One of the characters in my novel, A Child of God, is Bayly, a six-year-old adorable but nutty Yellow Lab. His character was based on the most wonderful but extremely crazy Labrador, Chance that our whole family (and many others) adored.
Many of you have probably read Marley and Me by John Grogan. Chance comes in as a close second to Marley. I think he would have eaten up our whole house if he wasn’t crate trained as a young pup. Okay, you’re asking, what did he do?
At the Oshawa Obedience Club where we trained, Chance was known as the yellow bandit! The trainers and regulars all knew to hide their doggie treats when my “little robber” was in class. One evening as Chance and I beautifully pranced around in a circle of dogs and handlers, I diligently scanned the area for food (as I always did) but Chance’s nose was faster than my eyes. In one second flat, he downed a large Ziploc bag of wienies (bag included) that some unsuspecting “newbie” had left on a chair. This type of thing was a regular occurrence.
I swear that dog was actually a goat! One night as we walked through our neighbourhood park in Whitby, I heard a loud crunching sound coming from his very active mouth. I was in a bit of a panic when I discovered that my very “intelligent” Lab had eaten glass! Of course it was the weekend, so I phoned the emergency clinic. They said that he would probably throw it up (which he did) but to watch him all night. I sat up the whole night nervously watching my crazy nut peacefully sleeping without a worry in the world. He was fine; end of story.
One of the worst memories of my “buddy” was when I enrolled him in an advanced class at a different training school. Chance was so excited at seeing all the new dogs that he totally disrupted the other well behaved canines by jumping on top of them and barking as loudly as he could. I thought of sneaking out the back door but unfortunately that didn’t happen . “What do you mean this, this…has a CD?” the instructor asked looking at me like I was from another planet. As I told her, “Yes; indeed, he has a Companion Dog Title in Obedience and he’s never failed a trial,” (all true!) I could see the other owners smirking while gently patting their lovely, very obedient dogs. Things then went from bad to worse. In a nutshell, Chance ripped open the back side of a lady’s gorgeous (probably designer) pair of jeans that just happened to have treats in their pocket. Next, he somehow got hold of and tore open a huge bag of kibble. After profusely apologizing to the lady in ripped jeans and offering to pay for them, I then began to make amends to the red-faced, glaring instructor. “Don’t worry, I’ll clean the kibble all up,” I said as I began madly sweeping. But all of a sudden, the kibbles were floating around in what seemed like a small lake. You guessed it; my “fun” guy spilled the huge communal water bowl! “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” I humbly mumbled. “Just leave!” were the last words I heard from the screeching voice coming out of the “not so happy” (I know, an understatement) instructor. I slunk out, not looking back. My happy-go-lucky Lab was wagging his tail like there was no tomorrow!
That being said, I am very proud to say that Chance became a certified Therapy Dog who brought great happiness to many veterans at Sunnybrook Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. My dad, who suffered with Alzheimer’s for over ten years, was a resident in their Veteran’s wing. I can’t tell you the joy Chance brought not only to my dad, but to several other residents. I remember seeing my boy gently put his head down on the lap of an elderly Alzheimer’s patient who was in a wheelchair. This was something I saw him do many times. He seemed to instinctively know to be gentle with those residents. What was unusual this particular time was that the Alzheimer’s patient, who they thought could not talk or respond, suddenly smiled and said, “Hi puppy.” Need I say more?
Chance passed away shortly after his 12th birthday in May 2008. We still laugh at his wild antics and his crazy ways, but more importantly we remember the great joy that this magnificent Labrador Retriever gave not only to us, but to numerous other people. (Gorsebrook’s Best Chance, 1996 – 2008)
We are now proud owners of a beautiful, little King Charles Cavalier, “Prince” Harry, who recently came in second in his puppy class. He might have been first if it wasn’t for the numerous errors his handler (me) made!
Hope you have enjoyed my blog. If you have any “doggie” stories that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.
- Meet Chance, the Real Bayly! (karenhiggins.com)