Great family dog. Intelligent. Trainable. Friendly.
Am I talking about the Labrador retriever or golden retriever? Who could tell?
Many people think of labs and goldens as interchangeable. I did.
But then I figured out the subtle differences: labs are American; goldens are Canadian.
Americans and Canadians Abroad
In the 1980s, Americans were advised that if kidnapped overseas, they should ditch their passports and pretend to be Canadian. Today, American tourists believe they’ll get better service if they impersonate Canadians. (Yeah, improve your manners and get better treatment – duh.)
For their part, Canadians are sick of being confused with Americans.
Visit any youth hostel in the world and the national symbol you’re most likely to find on a backpack is a maple leaf. It’s not that more Canadians travel. Or that they have greater national pride than anyone else. They’re just sick of everyone assuming they’re American.
But Americans and Canadians are similar. We speak English with a flat accent. We’re capitalists. We both own lots of guns.
People who don’t look too close have trouble telling us apart. Just like they do with labs and goldens.
Are Labs and Goldens the Same
I wanted to try something new.
My first dogs, Agatha and Christie, couldn’t handle being around other dogs. Neither could my second dog, Shadow.
I wanted to raise a puppy from a breed that was likely to be friendly to people and other dogs. With this dog, I’d volunteer as a puppy raiser or foster dogs for my local shelter.
But what dog should I choose? A lab or a golden?
Both had great reputations for being trainable, good with people, friendly toward other dogs. Both shed tons of hair. Both work as service dogs. Just what was the difference?
Anecdotally, labs seemed a little more prone to mischief involving food. Goldens were slightly softer in their temperament. More polite, perhaps? More like Canadians?
Aha! That’s it.
Labs and goldens do have many things in common. But they’re just different.
Honey and Mr. Handsome
Honey and I have made new friends. As a result, we get occasional visits from a happy, friendly Labrador retriever I’ve nicknamed Mr. Handsome.
Mr. Handsome is so lovable. So friendly. So sweet.
And as you can tell from the name and the pictures, very easy on the eyes. Mike is especially smitten with him. So is Honey.
But Mr. Handsome and Honey are so different.
Mr. Handsome has a level of determination I’ve never seen in Honey. I see it in the way he snatches food off the counter. Or pushes his sister away when he wants human attention. It’s the doggy version of invading a country and trying to convince everyone it was for their own good.
Honey approaches and pulls back. She’s easily turned away from bad behavior. She also pushes her own interests. But she’s more likely to do it as part of a U.N. peacekeeping force.
Vive la Différence
I adore labs. But I think I made the right choice. I love Honey’s “politeness.”
Or maybe I just have a Canada fixation. After all, I honeymooned in Montreal. And although the British Virgin Islands are famous for delightful and easy sailing, I’m signed up for a weeklong sailing charter in Kingston, Ontario.
I live a few miles from the Erie canal, but kayaking up the Rideau is my dream.
I even like the graffiti in Canada.
So I’ll stick with my well-mannered “Canadian-ish” dog. Even if she behaves like a hockey player where salami sandwiches or lovies from strangers are involved.
Best City for Pet Travelers
How awesome is Canada? Two Canadian cities are marching forward in the brackets to find the Best City for Pet Travelers: freaking cold Edmonton with its 41 off-leash dog areas and rainy Vancouver with its adorable cafes and beautiful views.
Show Canada some love and vote for them both.
On a personal front, I’m disappointed to say that Cape May is falling behind Key West in the competition. It’s almost as if zombie cats were coming forth to vote.
So let me just give you a few more reasons to vote for Cape May:
- Cape May is not just pet-friendly. It’s animal friendly. Cape May is a vital stop for birds and butterflies in their annual migrations.
- Your dog is welcome to watch dolphins with you from the Cape May ferry or one of the specialized whale watcher tours.
- Great restaurants. You won’t be limited to dining on boardwalk fries and hot dogs when you find that great pet-friendly deck.
Please vote for Cape May as the Best City for Pet Travelers.
Don’t vote for that other place filled with aging Jimmy Buffet wannabe’s. You’ll just encourage them.