Thursday, June 14, 2007
Holly, the Pseudo-Lab
Holly came to me by accident. (That happens to me a lot.) I was working at a veterinary emergency service, and was returning home from an overnight shift. I had worked from 6pm to 8am, with a 1 hour commute on either end of the night, so it was nearly 9am and I had been up for 16 plus hours as I pulled into the feed store to pick up grain for my horses. They didn't have the brand I was looking for, but they had a litter of free Labrador puppies. I was currently dog-less and vulnerable. I came home with a bag of puppy food and a 6 week old ball of black fur. I calculated her birth date as approximately Christmas Day and so named her Holly. Initially, it was "Holly-Go-Lightly" for Audrey Hepburn's character in the little black dress in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." It soon became apparent that my Holly had none of the class and style of Ms Hepburn, and was, instead hyperactive, hyper-anxious, and just plain hyper. It was also obvious that she wasn't pure Lab, with her pointy nose and her tucked-up, streamlined shape.
She can run like a Greyhound, but the rest of her behavior is classic Lab. She lives and dies for a tennis ball, and you can't keep her out of the pond, where she will swim forever, retrieving every stick you throw. She is a real stickler for the rules, which makes her an excellent obedience dog, and she is great at Rally-O, an obedience sport where handler and dog move from point to point and follow the commands posted at each station. (The handler reads the command and cues the dog; Rally-O doesn't require that the dogs be literate!)
Holly is 8 1/2 now, getting a little gray in the face, and showing more anxiety as she ages. But, she is still a terrific dog,with a terrific smile and all the same old enthusiasm for swimming, hiking and retrieving that make her the world's greatest Pseudo-Lab.