A Four-Month-Old Lab and Re-Learning Lessons

This past March, I did something my wife probably wishes some days I would have skipped, and I got another Labrador puppy (the dog was a gift from Jeanette and the Chamber staff). This is my third Labrador dog, and I tell you, each one is different just like kids can be so different.

I had forgotten about the puppy stage, and for Labs, it is about two years. Lab puppies require constant attention because they will get into anything and everything, and Zoey had done exactly that these past three months.

One of the new things I have started doing since getting Zoey is walking her every morning, which she loves. But it has also meant that I have given up my morning workouts. Still, Zoey is excited every morning to see what new things she will see or smell. The funny thing is we take the same route every morning, but that doesn’t faze Zoey. For her, it is just so great to go outside and to be together with me!

Another lesson I am re-learning is that Zoey feeds off my attitude. If I am frustrated with her, she becomes frustrated. If I am calm, she becomes calm. If I am distracted, she will find something to get my attention. Dogs pick up on emotional cues and signals, and I am amazed how I set the tone for what is going to happen. Many times, I have to stop myself and be reminded: I set the course for what is happening.

“If I am frustrated with her, she becomes frustrated. If I am calm, she becomes calm.”

I have also re-discovered that if I want the dog to stop what’s she doing, I have to give her something else to do. Telling her “no” at this stage doesn’t work well. If I don’t want her to chew on shoes, I give her a chew toy instead. Her energy and focus go to the new thing that she can chew on.

As I was sitting with Zoey the other night, I began to see the lessons I was re-learning with this four-month-old lab. Here is what she has taught me so far:

  • Be excited.
    Zoey is excited about everything: people, walks, food, chasing a ball, and the list goes on. She gets excited about the routine stuff all the time. She reminds me to be excited about everyday opportunities. Enthusiasm is contagious. I cannot help but feel her excitement.
  • Attitude.
    Zoey feeds off my attitude and it is a reminder that people around us feed off the attitude we give. Do you have a positive or negative attitude? People reflect what we project in attitude. A person can change the workplace environment just by changing their attitude.
  • Focus.
    Where is your focus? With Zoey, I have to move her focus from something negative to something more positive. Do you focus on the negative or positive? Can you make a “mind shift” to something positive? Zoey does.
  • The Journey.
    As humans, we tend to like things to stay the same, but things change. The journey is new almost every day. We have choices. We can long for better days in our memories or we can embrace today and the new journey. Zoey is not the same as our previous Lab, Annie. Annie was not the same as Sax (our first Lab). Each one is different and each brings and has brought, something special to the journey. So do you.

See you in McAllen!