Our contributor and friend Mary Darnell, who wrote the article on introducing your bulldogs to a new baby lost her beloved Nala, her first English Bulldog at the age of three. Nala was one of Vivy's first online friends. And she's included in the Why I Love My Bulldog Video.
Here's her tribute:
My Nala by Mary Darnell
My Nala, and that is exactly what she was and will always be, my Nala. While many people loved her and cherished Nala, our little Nala Bean, but she was always my little girl. Oh how I loved her and just cannot believe that I do not have her anymore. If you have a bulldog or have had a bulldog, you know they are a breed like no other and to have one is a special gift and to lose one is just a heartache. This is such a short summary of my Nala that I feel it does not do her justice, but I must write something for her as I will continue to love her.
My good friend Brandy is a dog lover. She taught me the best way to decide is to research and find a breed that fits you. The hunt began and after several months in the end all I wanted was a bulldog. I decided very early on that I wanted a girl. The search began. I looked everywhere. Newspapers, classified, friends, vets, etc. I put a tag on bulldog puppies on a local Athens newspaper so I would be notified every time one was listed.
One day it happened. I opened up my email to find a new ad for bulldog puppies. 8 weeks old and related to UGA, it could not get any better. At lunch I called Brandy, called the breeder, and then called Brandy back. We decided to make the trek to Watkinsville to look at the puppies.
We played with all the puppies, but there was one that was just too sweet and too cute. I feel in love right away. She was a solid white bully, except for one black circle around her left eye and a little fawn coloring going up to the left ear. So, on a chilly day in February of 2004, I left with Miss Nala and it was all over from there.
It was me and Nala. What a pair! Everyone that met Nala loved her and she loved them right back. My parents were happy to have a grandpuppy and displayed pictures as such. While her lineage was cool, I was just happy to have her. Someone to love you unconditionally. She even loved the vet. That’s right. Nala would get excited at the last light before turning into the vet because she knew she would even get spoiled there. Even through several health problems (a bully through and through) she was a trooper. She would even willingly lay down for medicine and take it with no problems.
I did not take Nala anywhere or invite anyone over that would not understand that she was not just a dog, but my Nala. My four legged little girl. Nala even wrote letters out to people. She had her own signature and her own return address labels with her picture on it. Thanks to Vivy, she even made it online. She always wanted to stay in touch with those that loved her. If I ever had to leave her for extended periods (vacation, etc), she would stay with grandma and grandpa. While she loved them, she would go on a food strike until I returned (although she welcomed the treats as grandma said she had to eat something)!
Nala grew to hate my apartment. Well, not exactly the apartment, but the three flights of stairs to my apartment. I knew that she would get big, but had no idea she would ultimately grow to be an 80+ pound bully.
I had been dating someone and even he fell in love with Nala immediately. I guess you can say it was part of the reason I fell in love with him. I could have never loved anyone that did not love my Nala. Nala and I decided that we both liked Daniel enough that he should become part of our family and he moved in with us.
Daniel and I took turns taking Nala out. Nala developed a horrible limp. We took her to the vet and they x-rayed her, but never could find anything wrong with her. Want to know why . . . she created a fake limp. She would be fine, running, jumping, playing, wrestling with Daniel until it came time to go outside and then the limp would happen. A fake limp! Though I already knew it, now I knew she was smarter than us. So what do we do, we buy a house. Yes, we wanted a house. But really, we bought that house for Nala.
Nala was always great one on one. Add anymore to that mix and she had to be the center of attention. Literally, Daniel and I could not even hold hands or sit together without her wanting to be right in the middle.
We made the decision to get Nala a friend, a little brother or sister. We lucked up on finding Tank quickly. It was true friendship right from the start. We were a little worried as Nala was already 1 ½ and did not know how she would do sharing the spot light. It was great! Nala was a born leader and Tank a born follower. It was a perfect match. Nala would share her toys, her blanket, and even her food. While Nala was a momma’s girl, Tank was a Nala’s boy.
When Nala was 2 we welcomed the first 2 legged child into the family. Nala was great during the pregnancy and as she always was when I was sick, took very good care of mommy. She was great with the baby. Loved on her and was so gentle.
Once Reilly began to talk one of her first and still favorite words was Nala. Everything was Nala. She even called Tank, and even Daddy, Nala (of which Nala loved and of which Tank pouted about). She loved Nala as much as everyone else. Remember Nala was the smart one (no offense to Tank) and realized very quickly that little baby hands can hurt.
I would literally have to ask Nala to please go give her sister some attention so Reilly would not pout or scream her name. She always did it too, even though sometimes pain would result. She loved Reilly, she loved Daniel, she loved Tank, and she loved me so much. That is how it should end. Two bulldogs and a baby, but Nala had other plans.
On Sunday, June 10, 2007, my Nala left me. It had been a great weekend. Good weather. We left the house for some lunch, but other than that was at home all day. Nala was the barker of the two dogs and that day she did her share. When it got time to start winding down the day (i.e., I get Reilly into the tub and Daniel makes sure both dogs go outside whether they have just been or not) as the dogs generally go to bed when Reilly does.
Daniel was the unfortunate one that found my Nala gone. Bless his heart, he did not know what to do. I was giving Reilly her bath and he came and told me.
Hysterical really does not truly describe what happened next. I can remember it, but it is still sort of like an out of body experience. I ran to my Nala. Right now I cannot tell you why. I knew what Daniel told me was true. My best guess is I wanted to hold her. Of course she was in no state for that to happen.
I have never seen one of my pets in that state and truly wish I did not see my Nala that way. But there she was, gone. Just gone. My parents came over to help as best they could. Between Daniel, my dad, and our good friend James they picked a beautiful spot in the woods to bury my Nala on our property.
She loved going outside in the woods to play hide and seek with Tank (he is a brindle bulldog and always won as Nala was white as can be). I was finally able to say my tearful goodbye to her the next day.
I am mad that she left me. I am sad that she left me. I have a hole in my heart that she took with her. She was not quite 3 ½ when she left me. I knew the breed had short life spans, but this was too short. I just want her back. Even for just a few moments to hold her, love her, and tell her how much she has meant to me (and of course to beg her to stay).
I am now left without her and life is different. I am sure it will ease over time, but she will always be a part of me. I share this because I love her and miss her very much. I share this because she deserves it for everything she was to me.
I’ll miss her when I cook because she loved to come in the kitchen (and stay right under my feet) and put her nose in the air smelling whatever I was cooking. I’ll miss her this Christmas when I get the stockings out (even though you know it is hers, you really know it when you see the slobber stain on the bottom).
I’ll miss her in the morning, when I come home, and at night when I go to bed. I’ll even miss those snores and smells while she slept. I’ll especially miss her toothy grin and maybe even her slobber. Heck, I’ll just miss her! My Nala, oh how I love and miss My Nala. It took some time to finally write this, but I am glad I did!