Whoever said you canít buy happiness forgot little puppies.~Gene Hill
My girl and I had been discussing for some time now about getting a puppy. See, her best pal, black Lab Daisy, is getting up in years. Sheís in good health, but slowing down a little more every year. She is the sweeeeeetest thing ever, too.
I am sold on Labs. Never had one before, save a mixed one when I was a kid that we picked up somewhere. I named him Lancelot. Didnít last long around our house because he barked incessantly, and had a very bad habit of chasing the horses endlessly. We found another good home for him. But I never had a bonafide Lab, until Daisy came to live with me nearly three years ago. Exception to the rule or not, that old girl won me over tout suite.
So when some friends of ours mentioned they had a litter of 10 Ė count Ďem, 10! Ė yellow Labs they were selling, my ears perked up and I inquired as to price. The price was quite right.
You canít pick a puppy from a litter of 10 in a single visit. Otherwise, you might as well bring them all home, in which case Daisy would have a nervous breakdown, not to mention Patches! We liked different ones, too, which made things more difficult. But upon our second visit, we agreed on this one little fellow.
I was lying on the floor at our friendsí house, letting the puppies frolic around me, and I was checking out their reactions and personalities. Then, this little yellow fellow with a slightly darker nose than the rest of his body walked over, sat down and stared me in the eyes for I know a good minute, minute and a half. Then he smiled. I kid you not, that six-week old pup smiled at me and panted, tongue hanging.
It was all over then. Done deal, save my soul.
We picked him up last Friday. I borrowed from the library the Richard Woltersí book on training, using the puppyís natural instincts, psychology and developmental stages rather than force. Wolters is adamant that, according to dog psychologists, seven weeks exactly is when the pupís psychology changes and is the optimum time for it to bond with its humans.
I suspect he was more right than he knew!
We set up a wire kennel of more than adequate dimensions, but cozy enough to be secure, in the workshop, and outfitted it with old towels and an old sofa pillow. Used to be my preferred napping pillow, so itís got my scent all over it. Anybody whoís ever brought home a new puppy knows what to expect: Crying, crying, and more crying, for a week or so sometimes.
Pup got his name when he got home: Bogie, in honor of my favorite actor. We spent the better part of the evening with Bogie.
He cried three times during the night, loudly and insistently, about 20 minutes each time. Hard as it was, nobody responded to his calls of miserable grief and torture. First thing in the morning, I rushed outside with my coffee cup, dreading finding a piddle or poddy in his kennel.
Nope. Clean as a whistle.
And the minute I opened the kennel door and then rushed to open the front door of the shop, Bogie made a beeline at a mile-a-minute to the yard to take care of some very urgent business!
Needless to say I was quite impressed. But that was just the beginning. Through Monday morning, he had exactly one accident, and that was my fault. He fell asleep in his kennel Sunday afternoon and I went inside the house without closing the door. He woke up without crying and, with the shop door closed, did what he had to do. But heís been perfect otherwise.
Saturday night he only cried twice. And Sunday night, once was all he felt inclined to complain about his inhuman imprisonment. By Monday he was quiet all through the night.
Daisy and Bogie had their first meeting Saturday that went fair. She was very excited and eager about the pup, and tolerated its presence well, but Bogie was a little too exuberant for a graceful old lady such as herself, and got a small verbal warning. We expected as much, and are taking our own sweet time getting the two associated with great care. Daisyís getting plenty of love and attention during all this so she doesnít feel slighted.
So far, Bogie is responding to his name and the word "come" about 75 percent of the time. He didnít worry a bit when I put the collar on his neck, didnít fuss at all about the leash I let him drag around all Sunday afternoon. He stays at my heel when we walk, and when we go in the yard, he explores and bounds about, but never out of my sight. All of a sudden, heíll notice me again from 20 or 30 feet away, leap skyward and race to me for a good ear rubbing. Does a heart good, it does.
The kennel is covered with an old blanket to make him feel more secure while inside. I had to clamp it to the kennel because he loves to grab the corners of it with his teeth and tug and whine and growl relentlessly. Heís got several toys strewn about, but he loves tugging on that old blanket up there, I guess because it seems to fight back.
Other times, heís calm as a church mouse, and he sits down in front of me or my girl now and then and gives me that same look as that day at his previous home. Itís a penetrating, observational look, and Iíd like to think, conveys a sense of place.
Heís already bonded to us. Eventually, I plan to move him into the house, when house training is done along with some basic obedience, and though a peace agreement between Bogie and Patches will be more difficult than with Daisy, I think we can make it work.
Besides being a family dog, I plan to train him as an upland hunting dog for woodcock and such. Heís a born retriever already. When heís sleeping, heís so cute you canít really imagine him galloping at full tilt, a bundle of greased, yellow lightning across a field after a fallen quail, but heíll grow up all too quickly.
StillÖwhen he sits down in front of me, and those little dark eyes give me what Iíve come to think of as "the look," I think I know what W. Dayton Wedgeforth meant when he penned:
"I talk to him when Iím lonesome-like; and Iím sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that."