Seven years ago in February, we brought our chocolate lab, Cocoa, home when she was six weeks old. She was so tiny, she could run under the bar stools that line our island counter in the kitchen. Now, according to the vet, she has lost her girlish figure, not that she cares. She seems just as much of a puppy as she always has just in full-grown, husky form.
There are three things that have made an impression on this lab, all of which she remains vigilant at. The first is that Cocoa takes her job as protector of the neighborhood seriously. We have never indicated to her that she is supposed to protect the neighborhood, just us and our property; but she is a dog who knows her own mind so we can’t change it. She isn’t quiet about her business. She lets everyone know what she is about, and people are wary of a dog that size who shouts out her orders.
The second thing Cocoa takes seriously is her love for balls. She especially loves golf. Yes, you heard me right. When my husband goes out to practice hitting balls in some empty lots near us, Cocoa is wiggling with excitement. Despite getting hit once, she continues to want to chase them. She has a fence now that is her boundary. It’s for her own protection, though she whines about its restraints. She occasionally gets to chase a wayward ball which leaves her ecstatic. She, of course, loves playing fetch with a ball, though she isn’t very good about sharing or letting go of the ball. Still she can play it for hours if the human playing wants to continue and has enough patience.
The third thing that Cocoa takes seriously is gopher hunting. Our neighborhood is home to numerous gopher families. They live in various places around our yard including my flower beds. My children will cry, “Go get the gophers,” and fling open the door. Cocoa will charge out at full speed, sniff vigorously, and track the gophers. All we have to say is “go get” and Cocoa has gophers on her mind. Sometimes she will start digging at their holes, which I can’t have for the protection of my plants. Sometimes she will sit at the hole and stare at it. Cocoa knows where all the gophers live in our yard. My kids think this is quite entertaining, but one day, it backfired.
My daughters were expecting their oldest brother home at any minute. Since it was winter, it was dark while I finished the meal preparation. The girls heard a vehicle and assumed it was their brother. The doorbell rang. Cocoa went nuts. Sometimes brothers ring the doorbell to announce that they are home and need assistance bringing in all their gear. Thinking their brother was home, the girls yelled, “Go get him, Cocoa!” When they flung open the door, Cocoa charged out, but it wasn’t their brother she went to greet, barking excitedly. It was a poor UPS man who had left a package. He leapt into his truck and was off, tossing a dog biscuit as he went. Cocoa came back thinking she’d protected us from a stranger. She had been rewarded with a treat so she was all proud of herself. The girls felt guilty for scaring the UPS man. In all the hullabaloo that followed, their brother arrived home and rang the doorbell, causing another frenzy in the house. To this day, I wonder if the same UPS man delivers our packages and if he’s afraid. Whoever delivers the packages doesn’t ring the doorbell anymore.
Cocoa is no longer allowed out the front door, and the girls look out the window now to identify vehicles. If you’re a UPS man, please accept our apologies.
Meanwhile at our house, kids and dog are still up to their antics, and they all seem happy. We still think our dog is funny in her pursuit of gophers. She has come close to catching one, but she is better at catching golf balls than gophers, though she loves the excitement of both.
Do you have a silly dog story? Have you ever unintentionally scared someone? What are three of your dog’s favorite activities?
If you come to my house, don’t worry. You can ring the doorbell. We learned our lesson.