Meet Tuna and Peanut, Holly Hugo-Vidal’s two “clowns in the cloaks of philosophers.”
Published Summer 2013
Often described as “a clown in the cloak of a philosopher,” the French bulldog originated and continues to be used as a companion dog. The breed is small and muscular with heavy bone structure, a smooth coat, a short face, and trademark “bat” ears. Prized for their affectionate nature and even disposition, they are generally active and alert, but not unduly boisterous.
Lacemakers in 19th century Nottingham, England, selectively bred the early bulldog for a downsized or toy bulldog, for use as a lap pet. When the Industrial Revolution displaced some lacemakers to France, they took the dogs with them and soon the toy dogs became popular in France, where wealthy Americans doing the Grand Tour saw them and fell in love with them. In the late 1800s these toy bulldogs became known as French bulldogs, according to the American Kennel Club.
While most people exchange obligatory photos of grandchildren on their smart phones, I upload every angle of my French bulldogs, Peanut and Tuna, to Facebook! We celebrate all occasions and holidays with cake and appropriate hats. These charming little dogs, with their squished flat faces, are irresistible and even make strangers smile.
My first encounter with Frenchies, as they are commonly known, was at a horse show. So demure and quiet sitting on their owner’s laps, that was the dog for me! My first Frenchie, Peanut (a spectacular fawn color), was wild! We spent our first month together playing tug-of-war and me dodging her incessant nipping at whatever body part I had within range. One of the solutions and the only positive one I could think of was to get her a playmate, or in this case a large chew toy!
I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time, but off I went to the breeder asking for another Frenchie; alas, Tuna! He was so named by the breeder because he was the biggest puppy in the litter. Tuna is black brindle with a narrow white blaze, just like his half-sister, Peanut. That was the only resemblance.
From day one, he was lovable, quiet, and a real sweetheart. Peanut is now 4 years old and has developed a sweet side, but still remains strong-willed and thinks she is not only a diva, but in charge of both Tuna and me!
These little dogs are full of personality and very endearing, and I wouldn’t part with them for anything! Every day they make me smile!
Holly Hugo-Vidal lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California, but she is originally from the east coast, growing up in Westchester County, N.Y., where she lived for many years. She trained with the legendary horseman George Morris, who has remained a strong influence throughout her professional career, as well as writing the forward for her book.
Another strong influence was former husband Victor Hugo-Vidal, with whom she ran a successful show barn in Connecticut. Many of Holly’s methods and exercises are very evident in her book Build Confidence Over Fences, published by Primedia. Holly specializes in hunters and equitation.
Holly Hugo-Vidal and her French bulldogs, Tuna and Peanut. She says, “These little dogs are full of personality and very endearing, and I wouldn’t part with them for anything! Every day they make me smile!”