Jumpy Junior

Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Our youngest lab, Junior, has many great qualities. For a two-year-old lab, he is a joy to have inside the house. Out in the field, he takes off like a bottle rocket for retrieves. While waiting for retrieves, he is calm and steady. But no dog is perfect, and Junior is a predictable dog that likes to live in his predictable world. 

Our older two dogs, Hank the lab and Sage the Golden Retriever, have spent thirteen years rolling with whatever life threw at them. And many things were thrown at them being that they helped raise our 12 and 9-year-old children. 

Our kids weren’t mean to the dogs, they just never let them take it easy. Fur was tugged, toys were dropped, and ridiculous animated stuffed animals made noises until the batteries ran out. Hank and Sage learned quickly not to fear these things because if you hung around a kid long enough, they were bound to drop food. 

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Junior has not had to deal with new toys, toys that talk, and having plastic toys dropped on you since the kids outgrew those things when we bought him. 

It may be a failure on my part as a trainer, or it may be his personality. Junior just doesn’t like changes in his routine. Things in the house need to stay where they are. Things on our walk should not change. Food bowls should be set a certain way to eat. So you can imagine Junior’s horror when a scary thing was on the path on our walk two weeks ago: a glove. 

There we were, walking on a path in our neighborhood before the sunrise in the dark. We do this most mornings, and Junior has his preferred sniffing and marking spots. As we were walking, he threw on the brakes and started to growl. 

Looking around, I had no clue what was going on. Coyotes have been active around our house, so I was wondering if a “song dog” was sizing us up. I could tell Junior was staring at something close which made me a bit nervous. 

I followed his line of sight to finally spot the terrifying garden glove lying off the path. Annoyed, I picked the glove up which made Junior growl even more. His hair bristled on his back as I threw the glove in the air and said “Fetch!”

Junior did not fetch the glove. Junior did not even try to bite it. As the glove slowly fell, it grazed his flank. You would have thought I had just shot my dog from his reaction. I wondered if there were razor blades hidden in the glove as he squealed and barked in the morning darkness. 

Nope, it was just a glove. A glove that had the audacity to be on the trail at the same time we were walking. As Junior cowered in fear, Hank watched as the thrown glove landed on the path. He went over, took it in his mouth, and brought it to me. 

Junior watched Hank in awe. To Junior, Hank was either stupid or brave. I put the glove back where we found it and finished our walk. 

Over the next week, Junior slowly gained confidence walking past the glove. Our two older dogs must have given him a pep talk. Who knows? Junior may be ready to walk past a random shoe without growling now. 


“Jumpy Junior” was spooked by a garden glove on a recent walk.