Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting There

Those who follow us on Facebook know our old Voyager van, the designated doggy-transportation mobile, cracked a head gasket and died. Though it served us faithfully for fifteen years, we felt it was no longer worth investing in for repair.

Too bad, so sad.

That meant, if we were still going to the lake as planned, we'd have to find some other vehicle big enough to carry crates and gear, not to mention doggies and people.

Bless his heart, DH has eyed pick-ups for decades (literally), but it never seemed the right time (nor life season) for him to get one.  It wasn't practical.

*grin*  Until now. :o)

After looking and looking and looking, we finally found one we liked, that had all the features/stats we deemed necessary, and (the big "and") that we could afford. We took it for a test drive, and, lo and behold, DH finally got his truck (a 2005 half-ton Chevy Silverado with 105,000 miles on it in fantastic shape and fully warrantied for three years).

The only downside was that it didn't have a cap for the bed. No worries: we could just get one from a cap dealer. We had the truck fitted and ordered one. Problem solved.

Well, sort of. The cap didn't arrive before our scheduled trip to the cottage. Ruh roh. That meant the dogs would have to ride in the back of the truck with no cover.

Oh my.

I was admittedly nervous (visions of crates of canines bouncing around in and finally out of the truck bed danced through my head), but I needn't have worried. If I knew anything after being married to DH for nearly 30 years, it's that this man knows how to pack a vehicle, and can pack it tight.

Three dogs in two crates, two tool duffels, food bins, doggie supplies, an extra collapsed crate, one weed whacker, assorted luggage, fishing gear, a circular saw, and a few groceries later the truck bed was packed solid -- not a wiggle's worth of shift:


We put Pinot and Chessie in one crate up against the back window, put Tuc in another crate butted against the girls' crate, and then kept Elsie and Kenya (the "old" gals) in the cab with us in the back seat

And all rode fabulously without complaint or harm:

Kenya and Elsie particularly enjoyed their quarters:

Sweet, snuggly girls.  :o)

While Elsie and Kenya slept, Tuc, Chessie, and Pinot sat, stood, sniffed, watched, and otherwise had great fun entertaining passing truck drivers. They barked only when we stopped at traffic lights or passed pedestrians on sidewalks.

Much to my relief, traveling with an open bed provided grand-but-safe adventures, both up to the cottage and back again a week later (driving only in good weather, of course). All without a hitch.

And, don't you know, a message greeted us upon our return with news that the bed-cap was in and ready to be installed.


Looks like traveling in an open bed will have to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for the canine crew; the open bed is open no more:

Oh, but the capped-bed adventures have just begun!

'til next time,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back from the Lake: The Joy of Design

It was so good to get away.

As I think about it, though, it wasn't the "getting away" that did my soul good: it was being and doing that for which I'm best suited.

Kinda like the canine crew.  Take Chessie, for example.

This was Chessie's first visit to the cottage, and her first exposure to entering the water from a dock.  After only a day at the lake (well, more like only after a jump or two), it became obvious to us that Chessie is designed to leap: she's a born dock-jumper.

Take a look:

Yup, that's puppy Chessie!  And this is Chessie's first time even seeing a dock, let alone jumping from one. To boot, it's only her second time swimming in deep water. At just a year old, she's still a clutzy adolescent, but you'd never know it when she takes flight. 

With Kenya and Ridge for her parents, we knew she'd love the water and have no fear of jumping, but I never imagined she'd take to it so quickly and so strongly (she easily doubles Kenya's jumping distances).

And her joy.... oh my!  

All of the dogs thrive at the lake.  It's part of their natures. Each blossoms there in ways unique to their characters (more on that in another post).

And the funny thing is, I do, too.

For good or bad, I'm a country girl. Being in the woods, lifting my face to the rain, allowing the sun to warm my face or the breeze to tickle my nose, listening to the wind whisper or the rain thunder on our tin roof, enjoying the water (pond, lake, river, stream, in, by, or on -- doesn't matter) -- it all makes me feel whole and alive. It's how I was raised; it's part of my nature and history; it's who I am every bit as much as my blue eyes, round countenance, and now-graying blonde hair.

I'm finally discovering how I'm wired and realizing I don't need to apologize for being who I'm designed to be.

When Chessie met the dock last week, it seemed she finally found out who she's designed to be, too.

It warmed my heart to see her find her niche, especially so young.  After fifty-plus years, I'm only just finding mine.

Oh, but when we find it, we know, as does everyone around us! Chessie sure knew it; it's the joy of our design.

Now the question becomes: how do we allow her to pursue her niche and reach her potential? 

Any of our dock-jumping readers out there have any ideas? We'd welcome your input.

In the meantime, we'll just keep doing what we're doing and hoping to taste more joy along the way.

'til next time,

Friday, August 05, 2011

Oh Boy! It's Cottage Time!!!

Note from the Canine Kids:

Oh boy!  Momma Joan says we get to go to the cottage today! And we get to stay for a few whole days!  Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy!

That means we get to swim and jump off the dock and we get to swim and play in the lily pads and we get to swim and wade in the mucky mud and we get to swim and make big splashes and we get to swim and race each other to the floating retrieving dummies and we get to swim and paddle around in really deep water and we get to swim and walk on dirt roads (and get even more muddy) and we get to swim and soak our humans and we get to swim and...*breath*...oh, and did we mention we get to swim????

So we're going away for a few days:

(l-r: Kenya, Elsie, Puppy Tuc at a year old, and Pinot)

 But we'll be back by the end of next week:

(l tor: Pinot, Tuc, Elsie, Kenya)

Ooooo, we almost forgot: this will be Chessie's first time at the cottage (the youngin'). She loves to swim, too, but she's never tried swimming at The Lake. :)   Tuc learned how to swim at the The Lake, as did Elsie, Kenya, and Pinot (click the links under our names to see us when we were learning, like, ages ago). The Lake is our favoritest place in the whole wide world. 

Well, except for any other place our humans might be. 

Oh, and Momma Joan says she'll take lots of pictures. That's when she puts that big black boxy thingy in front of her face so we can't see her anymore. We don't like that, so we nudge it away to give her kisses. She likes kisses. But when we're swimming we really don't notice it much.

That's all. 


Elsie, Kenya, Pinot, Tuc, and the Squirt (aka Chessie). 

Thursday, August 04, 2011


I hate change.

No, correct that: I hate some change (not all change is bad).

Long-time Reader knows that, for the last three years, change has seemed to be our only constant here in LabTails Land. We've seen puppies whelped and puppies die; we've reared litters and released them; we've welcomed canine critters into our family and watched them grow, develop, mature, get sick, sustain injuries, recover well, and not recover at all. We've learned, grown, adapted, and then adapted some more.

And just when I think I've gotten a handle on things (whatever the "things" are), it shows up again: change.

People change; relationships change; jobs change; health statuses change; our bodies change; our finances change; technology changes; our vision changes; our priorities change; seasons change; society changes; the world changes.

We change.

It's not that change is bad; it's that it requires us to keep up. And keeping up (for me) lately seems more and more like I'm walking on a set-too-fast-for-me treadmill. I shorten my stride and quicken my pace, but I still end up gasping and wobbling and feeling like I'm about to fall off.

It wears me out and scares me.

And sometimes, just sometimes, it makes me want to give up all together.

But then the Tuc Bubby pulls a "butt-in-ski," or Chessie cocks her head with that how-can-you-resist-me-I'm-only-a-puppy expression, or Elsie leans her heart-warming heft into my side, or Kenya shows me her bone (isn't she special?), or Pinot drops a ball at my feet and gazes at me with expectant adoration.

And then I remember:
  • The love of our Labs doesn't change.
  • Their affection for and interest in us never wavers.
  • They covet our companionship, listen to our laments, appreciate our kindnesses, suffer our shortcomings, and forgive us our faults.
  • They accept us (and take us) as we are.
  • They weather our wanderings and welcome our returns.
  • They greet us happily as if we're all that matters in this world.
  • They comfort us and confound us and coopt our hearts.
  • They want us, ...
  • and they put up with us, too.
  • They remain forever and for always ours (or more accurately we remain...theirs).

Indeed, they remind me that some things (the greatest and most important things) never change: things like love and hope and faith. And those unchanging things steady me when life leaves me behind (I've been feeling left behind a lot lately).

I guess change doesn't have to be so bad after all  then, not when I know I have something unchanging to hang on to.  I do, you know.  We all do.  I just forget.

If only I'd remember.

And that's where Labs come in.

Where's my Tuc Bubby?  I could use a butt-in-ski reminder once again.

'til next time,