26 Oct Our New Dog

When PJ, our troubled, ancient boxer died this summer, Jill took it really hard. We still have Cleo, our basset hound. But PJ was Jill’s soul mate. I thought we might be a one-dog family for a while and try that out. Jill made clear that she’d be miserable without a second dog — one in the bull dog family. I made clear that a second dog makes life really complicated. It’s not like you can just walk into somebody’s house with two dogs, for instance. One dog, maybe. But not two. And travel in our camper van would be far from easy with two dogs. Still, Jill insisted. So, last week we went out and got Mason, a two-year-old American bull dog.

American bull dogs were bred for work on farms. They’re as close as you can get to the original bull dog of a century ago. They’re not recognized by the AKC, in part because they are so various. They get as big as 120 pounds and as small as 40. Mason, after he fills out, will weigh about 75. He’s really brawny, like a little lion, and that’s what we like about the breed. They’re hearty. They also have good dispositions (if not abused). Mason was living in a foster home with two small children and two other dogs. He’s fine with cats too. But he’s young and rambunctious, which means he needs some obedience training. Today I took him for his first run and he did really well. He’s going to need that kind of exercise.

When the American Bull Dog Rescue society found Mason, he was dying of pneumonia in an underfunded urban shelter. The society footed the bill to save him, an effort that included his isolation in an oxygen tent. Some people might say, “Why bother when a dog is that far gone?” But, if you met Mason, you’d say, “Who would not want to save this dog?” He’s got a beautiful personality: he’s kind and watchful and so clearly wants to please others. He’s also pretty smart, we’ve found: he knows how to open doors. When Jill took him to the vet yesterday, everybody wanted him.

Cleo, our old basset hound, is tolerating Mason’s sloppy, too-friendly company. He’s oblivious to competion and seems to have no desire to dominate. In fact, we’re struck by the fact that, when outside, he doesn’t mark territory. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a dog this young. It’s fun to see the world through his eyes: every breeze, every touch, every glimpse of life makes him bound and leap with joy. We’re thrilled to have him in our family.