Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Birthday Dickens

Dickens is two years old today. The mature--and almost contemplative--dog pictured here is a far cry from the lean, dingo-wild puppy that first arrived here, jumping on the bed and chewing up the furniture. Some sort of miracle occurred lately, and he now knows the meaning of the second word in "Golden Retriever." He not only brings the ball back, he drops it when I tell him to. I can call him from across the yard--sometimes from out of sight--and he'll come running, park himself next to me, and lean on my leg. There's a lot of dog to lean, too, since he's still right around 100 pounds, all of it meat and muscle.

The essence of the change in his attitude toward me is that I have, in the words of the people who taught me about dogs, become relevant to him, more relevant than the ball, or the dogs next door, or cats. He also seems to have decided that going with the flow is easier and more fun than swimming against it.

Even Daisy is more comfortable around him. They don't play like they used to--he moves way too fast for her, and her eyesight and hearing are dimming--but the other morning I got out of bed and found them both lying next to each other, back-to-back, sound asleep. And now that I can put Dickens on a down-stay and leave him there, Daisy is chasing the ball again, hopping through the grass, her tail flying, without fear that Dickens will swoop in and grab it from her.

Someone told me I'd miss the puppy in Dickens when he got older. At the time I didn't think so, but now that I see him growing up, and getting smarter--very smart about some things--I think I may indeed come to miss the puppyness. Still, I'm very glad to see the adult Dickens starting to blossom.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dickens, One Year On

A year ago today Daisy and I got in the car and drove to Eugene to meet this guy. We liked him so much we took him home. Daisy has since had occasion to regret it, but on the whole I believe she enjoys having a big plush toy to chew on and bark at when it sneaks up on her during naps.

Dickens will be two years old on September 11. Given his inauspicious birthdate and his disastrous effect on home furnishings in the first few months of his life here, I nicknamed him Hound Zero. I'm happy to say that nickname has fallen into disuse, although there are still moments when he's every bit the rebellious adolescent--to be expected, I guess, given that at two years old he's the equivalent of a 14-year-old human.

We've been training a lot in the backyard, and if I can get his attention, Dickens does well. He picks up things fast, but he also gets bored fast, so I have to be careful not to let the sessions go on too long. I'm having some work done in the back yard, and when it's over there'll be room for a small agility layout. I have a feeling agility is going to be right in Dickens's wheelhouse.

And now, Year Two...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Snow Day!

"Look out for the Abominable Dickens!"

A rare heavy snowfall Monday night knocked out the power long enough to reduce the contents of the fridge to a science project and make me wonder how, after stoking a wood-burning furnace twice a day for eight or nine years at the old house, I was unable to get a fire going in the small woodstove in the living room. But hey, the dogs had fun, and that's what counts, right?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dickens Weighs In

My old Golden, Winzer, weighed about 65 pounds for most of his life. He looked bigger than that, but when he was wet he had the proportions of a bobblehead dog, with a huge head, a skinny body, and a ratlike tail. Daisy, now in her 12th year, has never gotten above about 36 pounds. (Update as of Sept. 1: At her last vet visit she was up to 50 pounds.)

Dickens' license expires tomorrow, and the renewal form asked for a current rabies certificate, so I took him to the vet this afternoon for a shot. The doc put him on the scales and when he called out the weight I did a double-take.

Eighty-nine pounds.

Dickens, who is 17 months old, and who weighed about 70 pounds when I adopted him, now weighs just 12 pounds less than Winzer and Daisy together. Dickens is a short-haired Golden, too, so what you see is what you get, and what you see is a dense, thickly muscled dog.

I'm told Goldens are puppies until they're about three years old. No one told me when they stop growing. I'm hoping it's soon, because if he gets any bigger I can get a saddle for him and ride him to town.