The Basic Labrador Retriever
(or What Disney Never Told You)
By Melinda Grosch
Are you thinking of getting a dog? A Labrador perhaps? After all they do guide the blind and act as service dogs for the disabled, so they must be smart and sensible, right? Look at all those dogs on TV and in the movies--they seem to fit right in, save Timmy when he's in trouble and generally make their owners happy--how hard can owning a dog be anyway? Well, let me tell you about the Basic Labrador Retriever.
The Basic Labrador Retriever comes equipped with a big heart, lots of energy, and no training or idea about how a Civilized Canine is supposed to behave. The Basic Labrador Retriever (puppy) eats, sleeps, pees and poops (usually not where they're supposed to), digs, barks, chews on EVERYTHING (let me reemphasize: CHEWS ON EVERYTHING), jumps on everyone, and grows very rapidly. The fact that a "Basic Labrador Retriever" grows rapidly is of particular interest since you soon have a dog which is physically mature but still a puppy mentally. The Basic Labrador Retriever often takes four years to mature mentally.
So how do Basic Labrador Retrievers come to be Civilized Canines, ones capable of leading the blind, assisting the disabled, or just being a good friend rather than a nuisance? What Disney never told you was that someone spent many hours training those dogs we see on TV and in the movies. Also it often requires as many as seven dogs to play the part of just one TV or movie canine. So where does this leave you if you would like a Civilized Labrador and don't want to own seven just to play the part of one? It leaves you committing to hours of training.
The Basic Labrador Retriever comes equipped with a big heart, lots of energy, and no training or idea
about how a Civilized Canine is supposed to behave.
The Basic Labrador Retriever can become "civilized" within a few months of your bringing home that precious bundle of puppy IF you are dedicated and willing to learn how to train it. Of utmost importance is purchasing the Basic Labrador Retriever from a reputable breeder, one who has taken care to produce healthy, happy puppies, one who screens buyers as if they were screening people for the Secret Service, one who has a sales contract, one who stands behind their puppies and will be there when you need to ask a question. With this resource person to help you along the way, your Basic Labrador Retriever will be a Civilized Labrador Retriever in no time. The next step in turning your Basic Labrador Retriever into a Civilized Labrador Retriever is to find a good series of obedience classes and enroll in the puppy kindergarten classes. Be prepared to stay enrolled in classes through Beginning and Advanced Beginning classes or about the first year of your Labrador's life. (After that just keep repeating to yourself, "A Dog Needs Love and Care 365 Days a Year.") There is no substitute for your input of TIME. If you can't give your Basic Labrador Retriever your full attention for at least 20 minutes a day, why are you thinking of acquiring one at all? After all, your Basic Labrador Retriever asks no more in life than to be with you every minute of every day. If you dedicate yourself to turning your Basic Labrador Retriever into a Civilized Labrador Retriever you will find yourself being complimented about the wonderful companion at your side when out for your daily walk, your Civilized Labrador's veterinarian and staff will welcome you to the office and come out to visit with you as your Civilized Labrador lounges at your feet in a neat down stay - while everyone else is being dragged towards the door by their Basic Dog.
Will your Civilized Labrador rescue you and members of your family? Probably it will if the need ever arises (but how many times have you needed rescuing lately anyhow?). More likely, you will find that you simply enjoy the companionship of a friend who never finds your stories boring and likes to participate in all of your activities, even trips to the Laundromat. Who could ask for more? The next time you and your Civilized Labrador Retriever sit down to watch old "Lassie" reruns or "Old Yeller" you will have a better appreciation of just what goes into making those Canine Stars.