I attended a "rock-n-roll" themed baby shower yesterday. Here are a few pics of the goings-on.
The host & hostess had found these cute little onesies and hung them between the pavilion rafters...
We played games...
This was the cutest most original gift of all...the person hand-drew this little gem!
And of course, no party would be complete without a dog to make all the non-dog people (almost everyone in attendance) squirm! Silly cat people. (I joke. Kinda.)
I’d like to take this space to address one of the most negative stereotypes of Labs: destructiveness.
Let me begin by defining stereotype. Stereotype, a transitive verb, “a broad generalization or an oversimplified view that disregards individual differences,” or “a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion or prejudiced attitude.”
A stereotype can be both positive and negative, as stereotypes essentially function to increase our cognitive resources; i.e., by allowing our brains to make a quick assumption about a person, group, or idea, we use less cognitive resources and can focus on more important things (like running away from tigers and the like).
Unfortunately, stereotypes can be negative and can overlook individual differences in favor of broad, sweeping generalizations. Also, stereotypes can be wrong. Or at least, mis-informed. Allow me to explain.
One of the most common complaints of Lab owners – and some other dogs in general, but Labs in particular – is that Labs are, in no uncertain terms, destructive. Destructive, adjective, “capable of causing harm, injury, or damage.” Chewing. Digging. Barking. Chewing, eating – yes, eating – carpets, furniture, wires, t.v. remotes, couch cushions, beds, papers, floorboards, patio furniture, the list goes on. Digging up the flower beds, the garden, the hallway carpet, hardwood floors, shrubs, tree roots, and random holes. Barking at the neighbors, barking at the postal worker, barking at deliveries, barking at another dog, barking at a cat, at a squirrel, at a bird, at…nothing.
Here’s where I deliver a harsh dose, and a spoonful of sugar it is not. I suggest that it is not the Lab that is being destructive, but the owner. Unintentional? Sure. Still harmful, injurious, damaging? Absolutely.
A destructive Lab is nothing more than a bored Lab. A bored Lab is nothing more than a neglected Lab. Neglect can take on many forms, but it can simply mean not enough activity for the specific breed. For Labs, this is generally the case. Labs are high-energy and athletic. Labs were bred to spend all day long hunting, retrieving, concentrating, and being busy. Engaging in focused, intense activities is hard-wired. The desire is in their DNA.
Imagine that same potential energy locked up or abandoned outside day after night, night after day, interacting with the owner for less than thirty minutes each day. Labs do not do well in the absence of corresponding interaction. It is simply not enough to let the Lab outside to “run off energy.” Labs are bred for intense, serious, focused activities. They cannot devise these activities on their own – the owner must create this environment. Show me a Lab that hikes, swims, and retrieves, and I’ll show you a happy Lab.
That said, it should be easy to imagine why suddenly this high-energy, motivated, lively dog (or puppy) suddenly begins engaging in destructive behaviors when it is in an environment devoid of athletic stimulation. Being the most popular dog in the United States since 1991, there are a lot of Labradors in the country (and in others as well), and the status has afforded me the opportunity to live next to or around a lot of Labradors. I have heard some mighty fine complaints coming from Lab owners, for good reason. I’ve seen the destruction wreaked by Labs: patio sets completely torn through; little to no grass left in the yard from digging; actual walls in houses chewed through, floorboards dug up. Almost every one of these circumstances involves the owner(s) engaging in what I consider to be destructive neglect for this particular breed.
Just as you wouldn’t expect a teacup Chihuahua to survive in the frigid air in the deep of winter for long periods, a Lab can’t be left unsupervised for long periods of time without suffering severe consequences. They don’t deal well with being left to their own devices.
Now, there are exceptions. Just as there are some genuinely destructive dogs (having little to do with owners), there are also genuinely adaptive Labs that begin coping day one with nary a problem. But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to address the “in generals,” the “overalls,” the “averages.”
Labs, in general, are not destructive by nature. A Lab can live indoors, even in an apartment, just fine. It is what is happening outside that living environment is what matters so much. Outside the living environment, the Lab must have the ability to engage in a focused, active lifestyle.
I’m far from an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. But I can tell you that a Lab that is having behavior problems likely has an activity problem.
I’ve learned this from my own two Labs: if I start slacking off in my responsibility as an owner, I can tell almost immediately. My Labs grow restless, overly responsive, hyper, and are a handful. They are embarrassing. The minute I start adding activity back into their lives is the moment that my Labs calm down and focus. My two Labs like doing different things. Different activities entertain their brains – we have a responsibility as owners to find out what these activities are.
Labs are NOT bad dogs. They are NOT predisposed to be destructive. A destructive dog most likely has a destructive owner – destructive in the sense of not providing an enriching, Lab-compatible environment.
So here’s my challenge to you, the future, the current, the past, and the never-again Lab owners: realize what the breed is capable of, and strive to match your environment to their capabilities. If this isn’t the active lifestyle you want, don’t purchase or adopt a Lab. Work against this negative stereotype of Labs.
In doing so, maybe those chewed couch cushions will be few and far between. And, you’ll have one heck of a happy Lab.
Trooper is so skinny, he looks like if he went to school, he'd be one of the kids that gets beat up on. Except, he'd just run circles around the bullies. The running in circles part is what keeps him that skinny.
I feed him 6 cups a day of high-protein puppy food. I'm about to knock it up to 7 just to have him gain a little weight.
So, good to know:
#1 - If you buy a dress from a large, well-known store (we’ll make up a name: Sinny’s) and it has a slight deodorant mark on the inside, if you try to return it they'll insist you must have worn it, because what person in their right mind would WEAR DEODORANT WHILE TRYING ON A DRESS IN THE STORE.
#2 - If you buy a dress from Sinny's, it won't matter that the price tag is PRISTINE and STILL ATTACHED or if you have the receipt, because:
#3 - If you buy a dress from Sinny's "Formal" section and the large tag on the side was taken off (not the price tag, which is different) prior to you purchasing the dress, not only will they resist a return, THEY'LL ACCUSE YOU OF STEALING THE DRESS.
Seriously? I shouldn't have to threaten to show sales managers my receipts from my hotel stay for 4 nights and a wedding invitation ALONG WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S PICTURES OF WHAT THE HELL I WAS WEARING for each of the 5 days.
Hello, I'm a grad student. I DID NOT GO TO PROM. Oh, and by the way, I bought the dress last week. It is NOT PROM SEASON.
Oh, and the whole CRIMINAL ACCUSATION THING?!
How in the WORLD would I have walked out of the store WITH A PRINTED RECEIPT WITH THE SALESPERSONS INITIALS CIRCLED AROUND THE OPTIONAL SURVEY CODE?!?
How, Sinny’s, how?
A customer who is telling the truth should not have to suffer accusatory stares, remarks, and YELPING that your employees decide to throw at an innocent person. Worse, because I was at the service counter at the front part of the store, not only did the waiting customers see your behavior, but your idle shoppers did too. You created a scene, not I. I kept my voice low and calm. Not you. I almost called security...because I thought I was in danger of being attacked from behind the counter. You were THAT angry.
Oh, and BY THE WAY, Sinny’s, the day I was trying your dress on, a customer -- get this -- PEED on your dressing room carpet and one of your employees had to CLEAN IT UP ON HER HANDS AND KNEES. Additionally, the employee told us the fun tale of having to pick up urine in bags, vomit, tampons, and sanitary pads out of the dressing room during her tenure with your company. I know not all of your locations are as filthy as this one, but this is no excuse. I feel sorry for your employees. And also, I’m really sorry that your other customers try to deceive you insomuch as you would accuse another customer of engaging in the same behavior.
On our last full day in Toronto, we decided to venture to Centre Island for a day of fun.
We arrived around 10 a.m. to the ferry and climbed up to the top portion so we could feel the wind in our face. We stood at the front of the ferry, taking in the water and the island that was drawing closer. The clouds were ominous, darkening with every passing moment, but we continued on. Once docked, we walked quickly to Centreville Amusement Park, which is a small ride-heavy park with an adorable "Coney Island" feel to it. Almost all the rides were appropriate for children, and Little Guy rode all but four: the ferris wheel (too high), the bumper cars (not tall enough), the water bumper boats (not tall enough), and the log flume (but he watched me ride). LG was very brave, as he normally - how do I put this delicately - spazzes out at the mere mention of some of the rides. To our surprise, he hopped onto several of the more thrilling rides, such as a cute child's coaster and an indoor "Scrambler" where the cars move back and forth and fling you from one wall to the next. He was brave, but determined that those rides were definitely not for him. We rode with him on the carousel, the spinning teacups, the spinning monkey barrels (ugg, Joel and I don't do well on spinning rides), the haunted house, and several other rides. There were several LG-sized car rides that he did as well. As we were taking a ride on the Jalopies, the clouds decided to let loose and pour. Pour! We stood for a moment under the awning, deciding what to do next. I noticed an ice cream parlor across the way, so we quickly ran into the parlor and ordered some delicious ice cream. I hadn't eaten ice cream for what felt like months (which may not be inaccurate) so I savored every lick of my chocolate chip cookie dough cone. After riding the Jalopies a few more times, the rain had somewhat died off and we moved on to the next few rides. After about fifteen minutes, the rain had broken and the sun was shining through the clouds. We finished up all the rides, and stopped for lunch at a restaurant inside the amusement park.
Then, we walked down to the other side of the island and rented a quadricycle: a three-seated, four-wheeled bike! It had a little canvas top over it, so we were shielded from the sun for the most part. We rode the bike for about an hour and fifteen minutes, and then turned it back in and walked around some more and visited the beach.
The bike, though, was by far my favorite part of the experience because it was just so cute and classic. I'll share a video of us riding it. Little Guy is most helpfully talking...the entire time...and "helping" us ride the bike. For whatever reason he is making baby cooing noises at the beginning of the video. I didn't notice it until I was home and watched the video and realized...dude...you sound like a baby!
I love our little family. :)
Here's me rockin' the log flume (by myself - LG was too chicken to go):
Joel hanging out on the beach...
Many many hours in the car followed by a rehearsal on Friday and a wedding on Saturday. Many many hours in the car again.
Will resume posting next week.
(P.S. I may have to scan in a Hallmark card I found today of two chocolate Lab pupuppies. I almost melted into a puddle right there in the mall. Chocolate. Lab. Puppies. TWO. Did I mention they are Labs? And when I say puppies, they are like 5 week old puppy puppies. SO CUTE. I WANT TO EAT THEM.)
Sorry for the craptacular picture, but I would love some opinions.
I have a summer wedding to attend this week. The ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m., so it is an evening wedding. It is located in a metropolitan area, but it's smack dab in the middle of the country (so we aren't talking super-glam NYC or LA or anything).
I know both the bride and the groom. Joel is the best man. Their wedding colors are deep purple and rustic copper.
Thoughts? What should I wear?