It was a good week. This week I got to cuddle to my hearts content with the likes of Maggie, Beatrice, Georgia and Vanna, and my Better Half didn’t even mind. Yep, it was all about a lot of snuffling, slobbering, and snorting — and in addition to my bad habits, the girls were pretty noisy too. Did I mention that Maggie, Beatrice, Georgia and Vanna are dogs? I’m not being impolite, they really are dogs.
And not just any ordinary noisy dogs, these were the Kings of Snuffle, the Queens of Slobber, and the Masters of Snort. These were bulldogs.
These colossal creatures with the wrinkled faces, droopy jowls, comical under-bites, huge barrel chests and bowed legs are basically a cross between a pig and a Second World War Sherman tank. They are members of one of the most readily recognized of all dog breeds, and to this day they are so famous many people still mistake them for Winston Churchill.
Everybody and his dog knows exactly what a bulldog looks like (like Winston Churchill) and either you think they are the ugliest pile of fur you’ve ever seen or the cutest piggy-dog that ever snorted. English bulldogs are rare and expensive these days on account of it’s very difficult to cross a pig with a Sherman tank. Also, these squat, solid lovable mutts are often pets of extremely high maintenance — much more than say, a goldfish or a turtle. Or a normal, non-bulldog dog.
Buying and raising a bulldog usually involves taking out a second mortgage, arranging a long-term loan and hooking up a ShopVac directly to your bank account so that you can siphon money straight out to various veterinarians and specialty pet stores in order to take care of the numerous potential challenges such as skin problems from the wrinkles, breathing problems and eye problems from having jowls the size of living room drapes, sore hips from being built too big and too low to the ground, and self-esteem problems from looking at their own reflections in their water bowl.
But many people like me are inexplicably drawn to the unexplainable beauty of the stubby-legged, tail-less beasts that look like visitors from the planet Squishface. I’ve always wanted to own a bulldog, alien or otherwise. But since my bank manager isn’t all that supportive and Scamp, my deranged shih tzu is less than enthusiastic about me bringing my irrational bulldog obsession into his life on a permanent basis, I have had to settle for the occasional random encounter with any bulldog that happens to walk by. Which is extremely random and extremely rare. Until this week.
You see, there is a new non-profit society here that is dedicated to rescuing bulldogs. You may ask: “There are that many bulldogs out there swimming in lakes and pools that need rescuing?” No, that’s just a dumb question — and a lame joke. The unfortunate truth is, bulldogs are quite trendy, which is not good news for many bulldogs, on account of unscrupulous breeders (aka ‘scum’) who treat the dogs badly and are only in it for the money and unprepared owners who end up surrendering their dogs after they find out that the ‘bullies’ don’t raise themselves and don’t pay their own way.
So the Alberta Bulldog Rescue was formed by an energetic Red Deerian named Tiffany Leaman who views bulldogs the same way most people view oxygen. She is producing a fundraising calendar featuring models from Déjà Vu Modeling and bulldogs from dedicated owners who brought their bullies from far and wide for the photo shoot. The week involved many crazy people … I mean, volunteers who love bulldogs — everyone from the hair and makeup people and clothing store owners who had numerous snorting and snuffling bulldogs at their feet every day, and Marlene the photographer, who is crazy enough to not only be a photographer but to actually own an Olde English Bulldogge puppy — a puppy that she recently brought home after flying to Boston to carefully choose the pick of the litter.
So I volunteered to help out a few times, which meant I was hard at work intently playing with bulldogs for a couple of days. I met and bonded with a veritable bevy of bullies, from a stylish white-and-tan from Calgary named London who loves to splash around in wading pools, to Yuri, a big boy the size of a dump truck and an under-bite that would stop a vampire in his tracks.
And then of course I doted on Tiffany’s personal rescued dogs: Maggie, the little French bulldog that loves to try to jump up on children in strollers, and Beatrice, the big tubby cream-colored girl bulldog who has only one eye and has an uncontrollable amorous obsession with Tiffany’s leg, if you get my drift.
But it turned out that on camera, all the bulldogs were extremely well-behaved and no trouble at all and, surprisingly, so were the human models. It was all great fun, and the calendar is going to be terrific and everyone should have one.
I mean, what could be better than saving a dog in distress? And with bulldogs, it’s sometimes hard to tell, on account of all that snorting, slobbering and snuffling is what they do when they are happy. That’s why you need organizations like the Alberta Bulldog Rescue.
So I was lucky to get in some serious quality bulldog time this week. Now I’m thinking I’ll try to teach our deranged shih tzu how to snuffle like a bulldog.
Call me crazy, but I miss all that drool already.
Harley Hay is a local freelance columnist, author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays.