Sunday, March 27, 2011


My dad has been in the hospital since Thursday and I have been spending quite a bit of time with him.

My darling puppies are used to constant attention, trips to the park and, well, generally speaking, the world revolving around them. So they've been pretty unhappy with their standard of living these past few days.

A few days into his stay, my dad said that he wanted to leave the hospital. I told him he could come home with me, but he would be sharing a room, bed and probably a pillow with the bulldogs.

Bulldogs or hospital? He loves his grandpuppies but he chose the hospital. Slobber isn't for everyone...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Adventures

It rained yesterday and today it was 50 degrees. The backyard is mud, with giant puddles of water everywhere, and yet, the mountain of snow remains. After Buddha and Griffin's most recent escape, I thought for sure with the melting that the breakouts would be over.

I was wrong.

Last night Danny called me (only slightly hysterical) to report that once again they had escaped, once again, they'd made their way into the neighbor's yard. But this time, the neighbor dogs were out and when Danny walked up to the yard, Griffin was chasing the little dog in circles around the yard. He's playful, but totally unaware he is 65 pounds, and thus, sort of terrifying to little fluffy things like the neighbor. Danny managed to catch both Griffin and Buddha and then waddle both squiggly dogs home.

Eager for more adventure, both of them had that look in their eyes every time they got let outside this afternoon. I watched Griffin reach up and put his front paws on the fence, but as I poked my head out the door and sternly said, "don't even think about it", the fence was at least 18 inches, maybe even two feet above the snow at this point. That fat dog can barely hoist himself onto the couch, there's no way he could still get over the fence.

Wrong again.

As always, I turned my back for two minutes and they were gone. When the friendly neighbors down the alley heard me calling, they yelled back, "they're over here! They seem to really be enjoying themselves!"

Of course they were.

But less than a minute later, when I arrived to wrangle the puppies, they were no where to be found. "Um, the black one went around to the front" directed the helpful neighbor. 

The front of my house is on a really busy street. When I got to the front, there were both dogs, hanging out all the way at the end of the street, chillin' at the bus stop, illuminated by the bazillion headlights of all of the cars flying by (did I mention it was dark at this point). Apparently they've explored the whole neighborhood and they were going to add public transportation into the adventure.

I was on the verge of insane panic when I bellowed, "what are you two doing?

I can't fully describe the looks of pure jubilation on their faces as they both came galloping towards me, loving every moment of their freedom. 

"Let's get a toy. Do you want a treat? Look at what I have. Come on, let's have fun. I will give you $500 if you come with me right now." I was fully prepared to tackle them to the ground if I got the chance- I was in full-blown crisis/ do-whatever-you-have-to-do mode. But luckily I was able to coax both of them inside without incident.

They can potty on the floor from now on- those dogs are not going outside until it is hot and sunny outside. One more break out and I will have a nervous breakdown- guaranteed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

From Buddha

This is an email that I sent to Danny and Heather this afternoon. I send them emails from Buddha on a pretty regular basis because I think it is funnier than just writing to tell them their puppy is a jerk.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Cousin Grif and I just really don’t enjoy the confines of a fenced in yard. It is incredibly difficult to feel the wind in our hair and stretch our legs in such a small area. When a puppy gets to a certain age, he needs to spread his wings and fly, or well, at least be able to feel the sun on his back while he explores the world.

That being said, we don’t mind the fenced in yard of our across-the-alley/ kitty-corner neighbor’s yard. That fence is okay, so we hopped out of our yard (using the snow bank) and then, again using a snow bank, hopped INTO her yard. It looks like a really nice place so we continued our journey up the stairs and onto her deck, peeking into her sliding glass patio door, noses making marks on the window in as we inquired about dinner.

Olivia told on us like always and Natalie went running out the door like a crazy woman, dog hair covered sweatshirt, lime green polka dot pj pants and that crazy look she gets in her eyes when she’s hunting dogs- her hair was doing a goofy sticking up thing too, but she wasn’t aware of that until later. Realizing we were INSIDE the fence, she started doing that whisper/yell thing, trying to get us to come to her so she didn’t have to go onto the deck, at risk of being pepper sprayed or arrested for attempted B&E. Naturally we wouldn’t listen and so she had to tip toe onto the deck and then wrestle both of us, whisper/yelling and trying not to swear as all the lights in the house were on and clearly the neighbor was home (and probably watching said spectacle from the kitchen table, although not visible through the window).

Natalie managed to catch Griffin, as a new part of his foot is now bleeding and he was leaving giant bloody paw prints everywhere and was slower than Super Puppy (my new nickname for myself- catchy, huh?). She managed to get Griffin outside the fence and so I ran down the stairs after them. Not to actually go with them, but to do a victory lap or two around the backyard. At that point, the neighbor came out to watch all of this. She’s incredibly friendly and good natured, considering the ruckus, and I took her laughing to mean that I should continue to sprint and run, making Natalie look as ridiculous as possible. Eventually she convinced both of us to follow her back to the yard and now we are all inside, exhausted from the fun.

She wanted me to email you and pass along a message, something about how I’m “verging on death”, whatever that means. I personally think she looks like she’s about to have a stroke or possibly go completely insane, so I think you should probably be more worried about her. I feel refreshed and empowered after a lovely afternoon of meeting a new friend and finding a new place to hang out.

See ya tonight!

Love, your favorite puppy,

aka Buddha

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Not Always Fun

I love my dogs so much. They bring me so much joy and make me laugh and are a central part of my life. But sometimes being a pet owner isn't so fun.

I fell asleep last night like almost every night- Olivia wrapped in my arms with her head on the pillow next to me and Griffin spooned behind me, snuggled against my back.

4:47am- I heard the sound of pee before I felt it. Griffin was snoring, deeply asleep, peeing- soaking me and my bed. Ugh. Not the way I wanted to start my day.

This afternoon we were at the park and Olivia went to the bathroom, except that her poo didn't look normal- it was bloody. Cue me FREAKING out, rushing her to the vet and paying $130 to find out that nothing was wrong with her- there was blood, but apparently it's possible for dogs to burst capillaries in their colon and some blood will come out. After several tests she was pretty sure Olivia was totally fine, but gave me some medicine and a long list of things to watch for in the next few days. 

Ugh. Not the way I wanted to spend my afternoon.

On a positive note, the whole Bulldog Brigade went to Dog Days at the dome to play and socialize. We got in free because Heather knew someone, the dogs all had a blast and have been happily passed out for the whole evening.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Loud and Clear

Two weeks ago I had to take Griffin to the vet.  I rarely take either dog anywhere without the other, so I knew it was going to be a challenge. Leaving the house without dogs is a process because as soon as they hear my keys, both dogs, and usually Buddha too (he likes to be included), crowd the door, getting their bodies as close as they can. To get out, I do a wiggle maneuver, climbing over them, holding them back as I shuffle out of the door, pushing them back to avoid smashing their heads. Often they team up, get past me, and move the battle to the backyard, where I chase, bribe, and yell as I attempt to get them all back in the house. I am sure there is an easier way, but that's life with the Bulldog Brigade.

I knew Olivia was going to be unhappy that Griffin was going somewhere and she wasn't- and of course she was. I tried to hold her back and push Griffin outside, but he won't do anything without her, and for as round as she is, she is incredibly fast when motivated. I ended up bringing both of them outside and into the car, and once they were settled, I picked her up and carried her back inside the house.

Olivia is not the type of dog to chew or destroy things. She doesn't rip up toys or chew furniture. When she does something, it is to prove a point (I know I sound crazy when I say that, but it is true!). So when we got home from the vet, I wasn't surprised to see every single thing had been taken out of Danny's backpack (which she moved from the hall into the living room) and spread across the house. Nothing had been damaged, and when I said, "what happened in here?" she looked at me smugly as if to say, "next time it will be worse." Point taken Olivia.

Last week I went on vacation with my boyfriend, leaving Danny and Heather in charge of the Brigade. They were very sad dogs, refusing to do anything besides lay on the couch, eat and go outside. Danny and Heather did manage to drag them on several walks, which added a little action to their days of pouting. Danny told me that before the first walk, he had to go to my car to get their leashes. They heard my keys and thought they were going to the park and ran outside with him. When Olivia realized he was holding the leash, she scooted her fat little body right under the car. Griffin attempted to follow, but couldn't fit, so he just hid his head under the car instead.

Forced walks, no trips to the park and an absent mother- I wasn't surprised to come home and find another message from Olivia.
Was it a coincidence that she chose the traveler's diary or does she know how to read?

Dogs can't talk, but they can communicate. Olivia doesn't like when I travel. Noted.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Working Dogs

Olivia is a Camp Dog. During the summer of 2008, I talked about nothing except puppies- googling photos nonstop, using spare minutes to email breeders and nonstop dreaming about the following summer when we would have a Camp Dog to roam around and make the children happy.

She's my dog of course (my bank account will confirm that fact), but when she is at camp, she is at work. I always find it funny when people ask me where she goes the rest of the year, as if she is ONLY a Camp Dog, but with her photo on the website, stuffed Olivia dogs in the camp store and her confidence and independence around camp, I guess I can understand their confusion (I'm actually just being nice, those people are dumb. This is a $3000 purebred dog that requires nonstop maintenance, she's clearly not just wandering the woods when camp ends... but I digress...).

At 8 weeks old, I brought Olivia out to the schools and churches I was visiting to recruit campers. I was blown away that, even as a naughty puppy, when her camp bandanna went on, she was ready to work. She was a perfect angel, soaking in the attention, never happier or more of a ham than when she was surrounded by a group of adoring children. People were amazed by how patient she was with the kids, while being perfectly obedient. She had tantrums and ignored every command at home, but she was a perfect puppy in public.

She was 8 months old when she started her first summer of camp. One of the first days of staff training, I asked the staff to stand on a line I'd created with a piece of tape. I was amazed to see Olivia go right over and sit right on the line with the other staff. Everyone paused and turned to look at her and I shook my head- she was a camp dog.

From the first moment, Olivia loved the kids, being outside and wanted to be included in every activity. When we got home in the fall, she was depressed and threw tantrum after tantrum. Camp is where Olivia is happiest.

I was very unsure about Griffin. It was June and I was going home for 24 hours to pick up some out of state staff. A new dog who had never been around kids was a terrible idea. But I fell in love with him and decided I could keep him in the house and away from kids and activities if I had to.

Despite being sick the whole summer, Griffin was a natural. His breathing was so bad that he could barely walk, but he loved the kids and he was quite content to sit on second base during kickball games, happy to be in the middle of the action. The kids all begged for stuffed Griffins in the camp store.

Last weekend was Camp Rally Day. Games! Prizes! Information about camp! A time to get excited for the summer. And what better way to do that than seeing the camp dogs?!

My mom walked them around the crowds of kids and both of them were very happy to soak in the attention. There was one little girl in particular who fell in love with them and spent every minute following them around. At one point, I looked over and she and Olivia were face to face, noses almost touching, and her arms were wrapped around Olivia's neck in a hug. For a dog who still throws regular tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants, I was proud of her and will happily trade a few naughty moments at home for such incredible behavior with the kids.

By the end of the event, Olivia, Griffin (and their new friend) were exhausted and laid down on the floor to cuddle (the top picture was right before Griffin used the little girl as his pillow, laying his giant head right on her leg). When we got home, they were even more exhausted, but very happy after a long day of work.