Monday, December 03, 2012


 I mentioned in Friday's blog post that my writing again for Lab Tails felt like I'd come home.

Since then, perhaps because it's the holidays or because of my recent mid-life restlessness --whatever the reason-- I've been thinking a lot about "home."

I've not, however, been thinking about the geographic location or physical structure sense of the word. Don't get me wrong: I'm exceedingly grateful for four walls and a roof and a bed and heat and clothing and food and for all the physical amenities with which we associate the sturdy structures in which we live.

My thinking about "home" is less tangible. It's more about where we
  • are known
  • are loved
  • are accepted
  • don't need to perform
  • are able to be ourselves without apology or shame
  • experience comfy familiarity
  • enjoy rest, and comfort, and ease

My heart's true home includes all of these (and more). What amazes me is how much my canine critters contribute to that intangible sense of home.

When I come downstairs first thing in the morning or return from being away (no matter how long), the crew welcomes me as though I'm the most important person on the planet (well, okay, so maybe it's more like I'm the only person on the planet, but you get the idea).

They don't care about what I'm wearing, or how much money I have, or how impressive I am (or am not), or what I've done (or not done), or where I've been, or who I've been with, or whether or not I'm important to society, or whether or not I've accomplished anything.

They're just glad to see me (l'il ol' imperfect me, warts and all).

And because of their eager greetings, their enthusiastic affection, their wiggly ability to put me at ease and to make me smile--their unconditional acceptance of and love for me-- over and over again I feel like I come home to the kind of home that needs no geography or address, a home that I can carry with me in my heart, a home to which I can return no matter where I am or what circumstances I find myself in, a home that's impervious to tropical storms and the world's expectations.

Elsie, Kenya ,Chessie, Pinot, and Tuc may live in our house, but they (along with my human family) provide me a home.  It's the way of it with Labs.

Maybe that's why returning to Lab Tails feels so like a homecoming for me. My hope is that LabTails can become a sort of "home" for you, too.

Won't you come in?

The canine crew's eyes are hopeful, their tails are a-wagging, and their slobbery tongues need more faces to kiss.

We hope to see you soon.

Until next time,

Friday, November 30, 2012

Stlll Breathing (and in Blogland Again)

We're back! All six of us: the five canine kidlets and their female-variety human (that would be me, aka Momma Joan).

The critters, of course, never left: they've been their faithful, wonderful, silly selves all along.  I, on the other hand, found myself mired in the yucky muckies of life.

But yucky muckies can't keep a five-Lab-momma down any more than mud holes can keep Labs from retrieving (oh joy!).

So here we are.

Oh, and an fyi for long-time reader: it's finally settled. I'm back for good (no more waffling about what I should do with my writing). My creative abode is here at LabTails.

It's nice to be home. I'm home to stay.

Now, where to begin? Rather than slog through old news of past months, I'll begin with updates on the canine crew as of November, 2012:

Here's Elsie:  Our yellow (cream) female, dam to three litters (retired and spayed), now 8 years old and still our snuggler extraordinaire: 

Elsie is intrigued by our family addition: DSD's son Caleb (my first grandchild, born in April, now 7 months old).  Elsie is quite fond of Caleb!

After tidying up after her own three litters, sweet, gentle Elsie is particularly adept at washing Caleb's face and nose (nom, nom, nom!):

As the Grand Dam, she's our lazy girl:

Of Elsie's three litters, Regular Reader knows we kept only one pup,and that pup is our Pinot.

Pinot is from Elsie's first litter, and she is our yellow (reddish) five-year-old, an athlete and retriever extraordinaire: 


If you think Pinot's one ear in the picture above looks shorter than the other, it is.

For the first time, in the over twenty years we've enjoyed Labs, we encountered the dreaded ear-flap hematoma (basically a bruise in the ear flap that results in blood pooling between the layers of skin). Ow!  Yuck.

Over the summer, we thought we'd finished with ear-flap hematomas, especially after the vet removed the drain that had been in Pinot's ear flap for a month and after Pinot re-injured it forming scar tissue that made the ear curl up on itself (hence the ear looking shorter). After all that, we thought we were done.

We were mistaken.

Pinot developed another hematoma in the other ear flap into which the vet had to insert yet another drain (DH is tenderly opening and cleaning the drain below). 

Pinot, bless her heart, trusts us implicitly, and quietly takes it all in stride.  Such a sweet girl!

As of this writing (end of November) her right ear flap is still draining but it looks normal. Pinot's left ear flap, however, is permanently shortened, so she looks lopsided.  We're hoping her right ear flap won't curl like the left one did.  But either way, she's still our Pinot!


Next is Kenya:  our black female, now 4.5 years old, dam to two litters, and known for her exceptionally wiggly butt, her extraordinary patience, her willingness to wait, and her propensity to carry appropriate miscellany (as in, bones and chew toys) in her mouth nearly all waking hours. 

Pictures of Kenya most often capture her with various objects in her mouth or, as below, voluntarily sitting and waiting for us to tell her what to do next.

We kept one pup from Kenya's first litter, a chocolate female, our little Chessie squirt. Here she is with Momma Kenya (daughter left, mother right):

Chessie is our only chocolate and the daughter of Kenya and Ridge (deceased). She's now 2.5 years old, and  she is known for her impishness, desire to please, and her extraordinary (even for a Lab) zest for life.  


She is also our most accomplished nose artist, especially on the family room window:

And she makes us smile. Constantly. Her joy is infectious!

Chessie can now outrun Pinot (something we thought would never happen because of Pinot's athleticism and speed).  And, like the energizer bunny, she never slows down.  At 2.5 years old, she's the closest thing we have to a pup now.

Then there's Tuc: now 3.5 years old, our only boy (since Ridge trotted over the rainbow bridge in 2011), and sire to two litters (one with Elsie, one with Kenya).

He's handsome and sweet and smart and blocky-huge (all 95 pounds of him) and enthusiastic and eager-to-please, and... well... he's a typical Lab!

And he thinks he's a lap dog: never satisfied to rest just his head in our laps, he plunks his entire self down on top of us to snuggle. He's my Tuc Bubby.

So there they are. All five are well and thriving and as active as ever.  As usual, they keep me smiling.

They also continue to teach me extraordinary lessons (have I told you they're extraordinary yet...hehe?) about life and love and hope and optimism and, well, all things good and right and worth considering.

Labs have a knack for that.

And its their lessons, the ones they teach me daily, that I'll banter about here, now that I've returned.

It's good to be back. It's good to be writing again. And it's always good to giggle with the gang.

Maybe you can giggle with us along the way.

'til next time,