The idea originated with a Facebook post, where a man framed the same picture of his dog every month, with the caption Employee of the Month. My silly sense of humor was quite tickled and I hence decided that Shamu would be Employee of Every Single Month. Shamu is our black lab, who will celebrate his second birthday on September 22nd. He is truly worth his weight in gold, both as a companion and working business dog for Putnam County Pet Care.
Shamu came to reside with us in Florida at 7 months of age after becoming known to me on Facebook. As the story goes, we lost all three of our previous Labrador retrievers in a year and 10 months, after our move to Florida in August 2015. This was a time of exceptional loss for us. After several months of grieving and living in the unnatural state of a home minus a dog, we decided it was time. We knew that Shamu was still available. We felt like we knew him already from his story on Facebook. As well, my friend Katharine had the reputation of producing dogs of excellent temperament and health. As she lived in Illinois, we began to discuss logistics. In May of 2017, we met Katharine in Tennessee and brought Shamu home to Florida.
Until Shamu, every single pet dog had been rescued in one way or another, from puppy mill rescues to re-homing dogs not making the grade as Service Dogs. Until Shamu, I had never purchased a dog from a breeder. You can imagine that I struggled somewhat with this decision, being a departure from my dogs of previous years. However, it has all worked out for the best! Indeed, Shamu has gone on to rightly deserve the title of Employee of Every Month.
We jokingly call Shamu entertainment director of boarding dogs, due to his love of play with his guests. With each of his canine pals, Shamu is appropriate in play and of unfailing good humor. We often remark “this is dog boarding in the perfect sense.” Our business now is very small compared to the previous larger space in Maryland. We are set up to accommodate one or two dogs staying in our home. With the smaller space we very much need a super reliable dog. Shamu is certainly that in every sense.
Shamu wins Employee of Every Month for his rock solid reliable behavior with other dogs. There are no concerns about what he might or might not do. At times, true, we need to manage the play, ask for calm behaviors and give the dogs some quality down time. However, we recognize that in Shamu we have an ideal canine business partner and wonderful companion dog.
We surely loved Talley, last of the lab trio, but my goodness, having company entailed rigorous and strategic management in place every step of the way. She was rather famous for making friends, then again not friends, during the same visit, through no fault of her own. Some guests turned pale! For example, a guest in the home standing up without a plan in place was not a good plan!! Talley was one of the labs intended to become a Service Dog, but was rather overly fearful in her temperament. Talley learned to look overtly threatening when not pleased! We recognize there could have been no business while Talley lived on.
Below are some behaviors we routinely dealt with, behaviors not present with Shamu:
- Storm phobia.
- Stranger danger.
- Consume foreign objects when anxious.
- Reactive on leash around other dogs.
- Reactive on leash near bicycles, skateboards and anything else that moved.
From the above list, yep, we have been through it all. We loved Doobie, Bridget and Talley unconditionally, but life is much calmer these days. Sometimes I wonder how we did it. Shamu is Employee of Every Month for his winning ways and personality.