The Lab assistant
Growing up, I often wanted a dog. I’m not sure why, other than we didn’t have one and, well, didn’t all kids want dogs? I don’t recall the reason given for not having one, but I’m sure a) it was BS and b) it did me no lasting damage.
I remember being around dogs. There was Lucy, my grandmother’s beagle mix. There was Ringo, my grandfather’s beagle, who was the subject of a very bad poem that ended with “poor dead Ringo.” There was my friend’s arthritic Chihuahua that screamed shrilly every time it took a wrong step at the end of the driveway.
At my house, no such luck. We had a chameleon and later a turtle. These are both about the lamest pets imaginable.
Sometime as a young adult I got the idea that I preferred cats, and as a newlywed I acquired two of them. When we bought a house, my Brittany-loving husband got one of those, and I became convinced that I didn’t like dogs. They had to be let in and out all the time and Lord, were they needy. And hyper? Don’t get me started.
Then my son announced that he wanted a black Lab. We protested that we didn’t need a loveseat-sized animal whose care surely would fall to us, but eventually we relented and I learned two things: My son really could and would take care of his dog. And I could and would love her.
Turns out, it’s not dogs I dislike. IT’S BRITTANIES. We are on our second one and I try to calm her by greeting and petting her most days, but I don’t think her temperament and mine ever will meld that well.
The Lab, on the other hand, is the picture of contentment. She is the ultimate companion animal, happy to hang alongside as I attend to … whatever. Outside this is unfortunate sometimes, as I have swung a trowel in my hand into her head more than once; she seems not to notice.
More often, she is encamped next to me on the couch. Sometimes her head slops onto the laptop and she has to be nudged aside; sometimes my foot falls asleep beneath her and has to be dislodged. Sometimes, though, the head or the foot stays right where it is.
Maybe I’ve become a companion animal, too.