We think today is her birthday anyway. Details of her beginnings are fuzzy at best, but in the limited paperwork we have on her it was written that the 22nd of June was her day of birth so we're going with that.
Lana's life with us has not been easy in the four plus years since we adopted her. She came to us an already flawed dog, though how flawed we wouldn't know for a few months after we brought her home. A dog who had been through two other homes before settling into ours. I suspect she came from a puppy mill or a backyard breeder who had money instead of breed standard in mind. She's a beautiful animal with a coat so black it shines blue in the sun and soft like satin (funny that "lana" is Italian for "wool"), but physically she isn't "perfect" (quotes are intentional). Long-legged but solid, she's large for a female - especially a female who was spayed at 6 months - she has a funny curl to her tail and her nose is a bit long. She may not even be a hundred percent lab, but we'll never know for sure. Throw a ball or get her near some water, however, and she's all Labrador Retriever. That dog loves to get wet.
I don't talk a lot about Lana because, unfortunately, she's been a bit of an albatross around my neck. Lana is a difficult dog with a wide array of issues: separation anxiety, leash aggression, some dog aggression off-leash depending on the dog, fear of strangers, and a high prey drive just to name the biggies. She's difficult to train, has spastic energy spurts, and never really relaxes. Even now laying in front of me she's not really relaxed but has one eye open scanning the room. I guess she's making sure everything is in order before she can close both of them. If I get up she'll get up with me and if one of the cats so much as peeks its head out of the basement Lana will be up in a flash making sure it goes back down the stairs where she thinks it belongs.
Lana does not fit into our lifestyle no matter how much I push and force, but two things keep me from giving up on her.
One, my husband and I would have a very difficult time finding just the right home for her. We're already her third family and, let's face it, who is better suited to having a dog like Lana than a dog trainer? If I could find her a good farm to live on (for real, a farm not a farm, if you get my meaning. I couldn't do that to her.) with a childless couple or a single man with lots of dog experience that would be the perfect scenario for Lana. But situations like that don't present themselves too often. I don't even know if I would give her up if I did find that perfect home. Although, if you would have asked me yesterday I would have had her food dish and favorite lovie packed up and ready to go!
Second and most important, she's a love. A total mush when you get to know her. She's an 80lb lap dog and the perfect dog to have around for comfort and protection. You wouldn't be able to get within 50 yards of my house without Lana letting me know about it. And did I mention she loves to spoon? She'll curl up her body on the ottoman in front of the couch and lie her head on the couch and I'll lie behind her using her like a body pillow. Lana loves to snuggle, how can you not love a dog like that?
To care for a dog like Lana takes patience and understanding. She drives me crazy but I understand it's not all her fault. She tests me every day, and sometimes I fail, but to love Lana is to love her fiercely. It's all or nothing, flaws and all.
I could write a book about my relationship with this dog (maybe one day I will) because our relationship is so complex. Too complex to write in a single post. But she's made me a better dog owner and certainly a better dog trainer. I think on her special day she at least deserves a good swim in the pool and maybe some extra belly rubs.
Happy Birthday, Lana. I love you despite it all.