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.