Leo is our AKC registered chocolate lab. His registered name is Leonitis III. Leonitis from the movie 300. My dad calls him Lumpy Leo, my brother in law calls him Lucifer and I call him my pain in the ass.
We bought Leo when I was between four and five months pregnant with Bradley. The pregnancy hormones clearly affected my thought process. Chris had previously wanted a dog before we had a baby and this was my idea of a solution. The ad in the local paper specified the blocky head a lab should have. Yes, Leo is our blockhead through and through.
The spring semester of my junior year in college I had a little extra time on my hands. That Christmas my mom bought me a book, "Marley and Me." I read it in my spare time. I laughed, I cried and I just fell in love with all of it. As Chris and I drove two hours, I laughed as I thought about Marley, the yellow lab, and remembered to check the demeanor of both parents. By the time we arrived at the farm, I had forgotten.
Within the first few days of owning him, I sent the following email to my family:
Day One (Saturday, April 19):
Got him from Amish people. Chris thought he was lazy and not playful enough. He cried a lot. Separation anxiety. He followed me around everywhere. We got bath stuff, toys, crate, food ( ), treats a couple retriever magazines and feeding dishes. His name started out as Stewy but got changed to Leo (short for Leonitis). Leo was asked to go to his first birthday party at . He stays close to your heels at all times. We went to a cookout and he was the hit of the party. A train went by and whistled, Leo ran mock ten to me and hid. We went home that night, it was late. Chris wanted Leo to sleep with us. He had no accidents in the house.
Day Two (Sunday, April 20):
Chris got up in the middle of the night once to let Leo out. Slept with us all night. Chris didn't get much sleep because he was afraid the dog would poo and it would somehow end up on his face. He sleeps a lot during the day. I tell Chris it's because he's growing. We went outside in the early morning and played. Then Leo and I took a nap. He's a cuddler right now. Ch ris is jealous when we go outside in the afternoon and Leo listens to me more then Chris. There are no accidents in our house. Chris can't get Leo to pee or poo outside, but I can. We played outside again with Leo at night. Chris sat and watched. Then made fun of a preggo lady for running. He said it looks funny.. Chris takes Leo out before going to bed. The dog didn't pee or poo. Leo sleeps with us again. Chris keeps pushing him to the bottom of the bed because Leo breathes in his ear. I keep pulling Leo back up. He wants to lay his head on the pillow.
Day Three (Monday, April 21):
I get up early with Leo. We go outside and go to the bathroom. Then we head back to bed and sleep for another half hour/forty-five minutes. We eat a quick breakfast and put Leo in his crate. We leave at 830 and Leo is crying. He doesn't like being alone. Chris comes home at ten and lets Leo out. He peed in his crate. No big deal, we expect it. He runs with Leo for a little bit. Chris goes to school about ten fifteen, ten thirty. I come home about one. Leo is screaming at the top of his lungs. Leo pooped in his crate. It got all over the three toys Chris put in there. Leo only has a few tennis balls to play with now. I take Leo out. I clean the crate and clean the toys. Leo decides to grab the paper towel roll and try to run with it. I take it from him. Then he grabs the plastic bag I use to put the dirty paper towels in. He doesn't let go. I finally open his jaws and take it. I give him a clean tennis ball to play with. I ask the neighbor if she would watch him for a little so he doesn't cry. We'd be home around 430. She does. We come home at 430, there are no more accidents. I take Leo out to go poop and pee and we run around a little. Chris goes for a run then comes home and takes Leo for a run to the mailbox and a run back. I think Leo is mad at us. I make dinner. Chris is taunting Leo with his hand. Leo tries to bite it. I yell at Chris. I tell him he's teaching Leo to bite hands he says no he's teasing him. I tell him Leo doesn't know the difference. Chris says I'm being mean to him. I tell Chris I'm not and I know a little more about raising dogs then he does. I work on military things. Chris plays with Leo. He isn't good at being stern at telling him no. I have a talk with Chris. He tries. I go to bed. Chris takes Leo to bed with us, I make Chris take him outside first. Chris asked why. I said so he doesn't pee or poop on the bed. Chris takes Leo out he pees. They come back in. Leo knows it's bedtime. We all go to sleep.
Day Four (Tuesday, April 22):
Leo wakes me up at 645. We go outside and go to the bathroom. He doesn't want to go back to bed today. I feed him. He has to go poop so I take him outside again. He goes poop and then comes back in. He still doesn't want to go to sleep. He started to drag the carpet around. I yell at him. I wake up Chris, Chris doesn't want to get up. I tell him he has to. I put the dog on the bed. He cries.. Chris wants to know why he's crying. I say it's because the dog wants to get off the bed and play. He doesn't stop crying. I get up and start playing with the dog. I do laundry. The dog grabs the towl and starts pulling. He doesn't let go. I try to replace it with another toy. It works briefly. The dog is bouncing off the walls the walls today. I make Chris watch him while I take a shower. Chris and the dog are sleeping. It's now 830. Leo is full of shit and vinegar. It must be the puppy chow.
Although Leo has eaten mold, thrown it up and ate it again while we ran for paper towels, eaten part of our deck, many baby toys, diapers, already dead fish he finds on walks, a plastic kiddie pool and countless items from the garbage he has survived it all. Leo is an angel when it comes to Bradley. The baby pulls on his tail, has investigated Leo's paws, bitten Leo's leg, pulled the skin beneath Leo's eyes and tugged on his ears. Leo takes it all. He has never once snipped, snapped, growled or barked at the baby. The best part is they have a conspiracy together. Bradley feeds Leo any chance he gets, giving Leo a lick of this or that before Bradley pops it into his mouth or just plain hands him food, or leaves him leftovers on the floor. All Bradley asks for in return is to use Leo as a jungle gym. Don't get me wrong, Leo did give Bradley a doggy treat one day. Oh the things you find in the mouth of a toddler with a quick finger swipe.
While Leo has his moments, I will never forget the way he reacted the night before I miscarried. Chris and I already knew our baby had no heartbeat. In a rare occurrence I wanted Leo to cuddle with us in bed. Typically Leo doesn't come over to my side of the bed and if he does it's his attempt to push me off with his legs or his incessant barking at me. The scenario normally ends with me complaining to Chris until it's taken care of. This night in particular Leo laid his head on my belly and closed his eyes, not moving and I didn't want him to move.
While Leo has his funny moments, moments of disaster and frustration he also has a kind, caring, patient and warmer side. Even though his rudder of a tail can knock anyone or anything off it's course he means well.