I logged into my blog for the first time in weeks and realized I have not written anything in nearly two months. I have so many ideas, so many “I should blog about that” moments in life, so many thoughts going around in my mind that I want to get into words. I also have a nearly seven month old labrador puppy, so although the thoughts and inspiration are in my mind, the words that come out are usually “Jax, no” and “Jax, what are you eating” and “Jax, off”.
Being the dog momma to a labrador puppy has been an amazing experience. Our last three dogs have been rescued, so this was my first puppy in a long time, and the first puppy that I have had as an adult. I have watched our baby grow from a tiny helpless newborn to a big boistrous and lovable adolescent dog. Although he did not come home to us until the standard 8 weeks, our breeder was wonderful about sharing photos of our boy.
Jax has done a lot of good things for me. The thought of bringing him into our lives, and the fact that he would need us for hopefully the next fourteen to fifteen years was one of the primary reasons I quit smoking. On his second day home we took him for a walk around the block and ran into a neighbor who had just smoked a cigarette before we walked up. Although she had put the cigarette out the odor was on her hands and clothing and when she handed back my jet black bundle of labrador love he reeked of smoke. The thought of my puppy smelling like that was motivation to stay quit, and I just passed six months smoke free without a hitch.
Jax has also cured the insomnia that I battled. Jax quickly adopted a bedtime of 10pm and started giving us a 6am wake up call. Of course in those first two weeks there was also a midnight, 2am and 4am wake up call, but it did not take our pup long to sleep through the night. My husband I were so exhausted those first two weeks that we counted down the minutes until 1opm so we could fall into the bed. Five months later the puppy and I go to bed at 10 and are up at 6. Every now and then, like this morning, he will let me sleep until 7, and I wake up feeling like I’ve slept part of my day away.
My morning schedule has changed dramatically. Six to seven in the morning on workdays is my time alone with Jax and our Basset Hound Maggie. It is a precious hour for me and a perfect way to start the day. First a potty break in the yard, followed by a ten to twenty walk with Jax. Maggie stays home for that, watching balefully from our picture window. A nine year old Basset is not a good walking companion with a seven month old labrador. Although I can handle them on the leash together I often feel like I am being drawn and quartered, with Maggie stubbornly smelling the same patch of grass for five minutes and Jax trying desperately to see what is around the next curve of the sidewalk.
After we arrive home it is time for breakfast. Puppies eat three times a day and Maggie is temporarily on the puppy feeding schedule, at least until Jax turns a year old. Jax is a master at the sit and stay to wait for his food. He jumps into his position in the corner of the kitchen and sits upright at attention. I put his slow-down food bowl across the kitchen, give Maggie her bowl, and then turn my attention to the waiting Jax. He stares intently into my eyes waiting for the “ok” command to release him to eat. My husband and I vary the time and throw out fake release words. Jax’s stay each meal is impressive and although he drools like a garden hose, he will not break his stay until the “ok” command is spoken.
While Jax and Maggie eat I have a bowl of cereal, which is also a new habit. Prior to the puppy I would consume two cups of coffee each morning and then wolf down a bagel at the office. Our morning walks now wake me up much better than coffee, so although I still enjoy my morning coffee I consume much less of it and have time to eat a much healthier breakfast at home.
After breakfast I head into our family room and sit on the floor for snuggle and playtime. Since Maggie went through back surgery a few years ago she cannot jump onto the sofa, so I get down to her level for hugs and kisses. Jax comes in for a petting head first and usually ends up folded in half and upside down, often biting his own tail or foot. I cherish these years when he can still do that, when there is not a hint of gray on his muscle, when he is still a giant lovable and bendable goofball.
The best healthy habit that I have resumed since Jax came into our home has been walking. I have always loved to be outside and to be active, although I have gone through a few couch potato periods of my life, the worst being the last few years when I was caring for my two senior dogs. I don’t think I realized just how stressful it was to watch my furry babies grow old and sick and get to the point where they no longer wanted to walk further than a few feet off the deck. I think I was more depressed about their aging process than I ever conciously realized.
As soon as the opressively hot July weather broke Jax and I started walking together. I realized he had hardly seen the world outside of our house. During May and June we kept him on our property until he had all of his shots, and the month of July was so hot and humid that even he did not want to spend any time outside. For the last two months we have been able to walk twice a day, our quick morning walk and another longer walk in the evening lasting twenty to forty minutes. Weekends we have gone for a few hour long strolls, and as he grows older and the weather grows cooler we should be able to really get some good exercise on the walking trails.
Not everyone can understand the love that we have for our dogs, the bond that we share, the reasons we put so much effort into giving them the best lives possible. I have spent every day since May 5 making sure that Jax does not injure himself or get into dangerous situations. I feed him an extremely high quality holistic food, an alkaline diet that will hopefully prevent the canine cancer that took my Dutchdog from me. My husband and I have worked on obedience training since the day he came home, making sure he is a good dog and will listen to us if he is ever in danger. I watch over the snacks that we feed him with the vigilence of a new mother.
We give so much to him and he gives so much in return. I think back to the conversation we had when we were deciding whether or not to take the puppy with the broken leg. We pondered the cons and then asked ourselves “what if he turns out to be a special dog?” I think we’ve found out the answer to that. Jax is definitely a special dog and I can only hope to make him as happy as he makes me.