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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are snowbound today in the Northeast in the throes of Snowstorm Niko, expecting over a foot of snow so I promised myself that today is the day I will start Chumlee's own thread to record some of our journey together.

I can't believe how hard it is to bring myself to start a thread in the Senior (gulp!) forum! Ok, so Chumlee has been a Senior for at least couple years now. It's just that I prefer living in a state of denial and pretending he's only 6 or 7.....:eek:

On the other hand, I know how fortunate I am to have a nearly 12 year old golden! I've read so many heartbreaking stories here on GRF chronicling many young dogs taken much, much too soon.

So without further ado, here is the story of Chumlee.

The beginning of Chumlee's life is not 100% clear. Chumlee is a rescue dog and I have only the rescue group's account of his life up until 2011.

Chumlee was born in upstate New York. He had at least 2, possibly 3 families before he came to live with us. His first family had 2 young children and the story was that he was likely not socialized or exercised and that little landshark puppy Chumlee played too rough with the children. They surrendered him to a shelter when he was almost 2 years old.

He was neutered and adopted very briefly and returned to the shelter, then promptly adopted by another family with 3 young children. History repeated itself; Chumlee was too rough with the very young children. And somewhere along the line, probably because of poor socialization, he became dog-reactive. Rather than work with him, this family surrendered him to the same shelter after a couple of years, saying he was wild and unmanageable.

Enter Peppertree Rescue, who took him into rescue with the shelter's blessing. Finding a foster home with all of his dog-reactiveness wasn't easy and finding a forever home for him was even harder than that! Despite everything, Peppertree refused to give up on him. They found a trainer to work on manners and they discovered that he was quite an anxious guy but very smart and biddable! He stayed with them for nearly 7 months as they worked to earn his trust and help him become an adoptable pet.

In June 2011, we lost our 18 year old cat and then a mere 10 days later we had to put our nearly 16 year old dog down. To say that we were heartbroken seems a little inadequate. Suddenly we had no pets. At all. :crying: Our house was empty and just too quiet.

For a couple of months prior to losing our pets, I had been looking online at a picture of a handsome GR - he made me smile - but saw in big letters that he had to be the ONLY PET because of his reactiveness to other animals. I couldn't stop thinking about him but knew he wasn't the dog for us since we had a dog and a cat.

After losing our pets, I kept thinking about this adorable GR but I was sure he must have been adopted already. I finally contacted the rescue group to inquire about him. To my shock, he was still available!!

We adopted Chumlee in August 2011, driving 5 hours to bring him home with us without ever having met him in person. I just knew it was meant to be.

Chumlee will be 12 years old in May. We have officially had him longer than all of his other families combined! He has brought joy and silliness back to our house. Chumlee's favorite things are going for long walks and carrying my son's dirty athletic socks in his mouth after stealing them out of the laundry. He is also a skilled surgeon and has performed countless "squeaker-ectomies" from stuffed toys. His favorite "sneak foods" are Cheez-Its and pizzelle cookies, although, like most Goldens, he loves ALL food!

I will try to update this thread often and I know I will be asking for advice from other past and present parents of senior goldens. And I'm trying hard to get over my hang-up and fears over Chumlee getting older. :eek:

My new mantra:

"Know that you are the perfect age. Each year is precious and special for you shall only live it once. Be comfortable with growing older." by Louise Hay
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Another blizzard and Chum is loving it!

So today we are just wrapping up another huge snowstorm. I think this one is officially a blizzard because of the blowing and limited visibility. Another 16 inches of snow. I really think we've had our share for this winter and would gladly send future storms to other parts of the country! :)

Chumlee loves the snow but this one was a little hard to walk since now we have over 2 feet of snow! These are a couple of pictures of Chum and my backyard this morning. If I get the motivation to shovel off the deck and the hot tub, I think I'll have a soak and enjoy the winter wonderland instead of fussing about it. And Chum loves to hang around while someone is in the hot tub hoping that they will toss a snowball to him :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So we are just wrapping up school vacation. My son and his girlfriend have been keeping busy playing in the snow and Chumlee has been tagging along. His girlfriend jokes with my son that she only started dating him so she could hang out with Chumlee. :D

They went to one of Chum's favorite places to walk but the snow was pretty deep. DS's girlfriend told my son to grab a shovel from the back of the truck and the two of them shoveled a huge, long path for Chumlee so he could enjoy himself - love that girl! They've also taken him to the beach a couple of times so he can really run. I think Chum will need a rest after all this activity!

Chum also made out really well on Valentine's Day, scoring a comfortable new bed. I think I spent three times more on Chum than I did on my DH and DS, but please don't tell them or I would be forced to deny it. ;)

In short, Chumlee is doing well and loving life! Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this dog? :heartbeat

Here's a picture of Chumlee enjoying his new bed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That bed looks super comfortable, and it sure looks like he was enjoying the snow - does he think it's a tasty snack like my pups do?
I'm grateful to say that Chum does not chew on his bed, however none of his stuffed toys have any stuffing left! My house resembles a grisly murder scene with puffs of stuffing strewn around and empty sacks of plush fur. I've tried to get him toys without stuffing but he won't play with them. I think he gets great satisfaction in ripping holes and strewing stuffing around... :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've been wondering if I'm seeing signs of hearing loss in Chumlee. After all, he is nearly 12 years old. He occasionally fails to respond when I call him. It made me worry.

Then the other night as I cleaned the kitchen, I picked up 2 elbows of cooked macaroni and cheese off the counter and dropped them into Chumlee's bowl. Soft, noiseless, cooked macaroni....

The reaction was immediate. From UPSTAIRS (!) Chumlee heard this and came charging down the stairs to clean them up!

So when he ignores my call, it appears that Chumlee is exercising his "selective hearing" rather than experiencing senior hearing loss. Case solved. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
An interesting encounter

I feel like I am stuck in a pattern - I'm stuck at home in ANOTHER blizzard, so I'm updating Chumlee's thread. Hopefully the blizzard pattern is nearing the end for this winter, anyway...

Yesterday, in advance of the impending snow storm, I took Chumlee for an extra long walk, knowing that we probably wouldn't be going out today in the middle of it.

As I've mentioned, Chumlee is dog-reactive so I have to be very selective about the places where we exercise. One of our favorite places belongs to a friend. It is a large (5+ acres) fenced area with woods and fields which he uses to train his beagles for rabbit hunting. I always text him and get a response before we go and it is posted as private property so I feel ok with letting Chumlee off leash.

Chum was so excited and energetic. He ran and played and had an amazing time. We played a few games of 'hide and seek' where I hide and Chum finds me. It definitely keeps him on his toes when I "disappear" :p:

Near the end of our walk, Chum raced up ahead out of my sight. As I came within sight of him, I froze. Chum was standing face to face with an enormous Malamute! :eek:

I thought I was going to faint with fear, waiting for them to begin fighting. I felt sick to my stomach but mentally I began to gear myself for breaking up a fight. I've watched so many videos and read so many articles about this to try and prepare myself just in case.

Instead, of fighting, they did lots of butt-sniffing and greeting!! I stayed back and watched their body language. Both dogs looked surprisingly relaxed. The other dog's owner appeared and I shouted to her to leave the dogs alone - don't approach. She complied and we each continued our walk in opposite directions. Chumlee and the other dog (almost) played together for a couple of minutes, then each of them turned away to follow us!

I have no idea if the Malamute was male or female - it had so much hair! But from the size of it, I'd guess it was male. I was so thrilled that my dog-reactive Chumlee didn't try to fight! He acted like a regular, ordinary Golden!!

For those of you with "ordinary", non-reactive dogs, this probably sounds dumb, but it was such a huge relief to see Chum behave nicely with another animal. The rescue group that I adopted him from had warned me repeatedly that I would always have to be on guard and I have taken their words to heart.

I have seen Chumlee play respectfully with a small female beagle who wandered into our yard one day, but I wasn't sure if it was just a fluke or not.

The behaviorist we visited a couple of years ago said that Chumlee's re-activeness was most likely anxiety-related rather than true aggression.

I called my friend when I got home and it turns out his wife had given her friend permission to use the area recently but the person was supposed to call first - she didn't. Anyways, we are the only 2 people they have given permission to use the property and I think we have it straightened out now so it won't happen again.

I wouldn't have wished for the encounter with another dog to occur, but now it gives me a little sense of relief that I don't have to be QUITE as paranoid as I have been. I will continue to be watchful, though. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
'bark, bark' What's that, Chum? Timmy's in the well?!

When we go for walks, I have Chumlee dragging a long lead so that I can get hold of him if necessary (like when he ignores a recall...) Occasionally the lead gets stuck and Chum has this very demanding bark (like Lassie's special "Timmy's in the well" bark :)) he uses that lets me know he is stuck so I will go and fix the situation.

Lately, however, he has used his "I'm stuck" bark to trick me! I obediently turn around at the sound of that bark and walk back to him, only to have sneaky Chumlee dart away gleefully! It seems he just isn't ready to leave yet! I asked DH if Chum ever pulled that trick with him and DH admitted he had been fooled more than once.

It makes me think of another thread when posters asked themselves "Are you smarter than a golden retriever?" I guess my answer would have to be "No, not this time!" :rolleyes:

Anybody else have a clever, sneaky senior? (or youngster? :) )
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
How did I miss this! I'm not on a lot and usually glance over topics picking and choosing and when I saw Chumlee -- well I had to start from the beginning. He is so handsome and now with a little sugar face he can charm his way out of anything. His story is so much like that of Harley. Harley had a bad start in life and lucked out when a neighbor stepped in and asked the owner to consider rescue. He was probably 2 at the time and then he was adopted by a family with another golden and two small children. Well that didn't work because he stole food from the kids and didn't get along with their golden so he went back into rescue. The rescue then said no children and he prefers to be the only dog, yep dog reactive. When his foster Mom brought him over, he walked into the kitchen and carried a bowl of water into the living room, then climbed on the sofa and looked out the window while we talked. I mean talk about making yourself at home. When we let him outside he ran around the yard like it was his. He was perfect except that like you I had to be on high alert walking him. Oddly enough he liked the small dogs on the block but mid-size or larger he looked for a fight and he was a solid 89 lbs. so I always had 2 leads in case he snapped one.
Your area is beautiful. Maine always strikes me as being something special. I even have to get my garden seeds from Pinetree in Maine!
I look forward to Chumlee's updates.
I didn't realize your Harley was dog-reactive. It sounds like he and Chumlee have a lot in common. They even look like twins - both of them devilishly handsome. :) It takes a lot of work to manage a reactive dog. Chumlee has taught me a lot. Thank goodness Harley found you!

In the other thread about "Chewy the rescue dog" I kept thinking about how much he looked like Chumlee and Harley and how wonderful it would be if he went to live with you to steal a spot on your sofa! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I'm happy to say that I think Spring has finally arrived! It seems like every time I update Chumlee's thread there has been a blizzard going on!

Chumlee is doing well but he is definitely mourning the loss of his precious snow. There was a huge, tall pile of snow beside the deck where we shoveled. Chum loved to lay on top of this pile and roll with a look of bliss on his face. Now his big snow mountain is reduced to a small, low patch and will probably be gone in a day or so.....poor Chum.

He also seems to be getting a little sassier as time goes on. The other day when DH was eating Chumlee's favorite sneak food, Cheez-its, Chum was gated upstairs to allow my floor to dry. In frustration, Chum gave his "demanding bark" because he couldn't get near the Cheez-its, so DH obediently walked over to give him some - across my wet, freshly washed floor! :doh: Um, dear, that's why Chumlee was gated!!

So Chum is hard at work re-training both of us to do his bidding, now playing the "Senior Card". And we're allowing it because like most parents of seniors, we think he has kinda earned it. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
All the snow is gone from our yard and Chumlee is dejected about it. That makes one of us! :D

Other than missing the snow, Chum is having a good Spring with lots of walks (and lots of ticks, too). I have heard that this may be a bad year with a huge tick population. Ugh! Chum is taking his NexGuard so we should be ok.

In our latest adventure, Chumlee found a porcupine during one of our walks at our friend's land. Fortunately for all of us, it ran up a tree before Chum could get close enough to get a mouthful of quills. Chum was standing on his hind legs with his front feet against tree, barking and daring the rodent to come down. He looked incredulous when I insisted that he leave the porcupine alone. "Are you kidding me, Mom?! I just KNOW I can catch him!!" :rolleyes:

I've also been thinking a lot about joint supplements lately after reading a recent thread about them. I feel a little ridiculous that I never thought much about them before now. I'm thinking that Dasuquin is what I will probably order. Anything to help the odds of my boy staying active and comfortable. Anyone have any thoughts of what they have used for their seniors?

P.S. Chumlee sends lots of hugs and clean cyber socks to his favorite person "across the pond" :smooch:
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
It's been ages since I updated Chumlee's thread! No snowstorm this time. Instead it's in the high 80s with high humidity. Yuck! But I'll definitely take this over snow any day!

Chumlee celebrated his 12th birthday in May (I think I made another thread instead of adding it to this one). Life was going along wonderfully and I was finally beginning to relax about Chum's aging when WHAM! Chum came up lame and could no longer leap up on the bed! :(

I went into full-blown panic mode, fearing that this was the beginning of the end. I turned into a little bit of a crazy person and definitely over-did it by "helping" Chum do everything. I couldn't stop myself. I think I ordered about $200 of joint supplements, too. I noticed my DH and son exchanging "she's completely gone off the deep end" glances but ignored them. Eventually, thankfully, Chumlee got better and is now leaping on and off the bed at will. Just a pulled muscle apparently. Well, ok, so MAYBE I over-reacted just a little tiny bit. :eek:

DH wonders why I haven't gone crazy over his sore knee like I did over Chum's lameness. Ummm, help yourself to Chum's joint supplements, dear....:D

Chum has been having a good summer. Plenty of BBQs, Cheez-Its and a nice walk each morning during the coolest part of the day make him really happy. We often walk near a seafood shipping company. Some of the workers heard how much Chumlee loves the snow and several times when they saw us, a mound of shaved ice magically appeared on the ground for Chumlee's rolling pleasure! We all get a huge laugh watching him leap around and celebrate his frozen treasure.

Next week I hope to get a little time off to go to our camp to relax and let Chumlee swim. My favorite place on earth. I'll be sure to post pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Another long span in between updating Chumlee's thread. I had trouble logging into GRF for a while and have just gotten around to remedying the problem.

Chumlee continues to do well. I feel so superstitious typing that, as though I'm daring the Fates!

Chum got to our camp twice this summer and enjoyed swimming and chasing sticks. We really limited how many times we threw his sticks, but he was pretty insistent. My young great-nephews enjoyed seeing Chumlee in the water because their dog absolutely refuses to swim. They DIDN'T appreciate the repeated showers they got when when he came out of the water and shook all over them! :D

I'm not sure how many more trips to camp are in Chumlee's future since he came up lame for a couple of days after each trip. We'll have to wait and see.

DS graduated from high school in June (I still can hardly believe it) and summer was busy with jobs and friends. At the end of August, we hosted 10+ boys for a backyard sleepover to say goodbye to summer and to say goodbye to the boys before several of them headed off to college. These are the boys my DS has been friends with since elementary school and we have watched them grow up. They had a huge campfire and we had several tents set up in our backyard. Chumlee insisted on staying outside with the boys. He loves them like we do. They played some football and badminton and ate lots and lots (and LOTS) of food. I don't want to think about how many hotdogs and Cheez-its Chumlee consumed that night. :uhoh: Everyone had so much fun and behaved so well, including Chum, that I was sorry to see it end.

So we are settling into Fall and Chum has been enjoying lots of walks and rides in the car. He has been doing well except the one hiccup around Halloween when DS left a bowl of candy on the coffee table and Chumlee scarfed down 5 or 6 pieces of candy, wrappers and all! :doh: Off to the Vet. Thankfully it wasn't chocolate, but he had an upset stomach for a couple of days as the wrappers passed through his system. After a few days of boiled rice and hamburger he is back to himself again.

I guess that's it for now. We are just enjoying Chumlee and savoring his senior years. Now I have to get ready to make breakfast. Chum knows that Sunday morning means a cooked egg will appear on top of his breakfast. If I wait much longer to start cooking, I'll definitely get the "stink eye" :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Another update. Not a ton to report but I have a few minutes...

Chumlee had a great month of November. It's trickier to safely go for walks in the woods during hunting season, but Sunday is a no-hunting day so we took lots of long walks at his favorite place, our friends' fenced land. Picture attached.

We had huge wind storm early in the month and we lost our electricity for a few hours. All of our smoke detectors are hard-wired with a battery back-up. Despite replacing all the batteries just a couple of months ago, our detectors started to 'chirp' when we lost electricity. Chumlee went absolutely NUTS! He acted so frightened by the chirps, leaping on and off our bed, trying to hide in the closet, trying to crawl under the bed, etc. I've never seen him so unhinged! His eyes were huge and it was hard to get his attention. It was so sad. :(

Anyone else noticed that their dog is frightened of electronic noises?? We've gotten the smoke detectors checked by our electrician so hopefully that won't happen again.

Lastly, Chumlee discovered a mouse had been in my car!! He was fascinated by a corner in my hatchback and wouldn't leave it alone. When I looked to see what he had found, I saw the evidence of a mouse, but thankfully not the mouse, itself! :eek:

I'm pretty freaked out imagining a little mouse riding around in my car with me and told DH that I'm trading my car in. He's trying to "talk me off the ledge". He pointed out that Chumlee loves my car and has worked hard to "customize" my car with all his fur. :)

DH assured me that it would be much cheaper to set a trap for the rotten little rodent, so we (he) did. Now, I have to go to an appointment but DH isn't home so I have to go check the trap ALL BY MYSELF!! Ugh! I don't know if I hope that I caught him, which means I have to dispose of him or if I'd rather have the little critter still there, unseen, still "riding shotgun" with me. :uhoh:
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Another blizzard has just screamed through Maine, giving me some extra time to update Chumlee's thread.

The weather here has been brutally cold - not great for taking walks, much to Chumlee's dismay. I also had a health scare which has limited the time I can spend outside walking. Doing better each day, though.

I tried to remedy the lack of formal exercise by adding some extra length to Chum's tie-out. He loves the extra access he has to the yard and is doing lots of running and romping in the snow. He also developed a silly new game all by himself! We have 2 sets of steps on our deck. With the extra length to his tie-out, he can now reach the "wrong" steps - too far away from the door for me to let him in. (And I can't safely go outside a lot right now.)

I tried to convince him to go off the deck and come up the "right" stairs for me to let him in. Nope. He stood there and barked at me. In desperation, I got the broom and took a couple steps outside and waved it at him. This thrilled Chum to pieces! A new game! He spun around and leaped off the deck and came flying up the "right" steps. Now, each and every time he goes out, we have to play his new favorite game! Silly boy. :)

Chumlee's New Year's Resolution is to stop killing his stuffies. He got a couple new ones for Christmas and I can see the internal conflict he has in this picture ....:D

That's it for now. Stay warm, everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
Much to my shock, Chumlee has kept his New Year's Resolution thus far. I even got him a couple of extra toys on the Christmas clearance rack, including Hermie from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Although I have noticed Chum nibbling on him, even Hermie's little elf shoes are still intact!

Chum went to the groomer earlier in the week. She's probably not the most skilled groomer (notice Chum's "Great Dane feet" in the picture with the fur shaved off), but she is incredibly kind and gentle and Chumlee really likes her. Actually the shaved feet kinda help keep the snow from sticking in Chum's paws. Anyways, he is now squeaky-clean and soft and extra-huggable. :smooch:

The cold snap has broken here so we can spend a bit more time outside. Chumlee has been able to go for extra walks and extra rides in the car which makes him very happy. I have begun working with him again on using the telescoping ramp to enter and exit the car, but he's not thrilled about it. I'm trying to lessen and stress and strain on his senior joints rather than let him jump in and out of the car. I had the ramp for my senior Bridge girl and she took to it readily but Chumlee is definitely a tougher nut to crack...
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Chumlee is so lovely, and I'm very impressed that he's being kind to his stuffies!. I hope he starts to get used to the ramp, maybe some treats placed on it would entice him, however, Barnaby wouldn't use one either, my hubby ended up lifting him in with me the other side holding a treat!
That Barnaby was so clever to train you both to give him treats and still get his own way! :D Chumlee hasn't exactly figured out how to do that, but it's only a matter of time! I'm sure the handsome Mr. B will give him a few pointers...

I brought the ramp inside and laid it flat on the floor and Chum will willingly walk across it for a treat. Then I lifted the ramp and put it on one step for a bit of an incline and he will do that too. He will even walk across it outside, but trying to get him to walk up the ramp into the car is challenging. He tries to rush and nearly knocks the ramp down! I know if he has a scare like that, he'll never use the ramp again. We'll keep working on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Rocketing to the top....

of Santa's Naughty List ! RIP Hermie the Elf :(

Some of you may be aware from the January Photo Contest that Chumlee's New Year's Resolution was to stop killing his stuffies. He even got a couple of extra toys since he seemed so sincere....including Santa and Rudolph's best friend, Hermie the elf.

The month was going along so well, Chum was sticking to his resolution and then BAM! In one day Chumlee managed to jump straight to the top of the Santa's Naughty List by killing Hermie. And just for good measure he decided to do a little work on the wall beside his bed, getting on MY naughty list!

I may be sending Chumlee to the North Pole for penance since Santa will be a little short-handed this year...
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
Chumlee the Trickster

Another update. A couple of weeks ago we had mostly bare ground and spring seemed just around the corner. Everyone was happy about this except Chumlee. He began his usual sad, end-of-winter routine, sitting and rolling on the last pile of snow in the backyard where we shoveled it off our deck.

Then Mother Nature decided to go crazy and sent 3 snowstorms - 2 of them blizzards! and it was goodbye bare ground, hello winter again. Ugh! Chum was ecstatic!! Every morning he celebrates anew when he steps outside and sees his beloved snow blanketing the whole yard. I have to admit, it makes me like the snow just a little bit more when I see how happy Chumlee is about it.

And one more new development with Chumlee - he has become a serious trickster when it comes to his meals.

Before we adopted him, a trainer taught Chumlee to go to a designated spot to wait for his meal. He has continued that routine ever since he has come to live with us (he trained us to this :) ). He used to wait until we picked up his bowl and he would run to the rug in front of our sliding door and wait while we prepared his meal. He would wait to be released then happily go eat his meal.

Now, Chumlee has decided to take matters into his own paws. He comes downstairs at mealtimes and goes directly to his spot and stands. He doesn't wait until we are preparing his meals to go to the spot! He initiates the meal prep!! He stares at each of us, sometimes adding a little whine to get our attention. DH or I obediently get up and give Chumlee his meal.

The problem is that Chum is now doing this several times a day so DH and I second-guess ourselves about whether we have already fed him or not! Chum has gotten quite a few extra meals. :doh: It has gotten so bad that DH and I had to put a chart and initial it when we feed him.

So in our household the answer to the question, "Are you smarter than a Golden Retriever?" is too often "No!" :p:
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
Here's a picture of Chumlee doing some of his best work, trying to convince DH and I that we definitely, positively forgot to feed him for the last several weeks even though we marked it on our new chart. :rolleyes:

He takes up his position on the designated spot and begins the display. Note the soulful eyes and earnest expression...pretty convincing :)
 

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