A new dog or not?

It feels like when I’m not eating or sleeping or sitting at the computer with a nebulizer, I’m buying something or thinking about buying something. Truth be told, I do buy stuff when I have a neb in my mouth, which makes sleep and meals the times I don’t? I can’t even guarantee that. Curse you, consumeristic country I live in. My value as a human can only be measured by how much I buy.

I digress.

As you may know, I spent over two months searching for a used car. Now the big decision is getting a new dog. I want one.

We have a lab and a rescued mutt. The grateful mutt is a chow mix and has some serious guard dog, bite your ass and never let it go, in him. I like that. Problem is, he’s around 14-years old and the gas and growl are going out of his tank. He can’t hear anymore, which downgrades his guard dog status to “if you step on me at night, I’ll notice.”

So, I want a dog with some physical clout – the looks and size to make anyone back away. And the ears to hear intruders coming a mile away. Oh, and the internal drive to remove their flesh should they try to harm my family while I’m lounging in a hospital room on the other side of the city getting my daily rub down. Or, if a brick falls from the sky and takes me out for good, I’d like to know my family is in good paws when I’m gone.

I’m thinking German Shepherd.

They're cute when they're 30 pounds

Although I’ve had dogs my entire life and believe myself to be a capable trainer, as is my wife, I’m not sure I have the energy to raise and train one of these powerhouse dogs capable of delivering serious hurt. I’ve had one bad dog bite in my life when I crossed through a neighbor’s yard and couldn’t outrun their dog. Yes, it was a German Shepherd and yes it did bite me in the ass, tearing away the entire backside of my white short-short tennis shorts. I have a healthy respect for these dogs after the embarrassment and hurt the one that chased me down delivered.

Labs are easy. Run them in the morning, give them a few carrots and feed them at night and bingo, bango bongo, they do what you say and love you. A German Shepherd is different. They are finely tuned with instincts to protect. You have to be careful not to send them the wrong signals lest you want to bury your neighbor in your backyard late one night because your new dog Fritzkrieg ripped open his throat when he held up a pair garden shears to wave hello. Oops, bad dog. You can kill a 200-pound man with your teeth, but you can’t handle a shovel? What good are you?

The discussion continues in my house. Any bets on how long it will take to make this decision?

The Labrador Print

I have this hanging on my wall. It reminds me of the lab I used to have.

I heart labs. Yes, I admit it. I do. And I’m not embarrassed to share my deepest feelings about them here on my blog.

I’ve had labs most of my life. A couple of black ones when I grew up. And a chocolate lab who lived 15 years and survived a rattlesnake bite, the eating of several pounds of Hawaiian chocolate (the fact she swallowed them whole with wrappers on saved her life), a bad reaction to a medication for arthritis, and the first shot the vet gave her to end her life. She fought to the last possible moment when the vet, red-faced, had to inject a second dose.

Now we have a yellow lab, which was supposed to be a black lab, but my wife and daughter used mind control on me when we visited the breeder looking at puppies. Somehow we left with a deposit on a yellow. To this day, I’m not sure how that happened, how I gave in to them on that decision. But when I look at the four-year-old yellow lab sleeping at my feet, I’m glad I did. She’s perfect.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

Why I’m writing it is because I have three framed prints of Labradors in my office. Two of them are paintings of hunting labs, manly dogs. But then there’s a third poster – one slightly off-kilter. There are no shotguns in the painting, no testosterone-laced hunting scene in the background to make me feel better. I look at it and wonder: What was I thinking when I picked out that one? I thought it was a good use of my money? Really? I fear digging too deep in my memories to dredge up any deep thoughts about its purchase. I understand the simple theme of it: Lab pups dreaming about growing up into adult labs.

Ebony and Ivory - can't you just hear that song playing in your head all it the time. I do.

But most of all I wonder about myself and who I was when I saw it in a catalog and felt the overwhelming need to use what money I had at the time and order it. I look back on my life now and thing of the all the cash I’m spent on stuff I had to have, much of it discarded or something you’d sell at a garage sale for a couple of dollars. I struggle with the question of value and consumerism all the time.

But now I look at the print of the two labs again and I can feel the testosterone draining from my pores.  I like the print. It makes me feel warm inside like when I drink hot chocolate and wrap myself up in a quilt and read the latest trashy romance novel. Hmm, that sounds good. Ooh, I have goosey bumps just thinking about it. How sweet it is.

I HAVE LOST MY MIND. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. DAMN, THIS BAG OVER MY HEAD GETS HOT.

Sorry, I plead momentary insanity. That is the power the print has over people. Question it not.

Here’s something more embarrassing. I used to own a Labrador t-shirt with an image of a large chocolate lab head on it and “Chocolate Labrador” printed under it, as if one wouldn’t recognize the disembodied head of a lab. I think it went to Goodwill several years ago. I won’t be surprised if sometime in the future when I’m homeless and pushing my shopping cart down Ventura Blvd, black lab on a rope next to my side, I’ll see a fellow man of the streets pushing his cart toward me. He’ll be wearing my old lab T-shirt. And we’ll give each other a nod like only dudes do. No words will leave our lips, but we’ll know. Yeah, we love labs. Yes, yes we do.