Top Dogs

As I was watching the Westminster dog show last week,  I wondered “Why can’t my dogs act more like that?”  Those dogs act like they don’t chew up shoes, attack their fellow dogs, jump onto the kitchen counter and grab and devour a fully cooked chicken, run away in the middle of the night, or poop and pee in the house.   No, those dogs probably don’t even poop and pee.  Those dogs prance around acting like they’re not even dogs.

I have two yellow labs and a toy schnauzer.   And a cat.  Until about a year ago I also had a bulldog.  I can remember the moment I first saw each one of them.



First, “Lucy”.  My wife had always wanted a bulldog, but I advised her to do some research first, since we already had two dogs (and a cat).  One day I called her from work to say I was emailing her some research about bulldogs.  Silence on the other end. Then I heard giggling in the background.  Those were my kids playing with our new bulldog puppy.  My wife isn’t into research.  Everything went fine for about a year.  I took Lucy to puppy training, and she got along okay with the other pets and people. We loved her.  So did I.  But then she started to pick fights with the labs.  Violent fights.  Anytime there was food around.  I remember one time I was throwing every piece of lawn furniture I could get a hold of at them to break it up.  I took her to doggie “boot camp”.  Even included her in one of my television stories on dog training.  Apparently she wasn’t impressed.  I don’t even think “The Dog Whisperer” could have helped Lucy.  We concluded she was best as an “only child”.  On a Christmas eve, we found a good home for her where she was the only “alpha”.  Better yet, the only dog.



After Lucy, I thought we were going to take a break for a while, and have “only” two dogs (and a cat).  The break lasted a week.   My wife was on the hunt.  This time for a schnauzer.  We’ve had many miniature schnauzers over the years, but never a toy schnauzer.  It wasn’t long before she found a breeder about a hour from home.  My wife, the kids, my wife’s sister and her young daughter met the breeder halfway at a gas station to look over the litter.  I was busy, but later rushed to meet them and hopefully head off disaster.   There were several puppies, but the one my wife really wanted was “spoken for” just 5 minutes before she got there.  Relief!  We drove home without another dog.  Ten minutes later, “Why is she making a u-turn, and going back?”, I briefly wondered.  Just briefly.  I know my wife.  She’s going back to pick up one of the other puppies.  We call her “Tipsy” (don’t ask), but I call her “U-turn”.   Tipsy is only 8 pounds.  Small enough to easily carry.  But also small enough to fit through our wrought iron fence.  (That’s where a little research would have come in handy).  I can’t count how many times she’s run away.  In the neighborhood and on a golf course we live on.  She’s had many close calls with cars and coyotes and Callaway Big Bertha’s, but she’s still with us.  By the way, if hear someone yelling “TIpsy” in the middle of the night and he’s wearing pajamas, it’s probably me.  Oh, one more thing.  Tipsy is nearly a year and a half, and still poops and pees in the house.  Needs counseling.  Not her.  Me.

You”ll soon notice I don’t have nearly as much to write about my labs (and the cat).   But they have their quirks too.  Our oldest lab is “Major”.


He’s about 10.  I know I sound like I’m picking on my wife (ok, I am), but I remember her telling me “There are no decent lab breeders in Oklahoma”.  My wife is from California.  She thinks EVERYTHING good comes from California.  So we had to drive from Oklahoma to California to get our lab.  Major was the runt of the litter (we should have named him “Minor”).  You know what some say about the runt. (Again, too much research).     Major is definitely slower, and not the best looking lab.  But he’s turned out to be a great dog.  Sweet.  No drama.  I like that.


Our other lab is what you could call “a lab’s lab”.  Jeter (named for that Yankee) came to us in a most unfortunate way.  He was my wife’s brother’s dog.


Jeter was also born in California and lived it up there.  He swam in the ocean, ate avocados that fell off trees, and stole steaks off the grill.  Spoiled?  You better believe it.  What a life.


Then his owner had a heart attack (miss you Rich), and the next thing you know he’s riding cargo on Continental to live with us in the Sooner state.  Jeter has traded the Pacific for a pool, and grabs chickens off the counter instead of steaks from the grill.  He can be really bad sometimes.  And we love him.

Tipsy & Jeter

All of our dogs (and cat) can be really bad sometimes.  But we love them, worts and all.  I wouldn’t trade them for any of those faux dogs, because my dogs are the real thing.

Major & Jeter

2 Comments on “Top Dogs

  1. Hi Mark,
    I love dogs and I loved this story!

    There was the occasional, premeditated “chicken theft” in our household too, as my soft-coated wheaten terrier would pluck the breast from a guest’s dinner plate while they were distracted in conversation. She was quite a comedian.

    BTW – Is that your executive length sock Tipsy and Jeter are stretching for you?

    Yours in dog-tales,

    • Thanks Nicole. I’ve always wanted to wear thigh-high dress socks. I look forward to seeing your photography page on your website.

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