Lab Meeting!

I am not given to holding an excess of lab meetings, but by Ezekiel, this one was needed. And no waiting around for a reasonable time, like 10 a.m. No, no, that wouldn’t do. So I called a lab meeting at 10:30 p.m. Location? Where it’s most comfortable–my bed.

Okay–hold on. Reading this, you must think there is something quirky going on with this Caplan guy, right? Wrong. There’s a simple and rational explanation. Read on, yes, read on…

Taking part in the lab meeting were my two kids–both extremely excited to be a part of the process. What process? Well, talking about getting a lab: a Labrador Retriever, that is!

This whole “Lab Meeting” has been years in the making. About 13, to be exact. That’s about the time since we last had a dog, and only one of our kids was born. The dog’s name was Rodrigo (we adopted him with the name), and he was an unbelievably clever, cute, but stubborn, jealous-to-the-point of paranoid dog. People would ask me “What breed?” My standard answer was 50% terrrier, 50% mule. Probably true.

Rodrigo and me. Not-so-recently.

Rodrigo had a bad habit of snapping at people. Unlike many dogs, there was no problem handling him when he was eating or drinking–his problem was that he didn’t like to be disturbed when resting. If he came to someone for attention, petting, massages or play–wonderful. But if you initiated contact with him–ouch!

For many years after Rodrigo’s passing, we tried other pets. Fish, guinea pigs. It’s just not the same.But life is complicated with tough schedules, work, travel–and the fear that adding a dog to the family would end up being one more chore for two over-worked parents. But a long campaign from the juniors finally yielded a change of heart. I was on the fence anyway, as I typically enjoy the company of dogs more than most humans, but my wife was a hard sell. But the die has been cast, and when our troupes of summer visitor finally fly and drive away, we will be searching for a relatively young house-trained yellow Labrador Retriever to adopt. There are a number of great agencies, including the Midwest Animal Rescue and Services, Labrador retriever Rescue and Adoption, Hearts United for Animals, and of course the Nebraska Humane Society.

While “Hobson” came out as a cute dog:

I am definitely bent on a more Labrador-like-look, such as Vi, here:

But as I haven’t had a dog for a companion in many years, I’m definitely open to expert advice and guidance, and getting up to speed on new technologies in training and caring for a dog. All suggestions/comments appreciated!

About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery. "Saving One" is my most recent novel set at the National Institutes of Health. Now IN PRESS: Today's Curiosity is Tomorrow's Cure: The Case for Basic Biomedical Research (CRC PRESS, 2021). All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising.
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7 Responses to Lab Meeting!

  1. stephenemoss says:

    Good luck with the canine adventure. We got our first dog just over three years ago, following a decade of pleading from my daughter. And she’s a lab….well, a labradoodle to be precise, one of only a few varieties (so I’m told) that don’t shed their fur. And she’s a terrific pooch, I can’t believe we went so many years without a dog. I think the only negative voice would come from our cat, who thought he had sole ownership of us for life.

  2. cromercrox says:

    Have you read ‘Marley and Me’? If so you’ll learn that in the US at least there are two kinds of lab. One is the more laidback, family variety (good) and the other is the vastly energetic, difficult-to-handle sportsman’s variety (less good). Marley was the latter kind, which the owners discovered far too late.

    As you know the Croxi have two dogs, and their personalities could hardly be more different. Canis primus croxorum is a golden retriever: mellow yellow, not the sharpest knife in the drawer but more or less unflappable, phlegmatic to a fault. Canis secundus croxorum is a Jack Russell terrier – bright, excitable, like having a small explosion on a leash. I now understand why you never see Jack Russells as guide dogs for the blind. Both dogs, however, are wonderful companions. As Groucho Marx said, outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

    If you are not too bothered about breed I’d go for a medium-sized, socialised, not-too-furry Heinz 57 from the dog pound, likely to have hybrid vigour.

  3. Steve Caplan says:

    Thanks to you both for the encouragement and sage advice. Yes, the lobbying here too has been going on for a decade, but I think (hope?) the age of the our kids will lead to some accountability in taking care of the dog. Although running the “other kind of lab” has me wise enough to realize that I’m going to end up being the primary caretaker.

    I have no problems with mixed varieties–labradoodles look like great dogs. Our strategy will probably be to keep an eye out in August at the various local dog-rescue agencies, once our onslaught of visitors have gone (don’t want to stress out a new dog!). My only concern with the so-called mutt variety is based on our experience with Rodrigo–who was a wonderful and brilliant dog, but his jealousy and irritation with small children would have rendered him a hazard had he lived passed my daughter’s crawling stage. That, too, was difficult–and at the time, in a small apartment, no less. So that’s probably why I am drawn to labs and lab mixes, who–as far as I have seen, appear to really be “unflappable” as you say, Henry.

    There are other dogs that certainly fit the bill of sweet and unflappable–French bulldogs, for example. But given that I love to go on nice long walks on the weekends, a lab-type dog would be better suited–at least I think.

  4. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    I would LOVE to have a dog. I’ve never had one; my Dad hates dogs (we got a cat as a compromise, because he only dislikes cats), and I haven’t had a dog-friendly house or lifestyle as an adult (we work long hours and like to go for impromptu weekends away). So I am jealous 🙂

    My sister-in-law has a labradoodle (Reuben), and I’ve seen a few others around our neighbourhood recently. Very nice, mellow dogs. Our friends breed Giant Schnauzers, and that’s what I would probably go for if we had a dog-friendly lifestyle – they don’t shed and have great temperaments, plus I could call my hypothetical dog Beardsley after my all-time favourite footballer. That or a schnoodle, with the same name. But I will have to wait for a lottery win, a job that lets me work from home, retirement, and / or for the cats to no longer be with us.

  5. Steve Caplan says:

    Yes, impromptu lifestyles were a concern that we had–but from Omaha, there aren’t a lot of easy jaunts to get to for a weekend without flying. So at this point, I think we will be able to handle it. It’s amazing how excited I am–probably as much or more than my kids! Years ago, I lived with only my dog, and he was my companion. I took him everywhere. In spring I’d park him under a tree while going to lectures on campus, and when I was a graduate student, I’d bring him to the lab on weekends. He’d sit in my mentor’s office, and once scared the ‘beSteve’ out of a faculty member who thought she was in and knocked on her door!

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