Trop de la balle

Our Frenchie loves his balls.

Wait, you say. Don’t all dogs?

Mais non! If we’re talking about those balls, as a breed, most French bulldogs can’t reach theirs. Which makes for a lot less grooming (if that’s what you call it).

And if you’re talking about the other kind, also non.

We have two (Frenchies, that is). One is a ball dog and the other is not. Humphrey’s only interest in balls is the potential to fight over them. He’s a scrapper, loves a game of tug-of-war and any other opportunity for one-upmanship.

Higgins, on the other hand, is 100% French ball dog. He has a collection of balls and other toys that he likes to run after, chew, even bring on walks. When I decide enough is enough, I have to distract him in order to get him to drop the ball. Obedience training has failed. He is, after all, French. And you try unwedging a rubber ball from a determined bulldog’s jaw!

For some reason, he also likes to drop the ball in the pool and then wait for me to come and fish it out. Sometimes I don’t obey right away (hey, I’m also French), and this happens.

But sometimes, I admit to using his toys as an attention-getting device. (“You don’t want to go outside in the cold? Here, go get it!”) Frenchies are hard-headed. You use any available means to get them to follow.

The problem is that Frenchies can destroy even vet-approved toys in minutes. So when we found a brand of heavy rubber ball that he could really sink his teeth into, he was a happy boy.

“C’est trop de la balle!” he told me, using familiar French to say ‘Wow, that’s awesome!’

Last week our Higgins was under the weather. He barfed his breakfast one morning, which was not that unusual. The next day he threw up some more. I still wasn’t worried.

On more than one occasion a vet has explained to me: “Dogs are a vomitory species.” Right, because their ancestors, wolves, notoriously regurgitate their dinners to feed the young.

But when he stopped eating entirely for three days, I knew something was up. The vet confirmed it, first by palpating his gut and finding it hard. Then with an x-ray that seemed to show some strange objects lodged in his large intestine. He had an obstruction, and surgery would be needed.

I was mystified. What on earth could he have eaten?

You guessed it. Trop de la balle. On Tuesday, the vet removed a 1-inch chunk of rubber ball, along with a piece of his intestine.

And it is absolutely awesome good luck that he has so far come through the operation and is recovering well. Operating on bulldogs can be tricky due to their respiratory challenges, so we spent a sleepless night or two. And we’ll be keeping a close eye out over the next ten days for infection. But so far so good.

I went to visit him at the vet’s yesterday. He seemed a little sad at first but perked right up when I got him some new toys. Vet approved and, fingers-crossed, bulldog-proof.

By the way, if you have a dog who likes to chew, do NOT buy him toys like this! They are very dangerous if a piece breaks off and gets stuck in the gut.




  1. Garfield Hug · October 12, 2017

    I am glad your bulldog is fine now. Scary indeed and yes, French bulldogs are reknowned for respiratory challenges. Perhaps no more rubber balls for this fella, just edibile food stuff that is chewy perhaps?

    • MELewis · October 12, 2017

      Hmm…maybe not too much edible stuff. Frenchies have notoriously difficult digestive systems, so unless I invest in a gas mask, I’ll stick to safer things like rope toys. 😉 Thanks for your well wishes!

      • Garfield Hug · October 12, 2017

        Yes. Rope toys. Have a great day😃

  2. midihideaways · October 12, 2017

    Yikes!! I knew these guys could chew, but I didn’t realise that they could be quite this tenacious!! Glad to hear that he’s ok now!!

    • MELewis · October 12, 2017

      Merci!!! They are tough little devils but surprisingly fragile. He seems to be doing well, touch wood. I think we’ve dodged a bullet.

  3. phildange · October 12, 2017

    I don’t know if you can find them in your lost territory but if you want very hard rubber balls for your dog the hardest I ever saw are balls used in Basque pelota . Even watching them makes my hand painful .

    • MELewis · October 12, 2017

      Ha, ha…you can find anything online these days. Looked them up and there appear to be two types: one looks almost like an American hardball (baseball) with an exterior casing sewn in. Another seems to be pure hard rubber. That could in fact be an option! Maybe we could start a trend with bulldog pelota?

  4. Osyth · October 12, 2017

    Oh poorly Higgins! I shall keep my fingers and toes crossed that he continues to mend well and that his tricky respiration does not incline him to infection. It is so hard when animals become sick because they can’t tell us what the problem is …. I’m sorry that he succumbed to one of his gleeful toys and hope that in future all his balls prove bulldog-proof. Bon courage to you …. I imagine you feel rather frayed, non? X

    • MELewis · October 12, 2017

      Oh indeed….it has been emotionally draining. Everything crossed now until he gets the stitches out and all is back to ‘normal’ (Is anything ever that normal? she asks…). From now on I’m sticking with tried and true Kong-type toys, and even then will regularly inspect to make sure they’re not getting worn out. Picking him up this afternoon and am sure I’ll come home with loads of instructions, not to mention a whopping bill. For now all I can feel is grateful to have good vets nearby. 😀

  5. coteetcampagne · October 12, 2017

    What you need is the Happy Pet tough toy frame ball from Amazon.
    It was the only ball toy our chocolate Doberman cross couldn’t eat/destroy/ scatter around the house.
    Other toys lasted about a day , if that. In her youth she even managed to destroy her woven willow dog bed whilst I was out at work. To cover up this misdemeanor, she dragged the pieces together and was lying on top with an innocent expression when I returned home.
    I was was fairly cross as it was a vintage dog basket of course…

    • MELewis · October 12, 2017

      That’s a good testimonial but I’m really going to err on the side of caution with toys now. I know the feeling about coming home to scenes of destruction. Our other Frenchie gets separation anxiety and has been known to destroy shoes, hats, door frames, etc. Sounds like you had a rather clever pup though to try and hide the evidence by lying upon it! Lol. Vintage and pets don’t tend to get along well. 😉

  6. poshbirdy · October 12, 2017

    Poor Higgins! Love the pic of him by the pool and looking forward to an update on his progress x

  7. Liz · October 12, 2017

    😳 Higgins…… oh dear. So sorry to hear that! Just note this Mel, Lucy can’t have rope toys. She eats those. I mean literally….she chews, shreds, then ingests. I was told by the vet that her intestines could get twisted up with the string. Good luck! Let me know how he is doing in a few days. He is an absolutely sweet dog! Liz xo

    • MELewis · October 12, 2017

      Thanks Liz! He’s doing fairly well despite the major surgery. I’ll keep an eye out for the rope toys – so far, he doesn’t seem all that interested in actually chewing them. Thanks for the tip!

  8. acflory · October 13, 2017

    Ugh. Poor little guy. I don’t suppose you could give him the knuckle end of a raw beef bone could you? Butchers here will cut bones if you ask and that would be almost round. 🙂

  9. Lisa @ cheergerm · October 13, 2017

    Oh the sweetest dogger photo of him looking for his ball by the pool. I am so glad he is doing OK. Go Higgins!! 💜

  10. eyelean · October 15, 2017

    Oy… glad he’s okay! But I love that picture of him and the ball and the pool.

  11. Pingback: Du poil de la bête – FranceSays
  12. Pingback: Je m’appelle Higgins – FranceSays

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