There are some aspects of owning a young Labrador Retriever that I had forgotten about, particularly after spending the senior years with my beloved Babe and Dutch. One thing that I had forgotten about was the process of drying a soaking wet lab. If I had any doubts about Jax’s breed he would have just erased them following our morning walk when he exhibited this classic labrador behavior.
I love walking in the rain as long as I do not have to look nice. If I have worked hard on hair, makeup, or clothing I will reach for my umbrella with the first drop of water, but if I do not have to impress anyone by presenting a polished exterior and as long as there is not lightning, I grab the Bean raincoat and head outside with Jax.
This morning was perfect labrador weather in Illinois, a rainy October morning with the temperature hovering close to fifty. Jax doesn’t mind a little rain, and his breed was built for this weather. This is the weather that we have waited for through a hot summer that consisted of the blazing sun and ninety degree temperatures, a weather condition that I called “labrador puppy kryptonite”.
Although we are in a suburban subdivision we did not see another person on this morning’s walk which was possibly because the skies opened up about fifteen minutes into our forty minute stroll. Because we are in what I like to call “the last suburb” before the landscape becomes rural we could hear the gunshots of hunters in the background. Hopefully next year Jax and my husband will be out there with them, but for now Jax is making his way through basic obedience and enjoying his walks with his momma.
Jax was the perfect picture of obedience when we arrived home. Still in his fancy new anti-pull harness he sat and stayed on my command while I fetched the towel. I am trying to teach him the word “towel” so that he stands calmly and lets his humans dry him before releasing him into the house. The other dogs have known this command and our Basset Hound Maggie will even roll on her back with paws up when we say “show us your paws” during the drying process.
The first few seconds of the “towel” experience went beautifully. Then his Labrador instinct kicked in. Since up until now he had patiently let me dry him with the towel I had forgotten that labs prefer their human’s pant leg over even the fluffiest towel, so Jax dried his head and neck on the inside thigh of my yoga pants. After that portion of his body was dry he pulled away from my grasp with lightning quick reflexes and began what I have dubbed the ” labrador spin cycle”.
The “labrador spin cycle” phase is not elaborate and can vary from dog to dog. Although some humans may try to stop the process, it is an extremely effective way to dry a lab. It starts with a tail to head shake from the wet lab and is quickly followed by a wild-eyed lunge to the left and to the right in the play stance. What happens next is entirely freestyle and depends on the lab but essentially involves a high-speed run through the house. The number of laps may vary until the double coat is dry and some labs like to rub against the sofa to utilize the absorbent fabric that covers most household furniture. The end of the cycle occurs when the lab stops running and stands in front of you panting.
In older labradors the towel becomes the best method since wet paws and sore joints will make it difficult to perform the spin cycle. For now I will enjoy and embrace the spin cycle routine in my very young Jax, especially since it results in a nice dry lab to hug and kiss when it is finished.