Bullies come in many forms and sizes. They develop in many ways. They come from various origins. They come in many species. My Boston Terrier Trudy is a good example of all of the above. A big Boston by most standards, she was only supposed to be a 25-pounder, but she developed 17 pounds beyond that. Not a fat girl, either, she was statuesque, earning her the prize of “Tallest Boston” each time she entered that category at the Boston Terrier Club’s annual BT Fun Day. It also earned her the nickname “Jethrine;” anyone familiar with The Beverly Hillbillies knows who I am referring to.
When we acquired Trudy, we were somewhat ignorant of the whole “puppy mill” issue. It wasn’t long before I credited Trudy’s origin as a huge factor in her personality and special needs. She possessed an overly affectionate, loving side with people, but with other dogs, she could be a complete antagonistic brat.
In spite of training and my trying to work with her, she still possessed bully-esque traits, from picking on smaller dogs at the beach, nipping at the heels of bigger dogs at the same venue, and “playing” too aggressively with our dogs at home. I have to take some responsibility, as I probably dropped the ball by not working with her more extensively, but I managed to remedy some of the problem by keeping her out of certain situations.
Years ago, when Trudy was about three, we had a couple of old Schnauzers, aged 12 and 14, who Trudy enjoyed antagonizing as much as possible. Here these poor old dogs, Clive and Winnie, were trying to get through their golden years, and they had to deal with the antics of Trudy.
Winnie and Clive did a good job of holding up to Trudy and her rough-housing in the beginning, but as they transitioned into their geriatric years, you could tell she was wearing them down. They were never left alone together unsupervised, as you just never knew what stunt Trudy would pull.
Her most diabolical tactic would be to walk by a sleeping dog, step on its foot, and when the dog would cry out she would wheel around and look at them with her (Batman’s) Joker face, as if to say, “Oh really? You want a piece of me? Care to make it interesting?”
Trust me that Trudy was reprimanded and put on “time out” numerous times. I stopped taking her to Dog Beach as she managed to get into a scuffle every time.
“We have to get her a puppy,” I would tell Chuck, “someone she can play with that shares her energy.” He thought I was crazy at first, but the more we talked about it, the more sense it made.
Yes, our friends thought we were crazy as well, but I stuck with my particular method of madness and started the hunt. We were hesitant to add another Boston to our family, and since Chuck was being a good sport adding another dog, I figured, why not get another of his favorite breed?
Enter Wrigley, a hyped-up, vocal & tough little whirlwind of a Schnauzer pup. 3 months old, he hit the ground running, stood up to Trudy, and even gave her a run for her money. He filled the bill perfectly, and as planned, Winnie and Clive were able to live the rest of their lives, not in peace, but definitely off Trudy’s radar.
Fast forward to now. My 11-year-old Trudy has slowed down, but she can still be a bully. She and Wrigley are still a good fit, but she sometimes gets a charge out of pushing her weight around with our younger, smaller dogs. Numerous times we have witnessed either Maggie or Olive quietly nuzzling or gnawing on a toy, then see “Jethrine” venture over and gingerly snatch the toy, settle in about 3 feet away, and tear into that toy right in front of the forlorn victim. We do step in when this happens, but are aware it may occur sometimes when we are elsewhere in the house.
Let me be clear that, bullying traits aside, our Trudy is still precious to us, and has brought us a huge amount of joy, laughter and entertainment. But since I am writing a series of blogs on Bullying for my “40 Days of Writing” project, I thought it would be interesting to mix things up a bit and do a feature on a bully that I actual love.