This is Lulu. To be accurate, it’s a partial head shot of Lulu. I like it because of what you can see in the background of the photograph. The distance between the log home and Lulu is a good 150-200 yards or more. None of it is fenced. You get just a glimpse of what is Lulu’s playground. What you can’t see (yet) is the water — the lake that all of that land butts up to. Over the past 7 summers, this patch of the Adirondacks has been my family’s retreat during the first week in August. Lulu has been one of the lake dogs for almost as long as we’ve been coming up. A typical day for her includes an early morning romp down to the water with her owner so that he can check on his boat and Lulu can check on the fish.
What Lulu likes to do more than anything is fish. She puts her snout in the water — oftentimes, her entire head goes under the water — and, placing her paws “just so,” she stalks the fish that swim close to the surface. She is very focused when she’s fishing. According to her owner, Lulu has always fished. “I didn’t teach her,” he told us.
She’ll come down to the water several times during the day to fish. She comes by herself or she’ll come with us when we head down for a swim. She always fishes close to the shore line. Her tail never sinks to the level of the water. She is completely oblivious to what’s going on around her. Life is all about the promise of catching that fish.
I think she’s part Lab/part retriever. Her ears suggest a trace of retriever as does her coat and the feathers in her tail. She’s definitely a water-dog as she spends about 90 percent of her time in it. I believe that Lulu would fish all day if it weren’t for her buddy, Kuya.
Kuya’s the new kid in the neighborhood. She’s a purebred lab, just over a year old. She lives with her family in that house you can see in the background in the first photograph. Kuya is a purebred Labrador Retriever — just over a year old.
When Lulu and Kuya are both around, they’re inseparable. They take turns hip-checking each other off of the dock, racing up and down the beach or chasing each other up the hill from the lake to the outside deck of the cottage where my family stays. On any given day, they get a good 4-6 hours of hard, physical exercise between swimming in the lake, running the beach, chasing balls and rock diving, tearing up the hill, and occasionally, flopping on the ground or the deck to wait for the next round of play.
Unlike Lulu, Kuya doesn’t fish. She would much rather chase her orange ball or go diving for rocks — the rocks that she’ll nudge with her nose in the sand until she’s convinced you to pick one up and throw it for her. And, the bigger the rock, the better she likes it.
Kuya would spend all day in the water if she could. On day 6 or our vacation, she happily attached herself to a family that had come down to the lake for the day. The spot where they camped out was around the bend in the shore line so that Kuya couldn’t hear her owner calling for her to come home. The result was that Kuya “went missing” for about 4 hours.
She had kids to swim with and a captive audience to throw stones into the water.
When my husband and I went down to the water that afternoon around 2:30PM to swim, I could hear the voices of kids and the sounds of splashing – and there was Kuya, head held just above the water, paddling in their midst.
It wasn’t long after we arrived that this family decided they were done for the day and packed up their beach stuff. Kuya watched them leave, looked over to where we were standing, knee-deep in water, about to dive in, and decided she’d come and play with us.
We’d missed her that day and, truth be told, we’d worried about her absence. Having her back made us feel complete. Swimming was fun without her, but what absolute bliss to be able to watch an absolutely gorgeous dog live so completely in the moment where all of her mental and physical energy is coiled into a concentrated burst of agility and speed.
When everything boils down to the invitation and acceptance to play, the throw, the dive and the retrieve before the swim back to shore.
I love these lake dogs. Lulu and Kuya fit this area like well-worn gloves. They’re at home in the water and fantastic with people and other dogs. They’re the perfect size. Their bodies are lean and well-muscled. They’re happy dogs hell-bent on play.
And, this summer, they gave my family and I some of our best memories of perfect moments when a ball or a rock along the shore line and an invitation to play became the best parts of our summer days.