Two months ago, just before Father’s Day, my wife and I bought a French Bulldog from a breeder in Apple Valley. I had met her brother during an exam and found out that his sister’s purchase had fallen through and that she was now available for a buyer with cash in hand. There was an instantaneous bonding and the fun has just begun!
I named her “Fessel” — a loving Yiddish term meaning chubby — as in “Eat, Fessel.” My kids thought that I was being mean to name her that but I told them, “When your grandma used the term for your mother, it was meant with love and that’s how I mean it here!”
My whole family can tell that I’m crazy for Fessie, as she is usually called. My wife and kids have complained that I have never kissed them with the same ardor that I have showered on Fessie. But I really don’t think that they want to experience a big cheek suck.
Housebreaking hasn’t been one of Fessie’s strong points — but — we are getting better! An interesting irony is that originally, my wife Linda, in deference to her well manicured garden, wanted a dog that would only go on the cement and not on the grass. Well, with Fessie, she got just that, but be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Linda found out that this was a high maintenance behavior. Training is now aimed at luring Fessie back to greener pastures.
Although Fessie is a terrific specimen of her breed, what really sets her apart is her personality. She gets along with everybody and is just as at home with new visitors as with familiar friends. At family gatherings she is passed like a baby to sit in the laps of the guests. (Many family friends are like us, nascent empty nesters). When she plays with Jacques, our fourteen year old Toy Poodle, she shows the respect and gentleness befitting the situation, but when she plays with Bella, my daughter’s ten month old Pit Bull-cross, she’s like a low trajectory cannon ball.
Whether I’m taking her for a walk along Ocean Avenue or bathing her in the kitchen sink, the basic point is that I get a lot of enjoyment from these activities. We even went to compete in a dog show last week. By creating so much fun in my life, Fessie’s biggest gift is allowing me to reconnect with why I became a veterinarian, and why I have enjoyed practicing for the last thirty-two years. I think the net effect is that Fessie’s helped me be a more effective doctor, better able to empathize with patients’ and clients’ needs.
Additional point of information: Fessie was born on Valentine’s Day 2003.