Pets and Their People: Axel, Rose and Dawn Watson

Dawn Watson with Rose (left) and Axel, at home in Barboursville.

Dawn Watson and her family have two American bullies, but she and her husband, John Herndon, say their playful dogs are hardly the bullying type. “They’re very kind and not as outgoing and ferocious as you think, at all,” Herndon said. Their names paying tribute to Axl Rose, the lead singer of Guns N’ Roses, Axel is almost 2 years old and Rose is a year and a half. The gentle Axel, whom Herndon affectionately calls a “goofy baby,” has been known to carry a blanket around the house and then curl up with it. Meanwhile, Rose is the “stubborn one,” Watson said, “but very loving.” Watson and Herndon got the dogs from a friend who breeds American bullies, a breed whose ancestors include American Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers and bull dogs. With a rock song in their hearts and smiles on their expressive faces, Axel and Rose have the run of the yard and get lots of attention from the couple’s three daughters, Makayla, 19, Linzey, 14, and Ryleigh, 5. The family also has two 11-year-old black cats that Herndon rescued from a job site a long time ago, 11 hens and four roosters. There may be two "bullies" in the gang, but all the critters and their human pals live in happy harmony.  

Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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