This is my guy (well, one of them)- Sebastian. It is birthday. He is seven years old and in canine years, he is the same age as me. He is my pal, my running buddy, my protector. I remember when we first met. He is the pup of my brother's yellow Labrador Retriever, Punxatawney Phil. My youngest daughter and I drove to Pleasantville one Saturday morning to pick our pup. My brother offered him to me since he supplied the doggy stud for breeding.
It was love at first sight.
I've always had dogs and have grown up with dogs. My family had a succession of Spring Spaniels, wired-haired terriers, and labs. Regardless, in preparation for my pup's arrival, I read everything I could find on the proper way to raise and train Labrador Retrievers.
For his first year, I carried Sebastian up and down all the stairs to allow his hips to develop strongly. I knew that labs were suseptible to hip dysplasia and I wanted Sebastian to be strong and healthly for a very long time.
The first few nights were spent rubbing Sebastian's back so that he could sleep through the night.......which he did......which I did not. After about 3 sleepless nights, I put Sebastian in his kennel to sleep.
I'm lucky. Sebastian is an intuitive dog - naturally well-mannered. I'm not a good dog trainer. I lack consistency, harshness, and the ability to follow through. I am so fortunate that Sebastian is a laidback soul. If he was a human, he would wear tie-dyed shirts and have peace sign hung on a cord around his neck. He would probably be a vegetarian. He looks as if he should be wearing a beret and smoking dope.
Sebastian's dad was a world class duck dog - well, a county class duck dog. He was really really good and lived to hunt ducks. Sebastian is afraid of ducks. And chickens. Not so sure about rabbits.
Sebastian is my good big dog and would be my favorite running buddy if he didn't stop to pee on every rock on the path. Sebastian is the best, the most tolerant, the gentlest friend I could have.
So Happy 7th Birthday Sebastian, and more to come.