Like any regular baby, well before she was born, my husband & I were making life decisions about her future presence. The house we were about to buy needed to have grass. My job needed to be flexible enough to spend time walking her. We needed to consider how our lifestyle would work with her around. And I was so epically excited for her arrival. Probably more excited than any other milestone in my life.
We made the drive up to Bathurst, which is a pretty decent stint from where we live. We’d already purchased bowls and beds and food and had been given various hand-me-downs in anticipation of her arrival into our lives. We spent just under an hour with 4 puppies. She chose us. She was cheeky, sociable, energetic, growly but not barky, and one of the smallest of the litter. She just wanted to be around us. I’d put her down and she’d come awkwardly bounding back into my lap. We loved her instantly!
On the way home my heart broke as she cried the tiniest and saddest of cries because we’d taken her away from her mother & siblings. We’d been assured that her mother was well and truly sick of her and just wanted rest, both for her nipples and her sanity! But it was one of the hardest things I’ve done. The only solace was that she was leaving her old life, but entering one of complete love and affection and treats and cuddles and would be a treasured member of the extended family for her whole life.
We also discovered that we had chosen the fartiest puppy. Of. All. Time. The toxic fumes emanating from the back seat required all 4 windows to be wound down and noses to be held. She still vents the most horrendous farts I have ever witnessed in my life. From any living being. She clears rooms & puts people of their food.
She was a really easy puppy. Other than the usual toilet training mishaps and needle-teeth biting, she’s very smart and eager to please, often completing tasks for a simple pat as a reward. She loves humans, any human, and is only truly happy in their presence. But she’s independent enough to want her own space, as long as its within earshot of a human. She was a breeze to train, and had leant to wee on grass in a week or two, despite the large set of stairs she needed to hike up to get there. She picked up the basics of sit, stay, drop & come very quickly. She only ever chewed designated toys and sticks, never developing a taste for furniture, or irrigation, or skirting boards, like a lot of other puppies. Although she did take a liking to my underwear which was both awkward and expensive!
She’s unlike any other Labrador I know. She’s small, athletic, anxious and tightly wound. She’s controlled in her movements, muscly and doesn’t put weight on easily. She drops like a kelpie and hunches pre-fetch like a working dog. She only barks when she’s uncomfortable or frustrated and delicate as she enters the water. But food. Oh food. It is her kryptonite, like every other Lab. She will eat anything but grapes and lettuce. Her favourite food is meat off-cuts, closely followed by a whole carrot, taken to a hiding spot in the garden & eaten lovingly like a bone.
She is anxious around most dogs. She’s happy to say hello and let them sniff her but in greeting, but will then move on. She was attacked very early on in her life at a dog park and since then has never been happy around most dogs, particularly the small & fluffy variety. Through lots of training I now understand that most small dogs verbally attack her, and she is just reacting to their aggression. But the smaller dogs, even though aggressive, come across as cute and yappy, the owners very rarely care that they’re the instigators, and the bigger dog who is just trying to defend herself is always blamed, so I keep her away from the teeny aggressors & their annoying parents. There is an exception – she loves her cousin Rosie to pieces (who she’s known since they were puppies) and will harass her tirelessly. But most other dogs she’ll only tolerate, not enjoy, until she knows them better. She is way happier around her humans.
She is my little companion. She never says no to an activity, in fact she lives for them! She will go wherever I go, without complaint. Camping, swimming, driving, running, bush walking, beaching. She encourages me to find new places and venture where I otherwise wouldn’t, in the hunt for a decent swimming hole, or new smells, or unspoilt bush where we know no other dog or human will venture. She makes me walk further and quicker than I otherwise would on my own. She doesn’t let me lie on the lounge for too long, or dwell in my sadness. Whenever she sees me cry she gets confused and will put her face right in mine, close enough so I can feel her hot breath, wag her tail and make little whiny sounds that make me laugh. She’ll lick off my salty tears and suddenly I feel better. (Make no mistake, I rarely let her lick me because she also loves to lick her vagina as frequently as possible). She loves the smell of milky babies, she doesn’t know what they are but I think she likes them. She’ll tolerate toddlers and will happily steal their cupcakes and lick their hands and faces (mums you’ve been warned!), much to their pleasure! She is gentle when she needs to be but will on occasion knock over a little person.
She is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. She loves me more than any other human in the world. And its the best feeling to know that I am her favourite, her Mum. She won’t leave my side at the park and she comes when she’s called, not because she knows she has to, but because she wants to come back to me, for pats & scratches.
If having a human child is anything like having a fur baby, it sounds pretty bloody good to me. But she will always be my first, I have more love in my heart for other children, but she will always hold a special place. And I don’t feel an ounce of guilt over that.