As the title suggests Charlie started out like the famous Marley, however Charlie did morph into a true labradorable gentleman. He did all the usual obedience commands like sit, stay, drop, roll-over and beg, excelled at bowing and fetching the morning paper, something I always wanted a dog to do. He could high-five, a skill Dee taught him in five minutes to stop him distracting the other puppies in a puppy class lecture. However, do not be fooled, it did not start out very well. In fact, if Charlie had not been purchased by me, I believe he would have swiftly ended up at the RSPCA. Lucky for him and most importantly for me that we found each other. He was the best dog I ever had the pleasure of knowing.
On the day I collected Charlie from the breeder on the Gold Coast he gave me a large kangaroo tail for Charlie to chew on the trip home. That should have been the first red flag that he could not be trusted! But just like the start of any new relationship I viewed this adorable yellow lab through rose tinted glasses. Bad mistake! If I was sensible I would have crated him immediately and never let him out of my sight but hindsight is a great thing.
The litany of destruction reads like fiction but none of it is exaggerated so Labrador buyers beware. Those big brown eyes might gaze up at you lovingly but they might also be forming the plan to devour everything the minute your back is turned. Charlie was like a smiling assassin, efficient, effective and without remorse. He ate through my entire irrigation system (plastic being his favourite thing). He also destroyed every plant in my garden, including three cycads that were over 1 metre tall. Charlie loved teak, so much so that he devoured the arm rests on every outdoor chair. Never afraid of water or electricity he decided he was also fond of water feature pumps and their electrical cables. Normal items like shoes and sunglasses never stood a chance. Likewise, washing on the line. Funny enough he left my daughters and my clothes alone, content to lay on them. Unfortunately, my husband’s shirts were not so lucky. Even balloons attached to the line failed to divert him, although he became fearful of party balloons and ran if he saw one.
I tried everything to stop this chewing machine from putting chilli on everything (he just licked it up) to catching him in the act and growling at him like a mad half woman, half dog. Nothing worked. I tried to feed him off a fork to stop him snatching (that mouth was like a great white shark, immune to pain!). Dee gave me the best advice that I pass on to every potential dog owner, CRATE YOUR PUPPY! Believe me, it will not only save you money but will save your sanity. Charlie ended up loving his crate and it as it was steel he could not eat it.
Not content to cause destruction at home he also attempted many daring crimes at dog school and beyond. He stole a brand new SLR camera from an unsuspecting participant and proceeded to run around like a dog possessed. Luckily we retrieved the camera from his mouth just before he was about to drop it in the water bucket. Another favorite was to steal food from the hands of other dog handlers before they realized he had launched. However, despite his naughty ways he was always good fun.
One Australia Day afternoon we went down to Raby Bay dog beach to meet friends. Many families were enjoying their picnics nearby, totally unaware of the thief in their midst. Unfortunately, a dog scared Charlie and he ran off and got the scent of chicken, his favorite food. He leapt into the middle of a picnic and stole a whole barbeque chicken without knocking over one glass of champagne or beer. Such an accomplished criminal. Luckily the family loved dogs and donated the chicken to Charlie after I had retrieved it from his mouth. Another win for the dog! Even my neighbour saw Charlie in a different light when she came over one night with her cockatiel perched on her shoulder. Unfortunately, I was teaching Charlie to come to the front door and greet people like a well-behaved lab. Not knowing it was my bird loving neighbour I opened the door and Snowy saw Charlie, startled and flew off onto the ground. Bad mistake! Charlie launched in a move very reminiscent of the BBQ chicken crime and proceeded to run around the front garden with the squawking bird in his mouth. Luckily I had a brother who taught me how to tackle! As my neighbour, her daughter and mine screamed like a murder was happening, I crash tackled Charlie to the ground and he spat Snowy out, minus a few feathers and alive and well.
I first noticed changes when he was two years old. He just stopped the destruction, almost like aliens had taken Charlie and left a new improved dog.
Despite all the financial pain of his destruction I have been blessed by having Charlie in my life. He really was the world’s best dog.