When choosing a dog…

May 26th, 2010
Dear Olive,

This came with one of the guests the other day-a largish yellow Lab.

Rules for Alder,
1.Don’t touch him-ever!  He gets anxious and will then bite.  Use your body (legs/feet) to move manipulate him if you have to.
2.He is food/toy possessive and will bite a person, and snap (not bite) other dogs.
3.He is also fear aggressive.
4.Loves to run and chase balls/rocks/sticks-as long as no other dog presents competition.
5.Is kennel trained-point and say “kennel”
6.Takes his Clomicalm (½ pill bid) very well.  Tell him “gentle”

Right then.  Here at the hotel is a growing collection of notes that have accompanied visitors.  They range from useful little directions to absurd renditions of what  people imagine their dogs to be.  “He won’t drink water from a bowl that contains other dogs’  ‘backwash'”  This came along with the dog that thought little of eating the fecal matter of pretty well anything.  “He just loves people” A hopeful little accompaniment  to the the Shitzu which if you wanted to relocate it (say out to the yard as an alternative to crapping on the floor) meant throwing a towel over it and then, with gloves, rolling it up,  minding the teeth, till it looked like a little cigar.  Only then was it safe to move it.  This method was only developed after directional motivation with a broom produced what appeared to be symptoms of rabies and a certain degree of incontinence.  It’s always a pleasure handing a dog back to it’s owner with your hand covered in band-aids.

The dog Alder is a special case.  It turns out the note that came with him is accurate.  What’s missing however is a notation indicating that most of the time Alder behaves just like most other dogs.  He comes up to you and wags his tail.  Loves to play and roll around.  Lets you pat him on the head, sometimes.  And then, boom, like an idiot you have three lacerations bleeding down your hand and find yourself looking for a blunt object.  Before you know it he is growling at you and you are advancing on him with a rake.  (Figuratively speaking, that is, we would never chase a helpless animal with a rake…at least I am sure Phyllis wouldn’t)

This brings me to my point.  I know you have a yellow lab.  What were you thinking?  Had you thought to consult your brother I could have provided several strong examples of why not to get a Yellow Lab.  But, since you didn’t,  here are a few unsolicited observations I have on Yellow Labs.

I have been bitten four times since we started this business. 2 times by Yellow Labs, once by a Yellow Lab cross, and lastly by the above mentioned Shitzu.  Sure, the Labs are particularly cute as puppies.  And, as a rule, they seem genuinely happy about life.  But lots of dogs can pull that off.  Like a pound dog who really needs a home.  They say they are loyal to their owners but I know I could get Alder to kill his owner for as little as two large milk bones.  As most people who have them don’t use them for their intended purpose (presumably plowing through swamp-like areas chasing after some lead riddled duck and bringing it back to you in one piece ) they must act out this instinctual behavior in other ways.  Like plucking all of your clean laundry out of the basket, gobbing all over it and then dropping it, like a pile of afterbirth, at your feet.  Alder prefers to forego the dropping it at your feet part and just dares you to touch it-or even look at it. They are fun at parties too when one of the guests immediately ignores your request not to throw anything for Ol’ Yeller.  After you tire of  trying to get the dog to stop dropping slimy tennis balls and muddy sticks on everyone’s lap you lock it in a room somewhere.  The rest of the evening is spent trying to ignore it’s relentless barking from wherever you have locked it away.

Easy keepers they are.  So easy in fact they don’t even seem to need food.  Almost anything that can be swallowed will do.  Socks, golf balls, poop(from any species), a fully charged kitty litter  box or the neighbor’s garbage complete with the plastic bag and twist tie.  If it requires surgery to extract all the better.  Alder’s owner described the surgical extraction of a cassette tape. That’s right, they’ll eat anything at all until they weigh more than their bodies can support.  Then they get crocked bones and joints and all that eating starts eating in to your kids education fund with vet bills.

All of this they manage to do while each year developing a more and more pungent odor that hangs about like a collection of bad feet-like parking your head up the hiney of a sumo wrestler.  As you find you are spending so much time trying to manage the smell you hardly notice the rabbit sized blobs of hair that seem to fall from them endlessly.
Lastly(though I could go on) they also appear to be easy to train once you get the hang of it.  Over time you will see that they can get you to do almost anything they want.

Of course, after “Marley and Me” everybody wanted a Yellow Lab.  This just goes to show you how illogical people are.  I mean, isn’t it odd, therefore, that after “Rain Man” little kids weren’t out asking their parents for an autistic brother? I believe the Yellow Lab has been put here as a sign of a society with too much time and money on their hands and therefore they select an adorable little $1500.00 Yellow Lab pup to fill in the gaps.

I know you will find this “hindsight is 20/20” bit of advice quite helpful but that’s what brothers are for.  I only wish you would have expressed your opinions about me letting my little Cindy run me like a remote control toy for so long earlier in the game.

Just for the record, if I were to choose an over-bred dog whose main purpose was to make you work very hard at loving it, I am pretty sure it would be in the form of a Pug.  I have yet to see one be fazed or disagreeable with anyone or any dog.  Even our little Judy who hates almost all of the guests will lower her standards and play with a Pug.  They were bred, as one source quotes, as “fashionable coach footmen”, which suggests, apparently, that they are particularly suited to essentially sitting on your lap and being hand fed little morsels.

Anyway, all this to say, that a certain Dr. Bile will be hauling out my gall bladder next week in an effort to sort out some mystery symptoms and, truth be told, it’s kind of freaking me out.  Assuming they don’t puncture my colon or leave a set of pliers inside me I will give you a call when it’s all done.  Phyllis has been quite supportive avoiding shows like “Medical Disasters” and the like that all seem to start out with lines like, “It was a simple procedure, one he had performed thousands of times……” Then they fade to some poor fucker breathing from a tube fighting off 13 different varieties of antibiotic resistant superbugs that were traced to the buttons on the remote control of the TV that he was using while recovering as the doctors tried to sort out the typo that had led to the removal of his non-cancerous lung.

Until then, I remain, occupying my mind with thoughts other than somebody  piercing me somewhere about my belly button and shoving some sort of slicer/dicer implement up through my vitals, (Oh don’t worry, it’s got a camera)

Your Loving Brother Kyle

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