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A Dog and His Boy

February 11th, 2008

I was working on the computer and some paperwork the other night, with the tv on in the background and my Labrador Retriever laying quietly asleep on the floor. The boy was taking his bath before bedtime and from down the hallway I heard, “Daddy! Daddy! Mommy! Mommy!” So using my holler-through-the-house voice I call back… “What is it…?” And then from the hallway again, the boy’s Mom calls, “Um, I think you need to come here… this is yours to handle!” And I yell back, “Okay, I’m coming…” as I get up wondering what all the fuss is about. And then I notice that the Yellow Lab is not where he was supposed to be. And with growing awareness I realize the Lab had snuck away to play with the boy (and that he loves water).

So guess who was very proud of the fact that he was sharing his bath with the dog? So proud in fact that he didn’t say a word (and closed the bathroom door!) until he was ready for us to see?! Arrgh!

Yellow Lab in bathtub

Well, they both needed a bath I suppose. The pup’s expression was like “Oh, you found me. It’s really nice in here, can’t I stay?! Pleeease?!” By the way, he really likes the “green turtle squirty thing”.

 

Snowy Fun in Winter

February 1st, 2008

     We awoke to a snowy landscape, and one of those quiet days when it’s nice to enjoy being at home.  After a big breakfast, I spent a couple hours outside clearing the driveway with the tractor.   With enough wind, we have drifts at various places in the driveway, and I’m thankful the tractor really clears the snow.  Mom and the boy stayed inside baking fresh bread- yum!  But then it was time to play…  So as the sun came out we bundled up again to enjoy some fun in the snow. 

The Yellow Lab had some fun of his own… he loves the snow and ran around in circles as fast as he could, and then ran again for hundreds of yards kicking up the snow.  He was smiling the whole time!

Yellow lab running in the snow

“Look at me!” the boy says, enjoying the powdery snow. We pulled a sled around the property trying out the hills. 

Fun in the snow for a young boy

But fresh snow is always good for a snow angel!

Snow Angel

Our Labrador Retriever “pup” is so goofy… and look at him jump!  He leaps into the air and goes crazy chasing snowballs.  Now when you throw a snowball and it lands, well… in the snow, it’s kind of hard to find!  But the dog doesn’t know that- he tries to catch it, then runs in circles looking for it after it squishes into powder!  It’s so funny…

Yellow Lab jumps after snowball in winter

The Basset Hound and Shiba Inu watched the Labrador jumping after snowballs, wondering “What is he doing?!  Do they really taste that good?!”

Basset Hound and Shiba Inu watch the crazy Labrador

There’s something about sunlight and shadows on the snow.  It was a fun day and the landscape was beautiful.  

Winter afternoon

Yellow Lab at 15 Months

January 23rd, 2008

     It’s hard to believe the yellow Labrador Retriever is 15 months old now.  Actually, it seems like he’s been part of the family for a very long time.  He and the young boy are best friends, and just love to romp and play together. 

We don’t get out as much right now when it’s incredibly cold.  Well, perhaps the dog does, but we don’t train as much as when it’s warmer.  The cold doesn’t bother him a bit however, and last week we even did some retrieves in the cold water of the pond.  He didn’t mind and was ready for more.   

But while we’ve been spending more time indoors perhaps, I’ve found that I need a ready supply of “chewy toys” on hand.  Now a lot of dogs like to chew, no question. 

I’ve met few dogs that have the single-mindedness of this Labrador when he sets to work on chewing something.  And it doesn’t last long!  I bought one of those indestructible chew toys at a pet store the other day… it’s already in pieces.  I don’t know what the best thing is, but we’ve found that thick rawhide chews last the longest.  Maybe 2-3 days each, but that’s better than most of the other items.

Do you have a favorite item that your dog, or your Labrador can chew… and that lasts?   I’d love to know.   Oh, I bought him a nice thick real bone to chew on… about 18 inches long.  He doesn’t chew that much, but likes to carry it around a lot- and he has a penchant for dropping things from the top of the stairs so he can run down to chase it.   Well, he did that the other day with the big hard bone… Crash!  That got my attention… I heard the bone hit the wall across the bottom of the stairs… he just looked at me as if to say, “Wow! That was cool!”

As much as he loves to run and play, he’s also a gentle, good-natured dog.  No pretense… just an honest dog that loves to follow you around.  Oh, and eat whatever you do… he’d be a regular garbage disposal if I let him. 

He’s a loving, goofy animal that seems to fit in pretty well around here.  Doesn’t say much for me perhaps!

Yellow Labrador Retriever at 15 months.

Labradors and Woodstoves

January 3rd, 2008

Another cold morning, but sunny too. We’ve brought the dogs into the garage at night, with a small space heater blowing. They don’t mind the cold when it’s “only” down to about 20-25 degrees F at night. They have small igloo doghouses in their outdoor kennel to cuddle up inside. But when the tempature drops to about 9 degrees F, it’s just too cold for them. If we had a barn with hay and such, they could sleep out of the wind and cold, but for now the garage will have to do! It’s kind of funny… this morning at about 5:00 am I let them out of the garage (so they don’t piddle on the car tires!), and they can’t wait to get out and run around.  But they also know it’s cold out there. After about 10 minutes, they both run up to the kitchen door, and I hear a little “woof!” as if to ask if they can come back in. I open the door and they run in, give a good shake, and run through the laundry room to the garage.

Ah, but one confession… the young Labrador gets to sleep inside the house in his own kennel. Yes… I’m biased. But the other dogs have lived outdoors all their lives, and they can’t stand to be couped up inside.   And the Labrador is a special dog, a family dog, a people dog… an expensive dog! :)  And he’s the dog I waited for most of my adult life… his personality is amazing, and his penetrating gaze is the most genuine, honest measure of trust that I’ve ever known in an animal.  And I just think Labradors are really people dogs.  It’s something I had read about, but not really understood until we’ve had him.  He lives to be around people, and play with people… more importantly, he’s the young boys best friend and playmate. They wrestle, tussle, chase each other… and no matter what the young one does- the Lab just wags his tail and endures the ear pulling, tail pulling, hugging and good ‘ole fashioned romping around the house.  Heck, the boy is seven years old, and in dog years- the Lab is seven years old too!

 Yellow Labrador around the woodstove in winter

Speaking of the cold, I am so thankful for the heat our woodstove provides.  Well, it’s really a wood-burning insert (I was more thankful last year perhaps with the power outage!).  But I think I’ve cut and stacked enough wood for several winters of wood-burning now.  On the coldest days and nights, there are few things to rival a cast iron stove and a few logs of Oak.  We’ve had several Oak trees die over the past few seasons.  I like to leave some standing as snags to provide biodiversity among the landscape, for woodpeckers, insects, etc, but sometimes it’s better to take them down if they’re too close the house or areas of traffic.  And then they provide a couple seasons of warmth for the home.  Of course it’s only supplemental heat to the electric and propane we also use, but every little bit helps! It just looks warm doesn’t it?

Curling fire within the wood stove

‘Tis the Season

December 20th, 2007

     “… to be soggy… fa, la, la, la, la… ”  After all the drought we’ve had through most of the year, I had forgotten what it was like to be really wet and soggy!  We ended up with around 8 inches of snow, and it’s mostly melted everywhere.  But today we get rain!  So everywhere you walk it’s wintery, mushy, soggy, muddy and downright messy.   I really love the Yellow Lab’s coat color, at times almost as white as the snow… but I never thought what it would look like after he really  gets dirty!  He loves to get messy of course… and after playing outside for a while, he is covered in muddy streaks everywhere.  I think I need to incorporate that same sense of abandon in my life.   I forgot to get a muddy picture of him though.  Otherwise, it’s time for last-minute shopping, cleaning and getting ready for Christmas.    We probably won’t have snow on Christmas day this year, but maybe sunny and a little warmer.  That sounds just fine.

The Yellow Lab just loves the snow…  we brought him home as an 8-week old puppy last year just before winter, so he “grew up” playing in the snow.  He’ll run and run, burying his nose in it, and chasing snowballs forever.  Sometimes he even finds one!

The Yellow Labrador loves the snow!

Thankful Days in Autumn

November 22nd, 2007

     What is Autumn if not for playing in the leaves!  Remember leaf piles, and jumping in them?  The other day we raked a pile and jumped and played… the dogs too.  It wasn’t our “Official Annual Leaf Pile Party” but rather siezing the day!  It was such a warm and beautiful afternoon…. just perfect for playing outside.

The young one rakes leaves in a pile with help from the yellow lab.

 Young boy raking leaves - November in Missouri

Running and jumping in leaf piles is my favorite… or hiding in them.  And of course grabbing a big armful and throwing them in the air is always fun!

 Making leaf piles is great fun!

The dogs would not be left out of the fun… the Lab and Basset Hound chased each other around the grass and leaves.  They were cute to watch… a grumpy ‘ole Basset and a year-old Lab.  You can guess who was doing most of the running!

Labrador and Basset Hound playing - Dogs love to play in leaves too!

We also got in a full afternoon of retriever work with the lab.  He did very well this day, and finally settled in the grass for a break.  I think he’s happiest when he can run and run… the signature tongue-hanging-out-the-side-of-the-mouth says it all.

The Yellow Labrador is happy!

     And today of course is a day to be thankful for so many things…  Some of us will spend time with family and friends, and others in quiet reflection.  However you spend the day,  I hope it finds you well.  

Yellow Lab is Growing Up

November 17th, 2007

      The Yellow Lab is now 13 months…. He’s a grown up pup!  Time to stop counting the months.  What a cool dog though- I think everybody should have a some Lab inside… that drooly smile, roll on the ground, tongue hanging out of your month kind of thing?   I like to wrestle with him, but at 90 pounds of pure muscle he’s built like a tank.  He’s been really feeling his “oats” lately as he grows into doggy puberty.  Sneaking around, eating anything that remotely looks edible.  The other day he snuck into the other dogs kennel and ate two bowls of dog food.  I caught him just as he was finishing… he looked at me, licking his lips with a sheepish grin, then laid down on his back with his best “Wanna pet my tummy?!”  routine.  But he loves retrieving…doesn’t matter what or where, he’ll get it.  Soon he’ll have a chance to bring back some real ducks! 

 Yellow Labrador Retriever at 13 months

Don’t you love those mornings when you’re “in the clouds”?  The sun rose through the trees, sending rays of light everywhere.

Morningn sun through the trees

Training the Lab

October 13th, 2007

Few thoughts for today as we all catch up with things put off until the weekend.  But who am I kidding… among all the things to do we still must find time to relax and enjoy each day.  :) 

The Yellow Lab is eager to make a retrieve.   In the field I put a couple of pheasant wings in different places.  I’m marking the path for a blind retrieve…. which doesn’t mean a whole lot to him at this point.  He races towards the mark I give him, but then tails off in one direction or another before he quite gets there.  Instead of being as “direct” as he was last month, I think he’s feeling his oats lately… he loves to choose his own path.   I’ve got to work on that- although he does make the retrieve, it takes him longer now, he runs from one side the other, sometimes back, and wastes energy.  Sometimes I struggle to understand “how” to get him to do things… it’s part of his education, and most certainly it’s part of mine!

Marking the direction of the blind retrieve

He has grown to muscled youth with a vigor I can only look back upon.  The pheasant wing is in his mouth on the way back from finding its hiding place.

Yellow Labrador Retriever returning from retrieve

 

The pond was foggy on several days this week- I love the mist on the waters, and it makes me wonder what lurks in the deep?

Morning fog at the corner of the pond

Yellow Labrador at 11 Months

September 12th, 2007

    The young pup is a rambunctious fool!  Well, sometimes so am I… but we won’t go there right now :)   The Yellow Labrador Retriever is growing up so fast, and he’s just bursting with unbridled energy and enthusiasm.  Admittedly, he’s getting a little harder to control, but we work on obedience training regularly.  He listens very well, but tests the limits at every turn… I hold him accountable every time and he seems to respond very well.  We are still struggling with “heel” however.  He does heel, but gets ahead and becomes distracted at times.  I probably don’t work on that skill enough, so we’ll have to fix that, and any tips or insight would be appreciated.  He seems to like pictures though!

Picture 1 - Yellow Labrador at 11 Months

   His retrieving work is coming along very well.  He’s a total nut some times… The other day I had him sit/stay while I walked closer to the pond, then called “come” and he came running like a bulldozer, leaped off a small stump and went sailing about ten feet through the air like SuperDog!  “Whump!” as he landed and crumpled to the ground… I was concerned that he would hurt himself, but he jumped up ready for more as I shook my head.  And this dog loves water like there’s no tomorrow. Here he shows off his style running up the hill from the pond.

 The unstoppable Labrador Retriever!

    We have also been working on hand signals for marked and unmarked retrieves.  Put him sitting half way between a pile of bumpers, and give the “back” or “over” signal to the pile.  Off he runs and brings it back… not too bad, but he doesn’t like giving up the bumper.  We’re working on that aspect too…  But I placed one about 75-100 yards out, then gave him the “back” to retrieve… he started searching, nose-to-the-ground, about half way there, and ran the wrong direction left.  I whistled and gave him an “over” and he took off the other way… as he got close to the line of the mark/bumper, I gave him a “back” and he turned and went out like a pro!  He found it and brought it back, and I was amazed… sheer luck at this point, but he is a really smart dog.  As usual, he simply lacks a good trainer!  But we’re both learning as that goes, and it’s pretty neat.   

Picture 2-Yellow Labrador Retriever at 11 months

 

    The other morning we were surprised by a large flock of Canada Geese passing through.  They honked and honked while landing, and as I walked towards them to get a picture they flew off, scolding me for interrupting their choice parking spot!  They’ll be moving around a lot more in the months ahead.

Canada Gees flock after landing on the pond one morning.

Dawn’s Early Light

July 30th, 2007

The other morning I was up very early and the light was amazing as it filtered through the trees above the pond.  The shadows and reflection of light coupled with the high humidity almost seemed ethereal. Sometimes I wish the day would remain like that, but alas the sun rises higher and the heat settles over everything like a heavy blanket.  But those moments are special, and cannot be seen unless we take the time to look for them. 

 Columns of shadow from the trees filter out the light reflecting from the moisture in the air. I was amazed at the shadows that appeared in the air- not on the ground, and even more amazed that the picture showed it as it really appeared.

 Trees cast shadows through the light of early morning

The young Labrador Retriever played in the grass and fields while I took my early walk.  The sunlight painted the landscape, and the dog’s white fur with an orange tint.

Yellow Labrador Retriever in the light of an early summer morning

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