As previously posted, we lost both of our beloved dogs in 2019.  After Moose passed, we thought we’d wait a little while to get a puppy.  Nope.

We loved our bulldog and mastiff.  Chunk was hilarious and had more personality than any other dog I’ve met.  Moose was one of a kind – especially in this area.  You just don’t see many mastiffs.  He was the sweetest dog and wanted nothing more than to make us happy. 

I highly recommend both of those breeds, but they do have some challenges – especially if you like to travel.  Sidebar: if you’re going to get a purebred dog, do your research and buy one from a highly reputable breeder.  It will cost more upfront, but you’ll likely save in the long run in money and heart-ache.  You can’t eliminate all risks with a properly bred dog, but there are several risks you can absolutely eliminate through proper breeding. 

Both mastiffs and bulldogs are known to have health problems and relatively short life expectancies (8-10 years for both).  They’re both pretty much full time inside dogs and each can bring some odor with them…especially the 200# mastiff, whose slobber all over the house was legendary.  They both can be loud (snoring, panting, etc.).  They both have high general care costs: food, vet bills, medication.  Finally, neither one was suited to stay in a kennel, go to friend/family member’s house, or generally do anything easy when we went out of town.  Basically, our only option was to have someone come stay at our house.

I don’t say all of that to discourage anyone from getting these breeds…again, we loved them.  Alyce is still trying to talk me into another bulldog.  But you should be aware of what you’re getting into if you want one of those breeds.

I also highlighted the above to give some background on our next dog choice: a Labrador Retriever.  Specifically, a traditionally bred show lab (as opposed to a field lab bred for hunting trials).  These labs are commonly called “English Labs.”  Compared to field labs, they are shorter, stockier, have a blockier head and an otter tail, and are generally said to be less energetic.

My family had a lab when I was in high school, so I was familiar with the breed and loved them.  Alyce was actually the one that read into them and brought up the idea.  After doing some reading and thinking myself, I agreed that this would be the ideal breed for this phase of our life. 

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Blog Update – January 2021

Admittedly, we’ve slacked on posts lately.  Our last travel related post was November 2017.  It is now 2021.  We had a couple dog posts in between now and then, but that’s it. 

There are several reasons for this lack of posts.  Most of them revolve around our new house.  I’ll have a post on that, but it pretty much consumed life between March 2017 (when we initially looked at it) and March 2019 (when we moved in).  As a result, we traveled less – though still some.  Plus, any free time I had was spent working on the house and not writing blog posts.  I also finally finished my (very) part time grad school program as well.

2020 was supposed to be our year to get back on the travel bandwagon…and we all know how that went.  I’ve got trips planned for 2021.  We’ll see how that plays out.  Big TBD there. 

The good news is I have finally caught up on planned posts.  Here is what I have worked up:

  • Introduction to Rex – our new family member
  • Trip Wrap Ups on:
    • South America
    • Boston
    • Charleston
    • Cancun
    • California and Texas
    • Disney
  • Post on the house project
  • 2021 Planned Travel (for posterity’s sake)

Hopefully our planned 2021 trips pan out, and I’ll have several more posts to write.  This time on a much more timely basis…



2019 was a rough year for dogs in the Ittmann household.  Today, Moose joined his brother Chunk in puppy heaven.  He was 9 and a half years old (6/19/2010 – 12/23/2019).  Having been through this with Chunk less than a year ago, I thought we’d be better prepared, but telling Moose good bye still devastated us.  If anything, our 5 year old handled it the best.

Moose was the sweetest, kindest dog around.  His goal on earth was to make us happy.  For him, just being by us was all he needed.  Those were the traits I remembered from our mastiffs when I was young, and Moose lived up to it every bit.  He was loud and made a mess just about everywhere, but that was part of his charm.  There were several times friends would be over and would just start laughing.  I had no idea what was going on at first, but it turns out we were so used to Moose snoring in the middle of a room like a grown man that we didn’t even notice it.  Obviously, everyone else did.

Alyce flew to California to pick up Moose nearly a decade ago, but it seems like recent memory.  This was the first of many times his momma spoiled him.  He was in a travel kennel for the flight but managed to convince his mom to let him out on the plane to visit…only leading to a big mess developing mid flight.

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Chunk Ittmann – November 14, 2007 – February 8, 2019.  He is survived by…Nope.  That’s not Chunk’s style.

If you venture over to our very out of date “about” page (I’m closer to being in my 40s than my 20s these days), you’ll see Chunk – our English Bulldog.  Chunk has been around for almost as long as there has been a Justin and Alyce.    Yesterday, we had to make the hard decision to put Chunk down.  He was 11 and meant the world to us.

We got Chunk right when we got engaged in early 2008.  We were just kids living with my brother in our college condo.  I was a 2nd year law student.  Alyce was working as a floor nurse.  That was 11 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday I was riding home with Chunk after his 90 minute delay arriving from Arkansas.

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Blog Update – Fall 2017

Anyone that still has our blog on your reader may have noticed that it has been over a year since our last post.  This isn’t for lack of things to write on – I’ve just been slow to get to the posts I’ve been needing to type up.

I had hoped to have my posts on Spain/France 2016 wrapped up by year end 2016.   That didn’t exactly pan out.  But, the good news is that I now have that typed up along with wrap ups for our other trips since then (New York and Charleston).

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Life is Fragile

This post is a little different than our typical post.  The title says it all:

Life is fragile.

That is something I’ve always believed.  We are on this planet for an unbelievably short time.  Even if you live to be 100, it is just a fraction of a blink in the grand scheme of things.  You must make the most of the time you have.  This belief has led me to making several work/life decisions that others considered odd or out of the ordinary.

On our big trip, we stayed with our friends Tommy and Mallory on our final stop of the trip in Abu Dhabi, where Tommy was stationed for his job with Exxon.  I went to high school with Tommy, and Alyce went to high school with Mallory.  They got a bit of a head start on family life on us and had two beautiful daughters when we visited.  Mallory was also newly pregnant with a son when we stayed with them in Abu Dhabi.


Fast forward a couple years…We have our own son and are wrapping up our trip to Italy.  Alyce tells me that something sounds bad on facebook our last night in Venice.  Mallory is asking for prayers for their son (something we knew was serious based on the people/circumstances involved).  Two days later, we are back in New Orleans.  Alyce filled me in on the news – Tommy and Mallory’s son, Austin, had passed.

We were both devastated.  We know that accidents happen and are a part of life, but that fact doesn’t make it any more palatable when it happens to someone you know.  Plus, it hit really close to home considering we have a son just a little bit younger than Austin.

Today we went to Austin’s service, and it was every bit as sad as you would expect.  There is really not much you can say in such a circumstance, but I think just being there and giving a hug helps.

So hug your loved ones tight.  Don’t put off things for the future that are important to you.  You never know what will happen.  And keep Austin, Tommy, Mallory, and their girls in your thoughts/prayers.