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Mr. March 2023 - Tug
92 sinkable pounds

f you’ve been to Bow to Stern Boating on Smith Creek, you’ve likely seen the small sailboats lining the shore, colorful sails luffing in the wind.

Depending on the time of year, young kids or college students may be running around the yard, readying boats for a sail. Or there may be a small group of adults gathered at the picnic tables, getting ready for Sailing 101.

Rolling through the human activity is the fawn and brindle mass of Tuggles, resident English Bulldog and Bow to Stern’s Chief Morale Officer.

When his favorite toy escapes, he has only to wait for its return. Tug is not the sort to do for himself. He has others to do that for him.

At 92 very solid, very sinkable pounds, ‘Tug’ patrols the yard, accepting tummy rubs and head pats in return for smiles. Staff, students, and attendees know their roles and oblige him accordingly.

The same goes for the family upstairs. Despite rumors that bulldogs have low intelligence, Tug proves otherwise; he’s trained the family, staff and visitors to happily accommodate his wishes and character quirks.

For his stately presence, unflappable spirit, and ability to train humans both strange and familiar, Tug is Mister March, Pet of the Month.

Tug at his first public appearance – as a puppy at The 2018 Oriental Classic Car Show.

Tug is not the first four-legged resident to welcome visitors to Bow To Stern. His predecessors were also English Bulldogs: Snuggles, and before her, Mogan.

But he’s not quite like the others, says Tug’s human, Jim Edwards. “He’s the calmest of the three,” he says, “and the biggest of the bunch.”

Tug’s attention is fully focused on his favorite ball – currently out of sight.

Despite his nearly hundred pound weight, Tug is still quick. His mass serves him well when he finds something he doesn’t like – like the whirring of the shredder, the sound of a drone, or the click of a Nikon camera.

Upon hearing an offending sound, he morphs into a juggernaut on four legs, hurling himself face-first at the problem.

There are some sounds Tug doesn’t like – like the sound of a Nikon camera clicking. He swiftly strode forth and put a stop to the nuisance.

The shredder didn’t stand a chance, falling victim to a bark and headbutt combination. The drone had the advantage of flight and was able to move out of range.

The photographer was bowled over, and made the switch to an iPhone camera out of a concern for the Nikon’s safety. (The photographer was laughing too hard to sustain injuries.)

“He’s just a big ol’ lug,” says Edwards while scratching Tug’s brindled back. He says bulldogs are considered a breed of low intelligence, but he doesn’t agree. “You can tell a bulldog what to do, and the bulldog will consider it, and decide what he wants to do.”

Jim Edwards helps scratch that unreachable itch.

To further contradict the low intelligence rumor (though Jim says Tug might be the least intelligent of his three bulldogs), Tug has trained the family to cater to him.

Tug refuses to eat his kibble until some bit of human food is also placed in his bowl. “Two grains of rice, a noodle, a little bit of oatmeal from breakfast,” says Jim, “it only has to be a little speck of something and then he’ll eat.”

A towel is kept near his water dish as well. Why? Tug’s not terribly concerned with the messes he makes. And whoever’s nearby when he’s thirsty gets the job of mopping him up.

Tug takes a moment for a refreshing drink.

But the biggest bit of human training, Jim says, is with his dog bed. “If the blanket is not straight, he’ll sit at the foot of the bed and either whine or just wait until we fix the blanket.” When bed and blanket are once again unwrinkled, then will Tug deign to enter and rest.

And as with most things, it’s also about the location.

“Tug loves his bed,” says Jim. At night he sleeps in the master bedroom with his humans, but expects his bed be brought into the room for him. “During the day he’ll come out here and sit and whine until you bring it back out” into the family room.

Despite his quirks, Tug is well loved and few, if any, have objections to his whims.

“We’ve got pictures of him where the college kids – there’s a group of kids sitting around in a circle talking about whatever’s going on that day, and he’s sitting in the circle with them.” Past visitors also stop by just to say hello – but just to Tug. “We get people who will come by and they say ‘oh, we just wanted to show our friends Tug.’”

He’s even friends with the outdoor cat Puddles, a blue-gray stray with a mercurial temper. “They’ll lay in the middle of the road together.” Speed reduction is a subset of Tug’s Chief Morale Officer duties and Puddles likes to help out.

Tug’s corporate photo.

But there’s one thing Tug can’t do – and they found out the hard way.

“He is not a swimmer,” says Jim. “He is a sinker.”

A few years ago several Bow To Stern employees were replacing old and precarious sections of their docks when Tug fell in. One worker, William, looked to another standing near by and said, “Don’t all dogs swim?”

Tug uses clear communication signals to indicate his needs. Right now, he needs his belly rubbed.

Jim continued, “and next thing you know, the bubbles quit coming up. William throws his phone out, throws his wallet out and jumps in and finds Tug standing on the bottom.”

Tug was a younger, more manageable 60 pounds. But it didn’t mean William could get him out of the water; every time he lifted the dog, William sank into the mud.

“So he ends up walking him back as Tuggles is squirming and doing all this,” says Jim, “and they get him to the beach, lay him down, and Tug just rolls over looking for tummy rubs.”

Tug sits in his freshly made bed, awaiting pets.
Tug luxuriates in the attention of his well-trained humans.

Despite his lack of gills, Tug was not deterred – though he didn’t go on the docks again until they were completely repaired.

When playing with the kids in the summer, he wades into the creek up to his chest to cool down. But then he drinks the brackish water, returning to land to vomit it back up at the kids’ feet, while they laugh and yell.

But despite his lapse in manners, Tug is great with the kids. When the college kids come to town to train, Tug goes out with them every day. “He can have 3-4 of them around him and he’ll take care not to hurt them,” says Jim. The kids, in turn, welcome Tug and give him all the pets and attention he can stand.

“They’re just a cool breed,” says Jim. “Sweet as can be, strong but gentle, good with people. And they don’t roam,” which is why Jim doesn’t mind Tug going out to welcome and play with visitors to Bow to Stern.

It’s why Tug is Chief Morale Officer of Bow to Stern, and Mr. March, the TownDock.net Pet of the Month.

Celebrity Most Resembles: Danny Devito

Danny Devito & Tug

Professional Achievements: Upholding morale at Bow to Stern
Likes: Sleeping, eating, being taken care of
Dislikes: Swimming, mechanical sounds
Known for: Having successfully trained hundreds of humans

photos and story by Allison DeWeese

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Know a pet that is a standout? Send in some details and a photo to info@towndock.net. Tell why that pet deserves the coveted TownDock.net Pet of the Month Prize Package --- accolades, a pat on the head (snakes excluded) and a box of Milk Bones ( or snack suitable for the species).

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