GETTING A DOG WAS NOT AN OPTION. I’d never had a dog, even when I was growing up. I wanted my life to be as simple as possible, and a dog didn’t fit into that. All the work and training involved was a scary thought to me, and I just wasn’t willing to do it.
Don’t get me wrong…I was not a dog hater. But I always preferred dogs when they belonged to someone else. Little did I know how things would change when Chocolate Boy came into my life.
He was an adoption from a local pet hospital – a timid little three month- old chocolate Lab puppy. When we first met him, he was undergoing treatment for strangles, and in a few weeks he’d be well enough to go to a forever home. He was a sickly-looking little guy, even though he was on the mend.
His sad brown eyes could melt your heart. When my daughter saw him, it was pretty much a done deal. After great hesitation, I caved. Why not, I thought. How hard could it really be?
We took the little Lab home a couple of weeks later. But we weren’t prepared for raising a puppy and soon started having doubts. Chocolate Boy was unruly and mischievous, and became a real handful. But we had chosen to have him in our home; he didn’t choose us. We knew that if we decided against keeping him, the poor little guy would end up in a shelter for who knew how long, and…well…he’d been through enough already.
Up for the challenge
So I found myself reading a lot of Lab-related literature. I learned that Labs are smart, strong dogs that make wonderful family companions. On the other hand, they also need plenty of exercise, a consistent routine, and a whole lot of attention. Let’s also add that Labs are avid chewers, which we quickly found out for ourselves. How I wished I had done my research earlier! During the first fall we had him, we enjoyed watching Chocolate Boy jumping around wildly in piles of leaves. I guess that’s when I knew I was hooked. I was becoming a “dog person”. My daughter said she saw it in my eyes…it was like the loving look a mother gives her child.
First year milestones
As a pup, Chocolate Boy was a powerful little guy and full of mischief. I’ll never forget the time we were playing a game of fetch and he came charging back at me like a bull. I should have moved but didn’t; I just stood there smiling, and then wham! I often wonder if the neighbors saw me get knocked over. Other first year milestones included chewing a pair of jeans and stealing toast off the breakfast table.
And so came the toys – good durable dog toys, and lots of them. I must admit I was growing frustrated by his antics, but his gentle eyes, constant wiggle, wagging tail and kind heart kept me in check. Our Chocolate Boy loved us, and I figured he was worth the extra effort. And he was gracious enough to never chew the furniture. When he was a year old, we enrolled our now very handsome boy in some basic puppy training. He passed the short course with flying colors and was a real charmer; he even knew where the trainer kept her treats and made no bones about asking for them. He soon became the envy of the class – and the class clown. Too bad he shredded his graduation certificate a week later, but fortunately we were issued a new one.
Part of the family
Now weighing in at 80 pounds, Chocolate Boy recently celebrated his fourth birthday. He has a great personality, and is comical, loving, loyal, and mostly obedient. Our family and friends love him and he’s a joy to have around. He is good for our souls, and puts a smile on our faces.
Yes, I learned that if you’re not willing to be patient and consistent, and to train, walk, play with and include your dog in your everyday life (and pick up his poop), then don’t get one. But with some trial and error, and lots of love, I realized that the benefits you receive in return are huge. We just had to take it slow and not expect perfection. I’m so glad now that I didn’t change my mind about adopting Chocolate Boy when he was a puppy. This is, and always will be, his forever home.