the boy who was raised by black labs

Our first “children” were animals.  In December 1999, a diluted calico cat named Murphy was adopted from the Dumb Friends League in Denver.  In March 2000, a black lab puppy named Ben came from our good friend and Grand River trainer/breeder Mike Gould.  In September 2000, an orange and white tabby named Hobbes was adopted from the Dumb Friends League.  In November 2003, an 8 year old black lab named Oak was adopted from Mike Gould.  In April 2004, a black lab puppy named Odyssey, again came from Mike Gould.

For almost 8 years we were the proud parents of our five-fuzzy-faces.  The dogs would go everywhere with us.  We drove across the country to Upstate New York with a stop in Chicago for a family wedding…all with Ben in tow!We went on many roadtrips through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho with all 3 of them…learning what hotels were pet friendly along the way.  My husband would take the boy dogs hunting anywhere from 40-60 days each fall.  They would all go camping and hiking with us during the summer.   They drove with us from Colorado to Oregon when we moved.  Oak used to go to work with me almost everyday here in Oregon.  They lived the high life!

Then July 5, 2007 came.  The world as they knew it stopped.  Our baby boy arrived and they were relegated to the dog runs and scolded for getting too close to the baby.  Oh, I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to give them the attention they were used to…and we weren’t…but our little guy is!

The little guy LOVES his doggies!  The first word-like sound he made was “woof”; his first word was “doggie”; his first 2-word phrase was “good girl”;  the second 2-word phrase was “bad dog”; and his first 3-word phrase was “no bark dog”.  When he wakes up in the morning he asks where Oak is.  He loves to share his toys and food with the dogs.  He crawls all over them, snuggles on their dog beds, and loves to play chase with them in the house.  He is part of their pack.

When we are outside in the back yard he loves to play in their dogs runs.  He opens and closes the door, pretends to fill up their water buckets, and likes it even better if they will play along with him…Odyssey usually obliges.  Oftentimes, I will find him hiding in the dog crate we keep in the house for “doggie timeouts”…sometimes he will be in there with one of the dogs.  I am sure that he thinks every kid has a house full of black labs  just like he does.

The dogs (and cats) may not get the attention they used to from us, but our little guy sure thinks the world of them.  Their days are lazy, and they get to stay in the house most of the time, now.  My husband runs the boys down at the river once or twice a week…when he can. Oak is pretty much blind, deaf, and very needy so I try to give her extra attention whenever possible.  I am not sure how much longer we will have her around…she has been a mom to around 30 puppies…and acts as a “doggie nanny” to our little guy.  They are all wonderful pets and “children”…including the boy who was raised by Black Labs.

7 thoughts on “the boy who was raised by black labs

  1. Kathia Emery says:

    Hi Stephany,

    Loved your “Boy Who Was Raised By Black Labs.” It’s so good to see a fellow ASID interior designer who isn’t put off by kids and critters. I have so many designer friends who are childless and petless (so messy!!). My two sons (who are now adults) were raised with many critters–one Airedale (Harry), 3 labs (Ricky, Milo and Emma), a plethora of cats, rabbits, hamsters, and fish. Emma, our first female black lab, is still with me at 8 years old. It would be fun to hook up with you and yours one of these days. Best of luck on your NCIDQ exam.

  2. Stephany says:

    Thank you for your comment. I can’t imagine raising kids without pets! I love doing design for families who have both! Would love to hook up some day.
    Thanks again-

  3. Don says:


    I loved your thoughts,stories of R. being raised by Black Labs.I’ll sure miss you,Ryan and R. in Kamiah this Sept.
    I’m looking forward to the birth of your daughter… you’re really have a house full !


  4. Robert halladay says:

    Was just searching for grand river dog picks when I ran across this page. Found a few picks from a seminar a few years back and made me wonder what had happened to the few gr labs I once knew. Coincidentally oak was one of them i threw bumpers for with mike when i had the chance to spend a summer training with him. I delivered Ben as a pup. I hope things are well with them as I bid farewell to my own gr dog just a few hours ago. Not sure if anyone still updates this blog but sure was a fine read on a sad night.

    Grand river rio

    • stephany @ home is what you make it says:

      Yes, I still update this blog!
      There is a post about Oak (pictures only) who we had to say goodbye to last may (should be in the May 2010 archives).
      My condolences on you loss of Rio. They are such a huge part of our families.
      We still have Ben and Oddy. Ben is getting old, turned 11 last month.

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