Saturday, February 10, 2007

On Fetching: There are things Howie does that are a function of his breed, behaviours which are indistinguishable from any other labrador retriever. If you throw a stick, he runs after it. I don’t think labs have a choice in this. They chase and fetch. They can’t help it. And whatever they’ve chased, they bring back to you. A well-trained lab will then drop it at your feet. The rest (Howie) will wiggle and wag and play keep-away. Phyllis did this, too.

On swimming: Howie hasn’t learned to swim yet, but I assume once he’s been introduced to water, he’ll be just like Phyllis, who was happier in the water than she was on land. When she got near a lake or river, she vibrated with anticipation. We used to take her to a nearby abandoned quarry for a swim, and since the fastest access point to the water was a section of the ledge six feet above the water, that’s the route she took, rather than waste the 4 seconds it would have taken her to walk around to a lower point.

On snow: Labs greet every day with a joie de vivre that spreads to everyone around them. Add snow to the mix, and they’re over the moon. My two dogs have been identical in that respect. Howie leaps through snowdrifts in the wood like a really stupid deer.

On Doggy breath: I don’t know about other breeds, but bad breath just doesn’t exist in a healthy lab. In fact, when Phyllis’ breath suddenly turned offensive, it proved to be one of the very first symptoms of her failing heart.

I didn’t want this new puppy to be just like Phyllis. I would hate it if, a year from now, my memories of the two dogs had merged into one. And happily, they haven’t.

On Bringing Presents: Howie has this thing he does in the morning that is pure Howie. Once he’s been outside, he brings me a present. Sometimes it’s his squeaky toy, sometimes it’s as sock from the laundry, sometimes it’s a bone. But he never comes to me without a gift.

On Going Pee: When Phyllis had to go outside, she went to someone and barked. Then she’d go to the door and bark. Sometimes she’d sit by the door and poke at the handle with her nose. Phyllis made sense. When Howie wants out, he comes over to someone and starts to wrestle. This is exactly the same thing he does when he wants to wrestle. So for a long time, he’d come over looking like he wanted to play, someone would play with him, then he’d pee on the floor. He isn’t any better now, but we’ve clued in to the fact this dog’s communication skills are faulty, and we adjust for that.

On Eating: We had to carefully ration Phyllis’ food, because she was a glutton, and would have eaten long past the point where she was full. This, we learned, is common among labs, so when Howie arrived with his dainty appetite, I thought he must be sick. The vet assured me there are two types of labs – the ones that are pigs and the ones that aren’t. Still, feeding Phyllis was simple. Feed dog, dog eats. Not Howie. Howie follows us out to the garage and supervises the process of measuring food into his bowl. Then he sits on the garage floor and refuses to come back inside to eat. We have to put water on his food, ignore him for a few minutes, then go to the door and welcome him like he’s a guest. Then, and only then, he’ll deign to eat. We’ve told him he’s an arsehole, but he doesn’t care.

I think my next post needs to be about why labs are very bad dogs. And maybe I'll reveal my very best puppy tip, the one I wish I'd known when Phyllis was a baby.

Phyllis - 1992-2005

A couple unrelated birdy shots for Indigo Bunting:


Indigo Bunting said...

So many pictures in your words, and then a picture. Whatta treat. (Did someone say treat?)

Douglas Hoffman said...

Oh, I want one!

But can't have one. Two cats, a boy who doesn't like dogs, a wife who can't exactly walk the dog, and me who doesn't have time for the dog. It would be cruel.

Indigo Bunting said...

Oooo, a great blue. These are wonderful! Are you related to the human being in the shots?

Thank you thank you for thinking of me.

Sabine said...

Good thinking, Doug. An unexercised labrador retriever would be a tyrant to live with, the last think Karen would need.

Indigo - the human being is my son, the creek is in my backyard, and the heron had an injured foot. It stuck around for a day or two, then moved up the creek. I'm not sure what happened to it after that. I hope it survived.

Sabine said...

I mean, the last thing Karen would need.

crystal said...

Puppies! I like your new blog, M :-)

Susan said...

Howie leaps through snowdrifts in the wood like a really stupid deer.

LOL...I've never known any stupid deer, but I can see the image. Phyllis looks like a chocolate lab in the picture, but she wasn't, was she?

My parents had two Dukies, one after the other. They were identical pugs. Sad to say, when I think of a pug memory I have trouble knowing which one I'm remembering.

Sabine said...

Yes - she was a very beautiful chocolate. Our vet told us after we got her that chocolates tend to be much more hyper than blacks or yellows. She was hyper.

rdl said...

my cousin gave me bells on a leather strip that hang on the door and he rings them( a hundred times a day!) when he has to go out
to pee or see what rustled.

Cedar Waxwing said...

I love labs. We don't (and probably won't) ever have a dog, but if we did it would be a lab. We are lucky to have a chocolate lab next door.

Lovely shots of the heron.

Anonymous said...

Hello I just entered before I have to leave to the airport, it's been very nice to meet you, if you want here is the site I told you about where I type some stuff and make good money (I work from home): here it is