Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chessie's Great Water Adventure

Because of this summer's life lemons (you know, the ones were supposed to make lemonade with -- hehe, thanks, Mary!), the poor Chessie pup never got her introduction-to-the-water trip to the cottage.

You will recall, Tuc had one such trip as a pup during which we taught him to swim (well, we only helped him develop confidence -- he already knew how). We've done the same with all the dogs over the years. But none of the doggies made it to the cottage in 2010. How sad!

When we saw that the forecast for Sunday included sun and 70-degree-plus temperatures (F), we knew we had to take advantage of the beautiful weather for an expose-Chessie-to-water trip. The cottage was closed for the winter, though, and it's a bit too far for a day trip anyway. Hmmm... what to do. 

Ah ha! Lake Nockamixon (Nockamixon State Park) is only a 25-minute drive, and doggies are allowed there (on lead or actively working). Chessie could learn to swim at Nockamixon!

So we loaded Chessie and Momma Kenya into the van, planning to leave the rest of the canine crew behind because we didn't want Chessie to be overwhelmed by the others in the water.

The crew was not happy.

Oh my, such betrayal!  Take only two of the six swimming, how could we? Heresy! We had eight accusing, pleading eyes following our every move as we prepared to go. Though it took some steely resolve, go (without them) we did.

Kenya and Chessie rode in the car fabulously, staying close to our seats for the trip. Both were incredibly focused on us (nervousness? anticipation? excitement?), so much so that they wouldn't even let Don fill up the car with gas without keeping an eye on him (that's Don's green sweatshirt in the center outside the window, Kenya's wide girth on the seat, and Chessie's planted bottom in the way-back where she's watching Don's every move):

We arrived at the lake, walked to the shore, and took Kenya off lead. She, of course, bee-lined for the water. Chessie wanted to follow, but we kept her on lead to give her a moment to get used to her new environment:

As we expected, Kenya kicked right in (without distraction or hesitation ) with her solid, focused, water-retrieving skills. We hoped that her ease and efficiency in the water would help Chessie acclimate quickly.

We needn't have worried. Chessie is Kenya's and Ridge's pup, after all, and both are strongly water-oriented and solid with their visual tracking. Chessie took to water retrieving quite naturally.

For just a moment or two she paced and whimpered in the shallows, not quite knowing how to get to Kenya...

then she jumped right in:

When it came to actually retrieving, however, Chessie preferred to let Momma Kenya do the work.  Kenya would spot the dummy and bring it part way in, then Chessie would sneak up on Kenya and claim the dummy as her own:

Her quick acclimation didn't mean (hehe) that Chessie demonstrated the epitome of style and grace.  Poor pup.  Sometimes she was less-than-fluid in her movement:

And sometimes she forgot to keep her gangly legs paddling (ooops... yup... she sank):

But for the most part Chessie took to lake-retrieving like a duck....no...more like a Lab takes to water. :)

And she did eventually figure out how to spot and swim out to a dummy, grab it, and bring it back all on her own.

Smart girl.  Silly imp girl.  Oh, but delightful, make-me-giggle girl.

Chessie's Great Water Adventure was a grand one indeed. She survived; Kenya thrived, and we all came home a little better, and wetter, for the wear!

Next up: my favorite pics from the day! :)

'Til next time,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wow: Four Months! Where have we been???

Oh my.  I can't believe it's been four months since I last posted.  I think that's a record in the history of LabTails, and it's honestly a record I never intended, nor wanted, to set.

So, where have we been?

First, no worries: the canine crew is fine.  Yup, that's the gang above, as of yesterday morning. :)  From left to right it's Elsie (now 6 yo), Pinot (now 3 yo), Chessie (now 7 mos old, in front), Ridge (now 9 yo, behind Chessie), Tuc (in front right, now 2.5 yo), and Kenya (now 4 yo, in rear right behind Tuc).

All are healthy, thriving, and superbly Lab-ish (hehe...as they should be!). :) 

Here's the Pinot girl (Ridge and Elsie's daughter). She's maturing nicely and is actually beginning to look like a grown-up!  Can you believe it?

Pinot is every bit as driven to retrieve as she's ever been (more on that another time), but she's incredibly soft-mouthed and gentle, and she's finally becoming a snuggler.

That is, when Momma Elsie gives Pinot a chance.  Elsie tends to be a lap hog:

As it's always been, Mamma Elsie's focus is reserved for her humans alone (above retrieving and playing and romping with the pack). Nothing has changed there. She's our snuggle bear. :)

Elsie's people-orientation, however, is nothing compared to Baxter's (remember the Boos?).  Yes, Baxter belongs heart and soul to daughter Sarah and her hubby Chris now, but he occasionally comes to visit us.  And, indeed, he is still every bit the couch potato and a lap hog he was when he was ours (even moreso!). Silly Boos.

Chessie, on the other hand, is still very busy.  At seven months old, she's moving head-on into canine adolescence and forgetting (typically for this age) everything she's learned about manners. LOL...oh, but the older-wiser-higher-in-the-pecking-order doggies don't let her forget!  Tuc, Elsie, Pinot, and Ridge keep her in line (unlike the ever easy-going Kenya, Chessie's mom).  As do we.

And so far it looks likes she might have two different colored eyes: one more a gold hue; the other more green.  I guess time will tell.

When it comes to needing to have something in her mouth, Kenya is Queen.  Hands down.  

Sweet, faithful, gentle, attentive Kenya always carries something (usually a bone or nylabone), and she's quite proud of herself when she does.  She calmly follows us around letting us know she holds something quite special in that soft mouth of hers.

Though she's very calm, she still wags that tail a mile-a-minute. And because she bottom-wiggles so very much, it's next-to-impossible to get a clearly focused picture of her when she's on the move.

Then there's Tuc: sweet, smart, focused, people-oriented, and quite the handsome fella these days.  Unlike Kenya, "calm" is not an adjective I'd use to describe Tuc.  Boisterous, enthusiastic, full of life-is-good-and-let-me-show-you-just-how-good-it-is optimism--these are more Tuc's style.. He's goofy. He loves to be an imp (and he knows when he's being an imp). He's my Tuc Buddy. And he makes me smile. 

We mustn't forget the Old Man:  Mr. Ridge. Since his retirement (as studly) and his corresponding anatomical change (hehe... will he ever forgive us?), Ridge has become far less doggy-interested and is far more people-interested. He's giving Elsie a run for her money as Lap Hogger Extraordinaire!  

The poor old boy doesn't much like competing anymore with the youngsters for retrieves (though he still loves to 1:1 with us). And he can't quite run as fast or leap as far as he once did. Ahh... but the others still seem to respect and mind him (except when a girl's in heat; that's another story).


He's a fine old chap.  And he seems to enjoy this new role of his. 

So... the gang is all here, and the gang is thriving.  All is well on the canine front.

In fact, Puppy Chessie learned to water retrieve yesterday!!! (That's our next post.). :)

The answer to "where have we been" is a little less happy: the human front has been rough still. Suffice it to say the human side of our life with Labs has kept me from writing about them. But I hope, no more.

I'm excited about some of the tales we have to tell you (we've been accumulating stories for a while now), and am looking forward to writing about them.

Next up is Chessie's Great Water Adventure. :)

Until then,