JustOneMorePet

Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Labrador Retriever – Still America’s Favorite Dog

1990s & 2000s: Labrador Retrievers

Bill Clinton’s Chocolate Lab, Buddy, remained his buddy even during the dark days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Despite being portrayed as rambunctious in the book and film “Marley & Me,” the Lab remains the most popular dog in America today.

Because of their even temperament, they excel as guide dogs for the blind, as part of search-and-rescue teams, and with law enforcement.

Black Lab.mediumchocolate_lab

Chasing Juneau

A non-theological note on a very theological dog (He literally devoured the New Testament and several writings by Sproul). Juneau was killed when he ran under the prop of an airplane on August 21st, 2009.

Let me begin by saying the dog dies at the end of the story. I always read stories about dogs with hesitation, because I so dislike falling in love with the antics of the animal, only to finish the piece in tears when the dog peacefully falls asleep at its owner’s feet. Or, behind the woodstove in the case of Jack in “Little House in the Prairie.” There is no peaceful falling asleep here; it was violent and horrible. And yet I’m writing about it, trying to make some sense out of a “Life just happens…” event.

I despise clichés, but it is easiest explained to say I am walking through some very muddy waters in areas of my life right now. I am trying to let Christ carry me though them, but just like you probably do on occasion, I spend hours trying to get my own boots out of the muck instead of letting The One Who Isn’t Encumbered By Muck carry me. When I have been stuck (waist deep and refusing help) there has always been Juneau, swimming around me in the bog, trying to bark and carry someone else’s stolen shoe at the same time. He was a friend, a family member, and a picture of what I wished I could be a bit more like. Yes, I know he was “just” a dog, but he was a constant reminder to me to laugh, to play, to go riding on the ATV if for nothing but the pleasure of that great, black head resting on my shoulder as we checked fence lines.

Juneau - the black lab Juneau’s days were spent chasing hawks and vultures as they soared over the cliffs by our home. He loved it when Sam pulled out the blower, because it meant chasing the leaves and stirred-up grass. His tail provided him with endless hours of pleasure – the toy that was always available to pursue if the hawks were sleeping in. Any work done around the house was made better by his company – changing the oil, mowing the lawn, doing school. He tore into the basement with anticipation of what he could destroy – in one day alone, he happily devoured a two pound Costco bag of chocolate truffles, a map of Wales, an airport approach book, and both a paper plate and the cookies that were on it. He did not eat the wax paper covering the cookies, but he gave it the old college try. I could write pages about the silly things he did – riding on the ATV, playing with his puppies, but it can be said most succinctly in this – Juneau was joy itself poured into a black coat.

When I read The Last Battle, CS Lewis’s picture of heaven made sense to me. Where a hundred theological statements had failed to paint eternity, Lewis broke through my foggy understanding with a mouse and Aslan. I suppose Christ’s creation just makes more sense to me through that portion he spent the first part of the sixth day on. Reepicheep was just a mouse – a vivid analogy of courage and faith. Remember when he gnawed away the cords that bound Aslan? Did you cheer when he challenged the dragon? And didn’t your heart go over the edge with him when he sailed away in his little coracle to Aslan’s Country? And didn’t you know you were going to have fun when you drove up to my house and Juneau ran to you, eyes merry, carrying something he had stolen from someone else to give you as a gift? Again, Juneau was “just” a dog. But like Lewis’s portrayal of Christ as the Lion, I was daily reminded of God’s gift to us of joy – a fruit of the spirit made flesh in a bumbling, magnificent Labrador Retriever.

I am sure to be making little sense as I write this, and I am also sure to offend many by drawing a comparison of a dog to something holy. It is difficult to type while crying, and even more difficult to share how much one dog can mean. No, I don’t worship animals – although I did live in Eugene long enough to see some pretty strange things. And I am not putting my dog on the level of a human, with his value more than, or even equal to, my husband or children. There will still be larger-than life moments in my world – a solo for one of the kids in a play, a ribbon from the State Fair, a special dinner to celebrate many years spent together. But I’m trying to imagine a night out on the deck without his 80-pound body wedging itself between David and me, and I’m not succeeding very well. How do you laugh at joy destroyed?
When I covered Juneau’s mangled body with a blanket, I understood the expression “He’s not with us anymore.” Animals, like people, seem smaller when they’ve died. Like the area the soul occupied is void – the balloon has popped, and there are wrinkles where the space was occupied by something larger than the lining. I’m not suggesting dogs have souls – why would they need them? They never questioned the One. If even the rocks would cry out and worship, where do you think dogs would be? At the front of the chorus, I am sure. I have no desire to debate whether animals go to heaven. I only know on that day when I face Christ, when He who died for my sins runs to embrace me, He will be missing his right sandal. And Juneau will be right behind him, carrying it in his big smiling mouth.

Source:  Justlabradors.com/MSN

Dogwise, All Things Dog! Monthly Feature: BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS IN DOGS

Marley & Me

Marley

Tales from a Dog Catcher

Posted:  Just One More Pet

September 20, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, Just One More Pet, Pets | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dog Story

Long, but worth it…………………………..

********************************************************************************************
They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie as I looked at him lying in his pen. black-lab The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly.

I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open.  Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.

But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt.  Give me someone to talk to.

And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news.  The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant.  They must’ve thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner.  See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home.  We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home).  Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.  Maybe we were too much alike.

For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls – he wouldn’t go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes.  I guess I didn’t really think he’d need all his old stuff, that I’d get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn’t going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like “sit” and “stay” and “come” and “heel,” and he’d follow them – when he felt like it.  He never really seemed to listen when I called his name – sure, he’d look in my direction after the fourth of fifth time I said it, but then he’d just go back to doing whatever.  When I’d ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn’t going to work.  He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes.  I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell.

The friction got so bad that I couldn’t wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff.  I
remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the “damn dog probably hid it on me.”

Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter’s number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter..  I tossed the pad in Reggie’s direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I’d seen since bringing him home.  But then I called, “Hey, Reggie, you like that?  Come here and I’ll give you a treat.”  Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction – maybe “glared” is more accurate – and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down with his back to me.

Well, that’s not going to do it either, I thought.  And I punched the shelter phone number. But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope.  I had completely forgotten about that, too. “Okay, Reggie,”  I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”………
_______________________________________
To Whoever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it.  if you’re reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter.  He knew something was different.  I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time… it’s like he knew something was wrong.  And something is wrong… which is why I have to go to try to make it right.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier.  Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hordes them.  He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there.

Hasn’t done it yet.  Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after it, so be careful – really don’t do it by any roads.  I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands.  Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I’ll go over them
again:  Reggie knows the obvious ones – “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.”

He knows hand signals: “back” to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and “over” if you put your hand out right or left.  “Shake” for shaking water off, and “paw” for a high-five.

He does “down” when he feels like lying down – I bet you could work on that with him some more.  He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.

I trained Reggie with small food treats.  Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of
hot dog..

Feeding schedule:  twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening.  Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He’s up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they’ll make sure to send you reminders for when he’s due.

Be forewarned:  Reggie hates the vet.  Good luck getting him in the car –  I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. I’ve never been married, so it’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can.  He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain.  He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.

And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you….

His name is not Reggie.

I don’t know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie.  He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt.  but I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name.  For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I’d never see him again.  And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything’s fine.  But if someone else is reading it, well… well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It’ll help you bond with him.  Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in his demeanor if he’s been giving you problems.

His real name is Tank. Because that is what I drive.

Again, if you’re reading this and you’re from the area, maybe my name has been on the news.  I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.  See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with… and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call the the shelter… in the “event”… to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.

Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed.  He said he’d do it personally.  And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting to downright depressing, even though, frankly, I’m just writing it for my dog.  I couldn’t imagine if I was writing it for a wife  and kids and family.  But still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.

That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things… and to keep those terrible people from coming over here.  If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so..  He was my example of service and of love.  I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at
the shelter.  I don’t think I’ll say another good-bye to Tank, though.  I cried too much the first time.  Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank.  Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.

Thank you,
Paul Mallory
_____________________________________
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope.  Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me.  Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies.  Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.

The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes brightened.

“C’mere boy.”

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor.

He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months.

“Tank,” I whispered.

His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him.  I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me.. Your old pal gave you to me.”

Tank reached up and licked my cheek.  “So whatdaya say we play some ball?  His ears perked again. “Yeah?  Ball?  You like that? Ball?”  Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

by DaisyDoyle – AARP Dog Blog Group

Posted:  Just One More Pet

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August 16, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Pet Adoption, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment