This is the story of how my wonderful yellow lab became my best friend.
I am so blessed to be able to wake up next to such a handsome young man in the mornings. His cuddles make me never want to get out of bed and I love him so much. Although sometimes he does get on my nerves, Max puts a smile on my face every day and I can't imagine having any other dog. Yes, I am talking about my Labrador Retriever. Max came into my life 8 years ago and I will forever believe that every little kid should grow up with a dog.
My 13-year-old black lab, Buddy, passed away the last week of school when I was in 5th grade. The only thing that made my mom stop crying was looking at other puppies and she was on the phone with her sister when she got the idea to get a new dog. I was very devastated also, Buddy was the only dog I had ever known and I felt like a lost puppy myself without him. I remember an empty feeling like something from my life was missing, as if I was a dog lost in the rain separated from my own family. I was still fairly young with two of my four older brothers living at the house so it only made sense to get a new family dog. My parents had three kids at the house that were more than excited to entertain a puppy all day.
We came across a kennel called Shadowhawk Labradors a few hours past Reno, Nevada and my mom made plans to what I thought was just checking out puppies. After about a five hour drive and countless "are we there yet?" questions from 11-year-old me, we finally arrived at the home of Cathy, the breeder. Getting out of the car, I felt like my "sad puppy" attitude had transformed into a rambunctious puppy that could not contain its excitement. When we met Cathy, she was fairly short but had a booming voice and I will never forget being intimidated by her. Cathy asked, "you folks didn't drive over here without a kennel did you?" My mom explained, "well, we are just looking today," and smiled at me. Cathy then looked at us and said "that wasn't my question, dear" and I just remember my imaginary puppy tail immediately going between my legs out of fright. I thought to myself dang, this lady means business. Cathy then led us to the kennel where we saw seven female puppies and two male puppies.
The kennels were all sitting on dirt. No grass, just dirt. I found it odd that these dogs didn't have more room to run around and I could not imagine my own self being stuck in a little cage. Still a bit terrified by Cathy, I slowly walked into the cage and seven puppies started attacking me with kisses. I was so happy and energetic I felt like one of the dogs. I think they thought I was a puppy too because of how much they were licking and jumping on me. Cathy just looked at all of us puppies playing in the pen and laughed. She said "I think maybe you are getting a dog today," to my parents. When I heard that, I tried to keep my cool and not show that I heard her because I didn't want to push my parents; my brothers and I had already been asking them for a new dog nonstop after Buddy passed away. I knew that if a puppy kept barking and yapping, people would get annoyed by it. I had to imagine a muzzle going around my own snout and keep quiet. My parents were tired of my big puppy dog eyes looking up at them begging for a puppy like how a dog begs for food. Dogs know how to sit and look cute and get what they want so I thought to myself okay Amanda just keep acting cute with the puppies you got this.
Going into this meeting, my mom established that she wanted a more cream color dog rather than a yellow, more brassy-colored dog. Also, we knew we wanted a male dog so that narrowed it down to two of the most beautiful puppies I had ever seen- one dark, and one light. I actually liked the darker puppy but when I saw the light puppy chewing on my mom's purse and climbing all over her, I knew he was the one. My mom looked at my dad and said "okay Steve, I think this is our guy."
So I am sitting there clueless and thinking that we can maybe come back and get Max in a few weeks while my parents were outside making the decision to get Max that day. I guess the nine adorable puppies in my face was a good distraction for them to sneak away and have that conversation. After about another hour we were loading Max into the car. Cathy made them go inside and sign a ton of paperwork and I was in the car with Max. Just two puppies hanging out. Cathy came out and said "now I heard this is your responsibility young lady, you take care of my dog." My intimidation eventually turned into admiration because I realized she was so stern because she only wanted what was best for her dogs.
The kennel's lock kept raddling through the entire car ride so it was my job to hold it tight. I was so excited to get Max home and out of the kennel but he did not find the car ride as enjoyable as me. For the entirety of the five hour trip back to Granite Bay, California, I was just staring at a very scared little puppy. He looked like he was absolutely terrified. It was understandable, though, because this dog had never seen the inside of a car. Eventually when we got home we soon realized that he had never even seen grass before. I quickly remembered that all they had in Nevada was dirt and hay. Max was so traumatized by the car ride that he looked miserable. We were all scared that Max was never going to like us. But the next day that all changed.
Max woke up with a spring in his step and was running around like a zoo animal just got out of its cage. I also could not contain my excitement and was running around with him all day. Just two puppies hanging out. He was just skipping around and jumping all over us. And he was a fighter. Those razor sharp puppy teeth ruined a few of my favorite summer shirts but it was all worth it. I could never get mad at his little face.
As time went on he has only adapted to our family more. He has grown a personality much like everyone in my family's own traits. He is a hilarious puppy and when I am away at school I miss him so much. My experience with Max has taught me many things. The most important being that dogs leave a lasting impact on your life. I will never forget when I looked at him sleeping in the car and thought to myself yeah, you're gonna be my best friend. And sure enough, he is.
I strongly believe from my own experience that growing up with dogs make people grow into better people. You learn responsibility and build character by having to take care of a dog and also train it. I had my days of getting frustrated with little Max while I was trying to teach him commands but now he is so well behaved it makes it all worth it. The gratification really does pay off and I think all kids can learn values of loyalty and friendship from dogs. Every time I see Max, I love him so much that I think my puppy tail still wags just as hard as his.