Category Archives: TRUMAN


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Labs of Leisure

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The Holiday Spirit

The boys are sporting some brand-spankin’-new festive collars for the Christmas season, thanks to our good friend Denise, who keeps GDA puppies-in-training stylish throughout the year. You’d think they’d get into the holiday spirit wearing something like this:

But mostly, they just moped around the house looking depressed. Sheesh, it’s not like I made them wear elf hats or something. Get with the program.

Come on, guys! You look like a European fragrance ad! (“C’est dommage… C’est Labrador Ennui….”)


It’s been great to have Wolf home for the holiday. Unfortunately, it’s been a little hectic around here because we traveled to my folks’ house in Fresno for Thanksgiving. Truman went to stay with his favorite aunties — fellow puppy raisers who adore him and are always enthusiastic about hosting him while we’re out of town, despite the presence of their own legion of dogs and puppies-in-training. I think they’re nuts to take on that much dog all at once (Truman’s a good boy, but he’s still a fair amount of work), but I love them and appreciate them to no end! It’s a load off my mind to know my boy is with people I trust.

Jethro came with us. He was due for his 16-week vaccines, which include a rabies vaccine, so we stopped at GDA on the way out of town to take care of that. Traditionally, this is the “walking shot” — the one that allows us more freedom in taking our puppies out and about. Unfortunately, the parvo thing rears its ugly head once again and now we’re being asked to be more cautious, treating the 20-week shot like we once treated the 16-week. Kind of a bummer to have to hose piddle off my balcony for another month, especially considering the increasing capacity of the little man’s bladder….

Anyway, he did well on the trip. It’s about a four-hour car ride, and Jethro was nestled safely in a crate in the back of my vehicle. I did relieve him once on the trip, in the middle of a mostly-empty parking lot, so as to avoid any places other animals may have relieved themselves. You always get really interesting looks from people when you do that….

Since my parents have a dog and a non-puppy-proofed home, Jethro stayed on leash for most of the weekend, though he did get to run and play from time to time. He slept in a crate, relieved on command, did all the things puppies like to do (eat, cuddle, destroy play with toys, sniff the back yard, etc.), and generally behaved himself. He even got to come with us to a sit-down restaurant on the way home, where we met some of my friends from high school days, back in nineteen-ahemmfllsqrmmwhflm.

Aside from Wolf getting a nasty cold on the way there, the weekend was just fine. I heard later that Truman had a nice time as well, as the spoiled, beloved, sole male representative at the Thanksgiving celebration of his favorite aunties and their friends.

The pack leader leaves again tomorrow, and it will be another three weeks until his return. We miss him already….

The Pack Leader is Coming Home

He’ll be home in just a couple of days, for Thanksgiving. We’ll wait right here.

“So, What Does Truman Think?”

It’s a question I get a lot. Much like when a younger sibling enters the family picture, people seem to be curious about how the previous only-child canine is faring with the change brought about by the presence of a new puppy.

In general, Truman’s pretty happy to have another dog to play with; he has always preferred the kind of tug-and-wrestle play that other dogs provide to the toss-and-retrieve games I tried to get him excited about (“Humans can be fun!” … “Whatever. I fetched it for you once, what more do you want from me? This is a pointless exercise. Feed me, then we’ll talk.”).

That having been said, there’s been a little jealousy — I’m assuming that’s natural for a pretty demanding attention-hound who’s been the center of his own universe for three and a half years. The puppy takes up a lot of time and energy, and sometimes Truman makes his displeasure known in the extremely vocal manner to which we have all been accustomed. When I cradle Jethro, for example, Truman stands and stares at me and makes the “grumpus noise” (grunt-grunt-grunt-whiiiiiiiine), which escalates to “whuff”ing and then full-scale barking if I do not immediately stop what I’m doing and cater to his whims. As you may surmise, this is unacceptable. So Truman gets to have some alone time in my bedroom while I spend some training time with Jethro.

But I have been trying to make sure Truman gets some “special grumpus time” with me every day. I take him outside in the sun for obedience practice and a good long brushing, we go for walks, and I’ve been letting him sleep on the bed with me at night since Wolf’s been away. It’s tough doing this by myself, and the presence of another human — while never truly taken for granted — has taken on important new meaning around here. I am simply outnumbered by Labradors, and as overwhelming as it has sometimes been already, I am assuming this scenario is nothing compared to what military wives face every day, to say nothing of single parents. I’m exhausted.

Fortunately, some wonderful puppy raiser friends have come to my rescue on several occasions. I threw out my back, for example. With a new puppy to carry everywhere? Talk about bad timing. The concept of “it takes a village” has always been true when it comes to puppy raising, but it’s come into much sharper focus for me lately.

So the boys get along, but Jethro is still a puppy — and that brings a host of puppy behavior that older dogs typically tolerate only until the little guy is somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks old. Jethro is like a furry little remora, insisting on cleaning out Truman’s ears and nibbling on his toenails. He bites and chews on Truman’s tail, legs, face, ears, neck, tags, you name it. And sometimes Truman just needs a break. He makes the Face of Tolerance, shoots a pleading eyeball toward me and grumpuses his way toward the closed door to my bedroom in a bid for relief.

It’s coming together; this is the vehicle to bring about a bunch of much-needed lessons in patience and planning and perseverance for me, I’m sure of it. We’ll figure it out.

A Snuggly Send-Off

The boys figured they needed one more good roll-on-the-floor snort-&-snuggle with their pack leader to wish him well on his journey. Watch closely for the elusive Double Labrador Bellyrub maneuver. It’s very impressive.

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Friend or Foe?

The jury’s still out.

Puppy See, Puppy Do

PennsylWHAT, Now?

We’re moving to Pennsylvania.

As I write this, it’s not official-official that we’re going yet, but I just have this…something. “I have a feeling” is a silly notion to me in practice, and I imagine myself covered with a filmy, insincere, New-Agey residue just saying it. I guess it’s more of an inexplicable confidence based on circumstances that seem promising right now but could really go pear-shaped at any time. Or maybe it’s a coping strategy to prepare myself, in case it happens for real. Anyway, in a matter of weeks — or, who knows, even days — I’ll either be able to publish this post or delete it and laugh at myself. (UPDATE: Clearly, I published it, so…there’s your update.)

Wolf and I are on the cusp of a massive undertaking, a huge and momentous adventure: a job he was seemingly born to do. It’s all come about quite suddenly, as these things often tend to. Over the course of the last few months, this idea has grown from, “I just got a phone call from so-and-so who wants to fly me out for a meeting” to, “They want me there in November.” There was a lot in between, more than you might believe, and it all happened too fast and in too much convoluted detail to recount.

So we’re moving to Pennsylvania.


(And I am collecting money for the pool, the wager on how long it will take my parents to give me the old “Come get the rest of your crap out of our garage” line. Any takers? Hurry — the “less than 24 hours” slots are being snapped up quickly.)

Wolf will head out for a 120-day trial period on the job, with time to come back for holidays and the like, in early November. I’ll stay here (my job, my dogs, and a whole lot of packing to do…all that stuff is here). If all goes well, he will return in early March or so, and we will get our stuff together and make the move for real. Yes, it’s a “trial period,” but unless something catches fire in a big way, we have reasonable expectations that it will work out, so as of this moment, we’re full steam ahead. If something else happens along the way, we’ll change plans and deal with it as it comes.

Truman, of course, is our permanent dog and will be making the trek with us, but you may be wondering what will happen with Jethro. He will be coming with us as well! We’ve been granted permission to take him to PA with the understanding that we will be responsible for transporting him back here for his evaluations, turn-in, etc. It’s an unusual situation, and let me make the official disclaimer here that GDA owns Jethro, and this permission-to-move may be reconsidered at any time, for any reason, at their discretion. For now, I’m just grateful for the possibility. Moving across country will be stressful, and while a puppy in the midst of that will also bring its own chaos, I think I would be heartbroken to have to give the little guy back now. He’s a good dog; I’d like to raise him all the way to turn-in if I can, and hopefully see him graduate.

As for me, I’ve been a California girl my whole life. I was born in Southern California and I eventually spent more years living in Los Angeles than I did in Fresno, where I “grew up” (quotes apropos, depending on the day) in the intervening time. L.A. always felt like home to me even before I moved back here for college; I thought I’d die in this city (not soon, mind you, though the road rage might have eventually done me in by way of heart attack or life in prison for vehicular murder). If anyone would have asked, I might have said I was more likely to experience an organ transplant than a hometown transplant.

But there are mysteries aplenty in this life. God is full of them, love and marriage are full of them as well, and those three are the mightiest trump cards in the deck.

Holy crap. I’m moving to Pennsylvania.

Stay tuned.