Vortex Bull Terriers ~ New Zealand

Duffy – Mr Snuf-a-lup-a-gus, Doodle, Doodle Bug

How do you describe the best dog in the world? Well you can’t really…. I’m going to try to put into words 12 years of laughter, tears, hilarity, frowns and despair!  Despair being the type of “oh my god I can’t believe you just did that …. again!”.

Duff the Bull Terrier, arrived in my life when I had saved enough money for the deposit on my first home – that, at age 22 was my first foray into the world of pedigree dogs.  I can still remember heading out to Waihi in September 1996 to meet Deane and Hyde and get the once over to see if we were going to be a suitable home for one of their precious babies.  It wasn’t long before we headed back out to Waihi to pick up our new pup and begin the journey that ended on the 19th of May 2008. 

Duff started out being very much a man’s dog, and although I fed him and cared for him he only had eyes for one guy, the guy that played with him and did stupid stuff with him.  I can remember having coffee at the neighbours one day and we could hear this “thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud – BANG!  My neighbour looked at me sideways and said – “We hear this a lot coming from your house and wondered what on earth you guys were up to.”  I laughed and said imagine one 75 kg human and one 32 kg bully running full speed through house, up the hall and throwing themselves onto the bed! The BANG is the bed hitting the wall.  Needless to say that our bed didn’t have legs on it for too long!

I was by no means a dog novice – but my god owning a bull terrier is a life changing experience.  How can something so giving and loving, be so damn stubborn and pig headed!  So off to obedience training we went.  Duff and I would turn up and spend an hour fighting and battling with each other, and by the end of each session my arms felt like they had been ripped from their sockets.  Duff was so keen to get up close and personal with every other dog there that I spent all of my time trying to rein him in.  Imagine this, 10 other people with their lovely obedient pets all standing in a circle with the “Rover’s and Spot’s” all sitting at heel and me and the big brindle galah trying to do a weave on a loose lead.  It wasn’t a pretty sight!  I did manage to teach my boy to do a down stay and be able to turn and walk away, but as always, Duffy chose when HE would down and how long HE would stay!

Duff was an absolute shocker for stealing food off the bench.  Anything that was in paw-reach was fair game…. Or so I thought!  I started moving things to the back of the bench knowing full well that my darling Duff couldn’t reach them by just putting his front paws up and standing on his hind legs.  I soon realised that the food was getting from the back of the bench into his tummy but was mystified regarding the method.  It wasn’t until I came into the kitchen one day and found the thief standing on the kitchen bench, that the mystery was unravelled!  <Sigh> When we moved home to the farm, Duff was my constant companion.  He would come to work with me every day and spend most of his time under my desk. He soon learned his rounds.  Stop 1 - Check to see if office lady has left handbag with lunch sitting on floor, Stop 2 - Hugh’s office to see if his dog has any bones worth stealing, Stop 3 - The garage, has door been left open so I can help myself to the dog biscuit barrel, Stop 4 - through the dog door into Mum’s house to check the kitchen and the lounge for snacks!  This wasn’t just a once a day, but three or four times.  He realised that sometimes the garage door would be shut and sometimes it was open.  Our Duffy was certainly an opportunist.   One day I decided to have lunch at mum’s (because she had come home from town with Muffins) instead of going home.  My parents are very old fashioned and the table is set for every meal, I had been busy setting the table and had put the beautiful cream-cheese and berry muffins on a plate in the centre of the table.  Invariably the phone rang and I had to leave my post and go to  the office to sort out a customer.  Well, you should have heard my mother screaming!  “That bloody bull terrier! I’m going to kill him!”  Yes, he had helped him self to not one but THREE muffins.  As you can imagine I spent a good deal of time defending my poor Duffy.

The Classic: Duffy arriving back in the office after one of his little sorties wearing the black plastic lid to the dog biscuit barrel.  Yes wearing it!  He had found the garage door open but the 30 litre plastic bin had the lid on it and it was locked down with its little metal clip handles that hook up from the body of the bin and over the top of the lid.  There was a weakness in the centre of the lid and Duffy managed to push his head right through the centre of it.  Now he is effectively wearing not only the lid, but also the bin attached to the lid.  I would imagine he would have rewarded himself with a snack before trying to extricate himself from the mess.  He did manage to get the bin unhinged from the lid, but the lid was stuck tight.  He came sauntering back into the office as if nothing was up, staring up at me with his big brown eyes, meanwhile four of us are in fits of uncontrollable laughter.  Life with a bully is never dull!

Duffy was never what you would call a “stock friendly” dog and living on a farm had its challenges.  I hadn’t been there that long and my fences were not up to the standard that they are today.  I had come home from an afternoon shopping in town (dressed in my town clothes) and had nipped inside to grab the washing basket to hang out a load of washing.  I was standing at the line listening to the sound of running hooves thinking to myself that’s odd I don’t remember seeing the cattle in the race.  Well Duffy and his partner in crime, daughter Ruby, had zipped out behind my back and hopped through the five wire fence into the race that runs along the front of my section.   Well picture this, me running, screaming down the race in my good boots and town clothes, hot on the heels of a herd of steers and two bullterriers.  I managed to grab Ruby who was busy nipping at the heels of one beast, throw her over my shoulder kicking and screaming and made a dash for home.  It was a good five hundred metres and I was pooped before I got halfway.  I glanced back to see Duff flying through the air attached to the nose of one of the larger steers, which was swinging its head from side to side trying to dislodge the great brindle oaf that was trying to inflict facial piercings without the added jewellery.  I put my head down and ran the rest of the way home, threw Ruby over the fence, then into the laundry, banged the door shut and burst into tears.  I phoned Hugh and said in my calmest hysterical voice, “Duff is in the silage paddock with the cows, please can you come and help me”….

I took a deep breath and started on my return journey albeit some what slower than the first trip. Thankfully I met Duff limping his way back down the race towards home, obviously having come off second best to the cow.  I will not go into the detail about the ensuing after hours vet visit to repair the damage to my naughty dogs (only minor scratches for the cow), that is another tale altogether.   The moral of the story is, bullies really need to be securely fenced!

Duffy was very much a creature of habit, he had his own spot on the couch, and he spent every evening on that couch watching tv with Nick. There was always much shuffling and re-arranging throughout the evening as “The Boys” were trying to get comfy.  He would come into our room every morning for a cuddle when Nick got up, but was always out of bed by the time we were seated at the breakfast table, waiting patiently for the end of whatever Nick was having for breakfast that day.  Bullies can be very reliable at times.  Every night he would get another cuddle before lights out and retiring to his basket in the hall outside our door.  The funny thing was, when it was time for lights out Duffy’s legs mysteriously stopped working and he was unable to get off the bed.  It was so hard to keep a straight face while trying be stern and gruff, and it was always “the other person’s turn” to put him to bed as it was such a painful process.

I hope that my novel has given you a little bit of an insight into life with our beloved Duff, who was more to us than just a dog – he was truly a Bully - sweet, stubborn, kind, deaf, frustrating and adorable.