Dogs are very popular subjects for bookends. There are German Shepherds, Scottish Terriers, Greyhounds, or Wolfhounds. Bulldogs are not so frequently seen, but here are bookends for English and American Bulldog fanciers, animals with typical wrinkled faces, stubby tails, bowed legs and sturdy appearances. Each bookend is gray metal with a bronzed finish, 4.25 inches high, and weighs 2.5 lbs. The pair is unmarked, but attributed to Dodge.
Bulldogs were used in medieval England for bull baiting, a very popular diversion. A bull was tethered to a stake and big dogs attacked the bull, one dog at a time. The dogs were trained to attack the bull by biting on to its nose and holding there until the bull fell over. The bull attempted to dislodge the dog and kill it. Men would crowd around for the spectacle and bet on the outcomes. The British Parliament banned the practice in 1835. In the aftermath of the ban, the bulldog, much beloved and admired by those who owned the breed, was bred as a companion dog. As it became more of a household pet it nevertheless retained its reputation for tenacity and fearlessness, as reflected in editorial cartoons and common phrases such as “bull-dogging”.
The original English bulldogs had straight tails, faces that were less wrinkled, and were not bandy legged. Today’s American bulldog has been modified for looks and could not be used for bull baiting because it lacks the necessary ferocity and size, but it still is ready for a “sporting” challenge. Take a look at “Tillman, the Surfing Bulldog” in the 8th Annual Loews Coronado Bay Dog Surfing Competition in Imperial Beach on June 22, 2013. Video shot and edited by Matt Peace.