Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Coulda Been a Millionaire

This book could have been written by me. Or by anyone who has been owned by a yellow Lab, for that matter.  My only defense for not writing this book is that our yellow lab, Jake, kept me so distracted and confused that I was incapable of forming complete sentences when he was done with me.

Anyone who has read this book or seen the movie, or any dog movie or book,  knows that as infuriating, destructive, and unmanageable as these animals can be, we love them with all our heart.  In the end there is a large empty space when they are no longer with us.


It all began with this clown dog, Chaz, who owned a neighbor of ours. All we would see was his majestic beauty as his people walked him down the street.  They had no wild stories to share with us, no warnings, but I should have had an inkling about the yellow lab personality because of the numerous times I saw his people frantically chasing him after an obvious jailbreak. Chaz is the larger dog, the little blur is Jake.  I believe Chaz was secretly passing on lab behavior info to Jake during these play sessions. 

It was clear that both Jake and I needed obedience school, so we signed up.  Those evenings were supposed to be a bonding experience for the two of us.  What those classes ended up being was a sweaty, wrestling match between two beings and the canine being was winning.  We were the "before" picture even after 6 weeks of torture.  He jumped up on everyone.  He barked, he whined, he urinated on the floor, he pulled on the leash, he chewed the leash.  You get the idea.  When your dog is the one the instructors use as an example EVERY time, you have trouble on your hands.  Jake did learn to heel, sit, stay and come and he received the "most improved" award.  I never understood why HE was given the award, I was the one who came home bruised and crying every week.

We were at least able to take Jake out in public for family outings and walks at the park.
Looking at this picture I can't help but wonder what was really going on.  To the casual observer this looks like a nice day at the park with Jake and my mother.  I am obviously still not thinking rationally, hence the oversize coke bottle glasses, but what has come over my usually sweet and gentle mother?  Her hands are clasped around Jake's neck as if choking him. I also notice the tension on the leash.  We are obviously trying to keep Jake from running amok in the playground.  He would have loved to plunge in and knock down a child or two. Or three.

I wasn't the only female Jake had wrapped around his paw.  When he was six months old, our next door neighbors lost their minds and brought a female yellow lab home one day.  I smugly nodded my head and waited for the chaos to ensue. She was perfect. Didn't chew, didn't destroy, didn't bark at the air. What she did do was adore Jake.  Meet Miss Molly, Jake's GF. They were inseparable, playing every afternoon in their backyards while the human children tried to stay out of their way.  They did everything together.

Jake could do no wrong in her eyes. It was a sad day for all of us when Molly and her family moved away.

It was about 8 years before another girl would enter Jake's life and she came at just the right time.  Jake was finally slowing down by the age of ten, The Maven and The Writer were quite self-sufficient and it just seemed like the right time to add that small dog we thought we'd like. 
Panda injected new energy into the older version of Jake.  He patiently would let her box his nose with her front paws and climb all over him when he was laying down.  When he had enough, it just took a swing of his head and a lifted lip to make Panda stop. 
His memory lives on still through Panda.  She still stops dead in her tracks during a walk to stare at a passing motorcycle, she knows that they merit some sort of reaction, but doesn't quite remember that she should be barking wildly and straining at the leash when we see them. And even though she is a female dog, she always marks her territory along the walk just like a male yellow lab taught her to do.


Orlando Grandma said...

the next best thnig to "Marley and Me", enjoyed it.

The_Tyro said...

I miss jake he was a crazy dog but i always remember how he would let me hug him no matter what.

KarenSue said...

Love your stories, I don't feel like we are the only ones that are controlled by our loving pets.

eggzachary said...

Haha, I love your analysis of that picture with Grandma and Jake. Upon closer inspection, I have to agree that you probably have it about right.

Also, whoever created that obedience school sign needed a copyeditor.

The Boston Lady said...

Gee, I never even noticed! See I'm still rattled.