It’s hard to tell that there’s a lot of pain in Bubbles’ past from looking at her face. After all, you’d be hard pressed to find a gentler dog with an almost permanent grin painted on her face. Bubbles’ life, however, wasn’t always great, and she bears the emotional scars to prove it.
Bhavna Ahluwalia was on her way to a corporate meeting in downtown Los Angeles when she spotted Bubbles hiding behind some train tracks. Although she can’t really explain why, something told her she had to stop and make contact with this dog. “She was a mess—confused, scared and clearly was used for breeding,” Ahluwalia says.
“It took me seven hours to gain her trust so she could come with me. I told her that she would never have to live this kind of life ever again,” she adds. “After I said that, she brushed against my shoulder as I was on my knees and came with me.”
Bringing Bubbles Home
The decision to keep Bubbles wasn’t a difficult one, according to Ahluwalia. In fact, she made it almost on the spot. “The night before, I was missing my previous dog, who had passed two years prior,” she says. “I was very emotional the night before I met Bubbles, and I remember saying out loud that I would give anything to see her again.” The next morning, Ahluwalia found Bubbles. “I saw this dog coming out of the bushes and running towards me and I knew she was sent for me.”
Ahluwalia canceled her meeting and drove Bubbles straight to the animal hospital, where the vet discovered a lot of damage had been done to the three-year-old dog. She had major gastrointestinal tract issues, anxiety and stress colitis. The vet had to wait a week to spay her because she was so weak and emaciated, Ahluwalia adds. Once Bubbles got a little stronger, she also had to undergo mouth surgery to deal with a number of cracked teeth. “According to the vet, she was very tolerant to pain, which was sad,” Ahluwalia says.
“It took me seven hours to gain her trust so she could come with me. I told her that she would never have to live this kind of life ever again.”
It was the emotional damage, however, that Bubbles had the most difficult time recuperating from. “She used to jump at every movement I made, thinking I was going to abuse and hit her,” Ahluwalia says. “She was not a confident dog and was scared at every sound.” It took a lot of work with several trainers before Bubbles began to relax, especially around other animals. “It was apparent that the only time she ever saw a dog was when she was used for breeding,” Ahluwalia says.
Now, Bubbles is a happy, loving dog, although she still struggles with emotional issues despite working with several trainers and getting lots of love from everybody around her. As Ahluwalia puts it, however, it’s all about taking it a day at a time. “She has major separation anxiety and cannot be left alone as she gets very anxious, and then her stress colitis flares up [which] takes about ten days to calm down and get back to normal.”
Going out for walks is also something that Bubbles – who probably spent a lot of her previous life either caged or contained – had to get used to. “I have to calm her state of mind before we go on walks and during our walk.” Ahluwalia said.
Other than that, Ahluwalia said Bubbles’ confidence is constantly growing as she comes out of her shell and continues to improve. “She does not jump out of bed frequently at night anymore, and she does not get scared at every single movement I make […] she also comes and hugs me for long periods of time to give me love and show that she trusts me.”
A Business is Born
After rescuing Bubbles, Ahluwalia was inspired to start Pawcloset, her own high-end line of dog clothing for larger breeds. “I have always been in the apparel business,” Ahluwalia said. “However, when I had Bubbles, there was nothing out there of top quality and or that fit her.”
Now that Bubbles is the official “spokesdog” and model for the brand, Ahluwalia said it seemed logical to give back to rescues, too, including raising funds for LA Animal Rescue in Southern California. “This way we contribute, as there are lot of dogs, especially pitbulls, that are voiceless and need our help,” Ahluwalia adds.
As for the Bubbles’ future, Ahluwalia said that she grows more confident by the day and that the healing process has only made them closer. “We have an amazing bond which words cannot describe.”
Images: Courtesy Bhavna Ahluwalia