|Sr. Zeno at 10 weeks being introduced to first crate
Since I went solo again and dedicated hands to pen and camera, dogs have taken more space in my life, creeping on all fours into my heart. Although raised by German Shepherds, I have fallen for Labrador Retrievers. A great-aunt named Aunt Dot used to breed them in Vermont, where I recall her live-in barn warmed by fires and the smell of damp fur.
Atlas was my first, found at a shopping mall pet store in San José, Costa Rica, and he flew to Brazil when less than a year old. The vet recommended half a motion sickness pill, so at the stop-over in Miami young Atlas was still feeling high and proceeded to roll onto his back with all four paws flapping to the control tower. In such a manner, Atlas came to Brazil and Brazil to him. Atlas, alas, was so full of life that his time, accelerated, came early. Visit the Atlas Goes to Belém sub-page, under To Belém & Back, to see what a good travel companion he was.
Zeno, my latest black Lab, was the dominant pup of a litter of nine. I’ve met his blood parents: Tommy, his black mother of Brazilian and New Jersey parentage; and Sir Bacon, a yellow Lab of English pedigree. No two parents of more upstanding and temperate disposition exist. The kennel they come from, in Rio's Teresópolis, is appropriately called Royal Labradors. The kennel owner, Alessandra, is the daughter of a neighbor in Tiradentes, for whom Zeno is a feisty and nearby grandson. Although I repeatedly offered to pay for Zeno, they insisted I receive him as a gift. Such is the never ending generosity of Brazilians.