By Helen Le Caplain
A rescue bulldog who lives in the lap of luxury after escaping years of overbreeding now spends her days reclining on the sofa and rings a BELL for treats.
English Bulldog Mrs Mills found her forever home with salon and training academy owner Nikki Irvine four years ago and the pair haven’t looked back.
The eight-year-old white pooch loves to spend her days snoozing on the sofa wrapped in her very own double duvet while Nikki goes to work.
And now whenever she fancies a snack she doesn’t even have to move from her favourite spot, merely lifting her paw and daintily dinging the bell for snacks.
Nikki Irvine from Newcastle said: “She’s such a chicken fiend. Whenever she rings the bells it’s because she’s after cooked strips of chicken.
“She likes having the bell in front of her when she’s on the sofa in case she wants something – mainly food or my attention.
“If I leave the room – instead of her barking she’s started hitting the bell, it’s absolutely ridiculous.
“When I’m out of the room I can just hear this little bell. She’ll hit it while still lying or sitting on the sofa, she’s hilarious.”
Mrs Mills was given the bell by Nikki earlier this year on a whim after spotting the rose gold novelty item for sale in Aldi emblazoned with the slogan ‘ring the bell for prosecco’.
The 33-year-old put the £3 instrument in front of Mrs Mills and placed her paw on the bell while holding a chicken treat in her other hand.
After two attempts the clever pooch picked up the trick and hasn’t stopped hitting the bell for food service since.
Nikki said: “I was in Aldi doing a food shop walking down one of the aisles and there were some bits and pieces for sale.
“One was a bell that had the slogan ‘ring the bell for prosecco’. I wondered if it would be something Mrs Mills would use if she wanted a treat – just for a bit of fun.
“When I got home she was lying on the sofa like she normally does. I had a piece of chicken ready for her as that’s her favourite treat.
“I put the bell in front of her, took her paw and put it on the bell and said ‘good girl’.
“After doing that twice she knew what to do, she’s a very quick learner.
“Now she likes having the bell in front of her when she’s on the sofa in case she wants something – mainly food or my attention.
“If I leave the room instead of her barking she’s started hitting the bell. It’s absolutely ridiculous, when I’m out of the room I can just hear this little bell, she’s hilarious.”
Nikki adopted Mrs Mills, whose name was originally Millie, four years ago after seeing her listed on bulldog rescue charity The Edward Foundation website.
Mrs Mills is understood to have spent five years as a breeding dog, churning out puppies for her owners to sell on for a huge profit.
Nikki said: “She carries a rare gene where her ears have chocolate brown dots while the rest of her is completely white.
“It’s like someone has painted her ears as they’re so perfectly placed, which is an attractive trait for breeders.
“In five years she had five different owners and was overbred.
“I know from the signs of having so many different owners that she’d been bred too many times, all just because she carries this rare chocolate gene.
“As soon as I rehomed her I spayed her straight away.”
Volunteers from The Edward Foundation spotted the ad showing the forlorn-looking dog with the tag-line ‘make yourself a small fortune’ and bought her so they could find her a loving forever home.”
Mrs Mills, who started life as Millie and then acquired the nickname Mrs Mills, came into Nikki’s life just as she planned to move into a home of her own.
Nikki said: “I bought my first property a few years ago and was in quite a bad place. I’d bought it but didn’t want to move in and leave my two cocker spaniels at home with my mum.
“Moving out meant I was leaving them behind. I’d been obsessed with bulldogs for years – they were my dream dog.
“My love for them spiraled when I discovered The Edward Foundation, it made me want one all the more – they do amazing work.
“Seeing the rescue stories was heartbreaking but it was lovely to see them get their happy endings. I applied for two bulldogs from the Edward Foundation before Mrs Mills but didn’t get them.
“They assess people to ensure they get a perfect match between dog and owner. I was sad I was unsuccessful with them but then Mrs Mills came along – she’s the perfect dog for me.
“The bond we’ve got is unbelievable, she’s my little soul mate.
“Mrs Mills sleeps in my beds cuddled into me. There are times I will wake up and she’s still in exactly the same position – what I wanted from a bulldog I’ve got from Mrs Mills.
“In my adoption application I said I wasn’t just looking for a dog, but a best friend and that’s what she’s become.
“She lies around on the sofa all day, that’s pretty much it. She lies on her king-size duvet and I tuck her up inside the double one. At night we’ll sit on the sofa together and cuddle in.”
When Mrs Mills isn’t snoozing or wolfing down chicken treats she enjoys a grain-free human-grade meat diet which costs Nikki around £40 a week – this helps to prevent dog acne.
Nikki said: “I give her human-grade meat as why would I give something to my dog that’s not safe for me to eat?”
Mrs Mills has quite sensitive skin so Nikki combined her knowledge of beauty and bulldogs to create a vitamin e-infused skin care range for dogs.
The range, named after Mrs Mills, includes ‘Nowt So Soft’ doggy nose balm and ‘Pawdicure’ paw balm.
Nikki said: “When I got Mrs Mills she’d been a backyard dog that had been tied up.
“She ended up stood in her own urine which meant her paws were all burnt – normally their paws are all black but some areas of hers are pink because of the burns. The paw balm helps keep her paws moisturized.
“She’s everything, she’s my world.”
In true diva style Mrs Mills is reluctant to walk when she could just recline, and Nikki has had to deal with the five-stone pooch refusing to take one step further when out and about by lying down in protest.
Nikki said: “She hates going for walks. Once I took her out for what I hoped would be a good long walk but when she’d had enough she just lay down and wouldn’t budge.
“I had to get my sister who lives nearby to drive to the bottom of the street to come and get her. I’ve had to lift her a couple of times too as she doesn’t ‘do’ steps – five stone is quite some weight to carry.
“She’s a little doggy diva – like the Mariah Carey of the dog world. I wouldn’t have her any other way, she’s everything – she’s my world.”