This is a story about a person who never, ever wanted a dog.
My name is Jill and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I teach history at a major university in the greater Phoenix metro area. Although my job is in Phoenix, my heart is in Buffalo, New York, where I was born and raised. My family still lives there and so did I until I was 23 years old and came to Arizona to get my PhD.
I grew up petrified of dogs. There was an incident that I have no recollection of when my grandparents dog nipped me when I was two years old that my parents surmised might have turned me off dogs but I was always very afraid of them - big or small. As a child, I hesitated to go over to friends and families houses that had dogs. Our neighbors had a German Shepherd and a Rottweiler and I feared them both. When I was 10, my parents told my sister, brother and I that we could either have a dog or a pool, I BEGGED them for the pool. We got a dog.
At first I was uncomfortable with the family dog and had nightmares about her but I grew to love Biscuit, and became very attached to her. But when I moved out, I never thought of having a dog of my own. EVER! I am a clean freak and appreciate order, dogs, in general, do not!
When my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I purchased a house in Arizona in 2004, he immediately started begging me for a dog. I refused at first but then realized compromise is a part of any good relationship so we started looking. First, we looked at the Arizona Humane Society but I was determined to adopt a shelter dog. We saw SO many active dogs that I could not get excited about, no matter how much I felt for them. I worried about my two cats and how they might react to a dog that can jump and run - and how a dog might react to them. My husband begged me to adopt a deaf Australian Cattle Dog named Jinx. He was so beautiful but I knew he was not the right choice for fairly low key, busy, first time dog owners.
I then asked my husband if I could pick the breed if I agreed to a dog. He said yes and I began my search. A researcher by nature, I began looking for the "right" dog for us. I had always been attracted to the bulldog's good looks and, after reading about the bulldog's laid back personality, I decided the bulldog was the right dog for this ultra type-A girl.
I found my first bulldog, Bentley, in the newspaper. He was the last of his litter and was getting old enough that his daddy was getting competitive with him for his mama's attention. I told my husband we were going to LOOK at Bentley but we were NOT taking him home. A few hours later, with no leash, no food, no crate - literally NOTHING but a dog - our family of two became three.
I did not love Bentley at first. I realized I had no idea what taking care of a dog entailed. Bentley was noisy, he drooled, he peed, he stunk, and he wanted my attention all the time! I was a neat freak and that doesn’t exactly work with having a bulldog. After a few days of crying, whelping, and being naughty, I reached my breaking point. I was trying to study for my doctoral exams at the time, which was tremendously stressful, when Bentley decided to slurp up some water and drool on my laptop then chewed up some of my papers.
When my husband came home, I told him Bentley had to go. He was resistant of course, but in the end, I was the one taking care of Bentley so I began to search for his new home. I realized that I needed to get Bentley neutered before he found his new place as he had taken to humping my leg. So without a second thought, I made the appointment. Drop Bentley off the night before, pick him up the next day after 4 PM – no problem.
The day came to drop Bentley off at the vet’s and I ended up having to take him by myself. As we waited, I watched Bentley go back and forth between my legs, looking up at me and I felt so bad. This feeling began to rise and before I knew it, I was in tears. I had not realized what a bond we formed.
I may have taught Bentley how to sit, go potty outside, and catch treats but he taught me so much more. We became so attached that when I was upset or stressed, Bentley would also get a tummy ache. If I was up in the middle of the night, worrying, I would see Bentley's glowing eyes in the dark. He was up too. With Bentley, I was never alone. He taught me there was always time to cuddle and for a nap. He taught me about unconditional love and friendship. I loved him so very much, I didn't want him to be by himself, so I got him a brother. Enter Linus!
Together, Bentley and Linus were the two most wonderful dogs anyone could ask for. I suppose I had grown complacent to how wonderful they were on their own and together until I lost Bentley in June 2010 in a heat related death. As heartbroken as I was for myself - I missed Bentley something awful - watching Linus search high and low for his brother was the saddest thing I'd ever seen. All of the sudden, he was an only dog.
Shortly after Bentley passed away, we welcomed Truman into our home. A spitfire of a puppy, Truman is a wonderful little brother who thinks the world of Linus.
I never thought I would be a "dog" person but the honor of having Bentley, Linus, and Truman in my life has humbled me and taught me so much about myself and the world around me. I love them, cherish them, and not until I lost one of them, did I understand how big a role they play in my life and how much I appreciate them.
When I am not lavishing my bulldogs with attention, I enjoy playing ice hockey, teaching, baseball, hiking, photography, and writing. I also enjoy contributing to English Bulldog News. It is the first and only internet message board I have joined and it allows me to pass on some of my experience, learn from others, and combine many of my hobbies all in one place!
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