I have a special affinity for Labrador Retrievers. My grandfather had Labs as far back as I can remember. He was a duck hunter and used them to that end (with various levels of frustration and effectiveness I’m sure he’d say). He could be hard on his dogs, but I also have memories of softer, bonding moments with them that resonate with me.
I get Labs and they get me. They are my Tribe – in a way unique to them and them only. I have a relationship with them different even from the peoples in my life – and that’s no affront to those peoples – it’s just that Labs are different. Whenever it’s time to consider a new dog and I start to think maybe I should consider a different breed – it’s only a fleeting moment – I always come back to these clowns.
Labs LOVE this time of year and this kind of weather. Grey, wet, dank, muck. Cold, ice, snow, sleet. They can’t wait to get out into it. To paraphrase Richard Wolter from his seminal book Water Dog – “you can work a lab in conditions and weather that would kill most other dogs – and they ask for more.” I think this is part of my enjoyment and bond of the breed. I like to get out in all the weather, good, and particularly bad, and revel in what Ma Nature is dishing out and most of the Labs I’ve ever come across are completely willing – actually ecstatic – to come along.
I actually enjoy ‘wet dog smell’ and dirty paws. There’s nothing as glorious as a Lab in his element, truly in the moment. For sure they will frustrate the hell out of you at times, but as the years pass, I enjoy more and more each one’s unique personality and challenges. The specific characteristics of this breed – both the good ones and bad – are what continually draw me back.
I can’t think of a better companion to have when you’re “headed out into it.”