My friend


When I saw an English bulldog for the first time, I was going round him very cautiously: it seemed to me that the fierce beast was only waiting for a suitable moment to attack me. And of course I could not suppose then that a representative of this queer breed would become one of the strongest attachments in my life.
But having walked and communicated with “the English men” for some time, I felt myself to be quite ready. And so I came to take the four-month-old puppy which, by the agreement with the owner of the “Fantastik Dog” kennel, was to live at my place. It was a brindle and white male with quite an unreadable official name and nicknamed Pumba after a personage of the popular animation film “Lion King”, the small wild African pig (and I wanted so much to name him Tigris!). There was a problem however which seemed to me rather serious: my home was not very far away, but I had no means of transportation, and the four-month-old bulldog was a considerable weight already, so I could not carry him away in my arms. But then the first miracle happened. I put the collar with the lead upon Pumba, and he followed me calmly and readily, as if having decided at once and for all of his life to be my dog.
And he really had been my dog in the best sence of the word for all of his life. I was waiting with apprehension for the beginning of the so-called dog teenager period with broken collars and lead, running away, unwillingness to come, and so on, and so forth-but did not begin. From the first days Pumba literally “shepherded” me and followed me everywhere.
It very likely could be caused by the adequate amount of motion and physical load. The dog was being brought up in accordance with the recommendations of the most experienced bulldoggers: every day so much time walking and so much trotting for the development of the locomotive and respiratory systems and training of the heart, jumping over a low barrier for strengthening the extremities, and motion,motion, motion-on the lead in the city and free in the country. As a result he could endure a serious for a bulldog physical load and did not faint in hot weather, as it often happened with untrained dogs of brachycephalic (short-muzzled) breeds. So do not believe unconditionally when you are told that bulldogs are the dogs for the lazy. To bring up a healthy bulldog and consequently to facilitate your own future life you will have to bother.
But still we made a serious mistake during the first months of Pumba’s life at my place: we did not teach him to behave n the show ring as we were sure that an experienced handler would easily manage to show such a calm dog. But alas! Having found himself in the ring for the first time, Pumba went into regular hysterics: an unknown person had taken him from his mistress!!! He was rushing to me, and I had to hide behind other people’s backs and different objects during that first and many following shows. I remember hiding around a single tree that was growing near the ring. Luckily Pumba turned into a perfect show dog later on, but such a result could be reached much earlier and easier.
Rather quickly and easily Pumba mastered the general training course and got the highest degree at the examination. But my mad idea of makeing “a universal bodyguard” from him was successfully plucked: the sensible trainer to whom I’m grateful up to now told me not to mutilate the good-natured dog’s psychics. Strictly speaking, Pumba served already as my bodyguard by his appearance alone, with him at my side I felt safe practically in any situation. People not familiar with the breed (and they are the majority) were frankly afraid of him and tried to pass him over by a very wide arc. I often heard exclamations, something like“oh, how vicious he is!” and got reprimands for walking such a fierce dog without a muzzle. So Pumba was a classical representative of his breed, since the fascination of the English bulldog lies just in the conjunction of the savage appearance and the sweet, king and even sentimental disposition. Any child could quite safely pet, squeeze and kiss Pumba, but only one of grown-up outsiders ventured doing it. It was an elderly lady who on seeing my dog threw away her bags and sacks and with a cry “oh, how I have always longed to squeeze a bulldog!!” began to pull about Pumba’s flews. And then, going on pulling, she turned to me and asked: “But does he bite?”
Pumba made an excellent career. He was a perfect show dog, a winner of many titles, and at the same time one of the first famous stud dogs of the “Fantastik Dog” kennel, his offsprings live in many countries of Europe and America. His photos were repeatedly taken for media advertising. But first of all he was my dear friend. And all the time I had the impression that he did not simply and thoughtlessly obey me like any well- bred dog, but quite consciously collaborated with me. In his extraordinary ability to keep contact there was not a least hint at humility or ingratiation; an intelligent person, a gentleman, a personality, with the superb sense of his own dignity, he was inimitable.
And when his so well-trained heart ceased beating all the same, he managed to die with dignity too, looking at me calmly without fuss or panic, as if saying: forgive me, but I am going away…