Doggie for Sale?

The best challenge in the world to all those dog lovers out there is the ability to control our dog, to Charley.

Charley is a 115 pound Labrador retriever, full of energy, that makes life, shall we say, stimulating? His energy has never faded. When most dogs hit a certain age, they slow down. Charley is almost five and we are still waiting for this metamorphosis to occur. Our vet says to not hold our breath.

When dogs are’ fixed’ it should help alleviate humping behavior. Charley had begun this nasty habit about 4 months old. We noticed him humping our couch upstairs. Our veterinarian suggested get him fixed to help. The only thing that changed, after his castration, is the couch is not good enough any more for Charley. He insists now on real action, humping other dogs. He has no biases either towards other canines, he likes humping them regardless of size, color, shape or sex. My husband begs to differ with me telling others “Charley only humps attractive dogs.” Judging by some of the dogs he has tried to hump, I beg to differ. Charley has no sense of taste whatsoever.

We brought Charley home when he was 6 weeks old in May from the breeder. Immediately we began putting him into our swimming pool. He wore a doggie lifejacket. I never knew such a thing existed before we were advised to put him in one. He looked ridiculous with it on and he hated it. I am certain, in doggie language; other dogs in our neighborhood ridiculed him for this. When folks came over to see our small puppy swim, they laughed at the site of him in this hideous thing that took as much time for us to put on him as he spent swimming.

Labs are, by nature, water dogs. His love of water extends beyond our pool, including anything with H2O. This includes our sprinkler which Charley has been known to sit literally on top of when it is on. The intent is to water our lawn but he thinks it is a play toy for him and proudly stands over it, in the process, blocking all water to the lawn.

A trainer once suggested we have a water spray bottle for visitors due to Charley’s exuberance. We were instructed to give this to visitors to our home to reprimand him for bad behavior. The thought is that by spraying the dog, he will not bother others. However, Charley simply loves it, this form of punishment. We begun to see he sees this as positive reinforcement for bad behavior as with each squirt of water aimed at him, he expertly catches the water in his mouth.

Our dog, apparently does not like the thought of captivity either. Jim, my husband, reminds him regularly that he will not find a better home than ours. Though he knows no one will take him, he still insists on trying to run away. Charley jumps both fences in the yard, the electric fence and the steel fence. He is like a fugitive running for his life when he gets free. This is something he does every chance he gets. These days, it does not happen as now he is not allowed outside without being on a leash. I am certain we look ridiculous to our neighbors walking a do with a leash in a fenced in yard. I think we hate it having to do this as much as he does!

Charley has selective hearing also. He can be in the other end of the house on a completely different floor and hear things we do not want him to hear. If the drawer that houses cheese in the refrigerator is even touched slightly, Charley can wake out of a dead sleep and come running. But, when Charley gets free in the neighborhood, he is oblivious to our cries of ‘Come home!” He dashes this way and that, not missing a smell anywhere and totally ignoring us, no matter how sweet we plead or how angry we yell. To a stranger, it looks like we are chasing a dog that does not belong to us. As we are in mad pursuit, using every trick in the book, offering cheese for his bad behavior, it normally takes some time to slow him down so we take turns following him until he gets tired and let’s one of us get close enough to loop a leash over his head.

Our neighbors have gotten accustomed to this us chasing him. Every time it happens, there never is one single sole outside. If they were, he would come up to them and they could grab him. But no one is ever there anymore. I think the neighbors find it more fun to watch us being led by our dog than helping. It is somewhat comical to bystanders to hear us asking our dog running free if he would like to take a walk to entice him to come back. We do these because he loves walking and when he is free, he is usually running! We keep hoping he will be dumb enough to fall for this line. We need some new material though because it is not working!

Charley feels no other dog or child is as worthy of our love as he. Anytime anyone comes over and gets too much of our attention, he is literally pushing his way to the front of the pack and insisting that he be pet. Other dogs are literally bull dozed down by Charley. I think he realizes if we get too close to another dog, we might try to switch and take another dog in his place. How ironic though, that when a two year old grand daughter looks at him and tells him sternly to go away and he does just that.

One summer a sales man was calling on each house on our street. He was a financial planner looking for prospects. Hearing our dog barking in the doorway would have made most strangers walk the other way. But not this man, Bill, he rang the doorbell anyway while staring at Charley’s big snout up on the storm door. Jim went out through the garage door to greet the man knowing if he dare open the front door, we would spend the next hour following Charley in the neighborhood.

Jim quickly noticed the stranger, Bill we later learned, was dressed professional, in a nice black suit. Bill was insistent about coming in our home, right then and there and meeting Jim’s wife and man’s best friend, our dog. As Bill professed to have a love of dogs, my husband told him that Charley would quickly make him rethink this passion. He forewarned Bill in no uncertain terms that Charley was a handful and hard to control with visitors but Bill was insistent he wanted to come in.

Within a mere two minutes of walking in the door, Charley was greeting Bill and letting him ‘feel the love.’ The love expression Charley chose was to jump up on the front of Bill was his dog hair flying everywhere from excitement, his mouth salivating and planting a huge kiss on Bill’s mouth. Bill was a thin man and nearly toppled over from the sheer force and weight of Charley thrusting himself on him at a breaking speed. By the time we pulled Charley off, which was seconds but felt more like hours, Bill’s suit looked nothing like it had minutes ago. In its place was now a tousled suit, wet with doggie slobber and raked with dog hair! Bill took it in stride but he never returned to our house again without a large dog bone in hand to give Charley the minute he stepped in our house.

I firmly believe Charley has a zest for life that many in this world are lacking. He greets everyone with the same vigor. His excitement is contagious, but just not controllable.

We love dogs but Charley is positively the worst behaved dog either of us has ever known. He was named after Jim’s dad who was polite, well mannered and calm. None of these adjectives describe his name sake, Charley the dog.

Our relationship with our dog is a love hate relationship. We can’t live with him or without him. He is fodder for so much conversation among all of our friends and family! We have even offered to let others keep him but have no lucky takers. When we were putting up our Christmas tree one year, he somehow slipped outdoors without us knowing. I heard a knock on the door. When I opened the door, much to my surprise, there sat Charley who had nudged the door with his large snout. He wanted back in. I opened the door but could not help saying, in all seriousness , “What’s wrong Charley, would nobody take you in?”

Signs you have a bad dog:
-Nobody will dog sit your dog when you travel

-In training, you consistently get in trouble and so does your dog for misbehaving

-Your dog sleeps on the bed with you and is a bed hog with no respect for your space

-You cannot open your front door easily without starting a barking fest and commotion

-Your neighbors know your dog only too well

-You cannot leave your house without dog hair on your clothes from head to foot

-At dinnertime, you frequently have a visitor laying his snout on the table as if it belongs

-Food that is left out disappears without a trace

-Your visitors get slobbered on and attempts are made to French kiss them by your pet

-Swimmer in your pool have to learn to dunk your dog to be left alone

-Your dog is picky with his treats preferring people food

-You get barked out when eating snacks and not sharing them with your dog

-Your dog has been known to try to steal toys from babies

-Everybody can bring their beloved dog to visit others but you!

*Please email me any other signs of a misbehaving dog that are missing on this list. I am sure Charley is not the only bad dog in this world!
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