Tag Archives: Labrador Retriever

A Year of Tinkerbell

A few weeks ago we celebrated our “gotcha” date with our sweet female Labrador Tinkerbell. As she sleeps on the bed next to me right no, her bedtime toy “snakey” a few inches from her head, it seems like much longer since this crazy pup came into our world.

I did not realize how few blogs I’ve written since Tinkerbell came home. Although we had just gone through Jackson’s puppyhood a few years before Tink’s I had still forgotten just how much time a puppy takes. It is worth every second and I would not trade it for anything, but it also does not leave as much time for blogging about it as I always think.

I did not get to spend much time with Tinkerbell’s mother when we went to pick her out of the littler; after all, she had nine pups to watch over as they frolicked in a big grassy yard. However I read on her website that she is the type of dog who makes her owner and our breeder (her co-owner) laugh out loud one second melt their heart the next. Tinkerbell is most definitely her mother’s daughter.

On one hand, Tinkerbell is a little crazy. She is lean and strong and does everything full force, whether it is leaping off the deck to chase a bunny, racing zoomies around the yard, running up the stairs to chase the cat, or greeting us when we come in the door. Tinkerbell has one speed: full throttle.

She runs indoor zoomies with Jackson and hurls herself against the back of the sofa, she has jumped entirely over our loveseat, and body slammed the oversized chair. We have worked on stopping her jumping for months, using every technique that we can google. She has springs in her legs and we joke that she has to be part Jack Russell. She makes me understand what our breeder is talking about when she refers to dogs who like to be “busy” all the time. Tinkerbell is one of those dogs.

Then there is her tongue,which appears to be extra long as it lolls out the side of her mouth when she is hot and tired. With her bright brown eyes glistening and her red tongue hanging carelessly out of the side of her mouth we cannot help but wonder what is going on in her mind, what crazy antic she is plotting next.

When Tink is calm there is no sweeter dog. Her head is on the small side but with classic female Labrador beauty and beautiful lines. Just like Jax, it seems as if we can see her every emotion in that face. She is as loving and snuggly as she is energetic. She sleeps on the bed with us every night, something we’ve begged, bribed and tried every method to get Jax to do, yet he still prefers his travel crate that will likely be a permanent fixture in our bedroom. She has two favorite spots, both of which mean that either my husband or I cannot stretch out our legs fully; neither of us will make her move.

Tinkerbell was one of 9 puppies and one of the first ones to go to her forever home. Accustomed to being part of a big pile of snuggly pups, Tinkerbell immediately found her spot next to Jackson, choosing to lay next to him no matter where he was, usually mimicking his position. A non-snuggler, Jackson was clearly out of his comfort zone, having been a little separated from the pile o’ pups in his own litter because of his broken leg, but he seemed to indulge her, never moving even though he looked like someone on an empty beach who had just had their space invaded by another beachgoer.

A year later she still will lay nearly on top of him no matter what they are doing. We smile as he gives a huge doggie sigh and sniffs her as if he is asking her “really??” She turns and looks at him and gives him a lick as if to say “oh, you love me.” We often joke that she has no concept of personal space; this is just fine with me as I love it that she will lay across us, sprawled on her back and ready for tummy rubs and ear scratches.

As I write this she is snoring loudly and her beautiful black paws are twitching. I wonder what she’s dreaming about. Come morning she’ll be ready to go for the day, leaping up and down like a kangaroo as she shares her very enthusiastic “good morning” greetings. But for now she’s having her little doggie dreams, her tail wagging sometimes, licking her lips every now and then and sometimes even making little puppy nursing sounds with the tip of her tongue hanging out. I’ll never know what she’s dreaming but like any mom wishes for her babies, I hope it’s a good dream, inspired by a good life. Because that’s what Tinkerbell and Jackson give to us and what we will always strive to give to them.2014/07/20140720-004403-2643872.jpg”>20140720-004403-2643872.jpg

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Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust

When you build a life around the love of dogs, when one dog passes there is a gaping hole in your home and your heart. Some people never fill that hole, feeling that they cannot go through the loss again. Others bring a new dog into their home quickly, not as a replacement, but as a source of joy to help fill and smooth the hole. We are of the second variety.

Last week Jackson’s new sister came home. Officially named Shadowmyst Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust, she is our little Tinkerbell, aka Tink.

Tink was born on May 7, 2013, our second puppy from our amazing friend/breeder who is the epitome of responsible and amazing dog breeder. Tink’s mother is Jackson’s aunt and their fathers are from a different breeder but share a relative far back in their line. Here at our house, Jackson and Tinkerbelle have already become a pack of two.

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Tink has been home for ten days. I wish I could see the world from her viewpoint, especially as she has experienced so many new things and revealed so much about her personality.

We had a choice between two females who our breeder thought would be right for us. The other pup was a little more aloof and independent, versus Tink who immediately ran up to us and snuggled up to my husband as if he had known her forever. Then she came to me and snuggled. We were hooked.

Now that she is home Tink is showing a brave and adventuresome side. She is like my husband; she goes all out and puts all of her energy into her chosen activity and then she crashes and naps hard. It took her just a day to figure out that her favorite spot to nap was on my husband’s fleece blanket on the sofa that I made him for Christmas. She is still too small to jump onto the sofa on her own, so when she is sleepy she sits next to the sofa and either gives a little whimper or puts her paws on the side of the sofa. Of course she always gets a lift up; she is too adorable to deny her this napping spot.

jax and tink snuggling

Tink also quickly figured out her mealtime schedule and the routine involved. She eats three times a day and knows that when we grab the dog bowls and open the pantry door that she is moments away from a bowl of holistic Canine Caviar dog food. Both she and Jackson are Canine Caviar dogs from their first mouth of solid food, as well as in-utero through their mother. They also came home from the breeder knowing how to sit and wait for their food. She sits so nicely next to her brother as they both wait for their bowls of organic dry dog food to be placed before them.

jax and tink waiting for breakfast

We have also had puppy swimming lessons in the big human pool, for a few minutes at a time. The moment her feet hit the water she started her dog paddle swimming technique, and now she is swimming the full length of the pool under close supervision of course. She swims from Daddy’s arms to Mommy’s arms and then back again before getting toweled off and making a lap of zoomies around the yard.

Our little Tink is doing a great job learning which items are for her and which are off limits. Since the keys to dog training are patience and repetition we believe in keeping non-hazardous temptations in full reach. I have taken the same shoe away from her a dozen times, replacing it with a deer antler or squeaky toy. Eventually she will learn; moving the shoes doesn’t teach the lesson ,and it is our responsibility to her to teach her the lessons she needs. After all, she had no say in coming home with us, so we owe it to her to show her the ropes around her new home.

tink at vet 2

We are head over heels in love with our little girl. Jackson gives four paws up as well. Once again our friend/breeder has blessed us with such a special family member and I cannot wait to share her adventures with you.

Location, location, location

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?