If you know me or have been a regular reader of my blog, you know that I love English Bulldogs. As you can see in this post, In Celebration of our Faithful Companions, I grew up with them. Bullies literally make me weak in the knees. There is nothing cuter than an English bulldog puppy. Nothing.
Despite this intensity of emotion, I will not have another after my Gracie.
English Bulldogs are extremely popular now; I believe they are the second most popular breed. The University of Georgia mascot, UGA, lives in Savannah and thus there is a special enthusiasm for bullies in Savannah. I know several people who are contemplating getting a bulldog.
With this breed more than others, an informed decision is crucial. You must know what you are getting into and you must be diligent in your research on breeders. There are good breeders out there; my husband and I are fortunate enough to call one such breeder good friends. If you are thinking about purchasing a bulldog, you may want to read Can the Bulldog be Saved?
My parents owned four English Bulldogs throughout their married life. The first, Boomer, they purchased when they were newly married and living in Princeton, New Jersey while my dad finished his last year of college. They lived in an apartment and Boomer could not make it up the stairs due to breathing difficulties. Eventually, his nose collapsed and he had to have what was then major surgery. Their next three bulldogs suffered from breathing issues, a hole in the heart and a stomach which turned over, respectively, along with a number of less significant health issues. After losing their final bulldog, they made the decision that their hearts could not handle another one.
When my husband and I were married, we were a little like the animal Brady Bunch. My husband had two beautiful English Setters, who were trained bird dogs, and I had my two Humane Society kittens, Oprah and her sister Rosie, who has since passed away. Although the bird dogs were gorgeous and sweet, they were not my idea of pets. They were uncomfortable in the house and were only happy if out in a field pointing at birds. Plus, they pretty much didn’t care if I lived or died as they were so bonded to my husband.
I decided that I needed a bulldog. My husband was supportive; my parents wrung their hands and tried gently to warn me. At that point in my life, the heartache that I had lived through with two of my parents’ bulldogs was a distant memory. I only remembered their incredible loving personalities and funny dispositions.
I found Gracie’s breeder in a classified ad in Northern Georgia. We visited his house and I felt safe as the owner of the mother was a veterinarian, who was a recent graduate of the University of Georgia vet school (one of the top in the nation). The father was owned by a professor at the vet school.
From the beginning, Gracie was (and is) the most amazing dog that I have ever known. The bond formed between us very quickly. The health problems started almost right away as well.
First was the hip dysplasia and a TPO on each hip, which totalled over four thousand dollars.
Due to her breathing problems, she probably should have had surgery to open up her nasal passage. The author in Can the Bulldog be Saved? compares their breathing to ours if we clamped our mouth and nose shut and were then able to breathe only through a straw. Imagine then getting out of breath for some reason and being able to breath only through the straw. When I come home everyday from work, that is how Gracie greets me; she gets so excited to see me that she starts to gasp for breath. It breaks my heart.
In her later years, Gracie has encountered some significant eye problems, which required surgeries. I almost lost her in the first surgery due to her breathing problems. For the second surgery, the eye surgeon did it in the office, with me never leaving her and holding her, and then I whisked her into our car, where my dad was sitting running the air conditioning at full strength, to recover at home. I know now that she couldn’t survive any additional surgeries.
We constantly combat skin and allergy issues in the ears, in the folds on her face and under her curled tail. The tail pocket is especially problematic depending on how tightly curled the tail is. Moisture gets trapped under there and infections grow; the same situation can occur in the skin folds on the face. Our twice daily routine is for me to check her skin folds and ears, and medicate them if necessary. Every time she goes to the bathroom, we have to wipe and clean under her tail.
Gracie is also on medication – four different types of pills, and our vet visits us at least once a month, maybe once every three weeks. Our vet comes to us; due to the breathing issues, we cannot take her to a vet’s office as she gets too stressed.
During Gracie’s lifetime, my husband and I have had two other English Bulldogs, neither of which lived to maturity due to various bulldog issues. With the passing of each one, a piece of our hearts went with them.
Has my sweet Gracie been worth every effort and every cent spent on her? Without a doubt. And because of her, and the other bullies that I have had in my life, I will always love English Bulldogs.