As the More is More Mom, I’m all about … more celebrating Wrigley’s birthday! This week commemorates his eighth birthday. Milk-Bones and rawhide for everyone!
How much is that doggie in the window?
Well, actually, we didn’t find him in a shop window. Perhaps you can tell by just looking at his perfectly square, regal head, and his beautiful, angelic face, that Wrigley is (of course) a purebred chocolate Labrador Retriever. In other words, he hails from … Wisconsin. I mean really, for a dog this special (read: naughty, but lovable), one must pay top dollar and travel five hours round-trip by automobile. One of our most favorite things about him (other than his charming, winning, dear, sweet, and funny personality) is his enormous block head. It is so big, that people frequently mistake him for a Rottweiler. While he is my baby, I am thrilled to pieces that I didn’t actually give birth to him the old fashioned way, because that head would certainly have been a real deal breaker as it made its way through the birth canal. I have nightmares just thinking about it!
At the tender age of eight (Fifty-six in dog years—he’s older than both of his parents!), he is just as naughty now as he ever was when he was just a pup—which is plenty naughty. When he was a little guy, I would always tell him that if he didn’t shape up, I would take him to Chinatown where they would make mu shu Wrigley out of him. At nearly 100 pounds, that would have been some pretty good eating.
One of Wrigley’s favorite pastimes is to swipe things that don’t belong to him. He’s surprisingly quiet and cat-like for such a moose of an animal. He loooooves it—almost as much as a good belly rub (and who doesn’t love a good belly rub?)—when you chase him around in circles after he steals something. Oh, he lets me know when it’s go time. The chase is on when out of the blue, I hear an enormous thud upstairs, and then I hear him tear down the hallway. He’s got something that doesn’t belong to him, and he can’t wait for me to find out what it is! Sometimes he does these things for the sport of it, and other times he just can’t help himself. Once, when Amanda was little, we were having lunch while we watched one of Nick’s baseball games. She was eating a lovely sandwich, made from very thinly sliced leftover filets, while sitting in a folding chair. Before we knew it, Wrigley had quietly snuck his enormous head between the chair and the armrest, and was nibbling at her sandwich from the underside. She never saw him coming.
Like any good Lab, Wrigley’s been up to plenty of mischief during his first eight years. He once ate the armrest off of the door of our car—down to the metal stud. Twice he has eaten a tray of brownies. The vet’s office informed me this was not a lethal dosage for an animal of his size. When I inquired what would be a lethal amount, they did not respond, and I think they may have reported me to DPFS (Department of Puppy and Family Services). Seriously, when I brought him in for his eleven week check up, the doctor was running behind schedule due to an unexpected bunny rabbit emergency. When I told them I couldn’t wait any longer because I had to pick up my human children from school, they said I could leave Wrigley with them for his check up, but that he was so darn cute he might not be there when I returned. I told them, “Don’t make any promises you’re not willing to keep.”
Those animal lovers are crazy! I once had to bring them a stool sample, and they thought nothing of the fact that I had dog poop in my Kate Spade purse. I am quite sure Ms. Kate Spade had never intended her beautifully crafted handbags to be used to carry doggie stool samples.
Wrigley was such a holy terror when he was a little pup, that I cried nearly every day for the first six months. Chuck would tell me, “If you want to, we can give him away.” Between sobs I would tell him, “Of course I want to give him away! But he lives here now.”
He has gnawed through the telephone cord, while I was talking on the phone. He ate a burning bush, one branch at a time. When he didn’t die right away, I prayed that it was a slow releasing poisonous bush (which it was not). He ate all of the bark—strip by strip—off of our beautiful Crimson King maple tree. It went into shock and died. He ripped entire sheets of lattice off of our deck. When he would dig holes in the backyard, and all you could see were his hind quarters, I would tell him, “Go ahead and keep digging. It’s just about deep enough to be your grave.”
One time he was angry with me, because I put up the gate to keep him near me in the kitchen. Just to spite me, he went and took a bite out of my favorite Puma gym shoes, and brought the piece over to me and dropped it at my feet.
But I think my favorite naughty Wrigley story would be when he spent the night at my parent’s house, and while George slept on the couch (because Wrigley was peacefully sleeping next to my mom on George’s side of the bed, and George did not want to disturb him), Wrigley stole his teeth! My mom heard a strange clank, clank, crunch sound, and made the unpleasant discovery that George’s denture plate was gone! She pried open Wrigley’s mouth, and stuck her hand inside to find that he had already dropped it on the floor. Thankfully there wasn’t any damage—they were just covered in gooey, slimy, dog slobber. Apparently Wrigley hasn’t read any of Emily Post’s etiquette advice on how to be a good houseguest.
But more than anything … Wrigley is a lover. He has a girlfriend, Genevieve. When she’s not outside, he’ll meander to her house and tap at her front door until her mom, my friend Missy, either lets Gen out or allows Wrigley in. His best friend in the entire world, however, is Hobbs, who lives next door. They have been pals since they were puppies. Hobbs is a Golden Retriever by birth (meaning normal), but is an honorary Lab through friendship. He certainly holds his own when Wrigley comes charging at him at top speed. Hobbs is a true friend.
He loves his Nana, my mom, in a completely bizarre and unnatural way (though she totally encourages his obsession). At the mere mention of her name, the drooling, the whimpering, and the pacing begins. He reverberates with excitement! Nothing trumps his Nana.
I’ve never had a dog before, and had absolutely no idea the kind of love you can feel for an animal. To me, Wrigley is not just a dog—he is my baby. When people ask how many children I have, I say three: my son Nicholas, my daughter Amanda, and my furry son Wrigley. I am now one of those crazy dog people.
Wrigley represents the very best parts of our family: love, affection, a sense of adventure, loyalty, devotion, adoration, and satisfaction. He plays hard and he loves hard. He enjoys everything with such complete freedom and abandon—swimming at the quarry, sticking his head out the window when we go in the car (someone always gives him a window seat), the vigor with which he takes off for our runs in a dead sprint (nearly taking my arm out of its socket every single time), the way he flies down the stairs when he hears the garage door open (and he hesitates for just a moment at the window in our living room to make sure it’s us before he meets us at the door), and the way he enjoys and appreciates a fine meal.
When we first got Wrigley, he was seven weeks old, Amanda was seven years old, and Nick was ten. Soon Nick will be heading off to college and Amanda will be driving. Where did the years go?
This is Wrigley, our beloved dog who has never missed a meal, said no to a chance to go bye-bye in the car, turned down an invitation to go for a run, met a stranger, missed an opportunity to nudge a guest in the crotch, or ask for a belly rub. This is Wrigley … this is love.
More loyalty, more love, more devotion, more family …