Our friend Ookla passed away yesterday at almost 12 years old. That's pretty amazing for a bulldog.
My friend Ed bought her from a breeder as a puppy. We went to pick her up and it was one of the most disgusting homes I've ever seen, we felt like we were rescuing her.
Ookla was named after a Thundarr the Barbarian character. For a while there was talk of getting another bulldog and naming it Ariel so that Ed could yell "Ookla, Ariel, we ride!" Then from a dog training book, we learned that a dog's name should be two syllables and end in a short vowel sound. Perfect. Ookla was also called Ook, pants, cat, and a few other things. Diner's Club offered her a credit card once.
I learned a lot about bulldogs. They sleep a lot and don't feel much pain, which gets them in trouble. They're usually born cesarian because their mothers often fall asleep during child birth. When growing, her front legs grew faster than her back ones. She dragged her hindquarters around for a month or two because she couldn't support her own weight. But she grew out of it.
When she was just a few months old Ed brought her to Cahoon Hollow Beach on Cape Cod. He carried her down the huge 90' sand dune and then towards the shoreline. He put her down on the wet sand above the water line and let her walk along the beach towards us. When it was time to turn inland to our beach towel she struggled for a full 5 minutes to get up a six or eight inch sand cliff at the wet/dry sand line. Her legs kept moving as she panted and her huge tongue drooped into the sand. She kept at it and when she made it over the cliff the whole beach around her erupted in cheers and applause.
She snorted and drooled and for a while was deathly afraid of garbage can lids. She could play with an empty 2 liter soda bottle for about an hour before having destroyed it completely. She was pretty good at fetch but really bad at letting go of the object (bulldogs were bred to not let go). You could try pulling a ball out of her mouth for a long time before succeeding. You could even lift her up off the floor by a big rubber ball gripped tightly in her mouth.
She was the first dog I ever saw dressed in a Halloween costume. She went as a Stegosaurus in a doggy sweater with spines on her back. They got stuck as she tried to walk under chairs as she usually did and she didn't understand why she no longer fit. She put up with a lot.
Ed and Taiko loved Ook immensely, she was even the ring bearer at their wedding. They took great care of her. Her nose would dry up and looked like parts would fall off, so they moisturized it. Her eyes got cloudy and crusty with gunk, so they were always wiping them clean. She had an infection and had one of her ears sewn shut. Stairs were a problem, but then again, except in her prime, they often were for her.
Ookla, I hope you're in a place with non-slippery surfaces and plenty of empty 2 liter soda bottles and no trash can lids.