Tag Archive | black labs

Pet Obsessed

Currently in my household there reside my 3 kids (14, 18, 20), my husband, my mother-in-law, and me.

And approximately 347 animals.

OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But for my non-pet-loving husband, I’m sure it feels that way at times.

 

Currently we care for 1 big, noisy, hair-factory dog named Berkeley, a 9-year-old blackIMG_7141 lab; twin 2-year-old kitties named Stella and Luna that we can only tell apart by their collars and their personalities; 2 parakeets, Jasper, whom we’ve had for 4 years, and FullSizeRender 13Kalani, whom we’ve had for 1 after summer pet sitting turned into a forever home; a new mud turtle named Franklin who’s supposed to be in my daughter’s care—we’ll see how that goes—a koi fish pond out front that currently holds 2 gorgeous koi named Kiiro, which means yellow in Japanese, and Kireina, which means beautiful, at least according to Google Translate and an aquarium with fish that now number about 15, I think.

Phew! Sounds like enough, doesn’t it? Yet every time I see that someone needs a home for an animal, my mind always jumps to the idea that just one more won’t make a difference. Then I think of my husband, long suffering but loving, who just shakes his head at my obsession.

IMG_8058He agreed to the mud turtle because it doesn’t make any noise.

And it doesn’t shed.

Mind you, we live in the ‘burbs. We’re not on a farm where animals can roam freely and be outside most of the time. Ours are all indoor animals, though the cats love the screened-in back porch and are excellent lizard hunters.

So every morning I get up before I really want to and take the cover off the birds’ cage, let the cats out of the laundry room where they’re confined for the night because they kept bothering the birds in the wee hours of the morning, let the dog out, check the food and water levels in everyone’s bowls and step IMG_7792out the door, rain or shine, to make sure the koi get their sustenance.

Every night I cover the birds, feed the aquarium fish, clean the litter box, give the kitties their treats and lock them up, let the dog out and make sure Franklin has been seen to.

In between comes the washing and the playing and the cleaning of filters and changing of water and bird cage liners, and, and, and. The list is endless.

So why do I do it? Why do I keep these little critters that take up so much time and energy?FullSizeRender 14

That’s a good question I’m sure my husband would like answered.

Before we got the 2 cats we have, we had another big ol’ boy we named Oreo (can you guess what colors he was?). We weren’t going to get another cat, but my eldest told us of a dream he had one night where his class from school went to a pet store, and everyone got to get a pet but him, because his dad wouldn’t let him.

I didn’t even put him up to it, I promise.

As David was praying about the issue, God told him that by keeping pets from his kids, he was limiting their capacity to love. They did, in fact, need to have these creatures into which they could poor affection.

oreoWhen Oreo mysteriously passed away at the young age of 8, this is what my then 16 1/2-year-old, that same boy who had the dream, said in way of eulogy on Facebook, along with the photo (left): “My friend, it has been an exciting and pleasurable journey we have taken. Every moment and every part of your existence was well spent, and although I don’t know if cats have a true sense of feeling and emotion, I hope you felt that you partook in a life well lived. Though the circle of life continues, your being will never be forgotten as long as I live. Our vast array of memories will never leave my mind. Rest in peace, Oreo, my wonderful pet, friend, and companion.”

Capacity to love? You betcha.

I also feel like a love of animals has a biblical basis: Psalm 50:10-11 says, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.”

They really do reflect the glory of God. He made them. He cares for them. He has given usFullSizeRender 15 stewardship over them.

Do they cost a lot of money in upkeep? Yes.

Do they make a lot of noise? Some do, yes.

Do they make a lot of messes? Again, some do, yes.

Do they sometimes ruin things that we have purchased? Yes.

But would I give them up to have a spotless house, a pristine yard, an unscratched window, a lot less work? No.

When that fuzzy little body climbs onto my lap and purrs, I know that I am touching something sacred. And would I have missed my boy’s heart for his cat? No. All of my kids speak lovingly of having pets of their own when they move out.

The care and loving of an animal will prepare them for parenthood, it will make them kinder people, it will make them more patient and accepting of others. I do most of the work mainly because I want to, not because the kids are shirking their duties. They know there will be work involved.

So in my 55+ years of life, I’ve invited into my heart 4 dogs, 5 cats, 3 birds, numerous fish, a rabbit, a couple of mice and a hamster that was really my brother’s.

And I’m all the richer for it.

 

 

It’s Hard To Pant With A Lizard In Your Mouth

lab and lizardMy friends Guy and Judy have a black lab named Ember. One of Ember’s favorite pastimes is chasing lizards. Luckily for her, lizards abound in her Florida backyard.

Recently, Guy went to take Ember for a walk. Nothing unusual there. Also not unusual was the fact that Ember had captured a lizard. What was unusual is that, even with the draw of the walk—which is one of any lab’s favorite activities—Ember would not let loose of that lizard.

So, unfazed, Guy snapped on the leash and headed out the door with Ember—and her lizard captive in her mouth.

Now, this is Florida, in late April, early May. Ember, as her name might suggest, is coal black. Black dogs + Florida heat = a great need to pant. This is how dogs cool themselves off (when a lake or pool isn’t handy to jump into). But Ember resolutely refused to give up her lizard, thus making heat-diffusing panting impossible.

Finally, unable to bear it anymore, Ember expelled the lizard with a rush so that she could pant away the affects of the heat in her body. It seems she was willing to undergo heat stroke in order to hold onto her hard-won prize.

Aren’t we like that sometimes?

Maybe we’ve been offended or hurt by someone. We hold onto that like a lab with a lizard, unwilling to let it go, even when panting—forgiving and letting it go—could release the heat inside.

Let it go. More lizards will come along, that’s a guarantee.

 

 

photo from beaumontenterprise.com

A Dog’s Life


This is my black lab, Berkeley. He’s a good boy. We acquired him through Freecycle, a network of yahoo groups dedicated to trying to keep stuff out of the landfill. If you have something that has lost its usefulness for you, you can list it on the Freecycle in your area, and someone who wants it emails you back. It’s quite handy for getting rid of stuff you don’t need anymore. And believe me, Freecyclers take anything!

Well, it wasn’t that Berkeley had outlived his usefulness, is was that the couple who got him from another lady, who had gotten him from the animal shelter, realized that with such a big, boisterous boy, they needed to be home more than just a couple of hours a day. So they listed him on Freecycle and we went and checked him out. And obviously fell in love. Well, David didn’t fall in love, but he acquiesced.

Berkeley, which was the name he came with, (only it was spelled “Berkley,” after the sports-fishing equipment company; we changed it to match the city near where I grew up and where my parents went to
college) is a big, boisterous boy. He loves, loves, loves to play fetch with a ball. If he didn’t get so hot, he’d play it for hours. When he gets to fetch in the swimming pool, he lasts a lot longer. Here he is leaping out of the water to catch the ball. He’s really good at it.

Another thing I love about Berkeley is that he loves my kids. He lets them do anything to him. They lie on him, put hats on him, use him as a pillow, and he loves it. Here’s our friend Gabe using Berkeley as a pillow. Notice how much it seems to be bothering Berkeley.

When the kids leave for school in the morning, he barks as if it’s the end of the world. When he goes to school with me to pick them up, he’s a kid magnet.

Whenever they go outside, he is desperate to go with them.

When they’re gone, he pines for them. One day, he slept in the boys’ room on abandoned clothes while they were gone at school.

He gets along really well with other dogs, too. His best friend in the neighborhood is the black lab across the street, Sebastian. Though we don’t let Berkeley out off leash very often, Sebastian gets to run free when his people are home, so he’ll sometimes come over to visit.

Yes, there’s a lot of hair on our floors; yes, he put scratches on our brand new windows barking his fool head off at a squirrel; yes, our backyard won’t win any yard-of-the-month awards anytime soon. But just look at that sweet face. I can forgive a lot when unconditional love is given.

Thankful today for:

81. dogs

82. pizza

83. the confidence people have in me