Home > Backyard Breeders, Daisy, Dog Behavior, Puppy Mills > Daisy and Water: Who’d have thunk it? – A Look Back

Daisy and Water: Who’d have thunk it? – A Look Back

DSC07374Today I am taking another look back to the early years when Daisy came to live with me.  Daisy is a former puppy mill breeding dog who was estimated to be four years old at the time I adopted her. She was afraid of everyone and everything. She practically crawled on the ground the first few days she came to live with me. This is an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab).” It highlights the progress Daisy had made after I adopted her in 2007.

I hope it gives hope to those who have a damaged or unsocialized dog. Progress can be made. It takes time and patience and often happens in fits and starts – for every step forward, there are two steps back, but it is so rewarding when you start to take those steps forward.  The key is to never give up hope. You need a lot of patience and understanding. You also need learn to learn to celebrate the small successes.

This post is from April 25, 2010, about two and a half years after Daisy first came to live with me. Since this post was written Daisy has learned to swim and has done so in several lakes and in the Mississippi River.

If you’ve owned a Labrador Retriever at any time in your life, then you know that they LOVE water! It’s instinctual right? It’s part of what makes a Lab a Lab.

When I first got Daisy, I made that assumption too. After all, ALL labs love water right? As it turns out, not necessarily. Daisy taught me that one should not make assumptions where dogs are concerned. Not all dogs are the same and not all dogs fit what we think is instinctual to a breed. Early experience has a lot to do with how dogs react to and deal with new things, including people, other dogs, and, as it turns out, water.

Daisy’s first experience with water was tentative at best. I remember walking down to the lake near a hiking trail we use. I thought that she would run right in, but instead, Daisy came to a dead stop and refused to go near the water. She looked at it, watched it for a while, watched other dogs playing in it, but she had no intention of entering it. It was only after I took my shoes off, rolled up my pant legs and went in myself, that she took her first steps into the lake. You could tell she was nervous. Unsure and scared. Having lived in a cage all her life, she had never experienced a lake or a pool. Her only experience with water was probably what came out of a hose or what appeared in her water dish. On Daisy’s first foray into water, she would only go in far enough to get her toes wet. Then, it was back to shore (where she felt safest) to hang out on the beach or explore the nearby woods. That was good enough for her.

Over time, Daisy has become more comfortable around water. I got her a kiddie pool that summer. I am certain my neighbors thought I was insane. A pool for a dog? Seriously? But, it was a great way to expose Daisy to water and let her decide on her own terms if she wanted any part of it. I’ll admit. I kind of hoped that instinct would kick in and she would suddenly decide that playing in water was fun. Instead, she came to view the pool as more of a giant water dish. It was great to stand outside of it and get a drink, but step into it? Uh-huh. She wasn’t sure about this pool-thing. But after watching some of her friends enjoy the pool and hang out in it over the summer, she finally gave it a try and stepped in… to drink some water.

And so, that’s how it has been for the past 2 1/2 years – Daisy walks into the water (not too deep!) and drinks. On occasion, she has even dipped her whole snout into the water (very definitely a Lab thing to do!). Until this year.

I don’t know if it’s because she now has a companion who is not afraid of water (Jasper) or if it is because Daisy finally seems to be coming into her own (i.e., finding her inner Lab), but for some reason this year something has changed. Something has clicked with Daisy.

We’ve been lucky enough to have an early spring this year, so we’ve already hiked the park trail several times this year. Daisy and Jasper have really enjoyed the opportunity to check out all the new smells and to fly through the woods, chasing one another, flying over fallen trees and tall prairie grass – wild and free. She and Jasper have also enjoyed taking a dip in the lake that is along the trail. In the past, Daisy would have approached the lake slowly and gone in just far enough to dip her snout and lap up some water. But, not this year! Daisy has suddenly taken a liking to water. Something I have never seen her do before. Now, she thinks nothing of going in far enough to get her belly wet. She stays in longer and enjoys dipping her snout in and walking around. She has even taken to sticking her whole head under water! Who’d have thunk it?

I think today’s adventure was perhaps my favorite. Oh how I wish I had brought my camera!

This afternoon, Jasper was chasing after Daisy, who was running full out through the woods, stretching her legs as she flew across the wooded floor and out into the clearing along the lake. Without hesitation, she continued into the clearing, ran down the hill and… straight into the lake!  Then she did something unusual. She began to leap and jump in the water in such a way that I can only describe it as ‘frolicking’. Daisy was having fun. Water was finally fun!

The moment didn’t last long. She and Jasper splashed around. She dunked her snout, lapped up some water and that was it. She was done. But it was more than enough to bring a huge smile to my face. Daisy was no longer afraid of water. She loved it. Who’d have thunk it? Go Daisy Go!

Daisy enjoyed the Mississippi River

Daisy enjoyed the Mississippi River


  1. July 11, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    This is really great! I love seeing stories of transformation, which is part of what I love the most about dogs. They aren’t afraid to change and evolve and it gives them unlimited potential! Kayo has always been a swimmer and she’s recently helped two Labradors whose owners bring them to the beach that we frequent. They love Kayo and just follow her right on into the water. Their owners have been so impressed by how quickly their dogs have learned just by watching the behavior of another dog.

  2. July 11, 2013 at 4:59 AM

    You just put the biggest smile on my face! Great Daisy story 🙂

    • Mel
      July 11, 2013 at 7:08 AM

      Thanks Sue. I am so glad I could make you smile!

  3. July 11, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    You have so many wonderful stories about Daisy…Do your other guys get jealous….Woof, Woof!

    • Mel
      July 11, 2013 at 7:07 AM

      LOL! Nah! Jasper and Cupcake know I have many stories about them too. 🙂

  4. Annie B.
    July 11, 2013 at 7:59 AM

    Yay Daisy girl! Thank you for such a heartwarming, positive start to my day! After my “boys” Arlo and Busters wet kisses and face cleaning of course! Best way to wake up! ;oP

    • Mel
      July 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      Thank you Annie! Your comment made me smile today! Love the kisses and face cleaning. 🙂

  5. July 11, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    This is so encouraging to read…I feel like Daisy is the forerunner for our Maggie. She too wants nothing to do with water. I can usually get her to do things by getting Jack to do them and then she will follow his lead, but Jack doesn’t like water either! Two labs who don’t like water – what’s going on? We’ve gotten them to frolic a bit at the ocean, but that’s not really swimming. We’re going to try and take them up to Big Bear this summer and see if we can get them more interested. So good for Daisy – what’s she doing now – swimming?

    • Mel
      July 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      I feel the same way. I love reading how Maggie is doing and knowing she is finding her inner Lab too. She is so lucky to have you guys.
      I cannot wait to see what happens at big bear. Maybe another dog who loves water will come along and teach both Jack and Maggie. 🙂

  6. July 11, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Delilah loves water, bring her near a river or lake and she about loses her mind. But the doggie pool we have at the house? That’s just a giant water bowl. 🙂

    So glad Daisy had you who gave her the time and confidence she needed. What a feel good story.

    • Mel
      July 11, 2013 at 11:01 PM

      LOL! I wonder why the pool is a doggie bowl and not a place to play in too? How interesting Jodi.

      I am glad too. I am so glad she came into my life.

  7. jan
    July 11, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    I;ve never had the courage to take on a dog like this, but you do make the rewards sound great. I admire those of you with the commitment and patience.

    • Mel
      July 11, 2013 at 11:00 PM

      The rewards are many Jan. It takes patience and time, but oh so worth it. I never knew i could until Daisy and I would do it all over again with her. I love her dearly.

  8. July 13, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    This is so, so sweet! How wonderful for Daisy! My rescued lab doesn’t care much for water either (aside from standing and drinking it like Daisy) but my rescued pit bull, who is scared of the world, LOVES to swim. Both are proof that breed really doesn’t make nearly as much of a difference as their upbringing. I’m so happy for Daisy!

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