Life in the Labrador Lane

Scott chose Finnigan from a dysfunctional litter.
His mother was a Bernese Mountain Dog, purebred. His father came from unknown lineage.
Papa was a rolling stone. He rolled into Finn's mother's yard, did the deed and escaped without offering any child support.
Finn may look and smell like a Labrador Retriever, but undoubtedly, there is something else in there. The vet thought Daddy might have been a Great Dane.
Still, his offspring masquerades as a Black Lab.
And he's good at it.
It's always hard to pick from a litter. I mean, all puppies are cute, right?
Finn made a good impression. He nuzzled Scott's hand and licked him all over. Clearly, he was far superior to his brother who spent our visit chewing wires on the tractor.
Finn, on the other hand, seemed sweet and loving. That was until he got in the car and promptly puked all over Marissa.
Since adopting him four and a half years ago, we have had many names for him.
Idiot. Asshole. F!@khead.
His incessant barking, I believe, has caused me irreparable hearing loss.
He wipes the table with his tail, and assaults Sophie the Pug on a regular basis.
He eats poo.
But like all Weirdos Who Masquerade as Labs, Finn has some truly great qualities.
First of all, he is a star athlete who can jump and catch a Kong in mid-air or trim the trees outside.

He is an excellent watchdog who regularly reminds me in his own noisy way that dogs are essential background characters in all advertisements on television.
Finn can also tow a 270 pound swimmer around a Quebec lake by his tail, and otherwise spend hours looking for his Kong in shallow water when its location is evident to everyone but him.
But perhaps his best quality is his ability to mend a broken heart.
Finnigan took on this role for me last year when I lost my beloved pug Gordie.
As I watched Scott drive away from the lake with my ailing boy, knowing I would never see him again, I took to the water and prayed to the mountain to take away my sorry.
I don't know if God heard me or not, but Finnigan certainly did.
We walked together for hours in the shallow water, back and forth. Finnigan never left my side, not for a moment.
He performed all his goofy tricks: trimming the trees, chasing the ducks, and scouring the lake for fish. While he couldn't take away the pain, he eased it like Ativan on an empty stomach, or a tequila shot on a sandy beach.

That stupid black nose. That pointy head. That smile, minus part of a front fang, lost in a titanic battle with the Kong.
After that day at the lake, all was forgiven.
He had done the job he was put on the Earth to do.

Today, I saw something that made my heart sink a little.
Finn was having trouble with his mouth, and started making a yakking manoeuvre.
I thought he was choking, but realized that there was something wrong with his jaw.
Then he went to bark, and couldn't. It seemed to hurt too much.
So today, he is lying at my feet looking so un-Lab like.
I feel I need to return the favour, to keep him close until we get this figured out.
I think his Kong days may be numbered.
There won't be any throwing the thing in the air and watching him catch it with his big strong mouth.
For it is the adored Kong that may be the villain of the piece.
Putting away the Kong will make him miserable for a few days because he is Kong obsessed. Like most Lab-imitators, Finnigan doesn't have an off switch.
He insists on catching it over and over. In the sun, in the heat and the rain, he is like the mailman who delivers smiles, and gasps and hoots.
Not today my friend.
Today, it is my day to be the boss of him.
I will take away the Kong, hoping it will live another day.
Because it is the love of Finnigan's life, as he is the love of mine.
Safety first. At least for a while.
Good luck with that, Rose.


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