I’ve always been an animal lover. I think it’s in our nature to love and be protective over the defenceless, it certainly should be. Dogs are very reliant on us humans. I’ve always had a love for dogs and wanted my own. When I was 5 years old my mum and dad got my sister a Little Jack Russell Puppy for her 13th Birthday. They called him Scamp. He looked very much like the dog from the American sitcom Frasier for those of you who’ve seen it. I remember when he was brought into the house with a little green ribbon tied around his neck in a bow. My sister and all her friends were showering him with attention. I sat on the steps crying because I couldn’t get to stroke him.

He was part of the family for 16 years, If memory serves me right he died when I was 21. I cried too when he passed away. My dad said those famous words ‘never again’ after Scamp passed away as it upset him so much. Though 2 years later he gave in and got a Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross. They called him Oscar, he’s still going strong today at 14.

Back in 2010 I was on a lads holiday in Greece. There was a dog we believed to be a stray that I’d sometimes feed. He was Labrador cross. He wouldn’t let you near him so I’d put the food down and walk away. When the coach came to pick us up on the last day, the dog followed the coach for about 3 or 4  miles. Staring straight at me. My friends couldn’t believe it. I guess I’ve always been that guy that animals warm too. Looking back I wish I could have done more but just didn’t know where to start. One thing it did do was reiterate the fact I wanted a dog.

This wasn’t going to be easy. I worked 5 days a week on shifts and back then I was a bit obsessive with going to the gym. My plan was to get a dog that I can go running with on the canal through the woods etc, and quit the gym. I had a girlfriend at the time who worked 9-5 and given my mum and dad could help with walks, it was game on. I had to research a little on what dog would be suitable for me (dogs 101 videos on youtube may help if you’re unsure what breed to get) . I thought the gun dog type would be best. A dog that is big, bright and reasonably easy to train. At first I looked at getting a Weimaraner, which is a very handsome breed. Then I decided there’s only one breed for me. Labrador….

I looked online and found a litter of 9 Labrador Puppies, 7 yellow and 2 fox red. I liked the fox red colour, nice to be a bit different. I phoned and met the owners, a lovely family, they explained that their dog was only going to have this one litter. We did everything you’re supposed to, saw the puppies with mom, checked vaccinations were up to date etc….Now it was just about choosing one. My ex Liz liked the look of the biggest pup which kind of bruised it’s way through the rest. Then I saw one of the fox red coloured ones breeze through the rest without a care in the world with a certain elegance. A bit like the scene in Shawshank Redemption when Andy Dufresne walks in the prison yard. He walked straight over to Liz, up her knees and stuck his head straight between her cleavage. We’ll take that one !

(Above is Leos first day at mine, 8 weeks old ) We’d been to see the pup a couple more times and at 8 weeks old he was ready to take home. I called him Leo, I like the name and wanted something easy to shout and for him to respond to. I had everything ready for him, bed, toys, food, lead, collar etc….They say dogs will always whine on there first night. Here’s another Shawshank comparison…haha.  Like Dufresne, Leo didn’t make a peep that first night. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perception I had the first few weeks of Leo’s life at home due to an accident at work in which I hurt my hand. It was great fun teaching him to sit, lie down, catch, come to heel (litter training wasn’t as much fun). I also took him to puppy classes to socialise him with other dogs.

It was soon time for me to go back to work. I thought the kitchen was a big safe open place and the least place he could do any damage whilst I was at work. I mean he was surrounded only by cupboard doors. I knew that Labradors were prone to chewing as puppies. So I’d done all I could to combat that. I’d bought kong toys, toys where there’s a puzzle to find the treats, balls…….all kinds of different toys and chews to keep him entertained. Cue the madness…Looking back I should have got him a big crate. At the time I thought that may have been cruel. He chewed skirting boards, cupboard doors, normal doors, chair legs, wall paper, plaster behind wall paper….. At one point I thought he was building a tunnel through to the house next door. Once I came home to find he’d gone through half a dozen eggs. That day we was going out for a walk with my friend and his boxer. That was the smelliest car journey I’ve ever been on !

Eventually he grew out of the chewing phase. It only happened from time to time over a matter of weeks but did cost me a new kitchen.It was all worth while. Now I fully understand where the phrase a mans best friend comes from. He’s now 5 years old. Today we went on a 10k run through the woods and on the canal. I take him on one long walk/run and a shorter one every day. A big dog like mine gets you outdoors seeing different places that I might not have otherwise. He comes away on most of our holidays too. On Monday we are going to the lake district to stay in a lodge. The Lake District is found in the North of England and offers wonderful scenery and walks around the lakes. (Below is Leo in the Lake District)

For me a dog brings so much into your life, they’re loving, loyal, comical and most of all make you a better person. Labradors are often used as therapy dogs due to their calm demeanour, gentle disposition and friendliness to strangers. Trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes,nursing homes,schools, hospices,disaster areas and people who suffer from depression and autism.  I believe if you have time and you are an animal lover who doesn’t underestimate the commitment you should go get a dog. (Below, Leo enjoying the beach)

Me and my buddy Leotastic love each other and have a ball together (no pun intended). 

I just wanted to share that with you.


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