Category Archives: Holidays


That’s the sound Sonny makes.

Lomax said “moof,” Truman says “rowmf” (and still makes his grunt-grunt-grunt-whiiiiiiine “grumpus noise”) and Jethro went from little beeps as a tiny puppy to a silly Chewbacca sound that defies my attempts at transliteration. And cute little Sonny says “NYURF!”

I found out his birthday (nyurfday?) is September 19th. That means I’ve had two September puppies — Sonny and Lomax, just a few days apart in the month. That also means he’s nine weeks old at the time of this writing. And he already looks different from the squishy furball I received last Friday! They change and grow so quickly at this stage, in noticeable ways. I’d post a pic, but I’m having technical difficulties today (too many dogs, not enough hands and uninterrupted time).

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, but we are quite happy and grateful to be spending it at home, with no travel or turkey or football or stress. We’re making tacos tonight, actually, and will celebrate the blessings of togetherness and everything else God has provided for our little family. There will be a fire in the fireplace, a DVD to enjoy, and probably some ice cream. We hope you’re feeling blessed today as well, whether or not you’re celebrating an “official” holiday wherever you are.

Anyway, the rest of the pack and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Or, as Sonny would put it…NYURF!

Happy Halloween…ish

Because of the cleanup of fallen trees and power lines in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, the township where we live has officially postponed all Halloween activities, including trick-or-treating, until Friday.

(Is that weird? That you can just postpone a holiday like that? Would they postpone Christmas for a blizzard? It’s weird to me.)

Truman and Gourdy on the porchBut because this is the first year in a while that I’ve actually carved a jack-o-lantern, I wanted to put him outside on October 31st to fulfill his Halloween destiny, darn it. So here’s a quick pic of Truman and “Gourdy,” the world’s happiest pumpkin. We had three or four trick-or-treaters come by early in the evening (because they weren’t sure or hadn’t heard about the date change), but after about 7:30pm, I turned off the porch light and brought in Gourdy’s faux candle. I hope my happy pumpkin lasts ’til Friday.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Lucky Number Seven

Guide Dog Lomax, the “Number One Son” of my own personal Labrador story, turns seven years old today. SEVEN. That’s unthinkable to me. I’m assuming this is a taste of how parenthood feels (you know…parenting those *two*-legged beings, an experience I’ve yet to have). Does time really not accelerate? Because it sure does feel like it.

As far as I know, Lomax is still out there working with his partner, keeping her confident, independent and safe. And so is his equally SuperDog-like brother, Guide Dog Liam. Those are some handsome boys, and smart, too.

Happy birthday, fellas. We love you, miss you, think of you often, and are very proud of you.

Is “Happy New Year” Still Acceptable?

Happy New Year! Can I still be saying that on the 17th?

Wolf and I have been away for the last two weeks on a little adventure. We drove one of our cars across the country so we’ll have one less thing to deal with during the move in March. We crossed something like ten states in five days on the road. Five…long…days. Then I stayed in Pennsylvania for an extra week, getting to know a little about the area where we’ll be relocating, and trying to find a place for us to live.

It is no picnic finding a rental place that allows dogs, let me tell you. Yes, even extremely well-behaved dogs! I suppose I can understand a landlord’s prerogative in that; you don’t necessarily know your tenants or their pets. If it were me, though, I’d be much more inclined to allow dogs than, say, cats. After all, I’ve never had to replace the living room carpet because of a dog.

We have some good leads and will see how it goes. I’d just like to have an address, and a square-footage count, so I can start thinking more strategically about what to take with us and what to get rid of before the move.

Meanwhile, my boys were with puppy sitters the last two weeks. Truman stayed with his favorite adoring “aunties,” and got to play with some very energetic one-year-old golden retriever girls AND his favorite career-changed goldendoodle. Sometimes when I pick him up from Auntie Georgia’s house, I’m not entirely convinced he wants to leave.

Jethro was staying with a family in my puppy raiser group who just turned in their dog — also a male yellow Lab — for formal training. So that was good for both the snuggly dog and the people who miss having one to snuggle. They brought him back to me last night, and I swear he bulked up! Can’t wait to weigh him at the school on Tuesday and find out how much he’s gained.

From the sound of it, Jethro got lots of love and attention and training time (his first lesson: how to distinguish between puppy toys and children’s toys — apparently a LEGO sacrificed itself in the endeavor). They took him to restaurants several times, where he was apparently very well behaved; and to my puppy group meeting, where they said his obedience was quite good. He responds very well to verbal correction, which is a terrific trait.

I forget sometimes what a high standard we hold our dogs to. When someone says that he was very well behaved in a public place, I always think, “Well of COURSE he was!” And then I remember that he’s just five, five and a half months old. We forget. But people who aren’t used to service dogs in training often marvel at what our little puppies can do. Know anybody else who’d take a five month old pup to the office, or to a restaurant, and expect obedience?

And doesn’t it make you smile when someone says, “I didn’t even realize there was a dog here”…? What a gift these dogs are, for their eventual partners and for us. What a privilege to raise them, to teach them, to be proud of them and to love them long after they’re no longer ours.

It’s a new year. There’s excitement ahead. Welcome, 2011.

Have Yourself a Hairy Little Christmas

Merry Christmas from LabradorRodeo! May you and yours enjoy the many blessings of the season!

And may your four-legged family members be more appreciative than mine seem to be.  (Yeah, I don’t know who pooped in their stockings, either. Apparently there’s just no Christmas joy in them until there’s something under the tree that is clearly marked for canine playtime or consumption.)

Anyway, Merry Christmas to you!

Christmas Morning

Before we went to my in-laws’ house for family festivities and dinner and all that fun human stuff, we let the boys open their presents (a squeaky “Ruffians” octopus for Jethro and a Kong “Beast” toy for Truman, though I suspect they’ll share like good dogs).

But we also did something I’ve been wanting to do for two months now: take the boys for a walk around the big park behind our house. Jethro’s first real walk! The whole circuit is almost a mile, not counting the getting there and getting back, and the park is usually full of walkers, joggers, dogs, children, sports, picnics, birthday parties, squirrels, birds, miniature trains, and feral cats (something for everyone!).

There were two fantastic things about this walk in the brisk, invigorating post-storm air. One, since Wolf is home, all four of us were able to enjoy it together. It’s going to mean double the good exercise, but also double the time, for me to walk the boys after he leaves again.

And two, a nice long walk full of new and exciting experiences makes for a very sleepy puppy.

Just Like Kids

We took Jethro with us to the Christmas Eve service at our church, and we had to get there really early so Wolf could rehearse with the other musicians (he got to play his clarinet on several of the carols, which sounded terrific with the violin and the mandolin and the guitar and the bass and the piano and the vocalists…super cool).

While Jethro was pretty well-behaved for that time of the evening — he prefers shuffling to sitting still during the dinner hours — he did give me a look or two during rehearsal that indicated he was bored and would rather be elsewhere. People tell me that puppy raising is much like raising kids, and it’s times like this I suspect they’re right.

Potluck, Part Deux

The holiday food parade continues! Our South Bay puppy raiser group also holds an annual potluck in December (also a good one). We have lots of other festive traditions too, including a puppy gift exchange; donation opportunities for a local animal shelter; and a tear-inducing video full of photos of the previous year’s puppies-in-training, breeders, and working guides (that one’s rough, let me tell you — it’s been almost four years, but the sight of Lomax in harness at his graduation gets me EVERY FREAKING TIME).

Our group is huge, and our area leaders work really hard to put on a nice event — even going so far as to set up decorative photo backgrounds for puppy-posing pleasure. Jethro was happy to jump into the little red wagon, but wanted out just as quickly, so we had to be pretty speedy with the camera:

Ho Ho Ho, Take 12

Let’s hear it for the world’s most tolerant Santa.

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GDA Holiday Party

GDA does a lot of nice things for their puppy raisers, and the annual GDA Holiday Party is one of my favorite events. Puppy raiser potlucks are always good (people actually cook, for one thing…unlike a lot of other potlucks I’ve been to in Southern California, which are comprised of tables full of buckets of chicken, bags of chips and eight thousand plastic forks), the atmosphere is festive, and you have the opportunity to see raisers from other groups that you might not see much at other points during the year.

Every year, we’re asked to bring an ornament with our puppy’s name on it to hang on the tree, so I took a trip to the craft store (somehow managing to get out of there for less than fifty bucks — it’s a Christmas miracle!) and made one for Jethro.

Stay tuned for pictures with Santa!