Wow, this is coming at you very late! Starting this at 8:30 PM on a Sunday night which feels like a Saturday night because it’s the long weekend.

Yesterday, for my birthday we had a pretty chill day at home and then went out for supper with my family to a Mexican restaurant. It was good – my brother and his wife and their daughter who is 2.5 years old, my parents and my sister and her husband’s two boys (the kids only – their parents were in Arizona just the two of them), were there to celebrate.

The dynamic of the family changes so much when kids come around. It’s exciting and fun to see them grow and be goofy, but it’s also really hard to get any meaningful, uninterrupted conversations out of these get togethers because someone is always chasing after a kid. It’s just different now – but I was happy to be surrounded with family for my birthday.

I had one glass of wine with supper, and of course this whole weekend I could not be as motivated to be as healthy as I could be just because dining out brings so many unknowns, and it was my birthday! So I decided to just enjoy the weekend and the family outings and live life! It was so nice to wake up this morning not hungover, which was seriously the first time probably since 20 or so and started drinking that I can remember not being hungover. I’m so proud of myself!

The last two days (including tonight as I type this, which I will tell you about tomorrow) have been filled with 2 family get togethers and 2 days of going back and forth from our house to my neighbor/friend Trish across the street’s house to dog sit Maverick, her English bulldog puppy. Trish works shift work and is a paramedic out of the hospital and works 12-14 hour shifts and her significant other works away for weeks at a time, so she needs some help. I SURELY don’t mind helping out, he really makes me smile so much.

There’s something about puppies – their innocence, goofiness and clumsiness just makes me smile. But dang – he does not sit still! I appreciate our senior bulldogs for their 20 hours or more of sleep time per day! It’s nice to have them chill beside us and cuddle on the couch and not need to entertain them and play the whole time. Don’t get me wrong, we love Maverick. But we don’t mind our easy life with Frank and Sophie!

I got asked on social media if Maverick comes over and hangs out with Frank and Sophie or if we bring them all there to play. The answer is no. Sophie is like that elderly dog who snaps at the young pup at first, but then is tolerant. She’s still grumpy and mad at us for bringing this young annoying thing into her life, but she gets used to him. She lost a lot of hair from stress when he was over yesterday morning. Frank is a huge jerk to any other dog now.

I didn’t realise this blog post was going to be going this direction tonight, but this came up today as well at our family gathering and I feel like maybe some how, it can help someone who is going through this too. It’s funny how I go into a blog post not knowing what I’ll write and it evolves into a book. It’s so weird too that it’s coming up because me and Robyn of The Painted Table – Balgonie were just talking about the whole situation this week, and she listened to my story and told me she has heard of this happening before. That made me feel normal. Okay, here is the story…

Frank used to be the sweetest little man, but we once had a third bulldog and something life changing happened that changed us all. I don’t speak of her much. Her name was Penny and we got her as a puppy in 2014 and her, Frank and Sophie were like the 3 musketeers. In 2015 we went on a trip to Thailand for 2 weeks and when we returned things had changed.

We started noticing things between Penny and Frank and unusual fights that weren’t play fighting anymore. They weren’t so serious for us to be concerned yet, we were just a little confused and thought we were doing something wrong.

As time went by, the fights started getting so vicious that they would try and actually kill each other and rip each other’s throats. Poor Sophie was in the middle and she would always pounce and try and break up the fight – whoever was the most aggressive who needed to be pulled away. She got hurt too. We would also get hurt and bit in the chaos trying to separate them. It left Steve and I SUPER stressed out. At family events or when we’d get together with friends it would be the first thing people would ask out of pity: “How are the dogs doing?” It was a reminder every time of how we had failed and for some reason we were bad dog owners and couldn’t fix the problem. I would dread the question even though I knew it was coming. I hated it because deep down I knew that it wasn’t going to work out, I just didn’t know it yet.

This led us to segregating the two of them for months, and about two years of keeping them on separate floors while we tried EVERYTHING in our power at trying to get them back to normal. It was mostly me who had to deal with the chaos and anxiety/paranoia if we made sure everything was just so, so that they wouldn’t kill each other if we were careless. We spent thousands on “dog whisperer type” seminars and training and I could tell even telling the person running the seminar, it seemed he couldn’t promise a good outcome for us. We got some DANG good trainer skills from that seminar, it was actually amazing, but I feel it was geared towards puppies, not dogs who want to kill each other for some odd reason.

I can tell you – those two years were HELL. Running my business while continually changing the dogs out to be on different floors/outside breaks to give them all adequate attention was not good for anyone. I finally came to the point that I was strong enough to make the decision that she had to be rehomed because it would be best for everyone. It took me a month of mental torture and bawling to make that decision. I think I cried every day thinking about letting her go and the guilt, wondering if I had done everything I possibly could to try and fix the situation. Once I could confidently say yes and Steve was on board, we had to do it. He always said it would be up to me because I was the most effected, but it was his decision too because this was his baby too. Penny was a sweet girl on her own, but once we came home, she was a different dog. Almost like a darkness had taken over that we couldn’t recognize.

My friend and owner of Paws Republic, Kristine helped us out through the whole thing. She had tried to help us when things were horrible. I remember her saying “If you ever get to the point where you feel like you know it’s time for her to find a new home, I’m here for you”. I thought nooo that won’t be us, we are going to fix this! Perhaps it was a little foreshadowing with Kristine and just knowing that it no longer could be how it was, and she was right. She took Penny in when the time came, and found her the right home just after a couple of days. As far as I know, she is still with that family, but to be honest, I don’t ask anymore because I don’t want to know if it’s a bad answer. I would be heartbroken if I had knowledge that she got passed to another family, and another. I just can’t deal with it and I had to give her up and that means she is no longer my responsibility.

I was heartbroken when we finally pulled the trigger, but oddly enough, I felt a sense of relief and lightness. I’ve never actually lost a pet by having to put them down, but I can only imagine it felt the same as what Steve and I went through. I remember a couple days after having lunch with my friend Kaitlyn of Spruce Homes, she had heard all about my heartbreaks about the whole situation and I remember her being very supportive about it, as well as my friend Kristy who listened a lot about it too. Just knew it wasn’t right anymore and it was time.

Frank and Sophie have loved each other from the start. It took a few days for Frank the puppy to adapt to a very tiny puppy, but they started bonding and snuggling instantly. They also welcomed puppy Penny to the pack and cuddled too. Now that she is gone, I can feel Frank and Sophie are at peace again. There is some aftermath and damage done though.

Sophie is still scared at times. I feel like time hasn’t fully passed by for her to forget the trauma she witnessed and she still feels frightened and worried. I feel like since we surrendered Penny, is when her anxiety started. She was such a calm girl before, but that’s when I started noticing her behaviour happening. She is tolerant towards dogs, but some she will snap at if they’re annoying her, which she never used to do when she was young/middle aged.

Frank no longer likes any dogs whatsoever and is always threatened/wants to fight. This also was not him before – he was so happy go lucky. This whole ordeal has changed our lives with our dogs. It’s battered and bruised us, but when I get asked the awkward questions about how our dogs now, I just wish I could tell them the whole story, but it’s so difficult unless you already knew us. It’s heartbreaking to think about it, and I know to some it’s just a dog/dogs, but this was our family. I feel so angry that we ever even had to deal with this, even to this day. I feel we got jipped and it was out of our control, and despite trying everything we possibly could, we couldn’t control the outcome to be a good one.

I wish there could be a lesson learned from it all but I’m just stumped still, and never had an answer other than “it was just not right anymore”. But guess what – we’ve now been through something traumatic and so difficult and came out of it knowing that time heals EVERYTHING. It really does. And even though you think you’ll never get out of it, you always do.

And now, when someone asks about if our dogs are “good” I can say they’re as good as they can be considering what they’ve been through. And we still love them so much. I’m so glad they’re so great with people, they love everyone. Just other dogs they’re sketchy with now. I don’t regret to this day rehoming her, I feel it was best for everyone and for little Penny to have a new and happier/less stressed out life too.

Okay, that’s a really long blog post tonight. I promise tomorrow won’t be so sad! I’m feeling so much better letting this out because I don’t ever talk about it. I guess that’s shame and guilt for you, right?

Dani