Gummi Bear...you were my dream come true old man. I'm sorry I failed you. But I can't tell your story without talking about my past.
When I was a child I had an aunt with a bulldog. I fell in love with the breed and dreamed of having a bulldog as my dog.
I got my wish and was the happiest kid ever...for 1 glorious year Samson was my best friend. I had no idea about the health limitations of bulldogs. My first dog ever died of heat stroke on my lap in a car with no A/C on the way to our lake home.
His death is scorched into my memory...
I was devastated...my mother didn't know what to do. Her solution was to get me another bulldog puppy. She did so on short notice and took a leftover pup from a recent litter.
He was a medical disaster and I learned what a hermaphrodite was because of him. Poor Bully was sweet but smart as hell. I remember him pretending to sleep so that our cat would come down off the high furniture and investigate. As soon as that cat smelled him he sloooowly stood up and followed her. That is one of my favorite memories of his brief time with me.
He died at 6 months during his spay/neuter surgery due to complications with his hermaphrodite status.
Once again I was devastated...and I told my family no more dogs. I couldn't bear anymore pain.
And so it was a boy who loved dogs with all his heart grew up without one.
I was 27 years old when I decided it was time to try again (specifically it was after seeing Wyatt and Doc of the Sprague family that motivated me) Nicole and I were dating at the time. We knew it was serious and decided to start our family with a fur baby.
I decided to give bulldogs 1 more shot. I researched all I could and was prepared. I swore this time around I would do everything in my power to care for the special health considerations. I would balance out the bad I had done and make it right with this next bulldog.
I spent a long time researching blood lines and speaking with breeders. I eventually settled on what I determined was a healthy line (Ocobo if you are curious with no cross/line breeding).
**Quick aside here**
I was lucky...the research proved true.
Gummi had a great respiratory system...probably the best from bulldogs I have known.
When Gummi was a puppy I would panic and check his breath all the time...he didn't snore or make typical bulldog noises all the time! As an adult he snored more frequently but there were still times I checked on him to make sure he was actually breathing
Gummi was able to go on hikes as well...he could do the 2.5 mile loop at Lake Elizabeth with Nicole and I (for people unfamiliar with bulldogs...bulldogs are usually gassed after a walk around the block)
Close friends and family may remember we sent an email on 12/1/2006 announcing that Nicole and I had started our family (thanks for saving everything gmail...I have tears in my face as I read the original with his puppy pics)
I was in law school when we got him and friends and family can confirm I had no time for anything else. My life was law school/Nicole and nothing else at the time.
Nicole and I were doing the long term relationship thing at the time but Gummi was always with me while I was at law school.
He looked big and tough but at heart he was a scared softy at heart. Even as a 65lb adult his safe spot was still in my lap while all the craziness of the house went on around him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c625Vez4T8c
I have many videos of Gummi on my youtube channel. I started it for that specific purpose. Like I said...Gummi was our first kid.
Gummi was my best friend and constant companion.
I took him for lots of walks
We did obedience 1 and 2 classes (a bulldog that knows "BANG" and can play dead...I was very proud of Gummi for that)
We did agility at the parks
Even though he was my dog and my attempt at bulldog karma redemption I was glad to see Nicole loved him just as much
Every major adult memory I have includes a Gummi sidenote.
-When I asked Nicole to marry me Gummi was nipping at our feet
-After we got married and moved into our own apt Gummi was part of the search
-When we moved cross country to start my career Gummi was with us
He got his own bed at motel stops
We got there before our furniture and Gummi claimed our bed while we unpacked
-We added Sophie to our family with the intent of giving Gummi a playmate (she dominated him and it didn't go as planned...sorry Gummi)
-Gummi experienced Snowmageddon in the DC area with us
-Gummi was there when we had our first child
-Gummi was with me for the cross country drive back to CA
-Gummi was with me when we bought our first home and finally settled down
-Gummi was with me when our second child was born
-Gummi was there when Sophie died last summer...his mere presence helped me pull through it. I started spoiling him with people food around this time (Nicole says I broke him because he was well trained and behaved previously)
Gummi had more than filled the hole in my heart from my childhood. I had done everything right by him and he was heading into his senior years.
He was an amazingly healthy bulldog with none of the typical issues.
Gummi spent most of his time sleeping but still perked up when guests came over or I gave him bones to play with in the backyard.
He was my constant companion while I worked late hours.
I had recently started telling friends and family that old man Gummi had outlived all my other bulldogs combined (Samson-1 Bully-6 months Sophie-6 years)
And now...my shame...my failure...my guilt...my pain
We were on a family vacation when the accident happened. We were enjoying our lake home...something we had done many times before
This is my last photo of Gummi...taken the day before
I left Gummi with my dad to take a day trip with Nicole and the kids to visit Safari West.
While we were away my dad took Gummi down to the boat dock to keep him company for his morning coffee.
I don't know how it happened....I have nightmare images swirling in my mind imagining though.
On June 26th 2016 Gummi fell off the dock into the lake...
I don't know if he drowned or if his heart gave out due to panic and shock while he was struggling.
All I know is my poor sweet Gummi died a horrible death. He died alone in a state of terror.
I will never get that out of my soul...
I swore I would do right this time. I am so sorry I failed you Gummi.
There will be no more bulldogs for me. You helped me heal the guilt of Samson and the loss of Bully but no other bulldog could ever hope to fix this gaping hole.
I love you Gummi Bear. I miss you Gummi Bear. I'm sorry I failed you and I was not there...