by Bret “T-Bone” Amundson
WINTER DOLDRUMS – What happens when your dog realizes that the season is over.
The puppy dog eyes coaxed me out of bed this morning an hour before my alarm clock was set to go off. This was a cruel, manipulative tactic that my lab, Mika, has perfected.
Just prior to the hunting season, I switched her one-time-per-day feeding schedule from the early morning, to early evening; since then she will usually allow me to fumble for the snooze button a good three or six times before creaking out of bed. Prior to that, she was always hungry before I was awake, prodding me with a wet nose ready to eat.
My sleep schedule thanks those who have suggested allowing a dog to digest food overnight, instead of chasing roosters on a full stomach.
Mika was a bit spoiled this fall. She was able to hunt a lot. A busy bird dog is a content bird dog. The day after the pheasant season closed, I came down with a cold and went into hibernation. We didn’t leave the house much, but she didn’t seem to mind; she was too busy trying to eat Kleenex.
The following week was full of some last minute preparation for the winter issue of the Minnesota Sporting Journal. Lots of down time sitting on the laptop and making phone calls. (The ad deadline is this week; if you want to subscribe or advertise, let me know!) I could see her slowly start to realize that I wasn’t going to be reaching for the shotgun anytime soon.
She’d ask to go outside. Then ask to be let in 30 seconds later. Within 15 minutes, she’d be standing by the door again. At first I figured she just broke the seal, right? I called her a lush and let her out, only to let her back in a half minute later. “Maybe she’s not feeling good?” Nope. She just wanted to be outside! I know the feeling…
She turns 2 on January 17th, but has done a lot of maturing in the last year. I’ve started leaving her in my bedroom when I leave instead of locked away safely in her kennel.
I’ve stopped finding random items around the house with chew marks on them. I was pretty proud of my crazy puppy, who was all growd up.
Until last night.
I headed out for a couple of hours and left her in the bedroom as I’d done many times before. I returned to find a chunk of my memory foam mattress in pieces on the floor. I tried to put it back, but I couldn’t remember where each piece went. (rimshot) Honestly, I tried to come up with a much better joke about the memory foam and that was the best I could do. Sad, I know.
But that’s what happens when a bored Labrador awakens you during a deep sleep that morning. She is trying to tell me that it’s not ok to be sitting around, doing work, or anything for that matter-inside.
Mika decided she didn’t care if the season was closed, we were going hunting, or something like it. I can’t blame her, that’s what I’d like to be doing. Or ice fishing at least.
Aside from wings and feathers, Mika’s favorite activity is Frisbee. As with many labs, I could throw that thing until she falls over. So that’s what I did. I’m going to try to keep her in shape all year.
Well, I was the one who fell over first, of course. But she was sufficiently worn out enough to sleep through the time it took me to write this story.
Now her head is resting on my knee and the puppy dog eyes are back. Maybe if I go blow my nose I can trick her into thinking I’ve got a cold again. Who am I kidding? I’ll take any excuse to go screw around outside.
by Bret “T-Bone” Amundson