There is nothing more amazing than watching a Labrador Retriever chase a dummy in the water. We used to buy the big ones because the weight let you throw it further. With a 12-inch rope hanging off the end, you can throw one the length of a football field, and even further if you have a good wind to help you. Willy was our first Lab, and now we have Velvet. Velvet is showing a lot of enthusiasm in the play fetch department, and we can't wait to get her to a pond or lake.
We formally introduced Willy to the water when he was six or seven months old. It was still pretty cold and there was a big iceberg in the middle of the pond that day. The Story of how he talked himself into swimming was just one example of how he built a place for himself in our lives and our hearts.
Velvet has not met the water yet. Not really. On a recent road trip she managed to get her feet wet in a small stream/drainage ditch at a gas station off the highway and she appeared to like it. I didn't know the spot and she had to be in the car crate all day, so I wasn't letting her get wet. She wanted to go deeper though, and I wanted to let her, even though I didn't.
Downstairs in my workshop (off limits to puppies) is Willy's throwing dummy. It is still too big for Velvet, but I plan to get her a puppy sized one in the next week or so. We'll be going to the cabin at the end of May and I'm thinking that will be her first real introduction to the lake and swimming.
I'm excited about it because, Labs. Love. Water. There is just no other word for it. Love. They will run into it up to their shoulders just to have a drink, to cool off after a long car ride, or just for the sheer joy of being in the water. Even though Velvet has a much different personality (she is SUCH a girl!) than Willy had, I know that water is going to be a big deal for her.
A family friend took his Lab out west on a trout fishing trip with my brother. The river was fast, there were rapids and waterfalls, and the water was high. The dog saw a branch coming down the river and went after it. Before the guy could do anything, the dog had plunged into the swift, fast current and disappeared over the rapids. They searched for hours, but to no avail. Finally, certain they had lost the poor pup to river, they gave up.
Imagine their surprise when it greeted them at the truck, branch still in it's mouth.
Willy knew the name of his toys, and Velvet is learning the same, and even knows that her balls have different names. There's bouncy ball, squeaky ball, and pinkie ball. Tell her to fetch one or the other and she goes and gets it. Like Willy, I'm sure that upon arrival at the lake, Velvet will dig her dummy out of the car and take it down to the dock where she will beg and cajole us into throwing it for her.
Of course, it won't take much on her part to get us to do that, because one of the great joys in life is watching a water dog playing in its element, the water.
Please Note: If you put a rope on the end of a throwing dummy, don't make a loop. The dog's foot can become entangled in it and put them in danger in the water. Only use a straight piece of rope.
Photo by Mike & Margaret Williams Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved