They hadn’t planned to fall in love. But when Jimmy Bane met Bert, he fell head over hills for the bulldog. Will Clayton-Bane, a senior benefits specialist at CHG, laughs when he remembers his husband telling him about Bert. The dog had been dumped in the Idaho desert and the Bulldog Club of Utah Rescue Group had gone into action. Jimmy and Bert bumped into each other accidentally at a veterinarian’s office.
Will and Jimmy realized their mutual love for bulldogs and had been researching the breed. They’d spent almost two years on a waiting list for a puppy when Bert dropped into their lives. Once the rescue group determined the couple was committed to Bert’s care and well-being, the adoption was a done deal.
“We knew from the beginning Bert wouldn’t be a show dog,” Will says. And they were fine with that. They loved the breed and wanted a great pet. Thinking they might want another male bulldog, they remained on a waiting list. And that’s when Daisy dropped in. Will calls her their “unplanned pregnancy.”
A growing family
The breeder called Will and said she knew they were waiting for a male but there was just something special about this little female that might interest them. Would they be willing to come and see? “Nobody ever walks away from a bulldog puppy!” Will says with a laugh. Adorable Daisy ended up joining the family.
At the time Will and Jimmy saw the puppy, their breeder asked them if they’d ever considered showing dogs. They’d talked about it but didn’t have the right dog or any training themselves on how to compete. The breeder said Daisy showed promise and agreed to mentor them.
That was five years ago. After Bert and Daisy, the couple acquired Parley James, Moon, and Ban Ban. Not all the dogs compete at one time but all, except Bert, have had their share of time in the show ring. Will calls Jimmy the Dog Whisperer and says he’s the handler at most of the shows. But sometimes Will takes his turn in front of the judges too.
A family for life
Besides making sure your dog looks top-notch, handlers have a dress code of their own. Some events are themed and more casual, like Woofstock, others require a suit and tie and sometimes even a tux. Last year, the family participated in more than 100 shows, on their way to helping Moon move closer to grand champion status. Coronavirus is causing problems in the canine world as well, with the cancelation of several dog shows. Normally, Will and Jimmy would have competed in seven or eight shows by now.
“I would love to buy an RV and travel the U.S. and do this full time,” Will admits. He says participating in the famed Westminster Kennel Club’s show would be amazing. It’s an invitation only event, but someday the Clayton-Bane team may make the cut.
In the meantime, Will and Jimmy like mentoring other bulldog owners. “We like to educate them to make sure the breed fits them really well,” Will explains. “A dog’s not just there temporarily. They’re there for life, and you’re their life.”
To learn more about English bulldogs, visit Will’s website at banebulldogs.com