Only weeks after losing our beloved Dallas , I adopted Dudley, the little chocolate lab mix. One year ago today we began a new adventure and established this day as his birthday.
A friend sent me the internet posting for "Dudley", a small chocolate lab mix. Because of his name, I paid extra attention. For the Love of Labs  said he was mild mannered, polite and loved belly rubs more than anything (later I found out that he really loves food more but belly rubs are a definite second). Dudley came from Missouri when I was still grieving over the lost of the best dog in the world. I trusted that everyone who encouraged me was right; I would love this dog that I had never met.
Within moments of meeting us, Dudley jumped in the car and was ready for another adventure. And so began the year with the little brown bundle my son called "Mom's internet dog".
It takes four seasons
I have heard people say that you need to be with someone in all four seasons to really know them and the same is true for dogs. Dudley was nothing like he is now when I first met him and every season brought changes and experiences.
He never misbehaved. If anything, he was strangely docile for many months. I think he was depressed. He didn't play with toys or chase balls. He rarely even chewed on sticks. At about 3 months, that changed. Suddenly he pounced on squeaky toys and chased balls, shooting through the yard like a little brown bullet. After 6 months he really relaxed and became a vibrant, loving, happy and well adjusted sweet dog. He started barking at the mailman and when visitors came to the door. He became the master of the house. I think it took him that long to believe he was here to stay.
Dudley is a fantastic car traveler and has logged several thousand miles in the past year. He is happy to ride and sleep and explore new places at rest stops, marking his path at every stop. He even gets an occasional fast food meal (no bun for the dog).
Just before Christmas we had our "Nightmare on Broad Street" when he discovered and ate rat poison from an improperly installed bait container in the middle of our downtown. Dudley had a rough afternoon following treatment at the vet but recovered quickly.
He was a little confused by all the activity but he loved his Christmas bounty of dog bones and a stuffed toy. Our winter was so mild that he didn't get to experience a real snowfall and weather never impeded our daily walks.
Spring came early and was beautiful. We took long walks and enjoyed the arrival of new life. Dudley was pleased that the rabbits were out in force and he continues to enjoy his evening rabbit hunts in the neighborhood.
His birthday/adoption anniversary, was like most days. He inhaled his breakfast, patrolled the garden, napped, took a long walk around the neighborhood and through the woods, napped, changed locations and napped some more, patrolled the garden a few more times, inhaled his dinner, took a 30 minute walk, napped, patrolled the garden to rid it of the encroaching night creatures, and settled in for the night. His birthday gift was his contentment in knowing he has the important job of garden sentry, guardian of the home, and master of the back seat of the car.
In honor of his birthday, I made a contribution to For the Love of Labs . I am grateful to them for saving Dudley and for giving many more dogs good forever homes.
The Year in Review: Dudley's Stats
- 550 hours of walking; 1,375 miles (2.5 miles per hour; 90+ minutes per day)
- 1,100 or more bags of poo collected on walks
- 5,110 or more markings on bushes (average 7 per walk)
- 12 pounds lost; 21% of body weight (now slim and trim at 45 lbs)
- 4,900 miles traveled by car
- $2,100 vet bills and medicine
- $250 dog chow
Dudley's Lessons Learned
- It is great to be loved.
- Cats scratch.
- Green beans are filling and help with weight loss.
- There is a new discovery on every walk, every day.
- The mailman will not come through the door as long as you bark at him.
- Visitors bring treats and belly rubs.
- You're asking for trouble if you swim in the garden pond.
- Hanging around the kitchen during cooking time usually pays off.
- Rays of sun through the window mark the best napping spot.
- The best part of a bath is the end.
- Trouble is walking in the only carpeted room in the house with muddy feet.
- Home is right here.
- Belly rubs are sweet.
- Rabbits are faster than dogs.
My Lessons Learned
- Trust your instincts
- It is better to give than receive
- When you give to a dog you get a lot more back
- A dog is a great companion
- It can be expensive to own a dog, but is totally worth it
- Adult children take time to adjust to a new pet but they do
- Walking is far more fun with a four-legged companion
- I would rather have a shelter dog than a designer dog
- Dogs can make bad days much better and they don't try to "solve" the problem