I first met Džiuginta Inga Šiušaite, or Inga as she is affectionately known, through Facebook.I try to maintain a strong presence in the online Bull Terrier community and one day a message popped up from my friend Karen Yateman (another huge bully fan) saying she'd like to introduce me to a lady called Inga.
A lady with a fascinating bull terrier story that I, being a writer, might be interested in.
So I became friends with Džiuginta and her amazing little daughter Layla and their wonderful *bully pet Alfie and she does have a wonderful story!
(*And two cats called Mura and Stella but more about them later)
Originally from Lithuania, Inga suffered terrible burns to both legs six years ago when she kicked a stray firework away from her young son.
These heroics came at a high cost, her trousers burst into flames as what appeared to be an unlit rocket ignited when she touched it.
The flames were quickly doused and Inga was rushed to hospital but, many operations and skin grafts later, the left leg is still unhealed.
Inga sent me a photo and I can honestly say it looks a real mess, I was shocked. The treatment has now been reduced to painkillers until the muscles grow back in preparation for another operation.
In a house with several children and pets, everybody has to muck in and help or, as Inga puts it, "Layla doesn't know how to do many things for herself yet, she's only three, but she already knows how to put mummy's bandages on."
I asked the question I always ask when I talk to a 'Bully Mummy', Why a bull terrier? Why that particular breed?
It turns out that both mummy Inga and a little Layla, then only fifteen months old were scared of them. In fact, toddler Layla was nervous around all dogs and Inga literally thought they were "child killing machines" - such was her opinion as informed by the British media.
One day, one of Inga's friends told her he knew someone with puppies for sale and showed her a photo of one of them on his mobile phone.
Inga made a quick decision, although afraid of that breed, she had recently also heard another side to the story, another side of the coin: wonderful tales of how caring, loyal, protective and gentle bull terriers were around small children.
Impulsively, she made an off the cuff decision there and then and said yes.
So, on her behalf, the man picked up the bull terrier puppy for her and brought him home.
They named their six-month-old bully puppy...Alfie, and a legendary friendship was born!!..
Young Alfie needed a lot of training, as many of you know only too well, a bull terrier puppy is a bouncy, energetic, not-so-little whirlwind!
A bond was formed immediately, in fact much more than a bond as Inga tells me Layla and bull terrier Alfie have what could be described as a telepathic connection.
Bull terrier Alfie rarely leaves Layla's side at all when she isn't at nursery and when she is he either tries to spend the day in her room, pining, or, when forced to spend time with the rest of the family, he keeps sneaking back to bring out a toy or blanket of hers to cuddle or snuggle up on.
When Layla was poorly a few weeks ago and had to take time off school, bull terrier Alfie stayed by her side the entire time, watching over her and refusing to eat or drink until his little patient began to feel better.
This incredible degree of concern is usual when Layla is sick and has happened ever since she was a baby.
Mummy Inga also explained how Layla doesn't need to speak to bull terrier Alfie out loud any more, a mere flick, a hand gesture or a toss of the head and he knows exactly where she wants him to go and what she wants him to do.
The troublesome twosome have recently had to stop taking baths together due to a few (major) flooding incidents and now Alfie sits patiently on the mat at bathtime, with Layla's towel around his neck, keeping it warm for when she gets out.
Alfie is so overprotective that new visitors and even immediate family have to be careful. A recent visit from an Uncle caused no end of distress to Alfie when he arrived and exuburantly twirled Layla around before smothering her in hugs and kisses.
Even mummy and daddy have to be careful not to appear to play too roughly when tickling and bull terrier Alfie muscles in on ANY unauthorised cuddling!
It isn't all fun and games though for the wonderfully gentle bully, he also shares his family with two cats who apparently, sometimes BEAT POOR ALFIE UP!
"That's right", says Inga "They've slapped him on the nose so many times now that when they help themselves to his water or his gravy he just sits quietly letting them. If he gets any closer a hiss from Mura or Stella soon sends him scurrying off to hide behind Layla."
You may also be wondering what Layla and Alfie think of our gift to them, the new edition of bull terrier book, Milo & Ze. I asked Inga if she herself liked it.
"I haven't read it! Layla and Alfie won't let me near it! She takes it every day in her bag to nursery and reads it to all the other children and then when she comes home she reads it only to Alfie."
Fortunately when we talked Layla and Alfie were playing noisily in the background and I managed to ask Layla quickly what she thought.
"Do you like your bull terrier book, Milo & Ze?" I asked, nervously.
"Yes", she whispered "it's our favourite bull terrier book."
Alfie barked approvingly and then I heard...
"Oh no, now he's getting in the pram, Layla stop him! Alfie, ALFIE!!!"