Saturday, December 30, 2006

First walk outside for puppies

Gabby's babies went for their first walk out side today since they are now 5 weeks old. The weather was warm and sunny. The babies bounced around and all the tails were wagging. It was quite a wonderful thing to see. They are adorable puppies! All have quite outgoing personalities and love people. I enjoy watching them pounce on things and run around. Sticks and leaves are especially interesting.

Friday, December 29, 2006

It hurts to sit

I was able to stand and walk today but sitting was very painful. My thigh is swollen, has a large hematoma on the side and is generally very sore to the touch. Now I'm hoping that I'll be better in time for the New Year's Eve row! Just doing the chores is touch and go today. Hopefully, some Ibuprofen will help. I think that I'd better get some non-skid down on the ramps.

The puppies are all fine and being adored by their mothers. It is almost time for the Gabby babies to go outside for a walk. The weather has been glorious.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fall down and go boom

I was out at the kennels this evening putting down the food for the dogs. I generally wear my Muck shoes that are rubber soled and impenetrable to clorox, dog poop and other nasty things. I must have been hurrying along a bit too fast because the next thing that I know, I'm on my back on one of the ramps with a searing pain shooting through my left thigh. It was like stepping on a banana peel: one minute upright and the next crashing to the ramp. I thought for a moment that I would vomit with the pain but gradually got up and hobbled up to the house with tears in my eyes. I guess that I have a very deep hematoma because there is a large knot and swelling on the outer thigh. I know better than to scurry up the ramp because there is rubber matting and it gets very slick with algae when the humidity is high (which is 75% of the time!). Anyway, I'm taking a Darvocet and going to bed. I hope that I can walk tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ghost town at work

Back at work today and it is pretty much a ghost town. I was able to work on a couple of manuscripts and get some things done. It was hard to concentrate though as the weather outside was beautiful. Tonight was also a party given by a member of our rowing team. It was fun since she used to run a restaurant and the food is always awesome. The people were interesting and her dad was especially interesting since he knows a lot about Guam and Hawaii. All in all a nice day.
The puppies keep us busy as they need constant changing and feeding. Gabby's babies are gobbling up the food and Clara's are getting on in size as well. I will have some new photos to post very soon.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing day

The day after Christmas always seems a little lack luster. Today was no exception for me. I felt as if I needed some time to just think and contemplate gratitude. When things get that way, I head to one of my favorite places: Station 12 at Sullivan's Island. I just walked the beach, sat on the old rusty swing set, visited the very special hammock, and the table rock where I can watch the cargo ships go past. I like to sit with my binoculars and watch the ship traffic into Port Charleston. It's a nice spot, although a bit cold and very windy today. It's nice to spend an hour or two writing in my journal, watching the birds and waves and generally chilling out.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas day

The day started with a little bit later since I was able to sleep in until 7 AM. Then, it was out to take care of the dogs and puppies. We ran an errand of good will, picked up the in-laws, opened presents and then had a nice dinner. By around 4 PM, I was ready to crawl on the couch and take a nap. I hope that everyone had a wonderful, peaceful day.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve row


One of the rowing crew called today to see if I wanted to do a Christmas eve row since her dad was in town and wanted to go out. He is from Wisconsin and the weather here was like summer to him. So we had four for a crew on the gig and took it out on a slick calm afternoon for a row up the Ashley. There were quite a few people on the water, and everyone shouted Row Ho Ho to us since they know the pilot gig from the Christmas Parade of Boats. It was a beautiful afternoon, no wind at all, and a good ebbing tide going with us on our way back to the slip. We then walked around City Marina to look at the many yachts tied up. I've decided that one of my favorites is the Hinckley Picnic yacht which is reasonable at around 30 feet. It has beautiful lines. There were a lot of fiberglas clorox bottles which are the really ugly big yachts with the snubbed stern. No clean lines on those!

The puppies are now eating solid food and enjoying bouncing around the box with their toys. Gabby's babies are now 4 weeks old. Clara's babies are doing well and still eating like little pigs. I must say that this has been a bit overwhelming to have 2 litters so close togetherl. We are definitely done with puppies for a while!

Merry Christmas to all and wishing you a wonderful day of happiness and peace tomorrow.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas rush

I finished up some shopping today, getting a few last minute things for some people on the island. Miss Margaret has been an institution in my life for a long while and is a grand lady. She isn't so well now and I hope that she will take care of herself by slowing down some.

The doggy friends also had to have some gifts so I stopped by Doolittle's and bought some doggy cookies for Berta's doggy kids and for Robin's two dogs.

I'm looking forward to a relatively quiet Sunday.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Last day at work before the holidays

Today was like a ghost town at work. Only a few people around. I got some things that required attention finished up. I also took a couple of friends to lunch and gave a tour of the lab to another person who stopped by to say hello. It was a quiet beautiful day. After work I went to Station 12 on Sullivan's Island to watch the ships go by. There is an old swing set down the beach and it is a great place just to sit and swing and watch the ship traffic. What a gorgeous day it was!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

back to work

I went back to work this afternoon and it felt good to be out of the puppy room for a few hours. Even though it has all the comforts, it is nice to be back at the office to get some things caught up. I have a lot of reports and various editing projects to do during the holidays. Not many staff are in today and even less will be in tomorrow, but it's nice to have it be quiet and to have few interruptions.

The puppies are doing well and Clara is being very careful with them. I'm going to actually try to sleep in my bed tomorrow night. She seems to be careful about lying down away from the babies and not sitting on them which is always a worry until they become big enough (1 week) for that not to happen.

The wind picked up today so the rowing was hard tonight. There were only four of us which made the going even harder since we were fighting the wind and tide. It felt refreshing to pull on the oars though. A good feeling of being tired at the end of the day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Update on puppies

Last night I noticed that one of the little girls was congested. She seemed to have trouble breathing and was gasping some. That is never a good sign. I kept her warm and tried to give her a little Dextrose. I was up nearly all night with her. She was very weak and didn't want to nurse. She was the smallest at birth and at the time seemed a bit frail. I took her to the vet this morning and they put her on oxygen and gave her some lasix. Unfortunately, I got the call this afternoon that she had died. It is never easy with whelping. I am sad for the lost little one. The other babies seem to be doing very well and are having no difficulty. I just have to watch that Clara doesn't sit or lean on one. New mothers can be very clumsy and often don't pay attention to how they lie down. I hope to get some sleep tonight, although sleeping in the whelping room is very noisy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

All the puppies are doing well

Clara has settled in nicely with her large litter of ten. They are content, nursing away and seem to be doing well. I will likely have to supplement them some with goat's milk, even though she has plenty of milk. It's just that this is a large litter and milk production may not keep up with demand.

Gabby's babies are now eating their gruel. They are eating, stepping in it and generally making a mess. Happily though, Gabby comes in and cleans it up, vacuuming the pad. That will only continue for a few days longer as once the babies are on solid food, the dam will tend to wean herself away from them.

I went back to work today but Charlie was at home with the babies. This afternoon I gave a talk to about 50 middle school students and had fun. It was nice to get out of the whelping room and do something that required thinking about work. Tomorrow I'll be at home for the day.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The puppies have arrived

Today at noon, Clara's water broke and the first puppy, a black boy came squealing into the world. He was followed by 9 more babies. By 7:30 PM, we had four little black girls and six black boys. There was an eleventh puppy that we were unable to resusitate. All ten of the babies are doing well. Clara is being a great mom and I'm going to get some much needed rest.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Puppies are up and about

Here are some photos of the Gabby and Barrett babies at 3 weeks. They are up and about, doing some playing and generally being cute Labrador babies. We are going to start their gruel this evening which means that things will begin to get a bit more messy in the whelping box. Because Clara is due any day, we will be moving these babies to the garage near Tilly and Anna where they will have a larger play area and can be on shavings in another week. Very soon they will be up and about and ready to go outside for their first walk.

Tonight I'm going to go to the symphony to listen to the Christmas special. It should be nice. I have tried to concentrate on the happiness and joy of Christmas today. I haven't heard any news about my cousin but perhaps that is a good sign that things went okay with his surgery.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hope for Rick

Today is a day of apprehension for me because my cousin Rick who was diagnosed over a year ago with glioblastoma is having another surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Rick and I grew up next door to each other. He was my primary playmate and mentor as a kid. I learned all kinds of things from him such as how to shoot a 22, how to shoot marbles, how to play baseball, how to cuss, how to drive a stick shift, and many more. He is 3 years older than I am and was a great instigator in a lot of things that I ultimately got blamed for by my parents. Neither he nor I have siblings so we are like brother and sister.

He is now having a very tough time with this terrible brain tumor. I haven't seen him since the summer but get reports from his wife Nat who gets a nomination for sainthood as she is carrying the whole burden of caring for him. I am planning to go to Virginia in January and am trying to be optimistic in spite of the dismal prognosis for this worst of all brain tumors. Rick is a very smart person who enjoyed life. It is hard for me to imagine him not being the vital person that I have known. My thoughts are with him as he undergoes the surgery today and the recovery in the days to come.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas frenzy

I wonder how many of you are rushing about trying to get all the holiday decorations finalized and fighting the crowds to buy gifts, etc. This year has been particularly out of whack because of having the new wing built at Surry and having a lot of trips for work and judging. I finally took the Halloween pumpkin off the front porch and began decorating for Christmas. I still have a bit more shopping to do but thankfully, have most of it completed. I sometimes think that the best thing to do is to go away for the holidays and make it a vacation. For example, just go to Sweden or go to Quebec or some other place that is cold and snowy. Here is Charleston, people were walking around in shorts yesterday. It doesn't make it seem too much like Christmas, although the city's decorations are beautiful! I am just trying to focus on just taking things slowly and not getting too caught up in the perfectionism and expectations of the holidays. Have fun!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rowing in the fog

Wednesday's row was such fun as it was dead calm and the entire harbor was shrouded in fog. There had been a lot of ground fog all day but it really came in thick at dusk. We had the bow and stern lights on the boat as well as a Q beam. As we rowed up the Ashley River, the crew chatted about how the shoreline looked as it must have over 150 years ago since no lights from land were visible and you couldn't see any buildings. It was really a calming peaceful row.

The puppies are getting big and are up and walking about. We will have them started on their gruel this weekend. They are very cute and I will have photos of them up on the web and here tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Clara is pregnant!

Over two months ago, I wrote about trying a breeding of Clara to Barrett. I didn't think that it would take as neither was very interested in the other. Well, much to my surprise, Clara is looking pregnant. She is a thick bodied girl but lately I've noticed that she appeared quite a bit thicker than usual. After giving her an exam, I have determined that either she is in a raging false pregnancy or this is the real thing. I believe that it is the latter. What this means is that Christmas week may herald another whelping! Things work in mysterious ways.

I heard from Anthony in New York that Surry's Division Bell had her puppies yesterday. Unfortunately, she had to have a C-section but Belle and the puppies are doing well. Anthony is pleased that all turned out okay. He had been up for 2 days watching her as she dug and panted. This was her first litter which is always nerve wracking.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas parade

I was out shopping this afternoon and got caught in the Mt. Pleasant Christmas parade. So, I parked the car and walked to see the fireworks and watch a few floats go by. The fireworks were great and actually quite spectacular. Near the front of the procession were the Budweiser Clydesdales in full hitch. They were just spectacular! The floats were fun and there were so many happy children watching the parade. I'm sure that most won't be able to sleep for thinking about Christmas. I'm actually starting to get excited as well.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Being contacted about breeding

Occasionally, I'll get an email or phone call from an individual wishing to breed their bitch. The calls that I'm speaking of are from an individual who owns a pet girl and wants her to have a litter. There is never any mention of clearances for hips, elbows, and eyes. Of course, my first thoughts are that the girl shouldn't be bred and should be spayed. I write back though and explain with as much kindness as I can that before any breeding can even be considered the bitch will have to have OFA clearances for hips and elbows as well as an ACVO clearance for eyes. I also explain as tactfully as possible about the expenses that go into just doing a breeding, notwithstanding having to whelp and care for a litter of puppies. Most of the time, I never hear back from the people and assume that they have found someone who will do the breeding without clearances. I would like to think that they have gotten the message and will decide NOT to breed their bitch. Only once or twice have I gotten the opposite request: to breed one of my girls to their wonderful male. Everyone loves their dogs and thinks that they are the best looking and smartest in the world. Most people who aren't breeders don't realize that there are many other criteria that need to be fulfilled before any breeding takes place.

This is also the time of year when requests come in for Christmas puppies. We never sell a puppy at Christmas, simply because there is too much activity and the concept of having a puppy as a "gift" isn't a good one. Puppies become dogs and are a lifetime committment, not a throwaway windup toy. There are many articles about why getting a puppy at Christmas is a bad idea. Here is a link to one:
The best thing to do is to give books about Labradors and puppy raising, study them and get the puppy after the holidays are over!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Seeing the Clydesdales

We rowed last night with all the Christmas lights on the pilot gig. The oars were wrapped in red and green lights and we towed a dinghy with a Christmas tree in it. Lots of people along the Charleston Battery were yelling out that it was a beautiful sight to see. We all yelled back "Merry Christmas".

After rowing, I went to Marion Square to see lights there and the Clydesdales. The lit trees and other beautiful things at Marion Square were wonderful to see. The Clydesdales were in their stalls munching on hay. They will be in the Mt. Pleasant Christmas parade which should be fun to watch, even though the weather is supposed to be cold.

The puppies are warm and snug in their whelping box. I keep the temperature about 72 degrees in there. They are toddling about now and able to crawl around the box. Soon their eyes and ears will open up.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Puppies are 2 weeks old

Here are the pictures of two of the babies taken yesterday. They are two weeks old today. They are fat and have great pigment. They scoot around the box and are chowing down like crazy. I enjoy watching them as they sleep. They are adorable and Gabby really dotes on them. She continues to keep everything spotless. I enjoy this phase when they are healthy and big enough to move about, yet still being taken care of by the mother. It is a pleasure to experience that.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Heading back to Charleston

After walking the dogs, having breakfast, and driving in pouring rain, I got back home safely. It was a very messy morning with a lot of fog and traffic. I did get the dogs to the Tybee dog park, when the rain was a bit less, and they ran around to play for a while. It wasn't a really good morning for kayaking but humans have to suffer through as well, although we tend to whine more than the dogs when it comes to rain and brisk temperatures! I had wanted to go to the famous Breakfast Club at Tybee but there was a long line and I didn't want to stand outside in the rain to wait on a table. Maybe that will have to wait until next trip. It was a fun time and the dogs seemed to really enjoy the exercise that they got.

I enjoyed a Christmas party last evening hosted by a group of friends. The candlelight tributes that were made were very touching. I'm beginning to feel a bit in the Christmas spirit, even though I haven't taken down my Thanksgiving decorations yet!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A full day

Today was really full. First, there was the dog show. Amelia and Izzy showed well, both getting around the ring without tripping me! They were happy in the ring and Amelia didn't even want to leave the ring. We won our classes which was nice.

After the show, I headed to downtown Savannah, got some lunch and then walked around to look at all the street vendors who were out on River Street. This was the big Savannah Christmas Parade day so there was a lot going on. I got some Christmas presents and had fun seeing the street mimes and musicians. After all of that, I headed back to Tybee to the kayak place and visit the lighthouse. I found out that there would be an open house put on by the Tybee Historical Society starting at 6 PM.

So in the meantime, I took the dogs to the Tybee dog park and played with them. They had a blast playing with a boxer and a Labradoodle. It was havoc!

Then, I went back to the light house, listened to Christmas carols, had some hot chocolate, went up all the 178 steps, took a lot of photos of the beautiful first order Fresnel lens, and then went back down to visit with Santa. I also toured the beautiful lighthouse keeper's quarters that was made great by a member of the historical society who explained a lot about what life was like and how the renovation of the quarters was done. I also went on the horse drawn carriage ride which was really fun and gave gorgeous views of the lighthouse and the quaint homes in the area. It was well worth the trip just to have this tour!

After a full day, it was nice to relax and read some before getting some much needed rest.

Friday, December 01, 2006

At Tybee

I arrived at Tybee and got my room at the Outdoor Inn. It is a neat place located right next to Sea Kayak Georgia. The Inn is basically a big house with lots of individual rooms and a common eating area where there are many charts displayed on the walls. The dogs seem to be enjoying the walk around the property. There is a huge porch off the back of the house that overlooks the marsh and a small creek.
I'm going to eat at a local seafood place tonight. Then, maybe check the Weather Channel to see what the AM brings in terms of the dog show. Hopefully, no rain!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dog show weekend

I am heading to Savannah tomorrow to show Izzy and Amelia. I'm hoping that the weather will be decent on Saturday. Right now, it isn't looking too good for tomorrow but luckily, I'll just be traveling. At least the weather appears to be cooler. I'm tired of having summer temperatures now that December is here.

The puppies are doing great. I plan to get more photos up soon. Thankfully, Gabby is a great mother and takes good care of them.

Our row last evening was perfect! There were 8 people as crew and we were power rowing up the Ashley River and back. It was a beautiful night and the water was calm. I just sent out a notice for a New Year's Eve row to Shem Creek that should be fun.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sleeping in regular bed

Last night, I was able to move back to a regular bed, sleeping in the new wing for the first time. It felt strange, like sleeping in a hotel. Although the new wing isn't totally completed (minor stuff on punch list), the bed is wonderful and the new mattress felt so good after sleeping on the platform bed in the puppy room.

The babies are doing well and are scooting around the box. Gabby is a very careful mother and takes excellent care of the babies. I am glad that the whelping is over and that the babies are doing so well. I like for them to be around a week old and from that age until 3 weeks all is so easy because the mother takes care of everything!
Life is good....

Monday, November 27, 2006

In the puppy room

The puppies are doing great, growing and eating like little pigs. I am sleeping out in the puppy room on the platform bed. It will be nice to be able to spend a night on the new mattress and bed that is now installed in the new wing of the house. I'll go back to work tomorrow, and Charlie will be home to watch over the little ones. The good thing about sitting puppies is getting a lot of reading done! I think that he has already gone through a couple of books.

A friend stopped by today to visit and it was a nice diversion from reading and sleeping. I look forward to getting back to work!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A milestone

Today Charlie and I have been married for 30 years. We didn't have much time to celebrate but some dear sweet friends, Eugene and Yaenette, came over to baby sit the puppies and Gabby while we went to dinner. Yaenette asked what was our secret to such a long marriage.

I really don't know as there have been times that have been enormously happy, times of enornmous sadness, times of frustration, times of peacefulness, but through it all there has been the idea that we have been friends and that we have respect for each other. I also think that because we have worked together (our offices are on the same hall) ever since we were married, it has been important to have activities that we appreciated but didn't necessarily share. I enjoy excercising of all kinds and, of course, showing the dogs and now judging. Charlie enjoys woodworking, fishing (which I also enjoy) and gardening (which I like too). So there are things that we share together and things that we do separately.

Charlie has always been very supportive of the dogs but doesn't like dog shows and would rather be at home than in a social situation. I enjoy meeting people and feel happy being in crowds or alone in the woods. He is quiet and I'm more outgoing. It's yin and yang for the most part.

I'll share with you the prayer that was written on a plain sheet of paper in the anniversary greeting that Charlie gave to me. It is the prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

All is well now

After a much needed cat nap, I've settled into the whelping room which is where I'll sleep for a week. The babies are doing well and Gabby loves being a mother. I doze off to the buzzing sound of the babies as they nurse. I've had a couple of hours worth of breaks to get some shopping done during the "tax free" day today. The puppies aren't left alone which is good.

I'm sorry about the ones that didn't make it but there isn't a thing that can be done to bring them back. Sometimes things just don't go as one would like. It's a humbling experience and I'm not sure how many more times I want to go through the stress of having babies.

I'm getting a lot of reading done while I watch the babies. The room is warm and comfortable, as much as one can expect. After a few days though, I'm ready to sleep in a normal bed and have a bigger space to be in.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A long night

Gabby's delivery of puppies turned into a marathon. We thought that things were going well with the first puppy coming at 4 PM on Thanksgiving. We stayed up all night delivering puppies with the final count being 6 living babies: 2 yellow girls, a yellow boy, a black girl and 2 black boys. Unfortunately, we lost several puppies that were DOA. No amount of resusitation that we did could revive them. It appears that Gabby's uterus wasn't contracting as it should which meant that some of the puppies likely drowned in amniotic fluid after the placenta had detached. It is sad but one of the things that can happen during whelping. We are grateful to have the six babies that are here. I should have some photos up soon here and on our web site. Now, I need some much needed rest.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Puppies are arriving

We had an eventful Thanksgiving with Gabby starting delivery of her puppies at 4 PM this afternoon. So far, we have a black girl, a yellow girl and a yellow boy. All are doing well. She is a wonderful whelper, never straining and just pushing out the babies with ease. I'm hoping that all will be done by later this evening so that this isn't an all nighter.

I'll put up photos as soon as things have calmed down. We had a nice Thanksgiving even though we had no idea that the babies would be arriving today. I know that there are many things to be thankful for. Here's hoping that all the babies and Gabby do well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Snow in Charleston!

It was a rare sight this morning to see snow coming down on Wadmalaw. There were big fluffy flakes. The dogs were loving the whole cold, snowy scene. They have houses filled with straw and came rushing out to greet me. They bounced around for a while until I got their breakfast ready. Then after wolfing that down, they went into their houses with only their noses exposed!

The photo shown here is the view from my office out to Charleston Harbor. There was sea smoke, lots of white caps, and the wonderful snow. Now, that has changed to a pounding rain. Unfortunately, there will be lots of beach erosion. How would you like to be at a mooring in a nice sailboat, with a warm heater going, riding out the storm?

Last night, we had the first fire of the season. Sitting by a fire, reading the paper, and enjoying a relaxing evening is a rarity anymore. I'm grateful for those small things and the quiet times.

Gabby is huge but still eating. Her temperature is still normal and hasn't begun to drop or fluctuate. Hopefully, she will wait until AFTER Thanksgiving but who knows???

Stay warm and hug your dogs.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Simon finishes!

Yesterday, I received news that Simon, from the Angus x Stella litter, finished his Ch. with his third major win. Simon is one of three boys who finished from the litter. His brothers Gilmour and Barrett finished earlier this year. Because it's so hard to get a Champion title on Labradors due to the sheer number that it takes to get a major, it is thrilling to have 3 from one litter finish. Stella was from a litter in which four finished. Simon's owners, Steve and Geri Lubinski, are thrilled about the completion of his championship. They plan to have him out at selected shows as a special, competing in Best of Breed.

I hope that everyone will be safe with the approaching coastal storm. It is supposed to be a rough few days with high winds and major surf advisories. Safe travels to everyone this Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A busy weekend

It seems that finally with Thanksgiving coming, I'll be able to be at home and not out of town. This past weekend was one in which I traveled again with the dogs. Meddle and Pink seemed to enjoy themselves though and were full of themselves in the crisp mornings. The weather was clear thankfully and eventually warmed up during the day.

I've decided that I need to get my puppies out more and get them accustomed to the noises and other dogs that they will encounter at dog shows. It's hard when the only things that they encounter are a bunch of squirrels! Perhaps on the home weekends, I'll take them to the dog park at the Isle of Palms where it is enclosed and they can run and play. The James Island Park is nicer and beautiful but it isn't fenced. Also there are more dogs there and they really need to not feel overwhelmed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A nice dinner

I was invited to dinner at a friend's house this evening. She used to own a couple of restaurants locally, and I would regularly go to her restaurant to have dinner. She rows with me in the pilot gig on Wednesday's and has a lovely home on James Island. She had her friend Linda Annas Ferguson over for the dinner. Linda is a published poet and will have her most recent book out soon. You can read about her poetry and talents at www. The dinner was wonderful and Linda's reading of some poetry was moving. It nice to have made new friends and hear their viewpoints on life. They were interested in the dogs and what goes into being a breeder. A lot of sweat and hard work and tears would be a good summation. Perhaps there's a poem in there somewhere.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gabby is getting bigger

When I got back from Boston, I saw Gabby and it appeared that she had enlarged greatly just in 2.5 days. She is happy as a clam, eating like a pig and generally looking beautiful. Her due date is Nov. 23 so I am already getting anxious. She is enjoying all the attention and getting extra cookies. She has never had a problem with whelping before so I'm hoping all will go okay. One never knows so it is best to be prepared. Hopefully, all will go well. Whelpings can be a marathon and sleep deprivation seems to be the norm. I'll have information about Gabby and updates on the whelping as soon as I have recovered.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Judging in Boston

I enjoyed my judging assignment in Boston. The venue was wonderful and I was glad to have only a short walk from my hotel to the show site. Although the show was inside, the weather was very nice. I enjoyed seeing some nice dogs. I also was grateful that I had no trouble with Boston traffic and driving from Boston to Fitchburg.

I heard from Elizabeth Bowron that Gilmour went BOS on one of the days at the Raleigh-Durham LRC specialty. That was a nice surprise!

Gabby is getting bigger and looks as if she swallowed a watermelon. She is due in another couple of weeks. I'm hoping that all will go well.

What a beautiful day today has been in Charleston! Calm water and blue sky. Wish that the rowing crew wanted to get together but everyone seems to be busy tonight. Hopefully, Wednesday's row will be good.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Exciting Raleigh-Durham results and off to judge

I'm leaving today to fly to Boston to judge at the Framingham KC show. I have a nice entry of 75 to judge. Because of judging there, I missed one of my favorite specialties, the Raleigh-Durham LRC. I heard from Elizabeth Bowron yesterday that Surry's Ummagumma at Fortune got a JAM at the specialty which was great news.

It was beautiful weather yesterday, too nice to be indoors anywhere. I got out at lunch and enjoyed the warm weather and the beach. The dogs are basking in the sun and seem to be enjoying the nice weather as well.

I'll hopefully hear some more information from Elizabeth on the specialty today. Hope that I get in and out of Logan airport without too much hassle.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Excitement rowing

With the big full moon tides this week and a northeast wind, rowing on Monday evening was exciting and strenuous. We had a crew of four and a good friend coxing for the first time in the pilot gig. He was a bit nervous about the whole thing but did admirably well with his female crew who pulled hard on the oars. We left the City Marina and headed into Charleston Harbor. It seemed that we were rowing hard for a long time and not going anywhere because we were rowing against the tide. We moved from the channel into the anchorage area and then practiced some boat maneuvers around the moored vessels. It was great fun and good practice for all of us. We rowed for over an hour without a break, nearly got carried by current into a can marker, got saved by backing water like crazy and had a good laugh over our adventure. We got back to the marina tired but happy. Our coxswain put the boat right in the slip and was pleased with his accomplishment. Tonight we go out again for another nightime row. I love looking at the lights of the city during these rows. The cool weather makes it perfect for a workout.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Photos from Labrador Fun Day

Eugene took some wonderful photos from the Labrador Fun Fest yesterday. The game photos are so cute! Take a look at them on his web blog at These photos will give you an idea of the great time that the humans and dogs had. Hope that everyone can join us next year!

Stella looks really bored on the grooming table. Everytime that she would be out running around, she would then go back to the van, put her feet up, and look to be picked up and put in the crate. How indelicate and embarrassing to be dressed in men's underwear!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Labrador Fun Day

Today, the Coastal South Carolina Labrador Retriever Club hosted our fall fun fest at James Island County Park. It was a great afternoon to be outside. There were retriever demonstrations, obedience demonstrations, fun games with the dogs, and a raffle for a couple of super packed doggy baskets. It was great fun to watch the young dogs do water retrieves for the first time. Some of them were like egg beaters in the water but then got the hang of it and did well. There was quite a crowd to enjoy the games and some of us even laughed our way through the games! All in all, I think that the public really enjoyed the day and the club members had a great time putting on the event. We look forward to other activities in the future. If you are interested in joining the club, you can download a membership form at

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Taj Mahal concert

Last night, I went to a concert by blues artist Taj Mahal at the Charleston Music Hall. A group from North Carolina, the Chocolate Drops, opened and played some wonderful blue grass and ragtime music. This group is very talented and the strong voice of the female singer is beautiful.

The place was filled when the Taj Mahal Trio came on. They put out some wonderful blues and the show was great. This blues legend knows how to turn on the crowd. I was hoping to hear Leavin' Trunk, Statesboro Blues, or Take a Giant Step. Although those weren't played, the band did Corrina which is another favorite. The Fishing Song was great as usual. Unfortunately, there were a lot of college students in various states of an alcohol haze on the main floor. I was happy to be on the balcony where I had a great view of the band and didn't have to look at the back of anyone's head (or butt).

It was an inspiring evening but being up until midnight during the work week isn't something that I want to do regularly!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dealing with elderly dogs

Tilly is currently our oldest Labrador. She is really in great health and doing well. Occasionally, she will get a urinary tract infection that causes some accidents. We dose her with amoxycillin and the infection will clear up.

Tilly is really a one of a kind girl. She was my first Best in Specialty show winner and has been an outstanding producer. She is funny, possessive of her toys, rules the roost, and in general is our "heart" dog. She hasn't slowed down much at all and I look forward to spending several more years with her in our lives. There is that bit of sadness though to see the ones that you hold so dear get old. Anna, Tilly's daughter, is nearly grey. Stella, another Tilly, daughter is getting on to be nearly 7 years old. Hard to believe that these were the babies that we birthed and cared for.

I've found that one of the hardest things about dog ownership is having them age and become infirm. The loss of a beloved animal friend is so difficult that there are times that I think I can't bear to lose another.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Judging at Middleburg KC

I got back from the Middleburg KC show late last night. It was a very nice show (as usual) and the weather was wonderful. The fall colors were beautiful and that whole area is very historic and has gorgeous homes. Fortunately, the rain had stopped for my assignment, although the wind was roaring. I had some very nice Labradors to judge and was pleased with my decision. On Sunday, my WB choice couldn't be denied for Best of Breed. She was really lovely with great breed type.

I have finally ended my travel odessey, at least for a couple of weeks. I am thankful to be home for a while, have an opportunity to play with the dogs, and not have to sleep in hotels. The dogs were very glad to see me, although they have been spending nights with Charlie, curled up next to him.

This Saturday is our Labrador Club's Fun Fest at James Island County Park. I'm hoping for good weather and a good turn out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Recovery just in time to leave again

Today could hardly be called a recovery from the nearly 2 weeks of meetings that I've been to. It was back to work to catch up on things at the office and meet with my staff to go over what has been going on with my projects. I enjoyed seeing everyone but had a lot of things to go over and a lot of email to go through.

I got home around 7 PM last night and did have some time with the dogs. They were very glad to see me and enjoyed pouncing around me and looking for cookies. The cool weather felt good but wasn't nearly as cold as NC where the wind was blowing about 30 kts. Not a good day to be on the water!

Tomorrow I head off again as I'm going to Middleburg, VA to judge Labradors there. The Bare Bones Potomac specialty is tomorrow and the Middleburg shows are the days after the specialty. I'm looking forward to going but here that the forecast isn't good with rain expected. I've got my rain gear packed and warm clothes. I'm looking forward to seeing some nice Labradors. The show grounds at Oatlands Plantation are just beautiful. I can remember showing there myself but never thought that I'd be judging at Middleburg! I may not be posting for a few days as much will depend on the amount of time that I have available.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Some photos from Georgetown boat show


I uploaded some photos of the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show at If you search for people and input BlondeonBlonde, you should see all my photos there. I've included a few here.

I'm at a meeting in North Carolina so Charlie is surviving at home with the dogs. He said that they are loving the cold weather and are jumping about and having a wonderful time.

It is very cold and windy at Atlantic Beach, NC. The wind is biting but I'm loving the cold too.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Yesterday at the Boat Show

I got home from Ohio around 9 PM on Friday evening. The next morning I left at 8 AM to head to Georgetown for the wooden boat show. The pilot gig was being trailored there as the rowing group would be taking people out for public rows. It was a blast! There were all kinds of wooden boats exhibited. There were sail boats, kayaks, canoes, rowing skiffs, and surf boards. There was a boat building contest that was awesome. I'll upload some photos of that. The boats have to be built with time recorded and then the boats have to be rowed in a race. The design is the Georgetown bateau. It was awesome to see the teams of boat builders working so hard on their boats. I entered the knot tying contest and did well to get all my knots done. I even impressed some of the old timers. For the public rows that we did, the kids were so much fun. The young children would sit next to one of us and we would show them where to place their hands and what to do. We were rowing and they were supposed to help and follow along. I would tell them, "okay, I'll push forward for the catch and you help me pull back". Well, each of them would always be pulling back when I was trying to push forward! It was hysterical as one little boy would be pulled out of his seat as I was pushing forward. He was pulling hard against me. A good workout for sure since these little boys are strong! Anyway, it was great fun and a wonderful day. I highly recommend going to a wooden boat show if you get the chance.
Today I'm heading to NC for a meeting in Atlantic Beach. I've been out with the dogs to spend the morning and play with them. I am pretty sure that Gabby is pregnant so puppies will be due at the last of November. Yikes--more babies!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jet boats and other things

Today was a very full day with a field trip beginning at 8 AM. First, we took the Jet Express from downtown Sandusky (no, I didn't get to see Carol Heidl, although I thought about her). That was a cool ride across to Put-in-Bay. We then took the Water Taxi to Gibraltar Island, toured the Stone Lab and the Castle. After going back to Put-in-Bay, we toured the National Wildlife Refuge and ended up at the Inland Seas Maritime Museum which was one of the best maritime museums I've been to. There were so many things on display, including beautiful fresnel lenses, awesome ships tools, engines, clocks, bridge instruments, etc. There was even a knot display which was great because there were six pins that allowed you to tie various knots. Good practice for me! After touring the museum there was a fish fry and an archaeological talk on several ship wrecks on Lake Erie. It was a long but interesting day.

Monday, October 16, 2006

In Ohio

I got in last night to Huron, Ohio and had meetings today. I'm attending the annual meeting of the National Estuarine Research Reserves and the host site this year is Old Woman Creek NERR. It's the smallest reserve in the national system of 26 sites. South Carolina has two reserves, ACE Basin NERR and North Inlet/Winyah Bay, with ACE being the 3rd largest in the country.

Tomorrow we have a trip to Old Woman Creek and get to see the Reserve and have meetings there. Unfortunately, it is scheduled to rain tomorrow and we will be out on the boat for most of the day.

I've talked to Charlie and he and the dogs are doing fine. The weather here was a chilly 39 F this AM but it has warmed into the upper 50's today.

I hope to get photos from the field trip tomorrow. The Lodge where I'm staying is spacious and has a lot of dead animals on the walls. There are nice fireplaces though but most have dead animals above them. Not my thing but if you don't look up, it's okay. More later.....

Friday, October 13, 2006

Every dog needs a couch

I received a wonderful photo of Eugene from David Smith. In the email, David explained that Eugene was his best buddy and went everywhere with him. The photo shows Eugene resting on the couch looking at TV.

We've always maintained that Labradors long for the home life, being with their owners, and lounging about. Yes, they have active minds and need stimulation of all kinds. But they also just enjoy being part of the household.

We have placed a number of our retired dogs over the years. Some were former show dogs and some just didn't work out for showing or breeding. They are the ones that I think are lucky, because they get to go to great homes, have attention lavished on them, and live out their lives in bliss.

I'm happy for Eugene and for all the dogs who have a nice couch.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cats and Dogs

I'm often asked how well cats get along with our dogs. Because our dogs are raised around cats, they have definitely learned to respect cats. The three cats that we currently have are all rescue cats that have either been found by us or made their way to our place. Abraham came to us in a very beat up condition. He had been in a bad fight with another male cat and was evidently bitten badly on the neck and clawed on the legs and face. Although at first he wouldn't let us touch him, eventually he came to us to get fed and we were able to pet him. He remained a bit of a tom cat even after he was neutered. He once turned around and clawed Charlie's face! Eventually though he calmed down and is now the sweetest cat who will let us do anything to him.

I found Rachael on Maybank Highway when she was just a tiny kitten. I was heading to an appointment and saw this little creature creeping across the highway. It was so tiny that I thought it was a flying squirrel. I stopped my car, got out in the rain, and went to the little creature. I then saw that it was a tiny kitten. Her eyes were infected with pus, her anal area was infested with maggots, and she was near starvation. I dropped her at the vet's office and told her that if she lived, we would adopt her. Well, she lived and is now a hefty tabby who sleeps with us. Rachael is a true gem and has the best disposition.

Rebecca is another adopted kitty who is very skittish. She basically still has a lot of feral instincts and isn't as friendly as the others. She seems fearful but will allow us to pet her. She doesn't like to be picked up. However, I try to hold her as much as possible. She is a calico with an applehead. I love her but know that it will take a very long time for her to become comfortable with touching.

Abraham is the only cat who goes in and out of the house. He often torments the puppies by sitting and watching them play. When a puppy comes over, he will then swat at them if they become too rough. Generally, we have to put Abraham in the house in order to not have him cause too many distractions with the puppies and other dogs. They seem to love him!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Long week

Is it really only Wednesday? It seems as if this week has gone by so slowly. Maybe it's all the activity each day and night, either with the dogs or with rowing. Tonight I got some good photos on the Ashley River while out in the pilot gig. It was a nice night, not too warm but not breezy as our past rows have been. Our group is excited about the Georgetown Wooden Boat show and taking the gig there for public rows.

I heard from the Middleburg Kennel Club this evening and will be going there to judge on October 28. I also have been asked to judge the Harrisburg, PA show next August. It seems that things are filling up with a lot more time traveling which isn't something that I really like. However, as long as I don't have to drive to these places, it should be okay. I just want to get in, judge and get back home without a lot of delays.

I've got to write my critiques for the Denver specialty. I made comments on the first and second placements and have to write those up. It's just been a crazy week and things will continue to be that way as I prepare to leave for 2 weeks of meetings. I leave on Sunday for Ohio where the annual meeting of the National Estuarine Research Reserves is being held. On Oct. 22, I head up to North Carolina for a meeting there. I'll do a couple of talks at both meetings so have been getting those together as well. Consequently, there hasn't been much time to play with the dogs. Hopefully, this weekend....

Monday, October 09, 2006

What to guarantee?

I received an email from a puppy owner the other day. In it, the person stated that the puppy had developed a skin allergy and was on antibiotics and antihistamines. The puppy also has a Persistent Pupillary Membrane which was disclosed to the buyer since the puppy was given an eye exam before leaving by an ACVO. Unfortunately, the individual blames me for the issues with the puppy.

We do not offer a long-term guarantee in our contract, largely because it isn't possible to determine what problems may develop over time. Nor is it possible to determine what is inherited and what may have occurred because of environmental problems. We do guarantee that the parents have clearances for hips, elbows, and eyes. We also have the puppies checked by a vet the week prior to being placed in their new homes. When dealing with living beings, there can be health issues and these are discussed with regard to the Labrador at the time the puppy is picked up. I explain to potential buyers that genetic disorders can not be eliminated from any breeding program.

Just as with people, there are things that can occur but they usually aren't so debilitating that the animal can't live a life as a companion. After all, we are not dealing with machines. We have imported dogs that haven't worked out. It just happens and isn't anyone's fault. There are phenotypic clearances that can be done and the genetic test for PRA but largely it is still a crap shoot as to what recessives may crop up.

PPM's can occur in Labradors although the mode of inheritance is unknown. Every puppy has pupillary membranes and most go away. For some reason, some will persist and can occlude part of the lens. There is a good article on PPM's at

As far as allergies go, I am baffled as none of the other puppies have an allergy. I have two litter sisters who are in the kennel but who are fine. The Lowcountry is tough on Labradors who can develop staph infections from having damp coats from either swimming or the high humidity. Because our dogs are misted daily, it would seem that allergies would develop or at least staph would occur. We haven't had that except when there has been a flea outbreak. Luckily, with Frontline Plus, we are able to keep the dogs free of fleas.

I'm sorry that the puppy owner is unhappy. I certainly want all the dogs that we breed to be healthy. Unfortunately, there are things that are beyond my control.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Working Saturday

It was another day of painting and staining on the new wing. I worked on the library walls and Charlie was working in the hallway. We are getting close to finishing the painting and then can have the floor guys come in to finish the floors.

The correct answer for the knot posted yesterday came from Trixie and is a bowline. One of my favorite knots is shown at the left. Which one is this?

I practiced on the knots for the contest today and also did some line throwing. There are actually contests for line throwing, mainly noted for the Tugboat Festival in New York. Lines are thrown from the boat to a bollard. The key is to throw the line straight out as if shoving it away from the body, rather than throwing like a lasso.

The dogs were loving the crisp weather this morning. They spent a few hours outside and I actaully had to wear a flannel shirt tonight. It is a welcome change to have the cool weather. The moon is also beautiful tonight. The harvest moon is occurring now. It actually occurs when the moon rises near sunset and sits low on the horizon. This appears to make the moon appear larger than it actually is. That is called moon illusion. At any rate, it is truly beautiful.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Knot tying contest

I' ve been practicing nautical knots since I bought a book about knot tying a couple of months ago. There is a fellow at work who is a wizard with knots and who judges a lot of the contests. He is a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers. He has gone over quite a few interesting knots with me and showed me several neat tricks. Anyway, there is a contest with the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show and there will be six knots to tie during a timed event. The knots aren't hard but I'm wondering whether I should enter the contest. I'm not much on being center stage so will likely choke under pressure! Anyway, here is one of the knots to tie. Can you guess it?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Clara is in season

Yesterday was the first day of Clara's season. Since I bred Gabby a couple of weeks ago, my dilemma is now whether to breed Clara. I almost feel that I have so much on my plate that it will be very difficult to even think about another litter. I'm having a debate with myself about this one as Clara is four years old and never been bred. I would really like to have a puppy from her but am wondering whether now is the right time. I'll need to go with my feelings on the day for this one as I'm just not sure what to do.

Last night's row on the pilot gig was beautiful. The sunset was wonderful and with the nearly full moon rising we rowed back from near the Battery to the City Marina. The pilot gig will be at the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show on October 21 where we will be giving pubic rows. That is also the day of the Open House at the Marine Resources Center. That event is open to the public and free of charge. There will be lots of exhibits that should appeal to both adults and children.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fall rowing

I couldn't resist putting this lovely photo here as it captures the glory of fall on the water. I am so happy to be going out on the water at least twice a week rowing. I would like to get out more but house, dogs, and other stuff seem to prevent it.

We are still painting on the new wing and hope that our cabinet and finish work guy will eventually show up. He's had some tragedies to strike his life recently so I'm sure he will be around when he gets his act together. I'm just hoping that it is before Thanksgiving!

The dogs are doing great and are enjoying life as only dogs can. I'm hoping to enter some shows in November as October is completely taken up with meetings, judging and a lot of travel out of state. November through February should be good for shows as there are some that aren't too far away and the dogs will have coat.

Tonight I'm out on the pilot gig to row. I'm really looking forward to the Oct. 21 Georgetown Wooden Boat show as I'll get to go and help with the public rows on the pilot boat that day. I've been working on my knot tying also. Not sure yet if I'll enter the contest but I might give it a try. Well, off to go row for now....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Catching a squirrel

I was out at the kennels this evening and was heading back to the house when I stopped in my tracks. There was one of the dogs with a long brush tail hanging out of the mouth. It was a squirrel! I immediately went in the paddock and called over the dogs. The squirrel retriever was dancing around and having a wonderful time. She was so proud of that poor squirrel. Finally, she came over to show her prize to me. I was able to get the poor squirrel out of her mouth but it was already dead. My guess is that the squirrel fell out of one of the trees and was then picked up by a very fast Labrador. I felt sorry for the squirrel but at least I was able to get it away from the dogs before they each had a turn at carrying it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fun day judging

I had a wonderful day today judging at the Greater Denver Specialty. The entry was nice and there were several very lovely Labradors that I would have been happy to take home. The weather was spectacular with the backdrop of the mountains reflecting in the nearby lake breathtaking. Temperatures weren't as high as yesterday and there was a breeze which helped to keep the humans and the dogs comfortable. All in all, this has been a wonderful stay. I'm heading back to SC tomorrow having made more friends here in Colorado.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

In Denver

I got into Denver this afternoon after an uneventful plane ride. The temperature was the shocker as it was 81 today. I met up with the other judges and went to dinner at a wonderful lodge/country club near where Buffalo Bill is buried. The restaurant has a panoramic view of the valley and Denver. Claire Senfield judged today and Greg Lynch did Sweepstakes. Tomorrow Barb Nowak and I will be the judges. It is supposed to be in the upper 80's here tomorrow so I suspect I'll get a little sun. I'm looking forward to the day and seeing some nice dogs.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Heading to Denver

The LRC of Greater Denver specialty show is this weekend and I'm heading out there to judge Sweepstakes for Labradors on Sunday. I really like Denver and enjoyed spending some time there at a meeting a couple of years ago. I'm not sure that I'll get into the city but will at least get to see a bit of the mountains in the distance. It should be a fun time. The entry for Labradors is nice and the weather is supposed to be delightful with highs in the upper 70's and lows in the upper 40's. I'm ready for cool crisp fall air.

Our row last night on the Harbor was a bit tough as the seas were choppy and there were only four of us rowing. We rowed for a good 1.5 hour through the chop. I loved it! I really enjoy the differnt styles of rowing. The Dragon boat "chop" on Mondays and the single oar stroke on Wednesday. Then for fun, there is the traditional single rowing shell that I have. It really is good excercise but sometimes tough on the hands. I have more calluses than ever!

The puppies are really coming along and looking wonderful. Amelia and Aggie are carbon copies of their mother. I am excited about showing them this fall and winter. They should be fun, albeit a bit wild!

Hope that everyone has a good weekend and that my plane trips are uneventful!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More bronze Labrador statues being cast

I received word from Leslie Hutto that she has had a lot of demand for the Labrador bronze that she cast using Attikonak Get Off My Cloud as her model. This lovely statue shows the Labrador in action. I'm providing a link from Gunilla Ek's site as she has kindly included photos of the sculpture on her web site: The traditional cast bronze is the one that Leslie is having a recast of 10 pieces done. Contact her for more information. She will be exhibiting at the Labrador National Specialty and has shown her work at various galleries throughout the country.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Great news on OFA results

On Friday, I received paperwork from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, an organization that rates the hips, elbows and a host of other congenital occurrences in dogs. Both Emily and Barrett received certification that their hip joints were OFA rated as Good and that their elbows were OFA rated as Normal. That is great news for us as we have been very lucky to have a lot of soundness with our dogs. Eye checks are done annually for the entire kennel and we also use the Optigen test to determine whether a particular dog carries the gene for Progressive Retinal Atrophy. There are a lot of clearances that can be done with Labradors, if one desires. We try to recognize that clearances are a tool to be used in making breeding decisions. It is also very important though to keep in mind that one can go down a very winnowing pathway trying to only keep a dog that is "clean". There are no "clean" lines because recessives are lurking in the background. We do the best that we can to preserve the type that we like and to have sound dogs with good temperament. That is a goal that we strive to achieve.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Gabby has been bred

Barrett became interested in Gabby and Gabby also became interested in Barrett so a breeding was done yesterday and today. I'm not sure whether the timing was good or not but we will know in about 30 days.

I've had good news with OFA on the dogs since Emily, Lily and Barrett have all come back with OFA Good for hips and normal readings for the elbows. Thank goodness! It is always great when those are over with.

Today was spent painting the walls in the addition and varnishing the walls. I was dead tired after working on that since about 10 AM this morning. The walls look great as do the doors. Tomorrow will be more of the same. We are hoping to get the floors done in a couple of weeks. Another busy Saturday!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Anniversary of Hugo

Today is the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo who roared into the South Carolina coast in 1989. We had just moved into our house in November 1988. We stayed during Hugo and it was a truly nerve wracked night. We had no idea that it would be such a dangerous storm. We knew that we were in for a long night when all the radio and TV stations went out. The rain poured through the ridge vent in the roof. The wind howled and there was all matter of debris hitting the house and roof. It was night so we couldn't see out (luckily). After a very long night, we finally saw the dawn and went outside to see every leaf stripped from the trees and debris everywhere. Luckily none of the trees were down but it was difficult to tell what was what. The smell of the damaged trees was strong. We had no electricity for 23 days which seemed like forever. We had a kindly neighbor who passed around a generator so that we could keep our freezer and regrigerator going. Finally, we were able to purchase a generator. It took us 3 days to get to Maybank Highway because we had to cut our way out. Nothing looked the same. The landscape was a mass of downed trees, limbs, and debris. I'm very thankful that we were spared a lot of damage. We never lost a shingle and no water came near our yard. We were indeed much more fortunate than our neighbors to the north of Charleston. There people lost their lives due to storm surge. Let's hope that we never see another major storm such as Hugo.

Today is also the autumnal equinox. Fall is definitely in the air. While not as celebrated as the vernal equinox, fall is definitely my favorite season. I'm looking forward to the cool mornings and the crisp days.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Not much interest

Gabby is in season so I thought that perhaps I might breed her this fall for her last time. Then I thought about the dormitory affect. I really want to breed Clara who is has never been bred and is nearing 4 years of age. For sure if I breed Gabby then Clara will come in season. In fact, the entire place will probably be one screaming mass of hormones. So far, none of the boys are much interested in Gabby so perhaps she either isn't ready or is already out. Timing is everything. I also don't want to be having puppies due when I am scheduled for a meeting out of town, or judging, or around major holidays! I will attempt another playtime for her with Barrett and see what happens.
So far so good on the other girls--no one appears to be coming in yet.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Another happy home

We get a lot of requests for older dogs or junior dogs. These dogs usually work great for people who don't want to go through the puppy phase. They also make great companions for families with young children. Sometimes it is hard to find the right match. We've only had a couple of dogs that have "ping ponged" and it is usually due to not having the right dog for the right family. In one case, I don't think that any dog would have worked.

Sometimes personality of the dog just isn't suitable for active families. We had a junior dog that tended to be tentative and a bit shy. He especially didn't like a lot of loud noises. Because of this untypical Labrador temperament, it was a challenge to find the right home for him. He is doing well in a home without children and where his owner spends a lot of time with him. Being a calm dog who is very smart, he is very attached to his owner and is very good as a house companion. It is always a joy when the right dog is placed with the right owner. It is always worth the wait to find that right home.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Taking photos of dogs

I read on a popular Labrador list that one of the sure ways to have an arguement is to ask your husband to take photos of the dogs. Well today, we took photos of 8 of them in order to update our web page and get a photo of Barrett for an ad. Remarkably, Charlie and I got through the ordeal in good humor. It was only trying for a few of the dogs who were so happy that all four feet didn't touch the ground. Then there was the cat factor in which Abraham decides to tease the dogs by lurking just close enough to wreak havoc. The wonder of digital cameras is that we can take a million photos and probably get about 2 really good ones. Delete the others and you're set. Hopefully, I'll have an opportunity to go through them tomorrow and see if we now have at least one good one of each dog.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Modern Times

We were doing a lot of staining, painting and varnishing today in the new wing to the house. The work was made easier by listening to Bob Dylan's new CD Modern Times. Modern Times is the thirty-first studio album by Dylan, released on August 29, 2006. It has become Dylan's first #1 album in the US since 1976's Desire, thus making Dylan the oldest living person ever to have an album enter the Billboard charts at number one. I'm sure Bob isn't thrilled about being called old. The CD is a good one though and brings to mind an old blues artist whose voice is rough from too much whiskey and cigarettes. Workingman's Blues No. 2 is my favorite on the CD, although the following lyrics to Spirit on the Water are just beautiful. Listening to Modern Times made the afternoon go by quickly.

Spirit on the water
Darkness on the face of the deep
I keep thinking about you baby
I can't hardly sleep

I'm traveling by land
Traveling through the dawn of day
You're always on my mind
I can't stay away

I'd forgotten about you
Then you turned up again
I always knew
We were meant to be more than friends

When you're near
It's just as plain as it can be
I'm wild about you, gal
You ought to be a fool about me

Can't explain
The sources of this hidden pain
You burned your way into my heart
You got the key to my brain

I've been trampling through mud
Praying to the powers above
I'm sweating blood
You got a face that begs for love

Life without you
Doesn't mean a thing to me
If I can't have you
I'll throw my love into the deep blue sea

Sometimes I wonder
Why you can't treat me right
You do good all day
And then you do wrong all night

When you're with me
I'm a thousand times happier than I could ever say
What does it matter
What price I pay

They brag about your sugar
Brag about it all over town
Put some sugar in my bowl
I feel like laying down

I'm as pale as a ghost
Holding a blossom on a stem
You ever seen a ghost? No
But you have heard of them

I see you there
I'm blinded by the colors I see
I take good care
Of what belongs to me

I hear your name
Ringing up and down the line
I'm saying it plain
These ties are strong enough to bind

Now your sweet voice
Calls out from some old familiar shrine
I got no choice
Can't believe these things would ever fade from your mind

I could live forever
With you perfectly
You don't ever
Have to make a fuss over me

From East to West
Ever since the world began
I only mean it for the best
I want to be with you any way I can

I been in a brawl
Now I'm feeling the wall
I'm going away baby
I won't be back 'til fall

High on the hill
You can carry all my thoughts with you
You've numbed my will
This love could tear me in two

I wanna be with you in paradise
And it seems so unfair
I can't go to paradise no more
I killed a man back there

You think I'm over the hill
You think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time

Friday, September 15, 2006

Feeling more like fall

The dogs were bozo this morning with the cool weather. They were running around, chasing each other and generally having a blast. It certainly makes me more peppy as well, since I'm not soaked in sweat at 5:30 AM. I'm really looking forward to the beautiful days of the Lowcountry fall. Although the colors aren't spectacular, the tourists are gone and the days of October and November are just delightful. Not freezing cold but nice enough to go for a walk on the beach with just a sweater. I think that the dogs are also eager for that time of year.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Georgetown

Although I'm at a meeting in Georgetown, I'm getting news from home about the dogs. Charlie has his hands full with taking care of all the dogs and doing painting on the new wing.
The temperature here is a high of 69 F here today so that is quite a change from Charleston. The topic for this workshop is on marine biodiversity. There are a lot of quite well known scientists here so it is a very stimulating conference. One of my programs, the Southeastern Regional Taxonomic Center, is actually a part of the Census of Marine Life's Oceanographic Biogeographic Information System. What's alarming is that with the loss of species and the changes in biodiversity can change the important ecosystem services that we all come to rely upon. That is really the focus here and we will be doing work over the next several days to put our collective minds together to address the ecosystem changes that may occur as biodiversity change.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Beautiful weather

Wow, what a beautiful day! We woke up fairly late for us. The weather was so wonderful--fairly cool for Charleston and without 98% humidity. I took Eugene and Meddle at 10 AM for their rabies shots. I generally get the 3 year shots for the dogs. After that, I met Berta for lunch at Mimi's overlooking the marsh on James Island. There was a slight breeze and it was very nice to sit and talk.
Charlie and I went to Home Depot after that to order the counter top granite for the vaniities and to pickup some more lights for the bathroom and hallway. We are going to paint some tonight in hopes of getting the rooms ready for the electrician on Monday. I have to leave tomorrow for a meeting in DC and will be back Wednesday night. I'm planning to take my laptop. At least my plane doesn't leave until late afternoon.
I guess that it will be a full day tomorrow.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Painting and painting

We are getting close to finishing up on the new wing on our house. This weekend will be one filled with painting--finishing up the master bedroom and the library which is pictured here. The tile work is almost complete in the master bath, the vanities are installed, and the electrician is coming to install fixtures on Monday. I am so ready for this to be done. It hasn't really been an inconvenience at all but it will be nice to have the fireplaces active for winter and have the porch to enjoy this fall. We'll be able to sit and watch the dogs play from the porch and the windows of the library. It is going to be spectacular when completed. Just hope that I live long enough to see it through!

Tonight Charlie and I are going to eat some Thai food at one of our favorite restaurants, Little Thai Two. We like to go there, and then go get coffee and browse the CD's at Millenium Music. It hasn't been a bad week for me but with the days getting shorter, it is going to be harder and harder to play with the dogs in the evening.

Last night was a great row in the rain. It was drizzling as we left City Marina with four of us in the gig. We rowed past the Battery to the end of White Point Gardens and then took a break. People were photographing us and a couple of people stopped to say how beautiful the boat was. We then rowed back in a pretty steady downpour. I love being on the water with my team mates straining on the oars. Our coxswain, George, really knows how to get us right to the slip. It is a lot of fun and I'm excited about having the boat in the Christmas parade when the Battery will be lined with people. Let's just hope that it won't be raining in December! You can read about the history of pilot gigs here:

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Puppies like the cool mornings

When I went out this AM at 5:30 to let the dogs out and clean the kennels, it was noticeably cooler. I could really feel that fall was just around the corner (probably wishful thinking since it is only early September). The dogs could sense it as well as they were romping and playing with more gusto than I've seen in a while. Aggie and Amelia were having a blast playing in a water puddle. Everyone was in high spirits and I suspect that it is due to cool conditions. I remember when I would ride that the cool days would really make my horse frisky. Everyone seems to perk up when it isn't 85 degrees at dawn. We've actually been able to suspend the misting system recently because of the cool rainy conditions. I'm ready for fall, wearing sweaters, and feeling chilly.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sad about Steve Irwin

I was sitting in the Atlanta airport after a flight cancellation and waiting to get home when I heard that the Croc dude Steve Irwin had been killed after a stingray barb to the heart. I felt tears come to my eyes as he was such a passionate lover of animals and really enthralled so many people. Having such a zest for life is a remarkable thing.

My thoughts then went to the fact that there are lots of dangerous things in this world and the lowly stingray is not high on the priority list. However, having seen the affects of a couple of ray/human interactions, I can say that it isn't a pretty sight. My husband was pierced through his calf by a ray barb which he indicated was painful beyond belief. Then, one of my biologists was pierced through the top of her foot and had to undergo skin grafting because of severe necrosis to the skin. She was out of work for about 4 months. In spite of all this, rays are pretty docile and generally hang out on the bottom eating crabs, clams and other shellfish. They scoot along the bottom and then settle down partially covered by sediment. That's why it's a good idea to be careful when walking in shallow water of the ocean. Slamming a foot into a ray barb would be a very painful thing. I'm just hoping that the rays don't get a lot of bad hype as being deadly. This was a freak accident, no different than having any sharp object pierce the heart. I had hoped for many more years of the Croc guy. Sadly, that won't be happening.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Back from California

I really enjoyed judging at the Sierra Vista LRC show. It was a beautiful show site and the entry was very nice at 90 entered. I was pleased to see so many nice Labradors and was happy that my Best of Breed winner also took a group 2.

I appreciated the great hospitality of the club and especially Wendy Gai and her husband. I had the pleasure of attending a dinner at their house. Rich Gai restores classic cars and took me for a drive in a 67 Mustang with a 5 liter engine. It was really neat!

The worst part of the trip was airline travel. My flight was delayed leaving Charleston and was cancelled on the return leg from Atlanta to Charleston. I had taken the "red eye" from Sacramento to Atlanta so was beat when I arrived at 6:30 AM. I then found out that my Charleston flight wouldn't leave until 10:40. In the meantime, I had no mouth wash or hand gel or any liquid of any kind due to the TSA and Homeland Security "we ain't gellin' " rule.

Thankfully, I arrived home around 12 noon and am just now going to get a good night's sleep. No airports, no screaming babies, no angry tourists, no canceled flights.....

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Leaving for California

With Ernesto headed off to the north, I'm heading out to California tomorrow to judge a show near Sacramento. I'm so glad that the storm has headed away from Charleston. There was a lot of rain and some of the streets downtown were flooded but all in all, it wasn't bad. I had a meeting down town and was able to check on the rain coming down from the hotel where the meeting was held.

I probably won't be back on line for a couple of days. I have 90 Labradors to judge which is a good entry. I will take a red eye flight to come back to Charleston by 9:30 AM on Monday. I want to have at least a few days of the weekend free.

Hope that every one has a nice Labor Day holiday.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Barrett is back and it is as if he never went on the road or became a champion. He is happily bouncing about, knows his kennel, plays with Timmi and the puppies and is in general the bozo boy that I love. Like his namesake, he is darkly handsome, energetic, and a bit off his rocker! I received his championship certificate in the mail which was quick by AKC standards. Tobias is now out with Rusty and Jen looking for the two majors that he needs to finish. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that occurs.

Aggie and Amelia are now separated in the kennel. Aggie looked as if she had swallowed a watermelon on Sunday, so it appears that she was gobbling poor Amelia's food. Aggie is now on a bit of diet and Amelia is getting her normal portion. Both are kenneled next to each other so there isn't a huge amount of separation anxiety. They still play together in the puppy pen. Aggie is definitely the ring leader and more rambunctious of the two. She was one of the two puppies bitten by a copperhead in the spring. She is irrepressible with nothing slowing her down. Must be that Stella gene!

Here's hoping that tropical storm Ernesto decides to stay away. A little rain is okay but let's keep the wind to a minimum. I have to fly out to judge in California and hope that there are no delays on Friday. Here's hoping that everyone and their dogs will be out of harm's way.

Monday, August 28, 2006

You can't reason with hurricane season

With Ernesto churning in the Caribbean, my mind turns back to 1989 when Hurricane Hugo came to town. What an evening that was, and what a mess the days after were!

We didn't have but a few dogs then so all were brought inside the house, put in crates and covered by a blanket. Charlie and I stayed in a closet under the stairs. After we lost all radio and TV and rain began pouring in from the ridge vent, we decided that we were in for a bad event. The wind roared but we stayed dry and safe. Our house had just been built so we were a bit anxious about how it would weather the storm. We didn't lose a shingle! We lost a lot of branches and limbs to trees but all the big trees stood strong. It took us 3 days to cut our way out to Maybank Highway. We had no electricity for 23 days.

So when hurricane season comes around, we think about having many more dogs and the 3 cats. We have a generator that is powerful enough to kick off our well pump and provide some electricity to the house. We have our camping supplies in order. It's best to be prepared and just hope that we escape the wrath of Mother Nature for another year.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

CSCLRC meeting

The meeting yesterday was very informative. Dr. Billy Roumillat and Dr. Linnea Bredenburg gave a great presentation on first aid for dogs. Those present learned about heat stroke, bloat, snake bite care, toxins, CPR, and numerous other topics that were spurred by questions from the audience. There was even a stuffed Labrador for them to practice on. We had a good crowd for the meeting and all really appreciated Billy and Linnea's talk.

The El Bohio restaurant staff were wonderful as usual in hosting the meeting. Many thanks to Alex, owner of the Pour House and El Bohio, for taking care of all of us so well.

If you haven't joined a local Labrador club, it is a great opportunity for you to learn what's going on with your breed and to have fun with other Labrador owners. AKC has a list of clubs and there might be one close by.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Barrett coming home

Barrett will be coming home on Sunday after a couple of months at the shows. I'm very pleased that he completed his AKC Ch. and can now just have fun and goof off. Tobias has gone to Atlanta to meet up with the handling team of Rusty and Jen Howard. He needs a couple of majors to complete his Ch. and we are hoping that he will get that. He is in good coat and looks great.

Our Coastal South Carolina LRC membership meeting will be held on Saturday from 3-6 at El Bohio Restaurant on Maybank Highway. Dr. William Roumillat will be speaking on canine first aid. It should be a good discussion and the food is great. Hope that those of you who are within driving distance will turn out for this interesting talk.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dew claws

I received an email from one of our puppy owners indicating that she would like to have the dew claws removed on her girl who is an older puppy. We don't remove dew claws on our puppies for a couple of reasons. First, as you can see in the photo, it requires actually snipping off the joint of a baby puppy. Ideally, this would be done at around 2 days of age. We don't like the idea of cutting off the thumb of a baby, having empathy when it comes to our own thumb. Taking off a dew claw is the equivalent of someone severing your thumb at the knuckle joint. Not a very pleasant experience for a baby puppy. The second reason that we don't remove dew claws is that the dog actually uses the claw like a thumb. Watch your dog sometimes with a chew toy and you'll see how the dew claws are used to hold the toy. We have heard the stories about claws being ripped off in the field. I haven't seen one but in terms of risk, I'm willing to take that chance rather than cut pieces off my puppies.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Monday, Monday

Today was one of those days that you summon all your strength to get your work done quietly and efficiently and hope to get home at a decent hour in order to relax. Unfortunately, after doing the dogs in the morning, I got ready for work and jumped into doing some evaluations for employees. After that I edited a manuscript for a colleague and then went to the Director's meeting since my Director and his Asst. were out of the office. I guess that I was the third string or something like that. Anyway, that lasted until 4 PM. After completing the work day and changing into my rowing duds, I headed to Bristol Marina thinking that the dragon boat crew would be there. Unfortunately, the date had been changed due to a bunch of festivals until Sept. 18, so we won't be getting back together until then. I still will have rowing in the 6 person gig on Thursday and my single to mess about in on the weekends.

At the Muncie, Ind. show this past weekend, Susan Otto and I both discussed the fact that it is nice to have other things in our lives besides the dog activities. I think that the exercise activities that I do are a great complement to my dog activity. Although I love specialty shows, I've gotten increasingly tired of showing at all breed shows. The atmosphere isn't as much fun as the specialty shows and the loud noisy conditions with all the other breeds, lugging crates in and out, and all the travel has just gotten tiresome. I would rather send the dogs with good handlers than to spend my weekends driving to dog shows. Judging is one thing but I think that just going to a few all breed shows that are close by in order to socialize puppies makes more sense than traveling great distances.

Maybe it's just my mindset today--just like the lyrics to that rock classic, "Monday, Monday, can't trust that day..."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Judging in Muncie

My judging assignment was pleasant, although I must admit that I left Charleston with so many things on my mind that were unsettling. It had been a week of emotion in so many ways. The idea of flying off to a strange place where I knew no one wasn't all that appealing. The good side of it was that I met Susan Otto who is a Rottweiler breeder and a very nice lady. We shared the ride from Indianapolis to Muncie. While I was in my room feeling very much alone, Susan called and asked me to join her for dinner. We ended up talking for a long time and sharing our life experiences and our dog experiences. It was a nice way to spend an evening.

Judging was a neat experience. I was totally focused on the dogs which is what judging should be about. It's a way to put aside all other thoughts and just concentrate on the job at hand.

Sea Smoke

I received some very sad news prior to and during my trip to judge in Indiana. Surry's Sea Smoke had developed a large tumor in her mouth and palate that was causing problems with eating. Also, her breathing had become increasingly laborious. She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma about a year ago. The cancer was located in her mouth. However, she had been doing very well until about a couple of weeks ago when she appeared to become uncomfortable.
Berta took her to Drs. Shong and Rockwell who determined that indeed she was failing. So Berta made the very tough decision to have Sea Smoke euthanized on August 18. She went peacefully feeling gentle loving hands on her.

Sea Smoke was born into my hands and was a cutie right from the start. It was Daisy's first litter (sire was Ch. Ashlyn's Don Giovanni) and we were thrilled that there was a lovely black female in the litter. After retirement from showing and motherhood, Sea Smoke went to live with a couple who professed love for her but later at age 10 she became too much trouble so was returned to us. We gladly took her back, although we never understood the psychology of her former owners. At any rate, Berta met her and fell in love. So Sea Smoke moved down the road about 3/4 of a mile to live with my good friend. She had the life of a queen and other Labrador sisters to play with. The last 18 months were probably the most wonderful for Sea Smoke as she was the center of attention and had lots of treats and could sleep on Berta's bed. Bonding was rapid and everlasting for both human and dog.

I say it every time--it isn't fair that our dogs don't live longer. I envision Sea Smoke romping with her mother, Clondike, Haley and all the others who have crossed the bridge.