Tag Archives: the united nations of bulldogs

©alexashersears georgia truffaut let sleeping dogs lieThis is the story of Georgia. It’s also a story about Truffaut and Maggie and Cowboy – all dogs with a story. Dogs who’ve changed lives. Dogs who’ve changed mine.

Eight years ago this week, Gracie, a beautiful white and brindle American Bulldog with a stoic expression, had a litter of puppies. She’d been rescued from a backyard breeder here in Los Angeles and, unbeknownst to the rescuers, she would come bearing gifts. Six gifts. Of the six, there was a little girl my sister found via Petfinder and fell instantly in love with. She named her Georgia.

©alexashersears georgia seven weeksAt seven weeks, Georgia could be adopted, and I went with my sister to the rescue. Walking through the gated white picket fence, I first saw Gracie. The stoic expression wasn’t really stoic at all – it was blank, expressionless. She’d spent most of her short life chained to a fence, doing nothing more than having puppies. She wasn’t particularly attached to the little white fur ball at her feet. Didn’t care when my sister scooped up her puppy – Georgia seemed far more interested in her mother than her mother in her.

Gracie must’ve been confused with the chains were gone from her neck, that she could cuddle and play when she wanted. Only she didn’t know how to cuddle or play. The rescue would take their time finding the best home for Gracie – because didn’t know how to be a dog. She was nothing more than a money maker to the home based equivalent of a puppy mill.

Later that day I watched Georgia play with my English bulldog, Maggie, but kept thinking of Gracie. Of her chained to a fence. I know I anthropomorphize dogs – I grew up in a house where they were family – always with one or two at the foot of one’s bed. All rescues, even if purebred, adopted through organizations looking to find homes for animals in need. At seven weeks, Georgia was the smallest puppy I’d ever known.

©alexashersears Georgia 2012Eight years later, that little fur ball is now 100 pounds of solid muscle, though she still thinks she can fit in your lap. She’s had a life full of health issues that are a result of bad breeding that have in no way diminished her spirit, but on more than one occasion left us uncertain if she’d survive.

We call Georgia the co-op, as she was found by my sister but filled a place in my parents’ hearts after our last childhood dog passed away. When Maggie died, Georgia came to be with me and would lay with Mags’ toys, as though she was watching them for her. When I rescued Tru, I brought him to meet Georgy the first time and they were a perfect pair. It was what I’d wished for – having dogs we could always bring together whenever family was together.

©alexashersears georgia and truffautTru is 1/3 her size but they play a mean game of tug o’ war. If Georgia is having a bad day and can’t play,  he’ll sit by her and it’s hard to get him to leave her side. Fortunately, with medication and special diet she doesn’t have too many sick days. I’m so glad her story didn’t end another way. Like my friends’ dog, Cowboy.

My friends Monica and Michael bought a Golden Retriever puppy for their son, Wills. They had been unsuccessful in finding a breeder in time for the holidays and found a Beverly Hills pet store with an A-list clientèle; a place that seemed entirely trustworthy. A place that prided itself on only having locally bred pups. Sadly, most were shipped from puppy mills far from Los Angeles.

Many dogs that came from that shop had lives cut short or filled with medical problems. It was in part due to an investigation by the Humane Society that evidence was found that helped shut them down. Some took the former shop owner to court and won but that couldn’t bring back all the animals that had died because of puppy mills and greed.

Monica tells the beautiful story of how Cowboy changed their family in her book,Cowboy & Wills. The book can be found under keyword searches for autism or puppy mills, but really, as Monica wrote, it’s a story of first love and first loss.

Both Mags and Tru were rescues and while I have some papers, I don’t know much about where they came from. I don’t know if they were bred by good people. I got Maggie at one and she died at ten – she was in perfect health until the last years of her life. I adopted Tru at seven months old. His issues are part of the Frenchie je ne sais quoi (I don’t put him in t-shirts because it is cute – it’s to keep him from hurting himself when his skin allergies flare up.)

These dogs, all of them, have their stories. Dogs rescued by us and us by them.

May 6th through May 12th is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Puppy Mill Action Week. In the US, thousands of mother dogs are kept in locked cages under horrific conditions. They receive just enough food and water to keep them alive and breeding. Like Gracie, they do not know how to be dogs. They do not know love. And sadly, their puppies make for big profits and often bigger tragedies – like Cowboy’s story.

People ooh and ahh at the doggy in the window, and as long as there is money to be made, this practice will continue. But we can make our voices heard. We can speak up about and against animal abuse and puppy mills by signing this pledge with the HSUS.

And, if you’d love to buy a puppy, please check out these tips from the HSUS to help avoid puppy mills.

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five great things someone else said, vol 35

This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it. – Dorothy Parker

Some days have extra raisins, to paraphrase Dotty Parker.

Monday I punched out my imaginary timecard (the thing we freelancers seem to never do – as though if we did we might melt), to be with my sister. Whatever projects and deadlines and anxieties could wait because I wanted to be sure she was OK. That’s a big sister reflex I’ll never grow out of. Ever.

About four months ago, a friend was helping to rehome a French bulldog. Since I have one, she thought of me. I may have wanted to take him home the first time I met him. Possibly regretted my first reaction that I couldn’t have another dog. What’s cuter than one French bulldog? Two, right?

It just so happened I knew the perfect home for him as my sister and her fiancé were looking at Frenchie rescues. I was so happy that they were so happy. It was like playing matchmaker only better.

Until Monday, when she came straight from the vet where he’d passed away quite unexpectedly and horribly.

I didn’t know what to say. Tears came easier. I spent a good part of the day trying to wrap my head around the fact that the sweet pup was gone. I felt a gnawing guilt knowing that I brought them together and that the pain they felt was in some way introduced by me. There’s this part of me that always wants to protect her. Always. Like when she was in kindergarten, and I would walk over from the big play yard to the kinder fence at recess to say hi rather than head to the monkey bars. Just to make sure she was OK. She always ran over to say she was.

Monday afternoon, she and her fiancé played with my dogs and we talked and played with the pups some more. They made the afternoon tolerable.

Heading out the door that evening, she thanked me for the three months and ten days she had him. How much they’d meant to her. I didn’t know what to say. I’d spent hours trying to find the right words to comfort them and here she was comforting me. It seemed wrong.

Some things never change. I will forever want to protect her from the world. And she will always be there to tell me everything will be OK. I can’t protect her from reality anymore than she can assure me things are always going to be fine. But we’ll try.

Goodnight, sweet pup. xo a.

And now, four more great things someone else said about, well, not saying much:

I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty. – Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Not everything has to have a point. Some things just are. – Judy Blume

In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves. – Rumi

We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about. – Best In Show