My goal with this blog is for you to enjoy your time here. Most of the posts talk about my experiences raising my two yellow Labrador Retrievers, some are just for fun, and others share the best dog related information and products I have found.

Use the tabs above for quick navigation. I have imbedded links for as much as possible so that you can find the resources easily from this blog. The links in the side bar are for websites that have been helpful to me. I hope that you find them useful for you and your canine "family member"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Labrador's are amazing companions

When the puppies were 4 months old and able to start exploring the community with us we took them everywhere we could. That meant that some of our favorite restaurants were the dog friendly ones. We hung out on patios for our meals and even though it was cooler outside as we were soon moving into fall (as we are again now) it was worth it. The dogs were with us and learning manners in public.

One of the best things I did was to purchase a soft lined waterproof picnic blanket. We would lay this down next to and just under our table and then tell the dogs to "go to their bed". It really helped anchor them. They knew the boundaries of where they could move within. Not to mention, of course, that outdoor restaurant patios are not the cleanest. I didn't want them polishing the concrete where food had dropped with their tongues. The blanket solved both issues nicely.

Then we hit adolescence - and trips to restaurants with the dogs became a significantly less frequent occurrence. We tested the water early in our work with Trish and although things had definitely improved we still had a ways to go. No one enjoying their meal, even though it's outside, wants to be disturbed by rude, over excited, barking, or whining dogs. And they weren't getting any smaller or cuter to compensate for their behavior. So our goal was clear, - calm, quite, anchored to their blanket politeness, - when they went out to eat with us.

Well today was another "Reward Day" for all our hard work. I took them by myself to lunch and they were absolute models of politeness. They held perfect "sit stays" while I laid out their blanket and then settled in quietly. We sat at the outer edge of the patio to be out of direct foot path. However, this meant that we were next to the dish room cart the waiters used for the dirty plates as tables were cleared. Shelby was closest to the cart and never said a peep. He stayed lying down verses his typical jump up to demand attention and get under foot. No over excited whining or barking as the waiters came close. I was so proud. At one point he appeared to fall asleep (though us dog people know that is impossible) and didn't even crack an eye lid when someone passed by.

Yes, even so, we still have things to work on. But having come this far means that we all have more freedom and can enjoy more privileges, making all the hard work worth it!! For me, my Labradors are a joy to have around. I see more smiles around me when I have the dogs. Even for those who may never chose to have a pet themselves, it does seem to bring joy to most everyones day. Being able to take them back out into the community is a real pleasure. As the summer comes to an end it's nice to enjoy the last nice warm "patio dinning days" with the dogs.

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