I’m tired of writing about Coronavirus and government mismanagement so hideous we couldn’t have imagined how bad it could be. I’d rather write about my wonder dog.
We have a spoiled rotten doggie who is one of our biggest joys. It’s quite ok that he’s spoiled since he’s also the best dog ever and seldom tries to take advantage. This guy is so smart, gentlemanly, and obedient that not spoiling him by wanting to please him almost as much as he tries to please us is next to impossible.
A big yellow Lab with a golden heart.
He actually belonged to our adult daughter and her ex husband. Their marriage didn’t last, but their excellent dog training did. Since she now lives with us, her pet has become the family dog, although he is still quite the momma’s boy. I’m his nana so I come in a close second and since she works out of the house and I’m at home all the time, he is my constant companion. He’s a 105-pound yellow lab who is nine years old. His name is Cannon.
He recently got a trip to the vet because we noticed he wasn’t eating as well as usual. The vet, when told Cannon wasn’t eating well exclaimed, “good!”. I guess that was because he’d just weighed him and vets and doctors always harp on weight, don’t they? Mine and Cannon’s do, at least. It turned out he had an ear infection and he got a broad spectrum antibiotic — because we are lucky enough to have a vet who does not run umpteen expensive tests just to confirm a common infection — and he was back to his usual habits a day later.
Before everyone reading this tells me a fat dog has a shorter life, I know. We do make sure he gets lots of exercise and feed him an (expensive) quality dog food while restricting table scraps and treats— mostly. I know 105 seems too heavy, but he’s an exceptionally large labrador and always has been. Sweets are my downfall. Bacon is Cannon’s — and he thinks he is owed at least one piece a day, and doesn’t mind if you want to give him two or three for being exceptionally good and coming home when summoned from a running exploration of the neighborhood.
He’s in amazing shape for his age…
He’s rapidly getting older, like the rest of us, and given the relatively short lifespan of Labrador retrievers, that makes us sad. According to his vet, though, he’s in amazing shape for an older fellow, so he isn’t overly concerned about his weight or our feeding.
We’re constantly amazed by Cannon’s vocabulary since he is, actually, a dog. Sometimes spelling doesn’t even work — G-O means go and he very well knows it and runs to the door and to what we call the C-A-R which also no longer works. Riding in the car is his most favorite thing ever! Thankfully B-A-C-O-N still works pretty well if you spell it fast, because if you say the word he jumps up, goes to the refrigerator and sits. Unless we don’t obey. That’s a different story.
I adore this ole yellow furry guy. We all do. Despite the fact that picking up my purse or keys means a dancing, exuberant, and eager 105 pounds of wiggling, happy, happy, expectant lab. It is so hard to leave him, but of course it’s sometimes necessary — then he breaks our hearts. Those eyes… Most of the time he rides along to the bank, the grocery store, or whatever limited traveling we do now.
He goes with me to check on my 90-year-old mother and like on every trip, lays in the back seat and sleeps with all the windows down while I’m inside. He’d no more jump out a car window than I would. He’s not stupid. When it gets hot, his traveling is limited to times when we can stay in the car with him and run the AC at all times. But during a cool spring, he’s been getting lots of car time.
The only time he leaves my side when we’re outside is if a squirrel, rabbit, unknown cat, or opossum is flushed and makes a bad decision to run. Then uh-oh. He may be old but he’s still all lab and he can boogie. And running or swimming are his primary instincts because he comes from a long line of working retrievers.
He is also a formidable watch dog and not friendly to people outside our house, but he warms up quickly once they are welcomed inside or he’s given an “it’s ok” command.
. . . chewed three legs off a coffee table.
It’s so tempting to say every family should have a lab, but probably not, since their first two years are worse than having a two-year-old child, and room to run is absolutely required, along with much vigilance.
I once had a lab pup who chewed most of three legs off a coffee table while I was at work. A friend’s half-grown lab got bored and chewed a hole in their sofa. Any shoe left on the floor is quickly a victim of those strong teeth.
Lab pups are very easy to potty train, and are smart, adorable, loving and entertaining. They’re great puppies who have a very pronounced and irresistible urge to chew, along with a tendency to excitedly jump up on their humans, and think they belong anywhere but on the floor and prefer sofas, recliners and beds, especially if their humans are in one. They love to gently mouth the hands of their owners and require strong and consistent training to stop it. Their urge to chew is so strong that as puppies they’re like little machines of mass destruction. Until they’re about two years old, no shoe is safe!
Never trust a lab pup with a shoe. . .
Yes, they can be trained not to chew furniture, rugs, shoes, woodwork and clothing, but until they grow up, the urge to chew may still rule if they’re left alone too much, lack chew toys, or become bored. To put it this way, I’d never trust any lab under two years old with a shoe. To my family and millions of lab lovers, the adulthood of a lab is is worth the wonderful but frequently troublesome puppyhood. That’s not the case for everyone, and it explains why young labs are pretty common in rescues and shelters.
Please don’t get a dog programmed to chew up things if you feel strongly about it and are going to be angry when the pup does what he does. Like most people who have owned labs, I know that if I have a lab pup and he chews up my best shoes, it’s my fault for leaving them where the pup could get them. He thought I left them for him to chew. My husband once had a pair of glasses chewed up by one of our young dogs when he placed his glasses on the floor and fell asleep on the sofa. We knew whose fault it was and it wasn’t the dog. The pup thought they were gifted to him.
It should be remembered having one of these magnificent block-headed animals requires two years of vigilant patience while they grow up and not everyone has that much patience. Cannon in his maturity wouldn’t think of chewing anything but a giant bone or his own toys, which he keeps together in one spot or in a basket if one is provided. He also knows and obeys the commands “pick up your toys” and “bring your rawhide.”
One of the most fun things to say to Cannon is, “What’s That?” because it instantly prompts an investigative scouting trip with his nose busily twitching as he searches for anything which is unusual or doesn’t belong.
They poot. . .
My daughter did an excellent job of training Cannon from a pup. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him jump up on anyone or take “people food” from anywhere even though he can easily reach tables, counters, etc. He has never bothered trash, even as a pup. Thankfully, he also doesn’t have the sickening dog habit of stealing cat nuggets from the cat litter box like so many dogs do. He does sometimes release audible farts which produce an odor which can be overwhelming. The sound usually prompts laughter from the family, along with frantic fanning of the air. As for Cannon, he always looks toward his backside with surprise as if to say, “what was that?”
There’s one little naughty trick — if no one is at home — the catfood on the floor is just too much temptation for even a well-trained obedient gentleman like Cannon. Asked about it after returning to find empty cat bowls, he immediately becomes abjectly ashamed and slinks away for a while. In fact, he manages to look so miserable that it’s not long until someone will go love on him and assure him he’s forgiven. Then he’s happily dancing and wagging his whole behind with pleasure once again. Unless someone asks again, “what happened to the cat food?” which will send him back into immediate shame.
A lab dance includes marching somewhat in place with all four feet, causing rapid toenail tapping while wiggling, tail wagging and maybe adding a few celebratory yippish barks. A lab’s exuberance, quick bursts of joy and affection are balm to us— especially to me — closed in during the pandemic.
Talks back a bit, too.
He isn’t perfect. He sometimes mostly hilariously talks back a bit, too. Labs are known for just a wee bit of stubborness. Ok, a lot of stubborness.
If he comes and nudges my hand with his nose like he does when he wants to go out, and I happen to know he just wants to go out to play rather than needs to go, I say, “ no you were just out.” This prompts something between a yawn-moan-grumpy growl. Then if he tries again and I answer with anything other than a stern no, he audibly grouses more, throws his head in something akin to sneezing but not, and will eventually yip, yowl, and bark at me. It’s difficult not to laugh and give in. Usually, out we go. He talks quite a lot actually, especially if asked if he wants bacon, treat, or if he wants to go riding. He definitely answers yes, and begins what I call “cussing and complaining” if one doesn’t get up immediately after making such a suggestion.
Baths are bad
“Want a bath?” prompts a strong, but different response. And leave taking. He sort of blanches as if someone has horribly offended him and then proceeds delicately off to another room, while making over-the-shoulder glances to make sure he’s not being followed. He can’t understand that just when he gets his scent doggy enough, his mom and nana want to wash it away.
Baths are bad. But sloshing through mud puddles, muddy creeks and plunging into lakes are great fun. Even sitting in a mud hole is pleasant. Rolling in wet grass is perfectly delightful. But no clean water baths with that stinky shampoo! He knows he has to tolerate baths, and stands obediently once he is unable to avoid it, but makes it amply clear he doesn’t like it. However, all is forgiven once bathtime is over and he’s free to shake water everywhere and give us a shower, too. Being wet is to be happy and his exberance leads him to run to the nearest rug and spread the happiness to it, too.
My life would be very drab during these “shelter in place” times that lately have also been — just to make it more miserable— cloudy, chilly and gray. Cannon is my constant companion. If I sit on a sofa he’s by my side. He once slept in bed with my daughter every night. But he’s now unable to get up on the bed and doesn’t want us helping him. I wonder if that could be male ego?
Aging but proud
He’s not accustomed to needing human help to jump onto beds or hop into lifted pickup trucks and doesn’t much appreciate attempts to help him by lifting. I guess it embarrasses him, so at the car we wait while he manages to crawl in, when one leap would have sufficed even a year ago. Another consideration is painful joints and arthritis are almost a given in any aging lab. An aspirin brings some relief to Cannon on a particularly bad day.
If I’m sad he’s glad to have me hug his neck and cry, although it makes him a little anxious to see me unhappy. He gives the best kisses, usually on a forehead or chin, they are quick little touches of his tongue, and not sloppy laps.
Protector of our cats.
He protects our two cats from other cats and each other. If they have one of their sibling fights, he gets between them. He doesn’t growl, bark, or snap. He just puts his nose and then his whole big self between them. His presence seems to say, “okay, cut it out before someone gets hurt!” When the female cat, who is part siamese and a handful, was a kitten she deviled him constantly. She still chases his wagging tail. There’s an old photo of them together when she was very small and she is hanging from Cannon’s mouth, no doubt hurting his lips. But he knows she’s a baby and stoically endures her abuse.
He snuggles up to me on chilly evenings. He’s always absolutely delighted by my touch and sits on my feet if he thinks there’s any threat to me. He also leans on me when we’re outside and he doesn’t quite know if we’re safe, or just when he is tired and wants to be affectionate. I love it when he leans on me. But he also puts his nose under my hand and tries to make me pet him, sometimes, and can get quite persistent about it.
Outside on his leash, or without, he positions himself in front of and across my body if he sees or smells any potential threat. Sweet and gentle as he is, I have no doubt he would become vicious if someone or something was trying to hurt me.
The love and devotion of a good dog.
Times are hard and uncertain right now and nothing is more reliable and calming than the love and devotion of a good dog. He loves us unselfishly, unconditionally and completely and would instantly put his own life at risk to protect us
He makes these unthinkable times easier to bear. I know I’m not the only one, and millions of pet owners feel the same way about their fur babies. Aren’t they the greatest gift? I wish they could live forever, or at least all our lives with us. Maybe it’s the knowledge they can’t stay forever, especially a big relatively short-lived pet, that causes most of us to never take them for granted.
We’re in the middle of one of the most difficult times in history, and I’m really glad Cannon, with all his loving faithfulness, is here to help us through it. Anyone who has a pet knows exactly what I mean. Unconditional love is always a comfort.