A new friend

We've adopted a 10-month-old black lab from the son of some friends. Like a lot of kids of college age, he didn't understand how hard it would be to raise and train a young dog while attending classes and moving from one student apartment to another, letting her be babysat here and there by a whole series of friends and relatives.

I'm sure he must have taught her something, but it's not apparent what. She didn't understand about water at all. Now she's learning what to do in the little bits of pond we have left after our long drought, though she stills swims like a puppy, all frantic splashing. The notion of retrieving is just bubbling up from her genes into her consciousness like a revelation. She heels about as well as a raccoon. I know she'll settle down quickly, though, once she gets used to her new, more consistent home. There are lots of woods to run around in and exercise that bursting youth and strength. She needs to smell everything and learn that it's hers. She needs to know that we're her pack now.

Our two other dogs are adjusting, one easily and one with difficulty (pretty much blowing things out of both ends all over the carpet; use your imagination; let it run wild). Even the one with the delicate sensibility will come around soon, though, if past dog additions are any indication. Luckily I don't object much to dog messes.

This is the first time I can remember that we took in a dog more on my husband's initiative than on my own. I was prepared to let our friends find a home for this pretty dog somewhere else. I'm always up for another dog, though, and so was thrilled when my husband suggested it. (What could be better than a husband who adopts dogs?) It just means going back on puppy discipline: no leaving out balls of yarn or books until we can explain to her how she must act.

Speaking of animals, I got to cuddle a small boa constrictor this weekend.


bthun said...

"She needs to know that we're her pack now"...

That sounds a bit Cesar Millan-ish, just remember who's the Alpha of the pack. =;^}

In any event, good on ya, your SO, and your brand new young'un.

Grim said...

I love dogs. The wife has been making noises about wanting a kitten, though, which is another story entirely. We used to have cats, though, when we were first married; but we haven't had once since China.

Texan99 said...

That's obvious to all the dogs here -- it's my husband. He's not ambivalent about it the way I am.

We're trying to run her little ass into the ground. She's not quite the pinball she was when we brought her home yesterday. She's still on a single-minded mission to test everything in her environment in case it might be food.

Texan99 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Texan99 said...

Grim, you don't like to have some cats around to control snakes and rodents? Ours are good little hunters.

Grim said...

That was my proposed compromise: we could get a cat if it lived in the basement.

Grim said...

Of course, if I could just catch one of the rat snakes we have around here, I'd let it live in the basement instead.

E Hines said...

...have some cats around to control snakes and rodents? Ours are good little hunters.

I love cats, but some cats better hunters than others. One we had in Las Cruces successfully hunted out the rabbit population in our large yard (with the help of another; more on that in a bit). But she would only head the heads; she'd leave the body on the lower stair landing for us to clean up. I think the house must be haunted with the ghosts of headless bunnies. Her fellow hunter (they were _not_ a team) was very fastidious. We fed our cats dry cat food ad lib on an upstairs balcony, and we'd find this one's hunting trophies--a few scraps of rabbit, or snake, bones--in the food bowl. Never anyplace else.

We had another cat who simply didn't get it. One time he brought in a jack as large as he was, and still alive and, as it turned out, completely healthy. He set it down in the bedroom, and the jack went straight to a room corner and froze. I closed the bedroom door on both of them, hoping my cat would figure it out. I went in an hour later to find the jack still in the corner, petrified, with the cat flat on his back, his four paws to the four compass points, his head about six inches from the jack, snoring. Literally.

[sigh] I threw a towel over the jack and took him back outside to run free.

T99, I hope your new dog learns more common sense. And eats his catches carefully.

Eric Hines

Anonymous said...

Apparently, if a cat is not shown how to hunt while it is young, it usually won't figure out on its own. The catch part comes fairly naturally but killing is the problem - Mama cat or another feline has to demonstrate for the proverbial light bulb to come on. My mother's last-cat-but-one (the 22 lb red tabby) had it down, sort of. He was strictly an indoor cat and he hunted bugs. But he did not care for the "crunchy bits" and so my parents would find legs and wings in strange places.

My father likes dogs but they live in town where there's not enough room for "a real dog" (Lab-sized).


Cass said...

I am so jealous! I want a puppy so badly but there's no one at home to socialize it.


Thanks for sharing yours, though.

Texan99 said...

Well, now, I don't know. Our best hunter was one of a litter that someone dumped on our road when they were just barely old enough to be weaned -- tiny, tiny things.

Our cats live outside during the day and in the garage at night, so they won't get eaten by coyotes. I'd be happy to let them in the house, too, but they don't get along with one of my dogs, the eldest, so they are banished for their own safety, which happens to suit my husband as well.

Cass: yes, it's not good to leave them home alone all day, especially when they're young. I wish you could have one now. When my sister and I visited France last fall, I was happy to see how many stores and restaurants had dogs. Maybe they're less flexible about their offices.

Grim, if you have rodents in your basement I'm surprised you don't already have a snake or two down there. Or, to put it another way, if you don't have either cats or snakes down there, I'm surprised you don't have a lot of rodents. The guy at the snake lecture where I met the boa told us that a really great snake to have around is an indigo -- native here, but I don't know about there. They get very big and eat amazing quantities of pests: rodents, scorpions, you name it. We have tree snakes here that stake out the hummingbird feeders.

bthun said...

Our little 18 year old, black, outdoor cat has a hard time seeing. She has what is known as lenticular sclerosis and due to the vision impairment she does not hunt anymore.

She does like to leave the basement and go outside on sunny, warm days in order to take a lap or two around the hovel and climb up ten feet or so into her familiar trees, but that's about as frisky as she gets these days.

Back in her day she was the scourge of rabbit, squirrel, snake, bird and other assorted items from the feline food pyramid.

*sigh* Time waits for no cat, or curmudgeon...

DL Sly said...

I only have to wait a few more months before MH's argument for not getting more furry family is no longer valid.
I so miss puppy breath.

E Hines said...

...it's not good to leave them home alone all day, especially when they're young.

Get two; they'll keep each other company while you're out earning their keep.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Yes they will. When one of them develops the concept of eating your shoes, the other one will join in to bear him fellowship.

Xenophon said...

Labs are so adorable and loyal. Perhaps not the best guard dogs. But I still recall Old Yeller from Disney.(Fending off a bear!). And every Lab we had growing up was a gentle protector. They were such kind dogs but knew when they had to be nasty! The Great Dane exhibits a similar character,but he's much larger. Both are fantastic dogs, worthy of being your friend. But a well trained Great Dane will deter most BS before it begins.

karrde said...

Nice looking picture. Is she fresh from a swim?

I had a Lab for a year. Energetic, playful, loyal...and he loved chasing things.

He liked water, too. Playing fetch with a floatation-toy was the only way to tire him out rapidly.

Texan99 said...

Only for a year? How sad.

Yes, she had come from the pond, followed by a series of attack-and-rolls in the sand between her and the 3-year-old pup. They've all been sleeping like stones all evening.