Prayers for Luke
It all started with a private lesson. “I need your help—my puppy won’t stop biting me,” said the voice on the other end of the line.
We scheduled a training session for later that same week.
As I made my way into the training room on the day of the lesson, the cutest little lab mix puppy came running to greet me. He was all wiggles and kisses. I couldn’t help myself, and I bent down to relish in his cuteness and puppy breath. He whirled around me like a Tasmanian devil grabbing at the curls of my long hair then the back of my shirt and finally my forearms. Afraid my face might be the next body part to fall victim to his razor sharp puppy teeth, I stood up.
“That’s what he does. He’s so wild and vicious.”
I smiled and extended my hand, “Hi, I’m Terri; it’s nice to meet you.”
“I’m Pam.” As we shook hands, she slid her long sleeve up to reveal the scratches and bite wounds on her forearm. “Look what he’s done to my arm. I sure hope you can help us, I couldn’t find another trainer who was willing.”
“There’s a good pup in there,” I said reassuringly. “We’ll work it out.”
“First, you’ll need learning game toys, such as a Buster Cube or Kong Wobbler. These types of toys will help him to make a better choice, rather than chewing on your arm.” I also advised Pam to make sure that Luke had an adequate amount of exercise. “A tired dog is a good dog,” I laughed. “Play fetch using three balls, rather than one. This way he’ll learn to share and not resource-guard the one and only ball you have to play with. Keep him on a leash while in the house as well, so he’ll be easier to manage. Also, don’t feel badly about putting him in his crate when you need a break. Don’t think of the crate as punishment, rather control and be sure to reward him with a Nylabone to chew on while he’s relaxing in the crate.” I concluded the lesson by showing Pam how to motivate and teach Luke basic obedience exercises.
“Thank you so much,” Pam said as she reached to embrace me. “I’m so relieved that we now have a plan and Luke seems to enjoy learning.”
“It’s my pleasure. The key to motivating a puppy is to make the learning fun! He’s a cutie. I’ll look forward to seeing both of you in puppy class next week.”
She smiled secured the leash onto Luke’s collar. “You can bet we’ll be there!” Pam promised. “Thanks again,” she said, and they made their way out the door.
It only took a private lesson and a few sessions of classes to help Pam and Luke survive puppyhood. He was a clever, energetic, and lovable trouble maker, and I adored him!
Moreover was the lifelong friendship that evolved. From the first time Pam and I met, we couldn’t have imagined how our worlds would have become so entwined.
Fast forward to June of 2013, I received this email from Pam and her husband Russ.
I know each of you know and love Luke, our eleven-year-old Lab. We are asking you to send special love and prayers his way. He has cancer, and we have some difficult days ahead and decisions to make. We trust he will let us know what he needs.
I just want to take this time to let everyone know he is a wonderful dog and the sweetest being I have ever known. I wanted to celebrate him while he is still here, and I’m sure he will feel all of your love and support.
While we have loved and nurtured him through his puppy hood…and without Terri Florentino…he wouldn’t have made it through that..So BLESS you Terri!
We made it through his eating inappropriate things that required explaining at many ER visits…i.e. underwear, 5 lbs. of ground meat, Andria’s take home test in fifth grade, a star fish…more underwear and of course poop.
We survived his “hunting phase” and even encouraged the “gifts” he would bring us (various wildlife caught with more agility than a dancer or gymnast). My favorite and the one I ACTUALLY saw was the day I pried a small bird from his mouth that lived. He sprang from the picnic bench and caught the little fledgling in his teeth. If I hadn’t seen it…I would NEVER believe it. Boy, was HE MAD when I forced his mouth open.
He shares his home, heart and place on our bed with our girls, Fly and Tillie. Luke is the best guard dog and so very faithful to his family. When I am sick, he never leaves my side.
It has been a privilege and our great joy to have this boy dog as our own and we will love him faithfully always… the way he loves all of us…including all of you.
Thank you all for the love and appreciation for our boy. As his journey continues, we will keep you informed of his progress.
Pamie and Russ
Forever Luke’s Mom and Dad
After I read the email I dried my tears and immediately picked up the phone to call Pam. As the phone rang I took a deep breath and tried desperately to compose myself, ring….ring….ring.