The first thing we discovered about Dawg was that he was always happy. I swear I’ve never seen another dog that is so doggone deliriously happy all the time. We also found out he had worms. Which probably explained why he was so small. At six months of age, most Bouvs would be around 70 pounds. He was barely half that. We also noticed that he threw up a lot. We’d been given food and treats from the shelter that Dawg was raised on, but they didn’t set well in his tummy. So we packed him off to first one veterinarian, then another until we found someone we liked. That’s when we found something that made Dawg unhappy. He didn’t like vets. Also, Dawg was allergic to nearly all the ingredients in nearly all dog food.
Eventually we found food that didn’t make him throw up all the time (although, I must note, that even when throwing up, Dawg acted perfectly happy about it). We also found “thing number two” that made him sad: bath time. In order to understand why this was a problem, you have to know something about Bouvs: they tend to smell. Mostly it’s the flatulence, which is almost constant and would kill a buzzard at 50 paces. But Dawg had something extra: his skin smelled. I don’t know if it was the “special” dog food, based on chicken and sweet potatoes, or if it was something inherent to his biology, but for some reason, Dawg stinks all the time. Even right after a bath. And the smell gets stronger, the longer you go without bathing him, so “not bathing” is something that ain’t gonna happen.
Bouvs also need constant grooming. They have an under and an outer coat, and the fur tends to get all tangled up and nasty if you don’t brush them every day…at the least. And they need to be clipped/styled frequently. (I’d learned how to do all this with my first Bouvier.) A Bouvier is not a dog to throw in the yard and hose down once or twice a year. They need constant attention. And so we found item number three in the unhappy dog list: Dawg hated to be groomed. Oh, we tried all the tricks: giving treats while looking at the grooming tools; giving treats while talking about the grooming tools; giving treats while touching the grooming tools — nothing worked, although he did gain some weight.
With all this going on, you might begin to wonder why in the world did we ever fixate on a Bouvier? There were two reasons: (1) Bouviers are naturally hypoallergenic (I’m very allergic to dog dander); and (2) Bouviers are very, very loyal and loving. It’s the old “once you have a Bouv you’re hooked for life” sort of thing. Eventually we decided Dawg’s happiness was worth more than what people would think; we hired a groomer to bath and clip his beautiful fur quite short every month. He was still unhappy at being groomed, of course, but at least we didn’t have to see it. Now we’re all happy campers at home, even if everyone does think we own a Giant Schnauzer.