It’s National Love Your Pets Day. At least, so says some meme on Facebook.
In the spirit of the holiday, I have a story for you all about my three Labradors. I always mention them in the acknowledgements in my short stories because I could not do what I do without them. Today’s story is mostly about my yellow girl, Lexi.
Lexi is at least 12 years old. We adopted Lexi in 2012. They gave me paperwork on her going back to a spay surgery but there was no age attached to that veterinary paperwork. No birth date. I know that she was old enough that she was spayed in December of 2005. That’s all I know. It’s not like with Zoe because I know when her birthday is, or even with Jet. Jet was young enough that he still had adult teeth growing when I adopted him. Lexi was older. My vet estimated she was between 5 and 7.
Lexi was spry when we adopted her. She kept Jet on his toes and Jet is a tough dog to keep up with. He is a busy dog. He is super brainy and super active and when I introduced Jet to Lexi, I felt sure that Lexi had met her match, but it turned out it was the other way around. Jet had met his. The two of them were fast friends. Lexi and Jet were as thick as thieves from the day she came home. After our senior gal, Jazzmin, died, Lexi and Jet were even closer. They felt her loss, Lexi grew a little more distant for a few weeks. I got worried she was becoming depressed. Jet brought her back to us. He saw what I saw, but the way he played with Lexi changed after Jazzmin died.
I noticed that he started being much more delicate with her and would play for much shorter durations. He always ended the game before he got tired. That was when I realized that Lexi was a senior dog and that it was time to start making some changes in her diet and supplements. I made those changes, but I also realized that Jet was getting bored. I knew this would happen. I was already on a waiting list for a puppy, because I knew that Lexi would get to the place where Jet would wear her out long before he wore himself out. I increased Jet’s walks and increased his off leash fetch time out back. We went back to rally classes. It was enough, but Jet was getting lonely. Jet is one of those dogs that does not do well without a partner in crime. Just about the time that I was feeling like I was going to have to enroll Jet in doggie daycare or something, Zoe came along and changed everything.
Zoe was this beautiful bundle of chocolate wonder puppy that Jet sat and stared at for about a week. He jumped every time the squeaking thing moved in its sleep. To this day, Zoe still barks and runs in her sleep. Jet would watch her in complete fascination, until the running started. Then Lexi would shove him aside so she could guard Zoe as she napped. When Zoe was awake, Jet did not know what to make of her until she was about 14 weeks old and saw Lexi engage her in a wrestling match in the floor. Lexi was a zero tolerance, no bullshit sort of puppy raiser. Zoe was never allowed to bite or chew on Lexi’s ears, but bitey face, that was okay. Bouncing around in circles like you were going to bite each other was okay too. Jet watched this for a few days before he finally began to engage with Zoe. Once he did, that was it. They were best buds. They have been ever since.
Of course, this kind of left Lexi out in the cold.
Lexi is my best bud now. We take walks. We snuggle. I complain about her barking at the next door neighbor’s new beagle puppy. She wags her tail in satisfaction as she goes to lay down on her bed after I’ve told her off. I’m watching her age and it’s breaking my heart. Every day she gets a little older and our time with her is a little bit more precious and every day, I remember the first day. That day when she walked into my house and looked around for a spot that appeared to be hers, claimed it and laid down. Later, she grabbed Jet by his foot as he ran by and started a truly epic game of bitey face. That was when I saw who Lexi was for the first time and from that moment on, I loved her. She was vibrant and full of life and now, she wants to nap.
Still, there are moments when I see that spry girl that I adopted. The one that loped around on legs that seemed slightly too long for her body and gave Jet a run for his money. These moments happen when Jet is laying in bed with my husband on his days off. On those days, Lexi and Zoe come downstairs with me and I stand on the deck in my pajamas and bath robe and I watch them race around the back yard like Lexi isn’t anywhere near 12 years old. They circle and they dive and they dash. They tackle each other and make horrible noise and when they stop, they seem to bump shoulders with each other and come inside, both of them with smiles on their faces.
When they come inside, Lexi is tired. Zoe isn’t, but she’s happy and doesn’t care. She’s just that kind of girl. Zoe reminds me a lot of Lexi when she was younger. When we decided to bring Zoe into the family, we knew we would need a younger dog in the house to take some of the pressure of Jet off of Lexi. We didn’t really think about how much Lexi needed her too and I am so glad that Zoe was exactly right for us and that she was exactly right for both of our dogs. Lexi is enjoying her senior years thanks to this sweet little brown dog and while I am getting misty and wishing that Lexi did not have to grow old, I find that I am enjoying her senior years too.
Happy National Love Your Pets Day from the Labradorks and me.