I just walked in from watching my 8-year-old hit the punching bag in my shed. It's quarantine work, you know how it is. While he was punching, I was having a few Budweiser’s. I had already done my work out for today, I did bent over rows and rode the exercise bike early this morning. My Black Labrador, Rebel who is a year old, joined us in the shed.
I have to tell you something about Rebel. He loves beer, Budweiser in particular. Now, relax, he just licks the top of the beer can a little after I take a sip. The problem is, he loves beer. Listen, I train my dog. He heals without a leash, can sit on a whistle at 50 yards, listens to me almost all of the time, hangs on my every word. Except when it comes to beer. All good behavior goes out the window when the prospect of licking the top of a Budweiser is present. My son was hitting the bag and I was sitting on a compound bow target and having a few beers and Rebel was jumping around, licking me all over, circling me. Nudging me to take another sip so he can have his lick. He was going crazy. He does this all of the time.
But that’s okay, I can overlook it. Because I love my dog.
I did not grow up with dogs, but I have had black Labradors since 1990. In fact, I can't imagine life without a black Labrador. I'm sure that other dogs are fine and all, little white fluffy dogs and long hot dog looking dogs and Huskies and Chihuahuas and I'm sure that yellow Labs and chocolate Labs are fine, too. I do have a soft spot for Malinois, after being around a Special Forces buddy who had one. Awesome dogs. But I am a black Lab guy and I reckon that I always will be.
Back to Rebel. This whole quarantine thing has made him into a mess. No, what has happened is that he has made my life a mess.
He demands attention from me all of the time. Let me give some examples.
I end up sleeping on the couch in the living room every night, because my 8-year-old kicks me out of my own bed and he gives off so much heat and punches me in his sleep that I head to the couch in the living room. The problem is that Rebel’s kennel is in the living room. This means that daddy is here, and now he can demand something from me. And let me tell you, he would demand to eat or be taken outside, but I fool him. I purposely don't look at Rebel as I pass by at 1:30 in the morning. If I look at him, his tail would begin to wag, and he'd wake out of his slumber. But I'm smart, see. I ignore him. In fact, I cover my face with a pillow sometimes or put up a laundry basket to block his view of me while I sleep. I can FEEL his eyes on me while I am lying there. And around 530 am, whether I am blocking his view or not, he begins pacing in the kennel. I hear him and I open my eyes and I say to myself, self, he's not going to quit until you get up. And he doesn't whine, he just paces and then stops and looks at me. I can feel those brown eyes burning into my soul. So, I get up and let him outside. Then I get dressed and after I shake the cobwebs off of my brain, I go outside and retrieve with him. He's my hunting dog , so we have drills that we work on. At 530 in the morning, my enthusiasm for all of this is not quite there yet, so we get the drills done but what I'm really trying to do is make him tired. These dogs have unlimited energy. Then after ten minutes or so, we go in and I feed him. I put his food down and he sits until I tell him that it's ok to eat. Sometimes, he just stands about five feet away from me and looks at me. We have been doing this forever, I say, you have to sit to be fed. He looks at me like he doesn't get it. Mind you, we do this every meal. Then I say, SIT! And his butt hits the ground like it was his first time. Then I tell him OK and he rushes over and eats like a madman.
I wash some dishes and wait for him to eat and then I actually make the mistake some days of trying to lie back down again, but NOOOO, Rebel wants to sit on the couch with me and be petted and to be told how wonderful he is. So, I get up and he lies across my lap and acts like I am the most important thing in the world. But he can’t help himself; he will jump off of my lap after about 10 minutes and grab a sock or a pen or a pillowcase or sometimes a whole blanket and start chewing on it, or sometimes just bring some of that stuff to me. Hunting Labs and most Labs have to have something in their mouths all of the time. I had a 45-pound barbell delivered to me the other day in a cardboard sleeve. He tried to pick it up and carry it around the yard. Yes, he did. He’s a retrieving fool.
I realize that you are probably saying to yourself, Just how old is this guy? How can he let a dog run his life?
Dammit! Rebel is looking at me right now.
I’m not taking him out again, I’m not taking him out again.
And it continues throughout the day. I'll try to write and there he is, nudging my hand or he is in the kennel groaning. Yes, groaning. He knows that I hate whining, so he sort of does this groan/moan thing. And sometimes he gets the hiccups when he is staring a hole through me and I point at him and say, you have the hiccups! I like to make fun of him sometimes because he busts my chops so much.
As the day continues, I take Rebel out and retrieve with him numerous times. I'm embarrassed to say , but it's like fifteen times a day. Yes, fifteen. He's nuts, I already told you that he's nuts. By 8 o'clock at night, he's pretty exhausted. Or is it that he exhausted me and now he is satisfied? Either way, I like watching him sleep and dream and bark in his sleep with his mouth closed and kick his little legs like he is running while he's dreaming. I get him back by telling him that he looks silly while he is dreaming.
But I say it in my head, of course. I don't want him to wake up and make me do something else for him.
It just occurred to me. Maybe I am the one who is trained. Damn.