Jackson is now twenty months old. It’s hard to believe that he is coming around on his second birthday, getting ready to leave puppyhood and be officially a grown up dog. It seems like just yesterday he was the tiny 10 pound puppy getting used to his new home away from his mother and litter mates. My husband and I are so pleased with this sociable, confident, fun-loving, people friendly, 90% well-behaved pup that we’ve raised. He fills a gigantic place in both of our hearts and he is a joy each and every day.
Despite so much formal training there are some puzzling behaviors that Jax has figured out on his own. Or perhaps these are things I have taught him without realizing it. I find it interesting how much of his behavior is driven by my location in our home. He takes so much from my physical behavior and models his own actions after what I am doing.
Kitchen Table: When I am at the kitchen table Jax lays in our hallway, body along the hallway wall and head facing the table. He lays his beautiful head on his paws and sleeps lightly, always ready to lift his head and look at me if I make any sort of move to get up. It does not matter if we are eating or if I am doing something else. He is a perfect non-begging gentleman.
Dining Room Table: This is also my office right now. I work from home on Thursdays at our kitchen table and also work on my new Stella & Dot business. When I am at the dining room Jax once again lies on the floor where he can see me. He often curls up in his kennel, also in the dining room, with the door open. Sometimes he lays at my feet or with his head resting on the warm laptop charger. He is always calm and relaxed and never attempts to get my attention. I can often get up for another cup of coffee, step over his sleeping form, without so much as a twitch of his tail.
Moving Around Tidying Up: Jax follows me from room to room. If I stop for a while in one place he lies on his stomach with his front legs stretched out in front of him. He is always ready to stand and move to the next location. Sometimes he stands patiently with his head next to my knee.
Living Room Sofa: For some reason he realizes that this is my idle time. Idle time = Jax and Momma playtime. Until he is sufficiently worn out or bored with me he will intentionally swipe my possessions to lead me on a game in which I try to get them back. Since I do not want my iPad (or my current book, my InStyle magazine or whatever else is occupying my attention instead of Jax) to be destroyed I jump up to collect the stolen item. This is his favorite game. He never steals items belonging to anyone else in the family except me. I fully realize that I add to the fun by getting my stuff back from his powerful teeth, but I’m not sure how to get around it other than to let him destroy a few old magazines and not make any reaction at all.
As much as I know I can’t let him destroy things, when it comes right down to it, what am I doing reading a magazine when I could spend that time playing with this pup who I love so much? In some ways he is just giving me a much-needed reminder about where my time should go! After all, if the last eighteen months have sped by so quickly, how fast will the next twelve years go? It will be a blink of an eye before I wake up to see his muzzle gray instead of silky black.
Bathroom: This is perhaps the most interesting behavior of all. Perhaps he does not understand why humans insist on doing their potty business inside the house when dogs take it outside and away from where they live, but when I head into our bathroom Jax steals whatever he can from the side table next to our sofa. To thwart this behavior I stopped leaving things on the table…so he chewed our framed family photo and the square decorative thing that came free with our furniture. He has even done this with my step-son sitting a few feet away!
To try to outsmart Jax I have tried to leave the door open when I am home alone. He steals the hand towel from its holder or tries to pull the toilet paper holder off of the wall. If nobody is in the bathroom and we leave the door open? He doesn’t touch a thing. These are the moments I wish he could speak English! I know a lot of dog but this has me baffled.
Bedroom: This is the least dog proofed room in our house since he spent the first year in a closed crate in our room at night. When he turned a year old we started to prop open the door of his crate so he could roam freely. When the lights go off he lays down and goes to sleep, once again the perfect gentleman. That is of course unless I dare to wash my face or brush my teeth in our attached bathroom. Those behaviors prompt him to stand with his front paws on my nightstand and steal anything he can get his teeth on, from hand lotion to a book to the TV remote or a bottle of cuticle oil. Of course it is only the things on my nightstand. He leaves my husband’s side alone, as well as the shoes and throw pillows are easily within his reach.
Whatever the reason for his goofy behavior, I am so touched that no matter the situation he wants to know where I am and what I am doing. When you bring a little puppy into your home you are strangers to each other. Eighteen months later he is an integral part of our family and our day-to-day activities. I’m going to try to finish reading a magazine later today. In reality I will probably play a long game of tug-o-war with a torn up toy lobster. Sounds like a perfect day to me! And who needs to know what’s in style anyway when it is covered in Labrador fur?