Tony Alonso's Owning A Dog Part 1
Owning a Labrador, a Learning Experience Part 1
So, did y'all have some time to breathe now? I know I drove y'all crazy with the barrage of words that I laid upon your minds a few months ago...and for that, I blame Sandy Herzon fully, and he better own up to it. See, if he hadn't given us Miracle, or if Miracle wasn't such a cute puppy, or if he hadn't had me register Miracle to the IACBA show, I may have spared you folks from the pain. I'll go even further. This gentleman told me to go ahead and write as much as I wanted...WHAT THE HECK WAS HE THINKING???? He's fully to blame here...
The truth here lays in the fact that we are very thankful that Sandy gave us Miracle, and have been very happy with the Labrador Ownership Experience. So much so that I wanted to put into words everything we felt as new owners, whether it was good, bad or sometimes (Ok, that one time) polemic.
I started writing this about a month ago, as Miracle grows into what he is today: "Destructo the Labrador Retriever". Let's just say that I have been slowly putting these thoughts together as the weekss have passed to give everyone that doesn't own a Labrador, an idea of what it is like as they grow, and those who already own one, a chance for a chuckle, as they went through exactly everything that we are going through right now.
Let me preface my story by saying that I am an experienced dog owner and know how to handle them, how to keep them in line, what to do and not to do. I am very good at this dog owning thing...
In my lifetime, I have owned 4 dogs. My first dog was a mutt, Rocky, whom I loved to death. He was a very smart dog, and a very slick one too, which sadly enough was what got him at the end. Then came our Kaiser, an Alsatian Wolf Dog (just found out it was a wolf dog, I thought it was a shepherd), very quiet, very kind but with a mean streak if he felt danger. Those dogs were both mine during my infancy in Venezuela. Both loved the mountains, both loved nature. I guess one day I'll write a little about them, although it won't be much; I owned them so long ago...
When I moved to the US, my family got what we have considered until now, "the dog". The one my mom used to say "broke the mold", because there wouldn't be another one like him. He was Astro, our Boxer, a puppy until the very end at 12 years of age. He was a statuesque dog who was trained to protect us, but who was very playful with anyone who came into the house with us. When he sat down, people actually thought he was a fake dog. He would barely breathe and would just sit there, until I tapped my thigh. Then, he would run up to me and walk with me, without a lead, just walking with like he was trained to do.
When I got married, I bought Miriam her first dog and our firstborn child, Sandy, our Golden Retriever. She was playful, she played rough with me and she was a kind sweet puppy, until the last day too. She was scared of thunder, and hated to hear the rain fall. She begged, and we gave her food, and she was the one and only of my dogs that lived inside the house. This was our children's first dog and their companion from the very first day. They say that dogs get a bit jealous when a newborn comes into the family. Sandy became their other mom. When my wife would sit down to feed the babies, Sandy would lay down at her feet, put her head on her lap and simply look at the kids. As soon as the babies burped, she walked away. Anytime a visitor came by, she would lay down between Miriam and whoever was visiting, protecting "her kids". She was truly a second mom and we miss her...
Then came Miracle, our loopy lab. A dog of whom my mother has said "he broke the mold" (so again, now we have a "the dog" dog). Going back to this conversation, I reiterate that I am an experienced dog owner and I know exactly how to handle a dog, no matter what breed. So right before picking Miracle up, we had already bought him a house, had a spot for him outside in our patio, we were ready, because I know what a dog should have and how it should behave.
I still remember the first time we actually took him outside, on our way to work. He was a very high-strung puppy, running around the patio and the backyard. The funny thing is that he would run around for a few minutes and go to sleep, as he got very tired. I thought I had his behind figured out, no problems here. Then Miracle noticed that he had a pretty wooden cottage house which cost me about $145 and he really liked it, in fact, he liked it so much that he started chewing it. What was he doing to that beautiful wooden cottage home???? Of course, it was just a miscalculation in our part, nothing wrong with me, I know dogs and how they behave, I am an experienced dog owner!!!
Very slickly, I asked Sandy what kind of dog house we should have for Miracle, and he told me that Igloos are better for labs because they CAN'T CHEW THEM. I told Sandy what we had done and actually garnered a chuckle from him, and a "what were you thinking" look.
Undaunted, I continued making decisions on behalf of Miracle, like for example, leaving an A/C filter on top of the grill, thinking that Miracle would not be able to grab it and play with it. Not two minutes after I did this, my wife, laughing, called me to see what happened to my filter. I was livid but again, undaunted. Of course, you all know already about the chasing and rough playing for which I was punished by Sandy. Then the unexpected...the pooping...
I have to say that I have never seen so much poop in one patio. This dog must poop 5-6 times a day!!! (Since I started writing this, his pooping has slowed, THANK GOD!!). By the way, he may not yet be 5 months (he is 5 months old now, as you can see I started writing this a few months ago), but he poops like an old Saint Bernard. That is one thing that I never saw with my other dogs, so I was a bit dumbfounded by this.
There is only one conclusion that I can gather from this short writing, when it comes to dogs, Labs in particular, I don't know Jack!!! I pick up the poop and buy him stuff to destroy, like the cover for my beautiful stainless steel grill. So who is training who here????
I have also learned by Miracle's training of us, that he is actually a brilliant dog. I have damaged my Achilles tendon and have been going through pain, so I am walking with a very pronounced limp today, and I had to go outside and take him out to the yard for pooping and exercise. When he sees us coming, Miracle gets very happy, jumps up and down and bumps us with his butt...he came up to me, saw me and just smelled my right leg, the one that I hurt. Then he proceeded to simply walk with me to the yard and walked with me back into the terrace, without so much as a bump anywhere near me. I have tried this three times today and by God, this dog knows I am hurt and is giving me my space!! Sandy has told me that if I ignore him, he'll go away, but I am telling you that I stroked his head and thanked him, fully paying attention to him, and all he did was give me that special look that he has and wag his tail. He mistakenly stepped on my toes, looked down and immediately took his paw off my foot. HE NORMALLY LEAVES THE PAW THERE!!! What the heck????
He also has had a close encounter with my parents' pool. One day, as he ran around the pool, he noticed that there was a small bug inside the pool. He pawed at it with one, then the other paw, and then he would go away, then come back to it, paw at it, and go away again. Then he decided that he could use both paws to bring the bug to him. What he forgot is that the floor he was stepping on with his two front paws was 6 feet under water, so he fell in, and swam to the edge, or tried to. I had to stick my arm in the pool and save his crazy behind. Twenty minutes later, I had to pull him out again. Then he just started sprinting crazily around the pool, over, and over again. That dog got home and passed out for the rest of the night.
Nowadays, since he turned 5 months old, he has begun digging and destroying my beautiful, well groomed backyard (he seems to particularly enjoy this). Well, not all of it, just a part of it, along with my screen door in the patio, the hose in the back, and an assortment of smaller things that didn't need to be destroyed. Of course, after digging, he comes in the terrace with his paws all full of mud. So much fun!!!
The first time he started digging and destroying, he got me extremely upset, maybe irate. He had done his digging and had brought into the terrace, 2 foot square of grass (I had replaced the grass a couple of weeks earlier) and made a mess out of it. I got mad, yelled, scruffed him, he ran around the back, I scruffed him again (not going to tell y'all what I felt like doing) and finally tied him to a post while I cleaned (and cooled down a bit). For those who don't own a Lab, this next thing will come as a shock, for those who do own one (or two, or 5), please stop laughing...really. Truth be told, Miracle had no clue that I was mad at him, in fact, he continued "playing" with me, as I screamed louder...he actually made me laugh in the middle of my ire. Ever since that day, I promised myself that I would not lose my cool like that again, and that in fact, I would have a little fun with it...and I have, and I am a happier person for it.
I own a stereo system that has speakers outside and I also own a Vuvuzela (noise maker...very loud...Google it) and I thought of something Sandy said to us a while back. A noise will get his attention, but a louder noise will stop him in his tracks. Therefore, I decided that two different loud noises would do the trick here, and they have, sort of...The first time I saw him digging (through my cameras outside), I turned on the stereo and pressed the button for the speakers outside, to which the dog ran into the terrace and hid under a table, then in his house. I thought this was funny and at the same time, would teach both of us how to handle him. Then he went back again a day later and began digging a bit again. Music came on again and again, he hid in his house. Then after conferring with Sandy, I decided to change things up a bit with the noises. After I saw him digging again I went to the window that was a few feet away from where he was digging, breathed in a bunch of air and Vuvued (new word I invented - the process of blowing on the Vuvuzela) the life out of him. Miriam, while sobbing from laughing so hard (evil woman...ha, ha), said that when he heard that noise, the dog literally levitated about a foot off the ground and flew into the terrace (I take literary ownership to my exaggeration to prove my point) where he again, hid in what is left of his "cottage". This technique has worked better than expected, and I don't even get mad anymore. He doesn't dig as much as he used to.
In all seriousness, owning a Labrador is a fun experience because you never know what this dog is going to do next. He may run around the patio with his toy monkey, chew on his house a bit (or a lot), pull our patio chairs around the patio just for fun, or climb on top of our patio table, like the cat-dog that he is. Either way, he is an entertaining animal and we can't wait to see what he does next.
As we near his first 6 months of life, I can't help but think back to that September 4th, when we picked Miracle up at Sandy's, and wonder what our lives would be like without our loopy, destructive, non-stop pooping Labrador. He has clearly made our lives better, more fun and for that we are very thankful. We consider him one of our family and are looking forward to seeing what he is going to come up with next.
To everyone reading this, have a Happy, Happy Holiday, and look out for Miracle next year, I know we can't wait for his AKC debut....AND NO, HE IS NOT FOR SALE!!!
Before I end it, I am adding a few photos showing the process of taking our Christmas Photo to print and send out to our family and friends. In order from 1 to 4...
...and finally, this was the Christmas Photo for the Alonso family as it was printed in cards...
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!!!!
Thank you Sandy for allowing me to put this all into words...
Back to Reference Library
Back to Home Page