Our Betty Boop

March 01

By, Julie Morrill

First of all, I want to preface that Betty comes out of amazing hunting lines and many of her puppies have gone on to become fantastic hunters. Though we do not hunt with Betty, we sure do see her hunting traits shine forth regularly in the use of her nose, her retrieving skills, stamina, and determined search intent. But, since I personally am not a hunter, I'm writing about Betty more from a companion dog point of view.

Throughout this past winter, our kennel workers have made the decision to allow Betty to roam freely and independently about our property, rather than hang out in our barn kennel. Betty is our playful, fun-loving, sociable, and most animated yellow Lab. Betty is 6-years-old at the time of this writing and she still behaves like a young, medium-energy puppy. Years ago, Pete started calling her "Betty Boop" and that name stuck. She makes it very clear that she prefers the "Boop" addition to her name, wagging her tail harder and grinning more broadly than when you just call her "Betty." She’s a dog with a stronger will than most, since she tends to wander off independently and go her own way on walks, rather than staying with the pack while they’re happily galloping through the snow.

When I say Betty has a stronger will, it’s because she doesn’t always come when she’s called--and, in her mind, she has a very good reason for this. When you call her name, she’ll stand and look at you, cock her head to one side, paw the ground, smile (really smile), and seem to say, “I’ll come, but only if you play with me first.” Our employees are too busy in our current muddy, snowy conditions to go along with Betty’s antics. Instead, they’ve chosen to ignore her and let her have her freedom about the property. This has made an already very happy dog into an unbelievably happy dog.

Betty tolerates other dogs, but she definitely relates more to humans. When we describe a dog as "affectionate," it usually means that they like to receive affection, but Betty is one who gives as much as (or more than) she receives, although she does love her belly rubs. Betty wants so badly to be with people, she’ll follow our employees around while they work and say hello to everyone who lives or visits here, dancing her entire behind when she wags her tail. Since Betty has gained this new-found freedom, she has learned how to open our laundry room door and enter the house. At first, I thought Betty was coming into our laundry room to eat the cats’ food there but, surprisingly, she walks right past the food to find people. She’s just coming in to say hello. She grins broadly, waggling her hind end and slapping her tail around every piece of furniture in the house. Yes, she’s still the typical Lab in that she’ll snack on the cat food (and it shows in her slightly rotund belly), but Betty is atypical in that she’ll walk right past the cat food to find people first. We have a rule now to keep the laundry room door locked against Betty’s intrusions, but that doesn’t deter her from knocking on that door every morning like clockwork. And, thankfully for her, we’re out and about in the yard often enough to pet her and throw a stick, pinecone or snowball for her to chase.

Betty hasn’t gotten into any mischief, aside from walking into our house when anyone accidentally leaves the door unlocked, so we might consider allowing her to continue to roam freely when the weather turns warmer. When the snow melts and we can actually see our lawn again, we'll enjoy our Betty Boop play times more. But, it's nice to have Betty in our daily lives during these long, cold, dark days of winter. She's a bright ray of sunshine and so darned cute, no one could possibly be sad around her for long. Her joy is effervescent, lighting up any room, all of our property, and each one of our lives.

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