After giving up Willow, I felt my self-confidence as a dog owner and lover was rattled to the point that I vowed, “Never again.” This was a silly and fatalistic approach to dog ownership given the challenges I had faced with Willow, but I still felt somewhat a failure and I questioned my ability to have and care for a dog. This lack of comfort had translated into some tense moments with my then girlfriend’s dog. When he challenged me, I shrank back and this created friction.
Then a change occurred. I couldn’t say whether it was a sudden transformation or a gradual process, but Jacob and I started getting along better. He challenged me less and when he did, I reacted in a manner that was more appropriate. (aka, No f-you dog, I’m the boss here.) As we grew to know one another and accept one another, my love of dogs and all that dogs are returned. Thus my emotion-fueled decision of Never Again changed to Maybe – if only for the right dog.
The German Shepherd rescue from which I had adopted Willow had left the door open for me. At that time, when asked if I wanted my adoption fee returned, I declined – a decision more fueled by guilt than any monetary sense. I was given the option for another adoption if I ever changed my mind. So as my mind started changing, I started looking at available shepherds from that rescue. At the same time, I found an English Bulldog rescue website. For this, I was conflicted. On one hand, I had enough experience and love for the breed from my time with Clementine that it seemed a natural fit. Yet, I was hesitant to have a billie from a rescue given the wide variety of health issues they can have. Was I ready for that? Could I handle it? Nevertheless, I filled out the online application, submitted it, and forgot about it weeks later.
Of the course of the summer, I did meet one German Shepherd from the rescue but the foster mom nixed me from the picture as a suitable adopter because of my inexperience or previous experience with Willow. That rejection left me more than deflated. While I was extremely concerned with finding a dog with a right match, I felt I had already earned a reputation from this rescue due to my previous experience. I was deferring to their judgement, but it was a harsh pill to swallow.
Then, on the morning of July 16th, I received an email that would forever change my life. I received an email from the English Bulldog rescue that I had submitted an application for two months previous. The email stated that they had a young female looking for a home and they thought would be a good match. Sandy, from On the Rebound English Bulldog Rescue asked if I wanted some photos. You’re damn right. I remember that morning very specifically. I was attempting to get ready for work while, at the same time, constantly checking my email for a response. Pins and needles? Yeah, that was me. Finally, a response came back with a description and photos.
Do you know those situations that seem almost too perfect to be true? That described what I was feeling. To me, she was perfect. An exceptionally beautiful bulldog with a great history. My reaction at that moment could only be described as: giddy. I was happy and hopeful and fearful and sad and anxious. It was terrible. I remember looking at the photos and actually whipping up a few tears. It was an incredibly emotional moment for me.
Her name was Cami and she had been surrendered by her only family for ominous reasons. (I will delve into that more later.) She was four going on five, no health issues, a great disposition, and no issues with aggression. In fact, just reading the description and seeing her photos, I couldn’t believe someone would give her up. I immediately belayed my interest.
The process from there was simple: a home visit/inspection and a first meet-n-greet. My inspection went well which allowed me to go onto the next step: meeting. On a Saturday morning, I went out to meet Cami, who was staying at her foster mom’s house. I loved her the moment I saw her. She wanted to play and then when she didn’t want to play she wanted to be rubbed on the belly or sat at my feet. There was another bulldog in the foster house with whom Cami had no issue with at all.
This is when I learned more about Cami’s past from Diane, the foster mom. As it was told to me: Cami came from a family with children and another dog – either a Retriever or a German Shepherd that was not fixed. Cami was. There were also small children and the fact that the family was moving to another home. Her original owners said she was dog aggressive to the other dog and/or to the small children. Overall, the entire story seemed full of holes, or at the very least, a kind of tale where the entire truth is not coming out. I mean here is the English Bulldog in great health and with a wonderful temperament, why would anyone want to give her up?
What was also odd is that when her original family brought her over to the foster’s house, they only brought a small sack of toys and/or other stuff. No real leash or collar. No personal toys or other affects. Everyone agreed it was strange.
In the end, it didn’t matter. From the moment I met her, I knew I wanted to adopt her. And I did! Still, Cami’s foster mom wanted to see how Jacob and Cami interacted before giving her final OK. That initial meeting went well enough for me to take Cami home!
I had been asked if I was going to change her name and I immediately said yes. To me, Cami sounded like a redneck stripper name. My dogs name would now be Beatrice or Bea for short.
I brought Bea home and she settled right in. Per Diane’s advice, I purchased a crate for her (which she never used.) Her food was a bit of an issue as I tried feeding her the same food I gave Clem, but she didn’t really seem to like it. I tried another brand and this she agreed with, just as long as her food bowl was not in the laundry room. The first couple days I left her home alone while I was at work were testing moments. I didn’t know how she would do in a new home all by herself. I had even set up a webcam so I could check in on her throughout the day. Would she make messes? Would she destroy stuff? Nope. Throughout the day she either slept on the couch or on the mat next to the front door waiting for me to come home.
It wasn’t long before I accidentally discovered one of Bea’s favorite thing in the whole world – fetch. You see, I have a nice, fenced-in backyard with plenty of room for a dog to roam, sniff, chase squirrels, and find a perfect spot for the daily job. What I didn’t know and soon discovered from her was her fondness for fetch. I had had this tennis ball just laying around in the backyard from either attempting to get Willow to play fetch or even Jacob – both of which had no idea what this was. Bea, on the other hand, found the ball, grabbed it in her mouth, and brought it to me. Yeah sure, I thought. Bulldogs playing fetch are like a unicorn. Not only did she grab it and release it and let me throw it, she ran after it and returned it to only let the ball go enough to let me pick it up again and throw it. I was stunned. Now this is her favorite dad-comes-home-from-work-lets-go-outside activity. In fact, she will chase the ball a couple times before she will even go to the bathroom. Priorities I guess.
In the last few months, she has very much settled in. Generally, we have a walk before work and after. She sleeps in the bed with me and on the couch when I’m not here. She lets me bathe her and is good about letting me clean her face, paws, and tail. She’s good in the car and wasn’t a butt at the vet’s office. In fact, the only issue is her gas and oh boy does she have it. I mean like room clearing bad.
I was just thinking about this today while thinking about this post in my head: I’ve only had her a few months, but it seems so much longer. I suppose we are still learning from each other, but we have found this happy balance. She seems happy or content and that makes me happy. While I do still feel bad that my German Shepherd experience did not work out, I am incredibly content with how everything worked with Bea. She is a wonderful, beautiful dog that seems to love me and I her. My hope is that she and I have some glorious years together before we have to say our goodbye’s.