Tag Archives: yellow labs

Born on St. Patty’s Day

Born on St. Patty’s Day

It was Wednesday, March 17, 2010  St. Patricks Day when a litter of Yellow Labs were born in nearby Callahan. Just two days later, at a charity function for Project SOS that I attended at the request of my friend Pam Mullarkey, I found myself shouting out the winning bid of $500.00 as two huge pictures of a pup resembling Marley appeared on the large screens at either end of the Marriott ballroom. I had unexpectedly purchased the pick of the litter!

Pam explained it would be 8 weeks before I could take possession of my prize, and actually that was perfect. I needed time to figure out how I would explain our good fortune to my husband Tom. Our dear 14 and 1/2 year old Bunker (dubbed the perfect dog) had passed away just a few weeks before. In a very weak moment I had made a life changing decision to bring this little pup into not only our home but our hearts.

Lindsay and Matt had discussed buying a dog. I suppose that is what a young couple in love does, sort of a trial run to see how they will handle actual babies. They can observe the nurturing skills of the other and access the pros and cons of this major commitment. I would  have written a check in donation to Project SOS regardless. The way I looked at it was the kids got their puppy in the process even though they were not included in the decision. But, I knew Lindsay would be happy and I know Matt loves Lindsay, so if she is happy Matt will be happy.

I immediately reached for my cell phone and shot off a text to Lindsay with the news. Normally my text messages to the family seem to linger in the black beyond for many minutes, often hours before my phone signals a response. Not this time. Within seconds she had answered in total support of my decision and with many questions like, male or female and are you bringing it home?

The breeder told us we would be able to pick the puppy in just a few weeks. As soon as the pups could be separated from the Mother Mrs. Mullarkey would bring some to our house to decide. There were six pups to choose from, four yellow and two black, three females and three males.

Duffy, our 2 and 1/2 year old yellow lab, (purchased to push Bunker to live just a little bit longer) was suffering from a broken heart since his mentor and best friend had passed away. He had never been alone before, and stuck by my side each day convinced I would leave him too. Duffy had terrorized Bunker when he was a pup. He would nip at Bunker’s ears and climb on his back, all in play but very annoying for a 94 year old (in dog years) guy. Bunker would take it for a time then inevitably give him a growl and a nip that would send Duffy squealing under the table. Perhaps this would be the solution to mend Duffy’s broken heart.

Duffy inspects the potential additions to the family .

Finally the day arrived when we would make the pick. Pam arrived with three puppies, one black male, two yellows, two males and one female. We played with them all and found it difficult to make a decision. Louis was tempted to buy one of the irresistable pups for Brooke. But, after a phone call to her Mom asking permission, he was jolted back to reality with an irrefutable “NO”. We continued to watch the pups interact and discussed the possibility of black or yellow, male or female. Finally a decision was made and the puppy was marked with a spot on the tail with a black permanent marker . Out came the camera and shots of the happy family were posted on Facebook announcing the new addition.

The Garrity family

The baby had to be returned to his Mother for nurturing and weaning. He would be able to come home permanently in a few weeks. Great. This gave me time to explain to Tom we were going to be the puppy grandparents.

A grand-dog is a huge responsibility. When the parents of said puppy work, much like an actual baby, the grandparents are relied upon to care for the infant whilst the parents bring home the bacon. This involves potty training, I mean house training, making sure the puppy get frequent walks and  watching to be sure he does not chew up any Kate Spades, Gucci bags, chairs or furniture in general.

Tom had been away at Duke for all of these weeks since the Project SOS fund raiser till now. The grandmother clock was ticking in the family room to the time he would return and I would be forced to confess what was about to happen to our peaceful home.

He actually took it quite well. I don’t know if it was because he had been away so long or was he genuinely happy to have a pal for Duffy? I know Tom really missed Bunker too. Plus, as a grandparent….you can always send them home with the parents. He seemed to tolerate the whole idea. GREAT!

The large dog crate appeared from the garage and was dusted off and set up in the family room. Dog toys and leashes began to appear. Even Duffy wondered what all the preparation was about. But, there was one important thing that had not been decided. What would they name this little yellow ball of fluff with feet that smelled like popcorn and that distinctive puppy breath? Well, after much investigation and discussion we all agreed any dog born on St. Patrick’s Day should have a fitting Irish name. Plus I believe Garrity also applies here. We all loved “Finn” and Finn Garrity it was!

Now Finn actually has a bit of Marley in him and Duffy is getting a taste of his own medicine. He is taking the nipping and the climbing on pretty well. Just a few weeks after Finn joined the happy family, and the rules had been clearly explained to him. ie. no getting on the couch, only eating once per day and no begging for people food, he showed that he was much like any other child…going to test us.

Taken with my I-Phone from the kitchen where I was preparing dinner

“Does she really see me?  Will she make me get down?  It is so comfy on this sofa with all these great pillows with fringe I can chew and relax on.  Oh and Duffy is not allowed up here to bother me.”

"I just need a little bit more food, I am not quite full"

Anyway, life has changed once again. The happy family is adjusting to the addition, even the grandparents. Finn is growing quickly and I hear he is wearing a black bow tie to the wedding in a few weeks.

Life is good being Finn Garrity!

Mans best friend…

Mans best friend…

They say dogs do not go to heaven when they pass away.  They say they have no soul. But, I hope there is a dog heaven. We have a dog that truly deserves to go there.

Bunker, our beautiful, sweet Yellow Lab turned 14 (98 in dog years) on January 9th, 2010. His once baby soft and nearly white hair has turned wiry. He moves slowly now from the arthritis that has attacked  his hips. And he often needs help making it up or down the three steps from the porch to the back yard. But, clearly he has ruled our house since the day he arrived at 10 weeks old.

It is difficult to imagine life in our home without Bunker. When I rise at 5AM he is standing near me as I pour my first cup of coffee. He sleeps next to my bed. He is the first to eagerly greet us when we walk in the door. Always letting out  a bark to remind us he had stood guard over the place while we were away. If we were gone for a vacation and had left a friend to watch him, he would show his chagrin with us by poo-pooingly slipping into the bedroom , even though we were wanting to hug and catch up.  But, most of the time he wags his huge tail and his ears go back in happiness for our return.

He was the lowest maintenance dog I ever owned, never destructive or unfriendly. He was very private about his potty habits. He would patiently wait to be walked around the natural area down the street we called “the circle”.  Then after sniffing out several spots, he would back into the bushes and look at you with eyes that said, “please look away” and then do his duty. He is just easy .

True to his breed, he enjoyed activity of all kinds especially balls and water. He loved to play with Tom and the children in the pool. Tom would throw balls to the kids as they jumped into the pool. Bunker would sit eagerly on the swim-out for his turn. He was always gentle and tolerant of the kids. They could trample on him, sit on him even dress him up and he would look up with his sad eyes as if to say , “I really don’t like to be dressed up.” But, he allowed it, happy to be included.

When my friends would arrive for bible study Bunker was at the door to greet them. He always seems to need to scrutinize who is gaining entrance in case he needs to protect. He has never become genuinely aggressive. His presence is usually all that is required. Like everyone else, the bible study ladies like him. Well most of them. He would lay under the dining room table, licking their sandaled feet until they would squirm and laugh. Then I would command him to go to the bedroom.  All I have to do is tell him once and slowly he retreats to his quiet spot.

When Bunker was almost 12 Tom surprised me with a puppy. This was no strange puppy.  In fact, he had been hand  picked by Bunker’s breeder Reggie Johnson, to become a member of the Goold family. Tom’s sister  “Aunt Cathy” and her three children who live in Ohio, thought it was time for a dog. The children had begged for a pup and always enjoyed Bunker when they visited.  It seemed good sense to get a “Bunker” puppy. However, “Duffy”, named after Uncle Patrick Duffy, turned out to not be a good fit.  Well, that might not be fair to “Duffy”.  The blush was off the rose shortly after he arrived from the airport. The kids had places to go, friends to see.  And Aunt Cathy was left with the puppy watch and all of the duties that came with that.  This was unfair.  After all, the puppy was for them?  So, in a few days, Duffy was cleared for travel once again, and headed back south flying Delta where Uncle Tommy had arranged a surprise birthday gift for Aunt Judi.

Duffy and Mom on Christmas Morning

They say getting a puppy adds years on to an older dogs life. We were willing to do anything to prolong the life of our Bunker. So, home came the already named little ball of blonde colored fluff with a big black nose and two bright black eyes and paws two sizes too big. But, he had some things to learn and they didn’t come from his master. Duffy was reminiscent of Bunker at that age. He was very playful and a bit wild.  He may have thought Bunker was his Mother. He wrestled with him and tore at his ears. But, Bunker was the master of THIS domain and Duffy began to understand Bunker ruled. Several trips to the vet and a few stitches made it perfectly clear. Bunker was indeed getting more exercise than he had been. And his naps were fewer, or lets say not as restful. But he definitely appeared to have a little more spring in his step.

Since that day Duffy has not spent a day out of sight of Bunker. They sleep together, they play together, they walk together. When the door is opened for Duffy to go out, he turns and waits for his old buddy to join him. He watches like an obedient student never straying far from his mentor.  The bond that has developed is strong and delightful to observe. It will be difficult and very confusing for him when Bunker is gone. He will have pretty big paw prints to fill. He will take over as master. And we know he will do just that.

The reality is Bunker’s days with us are fleeting. Our family is trying to prepare for the inevitable. Fact is, I am writing this now, because I don’t know if I will be able to do it when the day finally comes. But, when he leaves us we know he lived a great doggy life. He had a big yard to run with birds and squirrels. He was surrounded by children and those who played with him and loved him. He had a little pup who worshipped him as his hero. He truly is and will always be our very best friend.

Thank you buddy.  You were a true and loyal companion.  Hope to see you in heaven.  We love you Bunker!

P.S.  On March 31st, 2010 Bunker went to sleep in my arms.  In keeping with his life, he died with great dignity.