Friday, December 3, 2010


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.

No comments:

Post a Comment