Female black Labrador retrievers are what I grew up with. The first that I remember is Reilly; she was pretty old and a bit of a mess from what I recall of her. She had patchy fur and was constantly scratching her skin, apparently due to horrible allergies and “a million health problems”, according to my mom. I loved her of course, especially her lovely white goatee, that of a grande dame. Unfortunately, I remember her always being a little bit stinky, so I didn’t snuggle her too often. At the age of 14, she passed away having developed cancer and as I was still quite young, the impact was not so profound.
The dog that I really connected with the most was Jonesy. We got her circa 1999, so I would’ve been about 10 years old. She was the most athletic dog you could ever imagine. Under her glassy black fur were rippling, defined muscles. If ever you thought, “that dog is ‘juiced'”, one might suspect her (of course we would never do that). She had an infinite well of energy and would play fetch in the backyard or in Lake Michigan for hours until her humans got too tired. Once, she ran through our family friends’ screen door like a sleek black bullet; straight through, just to get to the back yard to see Maggie (Maggie was around for both Freeman dog generations and she was well-loved by all).
Jonesy wasn’t one for excessive snuggling, but you could get her to lay at your feet on the couch, feeling her rib cage rise and fall, hearing an occasional sighing exhalation escape her snout. She had glow-in-the-dark, iridescent green eyes; a truly beautiful face. I would give her a big kiss on her wet nose or her raspberry-colored belly, which she didn’t like. We went through a lot with her. She was hit by a car and survived, like a true Incredible Hulk.
Unfortunately, she was put down my freshmen year of college in 2008 after suffering from blastomycosis. She was only nine and I was truly devastated, especially as I was not there to say goodbye. Thanks to Jonesy, my fondness for black labs continue on. I get excited whenever I see one and I’m sure in the future, I will own one myself.
Being a single lady in the city, I realize a Labrador Retriever would be an inappropriate apartment dog. What the hell would it have room to retrieve in a studio apartment? It’s not the kind of breed that functions well without a ton of exercise and time outdoors; something as a full-time employee, I’d be unable to give at this time.
That said, I’ve looked into other breeds and am set on getting a smaller dog, particularly one from the “squish face sector” as I call it, also known as a brachycephalic breed. Think French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers. I love their bulbous eyes and stout front bodies. My entire Instagram feed is full of videos and pictures of these dog breeds and the itch to have a little buddy steadily grows.
It’s a huge responsibility and I am carefully considering the potential health issues (breathing problems, hip dysplasia, overheating, etc.) that can very quickly result in financial issues; queue an emergency vet visit! I would also have to pack up and move to a dog-friendly building. It would be quite an undertaking, but one that I’m feeling readier for with each month that passes. Perhaps when my lease is up in May of 2020, it will be time to move forward seriously with one of my biggest goals in life: getting a puppy!
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