We had just put our 2 Golden Retrievers, Maxwell and Baxter on the scales at our local vet's to check their weights when we saw the poster of a huge Bull Dog with a “great” under bite. Above the scale the caption read “Do you think this collar makes me look fat?”
From then on we were hooked. We had taken care of a “ Bullie ” several years before and that probably had planted the seed. Now we knew that we wanted a “new challenge”. Max and Bax were absolutely great dogs. We had adopted them 3 years ago from Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue after losing our other faithful companion, Brandon, also a Golden. They were the consummate family pets', big, gorgeous lugs that were well trained and fit into our lives like a well worn shoe. We loved them dearly, but we wanted a BULLIE!
Daisy Mae came home with us in August 2006. She was a lovable little girl and fit in with the Goldens' with out a hitch. She was absolutely adorable. She was so happy and we seemed complete. The Goldens' treated her like a princess and she quickly became “one of the pack”. Daisy had an insatiable desire to play and the other dogs always graciously accepted her “puppy antics”.
We were ecstatic with our new love and she was thrilled with us. But we started thinking that she needed a companion that would better fit her size and eager temperament. Anyways, we had grown accustomed to the puppy rituals and Daisy's character made it easy. She was such a vibrant love. What would one more matter?
Petunia Mae arrived in October. It was love at first sight. We just had to “rescue her”. This was though, our first attempt on to introduce another companion into our new pack. The Goldens' were fine. After all, this is just another little runt that runs under my belly. Daisy was fine but Petunia complained a bit. After some tentative moments the first night, we decided to let them just look at one another through their crates in the kitchen. The next morning after some sniffing and prancing they were immediately “Best Friends”. Our first hurdle had been crossed. This was going to be DUCK SOUP!
Petunia was an immediate hit with everyone. She was adorable, tan and white, all wrinkled up and a real little “Love Bug”. The Goldens naturally immediately adopted her and she would follow them everywhere. Daisy also quickly accepted her into her world and they were great playmates. They would spend hours running around the yard.
We loved our new family and thought at that time, we were complete. But alas, it was not to be. We happened to see this gorgeous “little monster” with a straight tail and a loving personality. In order to complete our “floral arrangement”, Daffodil was added to the family in January. She had come from Budapest and would certainly add some European flair to our pack. We now had a Daisy, a Petunia, and a Daffodil.
Daffodil was another cutie, but then aren't they all? She was a tiny little girl with a drop dead gorgeous look and a personality that could not be denied. She was also a great fit for the other Bullies. What she lacked in size she made up for by sheer exuberance. Within a very short time she was keeping up with everyone. In addition, she had the sweetest personality, always eager to be a real scene stealer and showing everyone that she was “all that”!
By now, we had decided that we had the complete family, well almost anyways! I really wanted a male to complement our pack. We needed a big burly guy that would rule over his princesses and be the king of his harem.
So on a dreary February Sunday night we picked up the “big lug” at the airport. We finally had completed our quartet.
He certainly was BIG. He was the same age as Daffodil but easily dwarfed her in size. But burly was not to be. He was a complete angel, a real mooshpuppy. A macho name like Spike or Caesar would never fit this gentle giant. He was, from then on, known as Marshmallow. Always first to the food bowl, the only thing bigger than his lovable personality was his appetite. He just loved to eat. But most of all he loved to be with people. He would always stay by our side whenever we were around. He was a true angel.
So now our pack was complete. They weren't show dogs, they were just our family. We both would revel, spending hours just watching the pack dynamics. We took them everywhere and were always the star attraction, whenever they were present. When we took them to meet the residents at Gwen's the nursing facility, they were immediate hits. They loved the attention and the residents loved the chance to see them.
The everyday dynamics of owning the Bullies was an experience in itself. We are very fortunate to have an excellent local veterinary facility, Hyannis Animal Hospital . They have always been there to cater to our every need. Our vet, Dr Danielle Smith DVM was patient and eager to help us whenever we had the slightest problem or question. I remember my first visit to her with Daisy Mae. She pronounced her fit and naturally adorable but then told me to sit down. She said that she had two things she wanted me to remember. First that Daisy will never be prettier than she was that day and second that I had better establish a fund for her care. I have since found, in addition to being a fabulous Vet, Dr Smith is wise beyond her years.
Shortly after we got Daisy, she required prolapsed/hypertrophied gland surgery to repair the cherry eye that appeared from “nowhere”. We were fortunate to be in an area where we could have access to a “world class” Veterinary Ophthalmogist facility staffed by excellent caring doctors and staff. Drs. Dennis Donohue DVM, MS and Patrick Welch DVM patiently guided us through the examination and procedure with loving care. Dr Donohue explained every step of the process from the actual surgery to the complex pharmacology that was required after treatment. They were very familiar with Bull Dogs and explored every avenue of treatment with us. Any surgery on a Bullie is serious and I came to realize just how good these doctors and their assistants were. We consequently became very familiar with the facility because we had additional prolapsed /hypertrophied gland surgeries along with scrolled cartilage excision (unilateral) on both Petunia and Marshmallow. We learned terms like Schirmer tear test, Fluorescein stain and Tonometry. OD and OS were now familiar terms. Our house became a pharmacy. AK-Spore Solution, Gentocin Durafilm, Clavamox, Pred-G, and Rimadyl found a place on our counter. With guidance from the eye clinic and Gwen. (Gwen is a nurse so it was old hat for her!), I quickly became proficient at caring for our Bullie's eyes. Eye drops, pills and salve became a way of life! I am now a self proclaimed animal eye specialist lay person!
Perhaps now you can see why I said Dr. Smith was wise beyond her years. She had listed the possible problems with Bullie's from skin allergies, skeletal problems, compromised breathing, intestinal flatulence and yes the ever present problem of prolapsed/hypertrophied gland. She also was kind enough to refer us to one what we feel is the best animal eye care in New England . I have read many articles that state that it is very hard to find a competent Bull Dog Vet. I truly feel that we have ours.
Our family was now complete. We were ecstatic with the little ones. We would spend hours watching our pack's dynamics. We enrolled them in a local pet stores puppy training class and would spend Saturdays and Sundays attempting to train theses little brutes. They were instant sensations in each class, even to the point of embarrassment. Everyone else had their beautiful pups. There were Golden Retrievers, Labs, Poodles, Newfoundlands , and every other breed you could think of. But all of the attention was on the Bull Dogs. Every one loved their demeanor, looks and STUBBORNESS! After 6 weeks though, Daisy, Petunia and Daffodil passed with flying colors (and lots of treats). They made it through the toy obstacle course, down the pet food aisle, past the hamsters, walking at my side and generally being perfect companions. They were gentle ladies, greeting all with that 200 mph tail wiggle and licks for all. I was so proud. During our frequent trips to the Vet, I would astound everyone with their behavior. A quick palm up and the 3 ladies were sitting like the “Belles of the Ball”. Well most of the time anyways! I have to admit that there were times that they were also absolute terrors, ready to subdue anything from a toy poodle to a Bull Mastiff. But then that's a BULLIE!
Left to Right: Daisy, Petinia, Daffodil
Left to right: Daffodil, Marshmallow, Daisy
My reason for writing this article is two fold. First, I am so proud of our pack and want to share my experiences with everyone. Second, this is a time for grieving for both Gwen and I. This article is one method for release. Wednesday morning we lost Marshmallow, just about 6 weeks after we had received him He was a perfectly normal healthy dog up until that time. He died in less that an hour. It was 6AM in the morning when I took him into bed with me. He started to spit up and couldn't get his breath. By the time I could get him to the emergency 24 hr vet, he had passed on. The emergency service tried to revive him but it was too late. They speculate that it was aspiration pneumonia perhaps triggered by a heart condition or visa versa. We chose not to do a necropsy. We could not bear the thought of cutting up our little guy. We are both heart broken. We contacted the breeder and she talked to her vet but nothing is obvious. At his age a puppy should not die, but Marshmallow did. Our only consolation is that he had an excellent life during the time that he was with us. We could give him no better care, love or attention. We are devoted to our animals and only wish to convey the message to all dog owners that they should cherish the time with their pets, as we do ours. We try to give nothing but love to our animals and spend each day receiving the same unconditional love back from them. We feel that we are good, responsible dog owners, always looking for some way to better nurture and protect the dogs. They deserve no less.
I am always interested in hearing from Bull Dog owners. Please feel free to contact me at the address below. I hope that this article has made you both smile and in a small way realize how quickly your life can change
Phil Noll & Gwen Dixon
Cape Cod , Massachusetts
Note. We were feeding our dogs Nutro Puppy Lamb and Rice in Gravy canned food as a supplement to Royal Canin Medium Puppy food. Our pet food supplier notified us that we were in the lot of wet foods that was being recalled. All of our pets have been tested for renal failure as a result of the contaminated wheat gluten that was used by Menu Foods. Blood and urine results came back unremarkable but I am still skeptical. I am interested if anyone has had any other indications. We have since decided that we will be feeding only human grade foods to our animals. We are now skeptical of the entire pet food industry.