And the fun began. We didn't know anything about the Labrador Retriever breed. We had been around the mother of Gabe briefly. She had been found by my sister and brother-in-law, and after many failed attempts to find her owner, they decided to keep her. Maggie arrived with her toenails painted and was a mature dog. Calm. Loving. A family oriented dog. Perfect.
So they became part of our family. The next two years are a blur. Of destruction. Of thievery. Of cunning, strength, and determination that could only be compared to Sherman's March through Georgia. We couldn't keep up. No one could have. Those two dogs were amazing. Among the things we discovered about Labs:
1 Corners. The house, the hearth, the bedroom dresser. If it had a turn in it, it had teethmarks. If there was anything left after he chewed.
2 Cables and wires. I heard a rubbing, snapping sort of sound while I was on the computer one day. Gabe was outside (epic mistake...never leave a chewer alone for more than 5 seconds) and I heard a weird sound. Steve and I went to investigate. Gabe had stripped the television and phone cables off the side of the house.
3 Don't get them chew toys. This just encourages the addiction. They can finish a rawhide chewy the size of a dinosaur bone in about 2 minutes...even if the package did promise you it would last your dog for weeks.
They are raiders. It is in their nature to steal. Labs are obsessive about finding stuff and bringing it home. Among the things Gabe and Suz brought home to litter the front yard:
1 Shoes. Every size and shape. Sometimes even a pair.
3 Rain gutter off the side of a house. We never figured out which house. It was brown and even though Steve searched for a house with brown rain gutter, he never found it.
4 PVC pipe. I shudder at this one. I just know someone somewhere within our dogs' running distance lost their water one day. Or their toilets stopped flushing.
5 Buckets, toys, tools, mop handles (the mop was probably chewed off) and anything that doesn't fall into the above category.
Our solution to the chewing was to repair as fast as we could. And keep an eagle eye on the dogs.
Finding a fix for the raiding was a bit harder. Steve finally took everything they had stolen out to the main road at the end of the road we live on, and made a huge pile of stuff. He said maybe the owners would find it. Not the best solution, but the only way we could get all that stuff out of our yard.
So now our lives have taken on a routine. The dogs outgrew their chewing at about 2 years of age. They stopped thieving about that time too. Our routine since then has been:
1 Let the dogs out of the pen. But only after the garbage truck has run and there is a slim chance any strangers might show up.
2 Go fetch the dogs home after about 30 minutes. A run or romp for a full grown Lab can cover about 5 miles. With stops to visit neighbors along the way. That includes taking a swim in the neighbor's pool at the end of our road. (Having their own pool hasn't stopped that behavior.)
3 Listen to Steve say "BAD DOGS BAD DOGS...GOING OUT THE ROAD! BAD DOGS!" Which hasn't fazed them or stopped them from going out the road.
And so it goes. Almost nine years. Nine long years. Of loving these stubborn, smart, happy creatures. These raiders of our hearts.