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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”.

 

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.

Roses, Peppers and a Wet Labrador

October 22nd, 2007

     Okay, somebody bring back the sun!  The day started out balmy, but the temperatures have been dropping steadily as the clouds and rain rolled in.  We can’t complain though, it was such a beautiful weekend.   This morning I saw several flocks of White-fronted Geese flying far overhead, tootling as they went by, heading south of course.  In March a small flock landed on the pond on their northward journey and I wrote about them here.  They are so different from the Canada Geese.

The roses are still blooming!  Here’s a pink beauty looking toward the sky.

Beautiful pink rose in the morning

I can hardly believe how the pepper plants have grown this year.  I took another 25 peppers off them this morning, and there’s at least that many still growing. 

Jalapeno pepper growing in October

We also did a little retriever training today, and the Yellow Lab swam his heart out bringing the fake duck back.  He loves retrieving, and as the duck landed in the water he was straining to leap towards the pond.  I finally gave him the “back!” command, and off he went, going “Woof! woof!” and grunting with delight.  We’re going to do this 2-3 times a week as the weather gets cooler.  I’m curious to see if the he shows any hesitation with the cold… I know I would!

 The Yellow Labrador completing a water retrieve

Happy Birthday Pup! Yellow Lab is 12 Months

October 1st, 2007

     A big Happy Birthday to the Yellow Labrador today!  He was born on this day last year, and is leaving his puppy days behind.  He doesn’t mind however and is getting to be a big dog- I don’t even know his weight.  I took him to the field yesterday with some other Labs for dove hunting.  He has never met another Lab until yesterday… or a female dog.  Suffice it to say he was very excited!   He did okay though,  he found the birds before I did, but wasn’t really sure what to do with it the first time.  After that he made a decent retrieve, but is still a little mystified about the whole process.  I didn’t have a chance to work with him with real birds yet this year, but hopefully he’ll pick it up quickly as the season goes on.  But he’s just a great friend and fun to be around.

The Yellow Labrador Retriever at 12 months. Happy Birthday!

 

  It was time to turn the garden under, clean it up, and prepare it for next year.  We cut down all the stringy vines, and pulled up the old vegetation.  After trimming everything back (except for one lonely tomato plant), I carted all of it off to a pile that I can burn in the months ahead.  So then it was time to lay compost on top of the garden.  The tractor was really helpful, especially since the fence encloses the entire garden.  We could lower the bucket over the fence for filling it up, and dumping in the compost!  Newspapers do the trick over top of weeds and such.  We put them down and I used the tractor to scoop our compost and dump right on top.  The compost is really just leaf litter and grass clippings that have been in a pile for the last 3-6 months.  Hopefully it will help keep the weeds down, and we’ll add more leaf litter as top dressing over the fall and winter months.

The tractor helps with dumping, hauling and just about everything else!

Fields of Color and Retriever Work

September 28th, 2007

    What a beautiful morning!  It’s cool and crisp, the moon was shining brightly before the sun rose, and a glowing mist rose gently from the pond and fields.   I can’t help but become invigorated by this kind of weather.  I wonder if there are places to live where the temperatures are cool all year long?!  Soon the leaves will be covering the grass with a carpet of color, and we’ll be raking and mowing.  And we’re already thinking about pumpkins and decorating for the season.  

I love how the ground fog rises in the grassy fields… almost glowing with the first rays of the sun.

 Mist glows with the rising sun on a country morning.

The young pup has been working to earn his keep this month.  He’s doing really well on multiple retrieves, and loves to be in the water.  Now we are working on hand signals in the fields.  He follows my signals when he sees me, but I have a hard time getting him to look or turn around when he’s making a retrieve.  We’re also using a whistle, but he is so intent on his retrieve that nothing seems to intrude to his focus.  In the fields, if he runs past or away from a mark/bumper, he will turn and begin a search pattern with his nose.  He hears me yell or signal usually and changes direction.  It’s amazing to watch!  In the water he has even started swimming in circles or from side-to-side if he doesn’t see the bumper.   I’ve been working on trust in our relationship… meaning for blind retrieves, or the ones he doesn’t know that marks/bumpers are out there, he needs to run in the direction I tell him.  Then as he gets out, he is supposed to turn to look at me on my signal, essentially asking, “Okay Boss… where to now?”  He has finally learned trust in that he will take off in the direction I give him… but he doesn’t really look back.  He starts searching about 50-100 yards out, and listens for my signal or yell.  He always finds the mark/bumper, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do.  Not bad for 11 months old however!  He has a lot of heart.

The Yellow Lab makes a water retrieve

Yellow Labrador at 8 Months

May 9th, 2007

The pup is really growing up now… he’s been going through an independent phase, but the training is working.  A little more each day I find his responsiveness to commands is increasing.   He is so eager to please, so enthusiastic, and so… vibrant in his zest for life.  The only thing he really lacks is a quality field trainer!!!  I believe he could do amazing things if I was more knowledgeable… today he stayed while I threw multiple “marks” or floating bumpers in the pond.  I sent him for the first and without hesitation he dove right in, brought it back, then I sent him for the second and he brought it back.  I threw one half-way across the pond… probably 50 yards out, and he swam out and back with confidence.  I’m enjoying the time with him, and I hope to train him more effectively in the next few months.  Many duck hunters would be using electric collars, live birds and many more tools to achieve a quality hunting retriever.  I really don’t want to use the electric collar… he has a gentle temperament and somehow I think we would lose something.  Many dogs can be very stubborn and refuse to learn or train, but thus far he is eager to learn at each step.  We’ll keep training and trying new things.  He may not become an extroardinary hunting retriever, and that’s okay.  Somehow we’ll figure things out along the way.

Yellow Labrador Retriever at 8 months © Fox Haven Media 2007

Water Dog… the Yellow Lab Pup Learns to Swim!

May 5th, 2007

A wet day today!  But not because of rain… it was warm and partly sunny.  I let the pup out earlier to play and he proceeded to get very muddy.  So it became the day for the pup to learn to swim!   During fall, late winter and over the past couple months I took the lab to the pond to play by the shoreline.  He loved splashing in the water and racing up and down, but was a little hesitant to venture more than a few inches in, partly because the water was so cold I’m sure.  So now the water is over 60 degrees, just perfect for swimming.  The six-year old also wanted to swim in the pond, so we made it a family affair with Mom taking the pictures.  It was actually great to have the young boy jumping and swimming in the water after his floatie toys, and I had my waders on to get in with both of them. I was suprised how ready the pup was however.  I started out by coaxing him in the water so he could stand on his feet.  Then I supported his chest and swung him in a circle in deeper water a few times.  At first he didn’t like not having something under his feet.  But by the third time he was paddling furiously, and I had an orange bumper to entice him.  He loves toys, especially retrieving them.  So after teasing him a little and letting him get the bumper in shallow water, I threw it out a little bit further a couple times.  Then it was time… I threw it out about 10 feet in deeper water. Without hesitation he ran and jumped in the water after it.  When he reached the deep water he just kept on swimming!  Hooray!  He grabbed the bumper and turned right around to bring it back.  I think he was suprised at himself.  After that there was no stopping him- he sat and stayed while I threw it out a little further each time, and jumped in to swim for it each time without hesitation.  He loved it so much he was going crazy waiting for me to throw it.  After five times, with the last one being about 20-30 yards out, I stopped him on a good note.  He was ready for more, but I want to keep his enthusiasm up before he tired out.  I didn’t mean to throw it out so far the last time, but he went right for it, and was swimming stronger than he had so far.  I was really happy for him- certainly swimming should be natural especially for a Labrador Retriever, but he’s 7 1/2 months old now, and had never been swimming.  I’ll keep training him and working with his enthusiasm, but so far so good!

I coax the dog into the water and help him swim in circles while supporting his chest.

Supporting the 7-month old Yellow Lab in the water for his first swimming lessons.

The boy shows the Lab how fun the water is when he “retrieves” his own bumper!  It was great to see the six-year old swimming in the pond also.  He has been asking for weeks to swim in the pond (he takes lessons at the YMCA), but we waited until it warmed up enough. He wore shoes and a good life vest as well, and had a good shower after he finished!

 The young boy swims in the pond for his first time also his first water retrieve!

I give the “Stay” command for the Lab to wait until I throw the bumper.  Then as he quivers with excitement… “Back!” and he leaps in the water.  He knows he can swim now, and is intent on the orange bumper… he wants to get it!

The Lab stays for his first water retrieves he really wants that bumper!

The Labrador’s fifth water retrieve… he doesn’t hesitate and paddles furiously.

Yellow Lab swims for the bumper

The pup grabs the bumper and begins turning around.

Yellow Lab pup gets his bumper

Look at me!  I got it!  He was swimming really well after just 30 minutes in the water.  I waited seven months for the water to warm up so his first time would be all fun.  What a joy to see the Labrador swimming!

The Yellow Lab returning with the bumper after his first 5 water retrieves.  He loves it!