Hello everyone! I have to say, I'm quite excited and honored to be doing a member spotlight. Well, here it goes!
So, unlike many other members, I have not had dogs my whole life. I was highly allergic as a baby and have only one fully functioning kidney because of this allergy (my other kidney only functions about 5% of the time and generally, I get sick the once in a blue moon that it DOES work). My parents had a mini dachshund when I was a baby, at about 6 months old I had a 103+ fever that they could not get rid of; it had the doctors baffled. Until I was away from the dog for a period of time and I got better almost instantly! So needless to say, we did not have a dog my whole life - my mom was just too afraid to take the chance. Although, I'm pretty sure a puppy was on the top of my Christmas list EVERY YEAR. The dog I grew up with belonged to my neighbors and best friends - her name was Brielle and she was the sweetest black lab. She did everything with us!
Fast forward to 2006 - I was between jobs and had gone back to school. I was working for a friend's towing company; he needed help and I needed a job where I could do homework on my down time. Perfect! His dog, Chopper (a black lab also) had gotten very sick and ended up spending his days with me in the office. In fact, I even spent time outside of work with him so my friend could get out once in a while. He was a single guy and Chopper was his baby; he was beside himself with him being sick. Chopper had a feeding tube and threw up often, became guarded and only let myself and my friend near him. He was only 5 or 6 years old! So, this reminded me how much I would love a companion but scared me that I couldn't ever afford a dog! What if something went wrong like that.
While working at the towing company, I met Joe ... who is now my husband (which is not at all how I thought of him!). He was the only person at the company that I had anything in common with but I still never pictured myself even hanging out with him. Well, one of the female drivers decided we should be together and started making comments and hinting on a daily basis. I finally told her the one stipulation I was given when I started to work there - my friend (the owner) did not want me hanging out with any other employees! He and I were too close that he just wasn't comfortable with me getting too friendly with the other employees. So, you know what my husband did?! He called and asked permission to take me out!!! My friend called and told me that he thought I should go because that took a lot of guts for Joe to call his BOSS for permission to go on a date. I was floored and decided I would go. We have been inseparable since then.
Two of the major things that attracted me to Joe after getting to know him were his love for animals and that he was an amazing father. Julia was 8 years old at the time (we were only 25 - I was so nervous about how my parents would react to that!) and living with her mom. Joe spent as many weekends as possible with her and would bring her by the shop. It was just so cute to see them together. Soon I learned that his love of dogs extended well beyond his pitbull, Tank. (Pitbulls have always had a special place in my heart; they are so misunderstood and I grew up with some great ones!).
Joe and I signed our first lease together and soon I learned of his want for an English Bulldog. Of course, our first two apartments did not allow pets but we also did not have the money AT ALL. We were struggling to get by - he had started a new career that required schooling and very little time to work; I worked selling RVs and campers which was almost totally commission based. We often looked at rescues but without a backyard they would never consider us and truly we knew we couldn't fully care for a dog financially. Pretty much all of our friends and family knew how badly we wanted a bulldog and one day, Joe got the phone call that was the beginning of our dream come true! Our good friend, Shane, knew of someone looking for a good home for her English Bulldog - she was young and had broken up with her boyfriend causing their dog to be too much for either of them to take care of. Shane told her about our family and within a few days, Shane was picking up Chunk after work and bringing him to us! It was July 20, 2010 - a day I will never forget. It was over 90 degrees out, I had the A/C blasting and fans going in the apartment to make sure it was cool enough for my new friend. I was sooo nervous about taking care of him - were we really ready for a dog? Will he have a hard time adjusting? They say he is healthy, what if he isn't? What if she changes her mind and wants him back? Will I be able to pick up poop and NOT puke?!
Shane arrived and I was instantly in love. I sat on the floor and Chunk came right over to me for loving and petting. We played a little and then went to see Joe at softball. Once we came back home, I sat on the couch and he jumped right up next to me. This was when I had my first epiphany about the sounds of a bully - our A/C is window units so that was blasting, box fan was on high, Chunk was snorting next to me and even with the TV on the loudest volume, I couldn't hear it. All I could think was, "What did I get myself into?!" Soon his sounds were something I loved to hear.
So the dog that Joe wanted so badly ... Became Mommy's boy. He often reminds me that "his dog" turned me into "the crazy dog lady". And I'm just fine with that.
We have had an exciting few years. May 2008, Julia asked to come live with us. We were ecstatic, Joe always wanted her to live with us and it was even better that it was her choice. June 2009, we were engaged (on our 3 year dating anniversary)! We had some very tough times during 2009 but that seems to have brought us much better times since 2010. July 2010, we got our Chunkster; September 18, 2010, we were married. June 2011, (on our fifth dating anniversary) we found out we were pregnant! (Which by the way, was quite a surprise!) Now, in 2012, we are awaiting the arrival of our baby boy - due February 4th, Julia will start high school and by summer we will buy our first house. I'm hoping, soon after we are settled in the house we will also get a buddy for Chunk.
So, that's pretty much our life. I live at the "Jersey Shore" but no, it's not like the show. We live a laid back life (though yes, I have had my fair share of fun and crazy times at the places you see on TV). I love to read, go to the beach, hang out in my lounge chair in the backyard (which backs up to the bay and is so relaxing!), listen to music and dance, and give back to others through donations and any other way I can! Most of all, I love spending time with my family and friends. My parents and youngest brother only live a few blocks away and my middle brother is only an hour away in New York City. As Italian traditions go, we retro have family dinner every Sunday which I love (it's hard because my mom works in retail). Also, I get to spend lots of time with my Gramma - she helps keep an eye on Julia every day after school. I am very lucky to have such close friends and family; they are the things I treasure most. I have to say - my friendships on EBN feel like family too.
This is literally how Joe proposed … he even put this picture on facebook before I woke up!! Such a stinker.
Chunk on our wedding day
Joe and I
My favorite wedding picture of Joe and I
Typical picture of my brothers and I
Julia and her little brother Garrett
Chunk, the not at all spoiled dog
Chunk and I at my parent’s house.
Chunk, the baby and I taking a nap recently
Our newest member of the family Clayton Joseph Thatcher
-- Keturah N. Thatcher
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English Bulldog News Member Spotlights