Birthday month in the Humphries household rolls on. Last week, we celebrated Colin’s 3rd Birthday. Coming soon is Aria’s 1st. A week later I turn 34. And of course, in April or AlmostMay as I like to call it, Abby turned 5.
But this week belong to my beloved Chatham pup – or Chats. Today, our little girl turns 4.
Chatham gets a bad rap by a select few (read: Sean). She’s a damn good pup and we couldn’t imagine our lives without her. I think Abby curries more favor as she was the first labby on the scene. Coupled with some of Chatham’s interesting little quirks, she sometimes gets short shrift. But dogs are like kids – they are all different and you love celebrating that which makes them each unique.
That said, I’ll grant Sean this. If you were to work a little Shelley sorcery on the two and fuse them together – you’d come up with one Best in Show and one Hound of Hell. Now, neither dog is a cerberus on their own – but distilled – yeah, we could have a Devil Dog. (P.S. To be fair, Sean likes Chats – he just likes to make it known that he loves Abby.)
Chatham is genuinely a gentle, sweet dog. She does get rambunctious when people come over and she likes to shake your hand with her mouth – not to bite, but to slobber. O.K., perhaps a little gentle nibble from time to time.
Anyway, that’s part of the labrador disposition. They love people (not in the Rotty “love ’em with a splash of A1” style) but in the true “man’s best friend” fashion. So you put up with a little extra slobber in favor of that dogged devotion to meeting you at the front door and instantly fusing with your shadow – her wagging tail quickly dusting off the worries of the day.
Before heading out, I figured I’d drop a little anecdote which ties into the title above.
The impetus behind buying Chatham came as Andi’s solution to a problem that plagued her Work @ Home stint a few year’s back. Back in 2002, Andi had the plush position of working from home. While that afforded great benefits in eliminating her daily commute, it brought with it a constant companion in Abby who would stare at her with mournful eyes, determined to sway Andi with her Canine Mind Trick and get her to drop the nine-to-five for an all day stint of ball toss in the backyard. While Andi welcomed the company, she felt bad that Abby didn’t have a little company of her own persuasion to help pass the day.
So the plan was set to revisit the Ocean Spray Labrador Breeders in Norton, MA and procure another pooch.
We contacted Ocean Spray and they informed us of an impending litter. With our name on the list, we waited until the day we got the call and went down to meet our new family member.
Chatham joined our household in the summer of 2002. I remember fearing that Abby would use this tiny little pup as a chew toy. For the most part, are fears were unfounded, although Abby did give Chats the cold shoulder for the better part of the summer and early Fall. Soon she grew to tolerate her and ultimately they became fast friends.
Which is when Andi found herself, sitting at her work space, locking eyes with not one but two dogs looking for someone to play. If she sent them outside, they’d turn immediately, and try some collective bargaining to get Andi outside. When that didn’t work, the chorus of barks, led by Chatham’s deep-throated bellow, would rise up as the soundtrack to her day. What’s that they say about the best laid plans?
Anyway – we never kickstarted Plan B. The math was too easy to work out. Within a year we’d have 101 damnations staring her down. So we decided to cap things at two and let the pair stare at the house in tandem. Hey – at least they each had company.
These days Chatham spends most of her life sleeping – the proverbial dogs life.
She is a great dog. When I mentioned the good dog, bad dog distillery awhile back – 50% of that ideal dog comes squarely from her. When you bring her for a walk – she stays right by your side – while Abby is dragging you in front of rocketing Mack trucks. At night, when settled down watching TV or reading a magazine, Chatham becomes Foot Puppy – nestled by your feet, keeping them safe from that creeping chill in the air. Also, Chats is the only dog to make a nightly appearance at the kid’s pre-bedtime storytelling session – and she sits and eagerly listens to each installment of Courduroy’s latest exploits.
How else to close but Happy Birthday Chatham!!! You’re a sweet, special pup!!!