After a wonderful long weekend with the two legged members of our family in Balgowan, culminating in a near crippling photographic incident, we trundled down the hill to 19 Quentin Smythe Road, Kloof – around 9km away from Louise’s house (there was a small matter of large fingers and small icons on the GPS!). After a minor course correction we were back on track to pick up the Mighty Zulu.
We spent a bit of time with Louise to introduce our family to Zulu – and he was an instant hit with our whole family. After a heart wrenching good bye (more so for the two leggeds than the dogs!) we were off up the hill to Jo’burg. I must admit to feeling mortified over puppy napping the little guy, but Louise put our hearts and minds to rest by pointing out that his quivering cry was his way of calling for his mommy!
He settled down nicely and after about Escort you could almost hear the car radio if you put it up to full volume. We stopped a few times, and Zulu truly wriggled his way deeply into Simon and Becca’s (my 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter) hearts. We got to meet a few goats at a petting zoo at one of the fuel stations along the N3, but unfortunately the camels were sitting the inclement weather out in a closed shed, not the end of the world as Zulu is not that likely to stumble over one on his travels, unless he decides to backpack up North Africa!
When we eventually got the Mighty Zulu Warrior pup home, I could not help myself and got out the old puppy dummy to test his retrieving, 3 SOB (“straight out and back” in retriever speak) down the hall and back to hand! I could not have been more chuffed with the little guy. Di (my loving and long suffering wife who was the victim of the afore mentioned unfortunate photographic incident) had managed to hobble over to my side on a pair of crutches we managed to appropriate from the proprietors of the guest house in Belgowan and pointed out that getting him to retrieve was probably premature, and my time would be better spent helping the kids and her out the car first!
We decided that Zulu’s bed was going to be in his crate at the foot of our bed. I can confirm that at 7 weeks old, his lungs are fully developed! It was lashing down with rain so, with all the planning that would make Baden Powell proud, I set out my Barber jacket and rain bib next to the door, we had to go out twice but the effort was well worth it and he has yet not made a mess at night.
Zulu’s first morning in his new house was way to exiting to eat a full breakfast (all the more treats for the treat bag). Zulu’s recall is amazing, Louise definitely put in all the ground work that Fenton the dog’s breeder probably missed!
After getting ready for the day, it was time to show the little guy off. First stop was Di’s office which is up two flights of stairs (or should that be stares, as all eyes were on our little guy) which he took in his stride. After 30min of love and attention from a bevy of young woman in low cut tops, (I’m very aware that puppies are marvellous girl-bait) Zulu and I left Di at work and I took him on a quick visit to my office. I am not sure that a 7 week old lab puppy is very good for productivity in an office, but he is now universally adored!
We were then off to my mom’s house to pick up the balance of the four legged family and Zulu got to meet his dad and step brother/uncle/chew toy. Paddington and Baloo generally ignored him except for the odd growl when Zulu’s needle like teeth imbedded a little too deeply into sensitive flesh. Our next stop was to the vet, more to show him off that to check for any problems, our vet took one look at her new charge and told me she though he needed to stay for observation, for the next six months or so – free of charge!
Zulu’s next adventure kicked off on the following day when I took him through to pick up a garden gate that I had had made up. Zulu stomped in to the Jointers like he owned the place. I must confess he did snuggle in between my feet when the circular saw started up signalling a flurry of carpenters and workmen all around him, but he was not too fazed.
After a good mid-day nap in the kitchen, which is where I have decided is his day time place, we were off for a walk to the kids play school (which is 70m down our road) – Zulu is now the most popular morning and afternoon attraction for all the kids and teachers.
I forgot to mention that we were also dog sitting Abbey, a friend’s little black lab bitch. After Baloo she is Zulu’s favourite chew toy and they would have spent every waking second tumbling around the house and garden if I had let them.
On Sunday I took Zulu to watch Paddington train at Waterhaven, our local clay shooting club. I created the little guy under the Land Rover to watch, but he thought we had gone senile and had forgotten him, and he let us know about it at the top of his lungs! He has all the patience and natural self-control of his father and that is something that is going to take a lot of time and get a lot of focus over the months to come!
After I had finished with Paddington, Zulu and I went on a long adventure walk, which ended up at a little dam. After getting knee deep in the water I coaxed the little guy in after me, and he had a proper swim for about 5 or 6 m – he is a real little otter!
I then proudly exhibited the young big gun off to all the regular clay shooters at the club house. We stayed for a bit to watch a few rounds of clays being shot; starting at about 50m away and slowly walking down to about 15 or 20m away, the little guy was as calm as a Hindu cow!
He was then bundled off to a family Christmas lunch with 10 kids, ranging from 2 years old through to 14. I tried to keep him is his crate as much as possible but my resolve was no match for the pester power of a chaos of children! So I now have to work to get back the good habits that Louise sent him with.
So a quick look back over the week, Zulu has:
- Had his first swim;
- Heard his first gunshot;
- Met kids
- Met children;
- Charmed the vet;
- Been up and down stairs;
- Had LOTS of people smother him (often);
- Been into long grass (and he loves it);
- Is well on his way to being house trained (he really is amazing);
- His sitting is phenomenal;
- He has settled down in his crate (touch wood, since last night was the first quiet night!)
- His recall was brilliant but was set back a bit after the Christmas party;
- He is retrieving to hand (although I am trying to curb the temptation of over doing this)
He is still very vocal when I leave him alone in the kitchen (I’m expecting complaints from grumpy neighbours any day now, perhaps I should stop leaving Zulu’s create under their bedroom window at 5am?), and I am a bit worried that he is not eating enough, but he full of beans and seems to be thriving.
I’m looking forward to our next week together and I’ll keep you updated.