Warren and I thought we had it made in our little house with our two labbies - Huckleberry, aka The Boss, a yellow lab; and Bettis, aka The Bus, our black lab. Both born in the country and hand picked by us at just 8 weeks old.
Huckleberry came into our unsuspecting and naiive doggless lives like a hurricane, eating and chewing everything in site and sleeping only when her little body finally couldn't go anymore and then she'd drop like a narcoleptic. Puppy school helped to train her - and us. Huckleberry came with us to get our second dog. She picked Bettis who happened to be the biggest dog in the litter. A rapidly growing gentle giant happy to just be petted, Bettis became Huckleberry's main attraction taking some of the heat off of us exhausted new doggie parents. She tromped on him, chased him around the yard, took away his toys yet allowed her new brother to cuddle up next to her at night. These two dogs never have known hardship, just twice daily walks, ongoing training, trips to the dog park, the beach and the river, doggie swimming pools in the backyard and endless chewies, pettings and love. Any behavioral issues that came up were only the result of the stages of growing up - chewing, barking, territorialism, walking nicely on a leash, potty training, crate training, and eating slow enough to taste their food.
We had considered getting a third dog after a few foster dogs had come and gone. In fact, like a mother who yearns for another baby, I don't think I had a 'stopping mechanism' in me at that time - I was sure we'd adopt a few more over the course of the next few years.
Then a little brown tornadoe flew into our path. Little did we know, he would be the missing piece to our puzzle and would be the one that made our house a home and our family complete. Tahoe, aka Little Bug, 6 mos old, a brown labbie with a curly tail arrived as a scared nervous little foster dog. We weren't sure Bettis was going to accept another boy in the house, in fact, we thought Tahoe would become an appetizer. But Bettis, by now a good 50 pounds bigger, let Tahoe know in the ways that dogs do that he was going to be the lowest on the totem pole but that he would be happy to be his big brother. Within 2 hours of his arrival, we decided that Tahoe had found his forever home with us. We adopted him within a week and thus began the long journey to help him overcome his past.
Tahoe had been abandoned when his owner had been evicted. In the shelter, he was so ridden with anxiety that they thought it best he go to a foster home for a while to mellow and get some training. His fear and nervousness did not allow him to sleep more than 5 minutes when he'd jump up at any noise crying and looking out the window - presumable for the owner that never came back. When we'd go outside for a smoke, he'd dive bomb the windows, desperately trying to get out so he wouldn't be left again. He at so fast that we had to start feeing him in a muffin tray with water coated food to slow him down. He stole apples and bread off the counters if he was hungry and pulled like a wild bear on a leash.
However, as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, Tahoe caught the hang of our routine. Walks in the morning, then breakfast, then the dog run, then lunch time work-week break, then afternoon walks, play in the backyard, dinner and chill time with the family on the couch and finally bedtime in his crate. Little by little, hestopped freaking when we went outside, just nervously paced back and forth in the window until we came back in. Finally, he'd sleep with one eye open in the window as we hung outside for a bit. He became a nice little walker, hardly pulling at his leash and told us when he was done with the crate and ready to sleep like a big boy with his brother and sister on dog beds.
The biggest milestone came just a few months ago when he started wagging his tail. Not a thing you much think about but for Tahoe was a breakthrough. He was finally relaxing enough to have time to be happy. Day by day, his tail wags became bigger, more confident and more frequent. He even discovered the tennis ball that had been flying past him for a year as his sister chased endless balls. Now he even retrieves the ball and is learning to catch. After being not too sure of the dog pool, he tentatively gets in and starts splashing around. His favorite thing to do now is to cuddle up with you when you awake in the morning. He flops next to you and rolls over on his back for a belly rubbing while he gently licks your face. He knows a walk is next and after that is breakfast.
Tahoe turns 2 years old on Saturday. He's a survivor and he'll always have fight in him to protect himself and his pack. But his little heart is now full of love and he knows he is safe. He's a part of the pack and knows this is his forever home. The three amigos have become inseperable. Huckleberry is busy raising her two little brothers and bossing them around. Bettis is thrilled with his dual role now as a little brother to Huck and a big brother to Tahoe. Bettis stays busy nuturing his big sis and his little brother, always reminding Tahoe that he is the top boy. Tahoe loves being the baby and is eager to please us all. Warren and I take full pleasure in watching them grow up and seeing how close their bonds have become.
It seems we have all come to peace with our roles Happy Birthday to our little bug who is reveling in his second puppyhood! I have no wish now for a 4th dog. You think I'm telling a white lie do you? Well, I could be, we'll just wait and see what life brings our way. Our hearts are always open and ready. For now though, we are a family of 6 (including Marley our cat), and these three crazy labbies keep us busy, broke and blessed.