ABlogAbout Dexter: A Pup Grows in Portland

Dexter, the day we took him home. We took him down to the theatre where we worked, so that everyone could meet him. Everyone was in love with him.
Dexter, the day we took him home. We took him down to the theatre where we worked, so that everyone could meet him. Everyone was in love with him.

Hubby says that Dexter had enormous paws. I didn’t have much to compare them to, but I thought they looked about normal. He was very dense for a puppy, though. In the mass way, not in the intelligence way. Looking back I can see that there was very clearly a giant waiting to emerge. But for the moment, all I knew was that he was all mine.

Early on, Dexter was like any puppy. He was adorable and he slept a lot. When he wasn’t sleeping, he was playing, or annoying his big sister.

Seriously, that face! Can you resist that face? Those eyes?
Seriously, that face! Can you resist that face? Those eyes?

Zeta was perplexed and grumpy about the whole thing. She clearly said to us, “What the hell is this thing you’ve brought home? When does it leave?” But eventually she warmed up enough to play the big sister. She spent a lot of time correcting him. Training him to be a dog, if you will. There was a lot to correct – he bothered her constantly. She was not amused.

Zeta's primary concern:
Zeta’s primary concern: “Will this little brown thing get more treats than me?”

Zeta, wondering what the hell we’d gotten her into. Why is he sleeping on her back? Heavy dog sigh.
Zeta, wondering what the hell we’d gotten her into. Why is he sleeping on her back? Heavy dog sigh.
Finally starting to play, Zeta teaches Dexter the classic game of tug-of-war. This would be useful later, as they could work together to open all sorts of things. Food, bags, pillows….
Finally starting to play, Zeta teaches Dexter the classic game of tug-of-war. This would be useful later, as they could work together to open all sorts of things. Food, bags, pillows….

Left to his own devices, he was your typical puppy troublemaker. We always say, “It’s a good thing they are cute, or puppies would never make it!” Puppies have a wonderful, bouncy energy. It’s infectious… and exhausting. They learn by trying things out, and there is a big world to explore! Plus, he was teething. Oh, the teething phase! How do we ever get through that? It seemed like he was teething for years.

Dexter chewing on one of his favorite things: wood. Not as yummy as electronics, but close!
Dexter chewing on one of his favorite things: wood. Not as yummy as electronics, but close!

Add to that the fact that he was a Lab (known for being very orally fixated) and you had a recipe for disaster. He liked chewing…. Everything, really. The walls and the trim, shoes, boxes, chair legs. But mostly, he chose electronics. We sacrificed so many phones and headsets – anything with a cord was fair game.

At some point in his early puppy-hood I had to make a business trip to Arizona, to conduct a conference. I missed my baby terribly, so Hubby put up a webcam that would allow me to spy on him during my down time. I was so happy to have a way I could stay close to him!

The conference went on, and we built a great rapport within the group. As a proud mommy, I thought it would be great to show everyone at the conference my beautiful boy So during a break I fired up the webcam, displayed it on the big screen and…..

To my utter horror, there was carnage all over the living room. The large, expensive universal remote I’d bought Hubby for his birthday lay strewn across the living room floor. He lay there, looking around with a cord in his mouth. Happy-go-lucky as ever. Zeta – truly helpful – was asleep on the chair beside him. THIS would have been a good time for his older sister to give him a little guidance. But nooooooo.

Day 1 – electronic carnage
Day 1 – electronic carnage

In a panic, I tried dialing the home phone. I thought maybe the sound of the phone ringing would startle him out of chewing. No luck. He just kept chewing. There was no hope, the remote was a lost cause. I thought it wise to warn Hubby about what he’d be walking into when he got home, so I left him a message. He loved that remote – one of the best presents I ever gave him. He was definitely going to be pissed off. I just hoped I’d still have a dog the next day!

Day 2: Puppy Jail
Day 2: Puppy Jail

Hubby is the master of finding solutions. So, by the next day he had devised a way to address the problem. After having such a good laugh the previous day, folks wanted to see what Dex was up to again the following day. I fired up the webcam again, and this time found a sad dog sleeping in a makeshift jail cell. No more electronics were destroyed during my trip.

And so it was that Dexter became the official Mascot of the Learning Community of Practice. For years after that, members would recount the story of seeing the destruction. Dexter made an impact – once you’d met him, you didn’t forget him. This may have been my first clue that he would be so memorable. The community loved him (or at least they played along). He’d show up photographed in reindeer antlers during the holiday season, or just randomly to announce something. At the beginning of our meetings, I would often recount some adventure or Dexter Happening as I called them. These people walked alongside Dexter, cheering him on during the low times and laughing at the crazy times.

At this point you may be wondering why he was not crate trained. It’s a very good question.

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