So, how did Gunslinger Bulldogs come to be?
The name arises from another shared sport we do together, competitive shooting called Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS). We dress up like cowboys and cowgirls and shoot guns that are originals or replicas of the Old West. But that's another story and you can read more about our alter egos on our Shootin' page or read more about the sport at www.sassnet.com.
Andrew was very active in the show ring with Komondors from the early 1970s through the late 1980s. He showed extensively in the Chicago, upper Mid-West, and North-East areas before moving to Southern California. One of his highlights was exhibiting his champion male Moose at Westminster Kennel Club. He finished campaigning Moose with the ultimate win - Best in Show at an International Show in Mexico City. On that high note, Andy hung up the leash, retired Moose, and walked away from the show ring. He wouldn't step into the ring again until 2009.
Until recently, I (Susan) had never shown dogs in conformation but have always been a “dog person”. The love of animals, especially dogs, has been with me since early childhood and there has always been a dog or two in my life: a couple of Labradors, a German Shepherd, a Border Collie, and two Shelties. I field-trained a Labrador to hunt/retrieve, competed in obedience, and even dabbled in agility with the two Shelties. This was purely for my own enjoyment and provided a venue to keep my dogs active and mentally stimulated. My dogs have always been well-mannered, well-trained, and well-socialized to be good canine citizens.
Our start in Bulldogs took awhile to come to fruition ... about 15 years! My husband had a long time desire for his "Marine Mascot" (he's a former Marine) and I had a resolute objection to the idea. Why would I want an ugly, smush-faced canine? I most certainly lacked the desire to shell out a bundle of money for a dog, especially when one has family obligations and children to raise and put through college.
When Andrew retired, he announced off-handedly he wanted a Bulldog, testing the waters once again. Of course, I was the supportive wife and replied, "You mean one of those ugly, wrinkly, smelly, dumb dogs? No way!" I thought he'd gone crazy. In my mind a REAL dog is, well, you know, a Lab or a Border Collie, something with legs, a proper muzzle and the ability to chase and retrieve a ball ... and swim. But a Bulldog?
Somehow he convinced me that adding a Bulldog to our already canine-filled home was just the thing we needed. Besides, since he was now retired, this meant he would be home to raise, train and care for the puppy, and it would give him something to do. Before long, we were learning what we could about the breed and searching for a reputable breeder. But the story doesn't end there. My husband threw another curve ball - are you catching on that he's pretty good at that?
During our search for the perfect puppy, he told me he needed a new hobby and wanted to get back into the dog show ring. Excuse me? What? I knew he had a history showing dogs, a hobby he enjoyed before we met. I had seen the pictures, heard the stories of his show experiences in Chicago, and listened to his recollections of his time at the Westminster Kennel Club. I was reminded of the day he won Best in Show with his Komondor in Mexico City, and I'd seen the trunk full of ribbons and silver to prove, it, too. Before I knew it, we weren't just looking for a companion dog, somehow our search transformed into the search for a "SHOW DOG"!
So, the next thing I know we're attending shows, talking with people, and looking at puppies all over the country. After months of searching, we settled on a handsome, red brindle male we call JD. He comes from Mary Rosborough in Illinois, and he is the delight of our household.
To my utter surprise, we both have become completely smitten with this breed! We now cannot imagine NOT having one of these cuddly, affectionate, and devoted dogs in our lives. We are enthusiastically engrossed in the conformation world and are loving every minute of it. We have come to appreciate this breed, and have vowed to make a positive contribution to it in the coming years. The change in perspective is amazing. To other bulldoggers, this is nothing new and par for the course. We were warned that you can't have just one!