Tag Archives: French Bulldog

Bad dog mom! Forgot a dog birthday? Shame!

Hope was a really bad dog mom this week. You’d think, with only one kid to keep track of, nowhere to go, and not much to do, that she’d be able to remember important dates.

Not so much. It wasn’t until she looked at her phone Tuesday morning and saw her calendar with the notification “Torque’s birthday,” that she had any clue. Oops. As a matter of fact, she’d mentioned to someone just last week that his birthday was in November. Oops again.

Funny things, birthdays

We all know that Torque neither knows, nor cares, He has no idea what a calendar is, let alone that some dates are more momentous than others. 

It matters to us. Birthdays are more than a way of marking time. It’s a way to celebrate that one soul that matters. To let that being know they’re special, they count, their presence in our lives makes it better.

In the routine and stress of everyday life, it’s easy to take people/dogs/things for granted. Especially in 2020, we get through each day as best we can. Some are better than others. Some are truly difficult. Just like for everyone.

Birthday break

But on someone’s birthday, even a dog birthday, we get to break the routine and find a reason to celebrate. Ironically, Hope’s birthday this year was the day the pandemic lockdown went into effect here – the celebration dinner was carry-out. The first of quite a few lockdown celebrations

It wasn’t her worst birthday ever. That came quite a few years ago when she turned 26. She doesn’t know why it bothered her, but it did. Maybe passing the quarter-century mark. She was also working as a newspaper editor at the time and that was a particularly bad deadline day. And, when she got home, she found out there was fish for dinner. At the time, she loathed fish.

And she felt cheated – because on “her” day, it seemed that no one was celebrating her. It wasn’t true, of course, but it felt that way. And we learned that birthdays aren’t about presents, or cake. Not even ice cream. They’re about making that person know they’re special and enhance our lives. Because everyone needs to know they matter.

Dogs matter, too

Birthday boy Torque

The bad preparation for Torque’s sixth dog birthday has a silver lining. Now that Hope’s been reminded we have an occasion to celebrate, she’s planning a weekend bash for her boy. There will be vanilla ice cream and new toys and chews for the boys. If the weather cooperates and we don’t have more snow flurries, there may even be a meander on the local greenway so he can check out all the pee-mail. The simple joys of being a dog.

Another lesson from our dogs

Torque doesn’t know it’s his dog birthday. It also doesn’t matter to him. Any guilt Hope feels for forgetting is all hers. He does know he got to have fun playing with his mom and family. He knows he had good food, cuddles, and a comfy place to nap. And, when we get around to an actual birthday celebration, he’ll enjoy it enormously.

So, when you see notifications come up on your calendar or social media, take a minute to celebrate the person whose birthday it is. Even if all you do is post a simple “Happy Birthday!” – it lets that person know you thought of them, and they matter. 

Living in the cone of shame

It’s all fun and games until someone winds up in the Cone of Shame.

This time, it’s Torque, with a stubborn eye ulcer. It started last month, and seemed to be healing okay. A little slow, but nothing to worry about. Until, somehow, the boy reinjured it. Our first clue was when he went to rub his face on his blanket and squealed in pain. And your stomach just sinks at the sound of it.

Life’s not easy – especially in a Cone

These days, nothing is easy – for anybody. With the possible exception of our cousin the lawyer who’s spending his shut-down in his Malibu beach house. No, we’re not bitter at all. He’s a wonderful man and we love him dearly, but we do turn off his video on the Zoom calls. 

Anyway, getting back to the point, we always look forward to Spring because winter in the Chicago area is a pain; extra layers, boots, extra time, scraping ice off cars, extra slippery, etc. So the change of seasons means life gets a little easier. Except when you’re in shut down mode and have to take your dog to the veterinarian every four days so she can check on his eye ulcer.

Our vet is a very old-fashioned general practitioner. No appointments, no vet techs. You used to come, sign in, and wait. Nowadays, you come, call to let them know you’re in the parking lot. And wait. We’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately.

Hard to navigate

I (Hope) freely admit that I was a bit cavalier about putting Torque in a Cone of Shame at first. He never wore one after his neuter surgery – he’s a French Bulldog and isn’t flexible enough to reach his “bits.” And he’s generally very good about “leave it!” whether it’s something disgusting in the yard or licking his paws.

When he reinjured his eye, Torque went into lockdown, too. Not a minute without the Cone of Shame unless we were brushing or grooming him. 

The only problem was – we didn’t have one big enough to fit a Frenchie. Our other dogs, Boston Terriers and Brussels Griffons, have all had about a 12” inch neck, or close enough that our array of cones were all about that size. 

Big boy

Torque, however, has a 16 inch neck. Big dog neck, little dog height. And the big dog Cones of Shame are several inches longer. Which means that Torque couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, and actually couldn’t fit through most of the doorways in the house with the big boy cone on. 

French Bulldog in a cone of shame

So our solution was to jury-rig a smaller cone. It keeps his eye protected, lets him get a drink, and even lets him chew on a bone. And he fits through doorways. 

With the proper-fitting cone on, Torque didn’t really move much. It’s as if putting it on him caused instant paralysis. With the jury-rigged version, he moves just fine. And delights in bashing it into our legs if we’re slow to get out of our little bull-dozer’s way. 


We’re hoping we get good reports from the veterinarians this week. There are two in the practice, and, like everywhere, business has been slow. So they both come to see Torque and seem to take great joy in regaling us with horror stories about bug-eyed dogs (like French Bulldogs) whose eyes have popped out and other grisly details. They seem to find it fascinating and intriguing. It makes us a little woozy. 

So, between one thing and everything, this Spring hasn’t been one bit easier than Winter. Except we refused to wear boots when it snowed two inches in the last week. 

Should you neuter your dog? Latest data says not so fast!

What were the benefits of early neuter supposed to be? 

The most obvious one is fewer puppies. Other purported benefits include: lessening aggressive and/or marking behaviors, minimizing chances of reproductive-system cancers, and avoiding messy heat cycles.

Has early neutering worked?

Well, yes and no. According to our friends in the rescue/shelter world, there are fewer dogs in shelters. However, the dogs that are in shelters are more likely to have behavioral and/or health issues. As dog owners have become more responsible over the past 40 years, shelter dogs are products of neglect, abuse, and irresponsible pet ownership. Fewer “nice” dogs are available for adoption from shelters and rescues. And the backlash against responsible breeders has made purpose-bred, mentally- and physically-sound dogs harder to find and less accessible to the average person. They simply don’t know where to turn for a nice pet, not a “project.”

What are the negatives of early neutering?

Recent studies have shown that neutering before maturity can cause orthopedic issues for dogs. More research is being done, but it seems that the hormones are needed to signal the dogs’ bones to stop growing. This can lead to problems like cranial cruciate rupture,hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation. 
There have also been links found between early neuter and an uptick in other cancers, including mast cell tumors, lymphosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma. 
Additionally, the supposed behavioral benefits of early neutering have come under question. The research actually suggests the opposite – neutered dogs are actually more aggressive than intact animals. Neutered dogs also proved to be more excitable, fearful, and exhibit other less-desirable behaviors.

This is personal

It was a nervous week here at Golly Gear. Torque, Hope’s 4-year-old French Bulldog went under the knife for removal of a growth on his privates, and neutering surgery. The decision when, or even if, to neuter your dog is more difficult these days as the body of research grows.

Any kind of medical procedure on our dogs (or us!), especially surgery, is worrisome. Especially when you have a flat-faced dog like a Frenchie. And especially when the dog has never had anesthesia before. Even though we’ve known our veterinarian for years and trust her completely, it’s always a concern.

Brindle French Bulldog recovering from neuter surgery
Torque resting at home after surgery.

We’re happy to report that Torque came through with flying colors. He was a little groggy the first night and definitely not a fan of the “no food” surgical aftercare. The next morning, with breakfast on board, he was pretty much back to his usual self. He’s having a mini-vacation from rough-housing with the other dogs and training classes, but otherwise fine.

But we have to admit – if it weren’t for the mass on his “bits,” Torque would still be intact and likely would have stayed that way the rest of his life. Our attitude has shifted on the value of neutering dogs. Just like it shifted before.

Back in the olden days

Our first family dog was Spunky, a Boston Terrier who came into our lives in 1967. To the best of our knowledge, our mom never even thought about getting him neutered. It wasn’t routine, or automatic. At that time, according to the National Institutes of Health, a quarter of the dog population was “roaming the streets (whether owned or not) and 10 to 20-fold more dogs were euthanized in shelters compared to the present.”

Then, over the course of the next couple of decades, attention was focused on the overpopulation of dogs and cats and public opinion changed. Neutering became the “norm” – recommended for all pets as soon as they were about six months old. 

With the rise of the “adopt, don’t shop” movement, neutering started even earlier. Animals weren’t allowed to leave shelters unless they had already undergone the surgery. Now the consequences of that shift are coming to light and the results are a mixed bag.

What’s the take-away? Should I neuter my dog?

As always, it’s a decision that only you and your veterinarian can make, keeping in mind your situation, and your particular dog. While searching for answers, be aware of the source of the material you’re finding – many groups have biases. As critical thinkers, our job is to sort the wheat from the chaff, and take into account the writer’s point of view. 

For us, the choice was pretty clear. Torque is four years old, already mature. He’s done growing. As a matter of fact, the only thing that was growing was the mass on his scrotum. We weighed our options and made our decision based on the information available to us. It’s the best we can do.

Bigger life for you and your dog

This week we watched a video, aimed at dog training professionals that was pretty useless. But one line from the video struck a chord. 

The presenter said that for most people, “their life is bigger than just their dog.”

Aside from the atrocious grammar, the thought resonated. 

Part of your life

While dogs are members of their families, most people have a lot more than that going on – family, jobs, school, volunteering, hobbies, traveling. The list could be endless. And while people love their dogs – most dogs don’t participate in the rest of their lives.

Some dogs are able to go to work with their owners. Others accompany their families for outings like soccer games, picnics, or hikes. But most of our dogs wait for us comfortably at home. Most people’s lives aren’t centered around their dogs.

Aim higher

There’s nothing wrong with that – but both your dog’s and your lives could be bigger! Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to bring your dog with you wherever dogs are allowed? And know they’ll be well-behaved? And wouldn’t you love to have friends drop by any time without worrying about your dog? You can!

As we’re getting the wheels rolling on our 2-Minute-Trainer Club, we’ve been trying to define why we’re such advocates for training. And the nutshell answer is – it allows both of you to have a bigger life.

Some people have negative associations with the word “training.” There’s a history of boredom, drudgery, and even cruelty associated with the word.

Playing learning games

With our 2-Minute Trainer Method – every little “training session” is an opportunity to play with your dog. We define the games you can play, in limited space and time. And get substantial results. The amazing thing is that, as your dog’s understanding of the method grows, he or she will learn new things faster, easier, and better than you could have dreamed.

Just this week Hope taught her French Bulldog (not a breed known for compliance!) to “squat.” Her veterinarian suggested that Torque’s hind end was so straight that he may have issues with arthritis later in life unless we worked to strengthen him. So, after discussing the best exercises that would help him – Hope taught him to “squat.” It took about 7 minutes – total. 

Hope’s not a miracle worker. But she’s been playing training games with Torque, so he knows how to learn. He knows how to keep trying “stuff” until he hears a click and gets a treat. It’s all making it fun for both of you! This video is from the second two-minute session they played this game!

Pick up a clicker and join us in the 2-Minute-Trainer Club! Your dog can learn anything you want. Give us a couple of minutes a day and we’ll show you. You won’t believe what a difference a couple of minutes can make.