Epitaph for a French Bulldog


FBRN has lost a legend. We received word last week that Magnolia, our hospice foster, passed away after a short bout of pneumonia. To say we are heartbroken is an understatement. Magnolia came to FBRN in March of 2012, and was a part of the organization for longer than many of our current volunteers. During the time she was with us, we came to know and love her through her foster mom’s frequent updates. By the time she left us last week, she had become “our” dog.

Magz-in-pink.jpgMagnolia came to FBRN at the age of six, and was quite a sight when she arrived. She was unspayed, her ears were crusty and infected, and she was missing an eye. Her foster mom was told that Magnolia was “supposedly bossy,” but other than that, she knew little about her.

Turns out that underneath a seemingly serious, nervous and standoffish exterior was a sweet, loving Frenchie girl. She loved her humans, adored her foster sibling Bruno, and relished fresh donuts (Munchkins, to be exact). Magnolia enjoyed watching TV with her people, and playing with her toys.

Early on, Magnolia received a promising application from a potential adopter. However, when a suspicious lump was diagnosed as mast cell cancer that had probably spread, Magnolia’s vet estimated she had six months to live.  The adopters withdrew their application, and Magnolia became a hospice foster dog. Her healthcare expenses would be covered by the rescue, and Magnolia would continue to live with the family she loved until she passed away.

Valentine-Magz-.jpgAfter that, life went on for Magnolia and her family. She switched to a new vet who treated her with both Eastern and Western medicine, and – surprising everyone - she thrived. Her foster mom provided periodic updates that described a girl who was full of life, sass and surprises. We came to anticipate and even request these updates as we discovered that the sweet little French lady we thought we had was actually much feistier and far more interesting than we imagined.

As we said, she loved donuts. (And the local donut shop patrons clearly loved her.)

“Magnolia was banned from her favorite hotspot, Dunkin’ Donuts: no dogs allowed. There is a whole group of older men (veterans) who hang out there. They complained to the owner that Magnolia is a rescue who had a rough life…similar to post-traumatic stress disorder after combat. The owner now lets her in, where she gets a free Munchkin." 

She hated the mailman. Like, reeeeeeally hated the mailman.

“She flips out when the mailman comes around. …The mailman is terrified of Magnolia and sometimes withholds registered mail so he doesn’t have to ring my doorbell.”

Magz-wig.jpgYears later, long past her expected “end,” Magnolia was still going strong and showed no signs of slowing down or softening up.

“She continues to hate the mailman and the pizza delivery guy. I have to tip the pizza guy extra just to come to my house. I try to explain to her that the pizza guy brings food and the mailman brings toys, but she still doesn’t like them.”

“Magnolia gets ferocious with the animated deer that people have on their lawns for decoration. She also doesn't like people who wear fur coats.”

“Magnolia is doing very well. She's not crazy about the cold weather. She’s not crazy about wearing her jacket, either. When she sees another dog, she flips out and the jacket gets bunched up around her neck. She looks like a headless dog, screaming. It’s a spectacle. People stop their cars and ask me, ‘What is that?’”


If we loved Magnolia before when she was sweet and demure, we grew to ADORE her for her cantankerous spirit and feistiness. We were her fan club, and she was the emblem of the happy few of us who have loved a middle-aged Frenchie girl.

When we heard recently that Magnolia had pneumonia, we were certainly concerned but expected her to plow through and recover quickly, as was her standard approach to illness. So we were shocked and heartbroken and disbelieving when we heard that she was gone, having died peacefully during a cuddle session with her mom.

In the end, a dog who was given only six months to live instead stayed with us for almost six years. This is certainly a testimony to the resilience of dogs, as well as the willingness of humans to step up and help.

Magz-in-pearls.jpgWe are so grateful to her foster mom for taking her in, giving her the care she needed, helping her blossom into the best dog she could be, for loving her, and for sharing her with us in stories and photos so we could love her too. We are also extremely thankful for FRBN’s many supporters, whose financial contributions make it possible for us to help French Bulldogs, including hospice dogs like Magz. Because of their generosity, she got the care she needed when she needed it, and it literally doubled her life span. FBRN was one of the first rescues to institute a hospice program, and as a rescue, we are proud of our supporters and especially our volunteers--people like Magz’s foster mom—who, seeing the need, raise their hands and offer to break their hearts.

We know we will eventually find comfort in remembering the fantastic life Magnolia led once she came to FBRN. But for now, we suspect the only person who may see a silver lining in this news is the mailman.


Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BAS)

BAS_19.jpgThat’s a great big mouthful, but if you have a French bulldog or any smoosh-faced breed, you should know about it. We’ve lost more than a few fosters and grads to BAS, and if you get a group of 20 bulldog and pug owners together, you will hear at least a half dozen stories of close calls. What is it? 

BAS is a constellation of problems in smoosh-faced dogs, including very narrow nostrils (stenotic nares) that make breathing through the nose difficult or impossible; an elongated soft palate that partially covers the opening of the trachea; a narrower trachea than usual; and sacs inside the voicebox or larynx that get pulled into the airway with the effort of inhalation, narrowing the airway further and making breathing harder than it is for their snootier dog friends who have shorter soft palates and more open nostrils, the better to take in air and to cool the air they do take in.


Though some Frenchies don’t make any breathing sounds, many Frenchie owners are familiar with the grunting, snorting, snoring sounds Frenchies make while awake or asleep. Many of us get so used to it, the sounds are a comforting background noise, but owners should be aware those noises may indicate one or more of the symptoms of BAS. Some dogs are so seriously affected they can’t exercise much, or they vomit or cough after exercise or exertion. Heat and humidity makes their symptoms much worse. 

BAS_20.jpgBAS puts strain on the heart so that, eventually, exertion of any kind is exhausting, and BAS can also cause laryngeal collapse, which will mean near total or total obstruction of airflow. Some dogs live with a tracheostomy after a laryngeal collapse, but as you can imagine, caring for a dog with a tracheostomy can be difficult and even stressful, and for many dogs the prognosis for a long life with a tracheostomy is poor. Dogs with allergies on top of limited airflow may have an even greater likelihood of long-term damage to the airway and possible laryngeal collapse. One of our volunteers has a dog that had surgery to correct what could be corrected, but nothing could be done for the very narrow trachea her dog was born with. Her vet explained that breathing for her dog felt similar to what it would feel like for a human to run while trying to breathe through a straw. 

Owners usually discover that their dogs are having an unusually hard time breathing when their dog is younger than 3, and the best treatment for moderate to severe BAS is surgery. If you read our available dog bios often, you will have read that this or that dog had his nares (nostrils) widened or his soft palate reduced or shortened. Our available dog, Wren, has BAS. If your dog has BAS, you should avoid taking him on any more than a short walk in temperatures over 75 degrees and never in the full sun or on especially humid days—let him stay home in the air conditioning. Keep your dog’s weight down to the point that you can’t see his ribs, but you can feel them if you run your hands over them. You should not allow your dog to get stressed or excited. 

BAS_15_use.jpgDon't be complacent about your smoosh-faced dog. The fact that your Frenchie has never made those sounds is not a guarantee that your dog won’t develop symptoms. If you have a Frenchie who has never shown signs of BAS—he’s never made those snorty noises or seemed to have any problems exercising—but one sunny day while you are having a picnic or you are watching a softball game or you are on a hike and he starts panting heavily, maybe coughing or vomiting, get him to the nearest water you can and run it over his tummy. While you are doing that, find the nearest vet. If your dog doesn't recover quickly or if he is blowing mucus or coughing, pile everybody and the dog in the car and zippy over to have him put in an oxygen crate. There’s a good example of just this sort of thing happening and what Cosette’s mom did to save her life.

Not every smoosh-faced dog will show signs of BAS. But virtually every smoosh-faced dog is at risk of panting too hard on a hot day and causing the airway to swell. The photos accompanying this piece were provided by knowledgeable Frenchie owners in response to a request for photos of what a too-hot dog looks like. When your dog looks like the dogs here, it’s time to take 5 and cool off.



French Bulldog Rescue Network

dog_of_the_week.jpgMaceo in CA

Maceo may have special needs, but trust us -- anyone who meets him knows that he is just plain special.  Maceo has paralysis in his hind end, but he is a speed demon when you strap on his wheels!  He plays with toys, loves people (especially men), and is an all-around happy dog.  Scroll down our home page and read the article on spine-injured, disabled and cart dogs.  You may be surprised to see that caring for a cart dog like Maceo can become second nature.  His foster family can help you get off to a great start.  If you live in Southern California, lucky you!  Not only do you have great weather and fabulous beaches, you can adopt this happy-go-lucky honey pied hunk o' love!  If you can't adopt him, you can still help out by donating toward his care.


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FBRN's mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home French Bulldogs in need from commercial breeding kennels, import brokers, public shelters, private rescue groups, owners or Good Samaritans. Our organization is comprised solely of volunteers who nurture and foster these dogs as well as provide education and training. Our goal is to place healthy and happy French Bulldogs into forever homes.