English bulldogs are often misrepresented, being portrayed as disagreeable or mean because of their gnarly faces, when in reality they are actually little lambs. Our dude, Dozer, is no exception, barking fiercely at nothing more frightening than plastic flapping in the wind, valiantly demonstrating that we need not stress over potentially aggressive tarps, but lavishing kisses upon command, when we so desire.
Are bulldogs as stubborn as they are purported to be? That, and more, but there are extenuating circumstances: I am stubborn too, so I get it. I simply do not like to be told I have to do something. If you ask, I will perform miracles; if you demand, I will go into middle school mode. Count on it.
I am well acquainted with how to train a dog, and I understand that I let Bowser get away with murder, or at least homicide. Not only do I not make him turn around and look at me, before I proceed out the front door, as treasonous as that sounds, I allow him to go first.
Do I not realize that this will make Biggie think he is the alpha male? It’s a moot point because THAT has already been well-established, a long time ago. Boo-Boo runs the show, all 48 pounds of him, whether it is his unquestionable authority over Emma the dog, weighing in at 100-plus pounds, or his selection of a sleeping spot on the bed.
|At the Red Lion|
I don’t even mind that; I can sleep around him, but he steals the blankets too, by pinning them to the bed more effectively than a ship’s anchor. As Cheech and Chong might have quipped, “All right, now, men, discipline’s getting pretty lax around here. Why, I remember just last week, when I asked for volunteers to go weed out that marijuana patch, I damn near got stampeded to death. Talkin’ ‘bout them, they been gone a week now. Get ‘em on the horn.”
Besides, should he actually rattle my chain, I have only to let the voice out of its cage. End of a one-sided conversation.
From Spartacus and Maximus, Ice T’s famous bullies, Beetle Bailey’s Otto, Adam Sandler’s Meatball, Chris Brown’s Diamond to even Dozer, himself, bulldogs command attention, because they have charisma. Dozer can easily put twenty different expressions on his face, and I will know what he is communicating, most of the time.
Instead of words, Phattie uses his personality to convey his feelings. If we are planning an overnight excursion, the Doze knows even before we do. He watches an overnight bag being packed, he hears the shower and hated hair dryer, and he fears the worst.
“Am I going to get the “Dozer-stays-here-and-guards-the-house” speech, or the “Don’t worry, you-get-to-go-too,” reassurance? Dozer overthinks, every time, and his lower lip droops to the ground.
He has a half-dozen ways to express interest in what you are eating, each one, a step more endearing. Share my bacon? Dumb question. Rib-eye? How would you like it prepared? Chicken? White meat or dark? “I will gladly pay you Tuesday, for a dog-treat, today,” Dozer says, stealing J. Wellington Wimpy’s line from the old Popeye cartoons.
Biggie-Phats recently lost a chunk of weight in less time than it takes to determine that he does not want to walk in the rain-as long as it takes to open the front door so that he can hear the sound of rain falling. He suffered from an infection in his lungs, during which time he struggled to be able to breathe properly.
Already susceptible to breathing issues, he was hit pretty hard, actually being forced to sleep/doze sitting up, because when he lay down, his air passages got blocked. He was a wheezing wreck of himself, hacking and cracking our hearts open with empathy for the old guy.
We are well aware of his mortality, with Dozerotomy approaching his ninth birthday. Wikipedia states that the average lifespan of this breed is 8-10 years, so hey, like me, he is in the twilight of his lifetime. I’m good with that and if he were able to talk, I think Mr. Brown would be good with it too.
Aside from his wanting to be top dawg, he is an unprepossessing kind of dude, deliriously happy to be asked along on a walk, or to go gather sticks, what I euphemistically call bringing in wheel barrow loads of oak and madrone, or to chew on his indestructible ball, one of several.
As long as I am quick with my hand, I will retain all my digits. I wish I could say the same for my wits, which appear far more fragile. We occasionally play a game where he will clamp down on a piece of redwood hard enough, that I can spin him around in the air, and his teeth will keep him airborne.
The only time I was not quick enough, when the two of us were wrassling with a chunk of redwood, and his teeth came down on my hand with the speed of a rattle snake, Fat Chaw was unable to do the deed-his teeth grazed my hand with the delicate touch of a butterfly, and we went on with the game.
Even when I see him sitting on the tile hearth by the warm fire, upon our return from the cold outside, and I bring his bed over to him, he has to assess the situation first, before he makes any sudden moves. He will glance at the bed and ignore it, moving his gaze on to more exciting material, like his empty dog dish.
The lip starts its slow inflation.
As if it matters to me, whether or not he chooses to lie down. Of course, it obviously does, because I continue to monitor him out of the corner of my eye, difficult to do when I have to turn around to see him. Such is the life of a bulldog owner.
The bed awaits; he remains next to it. The lower lip broadens to the width of the Mississippi, as if I have threatened to leave him home for two weeks again, as I did back in 2011, when I sallied off to Ireland. He glances, surreptitiously this time, at the beat-up old replica of what the bed once was.
Still, it’s his beat-up old crash-pad and he loves it. Just not enough to capitulate, with me craning my neck to observe. Oh yes, believe it.
I have all the time in the world, I muse to myself, so I bide my time. The next time I sneak a peek, he is lights out-comfortably curled up in a bed that was originally acquired for him while he was still a pup. The “replacement” model actually serves Emma well, when she graces our home with her presence.
So yeah, the old chap will be taking his place alongside the perpetual “warm fireplace” in the sky in the not-too-distant-future, but I will not have any regrets. I will never say to myself, I wish I had done this, or wish I had spent more time, because such will not have been the case.
If one human year equates to seven dog years, then one hour with Dozer, is the same as seven. Therefore, I will have spent more than twenty-four hours a day with the old bully practically his whole life, and who can ask for more than that?