Merlin is a very active fellow who doesn’t want you to know he completely understands the words “no,” “stop,” or “down.” However, be not fooled by those beautiful, mesmerizing eyes. He knows the words and he knows what they mean. He just doesn’t always want to acknowledge them.
When he disobeys and you must speak to him in “that voice,” he cocks his head to the side and you think “oh, what a cute puppy. He was just confused.” I am here to tell you, he is not confused. He is extremely intelligent and knows exactly how to get you to behave the way he thinks you should behave. If you stop fussing at him, he will even give you a treat. Yes, that’s right! A big, sloppy kiss right on the mouth. He delivers the kiss by placing both paws on your shoulders and moving faster than a speeding bullet.
We Start the Morning Trying to Sleep
If I tell him to give me a few more minutes, he interprets that as “give me a slap with that great, big paw so I can be inclined to jump out of the bed.” Trust me! When you have been clawed by Merlin, jumping is exactly what you do!
After he gives me a second to inspect my wounds and make sure I don’t need stitches, we are off to the back door where he springs into action so that all of the neighbors know who is in charge of the neighborhood.
Once he has established he is king, he quickly relieves himself and goes about his morning run. 2 or 3 laps around the entire back yard, without stopping, and he has properly ascertained that nothing will get in his way.
Breakfast with Merlin
Breakfast with Merlin is fast and on the go. He eats a few morsels of his choice Science Diet meal and then takes a little with him. He moves a few feet away from his doggie bowl and places his “to go” order in front of him and he continues to eat one bite at a time as he watches me carefully to make sure I don’t slip away.
He prays I will set my coffee cup down. He loves coffee and again, his tongue moves faster than the speed of light.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food
All of our dogs eat Science Diet Dog Food. Years ago it was recommended by our vet and there has been no reason to change, except for puppies we use Science Diet Puppies small bite food.
For our older dogs, we feed them Science Diet for Seniors.
Merlin takes his job of watching the backyard seriously. After breakfast, it is necessary for him to go out again and inspect the grounds. He knows what should or should not be here and he acts quickly if something is amiss. By now, I am usually able to stumble to the door with my coffee in hand and stand in the door while he surveys his kingdom.
We have a hawk, or I should say we used to have a hawk, that lived in our neighborhood. For some reason, Merlin has the idea that a Retriever is supposed to retrieve. He simply has not learned that we are supposed to shoot the bird first.
The hawk dropped by one day shortly after Merlin moved here and found he was to be the latest, greatest game. The hawk thought he could just swoop in and grab a little baby mockingbird. Little did he know that Momma Mockingbird had already alerted Merlin to his impending arrival and the hawk, himself, was about to become the prey.
I watched Merlin, watching the hawk as it circled the yard. He didn’t move at first, but just as the hawk turned his back to fly into the tree, a growling, snapping Merlin jumped at least seven or eight feet into the air to grab a little tail feather. The hawk flew straight up into the air, Momma Mockingbird was screeching so loudly that I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened. The hawk was screaming, the Mockingbird was screeching and Merlin was barking. The noise alone was enough to make me cover my ears and eyes for fear of what might happen next.
Thankfully, the hawk disappeared into the distance, the mockingbird family settled in for the day and Merlin laid on the grass, head resting on that big paw and waiting for the game to begin again.
To this day, I have not seen that hawk return to our yard or even to our neighbor’s yard, but I know that Merlin looks forward to another Lab and hawk encounter.
After the Morning Inspection
Once Merlin has ascertained that all is well in the backyard, we return inside. On some days, he helps me do the laundry by dragging the dirty towels from the bathroom to the washroom where I load the washing machine, but most days we sit on the couch. During this portion of the morning, he allows me to write articles while he is watching Animal Planet.
Occasionally, if ‘Bad Dog” is not interesting enough, he will snooze. So far, his favorite featured character on “Bad Dog” was a cussing parrot. However, if the commercial with the Tiger licking his chops comes on, Merlin’s head shoots up to see the beautiful tiger. I haven’t quite decided if he likes the tiger or wonders if he is the next big game.
Walks are Required in the Afternoon
By late afternoon, Merlin is ready to run again. It is at this time of the day that he takes his “dad” and “sister” for a walk. They have a particular trail they like to take, but occasionally they will venture to a new trail to checkout the surrounding wildlife. Merlin tolerates my company when I go along to take pictures, but he would rather chase the dragonflies than let me photograph them.
He does make an excellent butterfly spotter! He has even been known to jump into a bunch of wildflowers to make the butterflies fly for me.
I know he must think he is helping!
A Late Afternoon Snack and Nap Time
This is the quietest time of the day. He has watched his favorite programs, exercised, eaten and he feels happy to just relax. It lasts about 20 minutes.
Evenings in the House of Merlin
Because we are eating dinner, he is sitting patiently at our sides watching, waiting and hoping I will drip or drop something. Either way, he behaves fairly well during our dinner time and he always gets recompense for his patience. I have noticed though, that if I am not mindful of what is happening, he will “wash” the dishes for me.
After our dinner, he settles onto his favorite recliner and acts like he is sleeping. Usually, he is just watching, again waiting to see if either of us will do something. I have decided we are his evening entertainment. If we are not entertaining enough, he will seek out his sister to torture, play tug of war with her or gnaw on a Nyla bone. Sometimes, all three things at once. This can go on for hours, interrupted only for the occasional inspection of the backyard.
All Important Nyla Bone
The Nyla Bone is probably Merlin’s favorite toy. His teeth have sharpened the ends so well, that when he drops it on your foot, you feel like you have just been stung by a swarm of bees.
Merlin always supervises me as I secure the house for the night. He trots alongside me as I check and lock each door. He growls at any dark shape lurking in any room where the lights are out. He will only leave that spot when I have turned on the light and he has made certain the dark lurking shape is only a box, a flower arrangement or a lamp that wasn’t there last night.
Then he walks me to bed. After he tucks me in for the night by giving me a nightly paw, he scratches at the carpeting until he has made his bed.
He lays down, but every time I look over at him, he is staring at me. I swear he knows what I am thinking. He will not allow me to sneak, unaccompanied, into the kitchen for a bowl of ice cream. Drat! Thwarted by a Labrador Retriever who thinks he is my keeper.
This is Merlin’s Security Blanket or Pet
Merlin rarely goes outside without his wubba. He has been known to lead me to the back door with great impatience only to return shortly with the previously abandoned wubba which he just happened to remember.
Because This is Merlin’s Favorite Gift and Is Always Received with Great Enthusiasm, Several Family Members Have Given Him Additional Wubbas
He Now Owns a Vast Collection, But There is Always Room for More 🙂