and lick your toes. Mine seem to have an inside the elbow fetish and if they are in your lap they will lick your elbow. They like to be touched all the time - this could be as much as you sit next to me and I curl up by you as it is pet me, pet me, pet me.

Gus weighs 50 pounds and Abby weighs 60 pounds. They are pretty much normal for a bulldog. The only reason they stay that low is that they get a lot of exercise. Otherwise they get chubby pretty easily.

As you know bulldogs are an expensive breed, but it can be more then just the initial costs. Abby has needed right and left ACL ligaments in her knees replaced. (I just remembered that climbing stairs isn’t good for their knees/hips. I generally carry them upstairs. Also have to be careful if they want to get themselves in and out of chairs. The impact on their short little legs isn’t great.) Gus needs regular x-rays of his hips as well as anti-inflammatory drugs. Bulldogs (some, not all, mine don’t) have serious skin issues that can be expensive to care for and they are often prone to ear infections. Bulldogs are often also prone to allergies. Abby also has jaw issues. A couple of years ago her muscles were slowly turning to scar tissue in her jaw and she couldn’t open her mouth more then an inch or two without screaming in the most scary way you can think of. Breaks my heart to think of it. Steroids for a long stretch of time were the treatment. Made our walks all the more important to keep her weight down. Luckily this hasn’t come back but we have to keep watching her for it.

As an aside as far as expense of actually getting one, look for bulldog rescue groups in your area. Often it is just a couple hundred dollars for the adoption fee. But make sure that you learn about the bulldogs health history first if it is available. Sometimes these dogs can have really bad care and be very sick. We started to adopt a boy who had been fed solely hotdogs and hamburgers his entire life. He was incredibly overweight and had had several surgeries to correct breathing issues and knee/hip problems caused by the weight and would probably need more in the future. This could get very expensive. This wouldn’t have stopped us getting him, but it was good to know what we’d probably be in for. What stopped us from keeping him was his deep hatred of Abby. She couldn’t be in the same room without him freaking out and this was when her mouth was very bad and she basically couldn’t defend herself. Who knows why. There are people I don’t like so why can’t dogs have other dogs they don’t like? So basically know what you are getting and make sure that you can bring him/her back if the fit isn’t perfect.

Some health care things. Bulldogs shed a LOT. Seriously. They need their faces, inside the folds, cleaned daily. Also their stop, the area between their eyes and above their nose, collects a LOT of hairs and these need to be regularly cleaned out. Bulldogs love it when you rub there so I think they probably put the hair there on purpose. I have a load of washcloths so that I can come in and wash each fold and crevice. You also have to dry them with another cloth because moisture isn’t good in the crevices. This will help with acne and also keep away some of their worst skin issues. I bathe them every two to three weeks in special shampoo from the vet. Mostly that helps prevent skin issues. Tab tails are better then cork screw tails, because you have to clean around a corkscrew like you do their facial folds and basically the corkscrew doesn’t unbend at all. The bones are fused. So you have to be really careful or you could easily hurt the dog. Generally, they are easy to care for other then the daily face washing.

Mine eat Royal Canon Bulldog food. As it has supplements for skin, joints and bone health specifically for the health issues bulldogs face. Usually I mix in a natural human quality dog food because bulldogs get easily tired of the same thing over and over and don’t necessarily eat just because there is food. They like variety. Abby can go days turning up her nose at food in her bowl. Things I throw in to convince them to eat are a pinch of Parmesan cheese, a single cheez-it or goldfish crunched up, peas or corn, or just a bit of meat juice from dinner. Mine are grazers and I've encouraged that so they aren’t simply eating because there is food there. They also know to eat only from their own bowls. Metal bowls are so important because they are prone to acne. They drink a lot of water a day and I have dental liquid to mix in so that they have better breath and so their teeth are healthier. I say drink, but really bulldogs eat water. They take bites of it rather lick up water. They are constantly dripping water everywhere. Mine haven’t gotten to the point where they drool, but they drool more as they get older. Abby does quite a bit when I eat something that has heavy smells. They love the type of treats designed to clean teeth (denta-bone and nylabone? I think that’s what they are called), but they can devour them very quickly and sometimes the bones can get stuck in the roof of their mouths or in the back just before the throat.  I have to do a sweep of their mouths with our fingers to make sure it all went down.

Please know, I’m not at all trying to turn you off of them. I think they are the most fantastic dogs and I’m not sure I would want another kind. I just want to make sure you get all the facts of living with them. They are strong willed and determined but so amazingly sweet and kind and devoted and really really funny.

One of the funniest things about my dogs is their love of their plushy toys. Both dogs have two or three plushes that are their “babies”, Gus’ are octopus dolls and Abby’s are dog dolls. They use them as pacifiers. If they feel sick (you’ll know because they look completely miserable) or scared or are just uncomfortable with the weather then they use their dolls as pacifiers. Gus sticks his Octopus body in his mouth and basically just gums it. Abby does the same with the puppy noses. They care for them deeply and actually look worried if you take them away to wash them or repair them. Abby will even clean hers like a mother would. They tear all their other toys up, but not their favorite dolls. Their favorite types of plush toys are soft dolls that seem more appropriate for human babies, toys made of fire hose fabric, and tough canvas dolls that are good for tossing (fetch). They prefer their dolls to have arms and legs and tails and other small nubs they which they use to pull on for tug, rather then put a head or body in their mouth. They also love indestructible bones, which are not actually indestructible to a bulldog as they can chew through one in a few evenings if you don’t distract them with something else. They love plastic chew toys as well. Stuff in shapes with knobs and textures. A decently thick, non hollow, “stick” plastic chew toy, think about the size of a very large carrot, can be gnawed through in a matter of an hour. Sadly you have to actually watch that they don’t then swallow the piece they broke off. Most of the swallowed pieces come out the way they went in a day or two later and its very messy and gross.

Bulldogs like crating.  My crates (one for each of them) are 4 feet by 3 feet.  I don’t even necessarily have to lock them in, they are just more comfortable and secure when they are in their for bed at night and for when we are gone.  Mine tend to have a schedule and if we stick to it they are a lot less grumpy. They get up in the morning around 4 or so and are up and around all day while I'm at work. Then its all out playing for the next three and a half hours or so, by which time they’ve (or I’ve) worn them out so much they can’t keep their eyes open. 9PM is bedtime and they will both pass out pretty much as soon as they lie down. They don’t like light when they are sleeping and if I try and read in bed I have two bulldogs staring me down with the saddest faces ever. Bulldogs like to sleep in plush accommodations. Both of mine have gel mats designed to cushion and help painful hips. Abby doesn’t really need it, Gus does. These are just a gel base about an inch and a half thick and with a cover. Easy to get off the internet, but somewhat pricey. Gus was a lot better after we got that. They both have twin sized comforters on top of the mats. Gus likes his flat and Abby likes her scrambled up. She also likes to hide under it. Other things in Gus’ crate include 4 octopus (these are about 6 inches high and 4 inches around…kinda small), a head pillow, an indestructible bone, a camel doll (also one of his favorite things, I’ve fixed it an unbelievable number of times when a leg or the head or the hump fell off), and usually a towel. Abby keeps a towel, her two “babies”, an alligator made of strong canvas, a very small cat toy duck, and an indestructible bone. They actually look sad when they get in there and something is missing as well. Abby has been known to go looking for things that are missing and bring them back in with her. Outside their crates I have a 4 inch thick orthopedic mat in the living room with a queen sized comforter on it. Tons of toys because bulldogs have ADD. Gus has also claimed a kitchen mat that he likes to lie on wherever it is at the time and however scrunched up and small it is he will somehow manage to fit himself on it.

Bulldogs are often a quiet breed. This means they won’t necessarily let you know they need to go potty. Gus just goes and stands by the door. If you aren’t in the same room you sort of have to know that he’s gone. Mine bark occasionally at the doorbell and sometimes at the TV, but mostly the noises you hear from them are smacking sounds from chewing on toys and heavy breathing as they calm back down from running around.

One of the great things about bulldogs are their facial expressions and body language. You know if they are happy or sad or bored or scared, or just really really tired. They have big toothy grins. They are all characters and have HUGE personalities. Mostly they are fun and devoted dogs, with great attitudes (if they don’t feel threatened) and a desire to play and spend time with you.

The very very very, 1 million times, best thing about a bulldog is butt wiggles. They wag their tails but because they have such small tails their butts wiggle like crazy. Their whole body wiggles sometimes when they are very happy or glad to see you, or just when they feel like making you giggle. Its so funny and so endearing.

Hopefully I’ve answered some of your questions. If you have more specific ones or just curious more about my dogs, just ask.

Cheers,
Bea


Old Man Gus