I’m thinking that Amber weighs about 70 lbs. now, though we haven’t officially weighed her. One of these days we’ll go to the vet and see if the coast is clear to take her in and get an official reading. She will be 8 months old on Tuesday, November 7th. I’ve been told that labs are puppies for at least two years, and Amber is proving the truth of this statement.
We’re glad that we got her when we did. I think if we had tried to do this next year, it would be too much for us to deal with. This year it has been a real challenge, but she is becoming a real member of the family now, with even our 12-year-old Cocker Spaniel/Schnauzer cross, Molly, PLAYING with Amber. When it gets too intense, Molly snaps at Amber, making Amber cry out in dismay… Even the cats no longer freak out and refuse to come in. Amber gets right in their face and noses them, of course, but they seem to understand that she’s not trying to hurt them.
To say we’ve modified our lives is a vast understatement. Our lives revolve around taking Amber out for walks. We try to give her the opportunity for as much outside time as we can handle. We now routinely take her with us if we’re going to the greenhouse, the garden, or the shop. My husband takes her in the car to get the mail – with a trip around the mile as an added bonus.
She spends almost the whole day with us now. She no longer stays on the porch, but sleeps on the huge dog bed we have in the utility room with Molly at night. She is in the office with us right now, after I took her out for a game of fetch the ball in the front yard. She lets us know she wants to go out by coming over and standing, looking at us, or – if we don’t respond quickly enough to suit her – flipping up our arm with her nose. (This is quite attention-getting when you’re trying to type on the computer. :0) )
She now knows the following commands –
- “Hurry Up” (used when we’re encouraging her to take care of business in the yard – particularly when it’s raining, cold, etc.)
- “Back up” (she tends to sit right on the other side of the gates, so we can’t open them until she moves out of the way)
- She sits while we put her food bowl down and waits until we say “Okay” to start eating.
Of course, all our efforts are out the window when someone comes. We’re trying to bring her out with us when we get a delivery so that she gets practice in listening to us and obeying. We’re also arranging play dates with the dog of our friend. The combination of a pocketful of treats and the shock collar seems to be a good combination.
We have three gates on the first floor now – a new use for the term, “gated community” – across the office door, between the living room and the dining/kitchen area, and across the doorway to the utility room. We have to make sure they are latched, since she’s learned to open them with her nose if not securely closed.
We have FINALLY gotten her to stop chewing the one wooden wall on the back porch, and now the baseboards and wall in the utility room by providing a stick she can chew on. We’ve tried everything else we can think of – chew toys, Bitter Apple, Louisiana Hot Sauce, etc., and the only thing that keeps her from chewing something she shouldn’t is being allowed to chew up a stick. We start each morning sweeping up the stick debris in the utility room. I’m not really happy with this solution, but we need to use what works.
Amber thinks she’s a lap dog. She routinely now tries to ooze up into my husband’s or my recliner when we’re watching TV in the living room. It’s really funny when she does this, and we can’t help but laugh, which encourages her to continue. We hug her and love her, and then tell her “place!” so she’ll go back to her bed.
The past 6 months have been a big challenge, but we’re gaining a really good friend in the process. :0)