Happy Birthday, Wild Child!

Clipper-1

Maybe by referring to him as our “Wild Child” we have unconsciously been sending negative vibes that help perpetuate the cyclone-like behaviour. People often say that a Labrador’s brain doesn’t kick in until they are at least three years old. Some warn that it’s more like five or six years, while others admit sometimes it never does. Whatever the case, “Clipper”, our sweet natured but extremely bouncy Labrador Retriever, shows no indication of impending maturity. Of course, he’s only just reaching his first birthday this weekend (on May 15).

We should have named him “Tigger”. He really does bear a striking resemblance, right down to having what we’re sure is a built-in pogo stick.

 

He hasn’t been in a show ring yet. We’re hoping that by the time he gains enough maturity to be able to walk sedately on a lead, he’ll also have outgrown the assumption that anyone stooping down to touch him is extending an invitation to be licked and jumped upon, simultaneously.

Clipper-3

“Who, me??? But I have to show everyone how much I love them!!”

Fortunately, we love him, too. A lot. Otherwise he would have been shuffled out of here long ago.

I’m trying  to figure out a way to model one of my novel’s characters after him, but none of them is meant to have a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

Ah, well … Happy First Birthday, Clipper! No pogo stick for you, or lima beans, but maybe a piece (or two) of cheese and a new toy.

~  ~  ~

 

 

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Another new start…

We didn’t originally expect to get another Labrador Retriever, but life doesn’t always work out the way we intend, does it? “Life is all about how you handle Plan B” says a plaque a friend once sent me.

Clipper-2

So this is our Plan B. His call name is ‘Clipper’ (shortened from a registered name that will include ‘Eclipse’) and he’s eight weeks old. He likes to nibble on the levers of our recliner chairs, pounce on a squeaker toy, explore the backyard with Dad, gnaw a bit on his stuffed duck, and complain bitterly when he’s restricted even for a few minutes in an exercise pen.

Clipper-4

Like most babies, he goes full bore until he suddenly needs a nap. Then he collapses on whatever is handy — Dad’s foot, a comfy toy, or the shelf under our coffee table.

Clipper-3

There was a graphic recently circulated on Facebook that I saved:

Old-New Dogs

Clipper isn’t like our previous Lab that we lost to cancer last fall, and we don’t expect him to be. We won’t love him more than or less than Tynan, but altogether differently, because he’s his own distinctive self with his own unique personality.

There are going to be the usual ‘starting again’ challenges that goes with acquiring a new puppy, but our hearts are already expanding to include this sweet little companion who has only been with us one full day (and two somewhat interrupted nights).

I started out thinking I’d have a ‘starting again’ writing analogy to add, but I think I’ll simply leave it as an introduction to the newcomer in our lives. A new foot warmer for my writing times. 🙂

~  ~  ~

Sometimes it’s hard

Earlier this week, on Thanksgiving Monday, under the title “In all things give thanks“, I posted a photo I’d taken during a drive in the Fraser Valley,  and I included a quote from Psalm 95:2.  We have so much in our lives for which to be thankful and I was feeling full of praise.

Give Thanks

Tuesday morning we were once again driving in the Fraser Valley and I took this photo as we crossed the Golden Ears Bridge. We were on our way to an appointment with our veterinarian. Our eight-year-old Labrador Retriever, Tynan, hadn’t been well over the holiday weekend and we were looking forward to finding a solution for whatever was ailing him.

The solution wasn’t at all what we expected.

After x-rays, ultrasound and various tests we were confronted with the devastating news that what was ailing him couldn’t be fixed. Even with immediate surgery, the prognosis was poor. Less than three hours later we were retracing our route, returning home without him, in shock from the unexpected loss.

To add to the ache, for the first time in over fifty years there were no canine greetings to distract us when we arrived home. We’ve had many dogs during our lifetime. Our first were Labrador/Shepherd crossbreds. Later I bred, trained and exhibited purebred Shetland Sheepdogs for thirty-five years. We’ve always shared our home with anywhere from two to five dogs at a time, but somehow, after the passing of our last Sheltie, Tynan ended up as our lone canine companion. Now the house is painfully empty.

With this heaviness permeating our hearts and home, how can we obey the admonition to give thanks? It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s very hard today. And yet, while my mind wants to complain bitterly at the sudden loss of our dearly loved companion, at the same time bittersweet memories are bubbling up and bursting out — memories that bring with them joy and thanksgiving, not for what is, but for what has been.

Best Buds

Best Buds

Through my tears I give thanks for:

  • the experience of smelling his baby puppy breath the day I carried him home on my lap those too-short eight years ago;
  • remembering how he  would clamber onto the shelf under our coffee table and fall asleep there, until he was eventually too large to fit the space;
  • how he and our younger daughter’s Lab and Aussie were always so excited to see each other, no matter how long it had been between visits;
  • the day our other daughter’s Brittany Spaniel taught him that there was joy in swimming, not just walking in the ocean waves, and how, at our Cariboo lake, he would happily do the work of swimming out to retrieve sticks, only to willingly give them up to our son’s chocolate Lab who was waiting at the shore to snatch and claim them as her own;
  • watching him shadow my hubby everywhere he went, even to waiting outside the bathroom door for him;
  • giggling at how he leapt into the air like a gazelle and gambolled about when asked if he thought it was his dinnertime, or if he was ready for his daily 3 km walk with my hubby;
  • loving how he would slowly elbow the front half of his 90 lb. body up on the couch beside me until he could nuzzle my ear and leave a tiny kiss on my nose before being chased off;
  • knowing how much he loved to go for a ride with us, and always knew which vehicle to approach when we mentioned we were taking the truck or the van;
  • marvelling at how he could instantly turn from a couch potato into a showdog when it was time to go to a dog show with his special friend and handler, Jayne Luke, and how he adored the specialty cookies that always arrived with her and the toys she bought for him after each of his wins;
  • laughing at his love of a plastic garden pot and how, whenever I was planting bedding plants, he delighted in stealing just one empty pot and racing ’round and ’round the back yard with it;
  • smiling at how his head tipped, his ears lifted and his expression brightened whenever we told him one of our family members was coming to visit — he knew everyone by name, including their dogs;
  • remembering how he watched inconspicuously for the last corner of a sandwich, bit of toast or pizza crust, because he always got it if he wasn’t blatantly begging.
  • how he would roll over on his back and freeze there, all four legs in the air, hoping for ‘a tummy rub’ whenever we walked past;
  • and perhaps most poignantly, how happy he was at the end, tail wagging, munching a generous supply of biscuits provided by our caring and compassionate vet, content and unafraid because we were there.
Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

He had his own toy box, and today the dozens of plush stuffies that he adored and played with but never destroyed, have been washed and put into storage — even the very first fabric squeaky toy made for him by his breeder. There might not be another Labrador in our family, but you never know, perhaps one day some new puppy will come along to adopt them.

You’ve been a long-suffering reader if you’ve persevered this far! 

My point, of course, is that no matter what disappointments or catastrophes life dumps on us, we won’t likely be thankful for them, but hopefully in retrospect we’ll look for snippets of joy in the experiences we’ve had despite them.

~

R.I.P. sweet friend

CAN. CH. RIVERSEDGE TYNAN AT CAREANN
January 22, 2006 – October 14, 2014

Tynan 2012

~  ~  ~

That ‘Canine Wrecking Ball’ again

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I’m offering an updated November 2008 post today, followed by a few others from the archives during the next two weeks. I’ll be taking a brief blogging hiatus, but will be back with a fresh post on November 13th.

~

Have you ever lived with a dog? A big one, that thinks he’s a person? We’ve had many dogs through the years, mostly the small-to-middling sized Shelties that I’ve bred, trained and exhibited for over thirty years. But a few years ago we returned to the breed of my childhood, Labrador Retrievers, and I’m beginning to realize our lives will never be the same!

 

At almost 90 pounds, our current five-year-old male Lab still has a puppy mind in a powerhouse body.  While he’s mentally sweet and gentle, physically he’s sometimes like a wrecking ball in demolition mode.

“Wild dog coming through,” I bellow as he hurdles into the house to greet everyone and slides precariously across the kitchen floor. “Grab your coffee mug (or wine glass, as the case may be),” I yell as his tail swings in a happy arc that clears the coffee table. “Watch out!” I warn as he cavorts through the room flinging his toys in every direction. “Sorry about that. Here’s a towel,” I say when he’s planted an apologetic kiss on hand, cheek, or even mouth (yuck!), and drooled on someone’s clean outfit. He can’t imagine there’s anyone who doesn’t welcome his enthusiastic attention.

Granted, we only inflict him on those who adore him, and he isn’t always on the move. He loves to crash periodically with his toys, and like most youngsters he’s quite angelic when he’s asleep.

During those moments I’ve been known to say that a second dog might be nice. After all, we haven’t had a singleton dog around the house for years. We lived with as many as five Shelties at one time.

That roar you heard was my husband. “One is definitely enough!”

~

Tails of Woe

Our son and his family left this morning with the inlaws for an overseas holiday, and we’ve added their Labrador to our Labrador for the duration. She’s a very sweet-natured dog and gets along just fine with our equally lovable one.

 

Until today there wasn’t much dog hair around but suddenly I’ve discovered that not one but both dogs are commencing their summer shed. A little dog hair is normal fare in our family. After all, as breeders of Shetland Sheepdogs we’ve had dozens of dogs – long-haired ones at that – over the years. But we have a new carpet, too. Not just “a” new carpet, but one that turned out to be the wrong colour and is soon to be replaced. Until then we need to keep this one clean… very clean… because after it comes up it’s going to be laid elsewhere.

 

We should just let the dogs stay outside but that’s not going to happen. First of all, the weather forecast for the rest of the week is 30o C. And second, sporting dogs or not, they’re both accustomed to being pampered family members. Banishing them is unthinkable.

 TwoLabs

 

So we’re resigned to two dogs discarding arrow-tipped loose hair that will imbed firmly into the carpet pile, eight rather large feet tracking in mud from the damp garden after a quick romp, two sets of jowls dribbling mouthfuls of water on a trail from the water dish to wherever we happen to be (why is it they never swallow that last gulp?), and, of course, their best weapon of destruction—two very long, very sturdy tails clearing coffee mugs and wine glasses from the coffee tables onto the carpet. Sigh. I’ll just keep an extra towel handy and plan to vacuum frequently.

 

But not this evening. It’s Canada’s 142nd birthday and we’re about to have dinner out on the deck, dogs included, of course. Spills and soil don’t matter out there.

 

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

flag canadian

A Canine Wrecking Ball in Demolition Mode

Have you ever lived with a dog? A big one, that thinks he’s a person? We’ve had many dogs through the years, mostly the small-to-middling sized Shelties that I’ve bred and trained for over thirty years. But a few years ago we returned to the breed of my childhood, Labrador Retrievers, and I’m beginning to realize our lives will never be the same!

 

At 80-plus pounds, our current two-year-old male Lab has a puppy mind in a powerhouse body.  While he’s mentally sweet and gentle, physically he’s like a wrecking ball in demolition mode.

 

“Wild dog coming through,” I bellow as he hurdles into the house to greet everyone and slides precariously across the kitchen floor. “Grab your coffee mug (or wine glass, as the case may be),” I yell as his tail swings in a happy arc that clears the coffee table. “Watch out!” I warn as he cavorts through the room flinging his toys in every direction. “Sorry about that. Here’s a towel,” I say when he’s planted an apologetic kiss on hand, cheek, or even mouth (yuck!), and drooled on someone’s clean outfit. He can’t imagine there’s anyone who doesn’t welcome his enthusiastic attention.

 

Granted, we only inflict him on those who adore him, and he isn’t always on the move. Like most youngsters in their Terrible Two’s, he’s quite angelic when he’s asleep.

 imgp6138

During those moments I’ve been known to say that a second dog might be nice. After all, we haven’t had a singleton dog around the house for years. We lived with as many as five Shelties at one time.

 

That roar you heard was my husband. “One is definitely enough!”