A Long Overdue Update!

Hey to anyone who's still stopping by, my apologies for dropping off the radar for so long. After Stella died I really needed to grieve, and sadly didn't have my account set up to see the messages coming in. Thank you so much to everyone who wrote us about her, and I hope you and all your bully angels are doing well.

Stella's situation was so tough, and while all smushed faced dogs face certain unique health challenges, the issue with the trachea is really heartbreaking, as there is little to do surgically. However, we've heard hundreds of stories of people who manage their bully's issues through keeping them calm, not letting them get fat, using the lemon juice to keep phlegm build up down, and heading the vet at the first sign of problems with breathing.

Our vet actually thinks Stella may have developed a blood clot which caused her to pass, as she was stable at the ER and fighting the pneumonia. We will never know for sure, but I sleep well at night knowing we did everything we could, she was a very loved dog, and she enjoyed every moment she had on this physical plane.

Every dog, bully or otherwise, will face it's share of hardships and health issues in life, just as we all will. There is no guaranteed healthy dog - our pit mix rescue has had multiple bouts of cancer (beat them all) and a splenic mass that almost killed him - and he's still going strong at 12.

After Stella died - we decided to try again - and welcomed Birdie into our family. Birdie is, thankfully, very healthy. She does have a deep tail pocket that we have to keep on top of, but that's it! What a relief! However, we pushed our luck and got a third dog, Fanny (from the same breeder as Birdie) and she's had a slew of genetic issues. She's required 2 surgeries for eye lash issues (distichia), has mange that we were just now getting around to dealing with, and had a very elongated soft pallet that we had shortened during her spay surgery. Now we have to see if her knees will need surgery - she was diagnosed with luxating patellas in both back legs, and she definitely bunny hops (sign of knee issues). We are hoping she will either grow into herself and it will resolve naturally, or that it won't become an issue that bothers her - in which case we will probably defer surgery. My point though, is that again - all dogs have "stuff."

If anyone has questions about Stella or our current pack, I'll try to be better about checking in, and for now - here's some pics of my family.



R. I. P. Stella 2006 - 2013

I'm so sad to tell you all that our beloved little girl Stella passed away June 28th, 2013 at 8:30 p.m. She developed pneumonia which got bad very quickly and her heart stopped. She brought so much joy, love and laughter to our lives and everyone who knew her. We will miss her with all our hearts forever. Goodbye Stellie, you were such a good girl. We love you.


Stella's Doing Great at 6!

Stella passed a milestone the other day - she turned six! We had vets tell us she'd never see this day - and we fully expect her to easily see another six if not more. She's doing great (knock on wood) and while we still have to deal with things like allergies (her feet swell pretty badly and we give her benadryl throughout the summer) and keeping her calm - it's nothing life threatening. She's spending the summer snoozing, going on short cool walks with the family, and just generally being a happy English Bulldog. I hope that all of you who've written in, posted, and shared your stories in the past are doing well and hoping the same for your four legged family members. If anyone has any updates, feel free to post them. And yes - Stella still gets regular lemon juice squirts and still produces big phlegm blobs that allow her to breathe easier and are hopefully preventing her from developing things like pneumonia, etc.



Hey everyone,
Sorry I haven't posted in so long! Good news is Stella is doing great and continuing to thrive. We watch her activity level, feed her a good quality food, and use the lemons to keep her breathing easy! Hope you and your bullies are all doing well!
Stella's mom


Benson's Story

Here is Benson's story - and some great tips from his parents!

Hey Tracey,
So really the updates from when you saw us (which I can't 100% remember when that was). Benson got sick a total of two times over the course of last February to June. The second time he had pneumonia they told us to put him down- then we met you guys! In July I took Benson to Virginia Tech Animal Hospital for a second opinion on recommendation that they are one of the top vet places in the US. They were amazing although it's a long drive and Benson wasn't a fan of them. They recommended soft palate removal. I decided to have Benson's surgery at the beginning of August- August 11th at Dogs and Cats Referral Hospital in Bowie MD - where we have always gone. Dr. Eileen Snakard performed his surgery. His soft palate was removed, apparently it was too long and also too thick. He didn't need his nasals enlarged but during the surgery the surgeon was nervous since she removed so much palate he would swell so they did a temporary trachestomy during the surgery to keep his airway secure until the swelling went down. It cost him another day there but it did wonders for him! We brought him home after they reversed his trach on Friday. We had a follow up appointment a week later at which point his trach hole had closed on its on as expected and the surgeon removed his sutures from holding up those big wrinkles for the trach :)
Benson has since been fabulous - we transitioned him to Doc Side vet. On his first appointment he had lost about 6 lbs- which is good for him to keep a low weight. We first saw Dr. Joy Gooding on is now added to my christmas card list- I really adore her. We spent two hours there and I got to ask all my neurotic questions and sort of set a "game plan" on how to prevent Benson from further pneumonia outbreaks. We switch his food to no grain, no corn- and are now feeding him Evo and always include other cook foods such as : veggies, boiled chicken, yogurt, sweet potatoes, etc - per Dr. Goodings recommendations. Benson now is a brat and won't eat his food unless chicken is on it!
We also stopped doing lemon- as I told you before- to help prevent gastric reflux and ulcers. In transition, we now give him papaya tablets instead of lemon. I've heard of it for humans but never for dogs. But so far so good.
Benson is alive, well, and kickin. The past few days he sound congested but we have a follow up appointment at Doc Side on Friday. From all the anti-biotics he was on- he got a yeast infection in his ears so we're going back to make sure he's good- but we might also get an xray and see what's going on.
September 5th was Benson's first bday. We met with some friends and their pups and went to Iggies for pizza and celebration.


Stella is Doing GREAT!

I'm very happy to tell you all that Stella is doing great after her surgery! She came through with flying colors and actually has never seemed healthier. We couldn't be happier. Our vet took fantastic care of her, and within a few days she was back to her old self, or new and improved. Guess we gambled poorly when we opted to not get her fixed. In hindsight we should have, but hindsight is always 20/20. For now, we are enjoying our happy and healthy bulldog. Hope you and your bullies are all doing well - send me updates, pics, and any tips and I'll add them to the blog. I just got some interesting new info from some friends recently on how they keep their bully Benson healthy, I'll post it soon!


Resting Before Surgery

Stella and her family just wanted to say thanks for the well wishes! We will post an update as soon as we are in the clear from surgery and eating biscuits with abandon again!


Well we have had a bad turn of events. Stella has developed Pyometra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyometra) which we knew was a risk when we opted to not have her go through surgery to spay her. This infection may actually have been the reason for her recent lung issues, as her system might have been comprimised while trying to fight off the infection. We noticed a small amount of pus on the floor where she had been laying, about 4 weeks ago, and then nothing. However, shortly after her breathing issues got bad and she started antibiotics, the discharge got much worse and more frequent. Turns out it's a good thing it's coming out, otherwise it's much harder to diagnose until the dog is much sicker. So, long story short, she is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. We've been treating her breathing issues the past few days to try to ensure she is as strong as possible before surgery, and our great vets at Doc Side know how special she is, so we know she is in good hands. I'll post an update once she's through surgery and let you all know how she does.


Trouble with Allergies Turning into Infections

Stella has had shortness of breath for the past few days, and some trembling, which had us concerned. This morning we took her into the vets (we go to Doc Side Vets in Fells Point, Baltimore) and they took a look. Turns out her lungs looked a little cloudy and interestingly enough, we had been in almost exactly to the day, two years ago, with X-Rays to compare today's to. We have also just switched our air conditioners off, and gone to open windows as the temperature is cooling off. This makes us wonder, as well as our vet, if Stella has seasonal allergies. I wish we would have thought about this before she got sick, and started her on some Benadryl. But alas, we didn't.

So now she has what can best be described as the possible beginnings of pneumonia. We won't know for sure until the blood tests come back but they started her on antibiotics anyhow, just to be safe. They also told us to start giving her Benadryl and they prescribed her another med often used to treat asthma. (Theophyline - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophylline). The vet thinks this should do the trick, but we are going to be on the look out for this issue when the seasons change again and allergies flare up. If your dog has been acting like breathing is difficult lately, consider this a possibility.

Another nice result of the vet trip today is that they pulled up this blog and watched some of the videos, and are now well aware of the benefits of the lemon. We had been trying to help Stella these past few days with the lemon treatments, but she just wasn't able to clear everything out.

I hope to post another update soon letting you all know she's doing fine - so stay tuned. And in the mean time I hope all of your doggies are doing well, and my best wishes for those who aren't.
Stella's Mom


An Update - May 2010

Happy to report that Stella is doing great! She gets her lemon treatments and lots of "time outs" and that seems to be keeping her healthy. Her favorite things are to play upside down attack and grab, and to go for car rides where she gets her face as close to the AC vent as possible and then snores up a storm. Hope all your doggies are doing well and bringing much joy to your lives! Any new visitors, look at the early posts for info on dealing with health issues, and good luck!


Update on Stella

Well, good news to report. Stella has been doing well for the past few months. Yes, we still give her lemons to chew on every few days or so. Yes, she still spits up huge nasty phlegm blobs. Yes, we have to give her frequent time-outs. Yes, she is still happy, loving life and bringing tons of joy into our lives! How is everyone else doing out there? Make sure to leave any updates on your dog's story, especially any tips on how you are keeping them healthy and happy.


I love dogs

i love dogs
the way they always follow
me upstairs
about 95 seconds after
I have left
not really expecting me to be doing
anything different
or exciting
but happy
for the chance
I might say
as if I was singing
a song
that was all about
or how
I might let myself
by the bed
for a scratch
or straightening of the collar
as they settle in
to wait
for my eventual journey
to another room
again they follow
in hopes of a song
or a few moments spent
talking about some squirrel
or fly
or kitty
or how the cleaning lady makes us nervous
or best of all
the pat of my hand on the covers
and a kiss goodnight


The Effect of the Lemon - in Video!

OK - this is gonna be gross for any of you who don't know about this, but to bulldog parents who are trying to help their babies breathe easier, this is a sight for sore eyes. As you can see, Stella isn't afraid of the lemon, thanks of making this whole thing like a fun game for her. But look at what she manages to spit up after only a few shots of lemon juice (note - I had given her a few bites prior to this video footage.) If you have any questions - leave a comment on the blog and I will reply!


A new issue

First, I apologize for not posting for a while. Stella's breathing issues have been great - thanks to the constant lemon treatments clearing the phlegm out. We travel with lemon, keep lots in the house, we are never without them! However, Stella has developed a new issue, less serious but irritating to her and her parents. She is obsessed with her butt. She constantly tries to get you to scratch her, and when left to her own devices, she sits and spins on any carpet she can find! A trip to the vet found she did have one anal gland that needed to be cleared out (yuk), but that didn't seem to resolve things. We are now giving her a low dose steroid to see if that will help calm things down, I will post an update when we see how it all turns out. In the mean time, any other bulldog parents have similar issues? The vet has checked for anything serious and can't see any problems with her rear, so we are hoping she will forget about it soon, its becoming an obsession.


Stella Turns 3!

I doubt many vets would have given Stella much of a shot at hitting 3 years old, but today she celebrates her third birthday! Her health has remained good, thank in large part to our diligence at keeping her cool and calm, and giving her fresh lemon halves to chew on as often as possible. We have been doing it for so long, she now thinks of lemon halves as toys to be chased, played with and bitten! Even our lab / pitbull mix Rufus tries to play with the lemon, although you can tell he's not too sure what all the fuss is about :)
Here is a recent video and some pics of Stella being her crazy, lovable self. I hope all of your bulldogs (and all pets) are doing well, and feel free to comment with any questions or to share your stories.

Happy Birthday Stella!


Helping Out

OK - I don't randomly post about non-bulldog things but I am compelled to after seeing a great news story about a wonderful animal shelter. While I definitely LOVE my bulldog and my other dog, I really feel strongly that all animals deserve the chance for a nice life. This organization is really helping out, especially as all sorts of animals are being abandoned or left to die by people or farms that simply can't afford to care for them any longer. We often think about how people are affected during tough economic times, but this story reminded my about the animals who are being affected as well. Consider donating to the Circle L Ranch, even just $5 - if everyone gave just a little, think how many animals could live out their lives the way they deserve to.



Update on our friend Lucas!

Just got this great email update from Debra on their one year old EB Lucas. What a cute bully!

"Hi Tracey,

It has been some time since I wrote you. My EB Lucas was diagnosed with a hypoplastic trachea when he was about 10 wks or so. Over the winter he had his nares widened, and palate surgery done. Happy to say we celebrated his 1st birthday on April 5th.

Just wanted to update you and send a couple of pictures.



March 2009 - Good News

Happy to report that with regular "time-outs" and a lemon half every few days, Stella is doing great! She is full of life, happier than ever, and always hysterical. We are definitely enjoying having her as part of our family.

Stella - March 2009 from TraceyHalvorsen on Vimeo.


Update - January 2009

I am happy to report Stella has been doing well. We usually end up giving her some lemons at least a few times a week, whenever she has been extra spazzy or gotten a few good romps with Rufus in before we can calm her down. They seem to really do the trick, she manages to spit up some phlegm and feels good as new! She is doing well with her food, Prairie, and we mix in canned food to the dry to keep her weight up (she actually isn't a food hog at all, contrary to many bulldog stories I have heard).

I will post some more pics soon, and really glad to hear the info I have been posting to this blog is helping other dog owners out there. I don't know what I would do without the joy both my dogs bring to my life, and Stella is a very special little creature. I consider it a privilege to care for her and her brother Rufus, they make me laugh, provide enduring friendship and love, keep me safe, and remind me to enjoy the moment.


Update - Nov. 2008

Well, although the construction is still happening at our house, Stella is doing OK. We have been trying to keep her out of the main dusty areas, and she hasn't had any bad relapses. She does seem a bit more phlegmy and pukey than normal, but nothing to worry about. Here are some recent pics. Keep your bulldog updates coming, it's very helpful for other dog owners to hear about how we are all keeping our dogs healthy and happy!