Jake Owen’s Bulldog Isn’t His Shotgun Rider Anymore

An English bulldog may look like the kind of dog who always gets his way, but Jake Owen says his dog Merle isn’t really the one calling the shots. At least not anymore.

“Merle used to come everywhere with me. Now he stays home a lot, and he doesn’t get to ride shotgun anymore. He’s definitely taken a backseat to my wife and daughter, but he’s still my main man,” Owen told People magazine in its new country special issue.

About four years ago, Owen was tailgating at a Florida-Georgia football game when he first laid eyes on the adorable all-white bulldog.

“He was just sitting there staring at me, so I had to bring him home,” Owen said.

What Owen loves about Merle now is that he’s a very good listener. He’s also a very good companion to Pearl, Owen’s 16-month-old daughter.

But most of all, Owen credits this dog with helping him fall in love with his wife Lacey.

“Before I got married, I could always tell if Merle liked the girls I was dating or not,” Owen explained. “He won’t go near you if he doesn’t like you.”

(And as a side note, Merle once sat next to me during an interview on Owen’s tour bus and ate a hole in my leather jacket. I’m still not sure if that meant he liked me or hated me.)

“I could also tell a lot about the girl by how much interest she took in Merle,” Owen said. “If you don’t care anything about my dog, then you really can’t care that much about me. My wife fell in love with him the minute she met him, and he loves her. He follows her everywhere.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.