Bullmarket French Bulldog Breeders

Timing is a Bitch, and the Romanov French Bulldog on Film

Girlish Good Looks

I had been hoping for a nice, long break between litters, but as usual my girls have decided that they’d prefer to take my best laid plans and toss them out the window. To whit, Paris and Journey, the only two girls I had solid plans to breed this year, have both decided to come into season. Since they might not come in again for another 18 months, it’s now or never, in which case I choose ‘now’, of course.

So, I’m skipping Wiarton today to haul Paris in for progesterone, LH and draminski testing. Since we are breeding her via frozen semen (Rebel’s frozen semen, in case you were wondering), timing is of the absolute essence. We’ll only inseminate her once, surgically. And yes, it’s expensive, thanks for asking. Like the oh so funny quote says –

Want to know how to make a small fortune breeding dogs? Start with a large fortune.

I’ll start hauling Journey in on Monday, when her blood flow is heavier – she’s in the very first days of her cycle, so we have time still. I’m still on the fence about who I’m breeding her to, although the list is narrowed down to two dogs. In both cases, we’ll be shipping in fresh semen via overnight express, and crossing our fingers that no one at customs delays the packages ‘for inspection’. Yes, it’s happened, thanks for asking.

That’s probably more than anyone wanted to know, isn’t it? In case it isn’t, and you want to know more about the fertility cycle of the canine, try this link.

The Romanov French Bulldog on Film

Excerpted from today’s Toronto Star –

At the Galleries

Any newcomer to the short, succinct and silent film collages by T. J. Wilcox might assume they’re all about film editing finesse and technique….

…Yet even more central to Wilcox’s practice is the understanding of the varied ways in which each different film form reinvents the narrative….

Garlands 1-6 (2003-2005) consists of six film mini-collections, each with a number of different vignettes explored in a variety of ways that seamlessly relate to one another.

One of the Garlands includes a visit to three favourite sites where a woman named Ann – one of the narrator’s “four parents” – wants her ashes scattered; the morbid story of Ortino, a Romanov daughter’s pet French bulldog buried along with members of the Russian royal family following their July 16, 1917, assassination by revolutionaries; and, last, a snippet of crude animation.

Years back, I wrote an article for the French Bullytin detailing the story of Anastasia Romanov and her French Bulldog, Ortino. I’ve reprinted the article in its entirety below.

Tatiana and Ortino

Anyone with a small child has probably seen the animated Disney© film “Anastasia”, a retelling of the tale of the youngest daughter of the Russian Imperial family. While highly fictionalized (to say the least), the cartoon has fueled new interest in the true stories of Tsar Nicholas Romanov and Empress Aleksandra. A recurring theme in stories of the lives of the royal family is their love for pets of all types. Historical records show that they owned a virtual menagerie of dogs of assorted breeds, as well as numerous cats, parrots and fish.

Of all the family’s dogs, few are as frequently mentioned as “Ortino”, Princess Tatiana’s French Bulldog. Tatiana was the second oldest of the Tsar’s daughters, and was seventeen years old at the time Ortino came into her life. Excerpts from Tatiana’s diary detail how she obtained him, and how very fond she was of her pet –

1914 October 12

“Anya brought me from Malama a small French Bulldog (Ortino). It is a very cute little thing – I am so happy.”

1914 October 15

“We had dinner with father, mother and NP (Sablin, a family friend). The dog was sitting with me… he is adorable.”


Tatiana, Anastasia and Ortino on the grounds of Alexandar Palace

In the strict confines of the palace, the royal pets were allowed amazing freedom to behave just as Frenchies in the most casual households still do today. Ortino and Olga’s cat Vaska were special favorites of the family, and had free run of the palace. In a scene familiar to all owners of French Bulldogs, Ortino and Vaska would chase one another across furniture and table tops, knocking over priceless objects and scattering papers in the process. Rather than being scolded, these antics proved the royal family with a great deal of amusement.

Tatiana mentions Ortino’s playful nature in letters to her father, saying “My doggy Ortino was running about the room and playing during the teatime. It is so funny and sweet”, and “We are sitting in Mother’s room after dinner. Olga and Mother are playing “Colorito” and Ortino is running about the room like a mad dog”. Hardly a letter or diary entry fails to make some little mention of Ortino, and her words convey eloquently how much she treasured him. She describes Ortino as snoring gently at her feet, and even indulgently describes his occasional “accident”.

Ortino was Tatiana’s constant companion and she was rarely seen without him at her side. Like most Frenchies, Ortino insisted he be allowed to sleep with Tatiana at the foot of her bed every night. Apparently, some things about French Bulldogs never change – Ortino snored quite loudly, which disturbed Tatiana’s sister Olga, with whom she shared a room. Anastasia complained about it in her journal, writing “When we are asleep at night, all of us sisters are kept awake by Ortino, Tatiana’s French Bulldog, who snores. We have tried everything, but nothing works!” Ortino and Vaska would also disturb the sisters sleep with the occasional game of tag, but Tatiana could not be persuaded to have Ortino sleep with the other family dogs.

It seems even royalty are not immune to “Frenchie Fever” – the feeling that “If one is fun, more will be marvelous!” The Romanov’s owned at least two French Bulldogs, as this excerpt from Grand Duchess Anastasia’s diary details.

1914 November 30

Faberge Ortino

Faberge Rock Crystal
Satue of Ortino
From the Hermitage
Museum Collection

“Now we’ve got another charming French (Bull) puppy, Bille. She is so sweet. She is so charming when she plays with (Tsarevitch) Aleksey’s dog. They are quite mad and race across the floor so fast they tumble into walls and furniture. We cannot stop laughing at them.”

As pampered imperial pets, simple leather collars would simply not do. Both Olga’s cat Vaska and Ortino wore custom collars encrusted with semi precious stones, hand crafted with Faberge, the Royal jeweler. Tatiana also had a collection of figures of Ortino carved by Faberge in semi precious stones and rock crystal. These reminders of a Princess’ love for her pet have been dispersed around the world, and one may be found in the collection of the Cleveland Museum.

The placid life of the Romanov’s came to and end after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, when they were forced into exile by the new communist regime. Even during this most difficult time in her life, Tatiana refused to part with Ortino. He is last mentioned in first hand accounts of family’s flight, which detail Tatiana “struggling to carry Ortino while dragging a suitcase through ankle deep mud and a howling crowd at the Yekaterinaburg train station”. Just two months later, at midnight on June 16th 1918, Tatiana and her entire family were executed.

In the late ’90’s, excavations were done to recover the remains of the royal family from the mine shaft where they had been flung after their executions. There, among their bones, were found the remains of what was described as a ‘small terrier type dog’ and which are assumed to be those of Ortino. His bones were taken along with those of the Royal family, and interred with due ceremony and respect in the family crypt in Moscow. Even in death, Ortino and Tatiana have not been separated.

9 replies
  1. Fuzzy Logic
    Fuzzy Logic says:

    First of all, it’s your own fault for putting so much energy into puppy names!

    Secondly, I was wondering…. how much can you guess/predict what color of puppies you’ll have? I mean, we are partial to brindles and we knew when looking/interviewing bullmastiff breeders, that if they were breeding a two fawns we were out of luck.

    With the multiple variations of color in Frenchies, can you hazard a guess? Or is it a crap shoot everytime?

    Fuzzy Logic’s last blog post..What Drive are you Working in?

  2. frogdogz
    frogdogz says:

    A lot of color prediction is guess work, especially when dealing with an unproven bitch and sire.

    In the case of Paris x Rebel, we know that:

    – Rebel is a brindle pied, who has sired .. well, one of every color
    – Paris is a brindle, but has birthed a pied. Therefore, we know she is carrying the pied gene

    Based on this, we can predict a slightly better than 50/50 chance Paris X Rebel will produce pieds.

    In the case of Journey x Norton, Norton is a brindle, and unproven, as is Journey, so colors are out the window. If we breed her to Elliott, Elliott is a pied, so IF Journey carries the pied gene they can produce pieds.

    The only solid rules are — pied to pied can only produce pied, and BMF fawn to BMF fawn can (as in Bullmastiffs) only produce BMF fawn. Everything else is a coin toss. For me, that’s kinda part of the fun — we’re blessed with a rainbow of possible colors, including some wild card recessives.

    Again, prolly too much info 😉

  3. jan
    jan says:

    I loved the insight into the Romonov family, but it’s going to take me a while to get the picture out of my mind of the customs officials inspecting the overnight express shipment of fresh French Bulldog semen. I’m guessing this doesn’t happen every day.

    jan’s last blog post..Moronic football fan of the year

  4. AGRBear
    AGRBear says:

    Enjoyed your Blog.

    There were two other dogs. One was Joy which was Tsarvich Alexei’s Springer Spaniel, which was found alive by the Whites and taken to England where she lived the rest of her life, and, Jemmy, a Japanense Chin, who, also, died but no one is sure when, however, he lost his life sometime before July 1918. Jemmy’s body was found in the bottom of the Four Brothers Mine by the Whites just before they left Ekaterinburg and the Reds retook the city.

    Keep up the good work.


  5. AGRBear
    AGRBear says:

    P.S. The remains of Tatiana and her family were not found in the Four Brothers Mine, because they were reburied farther away in a place called Pig’s Meadow near the road that led to the Koptiaaki village near Ekaterinburg, Siberia.


  6. dominique charont
    dominique charont says:

    It is a lovely and very tiny figurine by Fabergé of a french bulldog. However it is not displayed at the museum of L’Hermitage in Saint-Petersbourg, but in the Armoury museum of the Kremlin in Moscow. It is nice to think it was part of the presumed small collection of Ortino Fabergé figurines of Grand Princess Tatiana, but sadly there is no genuine evidence for this.

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