Outdoors: A new year brings with it a new puppy

By Jeff Weaver

Contributing Writer

When the calendar changed this year, my New Year’s resolution didn’t include eliminating some kind of bad habit like eating better, or riding my bicycle more. It didn’t even include spending more time in the boat chasing walleyes or chasing whitetails in the fall. What it did include was being the proud new owner of a furry ball of energy. A chocolate Lab calls our home his home now, and let me tell you, it’s been quite and adventure so far. 

So how did my wife and I go from being an empty nester couple who has had zero responsibility for any pets for years, whose grown children now have families of their own with kids in tow and pets to feed? I am not sure.

It all started last summer when my wife said we needed a puppy. To say the least, I was thrilled. My only input into the discussion was that this dog needed to be able to retrieve a duck. The breed was going to be an English Labrador retriever,and the color was chocolate. My wife even had a breeder in mind and all I needed to do was write a check. Done deal. The check was in the mail!

Fast forward to the actual day we picked up the pup. A road trip to Bruno, Minnesota gave me plenty of time to reconsider this life changing decision. Vet bills, chewed up shoes, poop piles under the dining room table,and howling puppy cries during the night were weighing heavily on my mind. Our home had been dog-less for three years, and a new puppy is a huge commitment.  Buyer’s remorse even crossed my mind many a time since the day I wrote that check. Still, the thought of a new hunting companion who would retrieve a duck outweighed all the negative thoughts that were ever considered.

Chip, the chocolate Labrador retriever has been a member of our family now for three weeks. Every concern about chewed shoes, howling cries and poop piles under the living room table has come to fruition. Sometimes daily! I can only imagine what the neighbors think when we are prancing around at all hours of the night in our robes praising this furry little bundle of energy for taking a pee. I am sure it is rather entertaining. 

Chip the chocolate Lab practicing on his duck dummy. (Photo by Jeff Weaver)
Chip the chocolate Lab practicing on his duck dummy. (Photo by Jeff Weaver)

The next big adventure for Chip will be heading off to school. Getting a dog birdy so he will retrieve that duck is going to be an expensive undertaking, but getting a bird dog ready to hunt takes lots of time and patience. This is something I prefer to leave to the professionals. One of the biggest hurdles with many dogs is the sound of a gunshot. Gun shy dogs just don’t do well in the field or in a boat. There are proper techniques to get a dog acclimated to the sound of gunfire, and I am not prepared, nor do I not want to do this incorrectly.

Chip the chocolate Lab is going to have a very cozy life. My wife wants him to be an inside dog. She has high expectations that this dog is going to be a gentle dog which is going to sleep on the bed at night, and will be groomed and bathed on a regular basis. I’m really fine with this also, but I do have some serious concerns about what my wife will think after Chip jumps into the bed after retrieving a duck. More to come!