Kobe was a Christmas gift for my 16-year-old son. As I was the one making the commitment to this pup, there wasn’t going to be a problem with me breaking this cliché. That year, I had just learned my son was still holding a torch for a dog we had homed temporarily during his childhood. She was a typical Golden Retriever who became the only dog ever allowed on my son’s bed. Luna was sweet, funny and had a needy disposition which turned my little boy into a Golden lover for life! So I went out and bought a puppy, a red ribbon, and a faux fur blanket to create the greatest childhood image ever!
The picture of a boy and his dog are classic but it takes a lot of work to make that translate into reality.
Puppies don’t always make great companions for kids. Both can be impatient, frustrating and even destructive. In order to get to the point where they equally enjoy each other’s company, parents have to step in and do the work. Your child might be initially disappointed by the lack of relationship. The pup might only enjoy short play sessions which often get too rowdy for the kids. But in the end if you keep the interaction monitored and positive you can build a relationship that is in-destructible. Take this time to train the animal what will be expected of him. Obedience is an English lesson, where you teach the pup the definition of the words. You don’t demand he obey until you’ve thoroughly explained what you want. By the way this applies to your kids too! There can’t be any shortcuts if you want perfection!
It takes 18 months to get through the training process.
Kobe, like many puppies would intermittently steal the toilet paper and run it through the house. Although it was funny we removed the roll until he forgot about it and then would start all over again. Training can be tiresome if you don’t expect and accept you will have these little battles. As most retrievers need to carry something in their mouths we worked on sock stealing for a long time. We never told him not to pick up the scattered dirty laundry on the floor. Instead we taught him to bring it to us. There is no sense in fighting an uphill battle, Golden’s will pick up socks! By the beginning of his second year the lessons were further apart and the two were spending more time snuggling on the couch or walking to the lake. His dream life with his dog had finally become a reality.
Kobe moved to University with my son a few years back and although they now have their degree the two continue to be the greatest companions.
The pair were routinely seen visiting the library late at night, walking through campus and probably have the most active social life at the school. Living a frat lifestyle is not for every dog. The boys can be careless, dirty and sometimes too social. But Kobe’s training has carried him through this highly risky and somewhat dangerous world. He is reliable off lead if a door happens to be left open, he doesn’t take food off tables, floors or open garbage bags, socks pose no threat to him and he is so well known that no one dare be unkind or cruel. I wouldn’t encourage most students to try and take on this responsibility but for my boys it has been the most memorable rewarding experience. I am comforted knowing that they were safe in each other’s company while enjoying the time of their lives!
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ― Anatole France