Today is all about Mason! It's his 12th birthday, and Brutus has begrudgingly gladly offered to let Mason have the post to himself in honor of his big day!
Mason came into Paul's life in 1998 shortly before I did - he was already 9 months old when I met him. Paul had recently gotten his own place and it just seemed too empty without man's best friend. So he looked in the classified ads, finding a nearby breeder that still had one pup left from a recent litter. As Paul tells the story, Mason was sitting on the porch when he got to the breeder's. He took one look at Paul and basically jumped right into his arms as if to say "THERE you are dad! Been wondering when you'd come!" Done deal, Mason had a dad and Paul had is dog. In case you are wondering how Paul named our boy, it was actually his brother Scott that came up with the name - he'd always wanted to name a dog Mason - so Mason it was!
Mason wasn't always the laid back kinda guy he is now. Like most labradors, he was a handful though his puppyhood and adolescence. In one day he managed to shred the contents of an entire room to smithereens: a phonebook, several jackets, and the black sponge insulation that goes around copper piping to the hot water tank. Thankfully he got that out of his system, and since become (as Paul puts it) "the best dog ever". Other than being allergic to just about everything on the face of the earth, Mason is about the lowest maintenance dog you could ever ask for. Mason is small for a male lab (having been the smallest of his litter), in good flesh at a mere 68 lbs. One of his most distinguishing features is the colic that runs perfectly down the center of his face. You can see it clearly in this photo, where Mason is just under 2 years old.
Yes, he sheds abundantly and makes copious noseprints all over my windows. But he has an iron bladder and is the least fussy eater there is (if he has to be on antibiotics for anything, he'll take a pill right out of your hand like it's candy). His favorite guilty pleasure (to my chagrin) are Oreo cookies, which Paul slips him any time Brutus isn't looking. Mason's biggest pet peeve is squirrels, but will never catch one due to his inability to mount a sneak attack (he starts bellowing before he even gets out the door).
He's a handsome young adult in the photo above, taken in 2002. Mason has been through several relocations, from Paul's condo, to our first home together, then a year's stint at my in-laws while the house we live in now was being built. People are always offering to watch him if we travel, yet he's happy as a clam at a kennel (we call it the "spa").
Our chocolate lab is a "daddy's boy" through and through, sleeping basically on top of Paul each night (good thing he's on the small side...). Mason loves his stuffies, and always took great care of them as his "babies". We always bring him a toy home when we travel. Here he is napping with Paul shortly after we returned from a trip to Disney, happily clutching his new Tigger.
Mason gracefully accepted two dogs into his kingdom - first and angry old terrier Duncan, then the crazy Frenchie puppy Brutus. He's been a great big brother to Brutus, showing him the ropes, and teaching Brutus what it means to go outside and do your business quickly. He will happily engage Brutus in a good game of bitey-face and stometimes even a wrestling match. We see that he's secretly the top banana around here, but Mason just lets Brutus win because it really doesn't matter to him! He's just a really, really good sport!! Hope Mason has it in him to be a big brother just one more time....
Looking back at these photos makes me realize how much the old boy has aged. So much grey in his muzzle now, and his coat has become curlier & coarser. He's still healthy as a horse, save some arthritis and a bunch of fatty tumors (all typical lab-ish troubles). Mason still loves to chase tennis balls, but tires out pretty quickly. Nothing a good nap can't cure!!
So today we celebrate 12 wonderful years with our Mason. Here's some obligatory party hat photos for your amusement!
The birthday boy smiling for the camera..
... and being a good sport letting Brutus in on the fun too.
Did someone say there'd be cake???
Hey mom, Mason's out cold, can I have his piece of cake??
I thought you said there'd be cake. I'm not letting Mason hog the camera for nothing...
Gosh, this posing stuff is tiring! How does Brutus do it?
See, I told you Mason was a good sport! Now he has the rest of the day to lay in a sunspot and soak it all in. For putting up with me (& Brutus), think I'll go buy him a little special something now, and find him a special treat for his dinner!
Happy Birthday, Mason!
We love you buddy!!