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.

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