Tales from the Cabin
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Cabinitis: Dog Daze

Work is never done (and neither is play) when there’s a puppy at the cabin

By Lars F
Published: April 1, 2005
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Photo by Cabin Life, Cabin Living
All my work at the cabin has ground to a halt. Why? Because I’m deeply involved in dog training.  
   
Yes, I have a new puppy. She’s a Brittany spaniel I’ve named Dotty, partly because she has a big dot right on top of her head and partly because – well, you know.  
   
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about the amount of time I spend training the dog. The problem is the amount of time the dog is taking to train me!
   
It’s a real hoot just working with Dotty, watching her become more and more adept at translating commands, learning what things to do, what not to do, where to go to the bathroom, where not to go to the bathroom, etc.
   
On top of all the time spent working with her, I’ve also spent a lot of time and money with my veterinarian. Have you ever heard of braces for a dog’s teeth? Well, we’ve just completed three months of orthodontia on Dotty because she was born with a slightly deformed lower jaw. As a result, her teeth weren’t closing properly and were drilling holes in the top of her mouth, causing rather intense pain. She now has a perfectly formed mouth and our once-a-week trip to the vet is now history. As is, of course, a fair chunk of money!  
    
She’s a natural. In addition to a lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota, I have a hunting lodge in North Dakota where I took Dotty on her first hunting trip last fall. Brittany spaniels are bird-hunting dogs that point and retrieve game. For a pup less than a year old, she performed beautifully on our North Dakota trip.  
   
For me, the thrill of hunting pheasants is watching your dog lock up on point when it finds a bird in cover – it’s one of the most beautiful sights in the world.  
   
She also has turned into a wonderful companion at my lakeside cabin. The place sits about 100 feet above the lake and I use an electric lift to go up and down to the shoreline. When I do, she races down the stairs to make sure she beats me before I get to the bottom. It’s a game, and she always wins. On the return, she races up to the deck to make certain she beats me again.
   
But it’s not all play for Dotty. Always curious, she has developed a fascination with the sound of saws, hammers, nailing, drilling, etc, and has become an integral part of all my work projects at the cabin. I always have someone to talk to, someone to watch out for and someone to complain to when I do something wrong!

Belly flop. Alas, there is one thing at the cabin that Dotty apparently never will enjoy – and that’s the lake itself. She has developed a significant distaste for water and shows no inclination to go swimming. Which, for a spaniel, is somewhat odd.
   
It all came about one day early last spring. Dotty, my wife and I were down on the dock when a duck flew by very low on the water and just out in front of the dock. Dotty, being a puppy, got so excited she raced across the dock and leaped in the air after the bird without realizing what was below her – namely, lots of water.  
   
As she splashed into the water, she was obviously the most surprised living creature in the world. Since spaniels are natural swimmers, she had no trouble getting back to shore, But since then she has not stuck a paw in water anywhere. Upland spaniel, yes. Water spaniel, no!
   
It’s clear to me that cabins and dogs are two of the great pleasures of life, and I recommend them highly to anyone who will listen.
   
Well, excuse me, I have to run. Dotty wants to resume my training right now!

Lars F. has refused the 12-step plan to control his cabinitis. Only his first name is used to protect his identity.

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