Friday, 5 December 2008

Bings that go bump in the night

I’m not sure if I’ve told you but Bingley’s got a recessive gene.

Don’t worry though, I’m not going to recount some kind of midnight horror story; all chocolate Labs have this dodgy bit of biology which can give rise to all kinds of potential issues. In fact it’s so well established that at one time breeders regarded chocolate Labs as faulty produce and disposed of them at birth.

Which I think really is a horror story.

When I first saw an on-line discussion debating the inherent differences between black, yellow, and chocolate Labs I thought the participants were joking: surely a Labrador is a Labrador, regardless of colour. But, not for the first time, I was wrong!

I’m only just beginning to understand this subject, so I’ll come back to it in more detail later. But Bingley’s genes certainly play a part in his allergies. That pesky gene may even account for some of his (mis)behaviour.

There’s a special camaraderie between Labrador owners; an understanding of just what it is that we’re living with! The first Lab owners we met were enthusiastic about the joy of Labradors; then, thinking that we’d sympathise, added the caveat: ‘but aren’t the chocolate ones daft?’

Initially I was shocked and very defensive: how dare you imply that Bingley’s daft! He’s a wonderful dog and bright as a button. But you know what? They might have had a point.

Bing spends most of the day sleeping on the kitchen sofa. Sigh, I’m reminded of the time when I declared that no dog of mine would ever be allowed to sleep on the furniture. Remember the time when I first found him sleeping there? He looked so comfy that I couldn’t bear to move him. Then when his allergies began to seriously develop I reckoned that he deserved plenty of consolations, and as a consequence the kitchen sofa has become his favourite bed.

He’s always enjoyed sleeping on his back, especially if there’s someone around to rub his tummy. If I go into the kitchen and he’s just curled up, he’ll often roll onto his back so that I can pamper my hands with that soft fur. But usually when I walk in he’s already in that position: body stretched at surprising angles with rear legs akimbo and everything on full display. It’s like seeing a cross between a Matisse nude and a canine porn star. (Jane’s censored these photos, but they’re available to premium members on request!!)

Obviously he likes the sofa and he finds sleeping like this very comfortable. In fact everything would be hunky dory if it wasn’t for one small problem: he keeps falling off!

The first time it happened I was sitting alongside him enjoying my morning coffee. Bing was curled up asleep, but gradually he became aware that I’d joined him and thought that his tummy could do with some attention. Unfortunately in his somnambulistic state he rolled the wrong way and landed on the floor with a thump.

Dogs, it turns out, aren’t as agile as cats; so his attempt to land on his paws ended in humiliation. He stood there for a moment with a mixture of surprise and embarrassment on his face, before clambering back onto the sofa and curling up again. I’m sure I heard him muttering under his breath.

Sadly, that isn’t the only time it’s happened. Only yesterday I was working at my computer when I heard a loud thud from the lounge. Padding downstairs I discovered a very dazed looking Bing standing there swaying in front of the lounge sofa. You’re not meant to sleep on there, I told him, but if you’re going to do it at least don’t fall off.

Even when he’s not lying on the furniture I think he might be having problems. Bingley’s dog house is immediately below the bathroom and fortunately doesn’t have a sofa from which he can fall. But on a visit to the toilet last night I heard his cage clattering. I suppose that it’s possible that he was sneaking back in after a journey to the Midnight Garden, but I have a feeling that he was just falling out of bed!

Maybe that recessive gene has gone to his head, I don’t know; but I’ve come to the conclusion that the other Labrador owners could be right: this little pooch might be bright as a button, but he’s also daft as a brush.

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