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Bubba, My Bichon Frise and Constant Companion
"Let's Play, I got the ball"
Bubba 3 months old, sleeping
Bubba, Hudge and the kids
Kick'en back on the patio
I am 56 years old and have never, owned a fu-fu dog. A fu-fu dog is a small dog that is usually considered a dog for females, a French Poodle comes to mind. I had always had large dogs, a man's dog, German Sheppard's, and Lab's. I never paid money for a dog, the dog's either found us or we went to the local pound. Technically, I did not buy Bubba, I Inherited him. My Father had passed away in the early nineties and my Mother had a Maltese mix as a companion for her. In 2006 her beloved companion passed away and she swore, she would not get another. In July of 2007 my cousin's wife was breading Bichon Frises and she had just had a litter. She was aware of my Mother's situation and invited her over to see the puppies. Well, that was it once she saw the little fur balls she fell in love with the runt of the litter. Plans were made for her to pick up the runt, in August after they were weaned. Several days after she picked the puppy up I went by her house to see it. He was a tiny ball of fur, looked like two small snow balls stuck together, with two small eye's that looked more like piece's of coal, a small black nose and a wisp of a black line that made up the mouth. As I walked in the door he ran to my Mother, set just to the side of her legs and slightly behind them, peeking out at me. Over the next six months he would not come near me, always hiding behind my Mother and keeping her between me and him. I tried being nice, giving him treats, everything I could think of with no results. Every other family member, child, adult, male or female he would play with and he would allow them to pet him. Except me, every time he saw me he would run as fast as he could and hide behind my Mother and peek out at me. If I walked around her he would walk behind her legs in order to keep her between me and him, those little coal black eyes unblinking, starring at me. Late in 2007 my Mother was diagnosed with cancer, the doctors decided to do an un-invasive type of surgery, radio frequency ablation (RFA). The day before the procedure was to be done she had to be taken to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital. She was extremely ill and was kept in the hospital for two month. During that time I was given the task of checking on Bubba. I was usually at the hospital till noon and would leave to eat and check on Bubba. Bubba would look like a deer caught in the headlights when I walked in the door, wanted to run, but nowhere to hide. I would let him outside for about 20 minutes, check his food and water and then he would sit in the same room with me, but as far away as the walls would allow. This continued for two months while my Mother was in the hospital and never got any better. I was beginning to really dislike that little fu-fu dog. When my Mother was released from the hospital I moved in with her to assist her, she had become extremely weak and had to have someone with her all the time. Bubba was as happy as he could be to see her, tail wagging, stretching his body as far as he could, like a cat stretching on the side of a couch. Finally, over the next several months Bubba finally accepted me. He was a little ball of energy, always wanting to play. If I couldn't play with him he would take his little ball in his mouth, toss his head throwing the ball and then chase it as fast as he could. His ears pulled back, his mouth open and his tail curled up tightly touching his back. He would run and jump on the couch, race over the back of the couch stop in a crouching position and then launch himself off the couch at full speed. He loved to chase anything that rolled and anything that chased him. My Mother's house had wood floors, when Bubba would run around corners he would slide, his little feet moving just as fast as they could trying to gain some sort of traction. Sometimes he would slide into a wall or a piece of furniture, my Mother enjoyed watching him run and play, and would laugh till she would cry.
TRAINING AND CARE OF A BICHON FRISE
The care of the little furry rat fell to me. I knew how to train dogs, the same way my Father did, if they went the bathroom on the floor you stuck their nose in it, swatted them with a rolled up newspaper and put them outside for awhile, wrong not with a Bichon Frise or as I called him at that time, a bitch'en Frizzy. My Mother made me buy a book on the care and training of the Bichon Frise. I was not having any luck with my training methods so I read and followed the book. Now when Bubba did something wrong and you looked at him, his tail would droop, his ears would droop, and he would look down at the ground and very, very slowly try to walk away from you. As the book said when the dog goes potty, you take him to it, say no one time, take it and him outside put the poop on the ground, put the dog down to sniff it and, the good part, you praise him for it. That seemed so wrong, but it worked. Bichon Frises evidently are extremely hardheaded and difficult to train according to the book and a fact that I can verify. Bubba hard headed, just like the rest of our family, who would have guessed. The next item of interest is grooming, Bichon Frises have two coats, the undercoat and the outer coat. The under coat is very fluffy and soft, while the outer coat is wirery, kinda like a pigs hair. Bichon frises do not shed and are good pets for people with allergies or breathing disorders. The problem is you have to brush them every day, the book says once every several days, but it's actually easier to do it every day. That way their hair doesn't get matted which makes grooming a pain in the neck for you and none to pleasant for the dog. As summer approached and temperatures went up, I took him to the groomers and had his hair cut short, very short. Was I surprised, his skin was pink with little black spots and he looked so small and frail. The next area of training was riding in the car. Reverting to the old ways, I put Bubba in the car next to me, started it up and away we went. Everything was great for about a quarter of a mile. Then like a cat throwing up a hair ball, he heaved and then threw-up, not on the floor board, not on the seat, on me. Needless to say I consulted, "The Book". Bichon Frises are very sensitive, you take them out and sit in the car with them to let them get use to being in the vehicle, after about three or four days of this, several times a day, you graduate to step two. Again you sit them in the car but now you start the engine, again for several times a day for three or four days. Step three, several times a day for three to four days you take short drives and slowly increase the distant and time you are driving. After three weeks Bubba didn't throw-up any more and enjoys going with me in the car. Now whenever I go he jumps into the car, sits and waits for me to get in and put my seatbelt on, and as I start the car he lays down next to me with his head on my thigh or hanging over the edge of the seat and stays there until the car stops.
BUBBA'S FIRST TRAGEDY
My Mother was Bubba's owner, he would lie down next to her or sit on her lap, while she sat in her chair and she would gently pet his head and back while he slept. She would sit in her chair and throw his ball for him to fetch, he would return to her until she got too tired to throw the ball, he would lie next to her and go to sleep. Where ever she was or where ever in the house she went, Bubba was there, trailing behind her, watching her every move. At night he would curl up beside her on the bed while she petted him, and they both would fall asleep. My Mother's condition worsened, the cancer had spread throughout her body, and there was nothing further the doctor's could do except give pain relief. My Mother knew she didn't have long to live and accepted that fact, her last several months was spent reassuring family and friends, and worrying about Bubba. At this point I had moved into the house, and slept in my Mother's room with her. Several times a night I had to give her medication, and would check on her throughout the night to make sure she was comfortable. Bubba knew something was wrong and he began distancing himself from my Mother and began spending more and more time with me. At bedtime He would lie next to my Mother in her Hospital bed while she petted him. He would then move to the foot of her bed and lay next to her feet, after a short period of time he jumped down from her bed and would get in bed with me. I knew this bothered my Mother, but she was a strong woman and concerned more with Bubba's well being. She began having less to do with Bubba and encouraged him to be with me. As she got worse Bubba would spend less and less time with her, it seemed to bother him, and he knew something wasn't right. Bubba would dutifully lie down next to her every night at bed time and let her pet him for awhile before he would leave her and jump in bed with me. While he lay with her and she petted him he would look at me with those little coal black eyes, and I could see the worry and fear there, but also the duty he felt he owed her. The day she passed away Bubba refused to go into her bedroom, as family member's arrived Bubba withdrew, and curled up on the couch and slept. Bubba would not go into her bedroom for a week after she passed away. When he finally did go into the room with me, it was reluctantly and he starred at her bed and moved to my side keeping me between the bed and him.
BUBBA'S NEW HOME
Upon arriving at Bubba's new home he was ill at ease. Not letting me out of his sight, sniffing everything, and as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Then he got too close to the patio screen door, and met Nala, my old and grumpy, female German Sheppard. Nala would treat small dogs and puppies as her own and would even nurse them. But anything, person or animal that was inside the house and got too close to the screen door would be met with the flash of huge white teeth and a menacing growl as she would push her face into the screen. Bubba ran too me like he was shot out of a cannon, and Nala continued her side way glance into the living room, glued to the screen door. Bubba become accustom to the new house, the growling monster, and the new sleeping arrangement. Bubba really didn't mind sleeping on top of the bed with us, but at first my wife didn't care for it much. Who could blame her, if she was asleep when we went to bed the first thing Bubba would do was walk over, lick her face until she woke up, and he would walk back to his blanket, on top the bed and prepare to go to sleep. His preparation was amusing to watch, first he would use his nose and push the blanket into a bunch, turn three circles to his left, lie down and immediately go to sleep. Bubba would not let me be more than a foot away from him at anytime. He followed me where ever I went, if a door stood between us he would whine for several minutes, lie down facing the door and wait for me to come out. It didn't matter if I walked out the front door to dump the garbage and was gone for 30 seconds or if I was out of town for three days. Before I could reach the front door I would hear his whining, and as I entered the house he is there, jumping up at me, nipping my elbow with his teeth and would continue jumping until I picked him up and said hello. Everywhere I went, Bubba had to go. If I left him at home he wouldn't eat or have anything to do with my wife or kids. He would tolerate them, but otherwise moped around the house waiting for me to come home. My wife told he would lie under the dining room table, with his eyes fixed on the front door, and wait. After several weeks of Bubba teasing Nala at the screen door, I had enough. I opened the door, pushed Bubba out on to the patio and stood back. Bubba was motionless, tail, ears and head down, fearing the worse. Nala as I had suspected figured he was a puppy and began grooming him, after several minutes of that Bubba began to sniff her. They soon became friends and would try to play together. Nala wasn't quite sure how to play with him, she ended up putting her nose under his belly and would kind of lift him up and toss him to the side. Bubba thought it was great fun and would immediately rush back in at her, ears up, tail curled to his back, standing erect and with a short guttural growl bump her with his chest. As I said before Nala was old and could not keep up with the interjectic playing machine, eventually she would get tired and lei down. Bubba would jump on her, run at her and bark at her, to no avail, she would not play with him. Nala would watch Bubba with keen interest as he would race in circles, as if being chased by a monster. Being a puppy still, Bubba when play very hard and then suddenly stop, lie down and be fast asleep depleted of all energy. Bubba has just turned two years old and has either calmed down a bit or I have gotten use to him. He does not constantly follow me around the house, but usually keeps me insight. If I leave the room, does not matter if he was sound asleep or not, after about thirty seconds he will come looking for me. Even as I am writing this story he is laying down about three feet from me. If I get up he will not move but he follows me with his eyes. He still loves to play and when he feels it's time, he will jump on me or the couch, spearing me with his two front feet and waits for me to begin playing. If I don't play with him he will get a little red squeaky toy and start squeaking it as hard and as fast as he can, looking me straight in the eye, hoping I will get as excited about it as he is. When this tactic fails, he gets on the back of the couch and intently stares at my hands, glances at my eyes and then continues to stare at my hands. When he does this it's hard for me to tell if he is really smart, or really stupid. If I still haven't played with him he will look me straight in the eyes and drop his squeaky toy next to me on the couch. He will then look at the toy and then immediately look into my eyes as if he's saying, there's the ball, let's play. At his point he usually wins and the games begin. On the other side of the coin, I've been sick and he will sleep with me on the bed all day and all night and only disturbs me when he has to go to the restroom. He is not a fu-fu dog, he'll play tough-a-war and refuse to give up. If you're on the floor he will be sure to put all four of his feet in the middle of your stomach as he runs over you. While playing he will nip, but it's usually unintentional and done very lightly. He is also the first dog I have ever had that will not try to snatch a treat out of your hand. He will wait till you put it in his mouth, he will slowly take it with his teeth and then run like the wind to a safe place to eat it.
About six months after coming home with me Nala passed away. I could tell Bubba misses her, he would look for her whenever he went into the back yard, all around the house and he would even peer inside her dog house, he has yet to go inside. So I decided to take Bubba to a friend's house to play with his toy Yorkshire terrier. Bubba loved it, he would bump her with his chest trying to get her to play, bark at her and run around in circles trying to get her to chase him. Of course my friend's dog wants nothing to do with him, but will chase him if he gets too close to her human. Since that went well I decided to take Bubba over to another friend's house. His dog's name is fluffy, a mongrel, he is a little bit larger than Bubba, but still a good size for him to play with. Now Fluffy is a friendly dog and is always excited to see me, he will run to greet me and get a pet and pat and then he'll resume his nap. As soon as we walk in the door and Fluffy comes running to greet me, Bubba is on him, growling and biting his ears and head. I had to grab Bubba and pull him of Fluffy, not the actions of a Fu-Fu dog. Well, batting 500, I decided to take him to my cousin's house, and let Bubba met his Mother and Father. As we walked into the back yard, Bubba pulling at his leash and me being dragged to the yard, Bubba came face to face with his Dad. He immediately growled and nipped at him, I grabbed Bubba and took him into the house. I couldn't understand why Bubba attacked. My cousin's wife Teresa, the Bichon Frise expert in the family, told me that Bubba was protecting me. So we took the leash off him, and put him back outside with his Mother and Father, while I stayed in the house. It worked, they sniffed each other and then began playing, and all of them had a wonderful time. Bubba tried to get a little too close to his Mom, and she let him know immediately that it was an unwanted advance. I was then able to come out of the house and play with the dogs without any more violent out bursts from Bubba.
It has been just over a year since my Mother passed away. This article, story or whatever you want to call it, took awhile to write. It brought back good things and not so good things, at times I would smile, laugh, and yes cry. I want to dedicate this article to my Mother, Paula G. Davis. We love you and miss you. Bubba is healthy and happy, he is my constant companion and my best friend.