FBS: Hey Claire, tell us about your first Frenchie and what it was like to welcome one into your family?
Claire : My first frenchie was a handsome fawn with a black mask. As a puppy he had massive ears and I told everyone it was fine, one day he would grow into them. I got him as a pup at 8 weeks from a breeder in Essex, he was the last boy in the litter, but for me it was love at first sight and I knew we would make a great pair.
FBS: What made you want a French Bulldog over another breed?
Claire: I had wanted a French bulldog for a few years before Chilli came into my life. I had seen a few around and fallen for their cute face, big ears and unique personality.
FBS: Did you do any research before buying?
Claire: Before I found my perfect fur baby I did a lot of research into the breed and breeders around my area. I did a lot of online research mainly looking into the breed as I was aware of the health risks that came with frenchies and I started looking at all the insurance types.
I really wanted to do everything by the book so I’d have a healthy pup and be able to give him/her a happy and healthy life.
FBS: If you don’t mind me asking how did you lose Chilli and at such an early age?
Claire: I had the best year of my life with Chilli before he had his first seizure, that was when our world was turned upside down. He was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy and so our journey began. We started off on two pills a day (epilephen) this controlled the seizures for around 3 weeks and then the monster struck again. I couldn’t put into words just how heartbreaking and completely helpless I felt. Chilli suffered cluster seizures and had between 7-12 in an evening and the only way to get him round was to have IV diazepam from the vets. As the months went on we introduced emergency medication (keppra) and also rectal diazepam to try and help bring him round when the seizures happened at home.
We then introduced another medication (potassium bromide) this worried me a lot as it can effect the liver so it meant more regular blood tests.
Unfortunately being on all these meds we still couldn’t control his seizures and his last cluster was the worst he had ever had. The final trip to the vets is a day I will never forget, when I had to say goodbye to my baby boy.
He was taken too young.
FBS: Do you think Chilli’s illness may have had anything to do with the breed or the breeders? Have you since looked into this?
Claire: When Chilli was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy I spent every minute, hour, day and night looking into the reasons. Had I done something? Was it the breeder?
Idiopathic epilepsy can affect any breed and normally shows effects at around 1 year old. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who were and still are in the same position as me and I really don’t think it’s down to the breeder, unfortunately I think Chilli was unlucky. I have seen an increase in frenchies with epilepsy, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to say it’s anything to do with the breed. It’s an awful disease and I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through it with their dog.
FBS: When did you decide it was time to look at getting another fur baby?
Claire: After losing Chilli I lost a massive part of me and felt lost, I knew that one day I would want another companion. I wanted to give a pooch that needed a forever home all the love they needed, because I couldn’t help Chilli but I hoped I could help another.
FBS: What made you want to rescue?
Claire: I found French Bulldog Saviours and admired the amazing work they do for the breed. Originally I wanted to help out with road trains, events and meet the pooches.
On the first road train I helped out on (with my partner) we had the pleasure of meeting FBS Martin. He was a handsome little pup that was timid and looked a little lost, but couple of hours we had in the car we fell in love with him - I think it was fate. Now he’s at home in bed with me…taking up most of the room!
FBS: What is life like with a rescue?
Claire: Life with a rescue at first is strange as they are scared in a new environment, but the reward is watching them grow in confidence, building a bond and becoming best friends.
FBS: Do you have any advice for anyone looking to rescue a Frenchie or any other breed?
Claire: Frenchie’s make the best companions - they are loyal, funny, cute and lovable. There is the flip side and that is the health problems they can encounter from breathing to spinal issues to allergies and the list could go on... My main advice if you really want a puppy would be look into the breed, research and research some more. Take the time to find a good reputable breeder and always meet both parents!
The best route of all is rescuing. Give a pooch another chance in life and they will reward you with all the love you could imagine!
Note from FBS Jo: I met Claire and her partner on the roadtrain where their love story with FBS Martin began. I have never seen such a strong bond so instantly. The Martin I knew was quiet and nervous – to see him grow in confidence and become the cheeky chap he is fills me with such pride for his new owners.