Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘Dogs will come into your life for a reason.’

Josephine Ciuzio, Plainview

“Fifteen years ago, my husband and I got a bulldog, Bella, from a backyard breeder, thinking that was the right way to go about it. There is just so much overbreeding, especially with French bulldogs. This led me to look into bulldog rescues, and I now volunteer for the organization Hurley’s Heart Bulldog Rescue.

“Dogs will come into your life for a reason. I’m married with no kids, and for a time, I felt like I had no purpose. I would go to work then come home and repeat. After adopting Howard, our first rescue bulldog, I felt like I had a purpose again. He woke me up. He came into my life at the right time. Howard, named after Howard Stern, was invited to be on ‘The Today Show’ by Beth Stern, who I met through the rescue. He did campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and others. I even brought him to a local middle school for a reading event with students. Unfortunately, Howard passed away in 2019, but he threw us into this crazy dog acting world. Bella and Howard spent eight years together, and Bella was in commercials and starred on the show ‘Elementary.’ It was crazy when they first started getting gigs. I had no idea there were agents for dogs!

“I’m a bit of a dog ‘momager’ when it comes to my dogs. We currently have two English bulldogs, Luna and Minnie, who were foster fails, and a French bulldog named Barney. They’re all social media stars, and they’ve done commercials, modeling, campaigns, shows and live skits. Minnie currently stars on ‘Only Murders in the Building.’ I love being on set, meeting new people and seeing the dogs spreading smiles. I’m also a trainer for dogs on set, and I’ve worked on shows like ‘Blue Bloods.’ When it’s just me and one of the dogs on a gig, it feels like a mommy-and-me day out. It’s all thanks to Howard. He totally changed my life. I feel like he’s always with us watching his little bulldog buddies.

After adopting Howard, our first rescue bulldog, I felt like I had a purpose again.

“We donate some of the proceeds from gigs to Hurley’s, and we bring some of the adoptable rescue dogs to gigs so they can become part of the celebrity bulldog life, too. My husband and I are both so thankful to have our dogs in our lives and for the opportunity to support rescue organizations.”

Interviewed by Melanie Gulbas