For some logic-defying reason, I though it was a divine idea to get a Labrador puppy a month before my first kid was born. Maybe I was so petrified by the thought of fatherhood that my cognition deteriorated. Maybe I was deathly afraid of being in the gender minority at my house. Maybe both—I don’t really know.
What I did know at the time was that, as a hunter, it had to be a sporting dog. It’s just how we’re wired, right? To have a bit of the outdoors lifestyle sleeping at the foot of our bed each and every night. And Labs are renowned for being phenomenal family companions. And as a Type A individual, it had to be black. Can’t explain it. My truck has to be black, and so does my dog. Go figure.
But I now have a Lab, Jax (yes, for those of you tuned-in to contemporary TV drama, I admittedly have a man-crush on Jacks Teller on FX’s "Sons of Anarchy." Seriously, who doesn’t?). Some days I’m glad I have him; other days I feel stuck with him.
My daughter, Mya, is now 2 years old, and for those of you with kids beyond the toddler years, you know having a toy-free floor in your home is about as realistic as having a pup that comes out of the womb potty-trained and doesn’t chew on everything. And about the only thing normal about Jax is that he likes to chew.
This week’s casualty: Mr. Ducky. When I found the faceless fowl lying pitifully on the living room floor, I was so thankful Mr. Ducky wasn’t one of Mya’s special toys. I scooped him up and confronted Jax, holding two of Mya’s toys behind my back, one being Mr. Ducky. When I showed Jax the first toy, his eyes lit up with disbelief, as if to say, "You mean I can have that?" Then I exposed Mr. Ducky. Jax’s shoulders immediately melted into a shameful puddle that only a guilty dog can create. His eyes left mine and focused on my socks.
I knelt down in front of Jax, grabbed him by the snout and stuck the decapitated duck in his face. When his eyes met mine again, I buried my face in his and scratched him between his front legs—his favorite tickle spot—and reminded him it was only a toy.
And to Jax’s credit, he does clean up after himself, perhaps to leave no evidence behind. I bet I’ll find the remains of Mr. Ducky in a not-so-little pile on the lawn this spring, near the pieces of homemade quilt and half a toilet paper roll I also expect to find.
He’s my friend and I love him—most days.
Keep your nose to the wind.