Our Yellow Labrador, Farley, (named after Wisconsin comedian Chris Farley) has reached his 11th anniversary with out family.  Eleven years ago, Bill and I married and bought a home.  Since I already had a four-year-old at that point, it was only fitting to complete our family with a shedding animal. 

Around December 5, 2000, Bill and I made a trip to the Dane County Humane Society.  Just to look, of course.  We had no idea we were about the meet the newest member of our family. 

I remember the little spunky female terrier mix that caught my eye.  She was all white with a huge tan dot on her back.  She was all muscle and very excited, jumping against the cage walls eager to meet us.  With so many other dogs depressed and not making eye contact, I felt she was "the one". 

"One more lap in the other hallway" Bill said.  Thinking I had already found the right dog, I was reluctant but agreed.  We rounded the corner and began the lap in the other dog section.  That is when the Yellow Lab with the big head caught our eye.  He sidled up to the cage door, gazing up at Bill and I.  We were reading his tag that said, "Male,2 yrs old, unneutered, found stray".  We leaned down to introduce ourselves and that is when it happened:  Farley turned on the charm.  He let out a loud "hrrumph" and smooshed his face up against the door to get closer for a head scratch.  He was so thin that his head wasn't proportional.  That was it for me.  I cried out,  "WE CAN'T LEAVE HIM HERE!"  And the rest is history.

Farley's transition into our life was not as easy as falling in love with him.  He had no manners.  That quiet kennel dog dragged the 90-pound staff member down the hallway with her feet barely touching the ground.  He wasn't kennel trained and had extreme separation anxiety.  He battered the kennel door so hard with his head that he bent it beyond repair.  He chewed through bungee cords that held the door shut.  I would come home at lunch to check on him and there he was waiting nervously in the living room with a pile of Christmas decorations and my son's toys covered in drool and piled in effigy for our return. 

At this point we realized "Houdini" (another famous Wisconsinite) would need a much better kennel.

Farley's antics didn't end with the destruction of his kennel.  He was an avid counter surfer and scarfed down entire loaves of fresh bread and a chicken carcass.  He ate a bag of chocolate Valentine candy that later left brightly colored red foil wrappers all over the yard.  An entire jar of peanut butter was worked open with his paws and jaws and he spent several days "sick as a dog" with runs like we've never seen.  A gymnast Barbie was finished off with her leotard left as the only evidence. A block of mozzerella cheese was skillfully hidden in Bill's pillowcase until I changed out the sheets several days later.  Even as an old dog, he hoisted his gimpy ass up onto a chair and devoured my son's entire Easter candy stash. 

Farley is now around thirteen years old.  He is covered in lumps, losing his eye sight and having trouble navigating the many steps on our property.  Somedays he is so stiff he can't get up and we're finding his usual dog food is agreeing with him less and less.  We are dreading the day that we will have no choice but to make him comfortable and say "see ya on the other side, Old Man".  It may be coming sooner than later, but in the meantime, we'll keep scratching his enormous head and thinking how lucky we are to have the world's greatest dog.

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    I'm Rachelle and this is my blog about the experiences of country living with my husband, two boys, two dogs, four cats and seven chickens in southern Wisconsin.


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