June 9th, 2015
For the past week, I have felt like a chauffeur for Miss Bailey. It’s not because she is finally going in our van for drives. After all, she accompanied us from Perth, Ontario where her breeder lives to Labrador West (a distance of over 1500 km) with little fuss. We have taken Bailey by van to the local ski hill, shopping mall, vet office and nearby lakes. The difference now is that Bailey has graduated from her kennel to a real seat. It should not have been a surprise for us to find her filling more of the kennel space as each week went by. I guess one gets use to doing things the same way. Change often means more work and moving Bailey to a seat was definitely that.
You see our growing Bailey not only was on the verge of outgrowing her kennel, she was getting more difficult to pick up. Our breeder advised us to avoid having Bailey tackle stairs and other high drops to protect her hips and elbows for 18 months. Bailey is expected to hit 100 pounds by the end of her 1st year. She is already over halfway there at 19 weeks. Bailey needed a ramp to get herself into the van and up onto the seat. But, we first needed to tackle how to keep her secured on the seat.
Buying a harness contraption that functioned as both a leash and seatbelt restraining system was the easy part. The more difficult task was to convince Bailey to let us get the harness on her. She thought it was a great game to have two of her favourite people trying to figure out how to get a black harness properly attached on an extremely excited, black furry puppy. We could not help ourselves from laughing as the harness kept getting twisted as Bailey attempted to plant tongue kisses on us. She was also trying to bite it as if it were a new chew toy. What a great game! It took us several tries but “the training bra” as we now refer to it was on. Bailey was not sure about this new contraption at the start. For one thing, it was connected differently (further down her back). When she turned, the leash was now in front of her nose and easier to grab. However, she eventually began to understand that the harness meant walks and walks were good things.
Next, I had to find two coverings for the bench seat. The boys’ summer throws were the perfect size. I did not think that they would miss them or even notice – they did. Thankfully, Bailey’s charm was enough to convince them to part with their treasured “blankies” (they are 12 and 13 years old after all). The last task to do was the construction of a ramp. We spent Saturday morning cruising the local home improvement stores in search of a suitable ramp. The ramps available were heavier than Bailey and therefore, not much use to me. My husband and eldest son found themselves building a hinged, wooden ramp from leftover lumber. That male bonding experience (the best kind since it involved the use of power tools) lasted a little over an hour. The ramp was set up across a step that leads from the garage to the house. The proud builders could not wait until I had tested the product before Bailey was allowed near it. Our timing was perfect. She was highly motivated to get into the house for her second meal of the day – the ramp did not faze her. I am not sure Bailey saw it as she rocketed up it to her food dish. These last couple of days, Bailey has been practicing on the ramp and doing well. The real test will be next weekend when she uses the ramp for the first time to get herself into the van.
At the moment, Bailey enjoys lying out across the bench (the boys have been relegated to the very back seating bench) or sitting up to look out. Bailey eagerly hangs out by the van’s side door to let us know that she wants to go for a ride. Once buckled in, she waits for the windows to go down. I smile to myself upon seeing Bailey with her tongue hanging out and wind blown fur in the rear view mirror. I cannot help saying, “Where would Miss Bailey like to go today?”
P.S. At 19 weeks, Bailey is now 25.5 kg or 56 pounds 3.5 ounces.