Never did I ever think I would own an English Bull Terrier, I’m not sure I had really seen one before I laid eyes on one at my then-employer’s-soon-to-be-boyfriend’s Rosh Hashanah holiday party. Even less did I think that I could love an animal so much that it would become such an important part of my life.
I would like to introduce you to two special characters in my life, the original and the fictitious: Rolex my English Bull Terrier and Howard the product of many hours spent observing Rolex. Howard is the main character of the children’s book series I am currently creating. Howard is also an English Bull Terrier with one black ear and an unnecessarily long nose, exactly like the original. Howard begins the series as an easy-going, kind-hearted and definitely gullible young pup, who ages into a comical, seasoned gentleman dog. Sometime in the middle of his life, Howard meets Helen, an uncommonly striking Miniature English Bull Terrier who leads with quiet unassuming strength which often saves Howard in their many adventures together.
My very own Bully is an extraordinary creature that came into my life alongside my husband. Two bachelors. I fell in love with both and never experienced a want for more. My life was full then and has grown fuller ever since. Two bachelors. One human, one dog, I think they both feel in love with me in their own way. Rolex reluctantly, and Victor inexplicably. Rolex used to make sure I knew that I was not welcome to change the course of their daily bachelor lives with bath times, rules about where he could sleep, supplementing his diet with more roughage, and lessons on how not to jump on people. As my and Victor’s relationship progressed the more determined Rolex was to make sure I knew “my place”. It began with my gold ring. A beautiful intricate gold ring I had purchased while abroad that I had left on a low table was later found bent in half, chewed, and intentionally left next to my shoes; in case we had any doubts about towards whom such a brazen act was directed. In the awkward months of a new relationship, when you haven’t exposed your new love to your wraths, unusual habits, or those moments of uninhibited “opinion”; you hold your tongue. But I knew, this was only the beginning of Rolex and me vying for position. Either he would become my dog or I would become his pup. Through several more attacks against my shoes, undergarments, Kleenex’s, and three incidences involving bed-wetting, I emerged victorious. Rolex began to understand that my rules were executed out of kindness, love, and were often followed by a good belly scratch or a doggie massage. My life seemed as though it had never existed without my bachelors. Victor proposed, we wed, and began our life together as one. Rolex has been a great source of joy and wonderment every day of my life since.
Raising a dog is entirely different from growing up with one. Their misdeeds become the result of your training (or lack thereof) and their well-being rests entirely on you. There are no more games, only survival. Every moment spent taking walks in freezing rain or on melting asphalt and rare moments of cleaning up accidents (or was it?) are all worth it for the sweet face that greets you when you arrive home after a hard day or receive a knowing, comforting lick the days you feel upset.
But there are those incidents that have no connection to anything you thought you would experience with any dog. Once, my husband and I arrived home after a night of music and friends on a warm summer night to our small first apartment without the sweet face greeting us as expected. In the living room, leaning against the glass sliding-door was Rolex, looking rather ill and confused, swaying intrinsically in circular movements. He didn’t move to greet us or even offer us a friendly tail wag, and as I moved to pet him, on the other side of the coffee table was a half-eaten bar of dark chocolate, a box of Marlboro a friend had left in our apartment, and six cigarette filters pinched off where the tobacco meets the filter. Eaten. Rolex had eaten a half bar of chocolate and intentionally pinched off the filters of his cigarettes before he ate them. He staggered towards me a bit, but seemed otherwise unaffected by his rather indulgent evening treat. We decided to see how he felt through the night before taking him to the vet; not surprisingly the next morning he was as energetic and excited as ever to start the new day.
Some of my fondest memories I share with Rolex are the ones spent doing what I love the most and have never stopped loving: exploring. When the bug bites me (everyday) and I want to find out what’s under the bridge, swimming in the creek, or growing in the fields, Rolex is always the most excited, and always available fellow explorer. He’s the one pulling me into the creek when I thought it was best to walk alongside it, he can sniff out every interesting specimen I would never have found without his oversized nose, and he’s always the last one to want to head back home.
Here’s to each of our four-legged companions that show us how to love unconditional and sniff out the new territory beyond the daily. Keep your eyes wide open for more of Howard and Helen.