Tag Archives: raising a lab puppy

Just as We Laid Our Guard Down….


Our sweet ‘puppy’ Amber was a year old March 7th. She now weighs 93 pounds. We’re HOPING that she is now as large as she will get, but people in the know say she could continue to grow for another year! They also say that this lumbering bull-in-a-china-shop with very little brain will continue being a puppy for at least another year….

Amber has improved a lot since I last wrote about her. She is adapting to us and our lifestyle pretty well for a pup with little brain. She is certainly smart and canny enough to manipulate her owners. We FINALLY got her to stop yelling at us when she wants us to take her out.  She had been regularly coming to sit beside me while I was working at the computer and then yelling, “WOOF!” quite loudly, scaring my hair off. If I had a cup of coffee in my hand at the time, I would spend the next 10 or 15 minutes cleaning up before I could take her out. (We have learned that, at this point, we can’t trust her outside by herself. She tends to find something wonderful to chew up in the front yard. When she destroyed TWO NEW WELCOME MATS that had been in place for about 20 minutes, that was the wake up call for us to get off our duffs and take her out, rather than letting her out.)

When we’re outside, we tend to bring Amber and Molly with us.  We did this a couple of days ago, using the time between rain storms to take them out and walk around the yard. When the doggies had taken care of business, I let them in, as it had started to rain. My husband and I finished looking at something and then came in – to find that Amber had decided to completely dump her water bowl all over the floor. We had a mini-lake!

She hadn’t done this for a long time, but she of little brain remembered THAT was fun!

We spent a half hour mopping and toweling up the mess. My husband got a larger, heavier metal bowl that has no rim to put in place of the one she dumped. We put it in the corner made by the wall of the bathroom and the doggie gate to the living room. We’re hoping that this placement is secure enough she won’t decide to ‘play’ in the water anymore…

Lesson: One cannot trust a yellow Labrador Retriever ‘puppy’ outside OR inside without pretty intense supervision!



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Are We Training HER or OURSELVES?

We’re slow learners, but we finally got the message – Amber cannot be trusted to go outside by herself until further notice. We also learned that we have to watch her like a hawk in the HOUSE, too, as she was chewing on a plug-in thingie for my husband’s computer this morning before we figured it out…

She LOVES to go outside by herself, but since the poor dog doesn’t have ANYTHING to play with, she has become more and more inventive about finding something to pass the time out there.

Yesterday we decided to get new welcome mats for the front door and the garage door to the house. I put the old ones we were replacing on the floor in the greenhouse where the weed barrier has become torn.

Soon we let Amber out. I went out a few minutes later to find BOTH new welcome mats in the front yard. The one from the front porch had a huge bite out of the top of it. The one we got to scrap our shoes on in the garage was in several pieces.

We put the shock collar on her, got the remote, and agreed that one of us will go out with her on a reasonable schedule. We SHOULD be playing with her and walking around anyway, so it’s just having to own up to our responsibility as owners of a loveable, rambunctious, destructive, energizer bunny type lab puppy.




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Almost Deja Vu

We ALMOST had deja vu last night while we were watching TV.

This time my husband motioned to Amber to come sit with him. She readily came over and walked right up into his lap, smiling happily. I looked over, careful not to say anything, and barely met her eyes.

I glanced over – our eyes met – and I saw something flash in them.

I immediately got up out of my chair and went over to sit on the couch. She bounded off my husband’s lap and came right over to me, planning to walk right up onto the couch! I said “NO!” sternly and then started to hug her. We spent about 5 minutes intensely hugging and licking (Amber, not me) and then she was finally satisfied.  We got our close time in for the evening without her bounding into my lap and removing more skin from my arm in the process, a thing I really don’t want to repeat.

In many, many ways, we are seeing that Amber will become a wonderful companion, a fun addition to our family, and a great dog. We’ll be happy each day we put behind us on her ‘puppy-dom,’ though.

Last night, her stick fell between the huge dog bed she and Molly share and the wall. We have a heavy screen gate my husband made protecting the wall, so the stick became wedged. She instead ate Molly’s little dog bed that sat on top of the huge bed. We awoke to a whole utility room filled with the stuffing from the little bed and a totally un-remorseful puppy grinning at us, impatient to go out.


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Hair-Raising Trip

Amber at 6 months

We just got back from taking Amber to the vet to get an official measure of her weight, since she is 6 months old today. She now weighs 61.6 lbs. We’re HOPING that her final weight will be 75 lbs or less, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

We had a hair-raising trip.

I had called to make sure it was okay if we brought Amber tin o use their scales and the receptionist said, “fine.”  She neglected to tell me that they had a FULL house, with dogs, cats, and other critters from wall to wall. Amber doesn’t pick up on ‘vibes’ from other animals well. Another large dog was there, and wasn’t happy to see Amber at all. That didn’t keep her from trying to nose the dog, wagging her tail the whole time. The large dog got hostile. My husband was able – with a LOT of pulling and almost being tripped by Amber trying to go in two directions at once – to pull her into the room where the scales were. We got her on, looked at the scales long enough to register 61.6, and then got out of there as soon as we could get to the door. Whew!

On the way over, we had Amber in the front passenger seat of the truck. I sat in the back seat. I had her on her leash, holding her tightly enough she could put her head out of the window. She moved around a bit, but not badly. She wants to really lean out, which bothers me, but I was confident I had good control with the leash locked in.

After the vet, we stopped quickly at our insurance agent’s to leave an updated DVD of our ‘stuff,’ and then at the bank to leave a copy in our safe deposit box, and then we were on the way home.

Amber was antsy this time. She got in the back seat with me, sitting on me, standing on me, leaning out of the window, coming back in to sit beside me, over and over. I’ll probably have some interesting bruises on my ‘lap.’ She was really a handful on the way home.

We’ve decided we need to take her for rides more often, mainly around our neighborhood, and maybe down to Greenwood Lake, where we can walk around a bit mid trip. We’ll do the vet weighing in again next month, but we’ll try to find a good time when they’re not busy…



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Busy Morning on the Porch


Right at this very moment, Amber is lying down beside my office chair, asleep. Ahhhhhh!

We’ve had a busy morning. We’re still having a bit of trouble giving Amber food that agrees with her. And, even if THAT is all good, we can’t keep her from acting like a vacuum cleaner outside, eating everything dogs find appealing. UGH.

Obviously, something didn’t agree with her that she ate yesterday. I had to hose and mop the porch first thing this morning. Since she’s been having trouble off and on, we’ve been leaving her crate door open at night. My husband did the initial clean up and then I followed with the hose and mop.

We fed her lightly, and then checked on her in half an hour – my husband had left the Clorox Clean Up bottle on the table. She had knocked that over, spilling about half of it on the porch floor. I leaped up to get THAT cleaned up, hoping she didn’t ingest any of that. I then admonished my husband that we’re at least PRETENDING to be smarter than the dog….

We went out to play with her later and ended up hosing and mopping the porch again –

We took her out and walked her quite a bit, gave her some water and went inside to get ready to go do errands. I checked on her before we left – to find she had taken her bedding from the crate and was in the process of shredding it all over the porch floor.

I put the the intact piece of bedding back in the crate, closed and latched the door to it, put her on the string on the deck since she won’t allow mopping or sweeping without a game of tug of war.  I swept everything up and put her on the porch once again.


Amber on her dog run, waiting for me to get the porch mopped.


Amber with her purple bone on the office bed.


We were gone about an hour. Amber was delighted to see us when we got home. Her porch was still clean! We took her out again, and then let her come into the office.  (If you look behind her head, you can see where she discovered the reams of copy paper on the shelf yesterday –

So far, so good.  Fingers crossed.


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The Caterpillar Disintegrated

At least, I THINK it was a caterpillar. It came from the exclusive emporium of WalMart. It was bilious pink with knobby things all up and down its length. It had yellow feet, a head sporting a smile with very white teeth, yellow ears, and squeakies in both ends. Amber loved it.

It lived to go through the wash twice. Amber got one squeaky out, but the other one was still in.

Amber was here in the office with me. She moved from one toy to the next and then came through my legs to get to the bed under the counter, and then out again, over and over. She then got quiet.

I should have known that wasn’t good, but I was so happy she had settled for a bit that I didn’t pay enough attention. The next time I looked, the pink caterpillar had lost about half of its length in bits and pieces all over the carpet. I spent the next minutes with the whisk broom, trying to gather the shreds, threads, and balls of pink ‘stuff’ that used to be a toy. I have now disposed of the caterpillar (thank goodness the squeaky is NOT inside Amber!).

Amber won a trip out to the back porch so that I could clean things up. The threads were everywhere. I used a whisk broom, the vacuum cleaner, the whisk broom again, and the vacuum again before things were good again.

I don’t think Amber learned any lessons from this, but “I” did. I’ve learned to pay better attention when the soft toys start getting raggedy.


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The World is an Exciting Place

Amber was 4 months old on July 7th. We’ll take her in to the vet’s around the 20th to get her weight, and then she’s scheduled to be spayed on August 7th, when she is 5 months old.

  • Yesterday Amber discovered a turtle! She crept up slowly on it, sniffing. Then she jumped straight up in the air with a yelp. I thought maybe the turtle had nipped her, but she was just excited. She tried to bite the shell, but it was too big. I FINALLY got her to continue with our walk, but it was a close thing.
  • She chased a dragonfly that was dancing in the tall weeds to the east of our house. She jumped and jumped, trying to dance and fly, too.
  • She played in the kiddie pool. She cavorted around, as usual. Suddenly she jumped up – I guess to get out – but slipped instead, going completely beneath the water for the first time. She came up laughing and shaking off the water.
  • She TRIED to bite at a red wasp – like the one that stung me last week – but I steered her in the opposite direction as quickly as possible.
  • She learns what things are by chewing or eating them. Unfortunately, this results in some less-than-tasty mouthfuls, although we differ on which is which at times…
  • We’re learning that, unless she changes quite a bit on maturing, she is NOT going to be a watchdog. She greets everyone as a long-lost brother or sister, trying to get as close to them as possible, licking and tasting as much as they’ll allow. She might smother someone in love, or – when she’s bigger – sit on someone, but happily would welcome an intruder in, showing him her toys.



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Amber’s New Discoveries – June 30, 2017

Earlier I told you it has been raining hard here.

My husband took Amber out first thing this morning and she took care of business when the rain was just starting. But, we’ve learned the hard way that she really needs to go out TWICE in the early morning to avoid problems on the porch. When he came in from the second time, he said, “Waste of time.”

When I visited her after we got the kitchen cleaned up and coffee made, the rain was coming down hard, but pretty much straight down. When I went out just a few minutes ago, it was obvious that the rain had changed direction, blown in onto the porch, leaving puddles everywhere. It was raining less, so I went ahead and took her out again to see if I could get her to take care of business again.  We were successful!

While we were out, she went over to the kiddie pool. She walked around the outside of the pool, drinking. Then she stopped abruptly when she heard the water coming down the downspout at the corner of the house. She crept up to it   s – l – o – w – l – y, never taking her eye off of it. When she was almost to it, she stopped again, leaped up in the air, and turned so that when she hit the ground again, she was running in the opposite direction. I laughed, and THAT caused a flurry of running as fast as she could to the end of the retractable leash, getting stopped abruptly, then rushing back in the other direction to the end of the run, over and over until she wound down. Since it was still raining pretty hard, I was glad she wound down relatively quickly. She did not want to go near the downspout again.

When we got back onto the porch, there was so much water on the floor I wanted to squeegee it. I didn’t want to put her on the deck leash because she would get even more wet. So I tried to squeegee while she was there with me. WHAT FUN! Amber thinks the squeegee is the best toy ever! She jumps up in the air to leap on it. She tries to bite it, but it’s moving, so she can’t. AWWWWW. We did this over and over. I discovered that my yelling, “NO!” in a stern voice was completely ineffective. I did the best I could and then tried to use a towel to dry her off a bit. Same problem. She LOVES to try to bite the towel, turning around as fast as possible to play the new game.

I gave up, using the towel to try to wipe off the table as well as possible with Amber still trying to bite it. I discovered that the ceiling was dripping onto the table. :0(

SO – we BOTH made discoveries this morning. I think mine will be more expensive…


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The New Gate is a Lifesaver

The 2nd Carlson Walk-Thru Pet Gate is saving our lives.

Poor Molly is still freaked out by Amber, mainly due to the fact that Amber is larger than Molly now and outweighs her by some 15 lbs or so, and has a habit of launching herself into Molly’s face over and over. We’ve had quite a logistics problem with trying to give Amber more inside time, control the interaction of the dogs and the cats, and live to tell the tale.

We put up the 1st walk-thru pet gate at the suggestion of my good friend, Cathy. We didn’t know such a thing existed. The installation of the walk-thru gate across the doorway to the porch probably saved one or both of us from falling on our heads trying to scramble over the one we had that had to be low-enough-she couldn’t-get-under-it and high-enough-she-couldn’t-get-over-it. We had to try to hold onto the brick beside the door while trying to balance and get our leg high enough and over the gate, and then down onto the floor without stepping on bouncing Amber. Quite a feat for old folks like us. We will never be able to thank Cathy enough for giving us the link to this and explaining what I didn’t see at first – the fact that people can walk through the middle of it without causing disruption of the installation of the gate. HEAVEN!

We put the 2nd gate up a couple of days ago now, across the opening to our office. Now all the animals can be inside the house at the same time and not have to be in each other’s faces or tearing around the house like madmen with the high drama that accompanies that. I had Amber in the office with me for a lot of the morning today. Molly went in and out of the house as she wanted without being dive-bombed more than once, and we are still sane. Hooray!

Dealing with a labrador pup is quite an adventure. She is almost NEVER still. She smiles – even while barking or yiping – (which she is doing much less now, thank goodness) – and her tail is like a metronome, always wagging happily. She hardly ever WALKS, always bounding from one place to another with joy, mouth open, tongue lolling, and sharp baby teeth right there.  She DOES love to lie down in the shade – particularly to chomp on a delicious stick – but only stays 30 seconds or less. She leaps headlong into the kiddie pool several times a day, walking around and around, slurping water and splashing. We walk and walk (a good thing for us to do) to try to give her time and space to take care of business, to give her exercise, and to show her the perimeters of the civilized part of our property.

Our animals’ needs are the focus of our days right now. We barely get started with something and need to take a break to get someone in or out, walk Amber, etc. It makes for really busy, happy days.


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Amber – 3 mos old

How can you look at this face and believe my husband calls Amber “Destructo-Dog?”  She looks sweet and innocent, doesn’t she. And she IS sweet – just not innocent.

She hasn’t destroyed anything today – yet. And she SEEMS to be finding her toys as we’re in the office, rather than moving from one no-no to another… Part of this could be because we’re spraying things heavily with Bitter Apple spray. Part of this could be that we have gotten her some rawhide bones to chew on. Part of it may be due to the fact that both my husband and I are ‘armed’ with flyswatters…

Living with a labrador retriever puppy ain’t for sissies – to paraphrase Bette Davis’ wonderful quote about getting old.  In a lot of ways this is just what we needed. We’re still grieving over the loss of Bambi, our almost 14 year old pit bull. Trying to meet Amber’s 24/7 needs forces us to live in the NOW. We tend to be sedentary, and walking her at least 8 times a day for varying lengths of time and distance gives us good exercise we could probably otherwise avoid. Our problem-solving skills are being taxed, trying to find interesting things for Amber to play with/chew on, new games, keeping her from destroying everything in the house, etc. is straining our less-than-nimble brains. Our attention to detail is being exercised, keeping track of what she’s doing, where she is, making sure we have treats in our pockets, flyswatters at the ready, and are foreseeing possible difficulties, as when we let Molly in the house a few minutes ago. (All went very well. Molly was on the far side of the new office gate. Amber was on the near side and didn’t launch herself at the gate.)

We’re so busy that the only time we have to grieve is late at night, and then we’re so tired we’re falling asleep before our heads hit the pillow. We aren’t having any trouble getting to/or staying asleep – unless we’re hurting or having to go to the bathroom. We used to prowl around at all hours, reading until we got sleepy again.

Sometimes I wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into – particularly when it seems that she’s really trying to get on my last nerve. Then she wags her tail and demands love and the doubts evaporate.  Amber is going to be a wonderful addition to our family.

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The few times that Amber is still – and I think I can count the times on one hand in the month she’s been a part of our family – I’m struck by her eyelashes.

I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a dog’s eyelashes before. I love a dog’s eyes, and I’m partial to dark noses, but I love Amber’s eyelashes. I still haven’t gotten a good picture of them, but if you look carefully, you can see that they are light, like her hair.

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