(Or, FLD Gus Finds His Big-Dog Voice.)
Our last full day downstate starts out busy. Andy and I (with dogs in tow) drive over to the Habitat ReStore warehouse first thing after breakfast to finish assembling a big shipment due to Gaylord next week. FLD Gus and Gypsy like to snarf around under metal shelving and pallets; I hope they never retrieve anything disgusting (like a rat). Usually they drag splinters of boards off decrepit pallets, or pull packaging material stuck between racks. A sweep-up of wood shavings and ripped apart cardboard is on my list of things to do before leaving. Oh. And brushing the dogs--it seems they do a fairly good job of dusting the gritty place!
The order gets put together and Andy needs desk-time to email invoices, so I buzz over to Anne's. Two things on my agenda: pick up our van seats and compressor that we have stored in her garage, and tire Gus out for later. Lab-wrestling is a great puppy-wearer-outer! (Watch this video of Mike and Rosie!)
AT LOUI'S PIZZA
Later, Andy and I, accompanied by FLD Gus, take our friends Linc and Sally to Loui's Pizza in Hazel Park (THE best pizza--AND antipasto salad--in Michigan!) before returning to their apartment for a lively round of bridge. (Which reminds me, does anyone younger than age 55 even know how to play bridge? Seems this is a dying game...)
FLD Gus is well known at Loui's. Gus especially loves the carpet under the tables; along with the rest of the decor, we doubt that it's been changed since the 1970's! I place Gus along side my seat and concentrate on limiting his tongue action on the floor with "leave its," name recognition, and finger pokes. I intersperse morsels of his dinner as a reward when I catch him paying attention to customers, waitresses, the television playing above the bar--anything except licking through the carpet down to China. By the time the pizza steams to our table, FLD Gus is content to leave the carpet alone.
Back at Linc and Sally's and unclipped from his working vest and leash, FLD Gus is off-duty, but I still expect good manners. He politely sniffs around, then "settles" on a rug by the sliding glass patio doors. He thinks it is his "mat." All that Lab-wrestling earlier is paying off.
Good mat, Gus, I say and give him a Kong stuffed with part of his dinner. The bridge game proceeds. My partner, Sally, and I make two contracts and get a leg on before the guys even win a bid.
Out of the blue we are startled by a deep-throated "WOOF!" I twist in my chair to see Gus standing at attention, his nose almost kissing a ring of fog against the cold glass door. A second "WOOF" puffs him up and he is no longer a puppy. He is a BIG DOG!
Gus, quiet! I command, surprised at his intensity and not at all sure why he is so worked up. Gus glances back at me, then whips his head back around to gaze outside, puffing out an indignant "huff." I follow his gaze and notice a man walking from the parking lot to the building entrance.
Gus, settle, I say. As the man moves out of sight, Gus eases into a "down," but his posture is all about being "on guard."
Andy smiles across to Linc and Sally and says, "That is a new behavior."
Excitement over, the bridge game resumes. Sally and I win the first rubber but the guys rally to take the second. While we play, more people come and go from the complex. Gus, although vigilant, remains settled.
The adolescent bridge from puppy-hood to adult dog brings, sometimes, surprising behaviors (like Gus's flying leaps--see my post from Monday). As a puppy-raiser, it is my duty to be attentive to these behavior changes, to intercede before they develop into trouble.
FLD Gus will be eight months old next week. It seems as though he is starting to move past his "teenage" testing. He no longer backs away in the van but eagerly leaps out to "work." He is getting more relaxed when I clip on his baby-blue working vest. His "downs" are far from perfect, but I see progress. He has not landed unexpectedly on my lap again (although I don't think it would take much to goad him on). And his BIG-DOG bark seems to come out now only when trying to get Gypsy to play.
Andy used to say (to reassure me, when his two youngest kids were teenagers), "Statistically, they will make it through just fine."
I am certain that FLD Gus will survive this crazy time too!