Love is a many splendored thing….

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

–Morrie Schwartz

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Well, it’s happened.  We knew it was only a matter of time.  The Beaumeister is in love.  That’s right, our little man has a girlfriend.  Her name is Gracie, and she is a cutie.  8 months old to Beau’s 17 months, full of spunk and able to give our boy a run for his money. Indeed, judging from Beau’s adoring gaze, her 100-yard dash not only won his heart, it is infinitely more impressive than mine. 🙂

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Birthday boy!

“Life is too short to be small.”

–Benjamin Disraeli

First day home…

The balloons are inflated, the candle is set aside, and the Frosty Paws are chillin’ in the freezer, for today is a special day here at Chez Feinberg.  It’s the Beaumeister’s 1st birthday!!  It hardly seems possible that the round, brown bundle of puppy love we brought home last October could already be marking a year on the calendar.

Little man’s first car ride

When he first came home, he was ALL belly and paws and so, so squeezable.  🙂  His little ‘Buddha belly’ was round and warm and smelled like all the things that are most precious about babies. His coat was soft as goose down and his little teeth were like hypodermic needles.  ;-/

He ate, slept, played and peed and we adored him.  Some 8 months later, not much has changed (aside from his size and the length of time between potty breaks).

Siesta

Big boy chillin’….

Happy Birthday, Beau!! We love you!!

Blue Nights…

This week I was afforded the immense privilege of guest blogging on David Kanigan’s wonderful blog, Lead. Learn. Live.  Thank you, David, for this wonderful opportunity!!

While my contribution has nothing whatsoever to do with the Beau Man or Miss Thing, I think they will indulge me this once.

It was a fascinating evening….   Blue Nights….

Our little Lothario’s day of reckoning…

Our little Lothario

Big “doings” at Chez Feinberg today:  our little ‘hunka hunka burnin’ love’ was neutered this morning.   (I know, I know, I just sensed all the men reading this post cringe involuntarily….) Trust me, it’s for the best.  Not only are there proven health and behavioral benefits,  the re-direction of energy will be widely appreciated by all.  If you don’t believe me, ask poor Lola Bug and all the lovely lasses at doggy daycare–Beau’s {ahem} attentions were getting to be a bit much, that’s all I’m sayin’.

Mr. Man was remarkably nonplussed as he entered the vet’s office this morning–said hello to all his favorite techs, batted his eyes seductively, and then looked a bit puzzled when his attentions didn’t score him the cookies that are usually forthcoming (NPO and all that, you know–no food before surgery).  Nonetheless, he didn’t hold it against them.  He loves all the folks over at DWAH, so the minute his pal Jennifer asked him if he wanted to take a walk with her, he was out the door without a backward glance at poor old mom and dad.

Dr. Rooney called a little bit ago to say that he was out of surgery and all was well.  We’ll pick him up a bit later this afternoon and bring him home for the requisite TLC.  Lola Bug is brushing up on her nursing skills–she just waltzed through the office in what I could swear was a lab coat and I heard her muttering something about the rectal thermometer with a look of glee.  Ah, family…..

Does this dog have an ‘off’ switch?!

Let me begin by saying that I’m generally very good about reading the fine print, you know “Some settling may occur during shipping,” “Don’t operate heavy machinery after ingesting,” “This structure is not meant to bear weight,” those sorts of warnings.  But I have to confess, although I have read about the prodigious energy of the Labrador Retriever, I did NOT fully appreciate the energy level that Beau would bring to the table.  Wow!!  This dog makes the Energizer Bunny ®  look like a slacker!

I literally cannot seem to wear Beau out!  I have a neighborhood walking loop that I frequent with both Bug and Beau–it’s a 2 1/2 -3 mile walk, up and down hills, etc. and we go at a good clip.  Lola comes home and sacks out.  Beau, conversely, pants during the walk, but is once again rearing to go within half an hour or so. :-/

Walking buddies!

I used to bike with my Dobes and would love to do this with Beau as well, but I don’t want to start such intensive exercise until Beau is 18-24 months old, as from everything I’ve read, it’s not good for their bones. That said, I’ve found a great bike leash that I plan to use when Beau does reach an appropriate age.

Beau LOVES puppy playschool at All Dogs Gym, and it *does* wear him out, but sending him to school on a regular basis gets costly.  He has a good buddy Desmo, a German Shorthaired Pointer who’s equally energetic, but both of Desmo’s parents work during the day, so play dates are tougher to arrange.

So….I ask you….what do *you* find works best to tucker out a 9-month-old firecracker safely?

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…..

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…..

The Beaumeister, Man of Mystery

As you may recall, I recently revealed that Beau had quite suddenly stopped going up the stairs. The downward trajectory was NOT a problem, but heading up was another matter. We attempted to coerce him with all matter of tempting treats, but he was not biting (pardon the pun).

We talked to his obedience teacher at class last week, and she gave us several tips for breaking the cycle of fear and getting him moving again. Specifically, she recommended placing him partway up the stairs and letting him walk the rest of the way, adding a step or two to his ascent each time, and treating him at the top. She also stressed that we should not make a big deal out of the whole issue, but rather just administer a simple acknowledgement it when he made it to the top, “Ok, good boy,” and move on. This guidance, couple with very similar advice from a wise Lab mentor, left me feeling well-equipped to tackle the problem.

Port side of the RMS Titanic; taken from http://www.titanicuniverse.com/

First thing Tuesday, we began positioning him on the steps, and while he made it up each time, he did it on his belly, trembling fiercely and hugging the stairs like they were the deck of the Titanic. I was beginning to think we really had a problem, and then voila–I’m upstairs in the bedroom folding clothes and who appears at my side but the Beau man, who just moments ago had been two flights below. Needless to say, I was delighted that he had conquered his fear and was once more traversing the steps on his own, as my back was beginning to protest the additional 60 lbs. that I was hauling up the stairs each day.

But here’s the kicker–HE WON’T WALK UP WHEN WE’RE WATCHING! Gives new meaning to the phrase “performance anxiety.” 😉

It’s the damnedest thing! If I head up the stairs, he stands at the bottom with his front feet on the first step, gazing up at me with an expression that can only be called forlorn. Let me disappear around the corner, though, and within minutes I hear the ‘thump, thump, thump’ of four little chocolate paws heading my way. At first I thought it was just a fluke, but he consistently waits until we’re out of sight (Lola can’t even witness the act!) before beginning his ascent. Not surprisingly, curiosity quickly got the best of me, so the other night I hid and peaked around the corner to see what he was up to. What I witnessed was truly comical. He does two ‘false starts’ at the bottom, as if revving his engine or building his courage, and then he gets this look of utter determination on his face and with the third surge launches himself into what it best described as a ‘forced march’ up two flights of stairs. It is too much. If only I could get it on camera…..

Relaxing in the office

I have no idea what’s going on in that head of his, but whatever the scenario, we’re all glad to have him back. 🙂

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…..

They grow so fast…

“To get back one’s youth one has merely to repeat one’s follies.” 

–Oscar Wilde

Lola Bug has been my best girl for almost four years now, yet I can remember bringing her home as clearly as if it were last week.  She was so precious–tiny and snuggly and warm–and we both knew we belonged together from the moment we met.  She came over, crawled up in my lap and settled in as if to say, “What took you so long?!”  She has been a source of love and laughter every day since.  I feel so lucky to have discovered Cavaliers–they are truly a fabulous breed.

And then there’s the Beau Man. I knew I loved chocolate, but didn’t realize how truly sweet it could be.  This little man came barreling into our lives last October and hasn’t looked back.  What began on a Monday as a *measured* search for a reputable breeder who might be having a litter in the spring moved quickly to a lead on a *fabulous* chocolate male puppy who by a twist of fate was available to a good home and ended that Sunday with Beau resting in my arms for the drive home from Barrington, NH.  A more loved animal you will not likely find….
Fast forward to the present, where we are blessed with two beautiful, loving animals who find *some* way to move us every day–be it to a moan of frustration, a helpless giggle or an intense wave of love.  These creatures give us love unstintingly and, at the risk of sounding maudlin, they are *always* gone too soon.  They grow SO FAST.
To wit, a photo of Miss Thing and Beau hanging out with me in mid October and in virtually the same pose last week!  All I can say is savor every day…..