Guest blogger, Michelle Stark, writes honestly and lovingly about her experience of adding yet another Bulldog to the mix. She also touches on a topic I think of often as I have two older dogs who are, strangely, very bonded with one another. And I do mean strangely as it is sometimes a love/hate relationship. I think about their closeness and worry about the impact that one passing away will have on the other. She also shares the pure joy of being adored by her Coal.
Love At First Sight
I believe in love at first sight. It only took until the end of the first date with my husband, Matt. With Tank and Missy, it was instant. And now it’s happened again with our latest addition. Our newest bulldog, Coal, claimed me at a Christmas party for our bulldog club. He crawled over his brothers and sisters and sat at my feet, looking up at me with those big brown eyes and that was it. He owned me. I spent a majority of the party holding this little guy as he slept, falling more in love every moment. I tried to tell myself I was just getting my fill of puppy love. Yeah right! We had talked about adding another bulldog to our home, but it was an idea for the future. However, Fate intervened and adjusted our timetable. It’s not always about the timing; sometimes, it’s about the right dog.
More Work. More Expense. More Love.
Believe me this was not an easy decision, despite being love at first sight. There was a lot to consider and I didn’t sleep a wink the night we met Coal. My rational side argued that adding a new puppy was not practical. It would be more work and more expense. My heart, which eventually won out, argued all that didn’t matter when love was involved. It was mostly the same argument I’d had with myself over Matt, too, and that has been pretty awesome.
This little bundle of wrinkles claimed my heart and soul and Matt knew it. Apparently, I lit up like a Christmas tree, something Matt had not seen in a while. That was his sign that this puppy belonged with us. The biggest consideration would be the two at home. Tank and Missy are still puppies at heart, but physically they are middle aged dogs. They hopefully have many more good years to go, but I’m painfully aware of how fast their first few have gone, and that their lifespan is shorter than I’d like. And they are inseparable. They pine for each other if one goes to the vet without the other. My fear is that something will happen to one, and the other will follow soon after due to a broken heart. A third pup would provide some additional companionship. Hopefully, they’d be accepting of their new little brother. With Matt’s encouragement and blessing, we bit the kibble and called our friend to tell her Coal would be coming home with us. We registered his name with the American Kennel Club as Hope’s Diamond in the Ruff, but he will always be my lump of Coal.
The Right Dog – The Right Time?
Coal is the right dog for us. His personality is a perfect blend of Missy’s spunk and vivaciousness with Tank’s happy-go-lucky demeanor and sweetness. Fortunately, like Tank, he is not a barker. I’m hoping Missy will take the cue from Coal and bark a little less. A momma can dream, anyway. Missy has proven herself to be a patient big sister. Her patience surprises and pleases us. We were a bit worried how she’d accept the new puppy as this would squarely usurp her spot as the baby. Apparently she has no problem being the middle dog, for which I am grateful. She is Coal’s chief playmate. She still steals the toy, but unlike Tank, Coal will retrieve it and keep the game going. It’s been good for her girlish figure to have such a lively playmate. Tank is a little stand-offish. We think it’s because he remembers how it was to be Missy’s main chew toy and would prefer to remain at a safe distance until the teething period is over. I can’t blame him. Those puppy teeth are tiny little razors! But Tank does play tug with Coal and a rope toy. He prefers the long rope toy that gives him plenty of distance between those sharp baby teeth and his tender skin. It’s obvious that Tank is aware how much bigger than Coal he is, and so he gently plays with him. It never fails to amaze me the depth of his understanding. Missy and Tank embraced the addition of their new little brother in their own way. He is a successful addition to our home and fits in well.
A Good Start
This puppy is my whole world right now. There is so much he needs to learn – how to come when called; how to sit, stay, lay down, etc. These are important for good obedience, showmanship and dog safety. He quickly learned how to walk on a leash. I’d love to say that I successfully leash trained a puppy, but I think I have to give him the credit. I really didn’t do much. He comes from a long line of show dogs and it is part of his DNA.
These days, however, where and when to potty is our most pressing lesson. He understands the how for sure, and he’s doing his best on the where part, but he’s not so good at letting us know the when. At times, it has resulted in some funny, but extremely messy circumstances. Apparently, he feels bad when he has an accident, because he does his best to hide it. And by hide it, I mean he tries to bury it under anything nearby – his blanket, his pillow, or his toys. He even tries to fling it far from where he is. If he could bury it under our tile floor, I’m sure he would. Once upon a time, these messes would have had me in tears of frustration. Now, I just laugh. If I didn’t, I’d be in a padded room wearing a fashionably constrictive white jacket with extremely long arms and giving myself a permanent hug. The messes he makes are monumental and not at all in proportion with his size. We have the pictures to prove it, only because no one would believe us without the photographic evidence.
Me And My Shadow
Sometimes, I wonder if secretly he makes these messes to get me near him again. Coal is my shadow. Tank and Missy are content to be in the same room with us; Coal must be near me. If Matt is in another room, the older two tend to gravitate towards him. I’m ok with that, mostly. He’s daddy and therefore more fun. Momma says no a lot. Coal, on the other hand, needs to be by my side or under foot, whichever is more convenient for him. And I’m ok with that, too. He dances with joy in his crate in the morning before I let him out. He will sit by me and put his paw on my foot while I read email, as if to say, “Momma, I’m here. Please give me love.” Definitely not a request I’m able to ignore! He loves to play and will bring me a toy of his choosing for playtime. He follows me around the house everywhere. Matt can hold him, but his eyes follow me. He misses me if I go upstairs, where he’s currently not allowed, or if I leave the house on an errand. It’s nice to be needed like this. I have that three times over. And nothing is as satisfying to the ego as three dogs vying to say, “Welcome home! We missed you!”
Work and Love Increase Exponentially
Yes, I might be certifiable for adding a third dog to our house. It has increased my workload ten-fold when it comes to taking care of all three. It has resulted in less sleep due to potty training and accident abatement. Clean up in the backyard requires removal of many more piles. I seem to do more dog laundry than I do laundry for the humans in our house. And bath time now takes well over an hour to get all three squeaky clean and smelling pretty.
It has also increased the love exponentially, and that is the best benefit. We’ve watched Missy blossom into a patient big sister. Tank has discovered that he has a playmate that will play and not just steal the toy. Coal, as a puppy, is still wide-eyed with wonder at everything new, which is really neat to see. He still doesn’t understand cats, but he sure wants to! They all give and get love in their own way. So while our friends and families quietly think we are insane, Matt and I know that we have traded sanity for unconditional love. And that makes it all worth it.