‘Bratsky’ Part 2

A black lab
Sami looking very innocent!. Photo: Susan Clark

Several months ago, I described the joys and struggles of a couple of seniors adopting a puppy. She joined our household of three seniors—two humans and a 10-year-old black Lab, Sula. Well, the puppy, Sami, turned one on February 23. We have nicknamed her “Bratsky.”

One day in January, we were out of the house for a couple of hours. She ate one mechanical pencil (mine) and one black pen (my husband’s); she spread the ink on the doormat, one Paw Patrol puzzle (granddaughter’s), several envelopes, a newspaper and a piece of kindling. I guess she was bored. Her tally of destruction also includes two pairs of sandals, one pair of crocs, a pair of handknit socks, cushions, numerous stuffies and other things too numerous to name. She sneaks up under the table when I am eating, grabs my napkin and runs!

Fuzzy pom poms on toques are a favourite of hers. A toque adorned with a coyote-fur pompom seems to be a special attraction. It needs to be attacked, shaken vigorously and removed from the toque. Yesterday, I had just finished sewing it back on when I unthinkingly left the room briefly. Sami roused herself from what appeared to be a sound nap, retrieved it from my knitting basket and again removed the pompom, turning it into a soggy mess. Senior Sula lies on the couch and watches the action with a bored look. I wonder if she remembers all the things she chewed in her first year (for example, a pair of thousand-dollar trifocal glasses!).

Sami is very, very, very food motivated, and that is both a help and a hindrance. She will do almost anything for even a single piece of kibble. She has a feeding ball with the pieces of kibble inside. She must push it around with her nose until a piece of kibble falls out of a hole. She does this at a frantic pace and if the piece of kibble should end up under a piece of furniture, she scratches the floor, whines and goes with me to the cupboard where the metre stick is kept. When I manage to get down on the floor to rake out a dust- and dog-hair encrusted kibble for her, she enthusiastically gobbles it as if it were a whole meal.

A vet from B.C. reported to us that she read an article in one of her journals speculating that some dogs, perhaps especially Labs, lack a gene for satiety: they never feel full. That certainly seems as if it could apply to our Labs.

Their continuous search for food brings me to the “Poopsicle Problem.” Yes, the many frozen poops deposited along the wooded trails are a special attraction for Labs. Their sensitive noses seem to pick up the scent from a distance and even under deep snow. When they decide to “go for it,” my mid-seventies strength and balance is severely tested as they drag me off the trail into the deep snow. Sometimes I am foolishly zealous about trying to prevent it. That means throwing myself onto the offending canine and attempting to wrest a large ice-encrusted brown lump from her mouth (usually unsuccessfully). My brother-in-law vet has assured us that these tasty “treats” are, in general, not harmful. I try not to think about them when Sami is being very affectionate!

Sami’s morning wake-up calls have moved to around 6 o’clock, an improvement over those first months when it was 4:30 or 5 a.m. I would still prefer 7:30 or 8. Our senior household used to be a rather quiet and orderly place. Sami has shaken it up. She loves it when our granddaughters come over and chase her around, throw balls and make lots of noise and action. After months of trying, Sami has finally persuaded Sula to play with her for short periods. When she does, the house (a very small house) is filled with snarling, growling and the sound of furniture being shoved around. This tug of war also involves lots of biting each other’s necks and ears and pulling a toy in opposite directions.

Puppy Mayhem has shaken up our quiet lifestyle and tested our patience. BUT, the puppy love makes up for it, even when I know where that friendly nose and tongue have been. She’s definitely a Bratsky!

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