Ronald Wade remembers the first time he saw Patches on a skateboard.
Ten years ago, when the English bulldog was a puppy, Wade was at his twin brother Donald's house when someone pulled out a board.
“She saw it roll by and starting playing on it, starting riding it,” Ronald said. “And that was it; she just kept riding.”
A tan and white ball of energy, Patches can hilarious on the board. Often times she'll get it rolling on her own, her front legs on the board, the hind legs bounding on the pavement before she hops on. When she needs a little help, Ronald and Donald are there.
On a hot Friday afternoon, the twins brought Patches for a ride at the Council Bluffs Skate Park. While skaters rode the rails and did tricks in the bowl, the bulldog thrashed on an adjacent side street. On one run Patches rolled off the board, landing on her side before she went into a roll, making for one of the most charming and adorable skateboard crashes you'll ever see.
“She's tough,” Ronald said. “She'll wreck and get right back on it.”
True to Dad's words, Patches got right back up and on the board.
But the heat gets to Patches, whose flat face doesn't allow for great air flow. She chugs water from a dish often and pants heavily, her tongue sticking out and mouth curled in such a way to show a smile, which delights Ronald.
“I just love it when she smiles,” he said.
Ronald said they get out quite a bit, with one or both of the brothers finding an empty parking lot or other smooth surface for Patches to roll on. Gawkers stop by often, to shoot video, snap photos or just soak in the glory of an English bulldog on a skateboard.
“Whoa,” a skater said, walking up to take a look.
“She's something else,” Donald said.
His brother continued: “People think it's so neat, so crazy to see. I'm almost used to it now, I see her do it all the time.
“But they haven't seen anything like this before.”
Ronald takes Patches all over town in his tricycle, the dog snug in a recycling bin refashioned into a bed. He marvels at her skills, saying, “she's so smart” a few times.
“I wouldn't trade her for the world,” he said.
Whether it's the weather or something else, after a few runs Patches decides she'd rather carry the board in her mouth, sauntering off into nearby grass, than ride. She sits, gnawing on the board for a few minutes before checking out what Dad's up to. Ronald decides to switch from the skateboard to a balloon.
He fills one up and throws it to the bulldog, who bounces it in the air and chases after it, bouncing again, chasing again. She chases a few before they pop. After a while it's time to go home, time for some air-conditioning.
“She's a real ham bone,” Ronald said with a laugh before loading her up for the trek home. “My best friend.”