Monday, February 28, 2011

Helper

I step into the living room. Orion's head peeks out from under the blanket covered futon, letting me know that he has been sleeping but is open to some brilliant distraction I might come up with. I pick up a dirty pee pad. I grab a discarded sock. Puppy toy. Puppy toy. Disheveled shirt. Puppy toy. Puppy toy.
He wiggles out from under the futon. "What are we doing?" he seems to inquire with the tilt of his head, perked ears.
"Cleaning buddy. Our house is a disaster," I say, pulling the broom out from the kitchen.
The broom seems to light a fire in Orion's eyes. The half-drooped eyes of the sleeping dog disappear. He is all ready to help in this arena.


video

Ogre

"Orion, I will pay you to just let me sleep for a bit. If I don't sleep, I will be an ogre. I need to catch up on some zzz's." I stare down at the alert yellow puppy at my feet.
"Okay. Bribery." I move towards the living room, dragging my leg as little baby teeth have a death grip on my sweat pants. Step. Drag. Step. Drag. "You could let go you know." Step. Drag. Snatching the bag of pet store goodies, I pull out my secret weapon, Kong Filling. After consultation with my friend Nick, who happens to be the proud owner of a lab mastiff, this is the treasure to occupying the little dog's mind. I swoop down snagging the tiny pink kong--a rubber toy designed for labradors who chew everything to pieces. Apparently indestructible, I'd happily exchange the rubber toy for an hour of sleep, instead, I have to dodge needle teeth flying towards my hand with happy abandon.
Step, drag, step, drag, back down the hall, I fill the rubber gift of God, stick it near his nose that happens to be wedged in my sweat pant. Instantly, his ears perk up, he releases my pant leg, turning to follow the divine smell of "Kong Fill".
"Orion, you can eat anything in this room. Anything. Just let me sleep okay?" I say, tossing him the kong and rolling my exhausted self into bed.
Half an hour later, I feel toenails scratching my face. Whine. Whine. I peek an eye open. "You can pee on the plastic. I swear I'll be okay with it." I snap my eye shut. Whine. Whine. Ogre emerges, as I swing my legs over the bed. I feel Ogre bubbling up from my gut. My greasy hair spills over my face, adding an addition to the roll. Can't find my glasses. Step one. Trip. Step two, puppy teeth on my pant leg.
"Orion, NO BITE!" I grumble in a loud voice, stumbling across the floor.
I sigh. Ogre shrinks back to the dark hole.
I sit on the floor, Indian style so to keep my toes. Orion climbs into my lap.
"I know. I'm grouchy. Let me take a shower and I will pay attention to you okay?"

Birthdays


"Did you know it's your second month birthday?" I ask him, as I pull a pan of brownies out of the oven for my leap year friend's birthday too. He trots over to me, sits politely and hears, "Did you know this whole pan of brownies is for you?"
"I think you should get a hot dog," I say, moving the pan to the counter to cool.
I peer over at him and I swear he nods.
"So when I have the girls blow out the candles, you can have a big hunk of hot dog, just because."
"Erruppp," he replies with his front paws lifting in enthusiasm at this brilliant idea.
"And then, we'll teach you about whip cream. I bought a can, and it's about time you learned that delight."
He winks at me as if all along he was in on this plan.
"Did you just wink at me?"
He does it again, different eye.
"Huh. That's not on your puppy growing chart, but I'd say that's pretty sophisticated for an eight-week-old. It's because you want to impress me on your two month birthday growth isn't it?"
He decides he's done talking with me, and struts off to scour around his bowl for the magic kibble to appear.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Second Week Anniversary


As is due, it is Orion and my second week anniversary. I told him this as I peeled off our present--two new mattresses (well a box spring and mattress). Orion, feeling the need to join in celebrating, christened the one sheet set I had with a little pizzle. Ah well, I never did like sleeping with that top sheet anyways.

So, in due accord, the following lists what I have learned about my four legged friend:

1. While playing with other dogs, his defense, is a back roll, tummy up and kick, kick, kick.

2. Puppy breath smells distinctly like Tuna, or it could've been that I discovered he likes tuna... not peanut butter, but tuna.

3. He has two blazes of white behind his shoulder blades.

4. Orion likes his tummy scratched.

5. Despite only being just shy of two months, he can sit, stay (50%), come, and down (80%). Yeah for accomplishing that of a six month old. (He's added to his repertoire since last week)

6. He enjoys sleeping in a cove created by a blanket hanging down from a bed. Little tiny spaces that are dark. (In between the collapsed seat in the back of my car)

7. He has grown.

8. Having him around makes everything else seem very irrelevant. I love that I get to spend the rest of his life with him.

9. I can hear him wail OUTSIDE of my apartment when I leave.

10. His snuggling is shifting away slightly as he gets to be a grown up pup and I miss it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bonding

"Orion, there are many other ways you can express your affection for me besides biting," I say as he crawls on my lap and starts chewing my arm.

Promptly, he pauses.

Then begins humping my arm.

Sigh.

Well at least this doesn't hurt and won't kill or maim children.

Training

"Alright Orion, let's practice ringing the bell since you've grown overnight," I say pulling the "ring for service" bell off the window sill and placing it by the door.

"Come on, tap it with your foot."

"I said tap. Not kill."

The bell slides upside down to the other side of the room, a growling, prancing dog following in hot pursuit while sharp pings echo in the evening air.

Sigh.

"Okay, so time to use the backdoor Orion," I say, scooping him up and carrying him outside.

A Sip in the Night


Orion runs to his water bowl, stuffing his face into the metal dish that scoots along the linoleum floor. He licks the bottom as if he will dig his own well right into the ground, but no water emerges.
"Orion, I have to cut you off or you'll pee all night and we'll never get any sleep." He reproachfully whines up at me, brown eyes imploring me to make one little exception.
"You are the Alpha dog. If you bend to the dog's wishes, the pack order changes," I hear ringing in my head, like the voice of God rather than just a line in the Labrador Retriever's For Dummies book.
It's three AM. Our fourth trip outside.
"Fine. Just a little. Only because I'm thirsty too," I say, filling the bottom of the dish with the cloudy water of my city.
I pull open the fridge. Juice, juice, juicy box, lemonade juicy box, soy milk one, soy milk two, orange juice. Single egg. Jar of spaghetti sauce. Pack of cheese.
Priorities.
I look over at Orion's full food bowl, untouched. Empty water bowl.
They say your dog grows up to share your characteristics.
I grab a juicy box and head to bed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Night Owl

It's four am, I stand perched in a pair of Danska's, bare Irish legs, wrapped in a fleece blanket covered in dalmations and fire hydrants. Two police cars zoom quietly by in the night and I pause to think of what I must look like with my stick legs, boxers, Boston Red Sox tee and wrapped in a blanket. I imagine similar to what people look like who awake in the night to their home on fire. No time for appearances. And yet the apartment building is not on fire. At my feet a seven and a half week old labrador lays on the grass attempting to eat cigarette butts. "No Orion! Would you quit trying to eat things you're not suppose to?" I say as I pry open his mouth, grab the fluff of the filter and throw it towards the bushes.
"Do you need to go poop?" I ask, drawing a circle in the air. Initially I thought it'd be a great idea to train my dog using American Sign Language for everything, and yet, here I am drawing a circle. I was desperate. I figured it was a gesture he might recognize as I want him to poop. Oh it in no way resembles ASL's bathroom option but since I hadn't bothered to look up poop and figured Orion's attention span would lapse should I try and finger spell, a circle it was.
No poop.
No pee for that matter either. He opted to relieve himself inside the apartment complex door. Busted when his paw prints tracked him back to my apartment.
Sigh. Scoop him up, kiss his cute face, dodge getting my face chewed off, and back in to bed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anniversary


So it is Orion and my first week anniversary, so I only thought it appropriate if I accounted for all the things I have learned about my new best friend throughout our week of bonding:

1. Two hours is a perfectly suitable amount of time to sleep before one needs to pee again.

2. If you bring a friend over for an hour, and he's nervous, he'll pee 10 times, no matter what, no matter if you take him out 6 times in that hour. He will pee straight water. Not in his litter box or pee pad.

3. He plays for twenty minutes then passes out for an hour an a half.

4. Don't let him sleep beside you or you'll discover you're missing half your face from little doggie chew marks.

5. He is pricelessly adorable when he falls asleep and curls in your lap.

6. Despite it saying dogs learn sit at four months, he has it down now. Yeah for a bright dog.

7. Forget ever seeing your toes again. It doesn't matter if they are your favorite feature, they will disappear, or be eaten off.

8. I do not need to hire a cleaning service for the bathroom. He'll lick everything clean, including, yeah that's right, the toilet.

9. Puppy breath is appreciated by many people, so don't let it slip you think it smells gross.

10. Just having him with me makes me beam with happiness.

Introductions


I recently brought home my first ever labrador retriever puppy that is all my very own. Sure, I've had dogs growing up, dogs found in the backyard, front porch, nearby shelter, but all of these were the "family's dog", never quite falling into the sole responsibility of one said Molly McLoughlin. Needless to say, all of these dogs found their fondness in some member of the family apart from myself. Sparky, the backyard mutt, paired up with the younger sister Maggie, sleeping at the foot of her bed. Tessa, the front porch shar pei, trailed along behind my mum, while Chloe, the shelter pup, hung with my older sister Kate (perhaps because on her first night home I couldn't stand the whining and kicked her out of my room in exchange for a good night's sleep) regardless, none of my dogs actually were MY dogs.

So here I am, many years the wiser, bringing home one small six and a half week old labrador retriever. This was not compulsive. I was certainly not suckered into the little guy's cute face while walking by a pet store. I plotted. I plotted so much so, I created a savings account just for my dog's first year expenses. Hey, some people do college funds for their kids, me? I do savings accounts for dogs. And after scowering the classified ads, calling around to breeders, scanning through lab rescue, moving 12 times in three years and finally landing an apartment that 'agreed' to let me have a dog, I found my guy.

Sure he looked like those naked mole rats at the zoo when I first saw him, but I knew he had potential. Eyes closed, he snuggled his nose up to me and just like that, I knew I found my dog--Orion. And so welcome, as this is his story, as is it mine, in our adventures together as best friends (and maybe terrible enemies when he chews something I really WISH he hadn't) for the next ten (hopefully more) years. And for the record, I had a terrible first night sleep but stuck it out beside his crate, sleeping on the floor (had to deflate my air mattress), bruised all over from the lack of padding, but happy as anything because he was home, and he was mine.