A Barkley Happy Tail

I always love hearing from the people that adopted dogs I fostered. This was sent in for a Happy Tail entry from the people that adopted Barkley earlier this year.

Imagine that after years, you've decided to expand your household pack to include a companion for your 9-year old Lab, Maggie. Given Maggie's small size, you search the Lab rescues for another small one so as not to daunt Maggie. Having learned of Barkley, a 60-lb lab who was rescued from a shelter, the pack drives 8-hours to meet him at the Wild Heir South Carolina lab rescue.

You haven't taken into consideration that he was 60-lbs when you learned about him, i.e. a few months prior when he was only 9-months old. You arrive to find a 75-lb giant of a Lab who leaps over couches in one bound. ("He's not 60 pounds anymore...") He puts his paws on your shoulders and looks you in the eyes. But Maggie, whom you feared would be quite displeased with a year-old clumsy brother, is delighted with him, and you can't help but be either.

Barkley appears to have no qualms about leaving South Carolina with unfamiliar people and dog, in an unfamiliar SUV - leaping in the back (momentarily). He merely views the back seat as an exercise hurdle to get to the front. ("uhm, he's in your seat." ) You open the door, take him around to the back. By the time you're back in the car, he's back in the front. Repeat two more times.

He never appears confused or anxious about arriving in a new home. He paces the bed every night ("Did we get an insomniac?") until you realize he just wants on the bed. After that, you - and Maggie - are pillows for him to lay across while he sleeps. When it comes to sleeping, he never applies "lay down" but rather falls across you from a standing position. He buries his nose in your neck for the entire night.

All dogs are friends, all squirrels are foes, and moles are to be to be carried carefully in one cheek. ("What's in Barkley's mouth?) Leashes and Maggie's collar are edibles ("Why isn't Maggie's collar on? Why are her ID plates on the floor?") His Nylabone and tennis balls are pacifiers. Water is for slobbering across the kitchen, requiring you to put a rug down. Maggie's head is for drooling on. Vacuums are a terror, causing you to have to replace the Plexiglas door he broke through to escape one. (He wasn't injured.) Couches are for you to sit on - with Barkley's entire self on your lap. Maggie is his most beloved big sister and best friend whose side he won't leave.

Maggie, now 10-years old, is a pup again. Post-breakfast is Labrador wrestlemania, as indicated by the joyous sounds of thunder throughout the house and by every rug accordionned against a wall. She loves an ambush - hiding under a desk or chair and leaping out at him with a playful "snap snap" of her ferocious fangs. Every play session begins with each giving each other nose licks, and then pandemonium ensues. She lets him chase her just long enough to gain momentum and turn on him - the chased becomes the chaser - and he seems as delighted as she. She has taught him that the first thing to do every morning is check the tomato plant for new green tomatoes, thus ensuring we never get to eat a ripe one.

Such is our life with our beloved rescue Lab, Barkley. If you rescue a Lab, you will be blessed to have the same love, affection, fun and frivolity as we do.