Renee Sanchez, NYC, NY
For the last 11 years I have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My symptoms include nightmares, severe panic/anxiety attacks and depression. I have struggled with this condition since September 11th, 2001. I worked on the 62nd floor of Tower 2 in the World Trade Center and was at my desk when our country came under terrorist attack. I was blessed and fortunate to make it out of the building safely that day. I am so grateful I was one of the lucky ones. Since that day I have been plagued by PTSD symptoms. After several years, several doctors and several medications, my symptoms were somewhat better but still quite debilitating.
All my life I wanted a dog. Like many NYC residents I have always lived in a cooperative community where dogs were not permitted. After losing the vote to allow dogs year after year, my neighbors and I were overjoyed when our votes finally outweighed those who were opposed. I put a lot of thought into what breed of dog would best suit my lifestyle. I like to hibernate in my 900 square foot apartment during the cold winters and wanted a 4 legged companion who shared my love of warm cuddles on the sofa. A French Bulldog seemed like the best... no, the ONLY choice for someone like me.
On January 6th of this year I decided I was ready to find my 4 legged companion. While searching several French Bulldog rescue sites I was somehow led to the Happy Kennels page. I remember clicking one link which lead to another link and yet another. In my search for a rescue Frenchie I found the next best thing, a retired dam from Happy Kennels named Itsy Bitsy (now named Lola). When I clicked on the retired dam page of the Happy Kennels website and saw Itsy's picture I had one of those movie moments. Lol. I said "That's her!! That's my dog!". My first conversation with Gwen confirmed what I already knew, that this was the right dog for me.
I expected my Frenchie companion would provide lots of love and joy. Itsy has more than exceeded those expectations. Here is what I didn't expect:
I had no idea what a profound impact this little 20 pound creature would have on my quality of life. Itsy is not a trained therapy dog but she is certainly an instinctual therapy dog. She knows when I am having a difficult day and when my anxiety is running high. When I am close to a panic attack she will lick my hands or my ankles to calm me down. I know what you're thinking, all dogs lick right? Well she doesn't. It is something she does only and specifically when she senses that I am anxious. I did not teach her to do this and it took me almost 2 months to realize that she only does this when I am about to have an attack. The amazing part of it all is that IT WORKS! What she does really helps alleviate my symptoms and calm me down. I never would have thought a dog licking my hands and legs, and making sure she is close when I am uncomfortable would make me feel safer and calmer, but it does. In many ways I think dogs are smarter than we are. They do not act on scientific or psychiatric theories. Without formal training they act purely on instinct and this little girl has great instincts! When we are out and about she is aware of my stress level and can sense when I need a little space from other people in public. She will place herself (facing me) between me and another person whom she perceives as a stressor. When I start to sweat and tremble (early signs of an impending panic attack she will circle me and then lead me in a direction away from the stressful environment. For those of you who own French Bulldogs you already know how they can pull or "bully" you in a certain direction. I still have occasional nightmares and I can tell how difficult my night has been by how close she is when I wake up. On a good night she is content to spend the entire night at the foot of the other side of the bed. But when I wake up from a nightmare with a start she is always snuggled up right next to me and sometimes sitting up staring right in my face. Lol! She immediately snaps me out of the panic and reminds me that I am home and I am safe. My condition and general state of being has improved so much that I am no longer on daily medication. To say that Itsy, aka Lola has made my life better and happier is a gross understatement. I hope my baby girl is with me for many many years to come. I need her.
Testimonials & Pups from Past
Deb Rock, Long Island, NY
Where can I begin? I guess we can start out when I found you through Leina O'Hara. Next thing I knew you were bringing my little nugget to LaGuardia Airport. She was the cutest thing I ever saw (and still is). A perfect little specimen. She was 7 months and had already been housebroken so that was a huge issue that I didn't have to deal with.
Kimchi (formerly known as Gucci) has brought us so much love and joy that I can't put it into words. I still look at her and think she is the best dog ever! Kimchi is the first family dog we've had and it took a bit of adjusting but now she is a member of the family and we can't do without her!
Gwen was patient with me all those years ago and I know I can still call on her for anything I need (including my next Frenchie). She is the best and I highly recommend her and Happy Kennels!
Leina Ohara, NYC
When I embarked on a search for a play mate for my frenchy Butch, I started looking at every breeder on the Internet that is on the East coast (I live in NYC) since I didn't want the dog to travel too long. I was looking for a perfect frenchy since Butch was already perfect (in my eyes :)) in every way and I needed a pup to match his laid back temperament and sweet nature. Upon research, NY didn't have very many choices in breeders, and it was hard to tell one site from the other in terms of who was a good breeder vs. not. I contacted about 5 or 6 and none of them really felt right - until I stumbled upon Gwen's Happy Kennels site. Immediately I was impressed by Jimmy's look, and upon reading further, Gwen's care for her animals. When I contacted Gwen regarding the pups I saw on the site, she was responsive, informative, but also I could tell she was making sure that I would be a good owner for her pup. Over the weeks while deciding on the pup, she gave me all the information (and more) that I needed to make the right choice in terms of temperament, what to expect, which one was right for me. It's hard enough to choose an animal without meeting him/her, but Gwen does have a gift in describing each one of her dogs' character. She also gave me tons of info about the parents so I would know what the pup may act/look like when he/she got older. I am now a proud owner of Lulu (aka Boo) who is the best animal in every way - temperament, looks, and health. Butch now has her BFF and my entire family could not be happier with Lulu. Gwen hand delivered Lulu and I can tell that she wanted to part immediately since she was going to miss Boo so much. Gwen really cares for each and everyone of her animals and will make sure that they get the RIGHT owners. If I ever have a question, I know I can always count on Gwen to guide me via email or phone, no matter how old Lulu gets to be. If I every get another frenchy, I will not buy one from anyone else but Gwen as long as she is still breeding Frenchies!!!