From Grief to Gratitude

During  September, 1998, while my husband and I were on a weekend trip, I phoned home to find that my daughter Grace had brought home a newborn bullmastiff puppy named “Bubba”. At that time, my daughter was working as a veterinarian technician while studying for vet school, therefore, the fact that she brought an animal home for 24 hour care wasn’t a big surprise.  I had never heard of a bullmastiff, and did not want any part of another dog.  We were already the proud parents of 1 lab mix Sam, 1 Australian Shepherd mix Cinder and 2 beagles, Hershey and Annie.   Bubba was born with a cleft palate and wasn’t a “perfect dog”, so he couldn’t be sold for big money.  Because of his imperfections, Bubba’s destiny was to be destroyed. The office requested that the owners release ownership of the puppy to enable them to try to save him.  The veterinary technicians took turns taking him home and tube feeding him as needed.

My daughter seemed to have him a good bit of the time and miraculously he made it to the first milestone.  At six weeks old Dr. Franklin started the procedure to close the cleft palate.  His first operation took quite a toll on him and my daughter never left him alone.  While my daughter was working, she would take Bubba to her grandparents’ house, and my father would hold him on his lap and watch television until she returned.  Bubba had continuous human care. There were several close calls and late night emergency runs to the hospital.  In the end, Bubba pulled through two more operations, grew up and became a 140 pound baby Bullmastiff. Suffice it to say, we ended up having five dogs. During the next several years, Grace made her way into veterinary school and moved away for periods of time.  Bubba became a member of the family and loved his beagles.  He was a very big dog but was ruled by the little girls.  Cinder and Sam were the elders and made sure Bubba was aware that he wasn’t the dominate dog.

In April, 2005, I got up to feed Bubba.  He didn’t eat.  Bubba always ate.  I started getting worried because my daughter told me to always watch him closely because large dogs sometimes have a problem with their stomach\’s turning.  I didn’t know a lot about it, but I knew I didn’t have much time if it was turned.  He had none of the symptoms of a turned stomach but I knew something was wrong.  I called the vet’s office and told them Bubba wasn’t eating and something was wrong.   Of course, they knew Bubba well and told me to bring him in for the day and they would keep him.  I took him into the office and dropped him off and assumed everything would be fine.  That evening I got a call from Dr. Franklin. Bubba had a ruptured spleen and would need to be operated on the next morning.  My daughter was studying for finals so I didn’t want her to worry.  My intention was to keep it from her.  She just happened to call that night and I couldn’t lie so I told her about Bubba.  The next day Bubba was operated on and a biopsy was done.  The results came back several days later, and we were informed that Bubba had lymphoma.  I was devastated.  My husband and son were also devastated. Grace came home in May and started several rounds of chemotherapy in an attempt to improve his quality of life.  Bubba did well and made it until August of 2005.   My daughter was to leave to go back to school on the 9th of August.  I believe he knew she was leaving and decided on August 5th  that it was time for him to go.  Bubba waited until we woke up in the morning and looked up as if to say good bye and laid his head down and passed away. Annie walked over and laid beside him and would not leave his side until we wrapped him up in one of his favorite blankets and took him away.  We mourned for months and months.  I swore that I would not get another dog.  I lost my mother in July, 2002, followed by Sam that fall and Cinder in 2003. And now, Bubba in 2005.

During the next 6 months, I was very busy working.  I work as a loan closer so 2006 was pretty hectic. My job takes me to quite a few houses in the vicinity and I meet lots of people.  Every now and then I would meet “dog people” and tell them about Bubba.  One day, I was speaking with a lady who showed Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  She was friendly and I told her about Bubba.   She grabbed a file and told me about a lady who was a member of the Bullmastiff Rescue.  I smiled and politely took the information.  I had no intention of getting in touch with anyone about a dog.  Over the next several weeks, I talked to my husband and suggested we just call and see what she had to say.  I called her in the Spring and she told me about a litter of mix breed bullmastiff puppies that were born in South Carolina and would be available in June.  As you can see from the photograph I have attached, we now are the proud parents of Hank.  He has brought so much joy to our home.  Our beagles Annie and Hershey are still going strong and tolerate Hank.  I think their loyalty will always be with Bubba as is evidenced by Annie’s tattoo of Bubba’s name encircled by a heart on her thigh.   Sometimes events in life happen and lead us to other things.  I am so grateful that Bubba’s story led us to Hank.

Toni from MD