Life With Labs


In The Beginning...

Our life with Labs began with the arrival of a cute, little 8 week old chocolate male pup we named Moogolee. Now, we'd been living with Akitas for many years, which is kind of like living with a bunch of teenagers they are independent, stubborn, strong willed and have zero interest in pleasing you. Labs, on the other hand, are like living with toddlers they are curious, into everything you can imagine, orally fixated, and have a great deal of interest in making you happy. Making the transition from Akitas to Labs was not easy though, and there were numerous casualties along the way (i.e.: furniture, sprinkler systems, walls, etc.). Our house was no longer baby proofed, all the children were grown, even the baby was in college now, but it didn't take long to figure out that we would have to transform our house back to the way it was twenty years ago, when there were numerous toddlers in the Robertson household.

Our Akita's were not chewers. In fact, there was not one tooth mark on any piece of furniture in our house before we acquired our first Lab. Today there are few pieces of furniture without tooth marks. We were naive and unprepared. Moogolee was so tiny and cute that I would let him play in the bedroom while I got ready for bed. I had done this with the Akita pups and it had always worked out well. So, consequently, it took me a few days to realize that while I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed, little Moogolee was sampling the bedposts, the desk, the chair, the dresser, and really the list just goes on and on. I tried Bitter Apple and it did deter him for a few minutes, but then he apparently got used to the taste, and from that point on it really didn't bother him at all. You couldn't take your eyes off this little guy for even two minutes because he was constantly finding something new to munch on, and frequently they were items that were non-consumable or so everyone thought before The Moog came along.

Even when I started to leash train him, I couldn't take two steps before he would have something in his mouth and I'd have to stop and empty it. His mouth was like a little vacuum cleaner and anything in his path was picked up. I must have taken over a hundred rocks and sticks out of this boy's mouth before I decided to confine leash training to indoors only. That worked fairly well as long as I remembered not to pass by open waste baskets, house plants, or electrical cords. So basically, Moogolee was leash trained by walking around in a ten foot diameter circle in the middle of the living room, which was really the only safe place to walk the boy. More later ... Jackie

And then there was... Jasmine!

Five weeks after Moogolee joined our family, Jasmine arrived (our first yellow female). Now we had double trouble because Jasmine, also, was a very busy puppy. At the breeder's, Jasmine seemed a little tentative and laid-back. The moment she walked through our front door her personality changed and the true Jasmine emerged. She declared Listen up everyone I'm in charge now, and from that moment on that is exactly the way it has been. Moogolee understood right away that the top position would never be his and fell right in line behind Jasmine.

Jasmine, at first, seemed like she was not going to be quite as big a handful as The Moog, but Moogolee, sensing that this situation might not work out in his favor (I would always know who did it), worked at teaching Jasmine to be a handful, as well. It had always been hard to dress or undress with Moogolee loose in the room because he was going after my pants, my socks, my shoes, anything really, within his reach. So the first night that Jasmine was with us, I get my slippers out and Moogolee (as usual) runs over and grabs one, but this time he doesn't run off with it, he runs over and plunks it down in front of Jasmine, then comes back grabs my other slipper and off he goes! Well, from that night on, Jasmine joined in the fun and it took longer and longer to get ready for bed.

During the next two months, we adjusted to life with Labs. The baby gates went back up, outlets were plugged, cords unplugged, sharp and inedible objects were removed from anywhere within their reach, and once again, our house was baby proofed. Tax season was in full swing and my sanity was only saved through the use of crates, exercise pens, and dog runs.

Moogolee gets bored easily. You can see it in his eyes. He starts walking around the room just eyeing everything, kind of like window shopping. Then he will spot the object of his desire. Now it doesn't matter whether it's high, low, near, or far, Moogolee will figure out a way to get to it and make it his own. Pulling my morning newspaper off the table and shredding it was one of his favorite pastimes. He amused himself by chewing off half the cord to our George Foreman grill (Moog clearly thought we were already eating lean enough), removing the molding from our island counter, and whittling down my dining room table and chairs. Jasmine assisted when she wasn't off on some home improvement project of her own. While I was trying to expand their world giving them larger and larger spaces to explore they were destroying mine! Clearly, I wasn't totally Lab savvy yet.

Barkley & Gretchen Join our Family

As tax season drew to a close, our first yellow male, Barkley arrived, followed four days later by our first black female, Gretchen. As you can well imagine, chaos erupted! Four Lab pups under the age of six months brought this mother of five to her knees. Outside, the pups were confined to runs and kennels. Indoors, the kitchen and a playpen in my office became their habitat. The outside situation was good, the inside situation, a disaster. Four pups is more than anyone can watch and soon my kitchen cabinets and table and chairs were screaming out for help. In no time at all, there were teeth marks in every piece of wood in my kitchen. My dining room table and chairs were mere shadows of their former selves. One chair had its leg almost entirely eaten off. Now this was not cheap furniture. It was special ordered from a furniture store in Canada, so to watch it being slowly demolished was almost more than I could bare. Enjoying the morning paper with coffee at the kitchen table became a thing of the past, because the moment I would lay the paper down it was in someones mouth and being ripped to shreds. I don't know, I just lost interest in reading soggy, pieced together articles. There was frequently so much missing from the article that I wasn't sure I was actually getting the point the article was trying to make anyway.

Then there was the debacle in my office. One evening I was working on a tax return and had two of the pups in a playpen in the office with me. The playpen was on one side of the room and my desk was on the other side. Here was my fatal mistake I got up for a few minutes and went into the house. When I returned, what I saw horrified me. In fact, I still have nightmares about this one. The pups had moved their playpen across the room to my desk and pulled my client's source documents (original forms) down into their play area. Well, this was like dropping raw meat into a pool filled with piranhas. I salvaged what I could and spent several hours taping forms back together, but some important information had simply been eaten and was not retrievable. Fortunately, the client was one who had been with me for years, and I was able to obtain the information again. At least the pups were kind enough not to pick a brand new client. You have to look on the bright side of things, you know. Labs give new meaning to the age old excuse the dog ate my homework. Trust me; it]s happened in our household before.

Needless to say, that little episode ended pups in playpens in my office. Now if a Lab gets to be in my office with me, they are confined to a heavy wire crate, one which they cannot relocate on a whim! Barkley and Gretchen were the culprits in the office caper, so as you can see, they were no easier than the first two.

Spring turned into summer and the Labs grew along with their appetites, curiosity and their reach, thus providing many more episodes of destruction, mayhem and with the right philosophical perspective...humor.
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