Monday, December 31, 2012


Nothing actually happens in this video, but they were being so cute, I just had to video them. Griffin often cries, even if we are in the same room, within arms reach of each other. Before I started taping, he was crying and then Olivia went over to comfort him.

Griffin is recovering from pneumonia. He hasn't been going to the park or to daycare but overall, he's doing better each day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Emergency Vet

Griffin is my special needs dog. He was very sick when I got him (see Griffin's Health, 2010). Before palate surgery in 2010, he suffered from one respiratory infection after another. It would start with a little cough and within a day or two, he would be hacking, gasping for air and barely able to walk a few steps. We went to the vet over and over and he was on antibiotics for months. It's been almost 3 years without an infection, so I wasn't overly concerned when he starting coughing on Friday.

But Sunday Nate woke me up and with a concerned look on his face told me that Grif wasn't breathing well and that he'd vomited. Griffin didn't want to eat, was coughing a lot more and was definitely not feeling well. He drank some water and I was planning to watch him all day and then take him to the vet  on Monday morning. But when he went outside and vomited all the water he had just finished drinking, I got worried and decided to take him to the emergency vet. 

The vet examined him and then presented me with an estimate of $1300-$2500 for treatment. In addition to chest scans and some blood tests, she expected he would have to be admitted for 24-48 hours. I was pretty sure that after an IV to get him rehydrated and some antibiotics, he'd bounce back quickly, so I admitted him.

The tests confirmed he had pneumonia and so Griffin spent most of yesterday and overnight in a special  oxygenated kennel (it looked a little like a plastic box with a tube that pumped air into it). He received several nebulizer treatments, had an IV put in to deliver antibiotics, anti nausea medication and whatever they use to keep you hydrated. He spent the night but was able to come home this morning at 8am. 

He will be on antibiotics for 3 weeks and for the next 48 hours, he needs to eat small amounts of food every 2 hours, do something called coupage every 4 hours (using a cupped hand, I alternate pounding on his chest to try to break up the junk in his lungs) and he can't get excited or move around too much. 

Griffin is snoring loudly on the couch as I type this and he is noticeably healthier than he was yesterday. I am not thrilled that I had to spend $1500, but I am very happy he is feeling better.

A few years ago, one of the vet techs made a comment that sometimes special needs animals find their way to the people who will take care of them. I didn't have any idea Grif would need so much care but I am confident that if he had stayed with his first owner, he wouldn't be alive today. When I think back to the random, semi-sketchy first time I met him, I can't believe I took him home in the first place. He'd just had a bath and promptly rolled in the dirt. He was a mud-covered, wiggly puppy with a bulging swollen eye. He was a mess and it should have been obvious that he was going to require a lot of care.

When I think back to that meeting (and the subsequent vet appointments, surgeries, medications and such), I sometimes wonder how I ever ended up with him. But there is no dog as sweet, lovable and with such a kind soul as Grif, and I think it is that goodness that blinded me to the mud and made me decide to adopt a dog without knowledge of his medical history. I think somehow, some way, he found me because he needed someone who would not just love him, but who would be able to provide a nearly obsessive level of care for him.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Doggie Daycare

When I first got Olivia 4 years ago, she came to work with me every day for months. In the Spring, it got so busy and I had so many out of office meetings, that she couldn't come with me, so I signed her up for dog daycare. When I took her for her evaluation day (which is really only 4 hours), I dropped her off and before I was out the door, broke down in tears- like, sobbing, hysterical, crazy dog woman tears. The very nice staff handed me a kleenex, patted me on the shoulder and guided me out the door with comforting reassurances that she would be ok. I have done that with many parents at camp and yet, there I was, a crying mess.

Olivia liked daycare and went for a few months until we left for camp. I liked that she got out of the house, burned off energy playing with other dogs and didn't have to sit alone all day. 

Recently, I have been feeling like Griffin and Olivia are bored. I walk them or take them to the park most mornings before I leave for work and we go to the park every afternoon. But they still seem to have too much energy and they seem bored. So I decided it was time to go back to daycare. 

A few days ago, I took them both in for their evaluation. Like last time, they would be there for a few hours so the staff could observe them. I didn't cry when I dropped them off and I was feeling great about it, until an hour after I dropped them off and the daycare phone number popped up on my cell phone.

I answered hesitantly, knowing that it probably wasn't good news.

They said that Griffin had been crying (that hoarse, old man wail that he does- click here if you need a reminder). He didn't want to be away from Olivia, but when other dogs were around, he guarded Olivia. So since they were just sitting in a private room, there was no point to having them at daycare.

I picked them up and we agreed to try again in a few days.

A few days later, we went back for another evaluation. This time, I brought Griffin inside without Olivia and then once he was settled in, I brought Olivia in and she was in a different play area. That seemed to work out a little better. Olivia played and seemed to enjoy herself. Griffin didn't play with the other dogs, but he didn't cry either, so I guess we're making progress. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

4 Year Photos

Olivia and Griffin are 4 years old. Here are some of the photos from their 4 year photo session. Yes, Olivia had 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 1 year photo sessions. And yes, I have continued to have their pictures taken each year. They happen to be the cutest dogs alive, so why not?!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inventively Trashy 2

Bulldogs overheat very easily. One might argue that they are not the ideal camp dogs. However, my camp is up north on a lake and even in the middle of the summer on the hottest days, I've been able to keep the dogs cool.

Except this year. There have been several hot days that have been unbearable and I have spent a lot of time worrying about my dogs and the heat, while dunking them in the lake, using wet towels to cool them down and squirting cold bottles of water into their mouths.

This morning, after getting Griffin wet (which he didn't enjoy), I couldn't handle the panting anymore and I brought both of them to the health center (which is the one air conditioned building at camp). I expected that they would enjoy the cool building, but they reacted like they were being held captive in a prison. I didn't think the nurse would really appreciate the screeching, so they didn't last very long (even though they were cool).

A few years ago, two big air conditioners were donated to camp. Unfortunately all of the windows in my house slide open and so you can't put an air conditioner in the window. There aren't any other buildings that they would fit either, so they've just been sitting in storage.

Until today. I pulled one out and plugged it in (and determined it worked) and then I decided I would figure out some way to get it to cool down some area of my house so I could cool the dogs down. This photo is of my laundry room and back door. Property Manager Tom gave me some foam board to fill the rest of the door and I shoved towels in the cracks to insulate it. This photo captures almost the entire small hallway, which is now pleasantly cool.

This is the least energy efficient, most trashy-looking solution to the problem, but it made the dogs stop panting and I'm hoping there won't be many more hot days so I won't need to use this very often.

Just another day in the life of camp dogs...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fleeing Camp

As I mentioned in the last post, the road to camp flooded and we became an island.

Because the road to camp was covered in 15 inches of water (at the shallowest point, deeper along the edges of the road), driving a car or truck through it is not possible. Two weeks ago, when we first heard about the flood, we parked the camp van about a mile away on the other side of the road. We’ve been walking through the water and up the mile long huge hill to use the van to go into town this week so we haven’t been completely stranded on this camp island.

When we left camp on Sunday, we all packed the least amount of stuff we needed for the week and loaded everything into a kayak, which we walked across the water and then loaded into the van. It took three trips.

Because I also have two fat bulldogs who are too short to walk through that much water and don’t float, they became the last kayak load. I was going to have them wear their life jackets, but it was INCREDIBLY hot outside and I didn’t want them to be any hotter than they already were. Also, the water was just barely over their heads, so I was pretty sure if they fell out, I could just pick them up.

Griffin looks excited, Olivia looks skeptical

Abby and I beginning the trek with the bullies

Almost all the way across
Several people were skeptical of my plan to kayak them across the road, but Olivia and Griffin adapt quickly. They were very calm the whole ride. Olivia looked annoyed and would have rolled her eyes if she could. She reminded me of a teenager who is completely embarrassed by her parents and offended she is being forced to do something so beneath her. She went along with it quietly and cooperated, but her eyes were saying, “I’m going to petition the court to emancipate me.”

Griffin was excited and he stood on the seat for most of the ride and looked around. I think I’m going to look for a captain’s hat for him. He reminded me of a little brother who is excited to be included and enthusiastic about the adventure.

It was a short ride and we got them to the other side without incident. It was unbearably hot while we did all of this and besides just being uncomfortable and sweaty, I was super anxious that the dogs would overheat, but they were fine.

The three hour van ride was another story. The camp van doesn’t have air conditioning. I though that wind blowing through the windows might be enough to keep it cool, but I was wrong. After about 30 minutes of anxious, distracted driving, I asked Abby to drive for me and I sat in the seat with the dogs. I continuously squirted water into their mouths while also hold a bag of ice all over Griffin’s overheated little body.

I have terrible motion sickness but had taken a pill as soon as I switched from driving, and while it helped, I was still carsick, kind of woozy from the medication and my shorts were soaking wet from the water, ice and slobber. And I was really worried about overheated bulldogs.

I think the ride was worst for me because Griffin and Olivia were fine and cooled down as soon as they got into the air-conditioned house. Crisis averted. Never a dull moment with bulldogs.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catching Up

Oh what a summer it’s been. Pre-camp and staff training were LONG days and there wasn’t much to update. Despite the 12-14 hour days of busy-ness, I still found several opportunities each day to take Olivia and Griffin out to the field to play. The weather was mild and didn’t rain much, so in between playing, they were content to alternate between laying on the couch and sunning themselves outside. I leave my door open from the time we get up until it gets too buggy to keep in open at night, so they have total freedom to come and go.

Griffin hanging out with some of the staff on a break

The first week of camp was wonderful. No matter how much I talk about Olivia and Griffin being camp dogs and loving their lives at camp, I sometimes forget just how much they enjoy kids and thrive on the attention. During activity periods, they stay in my house or in my office because otherwise they like to join in kickball or make their way to the archery field and they tend to be a bit distracting. During in between times, I usually have them on their leashes to prevent them from stealing the 4-square ball or scaring any kids who are unsure of them. There were about 10 kids who took on the responsibility of dog walker that week and so I pretty much just hung out and watched them surround my dogs and pet them and talk to them. They dogs love it, are very well behaved when kids walk them and everyone was happy.
Griffin with some campers

Olivia hanging out with her biggest fan at camp
 After dinner, there is a 30 minute period when cabins can do anything they want and for the youngest two cabins (7 and 8 year olds) that time was “chase Griffin and Olivia on the field” time. I brought the dogs to the field to chase their ball and then 10-12 seven year olds would join in. By the end of the half hour, campers and dogs were both worn out and the counselors and I were mutually happy with the energy burned off.

The summer was off to a wonderful start and then the lake flooded. The water was really high and then it rained and then there was a flood. The water level is 9 feet higher than usual and our camp on a peninsula turned into an island and I watched for a week as more and more of the edges of the property got swallowed up. I cancelled the second week of camp and then the third and fourth sessions as well.

Exhausted after a long day of playing

Bored without any campers to play with

June 23-29, a handful of staff and I stayed at camp to make sure nothing floated away and to try to barricade buildings against the water. I had plenty of time to take the dogs to the field to play, so they were mostly satisfied, although I think they were a little confused why there were no kids to play with them.

The water crested on Friday (June 29) and has been receding slowly. We left camp for a week of rest on Sunday (July 1) and will return on Monday (July 9).

This week has been incredibly difficult for Olivia and Griffin. I have been reminding myself over and over that they are not going to die of boredom or crabby-ness, but I am stressed out every time I look at them.

First of all, the weather has been record breaking (it was 100 degrees yesterday) and it feels like an oven outside. It’s difficult to breathe and miserable to move. My house is refrigerator cool at 70 degrees and so the puppies have been prisoners inside. Olivia wants to go out, but after 5 minutes of laying outside, even she barks to get back inside. I

It’s been 5 days without chasing her ball and Olivia is so sad that I think she could be on a homeless animal commercial (the kind with the Sarah McLaughlin music in the background that I have to turn off the second it comes on tv). I feel anxious and terrible and like the worst bulldog mom alive, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve tried walking them twice, but we only went one block and then we had to turn around.

Griffin is content to enjoy the air conditioning and chew on one of the many chew treats he has, but even he’s looking a little sad. He’s an incredibly social dog and I think he misses the staff and kids and enormous amount of attention he’s used to.

I know there are dogs that are abused, neglected, don’t have enough to eat, are sick or injured and have actual difficult lives. My very pampered, very spoiled dogs are not having their every desire met this week and are miserable and I feel SO guilty. But they will persevere and we will be back to camp soon and they can forget about this week of torture. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Team Building

Staff training is here and that means 8am-9pm every day for the next 10 days to get the staff ready for camp. It is an intense and busy few weeks, but so far, it's going well and the summer is off to a strong start.

Olivia and Griffin are happy to have staff at camp. For Griffin, it means more people to give him attention- he is never happier than when someone is petting or paying attention to him. Olivia is not quite as lovable and easy to please. She appears to think she is more important than anyone else here and she tolerates them, but only if they are giving her treats, playing with her ball or telling her she is beautiful.

This morning we were doing a team-builder where the whole group had to stand together on a tarp and, without stepping off, flip the tarp over. It is a great exercise in communication and working together. Of course, the twist to this challenge was that they had to do this with a little fat bulldog walking between their legs, standing on the tarp and overall supervising the whole thing.

Olivia, supervising the activity.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Impatient Dogs

During the first weekend in May, the bulldogs and I were at camp for the annual work weekend. With 50 volunteers to play with, perfect weather, and a weekend of freedom to run and play, Olivia and Griffin were happy dogs. Olivia played with her ball at least once an hour and there were tons of kids at camp who were happy to play with her. Griffin will only chase the ball in short bursts, but he loves running after the kids or just laying in the middle of the field while they pet him.
Loving the attention

The dogs enjoyed overseeing the projects around camp and were quick to wiggle their way in and smash their faces against anyone who bent down (when you are busy with a disgusting plumbing project, I'm sure there is nothing better than a nosy bulldog assistant).

At the end of the weekend, we packed up and headed home and they were not very happy. Last year, we moved to camp on April 1st and I think this year they are getting impatient that we are not there full time yet.

This week has been busy- I've been cramming as much time in the office as I can to finish everything I need to do before I leave. I have been running errands like getting my oil changed, buying enough dog food to last through the summer, picking up sunscreen and books for my free time (wishful thinking, perhaps), loading the car, and packing my house.

And the bulldogs know what's up. Dogs are incredibly perceptive and they understand more than we sometimes give them credit for. My dogs know that it is camp time and they are impatiently waiting, sitting in the back yard, eyeing the car. They won't let me out of their sight when I am at home and every time I move towards the door, they take off running. Tomorrow when I take out the cooler, that will be the official sign that it's time and they will lose their minds. I will take trip after trip out to the car to load all of my stuff and they will fight to get out of the gate with each trip, crashing their fat little bodies into me until I finally give in and just let them stand next to the car while I pack. And then it's back to paradise and a summer of luxury for the bullies...

In the car on the way home- exhausted!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Trashy or Inventive?

It's been a while since I've posted. For years now, I've written every single day, whether it was in a journal, on a blog or some other outlet. But I had a little bout with un-motivation and have spent the past few months binge eating ice cream and wasting time reading endless celebrity gossip. Hundreds of dollars in personal training later, I'm paying for my recent choices, but I'm getting back to normal and my motivation to write seems to be following. Anyway, Griffin and Olivia have been healthy, have been to the park every day (sometimes twice a day) and are starting to countdown to camp- bulldog life has been normal.

Now that we're caught up, I've got to share my two recent inventions. "Inventions" or possibly, "reasons why my house is going to be featured on one of those shows where people judge trashy people's living conditions."

Invention 1- The Pee Sheet
Griffin sleeps 8 hours every night and doesn't have to pee, so I know he is physically able to go that amount of time without an accident. However, when I leave the house- for 2 hours or a whole day, he pees. To his credit, he pees in exactly the same place, as close as he could possibly get to the back door. It is ceramic tile, so it's easy to clean up and when I get home, he always hangs his head and looks remorseful for the puddle. So in terms of peeing inside my house, it's the best case scenario.

The problem is that the beautiful cabinet you see in this photo (which is only 2 years old and belongs to an entirely new kitchen I paid a lot of money for) is wood. And when Griffin pees, it's a BIG puddle. And the puddle soaks into the wood. So I've started using old sheets to soak up most of the pee and block the puddle from reaching the wood. Pee Sheet. I have 5 of them. It means that I have a load of absolutely disgusting urine soaked sheets to wash, but I feel like it is a worthwhile trade to protect my cabinet.

Invention #2- The Fence Blocker
 We recently got a new neighbor who has a big dog that barks a lot and is driving my dogs (especially Griffin) crazy. I'm not sure if Grif wants to be friends or get into a fight, but he is desperate to tunnel under the fence and meet the new guy.

This has caused two problems (besides annoying me with the barking, which is also a problem). The first issue is the mud. You can see in this photo that Griffin has scratched away all of he dirt. He spends as much time as I will let him in that one spot, whether the dog is outside or not. And then he comes inside, covered in dirt and tracks it all over my house. My floors look like, well, like they are covered in dirt- which they are, but that's not even the real problem.

The real issue with this situation is that Griffin has dug a little bit of a hole- not enough to get to the other dog, but enough to get most of his face under the fence. So now he looks like a fighting dog because his face has multiple cuts all over it from him repeatedly ramming it into the sharp edges of the metal fence. Apparently he doesn't feel pain. But he looks like an abuse victim and we haven't had a several hundred or thousand dollar trip to the vet recently, which just means that one is around the corner. And if I was a betting woman, I'm going to put my money on the fence+face situation being the reason.

This is a really heavy shelf that I used to have in my house and has been sitting in my garage. It has the L brackets on it which allows it to stand nicely and the heaviness of it means that a bulldog can bang against it, but not tip it over. It looks terrible and will look even worse once it gets muddy and wet, but for now, it's working. The dog was barking and Griffin slammed against it a few times and then just rested his chin on the edge of it.

My problems are solved for now. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any less trashy-looking ideas. But until then, I'm feeling proud of my solutions.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Slacker Blogger

Sorry I've been MIA lately. I'll be back soon with videos, adorable stories about my darling bullies.

Until then, here is one of the cutest photos I've ever seen (besides my dogs).

This is from my new favorite blog ever-