For the love of the Dog…

Happy Tuesday!  Welcome back to “Tuesdays with Tara Lynn”. As I have been developing my blog I have started to create a list of topics that I want to write about each week.  I realized that one topic I have not written about yet is our two English bulldogs, Buster and Pearl. Considering they are my four legged children, I wanted to dedicate a post to them and all the other dog lovers out there.

I have always been a “dog” person.  In fact, there has not been a time in my life where my family or I have not owned a dog.  We had dogs growing up, and then when I graduated college and moved out to Denver, Colorado I was finally able to purchase my very own dog.  He was a Yorkshire Terrier and I named him Riley.  Riley was my baby, my sidekick.  He loved me unconditionally, just as I loved him.  He was with me through each move, each break up, sickness, happy and sad times.  He was always excited to see me and never missed a chance to cuddle with me on couch. He was loyal, he loved cheese, greenies, his toy dog, but most of all he loved his Mama,  I had Riley for 12 wonderful years.  He had A LOT of health problems his whole life.  I tried to manage his health the best I could with medicine, a strict diet and exercise but in the end, it was not enough.  Riley passed away June 26th, 2014.  It is hard to believe it has almost been 4 years since he has been gone.  Losing Riley was like losing a part of me.  He was my child.  I had his name tattooed on the side of my right foot, that way he is always walking with me.  The day he died I came home and sat in the backyard with my two other dogs Buster and Pearl (I will get to their story in a minute). As we were sitting out there, a white butterfly circled us.  I knew it was Riley.  White butterflies seem to follow me now wherever I go.  I know it is Riley letting me know he is not far.  He is always with me, I will never stop missing him.

In 2011, while Riley was still alive, I got another dog.  An English bulldog named Buster.  I was use to small little petite dogs, so buying a bulldog was quite the change.  From the start, Buster was my gentle giant.  He grew fast.  He was strong and all muscle.  He looked intimidating but he was the sweetest, most gentle dog. Riley had a hard time accepting him.  Riley would snip and bite him but Buster never fought back.  As big as Buster was (85 pounds) he could have taken out Riley with the swipe of his paw, but he never did.  He just continued to try to play with Riley, to sniff him and to share his toys.  Riley eventually warmed up to his little brother.  I loved Riley so much I was not sure I could love another animal as much as I loved him.  But, my heart expanded and Buster filled it up even more.  I do not think I could love Buster anymore if I tried.  He is my protector, a Mama’s boy at heart.  He loves to run and play with his toys, go on walks, go to PetSmart for doggy day camp, he loves to play in his kiddie pool in the summer and he loves a McDonald’s Cheeseburger on his birthday.  To know Buster is to love him.  Just look at his that face.

Fast forward to 2013 and enter in dog number three.  Another English bulldog named Pearl.  I was not expecting Pearl and did not have any plans on getting a third dog, having two was enough to handle.  However, God had another plan and I could not be happier that he did.  Pearl originally lived with another family.  They had purchased her around the holidays and quickly realized with that she was not going to fit with their other dogs and one of their children ended up being allergic to her.   The family that had her reached out to a friend of mine to see if he knew of anyone looking for a dog.  Knowing that I already had a bulldog he reached out to me.  I went to go see her and how could you not fall in love with an all-white chubby baby bulldog.  Nevertheless, I had many reservations.  I was not sure I could handle three dogs; I was scared of how Buster and Riley would react to her.  Before I committed to bringing her home, I brought Buster over to meet her.  She had no fear of Buster, went right up to him, and started to play.  Buster was unsure of her but he was definitely curious.  After talking to the owners, I found out that Pearl came from the same breeder that Buster did, which meant they were brother and sister.  This was my sign and I soon became the proud owner of THREE dogs!


Life with Pearl was difficult at first.  She suffered from several health issues.  Buster had always been so healthy; so I was surprised to see all the issues Pearl had.  For the first couple of years of her life she was on a chronic antibiotic because she would continue to get bronchitis or pneumonia.  After many doctor visits she was diagnosed with having an elongated palate and her nostrils were not open wide enough.  She has surgery to fix both of those issues and I am happy to report today that she no longer needs her antibiotics and is very healthy.  She loves attention, and will do anything to get someone to pet or love on her.  She never passes up a treat or a meal.  She is always happy, even when she was so sick.  She is full of butt wiggles, loves her brother, Buster and lazy days on the couch.  But most of all, she adores Karsyn and Parker (more on that below).

I am not going to lie; it was hard having three dogs.  Pearl and Riley did not always get along.  Pearl was not as gentle as Buster was and was truly an alpha female.  Buster was even hesitant of Pearl at first but their bond started to grow stronger each day. When Riley passed, having Pearl and Buster there by my side was an absolute blessing.  It helped it ease the void of not having Riley around. Dogs are very intuitive, both bulldogs knew I was sad and was hurting and they made sure to pile on extra love.


When I met Brody, my biggest fear was how Buster and Pearl would interact with his girls.  My dogs had never been around kids.  Even though they loved getting attention from kids when we were out at places, it was a completely different story living with kids.  They were not use to the kid’s fast movements, being loud, running around, crying, and laughing, any of it. When we started to introduce the girls to the dogs, they would come to my house and I would kennel Pearl but leave Buster out.  Pearl was excited and did her cute little wiggle every time the girls came over.  Buster was curious and a little unsure.  Then came the big day where I brought the dogs over to Brody’s.  I will never forget Buster being so excited he started to bark.  Well, his bark is pretty deep and intimidating.  That was enough to scare both girls.  Buster wanted to play, he ran up to give Parker a kiss and knocked her over. Having an 85-pound large dog come up to you like that was scary.  Buster meant no harm and just wanted to play and love on the girls but he has no idea how big he is. Of course that frightened Parker, but we kept working on bringing the dogs around the girls so they could both get use to each other.

Today, I could not be happier to say that the bond between Pearl, Buster, Parker and Karsyn is unbreakable.  In fact, I am not sure who loves whom more.  Pearl and Buster live for those girls; they are their protectors from evil and cover them in kisses daily.  I cannot imagine our home without Pearl and Buster in it.  They are truly my sunshine and my heart.  I love how happy they are and the way they wiggle when I walk in the door.  Yes, they drool, shed, snore, fart and take up a lot of room on the couch but I would not want it any other way.  Riley, Buster and Pearl taught me to love unconditionally.  In my opinion, owning my dogs has been great practice for having kids.  Because of my dogs, I am a better person.

I know dogs do not live forever, but man I wish they did.  I do not like to think of a time that Buster and Pearl will not be in our lives, it causes my heart to ache too much.  So for today, I will just focus on loving them, taking them on more walks, getting extra kisses from them, laugh while watching them play together, smile at the way they love the girls and Brody, fall asleep to their snoring (it actually comforts me), take as many pictures and videos as I can and thank God for everyday he gives me with them and for blessing me to be their Mom.  Dogs really do make our lives better in every way.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France

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Photos taken by Laura Beekmann Photography & Film, Paws Inn and Tara Harms.



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Tara Lynn Harms is a lifestyle blogger from Iowa. Tara Lynn created her blog as a way to share her personal story about life after 40 and all the adventures that come a long with it. Her blog is a mixed bag of posts about her blended family, lifestyle, fashion, beauty, fitness and healthy living, travel and everyday life. She recently was married to her husband Brody and gained two beautiful stepdaughters. She is the proud owner of two English Bulldogs. Follow along with her as she documents her life after 40. Feel free to contact her with any questions or collaborations.

One thought on “For the love of the Dog…

  1. If I can stop crying I will comment. You said it all and what a beautiful tribute to three wonderful creatures god brought into yr life. I loved Riley as my own as I loved my dog his brother. They were something special. They were their own little creatures. You have been the best fur mommy they could ever hope for. If I lived to be a hundred I will never understand why god gives them to us for such a short time. Another one of god’s plans. You are right, enjoy each moment they are allowed to be ours and give us love. Multiply that love by a million and that is how I feel about you. Lv mom


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