I researched it for 6 months.
I read books, I familiarized myself with the breed, through friends who had one, I saved my pennies, I visited several breeders, and then – the day finally came to take home my Chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy!
Oh the joy, the utter joy of picking up my little “man”. It was a sunny day, in May 1998 and he was one of the two males in the litter. Built like a little football player he was, and according to the breeder, he was “bad” but she felt I could handle him, as I had grown up with dogs. Looking back now, I should have seen that as an omen of some kind….however I digress.
Back to Happy-Land, where I pick up my new puppy and we are driving merrily home while my friend has him on her lap. He is howling the whole time, like some sort of banshee drowning out the radio in the car. But my goodness was he cute.
I had of course prepared myself vigorously for the first night at home, away from the litter. All the carefully chosen books on raising puppies melodically described this event as a somewhat difficult time for the new pup, and to be prepared for some whimpering in the night, possibly some being woken up by the sound of the pup trying to get out of the kennel (of course I had the super-sized kennel already prepared with boxes and blankets for the little guy so he could just turn around – this was supposed to bring them comfort so they felt more like they were in a warm den).
The solution according to these experts, was of course to just put your hand in the kennel, speak soothingly to the pup, and let him smell you and he should calm right down.
Of course I had so novacaned myself with the pure joy of having my first puppy as an adult woman, and feeling so attached to this warm fuzzy ball of wonderment, that I actually believed the so-called experts on their description of the first night at home.
What ensued was not in the manuals.
The sound he made was something you might expect to hear from a spider monkey having his tail sawed off without the benefit of anesthetic. High pitched, hysterical, “Hiiieee, hiiieee, hiiieeee, hiiiieee!!” The sound carried on for 3 hours solid. In my mind I am thinking, perhaps I should let him out to see if he has to pee, since the tactics for calming him were not working at this point.
This is where the real trauma began. I open the kennel door, Jackson (I thought is sounded like a solid name) promptly clambers into my lap, up over my shoulders, all the while screaming like a banshee at full volume whilst shitting warm mustard-like diarrhea all over my lap, my shoulders, my back, and then subsequently in circles as he made his way over the bedroom carpet. Oh yes, let’s not forget the hysterical urination that was occurring simultaneously.
Now had I been rested, and had all my faculties at the moment, this would indeed have been funny. However, after almost a full night of screaming, and then to be covered in warm runny shite, and have what appear to be alien wheat circles of the shit variety covering my nice carpet – well let’s just say I started to wail, along with the pup.
Now we’re both crying, and I am wailing, “I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life!! I can’t do this! What was I thinking!! THIS WASN’T IN THE MANUAL!!!” Jackson now of course will have nothing to do with the kennel whatsoever at this point, and it took me several hours to rid my bedroom of the pungent smell of dog shite, and I believe that’s when he ended up on my bed sleeping soundly, blissfully unaware of the trauma that had just occurred.
This was our first night together. A memorable one to be sure.