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Mary Ellen and Miss Wings
Mary Ellen & Miss Wings
Author & Columnist
Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Carol and Michael with their 16-month Bouvier, Bilbo.

Carol, Michael and Bilbo recently moved to Cottage Grove. Michael is working for Cottage Grove Sentinel, as account executive.  Carol and Michael discovered that the best way to meet new friends is to walk with 'man's best friend.'  Bilbo's appearance and size literally stops traffic.  Carol says, "People pull their cars over and ask about 'the big teddy bear [they] have never seen the likes of.'"

Bilbo is named after the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Their last name is Bogue, so he is Bilbo Boggins, rather than Baggins.

Bilbo is a Bouvier des Flandres, French for Cattle Dog of Flanders.  Flanders is best known for its famous Veteran's Remembrance Day poem, In Flanders Fields by Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD.

"In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below..."

Carol continues, "Bouviers almost became extinct in World War I, from service to man as ambulance dogs.  The dogs would drag injured soldiers to safety and were often killed in the process.  They are still rare today, most often seen as Police Dogs or Service Dogs for disabled people.  Bouviers are known for their intelligence and ability to work independent of human supervision.  These dogs think for themselves!"

Bilbo is a gentle giant. He weighs 95 pounds and the top of his head stands 36 inches from the floor.  Despite his size, his favorite friends are small 10-15 pound dogs, and small, playful 3-4 year old children.  Yet, though his breed discriminates in the need to act (thinking for themselves), Bilbo took on the role of Carol's guardian and protector at a very young age.  Bilbo is a Service Dog 'In Training', until he out grows puppy-hood.

Bilbo is famous for doing, "Sit.  Down. Stay."  Almost. He performs "Sit" and "Down" perfectly.  But at "Stay", he begins to think for himself.  You can see it in his mischievous eyes. He stays down.  But instead of staying in the same spot, everyone laughs because he wiggles forward, flat as a pancake on his tummy, to anyone close enough to pet him, like a hyperactive child who can't sit still and wants attention.  His gentle brown eyes and sweet disposition make Bilbo irresistible to pet.

Before you run out and purchase a Bouvier, take into account that for their health, they need a lot of interactive play and exercise.  Carol spends an hour grooming Bilbo daily attending to the matting tendency of his thick, fluffy undercoat. She laughs and says, "Brushing him is like a workout!"

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