Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Woes

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The snow in our yard is so high that it's taking away the effectiveness of the fence. Olivia and Griffin aren't quite spry enough to get over it, but Buddha is enjoying the opportunity to explore the neighborhood.

Thankfully, our backyard leads to an alley, and we are almost all the way down at the end of the dead end, so  he would have to travel a fair distance to actually reach a busy street. But it's still scary to look in the back yard at two bummed out bulldogs staring at the fence, as if to say, "we want to explore too" and realize immediately that Buddha is no where in sight.

We've gradually been digging a moat around the edge of the yard so that the snow is too low at the fence for him to escape. And we've been threatening that we are going to tie him to a bulldog to anchor him down. But so far, neither option has really worked out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Bulldog Brigade Does Christmas


Back row (left to right)- Danny, Heather, Natalie
Front row- Griffin, Buddha, Olivia

Olivia- "Take this picture now and get this stupid thing off me now. Buddha, stop moving, just do what she wants and then we're free. I'm going to bite every single one of you as soon as I get the chance.

Buddha- "I have no idea what's going on, but I am having so much fun. Look! I can do a back flip. Look at how wiggly I am. My leg just came out of the neck opening. I'm so excited. Lime green is a fun color. I want to sit on everyone's lap, and on Olivia's head. Look, I can fit my whole leg inside Grif's mouth."

Griffin- "When I grow up, I'm gonna be a firetruck." 

Getting three people and three dogs in position, in snuggies, looking at the camera at the same time was nothing short of a miracle. 

There was some yelling. 

Merry Christmas from the Bulldog Brigade.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Overly Tired

On Saturday, it was a blizzard! Throughout the day, we got somewhere between 18-22 inches of snow and we were stuck! Instead of going to the park, we took the dogs to the backyard and let them bound through the piles  of snow. Danny and Heather took them out in the morning.
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After 15 minutes of hard playing, Olivia and Griffin passed out and didn't even budge until the afternoon. Even Buddha was pretty exhausted. 
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In the afternoon, we took them out again, and once again, they played until they nearly fell over.
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By dinnertime, Griffin hadn't moved from the couch for a few hours and when I coaxed him into the kitchen for dinner, he didn't appear to be able to move his back legs. He just sort of army crawled to his food dish and ate sitting down.

His little fat bulldog butt stayed anchored to the floor and he alternated between spinning like a top and collapsing dramatically when we called him to move. I lifted him to his feet, but when I let go, he toppled right over.

My first instinct was to rush him to the emergency vet (because with Griffin, we are always on the verge of a trip to the emergency vet), but 2 feet of snow behind my garage forced me to really think it through and stay calm. He was eating, drinking and going to the bathroom normally. I gently pressed, moved and bent his legs and he didn't yelp or react at all (he didn't seem to be in pain). He didn't appear to have any other symptoms whatsoever. So I gave him a baby aspirin and we spent the evening carrying him everywhere, holding him up when he went outside and cooing over every noise he made. Worried as I was, he appeared to be enjoying himself immensely.

With a special needs bulldog, the next crisis is around every corner, and thus, I have a tendency to react quickly, dramatically and most often by throwing piles of money at my vet. Mother Nature prevented me from doing that this time, and luckily, Griffin spent the night soaking in the spotlight as center of attention and being waited on by all of us.


The next day he was back to normal, fighting Olivia for the ball and leaping though the snow (despite my best attempts to force him into resting). Danny's theory is that he was just tired after a day of intense playing and he was too lazy to want to move. But despite his recovery, I'm still concerned and will be making a vet appointment soon. If it was Olivia we were talking about, I would fully accept the fact that she was smart enough to manipulate us into carrying her around like a queen. She always has a plotting look on her face... but Griffin... I don't think he's smart enough to come up with that. The poor guy has bad knees and hips (that was just one of the x-rays I saw at Grif's first terrible trip to the vet in June) and so it is inevitable that he is going to end up with one of those wheel-cart-things that go over the back of his legs.

He's only 2 years old, I hope we aren't there yet. I'll keep my eye on him for a few days and we'll see...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cuteness

"Do you like lapdogs? You do? Good, because your 50 pound bulldog thinks he's a Pekingese. He will demand your lap space." -page 15 from The Bulldog by Diane Morgan.

In my pre-puppy research, I came across this quote and it made me laugh and has been stuck in my head ever since. I had no idea how true it was at the time, but Olivia is never satisfied until she is on my lap. Oh, and if you double your bulldogs, it doesn't change their need for your lap. Now it's a fight over who gets to be held- I find it's best to try to accommodate both whenever possible...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Neediest Dogs Alive...

Before I brought home Olivia, I read every book and website and prepared myself for my new arrival. I read that it takes a few nights of crying before they get used to their kennel, and I was mentally prepared to be tough. The first night home, she fell right to sleep and I thought, "that wasn't hard!"

The second night didn't go so well. She cried, I gave in, she curled her 10 pound body around my neck and has slept there ever since.

For the first 6 months of her life, I never left her alone, brought her everywhere with me, and jumped to her attention at any peep she made. Her tiny paws rarely touched the ground as I carried her almost constantly. 

What I didn't realize, was that I was creating an adorable monster who would forever require constant, undivided attention. With the world revolving around her, she consumed every waking moment of my life. 

When I started talking about getting a second dog, my family and friends thought I had lost my mind. How would I carry two 55 pound dogs everywhere? Where would the second one sleep? 

But I reasoned that a second dog would actually reduce the amount of work. Olivia would have someone to play with and take on some of my entertaining duties. I wouldn't need to bring her everywhere because I wouldn't feel guilty leaving her alone- she would have a brother to keep her company. 

When Griffin joined the family, he was nearly two years old and had grown up as a normal dog- sleeping in a kennel, cared for but not coddled. I was surprised by how little he needed me. He was content playing with a toy by himself, didn't like being carried and slept by the side of the bed. He didn't throw tantrums or demand to be on my lap all the time. He was just easy going and spent most of the time hanging out. I was pretty excited for Olivia to gain some of Griff's independence. 

Sleeping on the floor eventually evolved into sleeping at the foot of the bed, which led to sleeping at my knees. Pretty soon, he was at my hips, then my shoulders and recently he has been most content with his head on my left shoulder (yes, I sleep sandwiched between 110 pounds of bulldog, whatever). Whereas he used to hate being picked up, now when he is tired (in the morning when we first wake up, when we go to bed at night, and well, he's a bulldog, so most of the day in between), he has adopted Olivia's preference for being carried. 

And now, well, he has decided he is most happy when we are physically touching. If I am within sight his sight, but not actually within reach, he cries. 

He hasn't taught Olivia to be more independent, she has shown him what it means to be a pampered baby.

I realize I should be tougher and put my foot down and teach them both to be less needy. But when he looks at me with those pound puppy eyes and cries with his old man/nasal-y cry, I just can't resist...

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Buddha

Two years and two bulldogs after beginning our collective dream of having a dog, Danny and Heather began yearning for a puppy of their own. It had been an expensive summer of vet visits and antibiotics and my journey of getting Griffin well was only just beginning. Stressed out and overwhelmed, I was't sure what they were thinking, but then, that's what everyone said when I brought my two slobbering, shedding angels home.

Heather's client's daughter (Heather and Danny are both personal trainers) had a puppy she had to get rid of, and they decided to bring him home for the weekend to see if he would work out with our family.

Olivia, Griffin and I arrived home from the park to find a 15 pound, wide eyed, shaking little puppy, huddled in Heather's arms. "No possible way this will EVER work" was all I could think. 110 pounds of curious bulldog charged towards him and I was certain that he would get swallowed whole if either of them got the opportunity. Both Olivia and Griffin are very friendly to other dogs, love to play and are so incredibly sweet natured, however, they are each 55 pounds of solid muscle, with enormous strong mouths, and yet, they have little concept of their size or strength.

Heather held the tiny, wide eyed little guy as Danny and I each held back a bulldog and let them check him out without accidentally crushing him. Both Olivia and Griffin were super excited and very interested. They climbed into his tiny kennel and tasted all of him toys. I just stood back and shook my head and watched as Danny and Heather fell in love with the puppy they'd had for an hour. There was no way they were giving him back at the end of the weekend, but I wasn't sure how we were ever going to monitor all three of them 24/7 so as to keep the little guy alive. Danny and Heather weren't worried- he was used to being in a kennel 8 hours a day, so that would be the plan for when we we all at work.

The former owner said he was a pug/terrier mix. What she hadn't mentioned was that he had the heart of a lion, and identified himself as a great dane. Within a few hours, his nerves calmed down and he was ready to show the bulldogs who was boss. He gathered up all of their toys, claiming them as his own. He joined in their wrestling matches, inserting his tiny body in between the crashing, sumo style battles that happened on an hourly basis. He fearlessly teased them, biting their ears and grabbing hold of their joules, stretching their lips out as far as he could pull them before their patience waned and they chased after him.

His speed and agility were no match for Olivia and definitely not wheezing, barely mobile Griffin. Like a caffeinated squirrel, he sprinted around the yard, ducking under the patio furniture, jumping over things, taunting his slower moving cousins. Olivia and Griffin were friendly, but also surprisingly gentle. They wrestled with him, wrapping their wide open mouths almost entirely around his skinny little body, and when they ran after him, you could hear the loud chomping sound when their jaws snapped at him. But even when they managed to get a hold of him, they never chomped or squished or swallowed him whole like I so feared.

The kennel that he had spent so much of him time in was forgotten after a few hours of being in our house. By bedtime, he was attached to his new parents and they were head over heals in love with him. When he sprinted into their room, leaping through the air like a flying squirrel and dive bombed into their bed, he didn't just slide under the covers to claim his spot between them, but he claimed his place in our lives. September 13, 2010. Buddha was home.

Over the next few days, it was clear that Buddha's self image was changing slightly. He seemed to shrug his shoulders into a beefy haunch and often, we noticed that his bottom jaw was sticking out a little more than usual. He stopped nibbling his food and learned to scarf, chomp and rapidly destroy anything edible. He learned to demand a taste of any meat that was cooked in the kitchen and he started drooling for no reason. Soon after joining the family, Buddha began dreaming that one day, he would grow big and strong and he too, would be a bulldog.

We started referring to Buddha as "a wannabe bulldog", as in, "...all bulldogs and wannabe bulldogs, go outside...." "...all bulldogs and wannabe bulldogs, it's time to eat...."

And then one day, as the six of us traipsed through the dog park- an overly excited squirrel, an uppity-way- too-cool-for-anyone white bully, a wheezing old man bully and the three crazy owners trying to manage all of them, I realized that we were a sight to be seen! A group such as ours wasn't just your average family, we were special, and we needed a name!

And thus, The Bulldog Brigade was named.

This is a blog about our adventures. Three dogs, three owners, living together in slobber and harmony...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Griffin's Health

Breathing problems are quite common in bulldogs (those squished faces are adorable but not ideal for respiratory health). Griffin didn't breathe, so much as he wheezed and coughed. Multiple people have commented to me on how quiet Olivia's breathing was for a bulldog, so I just assumed Griffin was typical.

About 4 weeks after bringing Griffin home, he got sick. On Friday he was coughing and seemed a little sick. I brought him to the small town vet by camp who gave me some antibiotics. By Sunday, his eyes were filled with pus and he looked terrible. When he climbed under the porch and refused to move, I started panicking. When I finally got him inside and he was so weak he couldn't walk, wouldn't eat and peed all over himself, I was in full panic mode. I had 3 options- I could bring him to the emergency vet in the next town over, bring him back to St. Paul to the emergency vet or wait a day and bring him to my vet (who specializes in bulldogs).
He made it through the night and the normally 3 hour drive took me just under two hours the next day. $300 worth of tests later, the vet shook her head and said she just didn't know what to say. Anything that could be wrong was and she wasn't sure what to say. She gave me some more antibiotics and told me to come back in three days. Dr. Jim (a well known bulldog specialist) would be available and he would be able to tell me if there was anything we could do for Griffin. Gently, she told me I needed to start preparing myself for the possibility he would need to be put to sleep.

3 days later, Griffin was slightly better, although still sick. The pneumonia had shut down his immune system, which allowed his eye to get infected. Antibiotics were helping but Dr. Jim told me he needed eye surgery that day. Without eye surgery, he would most definitely lose his eye (even with surgery, he might lose his eye) and would for sure die within the next few days. He was still so sick that going into surgery might kill him too. Dr. Jim showed me an X-Ray of Griffin's respiratory system and told me his trachea (the breathing tube) was so narrow it was like breathing through a straw. He had major lung damage and would be sick the rest of his life.  He told me that I should consider taking him back to the former owner because Griffin's health problems were just beginning.
The vet has a statue that looks just like Olivia. This was the day
I took Griffin to find out if we would have to put him to sleep or not.
As we waited to check in, he rested his head on her head. 
As I sat on the floor crying, I petted my very sick puppy as he looked at me with droopy eyes. I am not rich and wasn't prepared for hundreds of dollars in dog health care. If that had been Olivia, there would have been NO reasoning- I would have mortgaged my house for her. But Griffin had only been mine for 4 weeks. Why hadn't I had him checked out by a vet before I took him home? When the former owner told me Grif didn't have any vet records because "you can buy farm vaccines for a fraction of the price"- shouldn't that have been a red flag? Why did I get attached without any thought? I had looked from my perfect, gorgeous baby with her smooth, shiny coat to that muddy, goofy, wheezy puppy and all I could think of was scooping him up and bringing him home. Grooming had helped make him look better, but I still had a mess of a dog.

I couldn't even consider dropping him off to die and I knew that spending $600 would be easier than imagining those pathetic, droopy eyes begging me for mercy for the rest of my life.

Griffin made it through surgery and over the next few days, made a solid recovery. When the course of antibiotics ended, he immediately got sick again, but luckily, the vet was able to call in a prescription and once he was back on medication, he was fine.We made it though the summer and I was feeling good about Griffin's prognosis. In September, he had another surgery to repair some of the damage to his eye from the first surgery. He was still on antibiotics, but doing well.

In October, he got sick again, this time while on antibiotics. For over a month, we were at the vet every week- he had constant problems but they didn't have a solution. They put him on a new antibiotic, but for $50, it only lasted 12 days and I was unsure how long I could afford to keep that up. Griffin started peeing the bed without waking up, had green snot running out of his nose and stopped eating regularly. After 7 nights of getting up every few hours, I was exhausted, frustrated and stressed out. On the 8th night, I woke up and realized I was wet. Groggy and confused at 3am, I turned on the light and realized Griffin had peed and pooped all over me. I froze for a moment, not sure how to react. That was my breaking point. At 28, plastic sheets and sleepless nights were not something I could live with.

That morning, I called bulldog rescue and found out that he wasn't adoptable. They suggested I contact Dr. Jim to see what he would recommend. He told me our last chance was to do palate surgery. Most dogs, even dogs as sick as Griffin come out of palate surgery and never get sick again.

$1300.

I gasped as if he had punched me in the stomach. I didn't even want to pay $50 more, much less $1300. He told me he knew I was at my wits end and I'd done a lot for Griffin and that we just needed to get him healthy. He offered to do the surgery for $700. Still a lot of money, but manageable. I didn't have any other choice- I didn't want to get rid of him, but I couldn't continue with him being constantly sick.

Griffin had surgery on October 22. I was pleasantly surprised that even groggy and out of it from surgery, he was already breathing significantly quieter than ever before.

Two weeks after surgery, we took the dogs to the dog park. Usually one person had to hang back with Griffin because he was a pretty slow walker. This time, he took off running, actually sprinting. Danny and I looked at each other in shock. It was like he was a different dog.

Griffin's been off of antibiotics for almost 2 months now and he hasn't been sick once. He runs, he plays, he chases a ball with Olivia, he's active and happy. It's like a miracle and I am amazed at the physical change I see in him. I still worry there will be more hurdles, but for the time being, he's a playful, lovable 2 year old puppy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Griffin

Griffin- in the car when we brought him home

Meeting the roomies

Griffin's first day of camp
Olivia pouting

Olivia REALLY pouting

Griffin with a bone- tired from a full day at camp

Sister and Brother
I started dating Nate in January 2010 and for the first time in Olivia's life, she had to share me with someone. It wasn't going well. I decided that the only solution was to get another puppy who she would love and always have to keep her company and I wouldn't have to worry when I wasn't with her.

I spoke with several breeders but I wasn't having any luck. I considered the Humane Society, but didn't get far with that plan either. Eventually it was time to move to camp so I decided to hold off on the second puppy idea until I got home.

At the beginning of June, I got a call from a breeder who I had met with when I was looking for Olivia. She knew a man who had an almost 2 year old bulldog who he was getting rid of. Camp was starting in 3 weeks and obviously not the right time to get another dog, but something kept nagging at me and I decided that I had to go see him, or I'd always wonder.

I was home from camp overnight. I was picking up 4 staff from the airport the next day, so Nate and I were just going to drop by, see the dog, see how Olivia and the dog got along and then leave. There was just no way I could get a dog at that time.

Between looking for Olivia and the search for the second puppy, I'd emailed or spoken with at least 10 different breeders. All of them had thorough interview processes where they asked about my house (air conditioned? non smoking? fence? all of those are must haves if you want them to even consider you), my life style, and many other details. It's not enough to just have the money, bulldog people are CRAZY and want to make sure you will be equally as crazy once you become a bullie owner. I was prepared for that experience again.

Nate, Olivia and I pulled up to a shabby looking house in a sketchy neighborhood, and exchanged unsure glances, but we went in to check it out. The owner led us to the backyard where he chain smoked as he told us about his dogs, his history showing dogs and answered my questions about the puppy we'd come to see. He was a nice man but it was awkward. I didn't know what to ask and he didn't have much to say, other than the dog wasn't show worthy, but was sweet and healthy.

Olivia is a gorgeous dog who comes from a long line of champion show dogs. When we go for walks, people in cars pull over to comment on her. People who know a lot more than I do about bulldogs have commented on how gorgeous she is. But I've never had a desire to show her- I just wanted a dog to cuddle with on the couch. When I picked her out, she looked like a tiny pink alien. It's never been about looks for me.

"Not show worthy" didn't adequately describe this dog. Prior to our arrival, the owner had given the dog a bath. Immediately upon going outside, he rolled in the dirt, so he was covered in mud. One of his eyes had a huge protruding red mass called a cherry eye (common in bullies, Olivia had surgery on both eyes, although hers were a fraction of the size of his). The other eye had a gray cloud from where he's been poked with a stick as a puppy. His eyes, really his whole face, was dark red and clumpy (with tear stains and old crud), his teeth were crooked and just so goofy looking, and his fur, besides being muddy, was shedding in clumps. He was a mess.

But there was something so charming and lovable about him, that even though I didn't want to touch him because he was so gross looking, he grabbed my heart. He didn't wag his tail, he swung his whole body back and forth, and at the same time, he looked up at me with droopy puppy dog eyes, a crooked smile and it was over. His run was more of a happy gallop and by 20 minutes into the visit, I couldn't imagine leaving without him. Olivia didn't love him, but she didn't hate him either, so I felt confident it would work out. The owner told me I could "take him and try him out" and decide if I wanted him.

25 minutes after almost not getting out of the car, we walked out with Griffin.

With Olivia, I spent 6 months researching, talking to breeders and preparing for her arrival. I never ever expected to get a second puppy that day, in that way. I am not spontaneous. I don't do things like that.

When we got home, reality set in and I started to panic, burst into tears and seriously considered taking him right back. I didn't know anything about this dog! I didn't know if he was going to be mean to Olivia or try to attack kids at camp. I didn't know if I could leave him alone, or if he'd destroy my stuff.

My roommates got home a little while later and immediately fell in love with him and I calmed down a little bit. The next day, I loaded him, Olivia and 4 staff into the camp van and headed back to the woods, one puppy more than I'd expected.

The first week of having Griffin was difficult. I was balancing staff pre-training with a new dog and it was a lot to cram into the day. I was nervous about him running away, getting lost, getting hurt, and so I tried to keep him in my sight at all times. I knew Olivia could wander without worrying about her safety and the stress of watching his every move while managing camp was too much.

He and Olivia didn't fight, but Olivia made it clear she was MISERABLE. She pouted like I have never seen before. she refused to look at him, or me, and she looked like her heart was broken. I felt like I'd betrayed her and the guilt (added in with the stress I was feeling just dealing with Griffin) was eating me alive. After two days, I decided I made a mistake and I would drive 3 hours back to return him that weekend.

Towards the end of the week, I'd let them both outside when I heard some rumbling and noise. I looked out the window to see them playing! I held my breath and watched, overjoyed. Griffin was just such a dopey, lovable dog and after only a week, I was in love with him. I'd been aggressively working on his hygiene since we'd gotten back to camp, and he was looking less crud covered every day. When we first arrived at camp, he went crazy gathering up every toy and bone that was laying around untouched by Olivia, but hoarded by him as if he'd never had anything before. It was both adorable and kind of heart breaking to watch.

He was wiggly and happy and very easy going. He wasn't demanding and didn't screech like Olivia and it was a refreshing difference. Seeing them play and countless encouraging facebook messages it would get better from tons of people who had the same experience when they brought a new dog home, made me decide to keep him.

Olivia had a brother.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Olivia Oprah

Olivia- 5 days old

4 weeks old

The first day home with Danny and Heather

Day 2, Battle of wills # 1- Olivia has decided her kennel
will not do. She would prefer my bed.

Olivia at 9 weeks

Demanding something...
That saying, "you just know"-- the moment I saw her, I knew she was mine. She was a week old, couldn't open her eyes or move, and she looked like a hamster. But there was no doubt in my mind. It didn't matter that her price tag was almost 2 months of my salary at the time. That puppy was mine. I wrote a deposit check on the spot and never questioned my decision once.

Every week, for the next 7 weeks, I drove 45 minutes from my house to visit my puppy. She opened her eyes, started walking, grew a little more each week, and by 4 or 5 weeks, had an attitude and it was clear I had a tiny little alpha dog. Pure white, as round as an animal could be, Olivia Oprah King was a force to be reckoned with.

By the time Olivia was ready to leave her litter, I felt very knowledgeable about bulldogs. I had piles of toys, treats, bowls, beds... I was ready. I thought I was ready.

"Bulldogs are stubborn"- that's what the book said. I read it, could recite the list of bulldog personality traits, but I didn't really know what stubborn was until was in a face to face showdown with a 12 pound ball of willpower.

I was blinded by love from the moment I had set eyes on her and the day I brought her home, my life changed forever. I took the week off work and spent every waking minute with her. I held her, I played with her, and when she fell asleep, I watched her breath. I carried her everywhere and was pretty much spent the first few months of her life worrying and obsessing.

She came to my office every day and eventually I found a puppy daycare for her to go to a few days a week. The first day she went (actually, it wasn't even the first day, it was a half day try-out to see if she was social), I cried. Not like, a tear squeaking out of my eye, but I burst into heaving sobs and one of the owners handed me tissues and patted my back as she guided me out.

In May, we headed off to camp and Olivia began her life as a Camp Dog. She loved being outside, was patient with kids, wandered around camp without going too far away; she was social, loved the attention, and quickly became famous with campers. She was the perfect camp dog.

Olivia loved the attention from everyone, but I was worried that she missed playing with other dogs. Before camp, she'd had at least 2-3 playtimes a week and I began to wonder if, perhaps, she needed a sibling. I wasn't sure I could love another dog as much as Olivia, and I was very nervous that she would struggle to share attention, so the Puppy #2 idea was just a thought in the back of my mind.

Olivia was a sweet baby and had a lot of really wonderful qualities, but Olivia was also spoiled rotten, demanding, and required pretty much nonstop, uninterrupted focus. If Olivia was not the center of attention, or she did not get what she wanted, she threw terrible, screeching tantrums. I didn't know dogs did that, but she would throw her body against the ground and screech until she got what she wanted.

I wasn't sure I could handle two of that. I really thought a puppy sibling would be good, but I was pretty sure Liv was going to be an only child forever.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Adventures of 1162

 Natalie's new house!
Heather, Danny & Natalie: Roomies!
October 10, 2007- I bought a little house in St. Paul and my brother Danny, his girlfriend Heather and I moved in together and the adventure began.

We didn't know anything about living on our own, so we learned to cook, grocery shop, clean, and survive together. We sat down for dinner every night, played board games, ordered take out food, and in the early days before we got cable or internet, we all crowded together to watch fuzzy tv and DVDs.

We frequented the hardware store and learned how to care for a house from 1924.

We raked leaves together, shoveled snow together, put up a Christmas tree, explored the neighborhood, and transitioned from college students into real live grown ups with full time jobs.

I don't remember who brought up the idea of a puppy- it wasn't me, but it became a nightly conversation for months. My friends Nate and Jodi had just gotten a puppy and when we got the chance to puppy-sit for a week, we were all super excited.

It was December and brutally cold. By the third day of walking Kobie along the poorly shoveled, very slippery sidewalks, not to mention getting up early to feed him, I was OVER the idea of a puppy. I don't even like dogs that much.

As the Director of a resident camp, I live onsite from May- August. In May 2008, the first summer after buying my house, I left my roomies behind and headed to the wilderness. I missed my roommates terribly and was desperately homesick. The Executive Director got fired, leaving me in charge and I spent much of the summer overwhelmed, exhausted and imagining myself packing my car and running away in the middle of the night.

In my free moments, I started googling pictures of bulldogs. I have always thought they were adorable and their hilarious, squishy faces made me happy in the midst of the stress. Pictures led to breeder websites, which led to exchanging emails and before I knew it, I was dreaming of becoming a bulldog mom.

Camp ended and I headed back home. My bulldog research intensified as I met with breeders, read everything I could about bullies and obsessed over how much I wanted a puppy. Danny and Heather were excited and we were ready to add a new member to 1162.