Monday, June 18, 2007

A Boy and His Golden Retriever

"The Golden Retriever is a popular breed of dog, originally developed to retrieve downed fowl during hunting. It is one of the most common family dogs as it is easy to handle, very tolerant, and normally very happy and friendly. It is a low-maintenance dog and thrives on attention, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and regular veterinary check-ups. Golden Retrievers are usually compatible with all people and other dogs. They typically bark when startled, but generally their friendly nature makes them poor watchdogs. Golden Retrievers are particularly valued for their high level of sociability towards people and willingness to learn. Because of this, they are commonly used as Guide Dogs and Search and Rescue dogs." -Wikipedia.

When Troy and I were first married, I wanted a dog in the worst way. Well, I wanted a golden retriever puppy in the worst way. Sure, they're cute and cuddly and I'd grown up with goldens, but it was the "tolerant, family dog" aspect that I craved. We intended on having a family and I wanted to be sure that my children were safe with the pet.

Beck used to look longingly at children who passed by on the street. He would go crazy any time my nephew, Kian, came over. He'd beg him, with those big chocolate eyes, to play fetch. When I was pregnant with Garrett, it was almost as though Beck knew that I was harboring his playmate. Sometimes he would lay his head on my protruding torso or sniff and then lick my abdomen. I assured him that his sibling was in there but that he or she wouldn't be able to play for awhile.

The awhile has come.

Beck was amazing with Garrett right from the get go. A little hyper and a lot more needy of our attention, we never feared that Garrett would get bit or mauled. Death by licking was a minor concern, however. Beck has watched Garrett's growth with interest. Crawling became a milestone by which he was fully accepted as Beck's new favorite toy. And the feeling is mutual. Other than the standard "dada" followed by "mama," Garrett's first word was "dog."

Currently, Beck is clad in an Elizabethan Collar (a.k.a. a cone) because he has been having some problems with his anal glands which has led to a hot spot that he won't stop aggravating. Yesterday, I was working on something in the office and Garrett was crawling happily around the house. After a few minutes I realized that it was REALLY quite. If you know my son, you know that quiet is not a word in his repertoire. Whether he's practicing the English language, chattering gibberishly, or throwing toys around, he's making some kind of noise. I also realized that I didn't hear the cone bouncing off the walls or getting scraped by an annoyed paw. The fear set in. Wherever they are, whatever they're doing, they're doing it quietly and

I leapt out of the office. And stopped in my tracks. In the middle of the floor were my dog and my son. Other than the consistent wag of Beck's tail, he was laying very still. Garrett was sitting at his head playing with his whiskers--the dog's that is, thankfully my son does not yet have whiskers. He'd pull up, exposing Beck's teeth--fangs, really, that could rip my baby to shreds. He'd let go. Beck would lick his chops. Garrett would try to catch his tongue. He'd pull up on the continued for a few moments. Then, Garrett squashed the cone on top of Beck's head so that it appeared that the dog was a giant canine taco. The dog never moved. After a few seconds Garrett let the cone go and it popped back into its original shape. Striking Garrett as hilarious, he cackled to himself, yanked a whisker, smacked the dog's head a couple of times, tried to grab the tongue, and then folded Beck's poor head into a taco once more. Beck wagged his tail the entire time that I watched, Garrett giggled. Wag. Giggle. Repeat.

I could have watched forever. Maybe it was the late afternoon sun coming through the window that forced me to soak in the simple things.

Beck is often jealous of Garrett. Garrett often gets knocked off his hands and knees by a jubilant Beck. But the bottom line is that they're best buddies, providing much entertainment to the other. And this is why I have a golden retriever. And why the golden retriever has a boy.

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