August 12, 2005


A Dog for All Seasons

We Labs aren't as cool as cats or nasty as rats or hot tempered as Chows with their alarming blue tongues. We aren't the biggest or the baddest or the smartest or the saddest. So how come we're at the top of the list of the number of dogs registered with the American Kennel Club?

One fellow says it's cause people have big houses now and want to fill them up with big dogs, like Labradors. He came up with other reasons, too, including our "lovely temperament." But then suggested the main reason was "cultural drift," whatever that is. Something about breeds falling in and out of favor over the years.

It makes me think of a powerful river streaming with all the different breeds, and humans standing along the shore calling out to us. And a large pack of Labradors, plentiful as winter geese, drifts in close to shore around a river bend. Being strong swimmers, we make it in to the people, who mightily embrace us and invite us into their vaulted, echo-y homes and tall, wide cup-holding vehicles.

But the swimming, drifting Labrador landfall is not meant to last, apparently. The current carries most of us off again and then some other dogs make it to the beach en masse, maybe tiny dogs for older people with brittle bones and small apartments. These people call and call the tiny dogs, and the pint-sized canines scramble over the backs of the drifting Labradors to the shore, where they settle on thin, quilt-covered laps or lose themselves in patterned sofa pillows.

So maybe Labs won't always be the most popular breed. Many might drift away as we fall out of favor. Mike says our puppyhood lasts too long, that we chew up too much furniture, that breeders have somehow hurt our hips. But here's what I think: Labs are the dogs for all seasons. We swim in the summer and hunt in the fall and sled in the winter and hike in the spring. People like us because we are what they used to be as children: strong and impetuous and charming and fun. We give them back to themselves. When the river of cultural drift takes us away one day, the humans along the shore will miss us more than they know.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?