Adopted: Bessie

Quick Facts:

  • Breed: American Bulldog
  • Gender: Female, spayed
  • Age: 6 years old
  • Size: 70 pounds
  • Good with…
    • Dogs? No, sorry!
    • Cats? Calm, adult cats, yes!
    • Kids? Yes please!!

Hi! My name is Bessie and I’m a big, goofy sweetheart who wants to laze around, snuggle with you and be your very best buddy!


I have lived with two families in my life. The first family had me from puppyhood to age 5, at which point they decided they didn’t have enough time for me. A new family took me home after that, and they were told how amazing and wonderful I am (all true!) but weren’t told that I had reactivity to other dogs and that I would need some positive reinforcement training help with this. My current family loves me, but aren’t able to do this training with me, and as I am a strong girl, they find it challenging to take me out on my daily walks. They feel I would be most successful, and happiest, in a home where I can get this good training, so that I wouldn’t feel so activated around other dogs.


I am so sweet! I absolutely love to be loved by people, I love getting petted and snuggles and sitting next to you on the couch. I love when you talk to me, play with me, tell me about your day, and want to do shared activities. I love feeling part of your family, I love sharing love and good times with you!

I am also a real GOOFBALL!! Sometimes, when I’m looking longingly at you (either for love or for treats!) my lip will get stuck on my tooth and it’s the silliest thing, it makes everyone laugh out loud! I also express myself with my ears…often sticking one ear up and one ear down in a way that apparently is incredibly endearing! I might “boof/woof” at you to get you to play with me or because I really want some snuggles on the couch, but my favorite way to show you I’m excited is with my incredibly happy wiggle butt and the high speed wagging of my lightning bolt-shaped tail (I was born with my crooked tail, it’s not from an injury)!

I am a really wonderful mix of laid back and happy/playful. I like fetching a toy that you throw for me in the house, and I love running around in the backyard chasing a tennis ball (sometimes after I get it, I whip it up into the air and get to chase it again!), but my number one favorite activity is curling up on the couch with my people! I really do want to be your very best friend. And while I prefer the couch (with you) by day (though I’m willing to lay in my dog bed if you prefer), at night, I LOVE my big cozy dog bed next to your bed, and will happily sleep in it all night long.

While I am enthusiastic about many wonderful things in life, I am also very gentle in lots of ways. I take treats very gently from your hand, I am (usually) very gentle with my toys, and I never chew up any of your things in the house. I’m also very patient about having my nails trimmed, and though I don’t like baths, I will be a good girl in the bath, if you give me some peanut butter bribes. I’m also (of course) house trained, and I know how to “sit,” “stay,” and “give paw!” I will readily stick that paw right up in the air if I think a treat is coming my way!

Just a couple things make me anxious: fireworks, guns and fast whipping motions (e.g., taking off your sock and whipping it, shaking a towel, etc). I don’t do anything in these situations, it’s just very obvious that they scare me. During fireworks I need to snuggle with someone and hide a little. If you fling your socks or really anything anywhere near me, I’ll run away or flinch and shake, so please be careful around me. I’m a tender little nugget!

I love my walkies! Please take me on walks in which I get to amble at my own pace so that I can sniff-sniff-sniff and sniff some more. I’m not a dog who enjoys super brisk walks that are about the exercise of it…for me, walks are all about the sniffs. I have a super sniffer, and I LOVE to smush my nose into the dirt, and into bushes and grass to smell all the amazing smells. I don’t need really long walks, just short ones so I can do my business and sniff to my heart’s content.


I love people!!! I love all the nice people!

As for kids, my current family has seen me around a 3 year-old and says I am super gentle and sweet and wonderful with that toddler. I do get excited when I meet kiddos, so given my size and sometimes goofy exuberance, of course adults should always keep an eye on my interactions with kids to make sure I don’t accidentally garoomph into a kid. [And in the other direction, sometimes kids pull at, chase or try to hug dogs too hard, and it would be nice if you could save me from that!]

I wasn’t introduced to many dogs when I was younger, so other dogs (who I see out on leashed walks or who are in their yards when we walk by) make me very nervous and I will growl and bark and try to pull hard to get toward them. I should not be allowed to do so, because my highly aroused, nervous, activated state is not one in which it’s safe for 2 dogs to meet. I have not hurt any other dogs, but I’m big so we need to be careful. I would so appreciate if someone was willing to help me with my dog reactivity, so I could feel more comfortable around other dogs. But for now, I should not live with another dog, and my walks need to be training opportunities, filled with treats and counter-conditioning! And obviously…no dog parks and no being off-leash anywhere as I currently could get into a scuffle (or worse) if I were free to run over to another dog.

I have lived comfortably with adult cats, but want to chase kittens, so should not live with kittens. And with adult cats…I am excited until we get to know each other, but then lose interest pretty quickly. Very important to know that I am food possessive with cats, so you absolutely need to feed me separate from cats and put my food bowl away when I have finished eating. And don’t let me have access to their food bowl either!

My very favorite things include

  • Couch snuggles with you!
  • Squishy toys being tossed in the house to chase!
  • Chasing a tennis ball in the yard!
  • Gentle walks so I can sniff things!
  • Showing off “give paw” for treats!
  • Swimming!
  • Long car rides (not stop and go traffic)!
  • Being with people!!


I’m in great health!! I’m spayed, up to date on vaccines, and on Bravecto flea/tick prevention.

Like many bulldogs, I have mild arthritis in my back knees (left one more so), and after extra playful sessions, I can be a little limpy on that leg. It has been managed with pain medication at times.

I have sensitive skin and get rashes on my tummy for a couple weeks in the summer, but that’s also easily treated with some special shampoo and a bath!


I really am a wonderful, special dog. I am so loving, silly and am so great as a family dog. I deserve a home that I can stay with forever and is willing to help me with my dog reactivity. I know the right person or people are out there. Come kiss my big goofy face and see for yourself!

If you are interested in adopting me, please fill out an online adoption application and live close to Ithaca, Syracuse, Binghamton, Rochester, or Elmira. We do home visits on every applicant, and can’t do home visits where we don’t have local volunteers.

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