Chatham at Six

Late April to early June is a busy time for celebration in my household. Every family member has reason to shine during these fleeting few months.

Starting in April, we encounter our yellow lab Abby’s birthday. That leads quickly to Colin’s birthday on May 5th which is immediately followed by Mother’s Day where we try to find words enough to express how much Andi means to us. Later in the month is Aria’s birthday which caps May off and leads us a week later to my birthday.

But wedged in the middle of it all is Chatham’s birthday. This year our sweet little black lab is turning six years old and in the last year she has acquired the scattershot grays that betray her otherwise youthful appearance.

You know how every once in awhile you run into someone who proclaims themselves an accident. You know, either their Mom and Dad couldn’t have kids or one night, they imbibed a little too much of the Boone’s Farm and the next thing you know, Whooops!!!

Well, that’s Chatham. Well, maybe accident is the wrong word after all, I was most certainly not ‘studded’ out.

Chatham was the plan gone awry. (Cue the Hollywood Voice Over).

It was the perfect plan or so we thought. See, a year after we introduced Abby to our home, Andi was well-entrenched in her cushy work at home job as a 401k plan administrator. She’d settle in by her PC and toil away from the comforts of our living room – giving her the ability to avoid the grind of the daily commute and get some housebound errands done during her downtime. Also, as she was home all day, we didn’t require the services of a doggy day care to swing by and make sure our pup was kept peppy.

But, all day she would toil under the watchful gaze of our hound’s sad eyes. Eyes that pleaded – “Please come out and play with me.” If Andi got up to let Abby out the back door for some fresh air, Abby would spin on her haunches and stare at the door hoping that some semblance of canine clairvoyance would kick in and will Andi away from the job and out to the back yard for some good old-fashioned Frisbee toss.

And while Andi would make time to play with Abby it was never time enough – not unless she had plans to spend eight hours out there (with a 15 minute lunch break – of course).

So Andi proposed that we return to Abby’s breeders and see if they had a potential playmate on order. As luck would have it, they were expecting a litter of black labs within a few weeks and we were etched onto the waiting list.

When the call came, we jumped at the chance to procure a new pup. And in short order, Chatham evened the score in our household thereby bringing balance to the force.

In those early days, Abby towered over Chatham and Chats immediately looked to Abby as her surrogate mother. The two were always close by each other’s side and they quickly became fast friends.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan.

Until one morning, while I was at work, when the call came in. The pair of puppy dog eyes had doubled. While Andi tried to work at her desk, she would turn to find both dogs sitting, staring and trying to work their mutt mojo to compel Andi to ditch the nine-to-five and join them in the backyard for ball toss.

Andi found that when she brought both dogs to the back door – their tails whirled with excitement – two little canine helicopters primed for take off. As she opened the door, they burst into the great wide open, bounding across the postage stamp lawn in the blink of an eye. And then they’d stop dead in their tracks and pivot, locking eyes with Andi.

A Showdown at the K-9 Corral.

We could add another dog. And another. Then a whole kennel’s worth and follow that up with a peacock and an orangutan and a kangaroo and a velociraptor and it would do no damn good. They didn’t want to play with each other – they wanted human companionship.

Using the same logic we would later apply to human reproduction, we declared an ultimatum. “We’re not having three. We can’t be outnumbered. We’re playing Man to Man D here – no Zones.”

So to this very day, whether it is hardwired in her brain or simply what she learned in those early days , Chatham will make her way to the back door roughly 16 times a day and whine to go outside. There she’ll wander around for approximately 3 minutes before whining to come back in. That just how she rolls.

And we’re happy to oblige. Like kids, dogs have their own personalities. During the day, Chatham gets awful frisky, especially if visitors come by while Abby keeps a nice even keel. But at night, Chatham wants to be by your side all night long as she crashes hard and gets real sleepy. When I’m settled down on the couch watching TV, she’ll curl in a ball by my feet – a regular foot puppy. And once the clock strikes 10, she goes in search of her Mom where she urges her to go to sleep. Since I crawl into bed a little later most nights, Chatham keeps my spot warm until I come along and give her the old heave ho.

Anyway she is a great dog and a wonderful addition to our family.

Happy Birthday Chats!!!

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