Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Boys: Ridge and Tuc

Yesterday I provided windows into the uniqueness of our girls and what I love about them. In the interest of equality, I thought I'd give you the same kind of window into our two remaining boys, Ridge:

and Tuc. (Baxter is no longer "ours" and lives in Maine now; Rudy leaves us tomorrow afternoon):

All of the pictures in today's blog, though they may look similar to others from years past, were taken in the last 24 hours. They capture parts of who Ridge and Tuc are today.

So, first, the Ridgers. What a goof. Sweet, silly old man. Ridge is approaching 8 years old (will turn 8 on March 26) and is our sire (the daddy to the two litters of the last two years). He's our vocal guy... the one who "tells us stories" (something I plan to get on video for you -- so sorry... just haven't had time to work more on the video learning curve). He's our most vocal outside, too. And he's the one everyone who comes to visit is afraid of because he barks at people who approach the fence or gate.

Now tell me, do you see anything even remotely menacing in this guy?

Ridge is a big baby. An overgrown lap dog who loves to touch, to "nudge" (he is by far the nudge of our crew), to retrieve 1:1, and to work (he is incredibly focused). He's higher strung than the others, a bit driven like Pinot, but as he's aged he's mellowed. And he's a dream when it comes to being on lead or following commands. Smart, mindful, affectionate, goofy, obedient. We love our Ridgers.

But I will say it took a while. He came to us as a three year old, and he didn't bond to us for a good 6-9 months, maybe even a year (nor I to him until then). Oh, he was very good with us, and obeyed our commands, but he wasn't affectionate at first, and he was very nervous. Poor guy. He's been with us now nearly five years, and he's more than made up the lap time he wasn't comfortable offering us to start. Now he's a snuggler. Oh, and thunderstorms and fireworks don't frighten him the way they once did. I suppose that means he feels more secure now than he did at first, and understandably so.

Trying to come up with a single word to describe Ridge is tough. First I thought "nudge" (so characteristic of him). Then I thought "needy" but that didn't really fit. Then I wondered about "neurotic" or "nervous" but that doesn't fit him anymore either.

"Driven?" No, not really. Not like Pinot when she retrieves.
"Field focused?" Yes, but that's not all there is to him.
"Protective?" More than the others, but it's not the sum of who he is.
"Insecure?" Five years ago after he first came to us, absolutely yes. But no more. He's quite confident now (and was while with his former owners; he just needed to adjust).
"Misunderstood?" Definitely. But that doesn't describe him.
"Cautious?" Yes, but only with new people, not situations. And again that's not all of him.

I guess if I had to sum him up in one description it would probably (and surprisingly) be "lover." He's just a big goofy lover. He absolutely loves his people. He loves to retrieve. He loves to be close. He loves attention. He loves to swim (and is gorgeous in the water). And he's vocal about wanting our attention. He barks at strangers because of his love for us and desire to protect us. But as soon as he's been introduced, he becomes their attention/affection-seeking nudge.

We love our Ridgers. We've never met a Lab quite like him. And he's wiggled his way into his own niche that only he can fill. :o)

And then there's Tuc. Sweet 85-pound Baby Boy. At nine months old, the Tucmeister is just an overgrown puppy. ;o) Full of energy and impishness and smarts (oh, is he smart!) and eagerness to play and please. He's always, and I mean always, ready for anything, and I mean anything.

I feel badly about Tuc. We invested so much time in him when I first brought him back from AZ last July. And we had two great months of becoming pals (Tuc and I were buds). But then Elsie had her litter, and right away we were caring for pups (remember our tube-feeding adventures when the pups were less than a week old?). Then it got crazy with normal litter care. Then is got really crazy with Parvo... then Mom broke her femur, and... well... poor Tuc. Though he got a little time, it wasn't the time I'd hoped to give him.

Once Rudy leaves us, I suspect Tuc and I will become fast buds again. He's become a lap dog in recent months. When he's not too busy romping with Pinot or Rudy, he wants to be on our laps (or retrieving or walking with us). He's a big galoot, like Baxter was, but not quite as big yet (I hope he stays right where he is).

With Tuc, I'd have say the single word that describes him is "optimistic" -- life is always good as far as Tuc is concerned. The world and all it contains is good. Tuc is a happy guy, and he's so full of himself (he's got the personality for the ring -- but we don't do competitions here). Nothing gets him down. He's just so full of life and vitality and eagerness and the every-body-is-my-best-friend wiggle, I can't help but smile when I see him. He's like Rudy in that way.

Oh yes, Tuc is still an imp. And he still proudly shows off whatever new impish thing he's done. But you just gotta love him. You can't get angry -- he's just too happy-goofy to ever be angry with.

So me thinketh the little Tucmeister is going to be my new bud. He already is (true confessions). He just hasn't had my time or attention the way I'd like him to.

In any case, between Tuc, Ridge, Kenya, Elsie, and Pinot, I have no question that I'll feel loved and treasured in the days ahead, no matter what the days hold. I'll miss Rudy, of course, but my heart is full.

There's just nothing like a Lab. Boy, girl, young, old, big, or small -- doesn't matter. A Lab is a Lab is a Lab.

I wouldn't have it any other way. :o)

'Til next time,


Momma Teece said...

A lab is a lab - and your boys are both incredibly handsome!

Cindy Del Vecchio said...

I have to admit, I never wanted a male or a black lab. Since "meeting" your labs, I think our next one will be a black male!