Duncan and I had a date last night. Because, well, if we don’t get to leave the house once in a while we’re both liable to bite. We started out at the grocery store, and Duncan was just along for the ride. Now that it’s cold outside he gets to run all errands with us and loves commanding the back seat. After the store, we headed to his grocery store… Petco.
That’s where it all went downhill.
All we needed was a bag of food. But I happened to see a groomer roaming the isles and had a brilliant idea – nail clipping! I asked her if she could just take a quick walk-in and she obliged. I dropped him off, got the food, paid for it, took it to the car, came back in to get him and leave. Simple enough, right?
I come back in the grooming salon and hear the most obnoxious sounds coming from the dog we love so much. Seriously, you should have heard him. He wasn’t growling, but he was not enjoying his manicure. He was thrashing and moaning and crying and talking… it was a mess. All I wanted to do was go back there and help her by hugging him while she finished, but the sign on the door told me I wasn’t allowed. So I stood there and cringed. She was sweating and huffing and puffing and trying to talk him through it. I wanted to tell her to just forget it, but I thought that might be rude. So I continued to stand, he continued to freak out, and she continued to sweat. It was miserable for all parties involved.
She managed to get his two back feet done, then really started getting upset. The huffing and puffing increased and got notably louder – as if she was trying to tell me something. After a few more minutes of misery she told me, “he’s gonna bite – I can’t finish. He’s showing his teeth.”
I’m sorry, what?!
Lady, he is not going to bite. She had obviously confused him opening his mouth to whine with showing his teeth, or more likely, was sick of him and wanted to quit. Now, I’m not blaming her. She was barely bigger than Leah. I knew taking him in there that it would be a struggle for her to contain him. I also realize that he was completely obnoxious and unruly. He absolutely hated everything that was happening. But, bite you?! No. He is not going to bite you. I was standing right there – if I thought he was going to actually bite her I would have told her to stop.
So she offered to give me a refund, gave Duncan a treat, and that was that. She left us alone while she got the manager to sign off on the refund and I told Duncan what an idiot he was and patted his head. And then I see the manager walking in…
Now, he was also very nice and by this point Duncan was back to his normal happy obnoxious self. He greeted this manager with all 90lbs and a tail of steel. The guy pets him and talks to him and turns to me and says, “have you thought about training? I can’t believe a lab would bite.”
You have got to be kidding me?! THIS LAB WOULD NOT BITE, SIR. Who knows what horror stories she told him.
I’m not trying to be one of those owners who thinks their dog can do know wrong. That they’re perfect. Duncan is far from perfect. He is a complete nut. He jumps on people and runs circles and pees on the floor when we have visitors. He can’t calm himself down if he even senses someone will pet him. He wants to be on top of us at all times. He eats the trash. He eats his bed. He’s always in the way. He’s way too hyper. He’s Duncan, and out of control, and ya, maybe we should get him trained – but he is not the vicious monster they made him out to be at Petco.
So I told the manager, ya maybe we’ll get him trained, thanked him for my refund, apologized for my nut (and that I ever asked the lady to cut his nails) and home we went. We were both exhausted.
And it left me to think most of the night and morning – he might not be trained the way petco needs him to be trained – but he’s all the trained we need him to be.
When we got Duncan we expected a lot of him. We expected him to be well behaved and big and submissive – but mainly we expected him not to eat our kid (and future kids). We didn’t need him to be an obedience school scholar, we needed him to love our kids. To be tolerant no matter what. And to protect them. And that’s what he has given us.
I will always be grateful for the time we came home from the store and had an intruder in the back yard. And by intruder I mean cable guy, but still. No one knew he was there, not even Duncan. We had just gotten home and I was ushering everyone in from the car. We were going right out to play (this was before it was 2 degrees and before Quinn), so without looking outside I opened the back door. Next thing I know Duncan was flying out the door, growling his head off, hair standing on point. I look up just in time to see the cable guy leap 10 feet in the air and over the fence into the neighbors yard – I honestly don’t know how he got that high up. Duncan stood his ground barking and carrying on, and in a terrified voice the guy yells to me, “I was just burying the line, I’ll be done in 5 minutes.” I said ok and called Duncan back inside. I didn’t apologize and I didn’t try to calm the guy down – after all, I was still home alone with my kid. I was so proud of that crazy dog. Unlike the groomer at petco, this guy had actual reason to be scared. And not that I wanted Duncan to bite his face off, but had he been someone other than a cable guy and Leah and I were all by ourselves… go for it, big boy, eat him! 🙂
But that’s not typical Duncan. Typically he’s just a regular old, untrained lunatic. But he gives us all we need.
He might run bounding and leaping and spinning in circles towards to door anytime we have a visitor, but he knows that when there’s a little person near the steps he has to stop dead in his tracks until they hit the floor.
He might go crazy when he actually gets to go to Petco or Petsmart, and he might rarely be calm in general, but he knows that when he feels little bodies around his he has to be still until they’re done with him.
He might get annoyed or worn out with his siblings, but he knows the only time he’s allowed to show teeth is when it’s time for a dental check-up. About once a day.
And yes, he gets tired and sick of them. He needs space. But he knows that when he’s done he can’t be mean. He can just go to his safe place, his cage or bed, and mom and dad will take care of the rest. And just like we’ve trained him, we’ve trained Leah on this one. Now when he leaves her for his bed she says, “dunkie no wanna pay wit me, mommy, dunkie tired. Dunkie pay later.” And she knows to get away from him.
Petco might not be able to handle him. And he might hate having his nails done. And maybe he could stand for some actual training.
But hey – he loves our kids, he somehow understands they’re little, and he protects his home.
And in those regards he’s the best trained dog on the planet and I wouldn’t change him for the world.
Petco be damned.