It seems every other time I turn on the television, open a magazine or browse the web, I see another celebrity toting a French Bulldog puppy around. Oddly enough, you almost never see follow up photos of those same celebrities with their adult French Bulldogs. Either the paparazzi don’t think grown up Frenchies are adorable enough to bother shooting, or there’s some sort of French Bulldog retirement ranch out there, filled with the cast off dogs of the rich and stupid.
Come to think of it, maybe that’s where Pig ended up.
Like most people who have owned Frenchies for a long time, I’ve had (not so) mixed feelings about their surge in popularity. There is no doubt whatsoever that a rise in popularity leads to a rise in the number of people breeding, leads to a rise in the number of puppies for sale, leads to more lax choices in owners, leads to more French Bulldogs surrendered to rescue. The French Bulldog rescue numbers bear that out every day – from a handful of dogs per year needing placement, to dozens per week, and it shows no sign of slowing down.
Television appearances have truly been the kiss of death for a few breeds, most notably for Jack Russel Terriers after “Eddie” appeared on Fraser. Millions of weekly television watchers decided that they wanted a dog just like Eddie, without first realizing how much pure, mischievous Terrier driven energy is packed into one of those tiny little bodies. Jack Russels surged in popularity, and so did the numbers coming into rescue.
French Bulldogs have been showing up in movies and television for a while now, starting famously with Titanic, and leading up to the Showtime Television Show “Californication”. Mostly recently, and probably most importantly, there’s been the appearance of a French Bulldog on the popular ABC Television Show “Modern Family”.
To recap, if you don’t watch the show -
Jay (Ed O’Neill) meets someone at the kitchen table, Guillermo. Gloria (Sofía Vergara) brings people in once a month or so to help them out. (“She has a big heart. I really wish I could change that.”) But Jay figured if she kept it under $100, it wouldn’t ruin his golf game. However, Guillermo was looking for business advice. Actually, it was a sales pitch that wouldn’t even get an informercial. It was for a dog training system, which was a multi-billion dollar industry…according to Guillermo. He might want to use it on his own dog, which was chewing up a pillow. The system had bland treats for when they acted up and good treats when they behaved themselves. Of course, Stella the dog preferred the bad doggie treats. Guillermo wants Jay to get in on the ground floor (“Actually, she’s peeing on the ground floor.”) Jay has to break the bad news to Guillermo. Jay tried to reassure Guillermo all he needed was a better idea, but neither Guillermo nor Gloria was having it. Gloria was ticked at Jay, even though she agreed the system was a bad idea.
Meanwhile, Gloria talked to Guillermo, who decided to go back to school and get his business degree. However, he had to get rid of the dog, which meant Gloria just HAD to keep it. Jay refused, but Manny got home and wanted to say goodbye to the dog…whom he just met. Jay takes him to the pound, but the puppy worked its magic on him and Manny has a new pet.
You can watch the entire episode on line
I should get this out of the way first – I LOVE Modern Family. I think it’s one of the best shows on television, and I look forward to it every week. I am not so thrilled about their adding an (admittedly cute) French Bulldog to the cast. I had been starting to think that the French Bulldog boom was, if not over, at least waning – that Frenchies had definitely reached their peak of popularity, and were starting to slip back into, if not obscurity, at least less more moderate popularity. A show like Modern Family, which is currently one of ABC’s top rated shows, and definitely its top rated sitcom, could change all of that.
I was pleased to see that the producers showed the Modern Family Frenchie destroying a birthday cake in last week’s episode – destruction being your average Frenchie’s modus operandi (just ask Bunny, who recently ate a foot long swathe of leather off of the back of Sean’s chair, ably helped by her daughter, Billie).
In future episodes, let’s hope that they show their adorable little Frenchie wreaking more havoc – ruining Jay’s carpets, for example, or eating Gloria’s shoes. Maybe Manny could get grossed out by watching his dog eat poop (there’s a scenario too many Frenchie owners are far too familiar with!). I’m just saying, let’s not make it all sunshine and lollipops – show a Frenchie doing some of the horrid stuff that makes even those of us who adore them shake our heads and wonder “Why didn’t I just get a cat?”.
Finally, would it be too much to ask for them to also run a tiny little flash card at the end of the season, suggesting that people do their homework before getting a French Bulldog, and consider adopting from rescue? After all, if you are going to cash on the popularity of a breed, and possibly even add to it, you need to think about giving a little something back, too.