I have another animal I’d like to introduce you to. Though she doesn’t “work” at the farm like the other animals, she still serves a very important purpose in our lives – she is a well loved pet. Her name is Holly and she is our Chocolate Labrador Retriever.
We adopted Holly from the pound in 2007. She was 4 years old and extremely overweight. She weighed 105 lbs! Her previous owners had spoiled her with food. She had knee pain and problems and was very lazy, never wanting to go anywhere or do anything.
We put her on a strict regime of diet and exercise and within 4 months she was at her optimal size – 85 lbs. She was like a different dog – running, playing, energetic, and pain-free. We’ve kept her at a healthy weight ever since.
Holly has been excellent with the kids from the beginning. Whether they were babies, crawling, toddling, walking, or running she is always gentle and tolerant with them. She has been around since my youngest two were babies. My youngest son used to love driving his cars along her back while she stretched out in the sun – she loved it too, it must have felt like a nice back massage!
Holly is often referred to as our “big brown floor pillow” or as “Mommy’s shadow.” She loves laying around in the sun and spends many hours a day sleeping. And she loves it if we cuddle with her on the floor. When my husband or the kids lay down on the floor she is immediately by their side ready to be a floor pillow and cuddle with them. Her favorite place to lay is in front of the couch. One time the kids knocked part of the couch blanket off the edge and it dangled over her, she didn’t even wake up:
She is called “Mommy’s Shadow” because she is just that. She follows me constantly as I move through my day. If I am in the kitchen, she is laying right outside the doorway; while I teach school, she is curled up next to my desk; if I am sewing, she lays right next to my sewing chair. In fact, I never get to win hide-and-seek because when we play it Holly will always just sit right by where I am hiding and stare at me (if I am in the closet, for example, she sits outside of it and stares at the closet door). The kids know if they find Holly, they will find Mom. As I type, she is sitting next to me looking up at me with sleepy eyes.
She also loves going on hikes with us and is very well trained and responsive off-leash. We like to hike up in the national forest behind my in-laws and she goes with us. I always feel safe hiking with her because I know she will alert us of any wildlife that we don’t notice. On one of our hikes she was running and playing and all of a sudden fell down a steep rocky inclind. It was so scary, I honestly thought she was done for. Luckily, she just ended up skinning the pads of her feet – poor thing! We were so relieved she was ok. And we were more careful with her when we went back to that location (I figured a dog would know not to fall off a cliff, guess I was wrong).
Now she is closing in on 10 years old. It is hard to believe. But when I see the grey hairs starting to come through on her muzzle I know it is true. Age hasn’t slowed her down yet, she is still active and healthy, and an ever-present, important part of our family.
We love our sweet Holly dog!