It has become an annual affair, my visit to the vet. While some Labradoodles dislike their annual fitness review, I neither love nor hate it. It simply IS–a necessary cursory inspection to ensure that all with this lively Labradoodle body is physically and psychologically well. I say well but I actually mean swell which is a conflation of two words: well and sweet.
Dr. Ken (Gummeson) describes me as sweet, which I honestly think I am, most days. My breeders first described me to (owner human) Ken and Kathie as sassy and sweet, two identifiers I try to live into daily. Being sweet brings many advantages. I am usually forgiven for what is often unforgivable behaviour (destruction of slippers, towels, blankets, ear buds and more). I am welcomed with open arms whilst circling around Kathie avoiding capture after outdoor puppy play. These occasional indiscretions admitted, I am basically a good four-pawed citizen, especially when visiting the vet.
Dr. Ken inspects me from stem to stern, admiring my fluffy, light-brown well-groomed coat, praising my slightly ribbed sides; I do have a fabulous figure. He notes down on his chart a one-pound weight gain but assures Kathie such gain is within canine body mass index (BMI) parameters. All is well with my eyes, though I must concentrate hard on following the thrown ball more carefully, having lost three balls in the last four days—they are seven dollars apiece. Yikes. They’re out there, somewhere.
In addition to being silky soft my ears work well despite my inability to respond to some human commands. Owner Ken describes my legs as spindly but I have learned how to leverage my weight calling up considerable strength when playing tug-o-war with him. Fortunately, I have not slipped on the ice or strained muscles, injured paw nails or dislocated any joints this year. If I run I also jump and have been known to dance for minutes at a time if the company is pleasant and equally enthused (see below). Life is exhilarating isn’t it!
All is thankfully well in the hind quarters. I ingest, digest, discard and deposit as one should. I don’t pick up, but, well, who does? I eat to live though I don’t live to eat, which makes training a challenge. Treats as motivators? Well . . . maybe. I am not like black Labrador Retrievers who would sell their dark soul for a rotten peanut butter sandwich stolen from an overflowing garbage can. I rest and sleep well, settling for slumber at 19:00, transitioning to Ken and Kathie’s bed at 22:00 and to my own poof (rhymes with woof) at 23:00 and rising, very very slowly the next morning at 07:30. All is regular–ritual and routine are important confidence builders for me and my humans. Again, I am the very model of Labradoodle health which as Martha Stewart would say “is a good thing.”
Did I say I love the company of others, including most breeds of dogs, with or without their humans? I am a social worker par excellence. I am gifted with the opportunity of two (sometimes three) wonderful walks or runs each and every day I enjoy wonderful social intercourse. I make the most of every social interaction. Coming to a dog park near you: Juno, LIVE.
There is one caveat with all of the above, however. Owner Ken does want to ask Dr. Ken about the barking: “The must be a cure” he says. He asked my breeder if she could breed out the chop talk. For a smallish dog I produce a large sharp piercing aural complaint–It just happens; I cannot help myself; I don’t know why. Did my parents bark? Was I barked at in utero? Something just comes over me. As I see it, my role is identify threats to people or property. “Once more unto the breech my friends” (Shakespeare). “To the ramparts” (Ralph Nader). My howl is not unlike a Mauri Haka Dance. While startling, it’s all in a day’s work. Get used to it!
The Haka notwithstanding, I am a most fortunate Labradoodle. Whether good breeding, or superb early-life care, I cannot say but I do find myself in good form and fettle. I am fortunate. No need to pet insurance for me, hopefully. Now in their early sixties Ken and Kathie have their own health challenges. Quite a number of their friends now face serious health challenges. (You know who you are and we love you.)
While some ills can be explained by poor decisions in the past or present, health itself is indiscriminate. There is no formula which can produce perfect health. As one human colleague says in some cases “shit happens.” We must cope as best we can, we must draw upon all physical, technical, emotional and spiritual resources. Humans and non-humans alike are mortal; we all move through a life cycle individually and together. Life is a mystery, despite the accomplishments of science, technology, enlightened philosophy and spiritual discipline, life and love hold their mysteries and demonstrate their benefits. That’s how I see things given my nose to the ground approach as 28 months old.
Stay well people, and smile, and yes, if you dare, BARK.