Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “labrador retrievers”

Beau’s Dietary Choice


Our dog Beau is a Yellow Labrador Retriever.  His breed is known for being intelligent.  It is known for being fun-loving.  It is known for eating the uneatable, similar to goats.

My friend Sam’s Chocolate Lab ate his daughter’s panty hose and needed surgery to remove that because it is not food and is not digestible. 

Once we were in the waiting room at a veterinary clinic and a man brought in his Golden Retriever because it had eaten rocks.  Golden Retrievers are very similar to Labs in many ways, and to goats in that way.  We might call it an indiscriminate palate.

Beau ate something last night which is not food.  He ate that absorbent paper that is in packages of chicken.  We had already eaten the chicken.  Beau helped clean up by putting his front legs on the kitchen counter and grabbing with his mouth the plastic, styrofoam, and absorbent paper formerly containing the chicken.  He is fast.  He ate the paper product before my darling wife, Sugar, could retrieve it from our Retriever.

Consequently, appalled and worried, she wrote to her Facebook friends about what happened and almost immediately got 30 responses.  Many were concerned whether the non-food item would not “pass through.” 

I don’t know whether it will pass through his digestive system.  I have observed that something has passed through a couple times today.  I usually avoid examining feces; however, to put Sugar’s mind at ease, I have done just that twice today.  So far, no chicken paper.  Still, he is not, as one might phrase it, “plugged up.”  I will let you know if that changes.


Cowdog! — or not

cattlein hayfield

Here in the ranch country of northern Colorado, many ranchers find canine helpers to be useful when working with livestock.  There are dog breeds that are genetically talented and, when individual dogs are properly trained, they can be very helpful.  Such dogs keep the herd moving or herded up.  They often nip at the heels of livestock being loaded in trailers even.  Very impressive.


Among the breeds used as cowdogs and sheepdogs are Australian Cattledogs, Blue and Red Heelers, and Border Collies.  Yellow Labrador Retrievers are not usually included in that list of working breeds.  Labs are considered sporting dogs, hunting dogs, and bird dogs.  They are not working dogs.  They are playing dogs.

Beau is a Yellow Lab.  He is a swimming dog and, indeed, a bird dog.  He is also good at retrieving.  For fun.  He only does things that are fun for him.

Retrieving is not the same task as, say, herding.  However, Beau does not limit himself to retrieving.  He is apparently interested in learning new things as long as they look like fun to him.

Today I was in Denver acting as a lawyer rather than a cowboy.  I was at a settlement conference for a case involving a permanent total disability.  During a break, I called my trusty wife, Miss Sugar, to recount my legal brilliance, but she changed the subject to Beau.

“I know that you are busy with the big case,”  she said, “but I have something to tell you when you get home.  It is about Beau.  What a jerk!”

That, of course, raised my curiosity, as it may have also caused you, gentle readers, to be curious about what the jerk did this time, especially if you have read my many other blogs about Beau.

Well, one of the things that happens in the ranch country is that cowboys (and their horses and dogs) move cattle.  Today, our neighbor chose to move cows to the upper pasture, the route for which goes past our place, but on the other side of the river.

At this point, I will remind you of my mentioning that Beau can swim and likes to swim.  Therefore, the river is not a barrier for him.


When the four riders and their cowdog were pushing the cows along the river, Beau observed their activity and his big heart told him that he should help.  Or, his heart might not have been involved in his decision-making.  Anyway, it seemed like fun to him, I surmise.  (Remember, I was not present).

Miss Sugar was present.  She watched the events unfold.  The events included Beau joining the cowboys, horses, cows and dog.

Miss Sugar is not all that neighborly, apparently.  Unlike Beau, she did not go help push the herd.  Instead, she interfered with Beau’s volunteer activity.  She called him to urge him to come home.  She wanted him to not help his neighbors.  I know that she reads the Bible and goes to church.  Nevertheless, the stuff about loving your neighbor as yourself did not sink in.  Or did it?  Maybe she believed that she was loving her neighbors by denying them Beau’s proffered assistance.

The way she told it, and Beau did not deny it, when Sugar called, Beau did not immediately hear her.  Had he heard her, surely he would have returned to her side as she requested repeatedly.

Now Miss Sugar had options.  She could swim over to retrieve her Retriever or she could walk to a bridge, which was the choice that she chose.  That choice was not the most direct nor the quickest way to get to the other side of the river, but it was, in her defense, the driest way to cross.

So she went over the bridge and Beau finally came over to her, presumably to report on how fun it is to chase cows, when Miss Spoilsport grabbed his collar and brought him home — by way of the bridge despite Beau’s willingness to swim back.  Sugar hardly ever swims across the river, but I love her anyway.  After all, she is just a girl.


Jail Bird Dog

Retrievers are considered bird dogs because they are bred, and should be trained to (guess what!) retrieve birds.  They get the birds that hunters shoot, often swimming out to get the birds that fall into a pond or lake.  That is their purpose, when given the opportunity.


But who hunts every day?  So, during their days off, Retrievers look for other tasks for which they are fitted.  Often they fetch balls, sticks, or frisbees.  All such activities are appropriate and can be very fun for dog and owner alike.

Beau is a Yellow Labrador Retriever.  As I have written in other blogs, he is a water dog.  He can swim.  He can also pull on hoses and plumbing devices in order to free water that is being otherwise directed for human purposes.

Since getting him from the animal shelter, we have wondered about Beau’s life story.  We have wondered why someone did not neuter him, apparently not train him, and give him up to a shelter.  We now have a credible theory.  Basically, he is an outlaw.

I have written about his sinful nature, including thievery and vandalism.

I was recently provided reasonable evidence persuading me that he came from a criminal home wherein he was brought up in a criminal lifestyle by, well, an actual criminal.

Earlier this week, I was talking to a local breeder of Labradors and told her about our Beau.  She told me that she might know the very dog.  She had, a couple years ago, sold one of her male pups to a woman who then called her a few months ago and asked if the breeder would take back the dog and keep him while that woman served her jail sentence of several months.  That convicted criminal’s dog was intact.  The dog was about two years old.  The dog was, she thinks, Beau.

So, now that he is our dog, and since he was surrendered to the pound when the breeder declined taking care of him during the term of his prior owner’s imprisonment, Miss Sugar does not want to give him back to his criminal past owner.  Neither do I.

However, sometimes I am conflicted.  This morning, our criminal dog stole Miss Sugar’s shoe, again, and tried to sneak it outside.  When I used my lightning reflexes to close the door before the thief could escape, the young delinquent taunted me.  He would not bring it back.  He ran upstairs.  When Sugar got him to relinquish it, even as she was praising him for dropping the shoe, he unrepentantly grabbed a bra that was in the bedroom and ran downstairs with it.   He had that evil look in his laughing eyes as he shook the bra like a rag.  He was not feeling guilty.  He was not sorry.  He shows no remorse.  He was, and is, per my amateur diagnosis, criminally insane.  He might lack the capacity to distinguish right from wrong.  Or he could, like Satan, know exactly what is wrong and delight in doing wrong.

evil eye

Insanity is a defense.  Evil intent to deprive another of her property is not.  Both types (insane or evil) need to be locked up.

Do we have a duty as citizens of the county to report Beau’s crimes to the Sheriff?

If the District Attorney chooses to prosecute Beau, as the husband of the victim of his crimes, I have an inherent conflict of interest and cannot represent him.  Will the Public Defender urge Beau to plead guilty?  Must the prosecutor prove “mens rea” (criminal intent)?

What is the sentencing guideline for “Theft of Brassiere?”  Is it Grand Theft if the bra is DD?

Assuming that Beau will be convicted (after all, there are two credible eye witnesses), is it feasible to rehabilitate him in prison?  If put on probation, is he doomed to fail to meet the conditions of probation?  One standard condition is to “refrain from engaging in any unlawful activity.”  Does he have it in him to so refrain?  He is, after all, a repeat offender.

I need some guidance.

Preview of Heaven


The title suggests that this could be about a near-death experience.  It is not.  Rather, it is about heavenly experiences on earth.

Our dog, Beau, communicates his theological beliefs much more clearly than many eminent theologians such as myself.

Here is a theological lesson for today as taught by Beau, who lives with an inherent understanding of this truth — “This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”


Today, he is glad that the river is flowing past our house.  He rejoices in swimming in it.  He tries to retrieve every stick that floats by.  He feels that he is living exactly the way that God intends for Labrador Retrievers to live.  He is already in communion with his Creator.  He does not need to search to “find himself.”  He is who he is.


When people talk of Heaven, they might say that for a golfer, for example, Heaven is a beautiful golf course.  That might be true.  I don’t know.  It probably is not the same for each of us.


I like to think that we will be reunited with loved ones.


Like Max, pictured below, who loved the river too, and now is in Heaven.


I am quite certain that we will be in the presence of our Lord, secure in His love.

Beau, today at least, thinks he is already there.


He knows something about Heaven.  A river runs through it.


A Canine Follower of Gandhi

Beau hat

We probably should have named our dog, Beau, a different name, such as Gandhi or (Martin Luther) King, because he is apparently a believer in passive resistance.  I did not even know that he could read, but it is easier to believe that he read of the technique than that he invented it on his own.

Like the “sit in” protesters of the ’60s, Beau emulates Gandhi by going limp when confronted by “the law.”  Remember how the protesters would force the arresting officers to carry them to the paddy wagon?  Well, Beau reacts in a very similar manner when told, as he was on this very day, to get out of the driver’s seat of my pickup and go to the back seat in the “supercab” compartment of the truck.  Instead of obeying, Beau went limp, which would not be a problem if he was smaller.  A toy poodle or even a jack russell terrier could be picked up and placed where I choose.  An 85 lb. lab is a bigger problem, especially when he presses his slumped body against his chosen seat.

So, I did what any other oppressor would do under such circumstances.  I let him drive.

To the Rescue


Sadie lost two friends in 18 days, Max and Rover, her only two friends.  Those of you who follow this blog have read about our losses in Passing of the Ball and Sad Times at Cross Creek Ranch.  Sugar and I have been in mourning.  Sadie has taken it just as hard, probably harder because she spent all her time with them so her world changed drastically.


It was sad to watch Sadie stare out the window, waiting for their return.  She also slept much more, as if to escape her pain.  She was needy, following us from room to room, never wanting to be alone.

After Max died, for a few days, she perked up when she heard one or the other of us drive up the lane.  She watched the vehicle as if expecting Max to return.  Of course, she was disappointed every time because Max did not return.

After Rover died, she did not seem to expect his return.  She seemed to know that he was dead.  She had sniffed the bed of the pickup truck before I washed out his blood from transporting Rover from the road to his grave.  Also, even though Sadie was not allowed outside as I dug the hole and placed Rover in it, then covering him up, she nevertheless sniffed his grave.  She knew.  She was obviously overwhelmed with sadness.  Her friends were gone and she was lost in her own home.

When a friend sent us a link to the Humane Society website, she pointed out a dog named Max who was up for adoption.  She wrote, “Another Max needs you.”  We really did not take well to her suggestion.  We did not want another Max.  We missed our Max, who could not be replaced.  Our friend did not intend to offend, but we were not in the mood to appreciate the suggestion.  It seemed disrespectful to our beloved Max.

So on Wednesday, we went to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter and adopted Beau, another male Yellow Lab.  What changed our minds, if not our feelings?

Why?  We did it for Sadie.  When Sugar was young(er), she had two dogs who grew up together.  When one had to be euthanized due to an incurable condition, the surviving dog was depressed, stopped eating, and had to then be euthanized as well.  Sugar saw Sadie’s inconsolable depression and worried about history repeating itself.

We decided that getting a new puppy was not the solution.   Sugar looked for a mature Labrador to befriend Sadie, who is a Lab, specifically, and more importantly to her, a Yellow Lab  We had noticed at dog parks and doggy day care that Sadie is a racist.  She is prejudiced against non-Labradors, preferring the company of other Labs.  Also, if given a choice, she is biased in favor of Yellow Labs more so than Black or Chocolate versions of the breed.  Of course, Rover won her over by his obliviousness to her Yellow Supremacist attitude and by pure joyousness.  She decided Rover was okay to play with, maybe overcome by his gift of enthusiasm.  She even lowered herself to sleeping with him.  They clearly made friends.  That friendship probably helped each of them cope together with the loss of Max.  They still had each other … for a mere eighteen days.

Beau is a two-year-old Yellow Lab.  Last Saturday, we took Sadie up to Cheyenne with us so that they could meet under supervision at the animal shelter.  He was very glad to meet her but was rather clumsy about it, totally lacking in the cool reserve that females find alluring.  Nevertheless, Sadie tolerated the nerdy approach and the powers that be called it a good match since neither displayed aggressive behavior.

Why then, did we not take Beau home with us that day?  The sad answer is that he was not available for adoption until he was neutered.  So he suffered castration on Tuesday and we picked him up on Wednesday.

He has been very sweet, shy actually, seemingly eager to please.  He is having a difficult recuperation from his surgery.  Out of concern, Sugar took him to a vet to check on his condition.

cone of shame

He had to wear a plastic cone to keep him from messing with, well, you know the site of his surgery.  Sugar felt sorry for him bumping into everything with the wide cone, so she went to town again to buy a more forgiving inflatable one.

Beau Tie

However, he could still reach his, you know, private area by bending around the inflated tube, so Sugar went back to town to get a second, larger one.  That did not work either so now he wears both.  (Those three trips involved 120 miles of driving, one vet bill, and two purchases for any of you keeping track of such things).

I introduced him to the horses.  They were completely unimpressed.  They let him sniff them without kicking him and ignored his barks.  I am under the impression that was Beau’s first encounter with equine creatures.  It was not the horses’ first encounter with dogs.  They were interested in their hay and not at all interested in the new member of the family.

Sugar took a picture of Sadie and Beau together.  Beau is the one with the fashionable neck ware.  Look, they made friends!


We don’t know what Beau’s life was like before we brought him into ours, but now we have two dogs from rescue shelters.  (See Sadie’s Tale in the archives for June 29, 2012, under Animal Stories.)  Now they can help each other.  Ain’t that something!

The Passing of the Ball

Our dog Max, a Yellow Labrador Retriever, definitely received the memo (and genes) about retrieving.  He was not “taught” to retrieve.  He started when he was a baby puppy, just weeks (not months) old.  He would follow a little rubber ball the size of a jacks ball rolling across the floor, pick it up and bring it back.  He did have to be taught to drop it.  He learned he had to drop the ball or stick for the game to continue.  However, we had to be quick or he’d pick it up again.  He developed the ability to anticipate where the ball is going and sometimes beat it by going farther (and faster) than the ball traveled through the air, needing then to come back for the ball, like football receivers sometimes do.

Consequently, he became the “ball bully” at dog parks throughout the area.  Dog owners have had to recognize that bringing one’s dog to a dog park to play fetch can be less fun when a yellow streak beats your dog to its own ball EVERY TIME.  It would be like taking your middle schooler to play catch with a football and Champ Bailey kept intercepting it.  No fair!  We have had to apologize over and over and ultimately stopped taking him to such parks, out of kindness I suppose, for the lesser beings.

At the ranch, retrieving can be even more fun for a water dog because there is a river into which objects may be thrown, provided they float.

Max displayed an additional talent for an aspect of retrieving beyond rudimentary fetching.  That is,  on the rare occasions that he lost sight of a ball that landed in the tall grass, Max was not perplexed.  Instead, he gladly went about the next task, which was sweeping the area  in a series of half circles while his tail wagged like a metronome and his nose was held near to the ground.  He covered the ground in a systematic manner with confidence that he would eventually find the hidden ball.  To him, the balls were not lost — merely hiding to make the game more interesting.  His interest did not waiver.  He kept at the sweeping until he successfully found the ball.  He was an excellent example of persistence.  It was something that he was not taught.  I would not know how to teach that.  It was a gift delivered through genetic excellence.  Some have it; some don’t.  You can’t put in what God left out.  God did not leave out the instincts that Max was destined to enjoy.

I have read that a genius is compelled to follow his or her path.  For example, if Mozart had not had piano lessons, he would have played regardless.  He had to.  His talent, his genius, compelled him to be a musician.  Max was born with a genius for retrieving.  He had to use his superior talent in such endeavors.  That is how God made him.

Max went to be with the Lord on January 3, 2013.  1-3-13.  He was born the day after 9-11-01.

Rover, our German Shorthair Pointer, like all other dogs on earth, never had a chance when competing with Max in chasing balls.  However, he tried.  Today he brought us a ball, one belonging to Max, the orange rubber ball with the jingle inside, and we played fetch.  And Sugar cried.  It is very clear that Rover learned from the master.  The torch, I mean ball, has been passed.


On the Run

Yesterday I posted something called “Don’t Scare Easy.”  It was about the courage of the firefighters at the High Park Fire and people evacuated.  Today I am writing about creatures afraid of the fire.

My wife and I have not been required to evacuate from our home as have so many in Larimer County, Colorado.  We are near some areas that have been evacuated, however.

On Saturday, June 16th, we went into Fort Collins. When we returned home, we saw two large black dogs behind our house.  We do not have black dogs.  We had left our yellow Labs in their pen in the barn.  The black dogs were rummaging in a pile of wood.  My guess is that they were trying to get to some rabbits which live under the woodpile.  The dogs appeared hungry.  They looked up when we drove in and parked, and then resumed their task of hunting rabbits by digging, a method unlikely to bring success.

One of the dogs was a black Lab.  I think it had a collar.  The other dog was much larger and more furry.  I’d guess it was part Newfoundland.

My wife immediately called Larimer County Animal Control.  We suspected that the dogs belonged to someone who had been evacuated from the path of the fire.  She promptly received a return call from an officer who politely thanked us for trying to help the dogs, but candidly stated that no one was available to get them because their department was working to remove animals in the evacuation areas.  We were advised to be careful about approaching dogs on the loose that we did not know.

So I approached the dogs.  I crouched down in a non-threatening position and gently called them.  The lab stopped digging in the woodpile and came a few steps towards me.  The Newfoundland also paused, but then he warily left his task and trotted away, toward our barn.  His action caused the Lab to turn away from me to join his buddy.

In order to avoid a fight, my plan was to get our dogs out of their pen, into our car and up to our house so I could lure the stray dogs into the pen with food.  I would keep them in the pen until someone could come get them, either the owners or an officer from Animal Control.

One of the ways animals that have been separated from their owners in the fire can be reunited is that a photographer friend of ours went to the fairgrounds, where displaced animals have been brought, and took pictures of them.  Then owners searching for their pets can view the “inventory.”

My efforts to proceed with my good plan did not get very far.  The black dogs just kept going, traveling off our property and into a wooded area along the North Poudre Irrigation Canal.  They are on their own, trying to hunt and scavange.  I wish them well.

They are obviously not feral dogs.  They are somebody’s pets.  Their lives have been changed by and challenged by the fire.  I hope they will be reunited with whomever is missing them.  My heart goes out to them all.

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