“What can I say? I like the taste of socks!”
I don’t really care what color or length they are; I just like the feel of them. When I see a sock around the house, I just have to have it. It is kind of an obsession. I guess everyone is weird in a way, right? It started when I first came home as a little puppy. You probably know by now that we call my home “Paradise,” cause it is so awesome! I am not sure if you knew that I don’t live alone in Paradise. When I moved to this house, I was just a six-week-old pup and had to share my space with three other Labs, grandpa Alfie (who was white), cousin Buddha (who is black), and my twin- brother Balou (who is also black). We have lots of fun together, but honestly, if you had to spend every day with these three, you might look for a unique way to get some attention as well.
The family we live with in Paradise; Mom, Dad, and all four kids are wonderful and I love them, but it’s pretty hard to get them focused on MY needs sometimes! I think that is how my obsession about socks started. Of course I knew we could not chew things that belonged to the grown ups, but I kind of wanted to see if I would get caught or not. The first time I did it, it was only because I found one in the laundry room on the floor and it just smelled really good. It had that odor of stinky feet, kind of like the smell of my own fur when I am wet. I love it!
So I grabbed it before the others could, and left it between my cheeks until it got completely soaked. The flavor and smell saturated my senses so much that I thought I was going to pass out. I was really happy though, and felt like I could have climbed the highest mountain. It was like getting a really good dog bone soaked in meat juice. The others had no clue what I was doing; it was my own little secret. There was one problem though, I knew if I spat it the sock after I had enough of it, the others would get a sniff of it and things would never be the same. So that is when I swallowed my first sock! It was a little white tennis sock, and because it had been soaked so well, it went down really easily. I very quickly got good at it, and before I knew it, I started looking for other socks to get the same satisfying feeling again of that soaking sock in my mouth. I think it was after the fifth time I did it, when my mom saw me in my corner with my cheeks bulging out (because a sock was inside) and she laughed so hard, I thought she was crying. I did not know what to make of her response and sat still as a mouse, not to spill the secret and ruin the experience. But once she had caught on, I was done! She made me spit out the sock. And she told me I could not do it again. She was laughing though, so I figured it could not have been that naughty. Of course she did not know that I had done this before! I decided to keep my secret.
The great thing about Paradise is that things are wonderful all the time, so I could just lie around the yard to make the time go by. I tried not to dwell on my empty cheeks and looked for other things to do. By now, my mom and dad had found the digested proof of my strange obsession. When they cleaned up the yard, I heard them scream a bunch of times that they “found another one” and kept repeating how icky that was. I could not believe when my big brother Buddha, who always is trying to be the favorite with mom and dad, picked up a ball in the yard and brought it to them with his black tail wagging and a sway in his step as if to say “look at me, mom and dad, I don’t ever do such things, I am the good dog, you love me more right?” I can’t stand it when he does that, but he get’s away with it! And right in front of my eyes, Mom and Dad pat him on the back and cuddled with him complimenting him on bringing a ball. Pfft, I find it dumb. A ball is easy to find, and even easier to pick up. After all, we are Labrador RETRIEVERS, but whatever. My big brother always does that kind of thing trying to make it seem like we are not as good as him. Of course, this time I could not run up to them and wag my tail even harder because by now, they had found all the socks I ate and would not be happy. I thought it was probably a good day to stay out of sight.
Even though I wanted to be a good dog, and knew socks were a big “no-no,” I could not resist them, and when I was about six months old, I swallowed one that was really big. I think I found it under my dads’ bed. It was black and really long. I rolled it up between my cheeks like every other time, but that night I started to feel really crummy. The next morning my belly hurt so badly, I did not even want to get up. Of course my mom noticed, she is that kind of mom, but after breakfast she had to go to work and told me to rest in my bed and promised she would be back in a little while to check on me. I was alone all morning with grandpa Al and my two brothers Balou and Buddha. I think Grandpa Al knew I was sick, he kept looking at me when I would groan but nobody could do anything about it. That night I did not even feel like eating dinner, and that is how mom and dad knew something was really wrong. Labradors are famous for their appetite! We take pride in it and like every kind of food, at any time, in any quantity. We are known to steal turkeys and hams off dinner tables…well, Labradors are, not me personally of course. I would never do such a thing!
I won’t ever forget that Friday, when I got sick to my stomach and my mom scooped me up, put me in the car, and started driving with a very concerned look on her face. You have to understand that while most dogs probably love to get in the car and go for a ride, for us, dogs in Paradise, getting in a car and going for a ride was NOT good news. Usually a car ride meant bad news. It meant shots of some kind, or the dentist, or worse, the hairdresser! Our home was like Paradise, we had a huge yard all to ourselves. There were many areas to explore and we never needed to go for a walk because we had so much to do in our own yard that going for a ride in the car only ever happened when something bad was on the schedule. So I get pretty anxious when I get put in the car. This time I was too sick to even worry about that. I just wanted my mom to fix my bellyache and make me feel better. She was talking to me, and telling me that everything would be all right. Meanwhile, I felt worse by the minute. When we got to the Hospital, I almost fainted. The horrible smell of medicine and cleaning supplies were almost too much to sniff, but I was comforted that I also sensed a lot of other animals. And I smelled pee, at least ten different kinds! I tried to distract myself by trying to guess what kind of dog I smelled, or what other animal was close. The people were nice to me but I did not like it when they took my temperature. I secretly wondered how they could not see that something was wrong with my belly and not my behind?
It was a sad moment when my mom suddenly said goodbye to me. She had tears in her eyes. I admit that I had been so busy playing my “find the smell”” game, I had not listened to the woman in the white coat when she spoke with my mom. Clearly something had just happened which had turned my life in paradise upside down. And the tears in my moms’ eyes did not reassure me. I wanted t run after her, but the door had already closed, and the only thing I knew was that she said she would be back. Now, I may still be a puppy, but I know my mom tells the truth. I trust what she says, and I heard her clearly; she said she would be back. The question was when?
When my mom left, the people were really nice to me. They took me into a back room and showed me where I would be sleeping. There was a green wool blanket, and a bowl of water. There were six other dogs in beds next to mine! For a short moment I thought that maybe I was here for a play date, but then I realized the room was full of dogs who all looked equally worried. I wondered why I was here.
Well, one thing nobody in that room knew about me yet, but they where about to find out, was that I could actually talk. I could move my lips and haul and it would make sounds that really showed my feelings. I felt I had deserved the right to let them know, cause this was not paradise! Far from it!
The sounds I made got attention all right, and I wagged my tail when a young woman came in. She was pretty, with friendly brown eyes, and long brown hair. She was not very tall and I gave her kisses, which I think she liked a lot. She smiled at me, but she told me that I needed to sleep and rest so I could be ready to see the doctor later.
I had no idea what she was telling me but she made me feel better anyway. She acted like she was the mommy of all the dogs in the room, but if you ask me, she had too many kids, because she never had enough time for me! I decided to take a nap. A couple hours later the young woman took me to another room and I met the doctor. He was super nice and told me that they would take the sock out of my belly because it had gotten stuck there. He said he had to give me a shot but they would scratch my belly at the same time so I would not even feel it. I felt much better after they told me what they were going to do, and was not scared any longer. The next few hours were honestly a blur to me. I remember seeing people come in and out of the room.
They would clean up my blanket or give me food. There was not much snuggling, which I would say is a major drawback of this place! And the food was pretty icky as well; it was some kind of “mushy goop.” It looked like something my brother Balou would eat in the yard! He eats everything and always gets in trouble for it. But dinner is my favorite part of the day, and now they were ruining that as well. I was upset and, honestly, I missed my brothers and grandpa. And of course the kids at home and my mom and dad. I was really sleepy all the time and just tried to imagine I was back in paradise.
When I woke up, my head was wrapped in a big plastic cone, it was so annoying cause I could not even lick my body parts! And they were really itchy. The pain in my belly was still bad, but it was different from before I had gone to sleep. It hurt on the outside not the inside of my belly. I wondered if the doctor had taken the sock out already. The bandage on my paw was really bugging me as well, but anytime I tried to get my teeth on the little edge, that plastic cone shaped thing around my head got in the way. When I made my famous “talking sounds,” it seemed to make the noise one hundred times louder because of that thing. It made my ears ring and gave me a headache! That was obviously not my intention. Next to me was a Labradoodle who wanted to be friends. We had a good time playing the smelling game. Of course I won every time because Labradors are famous for that. We have that whole sniffing thing “down.” After all, we are hunting dogs and know how to find ducks in smelly ponds. But he was a good sport about it, and kept playing even though I was winning every match. We did not talk about home much; we both knew our mom would come back, we just did not know when. I hoped it would be soon. The mom of the dogs came by all the time to check on us and she reminded me of my own mom. There was a night-light, but other then that, it was a pretty dark room and the blanket was warm but not nearly as warm as the comfy couch I sleep on at home with my brothers. I told the Labradoodle named Bailey about Paradise and she could not believe it. I think he was pretty jealous. There was one other dog in the room. He looked like my brothers but he had a lot more grey hair. He just barked at us the whole time. I think he was scared but did not know how to show his feelings. I tried to teach him by showing my technique, to haul while moving your lips at the same time. When I do it, my whole face has wrinkles on it. It did not cheer up the Black Lab. He was too grumpy to take any advice.
The next morning the dog mom told me I would go home that day. Bailey also was going home. It made us so happy that we decided to sing a song together. It began with the gray haired black lab and his monotone bark. I chimed in with my hauling and moving lips, and soon, all he dogs joined in what sounded to me like a symphony. Who would have known that a Bloodhound would be an amazing Baritone? I tried to watch how he did it. I think he had an advantage because of his huge wrinkles in his face. Besides his lips are so big that he could blow a lot of air into them, which makes the sound I like to make. It reminded me of being home with all my brothers. When mom and dad are gone, we sometimes stand in the hallway in front of the window and when somebody walks by, one of us will start barking. A couple seconds later, another will join and we all start hauling and we make a really good team. I think the people appreciate it, because they always look at us. The dog mom came in the
room and gave us all cookies. She clearly liked my orchestrated symphony. When I heard my mom open the door, I started to sing all over and could not have been happier when she told me: “it was time to go home”. I said goodbye to my new friends, gave a last wet kiss to the young brown-eyed girl who had given me lots of cookies. I really think I was her favorite dog. My mom thanked every single person and then we finally left. I was so grateful to be outside where the sun was shining and the birds were flying. I was happy to go back to Paradise.
And of course on the way home, I told my mom the whole story.