Not for first-time owners
If I had nickel. . .
What kind of dog is that?
He’s a Bouvier de Flandres!
Babatundae Fluker, as he came to be known, started out like every large breed. He went from being the gangly teenager to a full-blown 120-pound powerhouse of pure canine handsomeness. Along the way, he gathered a following. My dog achieved “Rock Star “ status by just being himself.
Along with my various certifications, I have also managed to become a certified professional dog trainer. I know what you’re thinking: “What hasn’t this guy done?” Heh heh. Anyway, with this skill set I can have any breed of dog I want, and it's no big deal. Train them up and. . . presto! I have a good dog. It's true. I have never had a "bad dog." So, naturally, when all my research information warned me that a Bouvier is not a dog for first-time owners, I was intrigued. In my mind this was a herding breed. Typically herding breeds are smart and can think for themselves. . . and so began his training. All of the basic things like housebreaking, socialization and obedience training came easy to Baba. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is easy. What’s the drama behind the warning?”
It's not you, it's me
Here’s what happened. It started out slowly at first. . . We were in the park at Riverside when a child about eight years old points at Baba and says, “Look, Mom! An Ewok!” So, Mom says, “What kind of dog is that? He’s beautiful.” She then began showering Baba with accolades that made me blush. The child hugged and petted and eventually had to be peeled off my dog.
Maybe a week or two later, Baba and I were out for a walk and a car pulled over next to us. The driver leaned out the window and said, “What kind of dog is that?” I tell her Baba is a Bouvier de Flandres, and she says, “A What?! I’ve never seen one before. He’s beautiful!” Her face lit up with a huge smile as she drove away.
In the weeks, months and years that follow, this pattern increases. My dog is literally stopping traffic, and strangers on the street want to know what he is, pet him and hug him. It’s the same wherever we go.
Once, we were at the Riverwalk Amphitheater and someone new would stop us every 10 feet and ask to touch him. It became worrisome for me. I thought Baba might become stressed because of all the attention!
Babatundae was a celebrity. No kidding. Even at the groomer’s. They would comment on what a gentleman he was and how much the staff loved him. It was the same at the vet’s office. He was well behaved and easy for them work with. They loved him. Everybody loved him.
A lesson for us all
My Dog, the Love Magnet. When he was around, people would just melt and smiles would erupt on their faces. Everyone would remark with some variation on, “I love your dog." I would bring him to my office occasionally. Anytime the activities of the day would stop, the petting would begin and the employees would be happier the rest of the day.
The thing that was amazing — and the lesson we can all learn — is he was just being himself. He was never rude nor obnoxious. He was patient when he would get “mauled” by strangers and fans. Other dogs never upset him. In fact, the first time at the dog park he wasn’t sure of what to do. There was a lot of chaos going on and my boy didn’t like the high activity so he spent most of his time by my side. “We love, love, love your dog” became standard fare in conversations with people we would meet on the street, at the vet’s office, or at the groomer’s.
This animal was spreading love like it was going out of style. I realize now what the warning was all about. For a first-time owner, maybe this much attention would be too much and too hard to handle. It was certainly a new experience for me. I could never create as much good will as my dog. He was the bringer of all things good and happy.
Well, 11 years have passed, and all of a sudden my boy got old.
His legacy will be one of love and happiness. Literally.
He was my ambassador of well-being, the senator of love, the bringer of happiness and my once in a lifetime dog. If I did have a nickel for all the times I was asked, “What kind of dog is that?” I would cash them all in to have him back with me again.
Rest in peace Baba Boy! You will be missed.
peace and love,