Baloo The Bully Rescue Interview

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Updated on 3 August 2020

Baloo is a self-proclaimed breaker of stereotypes.

This rescue dog is using his platform to debunk some of the myths surrounding Bull Terriers.

Having been featured in Vogue, GQ as well as on The Dodo, it’s little surprise Baloo has amassed a following of nearly 150,000 fans.

When Baloo isn’t entertaining his Instagram followers or doing interview with media outlets, this rescue dog loves to nap and play with his sibling Louie.

We spoke to Baloo’s mom Bella to learn more about her handsome rescue as well as why dog lovers should consider giving a rescue pup a forever home.

You can follow Baloo on Instagram here (@bully.baloo).

1) How did you end up with Baloo?

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

I met Baloo in my freshman year of college while I was visiting an animal shelter. I used to go often to get my “fix”, since I’d been missing my pets from home. I’d never owned a large dog before, much less a bully breed, and I was in no place to own a dog. But I absolutely fell in love with him when I met him. After a few weeks of visiting, I caved, and brought him home. I completely changed my life around to fit him in, and I don’t regret any of it. Best $90 I’ve ever spent!

2) Did you have previous experience with other rescue dogs?

Baloo is my very first rescue dog that I’ve owned all on my own. Since we adopted Baloo, my family has adopted two more rescue dogs and I’ve fostered and found homes for three more. Baloo was the start of it all, and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. At first my family was very hesitant to let me take him. Rescuing a dog was one thing, but rescuing an “aggressive breed” was a whole other story. Thankfully, Baloo ended up being an incredibly socialized and intelligent dog. I was so lucky to have found my perfect dog and soulmate at a shelter right down the road!

3) Can you give an insight into Baloo’s personality?

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo 100% thinks that he is a person. He has no earthly idea that he is a dog. When he’s around other dogs, you can clearly see how different he is from all of them. His facial expressions, body language, and vocals just scream “tiny human”. He’s absolutely hilarious and thinks that rules that apply to other dogs don’t apply to him. When you tell him not to do something, he’ll sassily “roo” back at you once or twice before doing what you told him, as if he’s reminding you that he’s his own person who’s allowed to do what he wants. He eats his food off forks, wears pjs like a baby, requires pillows and blankets when he goes to bed, and loves to have one-way conversations. Spoiled? Maybe a little, but I think that he deserves it!

The one thing I love to mention is that, even though he’s 2 years old, he has the soul of an old man. He sleeps ALL. THE. TIME. He’s incredibly calm and always ready for a nap. He goes to bed at 10 pm every night and absolutely will not get out of bed until after 11 am. If you try to make him, he’ll just drag himself out of my room and plop onto the couch. The first thing people say about him when they meet him is ALWAYS, “wow, he’s so calm”!

He’s an incredibly balanced dog who was very well socialized before I got him. He’s great with dogs, cats, and animals of all sizes. He’s protective of me, but when directed, he accepts strangers and new people calmly. He’s very well trained and it’s been a blast working with him. He’s one of the smartest dogs I have ever met, and that’s coming from a dog trainer! I am very lucky to be able to call him mine.

4) What are some of the responsibilities that come with being a rescue dog owner?

Rescuing a dog can be one of the hardest, but most rewarding things you can ever do with your life. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons– dogs aren’t a toy, or a short term accessory, but a 10-15 year commitment that will require your full attention, love, and patience. Rescue dogs are so forgiving and loving, but can also be fragile. Be patient with them, and make sure they know you’re there to help them. Their life before you could’ve been so incredibly difficult, and now they’re just so thankful to have you. They will love you more than anything in the world, because they know you took them from a situation that they had no control over. Rescue dogs cannot be replaced, because each one of them has been through something that makes each of them completely unique to the dog in the stall next to them. Rescue, because you will never love anything more than you will love that dog.

5) How does Baloo get along with his brother Louie?

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

They’re completely inseparable, and have a relationship like no other two dogs I’ve ever seen. Baloo would die for Louie, and would give him all of his toys and snacks and even his favorite blankie. He loves Louie so much that he doesn’t even get jealous when I’m loving on him! They sleep together all the time, coming up with new cuddling positions at least once a week. They share all their toys (and have gone viral because of it) and absolutely have to go EVERYWHERE with each other. While Baloo has a ton of other dog park friends (and a whole pawful of girlfriends), Louie is his ride or die. Even though they’ve been friends for almost a year now, they haven’t yet gotten into a single scrap! Relationships like these are very rare for male dogs, and we’re incredibly lucky that they have such a great friendship.

6) What does an average day look like for Baloo (and Louie)?

Since I’m a college student, Baloo is an incredibly spoiled pup. He gets to come to work with me in the mornings, and in the afternoons he takes naps while I go to class. We try to go on at least three walks a day, with one trip to the park in the evenings. At around 7 pm, Baloo eats dinner (he only gets one meal a day), and at 9 pm when he wakes up for his night zoomies, we do some training!

7) What tips and tricks would you offer for photographing your dogs?

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Training your dog to take good pictures is akin to training them to sit– it’s something I think everyone should do! With Baloo and Louie, we’ve trained them to know the “look” command. Basically, whatever they’re doing and wherever they are, if we say “look”, they need to look straight at us. This command is great for breaking bad behaviors or working around distractions, but can also be super useful when trying to get a good snapshot of your pup! If you want just a quick and easy tip, hold up their favorite toy, treat, or ball right next to the camera and have them look right at it.

8) What are some of the regular comments/questions you get about Baloo?

• “What breed is he?” American Staffordshire Terrier and Red Heeler Mix!

• “Where do his ears come from?” They’re all natural– sometimes Amstaffs are born with upright ears and breeders will either tape them down or crop them.

• “What does he eat?” Baloo eats a 100% vet balanced raw diet.

• “How did you train him?” Purely positive reinforcement training with treats and clickers. We don’t use any aversives for training, even though he is a stubborn “aggressive” breed.

• “How old was he when you rescued him?” About one year old.

9) Why did you decide to start an Instagram page for Baloo?

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

I had absolutely no intention to make him an “influencer”– I originally started it so that I’d have a place to document his progress and a place to cram all the pictures I knew I was going to take of him. After a while, I started to realize that people I had never met were really starting to enjoy seeing Baloo every day, and would wonder where we went if we hadn’t posted for a day. Back then, we only had 100 or so followers, but to me that seemed like the world. 100 people, most of whom were absolute strangers, were constantly keeping tabs on my little rescue mutt and really enjoying our posts. It made me want to do more, so I set out to create content that people enjoyed and started to post daily. After a few months, Baloo’s account really started to gain traction. We were climbing into the thousands, and people all over the world were starting to take notice. Our content was being shared on a handful of different platforms, and The Dodo even did a feature video about our rescue story. Baloo’s account had officially become one of the biggest names in bully breed and rescue dog Instagram accounts. It was absolutely surreal.

Huge brands that I’d seen commercials of my entire life started to reach out to us for partnerships and campaigns, and Baloo’s Instagram quickly became like a part-time job. I absolutely loved every second of it. Creating content for brands, making funny captions, and taking pictures of Baloo became one of the best parts of my day.

10) How did you gain such a big following on Instagram with Baloo?

Creating unique, fun content and posting regularly! People always ask me for tips and tricks but there really aren’t any– the only way to grow naturally is by creating content that sets you apart from other pages and makes people want to follow you over the thousands and thousands of other dog accounts on the platform.

11) What advice would you offer to other dog owners who want to start an Instagram page?

Be unapologetically yourself and HAVE FUN! If you worry too much about what other people want or what other people think, your account won’t reflect your own unique personality and it’ll end up being a chore, not something you like to do every day. You’ll have to live by the mantra that you can’t please everyone, especially when you’re in the public eye. There will always be someone who will complain about what you do, what you say, and every little thing in between. Just remember to have fun! Create content and do stuff that makes you happy!

12) What is your favourite memory/post with Baloo?

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo is my absolute best friend and we’re attached at the hip, so I have so many memories with him that it’s impossible to pick! One that definitely comes to mind is our incredible van trip across the southwest. Baloo was the most awesome adventure buddy throughout the entire trip. He was a champ in the van and did even better out on the trails! He knew when it was time to nap and when it was time to get going, and he always knew exactly what he needed to do. He’s such an incredible travel companion!

13) What are some of the stereotypes that you’d like to debunk about rescue dogs?

I am so incredibly lucky and beyond blessed to have this platform. So fortunate to be able to share Baloo’s story, make thousands of people smile, and squash the stereotypes behind rescue dogs and Pitbulls alike. Many of you know Baloo’s story, but a lot of you do not, and that’s because a lot of people think that Baloo doesn’t “look” like a rescue. Baloo is questioned because he doesn’t “behave” the way a rescue dog would. These statements baffle me— how is a rescue dog supposed to act? How is a rescue dog supposed to look? The stereotypes and ideas that people have when they think “shelter dog” steers others away from venturing to a shelter to find their four legged friend.

People need to understand that it is more than possible to find an intelligent, friendly, healthy, and beautiful dog for under $100 at their local shelter or rescue. Thousands and thousands of homeless dogs are piled into shelters each day, waiting to find their person. Purebred dogs, puppies, working breeds— all can be found at a shelter or rescue. Baloo, Brewski, Ruca, Mango, and all of our rescues are living proof that it is possible to find gorgeous dogs who desperately need love just down the street at your local pound.

14) Can you name some of the pros associated with owning a rescue dog in your experience?

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

One of the best parts about owning a rescue dog is being able to completely change the life of a living creature. Most rescues have come from awful situations and backgrounds, and they are so incredibly thankful for every experience you give them. They definitely know that you saved them, and they show you how thankful they are every day of their lives.

Helping a dog completely change from an underweight, mange-ridden, malnourished pup to a healthy, beautiful dog is one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have.

Being able to have a dog that people can’t get anywhere else is such an awesome plus about owning a rescue, especially a mutt. People will ask me all the time about what “breeder” I bought Baloo from, and I love to be able to say that Baloo is one of a kind and that I got him at a shelter!

15) What advice would you go back and give to yourself when you first got your Baloo knowing what you know now?

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

Baloo the Rescue Dog (Photo: @bully.baloo / Instagram)

I would definitely tell myself to be more patient. It’s easy for new dog owners, especially rescue owners, to want to blame the dog for its faults, mistakes, or behaviors. But in the end, a dog is a direct reflection of their owner. It took Baloo a lot of training to get to where he is now, and he remains one of the most intelligent dogs I have ever had the pleasure of working with. In the beginning, he was a handful, and it was easy to think that he was “broken” or not a good dog because he was a rescue. I never once thought that, and worked diligently to make sure he would be the best dog he could possibly become. And that was all up to me.

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