Happy Birfday, Tessa! You’re 15 Years Young

Tessa At Fifteen, with her bratty great grandson Dwight

Tessa At Fifteen, with her bratty great grandson Dwight

Tessa spent the first 48 hours of her life living in a bathtub.

Her mom, Tara, decided to go into early labor the day before we were due to move house. Timing wasn’t perfect, and I was frankly in a state of panic. This was only my second French Bulldog litter, and no one had prepared me for ‘what to do if you have newborn puppies and a house full of movers’. I had to find a quiet room, one that wouldn’t have movers constantly going in and out of it, and that seemed to be the bathroom, on both ends of the move. I lined the tub with heating pads and thick blankets, turned on the space heaters, and stuck “Do NOT Open This Door For ANY REASON!!!” signs up.

Tara with Tessa, Hammer and Siblings

Tara with Tessa, Hammer and Siblings

This worked fine on the front end of the move – at our destination, however, a careless mover ignored the sign and opened the door, and was met with 21 pounds of furious French Bulldog mommy, who launched herself at his jugular while screeching threats at him all the way. He slammed the door shut, she hit it with a thud, and I slightly freaked out.

Who knew that Frenchies were such fierce mommas?

Sailor helps Tessa look after her puppies

Sailor ‘helps’ Tessa look after her puppies

Tessa was – and is – her mother’s daughter, and continued on a path of fiercely protective parentage. She barely tolerated anyone other than me coming near her kids for the first week or so, and she never accepted another dog in the same room. The only exception to this was her daughter, Sailor, who ‘adopted’ Tessa’s last litter, and even tried to nurse them. Tess put up with this for about two days, then not so politely told Sailor to “BuggerOffnGetYerOwnKids”.

Tessa had a lot of kids to practice her form of ‘tough love’ on – in three litters, she gave birth to 23 puppies, 21 of which were live birth. All of her live birth puppies lived past puppyhood, and many of them are still alive today, including Sailor.

Tessa’s most important contribution hasn’t been to French Bulldog pedigrees – it’s been her work as a therapy dog. She spent almost eight years doing therapy work, only quitting when her eyes and hips started to slow her down. She’s visited hospitals, hospices, old age homes and detention centers, and she’s made friends and fans at ever single place she’s ever been.

Tessas brother Hammer - another old soul

Tessa’s brother Hammer – another ‘old soul’

Tessa, like her brother Hammer, has an affinity with troubled people. Looking into her soulful eyes is balm for those undergoing their own pain. A friend once said of her “She’s such an old soul”. She really is.

Of course, she could also be a clown, and a stubborn clown at that. One of Tessa’s favorite play time activities was a game we called “Pibble!” (that’s a game that, in today’s Ontario, would probably get me busted for training a ‘fighting dog’).

Tessa in her prime - rope toys? No problem!

Tessa in her prime. Rope toys? No problem!

Pibble involved holding out a sturdy Kong chew rope for Tessa, which she would then grab hold of with her strong teeth. We’d swing it around in circles, and Tessa would close her eyes and grin her wicked Frenchie grin. When we’d stop and put her down, she’d wobble in circles and fall down, only to spring back and bark “Do it again! Again!” at us. Eventually, we hung the chew rope off of a tree branch in the backyard, and Tessa would jump up, grab hold of it, and swing in peaceful concentration for ten minutes or so.

Die stuffie, die!

Die stuffie, die!

Stuffed toys were no match for Tessa – she didn’t play with them, she decimated them. The entire point of the game was “Get squeaker out, de stuff toy, shake it until it’s good and dead, bury it in the yard”. Repeat as necessary.

Tessa and Fred the cat

Tessa and Fred the cat

Raised with cats, Tessa regards them as sort of benign nuisances. Squirrels, on the other hand, exist only to be chased. It is likely the deepest disappointment of Tessa’s life that she never once managed to catch and kill a ‘tree kitty’.

Tessa the French Bulldog Turns Fifteen Years Old

Tessa the French Bulldog Turns Fifteen Years Old

Today, we had a little birthday party for her with all of the dogs in the house. Tessa and the other dogs shared some Liver Loafcake, and Tessa opened her gifts (a new fur coat with pom poms, a heated dog bed, a collar with “It’s good to be the Queen” on it in rhinestones). We also arranged for some photos with everyone in the house that she’s related to – her daughter Sailor, her Grandkids Delilah and Penelope, her Great Grandkids Dwight and Pickle. Next week, I’ll be posting a great big photo round up of even more of her kids, grandkids, great grandkids and great great grandkids.

Fifteen years is a good age for a French Bulldog, or at least that’s what everyone tells me. Fifteen years still seems to be an impossibly short period of time to spend with such a wonderful dog. Fifteen more still wouldn’t be long enough.

Lots of photos from Tessa’s party, below or full sized on Flickr.

21 replies
  1. alex
    alex says:

    I love reading about her. What an extra FaBuLous girl she is… Please send her my barkday wishes and my love.

  2. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    I can hardly stand how beautiful she is and was. Those pics as a teen are so gorgeous.

    Happy Birfday, girl!

  3. Susan
    Susan says:

    Happy Birfday Tessa! Don’t let anyone forget who’s boss over there! You are royalty through and through (though you are far better looking than any of the British royals, I must say.). Many happy returns.

  4. Cletus Residence
    Cletus Residence says:

    Beautiful, beautiful girl. I remember your days on Tessa’s Internet Cafe way, WAY back, and you were no more beautiful then than you are now. Remember that ree-volting Smokin’ Joe? Remember when you came to the Pug Social and slapped all those silly Pugs around over a piece of dropped cake? You outlived every last darned one of them. Ha! Who’s got cake NOW, silly Pugs?

    Hammie sez thank you for including him in your party, even though he’s stone cold dead, and not to plan to come stay with him for at LEAST a couple of years, because it’s PEACEFUL where he is, dammit.

  5. KarenTX
    KarenTX says:

    Happy Birthday, your Royal Highness….you are indeed the Queen of all you survey. Lovey asks that you accept her humble good wishes. (I, of course, wrote that, Lovey thinks she’s the Queen of Texas!)

  6. Fuzzy Logic
    Fuzzy Logic says:

    ““Get squeaker out, de stuff toy, shake it until it’s good and dead, bury it in the yard”.”

    Yes! Yes! This is the most fabulous fabulous game evah!
    (I think Tessa must have some bullmastiff in her.. yes that would explain it)

    Happy Birfday Tessa! many many more!
    .-= Fuzzy Logic´s last blog ..Rumors of my death… =-.

  7. glenn
    glenn says:

    Only our most sincerest and heart felt B’day wishes for the Grand Dame of our Frenchie world !! Bless you Tessa, for the Emma you gave us nearly eleven years ago… and thus all the joy and humor(!) you have provided us with thru her. In a very real way, a part of you is with us every day …. and we are so grateful.

    hugs and sloppy kisses !

    and emma-girl

    • Meli B
      Meli B says:

      Happy Birthday to Tessa for giving me my BFF, Maizy, RIP. I wish she were still here to enjoy your birthday with you.

  8. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    Happy Birthday Tessa, you are a beautiful girl and a lovely testiment to your breed ! Here’s to many many more.

  9. Letitia
    Letitia says:

    What a lovely, lovely story! I only hope that my own fur baby lives just as long. Happy happy birthday Tess! 🙂

  10. Isabelle
    Isabelle says:

    “Pibble involved holding out a sturdy Kong chew rope for Tessa, which she would then grab hold of with her strong teeth. We’d swing it around in circles, and Tessa would close her eyes and grin her wicked Frenchie grin.”
    I play the exact same game with my Boston Terrier-orist Hubbles.
    He will clamp down and actualy go flying with four feet off the ground and the dopiest look on his face.( And him a sturdy 30 odd Lbs too) We call it “flying Air Hubbles”. It never fails to get us funny looks at the park, and dark mutterings about back injury and tooth damage, and I thought I was the only one doing it!
    Perhaps I am not such a miserable dog mum after all, as Tessa is obviously none the worse for wear…
    Hubbles has humongous lugs attached to the noggin’ and a peel-the paint-off-the wall death yodel and I’ve always wondered whether he has some Frenchie genes in him. I now know he must have.

    Happy Barkday, Tessa, and keep those young whippersnappers in line for ever!

  11. maggie
    maggie says:

    What a fabulous pawty! Tessa looked lovely in her birthday hat, and I love the line up of progeny.. super!

    Great job Carol! 🙂

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