Day 4 Roxy Illustration Challenge

The Roxy illustration challenge continues! One of my favorite poses, a combo of "What did I do?" + "Talk to the Butt." #illustration

Here's the video of my process...

And once again, here's my dainty princess. Clearly unimpressed with my sophomoric attempt to familiarize myself with a new medium.

Roxy Illustration Challenge

I started off calling this "The Roxy Challenge."  My goal was to loosen up each day with a quick sketch of my bulldog, Roxy. She's funny, she's flatulent, and she sleeps 20 hours a day (mostly under my drafting table)--the perfect model for a children's book illustrator!

However, Roxy wanted no part of that modeling nonsense. She scratched. She fidgeted. She licked her toes. And she insisted on critiquing my work, nosing through all of my sketchbooks before finally resting her chin on my iPad.

Day 1

Day 2

Clearly, she's unimpressed with my work.

Roxy + GoPro = Fail

Taking my "studio assistant" Roxy for a walk, I thought it would be great to mount a GoPro to capture Kailua Beach from a bulldog's perspective...if anything, as inspiration for a new children's book character.

Roxy and more Rabbits

Roxy has a new baby sister! Pushkina, a harlequin lop-eared rabbit, came home to us on Valentine's Day. Pushikina is no push-over, despite Roxy's efforts to engage her in bully-play. Like introducing any newborn sibling to a toddler, it takes constant vigilance and a lot of praise.

Lately, Pushkina has taken to Roxy's dog bed...and Roxy never misses a chance to poke her head into Pushie's cage and eat all of the rabbit pellets.

Roxy and Sherbert

In addition to our two bunnies, chinchilla and cockatiel, we're babysitting a friend's baby rabbit, Sherbert, until she finishes pet-proofing her home. A few weeks at the most, she says. In the meantime, Roxy is fascinated by the "baby."

Bulldog Health: Histiocytoma or Button Tumor

Roxy's histiocytoma, April 6, 2012. Notice classic button shaped appearance.
Like all bullies, Roxy plays rough. So when she suffered a small laceration on her snout from a robust French bulldog that developed into a flat, pink scar, we weren't concerned. The scar persisted for months without incidence, then suddenly, within a week, grew into a round, red, fleshy tumor. Was it cancer? An infection? But how could that be, so many months after the injury, and why did it grow so rapidly?

Our vet told us that based on the lesion's appearance and Roxy's young age (1 year), it was almost certainly a histiocytoma or button tumor. She reassured us that it was a benign growth common in young dogs that would most likely regress over the next few months. Unless it became infected, caused discomfort, bled or persisted for too long, there was little need for intervention or removal.

According to, histiocytomas are more common in flat-coated retrievers, bull terriers, boxers, dachshunds, cocker spaniels, Great Danes, and Shetland sheepdogs. Symptoms are:
  • Small, firm, dome or button-shaped masses on the skin surface
  • Rare autoimmune blistering (dermoepithelial) masses, which may be ulcerated
  • Fast growing, nonpainful, usually solitary
  • Common sites are the head, ear edges, and limbs
  • Occasionally multiple skin nodules or plaques
Our vet couldn't explain why Roxy's scar developed into a histiocytoma, however, upon further research I learned that histiocytomas are made of Langerhans cells, specialized cells that are an essential part of a dog's immune system. And although most sources couldn't explain why they occur in young dogs, according to Maria Hiltner (who cites Joan Rest's 2008 paper on,
"It is believed that the tumor forms when a foreign agent infiltrates the Langerhans cells and stimulates unchecked proliferation. These tumor promoting agents are carried by ticks and other insects from dog to dog, and facilitate spreading of the agent causing cutaneous histiocytoma."
Histiocytoma, April 17. Tumor is pinker and less pronounced.
This makes sense, since foreign material from the French bulldog's fangs may have been introduced during the injury. And anyone who's had a child in daycare is familiar with the frequent fevers and colds toddlers suffer while their developing immune system adjusts to the outside world. This explains why histiocytomas are common in young dogs under two years of age.

Although histiocytomas are benign, Ms. Hiltner goes on to emphasize that a proper diagnosis is necessary, because "problems arise when malignant tumors disguise themselves as cutaneous histiocytoma and owners delay diagnosis and treatment."

Happily, Miss Roxy's histiocytoma resolved after a month or two, and she's as happy and beautiful as ever.

Further reading:

Disclaimer: This is a chronicle of our bulldog's healthcare experiences, and is not intended to give medical advice. It is best to have all health issues evaluated by a veterinarian.

©2012 Tammy Yee

Bulldog Health: Heat Stroke

In August 2012, Louisiana Tech University's beloved mascot, Tech XX, died from heat stroke when a caretaker left him out in the sweltering sun.
Roxy's piglike snorting and snoring may seem endearing, but in hot weather, her compromised breathing can quickly lead to trouble, even death.

Dogs do not sweat, and instead rely on panting to cool down. Short, rapid breathing increases air flow over the moist surfaces in a dog's upper airway, increasing evaporation and dissipating heat. The English bulldog's short snout, long soft palate, and genetic predisposition to stenotic nares (narrow nostrils) and hypoplastic trachea (narrow windpipe) interfere with its ability to breathe properly under exertion, making this breed especially prone to heat stroke.

According to Jim Young, DVM,
Bulldogs are extremely intolerant of heat. They must be kept in an air-conditioned area with limited trips outside when the outside temperature is over 80 degrees or the humidity is high. Close supervision is required during outside activity, especially in spring and summer to prevent over-exertion leading to over-heating. They also are not usually capable of prolonged physical activity whether the temperature is very warm or cold: a Bulldog is not for someone who enjoys taking a dog for long walks through the countryside.
I always laugh that walking Roxy is not like walking a dog. Runners whiz by with obedient labradors at their heels while I'm pulled along on what I call Roxy's Miss Aloha tour. She stops under every tree, begs for adulation from every passerby, and is unabashed about dragging/scooting her ass across the neighbor's driveway. Nevertheless, I am always mindful of the effects of overheating. I always walk her at dusk, bring along a squirt water bottle so I can give her a quick drink and mist her down, and always watch for signs of overheating and overexertion. (One article I read recommends the "wet-shirt" method: put your bully in a child's t-shirt and wet him down in water before the walk.)

One day our adult son, unaware of Roxy's limitations, took her on what he thought was a very short walk in 82 degree weather. Despite many rest breaks and ample water, she came home to us with labored panting, frothing mouth and protruding dark red tongue. She was staggering, refused to drink (because of her labored breathing), and vomited. We hosed her down with water and when she was able to tolerate it, gave her ice chips and iced water. I even mixed a little electrolyte "vitamin drink" into her water--I don't know if this is advisable--because I was worried about hyponatremia with all the water she was gulping down. Very scary. We were lucky that day, and our son has learned that despite her sturdy appearance and bully personality, our little girl does have her limitations.

Articles about heat stroke in bulldogs and life-saving interventions:

Disclaimer: This is a chronicle of our bulldog's healthcare experiences, and is not intended to give medical advice. It is best to have all health issues evaluated by a veterinarian.

©2012 Tammy Yee