Ahhh, the teenage years…..

Mr. Innocent

Beau and I had words this morning.  Actually, *I* had words (many of which I can’t repeat here) and he just sat and looked at me as if to say, “Geesh, mom, YOUR britches sure are in a twist for so early in the morning!  What’s up?”

‘What prompted this exchange?,’ you ask.  Well…..my adorable, 9-month-old bundle of chocolate love hopped out of bed this morning and sauntered down the hall on his way outside to take care of his morning business.  So far so good.  Then it all went south.  Diablo took a left into the upstairs guest room, marched over and LIFTED HIS LEG (no, I’ve never mentioned it because heretofore he’s never done it!!) and proceeded to pee all over the corner of the raw silk (no, that is not a typo) guest bed duvet (did I mention it’s made of raw silk?).  I was rendered momentarily speechless….momentarily.

I immediately grabbed him and marched his little brown bum downstairs and out the door, explaining to him all the while that marking was decidedly NOT an activity that was countenanced in this household and by the way, since when did he lift his leg, and was he familiar with the word ‘neuter.’  He wasn’t then, but I think he is now.  I must confess that he looked a little worried initially, but once he had established that this little ‘morning mishap,’ whatever it was all about, would in no way impact the delivery of his breakfast, he chalked  it up to my need for a caffeinated beverage.

Miss Thing, meanwhile, watched the proceedings from the upstairs hallway with what I could swear was a smirk.  And it’s only Tuesday…..

Love the way he loves me…

Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.

-Peter Ustinov

Today is graduation day for the Beau Man. He’s completing his 8-week “Puppy S.T.A.R.” class (“Socialization, Training, Activities & Responsibilities”) at All Dogs Gym in Manchester. It’s been a great experience–lots of socialization and an opportunity to learn to work and focus on Mom & Dad when there are *so* many other–and oftentimes more interesting–things to occupy his attention.) He’s done beautifully, and has become quite accomplished at sit, down, stay, come and walking on a loose lead (most of the time). We’ve still got a bit of work to do on the jumping issue, but no one’s perfect, right?! Which brings me to the love and forgiveness thing….

Despite his rather limited attention span, this wonderful animal simultaneously displays the patience of Job. As I struggle to maneuver the clicker, string cheese, hot dog bits, lead, and, oh yeah, the dog(!) with some modicum of skill and aptitude, he often stands and gazes up at me with such a look of love and understanding that it melts my heart. You can practically see the thought bubble over his head: “Geesh, Mom, is it really *that* hard to ask me to do something, watch me do it (with no small amount of panache, I might add), press that little metal tab and then dump a chunk of cheese or hot dog into the ole’ pie hole in something under 2 minutes?! Teacher Nicole does it so smoothly and fluidly that the cheese is passing my lips before I even have a chance to congratulate myself on another flawlessly executed down!”

It’s a riot, actually. He’s whip-smart (as I’ve mentioned before), so it takes him no time at all to figure out what’s being requested, but then we have to get the whole exercise sorted out in the proper order. Yet we persevere. Working together, we’ve become a pretty fluid team and he forgives me my transgressions–one piece of string cheese at a time….

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Color me curious….

Our little Cassanova

“With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.”  

-Henri Matisse

As anyone who follows my blog knows, Beau is a Chocolate Lab.  He’s a beautiful boy, with rich, dark coloring, a stunning head, and eyes that will melt your heart.  The photo on the left is the first picture we took upon bringing him home at 8 weeks.  Hello?!  Beyond cute, right? In case ya can’t see it, the thought bubble above his head reads, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!”

And he *is* a beautiful boy, inside and out.  His confirmation is lovely to behold, and his personality will warm your soul.  But now to my query….

During our obedience class class this week, the instructor walked toward us and Beau executed a back flip that would easily have earned him a ’10’ with the French judge.  Nicole grinned and said, “Ah, the Chocolates.   They are known for their energy and Beau certainly doesn’t disappoint!  I don’t know if you’re aware, but the Chocolates are generally considered the highest energy of the three Lab colors.  Chocolates are typically high strung, Blacks are generally very mellow, and Yellows are somewhere in the middle.”  Come again?  Well, you know what my next question was:  “When can I expect this level of {ahem} enthusiasm to diminish a bit?”  “Oh, usually between age 3 and age 5 ,” was the reply.  Gulp….

Yet I was also intrigued.  How could a dog’s color have any effect on its personality?  It seems far-fetched, but I also recalled that Red Dobermans have a reputation for being natural born comedians, and that had certainly proved true with mine. Chance was a goof with a great sense of humor, while Emma, my beautiful black girl, had a much more serious outlook on life.

Chance catches up with "Dancing with the Stars."

As soon as I got home,  I hopped online and googled ‘attributes of the color brown’ to see if any light might be shed on the situation.  The response came back: “Brown says stability, reliability, and approachability. It is the color of our earth and is associated with all things natural or organic.”  All very nice and certainly applicable to Beau.  He’s got a very stable, even temperament; he’s certainly very approachable (he exudes “Come love on me!” out of every pore); he’s most definitely earth colored; and there’s NO question that he enjoys “all things natural and organic:” rocks, sticks, dirt, bugs, you get the idea….

So I put the question out there–do you think a dog’s personality could be linked to its color?  What’s your personal experience been?

Lola, of course, feels that color matters not a whit.  She’s black and tan and she wears it well.  Like Mae West, Miss Thing’s attitude is simple:  Whatever your color,  “It is better to be looked over than overlooked.”  Indeed…..

Scary smart

Our star student

“This dog is SCARY SMART!” announced our trainer at the outset of this week’s obedience class.  “You guys just need to focus on channeling this energy and intelligence in the service of good.”  Understood, Obi-Wan Kenobi. 😉

The thing is, she’s right.  Beau is smart as a whip and catches on to new concepts in NO time.  He frequently ends up being the class ‘demo dog’, which is both a good thing and a bad thing–good because he gets whatever new concept the teacher is introducing in mere minutes, but bad because he’s usually selected because he’s exhibiting a behavior that we’re trying to {ahem} modify.

This week was a case in point.  Our little Beau Man is a lover par excellence.  He’s also nurturing a burgeoning talent as a puller and a jumper.  His jumping is impressive.  I’m not talking a few bunny hops around the arena, I’m talking a “full-on, body tackle, Oh my God I’m so glad to see you that I’m going to jump up and tell you so *eye-to-eye*!” jumper.  🙂

And the pulling, well, this is a newer issue.  He does quite well walking on a loose lead when it’s just the two of us cruising around the neighborhood.  But let us get to the obedience facility where there are SO many dogs and people to greet and, well, imagine a smallish woman waterskiing behind a 60-pound Lab and you’ll have just about the right visual. I’m quite keen on curtailing both of these behaviors, but especially the pulling, as I LOVE to go out for a nice walk with the dog, and it is NO fun if you’re being pulled from pillar to post.  Believe me, I know–I’ve been through this before.

My Chancellor Man

Chance, my first Doberman (may he rest in peace), was a prodigious puller in his youth.  Once, when taking him for a walk, he spied a baby rabbit in the yard and took off in hot pursuit.  I was bound and determined to hang on, as I knew the little rabbit didn’t have a prayer if Chance got loose, and hang on I did.  All the way through the front yard and around the house to the back.  Throughout the course of this “adventure” I mumbled a silent prayer that none of my neighbors happened to be looking out their windows, and when I finally managed to get back on my feet, I was sporting a grass stain that stretched from my bum to my shoulder blades.  But the bunny was safe and I still had the lead in my hands.  But I digress….

And “What of Miss Thing?,” you ask?  Not to be outdone, Lola Bug has begun showing Beau her “obedience chops” anytime she sees the bag of string cheese and poached chicken emerge from the fridge.  While Beau is working to execute the down stay that’s just been requested, Bug has already dropped to the floor (from 2″ above  it) and is eagerly imploring me to hand over the goods.  Or running a circle around Beau and quickly skidding to a sit.  Or rolling over or executing a pirouette while batting her lashes at me alluringly.  As her idol, Mae West, once remarked, “I’m a woman of very few words, but lots of action.”

Dogs–ya gotta love ’em…..