Friday, April 29, 2011

A Week in Photos

As the summer gets closer and closer, my to-do list gets longer by the minute, no matter how much I accomplish each day. I am also busy working on the final paper for my grad school class, and it's been more involved than I'd originally expected, so there hasn't been much time for puppy stories this week.

Actually, there haven't been many puppy stories to tell. Olivia and Griffin wake up like clockwork at 7:12 every morning (my alarm is set for 7:15) and demand breakfast. Once they've gone outside and eaten, they sleep on the couch while I drink coffee and check email. The rest of their day is filled with playing, laying in the sun, walks, playing with me and rolling in the dirt and immediately coming to wipe their mouths on my clothes. They are living the puppy dream life. Being at camp for a whole extra month is going to make September a very difficult transition back to normal life, but I try not to think about that as they gallop through the house, biting each other and wrestling joyously, out the open door and into the endless open space, all day, every day.

Here are a few shots from the week-


Abby sent them raincoats for Easter! 

Tired after playing

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Change to the Brigade

 A change is in store for the Bulldog Brigade. 

Danny and Heather are buying a house and in May, Buddha will leave his life in the city and join the ranks of stuck up suburban puppies of swanky Woodbury (which is difficult to pronounce without a bit of British accent creeping into your voice). All three of them are very excited about this next stage of their life adventure. 

Olivia, Griffin and I have been at camp for a few weeks, but we've been keeping up to date with the other half of the Brigade and we are excited about the new house. But when we got home for a weekend visit this afternoon, we were a little surprised by how much Buddha has changed. 

Buddha's nose has been high in the air since we arrived home and it's obvious he is ready for his new life in the suburbs. 

As a (almost)  ritzy suburban dog, Buddha will now only eat caviar and Brie for dinner, washing it down with cognac (sipped out of his crystal dog dish). He follows dinner with an evening cigar. 

Buddha will only wear the finest silks and velvets- and (rumor has it) he's looking into purchasing a diamond studded collar. 

Buddha's new house has a fireplace and earlier today I saw him googling bear-skin rugs, "for entertaining guests" upon. 

Buddha's struggling relate to his cousins, both because they live in the city and because they have jobs. 

Buddha's new life will bring him to the finest dog parks, the latest and greatest toys and the most exotic bones (I heard that he's refusing anything cow related, preferring bones that come from the most endangered animals). 

 My hope is that once the newness and excitement calm down, Buddha's head will go back to normal size and he will be able to play with his cousins again. Until then, Buddha will probably spend most of his time prancing around, letting everyone know that he's going to be a suburban dog soon and starting every sentence with, "when I move to Woodbury..."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Brigade Separation...

Last Thursday, I had to return to the city for a meeting and afterwards, I stopped at my house to pick up some things I needed. Buddha greeted me with enthusiasm, and as he does when he is excited, peed all over my leg. After soaking my shoes, he ran out the door to look for his cousins. Unfortunately for Buddha, Olivia and Griffin were still at camp.

Poor little Buddha has had to adjust to life without the bulldogs. Danny and Heather tell me that without his cousins to bite, he's been extra mouthy with his parents. They've been walking him more than usual, but he's still bursting with energy and extra needy for attention.

Danny told me that the other day, he was watching a video of Olivia and Griffin at camp and Buddha was sitting on his lap watching the video too! I suggested that possibly we needed to set up Skype so that Buddha and his cousins could keep up this summer.

We wondered what the puppies would tell each other- Buddha would probably taunt the bulldogs, telling him he's taken over the house and the yard and all of the toys. Olivia would roll her eyes at him and tell him it doesn't matter because they are living the good life, playing all day every day in the woods. Griffin would tell Buddha that he's started a northern chapter of their neighborhood watch and he spends most of the day running after suspicious looking leaves that blow by and barking at noises he hears (which is the same thing he and Buddha spent most of their time doing in the back yard at home).

It's possible this line of thinking is an indication that I've been in the woods a bit too long and need some company other than my dad and dogs.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Camp Dogs

Stuffed Olivia dogs- a best seller at the camp store
Olivia and Griffin are Camp Dogs. Well, okay, Olivia and Griffin are my babies, my loves, and the center of my universe. But they are ALSO camp dogs. 

Two years ago, my biological puppy clock started ticking and I began to dream of tiny paws pitter pattering around my life. Originally I planned to rescue a pound puppy and be a hero, but somehow I ended up googling bulldog pictures for hours on end, which led to breeder websites and the next thing you know, I've got a $3000 purebred dog with champion show dog bloodlines. So much for being a hero...

I've always thought bulldogs were adorable and as I researched more, I liked the description of their personalities, temperament and the fact that I wasn't going to have to run them for miles and miles every day.  However bulldogs are sensitive to heat, don't swim and are not exactly the "romp through the woods" type of dogs. They are described as being good with kids and that was enough for me! 
Stuffed Olivia dogs also taste great.

Olivia settled into camp right away. Training week, I asked the staff to stand on a line I'd created with a piece of masking tape. Everyone moved to the line, including Olivia. Once the kids arrived, she was thrilled to have constant attention, not the least bit stressed out by hoards of loud children crowding around her. In those first months, I panicked repeatedly when I couldn't find her. Frantically screaming her name and imagining her lost and afraid, I'd get a walkie talkie call from staff saying, "we can hear you all the way across camp! She's down at archery chillin' with us!" I'd run down there to see her sitting next to the benches and she would look at me like, "what? It's time for archery."

The fall after her fist summer, she threw terrible tantrums, looked depressed and only ever seemed truly happy when we went back to visit camp.

Griffin became a camp dog last year. I rescued him in June, 3 days before staff training began. It was not an ideal time and I was worried about bringing a strange dog to camp. But he settled right in, frequently hanging out in the baseline between 2nd and 3rd during kickball games. He was easy going and settled right in. And in the fall, he joined Olivia's post camp depression. 

We've been back at camp for a week and they couldn't be happier. They spend their days sunning themselves, playing and exploring in the woods, and fall asleep by 8pm, completely exhausted and  totally content with life at camp.
Stuffed Griffin doll- highly requested last summer
and sure to be a best seller this year

Also pretty tasty...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Ball Problem

Olivia loves to chase the ball. Actually, Olivia LIVES to chase a ball. I have searched everywhere and spent an obscene amount of money attempting to find the perfect ball. I have tried everything, but she doesn't like anything as much as the big play balls you find at Target or the grocery store. She loves them.

The problem is that they pop very easily. Stray sticks, rocks, bulldog teeth- the balls are only slightly thicker than a balloon, so we go through them quickly. I buy them by the case. Last summer, it seemed to be Olivia's mission in life to pop every ball she saw. We went through two cases (not to mention quite a few of camp's kickballs and basketballs), but then she sort of grew out of the desire to pop them and balls started lasting longer and longer. During the winter, we kept the same ball for weeks at a time.

Griffin's former owner told me he didn't like to chase balls and last summer, he rarely even looked at the ball. He would lumber out to the field with Olivia and I and lay and watch us the whole time. He wasn't disinterested, he was sick. It wasn't even a week after he had palate surgery that he began running, chasing and playing like a brand new dog.

Over the winter, his interest in chasing the ball was a day by day thing- some days he would play and some days he didn't seem to care. When he played, he attempted to pop the ball like Olivia used to, but for the most part, he chased it right along side of Olivia.

And then we got to camp. I opened a brand new case of balls, assuming I'd be set for the summer, even factoring in our early arrival. Shortly after arriving, we ran out to the field, eager to play, and within 30 seconds (it took us longer to blow the ball up and walk to the field), Griffin had popped the ball. I thought it was a fluke- he must have caught it at a funny angle.

Wrong. Griffin is on a mission to pop every ball he sees. And I don't know if it is his goofy crooked shark teeth or what, but the instant he gets near the ball, it explodes. We've gone through 15 balls in less than a week. He and Olivia have played a few times, running and chasing for minutes at a time. But it usually requires at least 2 attempts and me running like a mad woman to chase the ball with them and beat them both to it so I can throw it before he pops it.

Without Griffin, Olivia can chase the ball until she passes out. I usually take it away after 20 minutes or so- whenever her tongue starts to touch the ground and she looks like she will tip over from exhaustion. 20 minutes of running and she will relax peacefully for hours.

So I've recently started leaving Griffin inside when I take Olivia out to play. It kills me to hold back a wiggly, excited puppy, his big, droopy eyes begging to be loved. I feel like a monster. I feel like the worst puppy mom alive. But without him, Olivia gets the necessary exercise to keep her calm and I don't go through 5 balls a day.

Some dogs sit in a kennel for 8 hours a day. Some dogs live on the street and have to fend for their survival. My dogs spend their days roaming in and out of the house and yard (it's nice enough to leave the door open so they can come in and out at their own leisure), laying in the sun, going for multiple walks, chewing on bones and toys, and getting constant attention. So I don't think that being  stuck inside for 15 minutes a few times a day is going to kill him, or even damage him emotionally. And if that's my biggest source of stress, it's probably time for me to get a grip on reality.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Livin' the Good Life

A day of playing at camp. Olivia and Griffin are livin' the good life and enjoying themselves immensely.

Exhausted after a full day of playing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Outdoor Bulldogs

I am the executive director of a resident camp. From September-May, I live in the city, go to the office every day, and do all of the behind the scenes work of running a camp. In May, I pack my house and move up to the woods to run camp for the summer. Olivia and Griffin are the camp dogs. They love being outside, enjoy the constant attention and are incredibly tolerant of hoards of screaming children.

My dad is the property manager of camp and lives on site, so we go back to camp at least once a month.  Olivia knows the word "camp" and gets so excited whenever I mention the word.

My dad has been in the hospital for the past few weeks and when he go out on Thursday, I started getting ready to move back to camp while he recovers. I don't usually move until May, but I can work from camp, so it's ideal since my dad can't really be on his own right now.

On Friday morning, I told Olivia we were going to camp, which was a mistake, because she started to lose her mind- running and barking with excitement. Griffin rarely knows what's going on, but does whatever Olivia does, so I had to try to pack while two excited bulldogs followed me everywhere, crashing into my legs and fighting to get out of the fence each time I attempted to take a load out to the car.

When we finally got to camp, the dogs tumbled out of the car and started running around, finding hidden bones they'd left behind on previous trips, chasing each other, and begging for balls to chase. Three days later, both dogs are filthy but as happy as they could possibly be. The weather is warm enough to leave the door open, so they both wander in and out all day, doing whatever they want- exploring, sunning themselves, chasing each other, napping- they are living the dream.

I'm not sure how long we will be here- it's possible we might move back home for a few weeks before we officially move to camp for the summer. I would like to be able to be home for a few weeks, but I am dreading their reaction, so for now, I'm just happy they are happy.

I've been trying to get video of them playing together, but they stop every time I get the camera out. Here are a few random videos from today.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Big Bowl for a Big Ego

A few weeks ago, Griffin and Olivia got new food dishes. They are HEAVY ceramic and probably 9 inches across. Their old bowls moved around when they ate and it drove me crazy, so I was happy to find some that are heavy enough not to move. Buddha has a tiny matching set for water and food that sit in a little holder, preventing the movement issue his big cousins have.

Around the time we switched bowls, we also switched food. As we transitioned all of them to the new brand, my dogs didn't react to the change, but Buddha didn't seem to be enjoying the new food. Usually he eats just as fast and excitedly as if he was a bulldog, but he wasn't eating... well, that's not completely true. He ate the pieces that fell out of their bowls, and when we dumped his food on the floor, he ate all of it.

We discussed it and came up with a theory that perhaps he just doesn't like his tiny bowl. Buddha considers himself to be a big, tough, heavy bulldog, and perhaps the cute little puppy bowl was offending his ego. So this morning, Heather used one of the bulldogs old bowls for Buddha and sure enough, without hesitation, he ate all of his breakfast. A big bowl for a big dog (or a tiny dog with a big ego).