Monday, December 31, 2007


Well, the fireworks tonight had a couple of the dogs a bit anxious. Most of the ones at Surry were hunkered down and didn't have to listen to it up close. However, I heard from someone who has one of the girls that the fireworks in the neighborhood sent his girl hurrying back to the house.

Some Labradors don't like loud noises. I can remember that Stella would always put her head down when she was in the group ring because she didn't like all the clapping. She definitely wouldn't make a good gun dog. I'm not sure whether it's just anxiety over the noise or whether she had more sensitive ears than some Labradors.

It's best to not subject your dog to fireworks if the dog is anxious about loud noises. Leaving the dog inside and perhaps even it it's crate is the best idea. Dogs feel safe in their crates. And with a cover over the crate, it's even a better safe haven.

Hope that everyone has a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happily rowing

During my time off from work, I took some time to go rowing and sailing. The weather was fairly warm, although fog rolled in on the weekend after Christmas. It's nice to get out on the water, anchor the sailboat, and then row to shore to explore some of the places around Charleston Harbor. Crab Bank is a favorite anchorage as is Cummings Point.

These are great spots to get photographs, although Crab Bank is a protected rookery that is only available for human visitation after October and through the winter months. In the spring and summer, it is inundated with pelicans, gulls and other water birds. No dogs are allowed on Crab Bank but you can bring dogs to Morris Island.

Morris Island has a great beach for exploring and looking for shells and shark's teeth. You can walk for several miles and not see another soul in the winter. In the summer, weekenders come with their motor boats and like to cook out or party at Cummings Point. It can get a bit noisy but the winter months are sheer bliss.

If you want to camp with your dog in the winter, there is driftwood near the beach. There is no potable water so you have to bring that as well as any food or supplies you might need. I haven't tried camping there yet but hope to soon. Also, the Morris Island Lighthouse is a beautiful sight on the ocean side of the island. It's a hike but worth it to see the old lighthouse. It's now being worked on to stabilize the base.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Greyhound site visit

Star, the greyhound, and her humans came to visit Surry today.  They looked things over and asked questions that they were required to ask.  This is all in preparation for adopting a racing greyhound.  The local Charleston greyhound group has people who come to your house to inspect and make sure that you'd make a good owner of a greyhound.  

Star seemed to want to stay.  She came in, walked around and then flopped out on the floor in the kitchen.  She seemed genuinely sad that she had to leave.  And when her owner called for her to come on down the steps of the front porch, she went down and then trotted right back up and looked at the front door.  I think that she liked the good smells and the doggy noises at Surry.  

I learned that Star had been raced until she was 5 years old.  After that, she injured a hock and was retired.  The way that she raced around the front yard indicated that she still had the greyhound speed.  It was beautiful to watch.  

So if I'm lucky, there'll be a brindle female coming to Surry within the next couple of months.  With so many greys being put down every year, it's nice to know that one will have a home with all the happy Labradors here.  

Monday, December 24, 2007

Waiting for Santa

All the gifts have been delivered and the dogs are snoring in their kennels.  Tilly is inside sleeping on her dog bed.  The cats are tucked in for the night.  And I'm heading to bed as soon as I finish up on the computer.  

It's Christmas Eve and although all may not be well everywhere, it's my hope that you and yours have a wonderful Christmas.  

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from all the Surry Labradors.  

Friday, December 21, 2007

Doggy gifts

What do you get for your Labrador at Christmas?  They don't need one of those fancy coats to keep them warm.  They have oily double thick Labrador hair.  They don't need fru-fru collars with diamonds.  

But they do like soft thick dog beds.  And peanut butter doggy biscuits.  Or a new chew toy or a greasy knucklebone.  In fact, I think that our Labradors enjoy getting canned dog food with their kibble and some turkey skin and juice over their kibble as much as they enjoy anything.  They put their head down in their bowls and never look up.  Lots of lip smacking good eating going on.  

Whatever you get, I'm hoping that you and your dog have the best Christmas ever. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Love those Doggy Christmas Cards

We've gotten many photos from our puppy owners over the years. I have saved all of them. Some of the dogs have crossed the Rainbow Bridge while others are still enjoying life on earth with their owners. It's really special to hear from people how much they love their dog. It seems that some people really enjoy staying in contact and telling us how their dog is doing. Most of the time the news is good. And the dog is pictured right along with the rest of the family. And that's the point--they are part of the family.

The photo above came from Ann and Paul Key. It shows Neilley (aka The Pinkster) on her sleigh. She seems to be enjoying being dressed for the holidays. Neilley was very small at birth and there were worries during the first week whether she would make it or not. But she learned to nurse from a bottle and has grown to be a beautiful girl who is much loved by Ann and Paul.

Happy Holidays to all of you and your canine friends.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Greyhound adoption

Well, I've put in an application to adopt a retired racing greyhound. I decided that it would be good to go this route because there are so many greys that are euthanized every year. And Cayenne and Cooper who hang out with Stella also had a big influence. They are sweet and seem to enjoy the company of a Labrador.

So the next step will be a home site visit. I'm reading a book on adopting the racing greyhound. There are physiological differences between Labradors and greyhounds for sure. Anyway, after Christmas, a couple who have a retired grey will visit Surry and take a look around. If approved, then there is the next step of finding a female who is a good match for us.

I'm sure that the Labradors will wonder what a stilt legged dog is doing at Surry.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is your stud a dud?

Labrador males are very sweet. But they are also noted for being horny. Sometimes I have to laugh as one of the males will decide that it's time to grab one of the girls and begin humping their head! It's a lot of misplaced passion I guess.

Maybe it's fortunate that Labrador males are studly because that makes them easy to collect for semen. But even though you may be able to collect your male there are other things that you need to consider, such as whether the sperm is healthy.

Unfortunately, low sperm count and malformed sperm can occur in dogs. And infertility is also something that occurs. The causes of infertility in male dogs are divided into two main groups, congenital infertility and acquired infertility. Congenital infertility is present at birth and is caused by abnormalities in chromosomes. Those dogs that are affected cannot produce sperm.

Acquired infertility develops during the dog's lifetime. There are several causes, some of which can be rectified. For example,incomplete ejaculation, usually occurs because the male dog is uncomfortable in the breeding situation. Males often won't "perform" if there are unfamiliar surroundings or if the female is aggressive. There can also be obstruction of the reproductive tract that can result from an infection or inflammation. Prostatitis can often cause a dog to not produce sperm. And then there are hormonal abnormalities such as hypothyroidism that can affect fertility in the male. Another culprit is heat. Male dogs that are kept in kennels and sleep on warm surfaces can become infertile because heat damages sperm.

If infertility is suspected, have your dog evaluated by a vet who will examine a sample of semen for sperm count and morphology. Treatment may be necessary, either in the form of antibiotics or heat reduction and perhaps changes to the diet. If the problem isn't congenital, then there is hope that with proper treatment, the testicles will return to normal functioning within about 60 days. So it is possible to turn your dud into a stud with proper care and patience.

Examination of semen should always be done before shipping semen or doing a breeding.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tobias is home

I picked up Tobias on Sunday. He seemed very glad to see me and even happier to be home. He had only met Deacon when the Deacon man was a puppy. Now Deacon is almost as big as Tobias. They played and played together.

Tobias has really good manners and enjoys playing with the ricocheting puppy. This morning it seemed as if Tobias hadn't been away since early fall. He went right up into his old kennel and wagged his tail.

I'm just glad that he is home. And he never has to go to a dog show again.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Is there any other breed?

I've loved Labradors for a long time. They are wonderful dogs. And their silliness is something that is really endearing. Over the years I've thought about other breeds.

I did own a German shepherd as a child. She was a great dog and one that I enjoyed doing obedience work with. Later, I also owned a Rottweiler who I also did obedience work with. Zoe was a tough girl though and had to be muzzled and Ace'd before going to the vet. She didn't like being stuck with needles and would get that black look in her eyes which meant: LOOK OUT. She and I had an understanding though and we enjoyed 9 years together.

Now I'm starting to think about getting a greyhound. I've been fascinated with the two rescue ones that a friend has. They are quiet, gentle, and seem to be good house dogs. I've learned of an exceptional breeding of a top ranked greyhound and am thinking about getting one of the puppies. Let's just say, I'm very interested. I don't see many of them at the dog shows but would want to show any puppy that I get. I am also interested in lure coursing but will have to explore more about that as I have 3 cats and am not interested in having one of them become bait for a greyhound.

I guess that more will be revealed in time!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bess at the beach

Justin sent along these photos of Bess on her first trip to the beach. Labradors are natural water dogs but going to the beach is a special treat. Not only do they get to wade, wallow and enjoy the water but there are generally other dogs to greet and lots of people around to give scratchings. Every inch of the beach has to be sniffed, peed on, or otherwise checked out.

Just check the beach rules when you take your dog there. Some beaches have leash laws, dog tags, and restricted hours. Also, be sure to pick up after your dog so that all dogs can continue to enjoy the privilege of going to the beach.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Holiday warnings

It's getting to be that time of year when the house is decorated, all kinds of good food is being cooked, and guests are visiting. It's also the time of year when you have to think about how your dog is reacting to everything.

Labradors don't stress over much but sometimes with a disruption in routine and a lot of guests, they can act out. Chewing on household items (generally the most expensive couch, rug, or heaven forbid a light cord) is generally a sign of stress or boredom. Make sure that electric candles and the Christmas tree don't become food or a fire hydrant for your dog.

Counter surfing is another thing that can occur during the holidays. The turkey has been cooked, the stuffing and other yummy items are on the counter and then you're distracted by a phone call or a guest arriving. This can present a golden opportunity for the Labrador sport of counter surfing in which the Labrador puts paws on the counter and proceeds to either pull dishes off or gets the whole turkey on the floor. Not a pretty sight.

It's also tempting to give your Labrador left overs from the table. A few pieces of turkey or some green beans will be okay, but too much rich food can cause the DD's or dreaded diarrhea. The DD's can sometimes be accompanied by the Urka Gurkas (you know that great sound that dogs make when they are heaving), all of which generally occur in the middle of the night and on the most expensive rug that you have in the house. Best to be conservative on the table scraps and save yourself an expensive rug cleaning bill.

The Holidays can be a fun time. Make sure that your dog is not forgotten in the hubbub.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What could be cuter?

What could be cuter than these dozen babies that were born at Lighthouse Labradors. The sire is Ch. Surry's Brick in the Wall and the dam is Lighthouse Albemarle Witch. The puppies pictured are 8 days old. That's the time when I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and actually get to sleep in my own bed.

I think that it's great that Marle was able to have 12 puppies and they are all doing well. I know that when one of my girls have had a large litter, I worry that one will get laid on simply because of sheer numbers. Puppies tend to crawl under an armpit and if the bitch decides to lie back, often the puppy is smothered. It's a heartbreak when that happens.

But when they get to be around a week old, the babies are finally big enough, and generally quite round, so that the mother can more easily feel a puppy. Most of my girls are so careful when they walk into the box or get up for a break. They place their feet very gingerly.

So congrats to Mason and Marle for their babies. I know that Lynn will have her hands full when these babies get to be four weeks and are bouncing around. Ahh...but then you get to have that puppy breath and it's wonderful.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ch. Ashlyn Surry Sea Eddy

I heard from Dee Avard that Eddy is enjoying life. She writes:
"This was taken at a friend's dock this afternoon. The ole boy is pretty gray, mostly underneath, moving a little slower but still as happy and smiley as ever. He continues to make us laugh and knows it. "

I'm glad that Eddy is still enjoying life. I love the old dogs. They are just so sweet and they provide me with so many good memories. Thankfully, I have Eddy's son Tobias who is doing great and will be home soon.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, today is my favorite Holiday. It is a no stress holiday with just good food and happy times. The Labradors seem to always enjoy their special treat of left over turkey, dressing, gravy, ham and vegetables that gets mixed in with their regular kibble.

We started this doggy holiday years ago. I don't believe in table scraps fed to dog except for the holidays. Then all the table scraps and the turkey and ham carcasses get boiled and strained, leaving just left over meat and good juices. Every dog gets some on their kibble. The heads go down and the dogs never look up until every bowl is licked clean. The sounds of munching are great to hear.

Hope that you and yours had a great Turkey Day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Those goofy Labradors

I received this cute photo of Maggie who is owned by Lisa McCain. Maggie is the younger of two Surry girls that the McCain's have. Lisa wrote that she was working in her office at home and that Maggie was making noises because she had been displaced from her normal sleeping area near Lisa. But being a Labrador seeking comfort, she was able to squeeze her 65 lb. plus body into a laundry basket and appear perfectly content. So Lisa said that Maggie moaned and groaned.....
"And finally got quiet.. usually this means she is into something.. but she surprised me. She used to do this all the time when she was a puppy.. but I guess the pics are proof that Labradors are always puppies..."

Lisa is certainly right. They stay puppies until they are around 3-4 years old. Some don't become mature mentally until they are much older. It's like having a human in the Terrible Twos for several years.

Lisa wrote further:
"Raison is getting so grey. But she still is the sweetest and most loving dog I have ever met. She still climbs up beside me and puts her head on my shoulder and looks at me with those gotta love me eyes, the same way she did when she was a pup.

"Maggie is still the baddest dog in town. Not a week goes by that she does not get into something , steal something, or in general get to running around the house tagging the other two dogs then dodging. She makes us laugh. She is a clown."

Yes, that's what they are: clowns. And they make us laugh even in the worst moments.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tobias is a Champion for real

I just heard from Jenn Howard that Tobias finished his AKC championship today in Ohio. Thankfully, this time the right number was on the right dog and he truly is finished. I am really looking forward to getting him home within the next couple of weeks.

Tobias should actually have finished in the spring but there was a mistake in which the handler went into the ring with Tobias but the wrong armband. Thus, the points were awarded to the dog whose number was on the armband. The handler immediately notified the AKC field rep and did everything possible to get the situation righted. I sent photos of Tobias from his first major but AKC refused to award the points. It was disheartening but at least now it's official. Mistakes happen sometimes. I just tried not to think about the fact that he had to go back out again and get yet another major.

Finally, though it's happened.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Yikes, proglottids!

I was picking up the kennels the other day and noticed that one of the fecal piles had something that looked like grains of rice in it (yep, we dog owners look at poop and inspect it carefully). These grains of rice are actually the segments, called proglottids, of the tapeworm which is one of the more common parasites of domestic dogs. This parasite grows to around 10-15cm in length, with individual segments shed in the fecal matter. The tapeworm attaches to the wall of the intestine and sheds segments as it grows.

The intermediate host for dog tapeworms are fleas. The eggs passed out in a dog's feces are eaten by the larval stage of the flea, and the immature tapeworm stays with the flea through its metamorphosis to the blood-sucking adult. When the flea bites, the dog may bite at the flea and swallow the flea that contains the larval tapeworm.

The segments of the tapeworm are capable of limited movement, and if this happens in the dog's rectum or anus, it causes intense itching. Afflicted dogs may be observed to "scoot" or drag their butts to relive the itching. This, of course helps to crush the segments and release the eggs into the environment.

Tapeworms aren't dangerous to dogs or humans. And humans can become infected, it they are licked by the dog in the mouth. Mostly, tapeworms are indicators that there are fleas about and that premise control needs to be done as well as worming of the dogs. In order to treat tapeworms, one must use a broad spectrum anthelmic such as Droncit.

This hasn't been a horrible flea season at Surry; however, all of the dogs have been treated with Droncit. And it is also time to plow up the paddocks and put down lime in order to treat the entire kennel area.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fun time at the specialty

I enjoyed the specialty. The weather was wonderful--cool in the mornings and warm in the afternoon. It was fun as usual to see friends.

The dogs had a good time. It was Deacon's first time in the ring and he won his class both days. Amelia placed fourth in her Bred By class and Emily placed fourth in American Bred. Stella was placed second on Thursday in Sweepstakes Veteran Bitches 7-9 years and got a first on Friday. In her non-regular veterans class she placed third on Thursday and first on Friday. She really enjoyed showing again! I'm hoping to show Stella in greater than 12 year Veterans at the January supported entry here in Charleston and Stella in the 7-9 year class.

It was nice to talk with Valerie Walters who judged at the specialty. Her dog, Ranbourne This Bud's For You, is Tilly's dad. Valerie said that Bud lived to the ancient age of 16. It was nice to have his great-great grands being shown at this show.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Heading to the Raleigh-Durham specialty

I'm leaving this afternoon to head to the Raleigh-Durham specialty. I've always enjoyed this specialty show and have been going to this show for many years. Probably one of my greatest thrill in dogs occurred here when Ch. Castlewood Whyaskwhy at Surry took Best of Breed here in 1996.

This year I'm taking Tilly's daughter Stella who will be showing in Veteran Bitches for the first time, a Tilly granddaughter Amelia and a Tilly great grandson Deacon and a great granddaughter Emily. Stella was Winner's Bitch at this specialty several years ago. It's hard to believe that she is now in the Veteran class.

I'm looking forward to seeing friends and some really nice Labradors. More news when I get back from the specialty.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


The Coastal South Carolina's Labrador Fun Day was held today. It was a beautifully warm day and everyone seemed to have a great time. There were demonstrations of retrieving, obedience, and grooming, as well as fun games and a CGC test.

The games are always hysterical. I think that the funniest is the dress your dog contest. This year the girls had to wear a necklace and the boy dogs had to wear a tie.

A few of the Surry Labradors were there. Dusty actually got his CGC at this event. You can see lots of pictures from this fun event at

If you are interested in getting involved with your Labrador and being in the club, please contact any of the officers or board members. I'll be glad to forward an application for membership to you.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Getting a CGC

If you've done some basic obedience with your dog or have taken a beginning obedience course, then your dog should be able to pass the Canine Good Citizen test. This test was established by AKC for either purebred or mixed breed dogs to demonstrate responsible dog ownership, as well as to introduce people to AKC and it's programs. The "tests" can be sponsored by: "Any AKC Club of record or any qualified dog training organization as well as 4-H Clubs, private trainers, and others." AKC has an excellent kit available that explains the test, and how to run one. They also have a booklet that walks a person through the test, as well as giving them training tips.
It's a great way to get a certificate for your dog and is fun.

Here are the basics for the test and are from the AKC web site:

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the evaluator.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler's side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming
This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner's care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog's position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler's movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd
This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.

Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog's leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler's commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.

Test 7: Coming when called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to "stay" or "wait" or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.

Test 10: Supervised separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, "there, there, it's alright").

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Howloween

Labradors are remarkable in how they tolerate silly costumes, trick or treating children, and the general hocus pocus of Halloween. There are some who take offense at putting costumes on dogs, but actually I think that the dogs love all the attention. I've not yet seen a Labrador look downcast because it was wearing a silly costume and getting lots of attention. This photo is one of the cutest that I've seen. What a forechest! Although the mismark and long hair genes are obviously present, I don't think the dog really cares. Hope that you and your dog had a great Howloween.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Labrador Fun Day Nov. 4

Be sure to mark your calendars and plan to attend the Labrador Fun Day hosted by the Coastal South Carolina LRC. This year, the fun day will be held at Roberta Dwelley's farm on Wadmalaw Island. There will be games that are challenging (mostly for the humans), and demonstrations of obedience events as well as grooming and other practical things about Labrador ownership.

The event starts at 1 PM and will last until around 4 PM. This event has always been a hit with the public and club members alike. The games are hilarious and you have to be there to see why I say that. Trying to dress a happy Labrador in human clothes when being timed is quite a trick. The demonstrations of obedience trained dogs are great to see.

So if you would like something fun to do on a nice fall afternoon, then plan to attend this fun event. You can email Roberta at for directions. Also check out the CSCLRC web page for further information.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Permanent Identification

If you've ever experienced the disappearance of a dog, you know the heartache that occurs. Although it's not possible to lessen the heartache unless the dog is found, there is one way to insure that your dog has a permanent identification, just in case the dog is picked up by someone else.

There are the obvious things such as dog tags that will help with the return of your dog. Having a tag with your name and phone number is a big help in locating the owner of a lost dog. But what if the dog doesn't have a collar on? There are other ways to determine ownership through the use of tattooing and microchipping.

Permanent identification by tatoo or microchip not only provides a means to recover a dog if it is lost but it also satisfies the AKC’s policy for record keeping and identification. A microchip is a rice-sized device encoded with a unique and unalterable identification number. The "chip" is implanted in the trapezius muscle over the withers and is read by a scanner. Most shelters have scanners and personnel are trained to look for microchipped animals and those with tattoos.

We microchip all of our dogs. The identifying microchip number must be noted on the dog or litter record. Microchip identification is not required in any way for AKC registration or to participate in AKC approved events. Tattoos remain an acceptable form of identification to comply with AKC’s rules; however, I find that the microchip is a much less traumatic way to go. With tattooing the dog must be held down by a number of people and it takes a much longer time to complete a tattoo than to implant a chip.
Other means of identification that are used by breeders include DNA analysis. The use of certain genetic markers in a dog's DNA for the production of a unique genotype provides a method of absolute identification of individual dogs and parentage verification from one generation to the next. A dog's genetic constitution, called a "genotype," can be determined by an analysis of a simple bristle swab swirled against the inside cheek portion of a dog's mouth. The AKC has initiated a program by which breeders can now have their dogs voluntarily DNA certified. A Certificate of DNA Analysis is issued with the dog’s name, registration information, DNA Profile Number, and genotype. If the dog is registered, Registration Certificates and Pedigrees issued after the dog has been DNA certified will contain the DNA Profile Number. The AKC has also initiated a Frequently Used Sires Program in which every sire producing seven or more litters in his lifetime or producing more than three litters in a calendar year must be 'AKC DNA Certified.' Dogs with DNA profiles from the voluntary DNA Certification Program or from the Parent Breed Club Program have already met this requirement. Furthermore, AKC DNA Certification is required for all stud dogs collected for fresh extended and frozen semen use, including foreign stud dogs collected for imported semen use in the UnitedStates.
Whatever method you use is fine but the best method is to keep your dog secured behind a fence or on a leash so that it will never be a "lost" dog.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What about rear ends?

The AKC standard states:
"The Labrador's hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and strong short hocks. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight and parallel. Viewed from the side, the angulation of the rear legs is in balance with the front. The hind legs are strongly boned, muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle, and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of the patellae while in motion or when standing. The hock joints are strong, well let down and do not slip or hyper-extend while in motion or when standing. Angulation of both stifle and hock joint is such as to achieve the optimal balance of drive and traction. When standing the rear toes are only slightly behind the point of the rump. Over angulation produces a sloping topline not typical of the breed. Feet are strong and compact, with well-arched toes and well-developed pads. Cow-hocks, spread hocks, sickle hocks and over-angulation are serious structural defects and are to be faulted."

What this means is that the rear should have a moderate angulation and not be overangulated as one would see with a setter or in the extreme, a German shepherd. The Labrador topline should be straight and not sloping. If there is too much angulation, then the front and rear aren't in balance and there will likely not be the smooth reach and drive that a good moving Labrador should have. A weak rear that has a straight stifle is contrary to the power that is needed in the rear of a Labrador. This breed needs to use its rear to propel through the water as well as handle marsh and upland terrain that is challenging. I personally like to see a strongly muscled and thick second thigh.

I always look at the hock joints and like to see clean hocks. Hock OCD does occur in the breed and can be crippling. The hocks should be well bent but short and strong. The first photo above shows what a sickle hock looks like. The bottom photo (of Can. Ch. Ranbourne This Bud's for You, Tilly's sire) shows what I like to see in a rear.

The rear not only needs to be balanced with the front when viewed from the side but it's important to look at how the hind legs are positioned when viewed from behind the dog. The hind legs should be straight and parallel with good bone and muscle tone. I like to look down the back of the dog from above and see whether the rear is strong and not winnowed.

You can read more about the rear end and other points of the Labradors by looking at the illustrated standard put out by the The Labrador Retriever Club of Canada. The link is

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blowing coats

With all the warm weather that we've been having, I'm really hoping that my dogs hold their coat for the upcoming specialty shows. It has been like summer for the past week. The dogs are in good coat right now but I'm not sure what will occur over the next month or so.

I've read that daylight really triggers the shedding process. In other words, as the days get shorter the winter coat comes in. The reversal occurs in spring. However, there are other factors that affect the coat such as heat cycles and whelping. Essentially, hormones affect the shedding process. And there are certain lines that tend to carry very heavy coat regardless of the time of year, while others don't have much coat.

Coat is such an important attribute of the Labrador. And it's essential that the coat be a good double coat and not an open coat. The top image shows a good coat in a Labrador. It's okay for there to be some wave to the coat. The bottom photo shows an open "fluffy" coat. Such a coat will allow water to penetrate and get to the skin. A good double coat that is harsh basically insulates the dog when in the water.

It's important when examining coat to not only look on the back of the dog but along the sides. An undercoat is essential. It's usually the first thing to blow and will generally turn brown on blacks. Getting that dead hair out will help the new coat to come in quicker and will prevent itchy skin and hot spots.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Otter tails

I gave a talk at the local aquarium the other day and afterwards toured the exhibits. I was struck by the otters who were frolicking and zooming through the water in their tank. Their tail was used as a rudder and has a thick base.

As you know one of the characteristics of the Labrador is the otter tail. It does resemble a real otter's tail and is also thick at the base and wrapped with hair. A Labradors tail should not reach below the hock and it should have a "bump" at the base nearest the rump that can be felt with the hand. The hair on the tail should be tightly wrapped and not loose or fluffy like a setters.

Of course, when Labradors are out of coat, the tail may look skinny and thin. Ideally, the shape of the tail should be like a carrot. It is fine to have a twizzle at the tip but many handlers will trim that off (something that isn't necessary at all).

Labrador tails are strong and are used as a kind of rudder when the dog swims. They are also capable of clearing a coffee table of items in a second.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Does your Labrador need supplements?

As a rule, if you feed good quality dog food, you won't need to add supplements for coat in your Labrador's food. Their coats are naturally oily, and a good coat is determined mainly by genetics. In other words, if the parents have a good coat, then it is likely that their get will also have a good coat.

That being said, I have added Mirra Coat to the food of our Labradors for years. It has amino and fatty acids and the dogs love the taste. I've also added salmon to their diet on occasion, and they loved that. I don't know whether the dogs would have had good coat regardless of these additives, but I suspect that they would.

I can say that the dogs have a nice oily coat, very little dandruff (except during shedding), and their skin is good. I tell puppy owners about Mirra Coat but if not fed, it probably wouldn't make much difference. It's a funny thing about dog foods and supplements though. Everyone will have a differing opinion. If something works, then why change it? So if your dog's coat looks great with just the kibble that you're feeding, then I wouldn't rush out to buy any supplements.

One of the supplements that you don't want to ever use is calcium. I can remember when people would talk about adding calcium to their dog's diet. It is actually deterimental to development of bones in Labradors, because excessive calcium intake can result in hypercalcitoninism and hypoparathyroidism that will actually retard bone maturation, inhibit osteoclastic activity, and will slow cartilage maturation. These effects on bone and cartilage increase the incidence of osteochondral lesions in articular and physeal cartilage, thereby contributing to the incidence of OCD.

Calcium is sometimes given to near term bitches at low doses to help during whelping. I don't add calcium except for about a week before whelping. Yogurt is another good source of calcium as is cottage cheese. Calcium in the form of Pet Tabs can be given safely after whelping to provide supplementation of lactating bitches.

Another supplement that has been reported to help prevent hip dysplasia is vitamin C. Studies have found that excess vitamin C supplementation is generally considered to have little or no effect on the skeleton. The relationship between vitamin C and developmental disorders of the skeletal system in the dog is as yet unproven. No valid scientific studies have demonstrated a positive effect of oral supplementation of vitamin C in preventing CHD in growing dogs that are genetically at risk for the disease. The relationship between vitamin C, joint laxity, and CHD in the dog is suspect because a decrease in systemic vitamin C levels could be expected to affect other joints.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Getting entries in the mail

I filled out entries for the Raleigh-Durham Labrador specialty last night. I'm really looking forward to going to this show as I missed it last year due to puppies being born. I'm taking four dogs with me: Deacon (the 9-12 month puppy), Amelia who will be in Bred-By, her dam Stella who has now reached the age to be eligible for Veterans Class and Emily who will be in American Bred.

It's hard to believe that Stella is a veteran as it only seems like yesterday that she was prancing around the yard as a cute puppy. It will be fun to show her in the Veterans class as she really likes dog shows. Hopefully, I will be able to show her and her dam Tilly at the upcoming LRC of the Piedmont specialty.

What I've noticed is that like everything else, entry fees have markedly gone up. When I first started showing entry fees were $10 and now a class entry is $24. Taking a van load of dogs to a show is getting to be an expensive thing because not only are there the entry fees but there is gasoline cost, hotel bills, food bills, and other incidentals. This is definitely not a sport for the budget minded person. I've always said that I could have several new BMW's with what I've spent on dogs over the years. I probably would also have fewer worry lines if I'd just stuck to gardening!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

News about some of the Surry kids

I heard some good news about Tupac who is a Surry boy living in Israel. Evidently, Tupac is doing well at the shows and needs another win to complete his championship. Esther can perhaps fill things in a bit, but I believe that he is also working towards an FCI international championship.

Simon has also been doing great. He is out with Katherine Mines who is a good handler. Simon finished up his Canadian championship and is now being specialed in the US. He recently got a Best of Opposite Sex award at a specialty show.

It's nice to hear about how the dogs are doing. I appreciate the fact that their owners are happy and take pride in their accomplishments. The most important thing of all is that the dogs are much loved and will always have a couch to come back to when they are done with their show career.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Judging Weims

Well, I traveled to Georgia on Friday to meet up with the AKC Field Rep. so that I could take an oral exam on Weimaraners. I had submitted my application to judge them about 2 months ago. I met with Mary Dukes today, discussed the history of the breed, the salient points of the breed as well as problems that occur. Mary is a good AKC rep and is sharp. It's like having a conversation with someone who knows dogs. All went well with the history and the judging interview.

Next, I had to do the wicket test. Mary used her Italian greyhound Steven as the test dog who we pretended was to be wicketed for being undersized. I then went through the procedure for wicketing and did indeed find that Steven was below the 24 inch minimum for a male Weim. No surprise there!

I was pleased that the interview went well and that once published in the Gazette, I'll be able to accept assignments as a provisional judge of Weims.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Getting ready for my interview

I have been studying for my interview with Mary Dukes, the AKC Field Rep. I've applied to judge Weimaraners as a second breed and have to discuss with her the breed history, the standard, what makes a good Weim and what are the problems in the breed. I'm not worried about any of this part as I think that I have read a lot about Weims, plus having Elena Smith Lamberson as a mentor for several years, ingrained in me a sense of the Weimaraner.

What I'm dreading a bit is the Sticky Wicket. Because Weims are a breed that has a height disqualification, like Labradors, I have to demonstrate the use of the wicket and go through the entire procedure. For Labrador judging, I did not have to demonstrate use of the wicket as Mary just explained what to do. However, for this interview, I actually have to do it.

I've printed out some information on line and plan to get to the show in plenty of time to actually work with the wicket prior to my interview. I would rather actually work with the wicket than read about how to do it. Now, I'm off to study some more!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Square Sit

Getting a good square sit such as Russel is demonstrating above is really nice to see. It's an easy thing to teach your dog at home. Essentially, find a food that the dogs likes. Extend the food to the dog enough for a sniff, then move the food just out of reach and towards the back of the head. Most dogs just naturally sit while trying to follow your hand. Say "Sit" as you are doing this and when the dog sits, then give soft praise and the treat. It may take a few repetitions to get the dog to actually sit but if you keep moving your body in front of the dog's, eventually the dog will sit.

Do this exercise several times. Once the dog does a good sit, begin to withhold the food and do verbal rewards. If the dog breaks the sit, then re-do the exercise. Remember to give a release word, like "okay" when the work is done.

For conformation, we don't want the dog to sit but to stand at our side and be examined by the judge. Sitting in the show ring is considered not desirable as the judge is trying to see the structure of the entire dog. I do use "bait" to get the dog to stand freely and happily. Some are food hounds and want to jump about until they realize that they won't get a treat unless they stand. Others decide that they would rather just be deadheads and even ignore the bait. All are just being Labradors!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I received several photos of Am. Can. Ch. Surry's Dark Side of the Moon this morning. Floyd is owned by Orlando Fernandez and is living in Spain. He is a son of our first champion Ch. Fernwood Miss Daisy. His sire is Ch.Sugar Hollow's Can't Touch This who was owned by friends Robin Moody and Gina Cheatham.

Floyd was always a happy boy. He is a gentle soul who really would show off in the ring. Orlando has shown him in Veteran's Classes in Spain and he has done well. He evidently still has the enthusiasm of his youth.

It makes me very nostalgic to see Floyd. Daisy, his dam, was such a special girl for us. And seeing her son in his senior years really brings home the fact that a lot of time has passed since those days when I was showing Daisy and that these wonderful dogs aren't with us long enough.

I'm always glad to get pictures of the dogs and getting these of Floyd this morning really brought back a lot of memories. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bathing Labradors

Here's a photo of baby Tweedle (Surry's Talk of the Town) getting a bath. Most Labradors really like being wet down. And they will tolerate with good nature a shampoo.

Bathing Labradors occasionally isn't going to do any damage to the coat but frequent bathing can cause the skin to dry out and will strip the coat of oils. I suggest that the best way to keep a Labrador smelling fresh is just to hose them off and then spray them with a 10% solution of Listerine and water. It will make them smell fresh and clean.

And if you are showing your dog, don't ever bathe them before a show. It will definitely make the coat too soft. A Labrador's coat should be harsh to the touch, not soft and fluffy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Safe Toys for Labradors

Labradors are wonderfully playful dogs. They enjoy all kinds of play things--sticks, a plastic bottle, dead squirrels, and furry doggy toys. Most owners don't want their dog to be deprived of anything so there is an abundance of all kinds of toys about. I have an entire basket of toys and shelves filled with them. Some are in various forms of disrepair but they are still old favorites for the dogs.

But what kind of toys are the safest? I think that Kong toys and Nylabones are probably the safest toys. Labradors love to chew so these toys are really close to indestructible. You can fill the Kong toy with peanut butter if you don't mind a mess. I also like Zanies but recommend that any furry cloth toy be used only with supervision just in case the Labrador decides to rip it open, eat some of the stuffing or the squeaker inside. Large hard plastic balls that can be filled with water or sand are also fun for the yard. There is one of these in each of the kennels and they get bounced around and played with a lot.

I would never recommend toys such as a tennis ball (except for throwing) because they can be easily chewed apart. I also don't like tug toys because it can teach a dog to not "give" up what it has in its mouth and may contribute to a "hard" mouth which isn't desirable for hunting.

Neilley, aka The Pinkster, is shown above with her newest toy, a large frog. Her human mom and dad supervise her and make sure that she doesn't chew off one of the frog legs. That can always be a danger with some of the cute stuffed toys that are available. There was a scare in 2006 with Greenies that became lodged in the esophagus and caused fatal obstructions.

A study was conducted that showed that compressed vegetable chew treats, of which Greenies is the most popular, are now the third biggest cause of esophageal obstruction in dogs behind bones and fish hooks. Greenies are made of digestible products like wheat gluten and fiber, but the molding process makes the treat very firm and hard. Rawhide chews can also cause obstructions and have preservatives such as arsenic and may include antibiotics, lead and insecticides.

So if you purchase toys for the dogs, make sure that they are safe and fun.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The working Labrador

I thought that some of you would enjoy seeing the video below. This is a video of Ch. Surry's Ducktale Masquerade retrieving at a Senior Hunter Test. Calvin now has three legs towards getting his Senior Hunter title. It's nice to see him doing what Labradors were bred to do.

The senior hunter (SH) title requires Qualifying scores in five senior hunting tests, or a junior hunter title plus four qualifying scores in senior hunting tests. For both senior and master hunting tests the dog must come quietly and steadily up to the line and honor a working dog’s retrieve off leash and without a collar. On these levels the handler will carry and shoulder an empty shotgun.

Dogs are not ranked against each other in retriever hunting tests, and every dog who qualifies is a winner. The events are designed to be enjoyable, and handlers can continue entering their dogs who have already earned the titles. Everyone can root for everyone else, because one person’s success doesn’t hurt anyone else’s chances.

If you get a chance to, go watch the Labradors retrieve at one of these tests. It is a wonderful sight to see.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Alligators and dogs

The news this week in Charleston is about a man who lost his arm to an alligator while scuba diving in one of the large lakes near the city. For a gruesome photo of this event you can follow this link. (Yes, that is a human arm!). I don't think that many of us who live in the southeastern US need to be reminded that dogs and alligators don't mix well.

Labradors like to swim and having your dog retrieve in a waterbody that hasn't been checked for large toothy reptiles isn't healthy for the dog. I did a biological study of impoundments in the Santee Delta where there were on average 60 alligators per 6-10 acres of impoundment. The work required wading into the impoundments and nearby creek. We were always cautious when doing our work because of the alligator population. Now, I'm glad that I got the work done, the paper published, and don't have to go in alligator infested waters anymore.

Generally, one can't be certain what ponds and other water bodies in the Charleston area have alligators in them. It's best if you don't know the pond, to not send your dog into the water. Even a 6 foot alligator can easily grab and drown a 75 lb. Labrador. I don't even want to think about the Big Boys that are lurking about.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Camryn passes her CGC test

Camryn, one of the Surry girls, owned by Mardy passed her CGC test on Saturday. Most of the dogs in the class were Labradors. Mardy and Camryn are second from left. The Canine Good Citizen test is sponsored by the American Kennel Club. You can read a lot of details on the AKC website
Basically this is an overview of the test:

Your dog must appear for the test well groomed. The collar may not be a pinch collar, electric collar, or similar correction collar. You will provide the examiner with a brush to help demonstrate your dog's tolerance for being handled by a stranger. The dog must allow the examiner to brush it and to examine its body. The test also includes the dog sitting calmly while a stranger pets it.

Your dog must be comfortable with the approach of a friendly stranger. The examiner will approach you and shake hands. Your dog should accept the approach calmly, without shyness or aggression. A friendly dog can fail this by approaching with too much enthusiasm. A polite dog waits for permission before touching a stranger.

Your dog must be able to walk without pulling on its leash. A formal heel is not required. Your dog must be able to walk through a crowd of people. Often the people will be doing all the things people do - opening umbrellas, walking on crutches, swinging a sweater, crossing suddenly in front of the dog. Your dog should not pull at the leash, jump at the people, or show either fear or aggression.

The examiner will ask you to have the dog sit and lie down on command. You will be asked to tell the dog to stay, then to step away from the dog, about twenty-five feet or so and call the dog. The dog should stay until called, and come when called. Unlike formal obedience, repeating a command is allowed.

An ability to regain self-control after excitement is an important part of the test. The examiner will have you play with the dog briefly then calm it. The dog should calm quickly.

Your dog must allow the approach of person with a strange dog. Typically, the other person will approach with a leashed dog and shake your hand. Showing aggression, fearfulness, or even excessive friendliness is grounds for failure.

Your dog must remain calm if you leave it briefly, (I think its three minutes). You will secure the dog to some object as directed by the examiner, and go out of sight of the dog. The dog may move around but it must not whine, bark, pull or otherwise show distress. An important point to note is that the dog is not left alone but is being left under the indirect supervision of a stranger. You should try to interact with the examiner so the dog is aware that you are not abandoning it, but the examiner will not correct or otherwise soothe the dog.

The test is to basically demonstrate that the dog can be a good companion. Most therapy dog programs require that a dog at least have a CGC certificate. It's a great way to work with your dog and any breed is eligible including mixed breeds.

Congrats to Camryn and Mardy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Long-haired gene in Labradors

The Labrador has been added to the list of breeds that can be tested to determine whether they carry the gene for long-haired coat. Long-haired coat length is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. Therefore, dogs that are carriers of the long-hair mutation will appear to be normal (short hair) themselves, but will likely pass on the long-hair mutation 50% of the time.

Here is some history that I was able to glean from a few web sites:
The Labs behind the "quirk/throwback" in Switzerland were imported some 30 years ago. The two imports became champions, one became the Bitch World Champion with two puppies (one definitely carrying the gene) from her first litter gaining the titles of Junior World Champion.

A possibility is that the gene comes from the St. Johns dog, a progenitor of the modern Labrador. The drawing of the St. Johns dog portrays a shaggy dog with a long coat and the actual "Breed Points for the St. Johns or Labrador Dog", published in 1879 called for a very different coat than the one we now see as typical. Here is the quote:

"COAT is moderately short but wavy, from its length being too great for absolute smoothness. It is glossy & close, admitting wet with difficulty to the skin, owing to its oiliness, but possessing no undercoat".

Actually, one of the factors that influenced the formation of the LRC of Great Britain in 1916 was the problem of inter-bred Retrievers. Up until 1917, the KC allowed registration under the breed they most closely resembled and the 1915 Lab Crufts winner had a sire that was a purebred Flatcoat with relatives in that breed's ring.

Other thoughts from the LRC, Inc. are that particular dogs and particular bitches carry the same gene perhaps linked to an interbred retriever as far back as the 1930's or farther:
"It was not uncommon in the early days of the breed and after WWI to use, for example, to use the offspring of a Flat-Coated Retriever x Labrador Retriever cross to refine or adjust a trait in the Labrador Retriever.

Many old pedigrees note that a particular dog or bitch was "interbred". One of the well known Labradors imported into the United States in the 1930's had an interbred bitch in his pedigree 3 generations behind him. Those interbreds were probably short coated but may have carried a gene for long coat. So when two Labradors who carry the common gene are bred, it is more than likely a "long hair" throwback will result.

You will not find references to "long haired or long coated Labrador Retriever" because the trait is not part of nor recognized in the breed and breeders would quickly eliminate a Labrador that would produce the trait from the gene pool."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Happy birthday to the cookie lady!

Today is Nancy, the Station 12 Cookie Lady's birthday. Nancy sits in her red jeep in the morning at Station 12 on Sullivan's Island and gives out treats to all the dogs who come by. She started doing this because she liked to bird watch in the morning and then, over time, started giving something to the dogs who would come by. She is a happy soul who likes to talk about politics, the weather, and the different breeds that wander by with their owners in tow.

She had a nice birthday celebration tonight at Fonduely Yours in Mt. Pleasant. Although there weren't any dogs at the party, she did receive a gift from Stella, Cayenne and Cooper. They gave her a handbook to the breeds of dogs, a bag of their favorite treats, and a doggy bookmark. Stella was wagging because she knew that she would get some of those treats the next time she meets up with Nancy at Station 12.

Hope that you have many more Nancy.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Disguise for attack dogs

We are so lucky to have Labradors because they aren't one of the "vicious" breeds. Dog legislation is popping up everywhere, and it is becoming more and more difficult to own one of the large working breeds such as a Rottweiler, Doberman, German Shepherd, and Akitas.

But if you have one of these breeds, there is always an innovative solution that could fool even the most snoopy town councilman or neighbor. Here it is: the dangerous dog disguise kit
This is one of the funniest things that I've seen in a while. Unfortunately, dog legislation against certain breeds isn't funny. Be vigilant because you never know when the gentle Labrador may become a target because they are a large breed.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pink is now with her new family

Pink, who is now known as Presley, went to her new home last week. I received photos of her today. She is enjoying her family, sticking to them like glue. Presley was never going to like the show ring as she didn't have the outgoing Labrador temperament that makes a great show dog.

That's one of the difficulties in living on a large piece of property where the only entertainment is the running of squirrels. I take the dogs to the dog park on Isle of Palms and Presley interacted fairly well with them. She was a happy puppy but as she aged, she developed more reticence about various situations. I think that now she is in a neighborhood and with her new family, she will be exposed to a lot more activities.

Labradors should be outgoing but sometimes the occasional one will not be as bouncy as I would like. Her sister, Vera, is outgoing and personable. Presley will get there in time and already is a loyal companion for her owners.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


It is one of the things that we have to put up with when there are intact males and females in our kennel. At the current time, there are two girls in season and the boys are sending up a chorus of mournful howls, expressing their lust for these girls. We have Clara inside so she isn't nearly as enticing since she is out of sight but Meddle is causing a paroxysm of passion among the dogs.

Not only do the girls mount each other during heats but the boys mount each other as well. It's a nasal overload with all the pheromones wafting through the air. Almost as bad as walking through the market area on a Friday night.

Luckily, we only have to put up with the mournful noises for about a week. Then the boys quiet down and the girls, although still isolated, are not as enticing. I guess this is another reason that I have dogs instead of children.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dog powered scooter?

Here is an interesting concept that I was emailed about: a dog powered scooter. The Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Rottweiler are all cart or sled pulling dogs. I would tend to worry about joint breakdown in Labradors since they aren't dogs that have been trained to "cart" or "mush". I can also foresee what a wild ride it might be if someone happened to toss a tennis ball while I was being pulled along by Labradors. Yeow, where are the brakes??? Anyway, I'll let you decide and comment.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ann and Paul Key sent the following about their dog Neilley, aka the Pinkster:

This past weekend, Paul and I had SO...much fun with Neilley. We went camping
up on the New River, at Twin River Family Campground, near where the North and South Forks of the New come together in the tiny, tiny narrow spot in the road, Crumpler, NC. (In Ashe County...near NC/VA border.) This was NOT a first for us. We’ve been camping there for 18 years. It’s the most relaxing get away that we have. And one that Simba, our previous Lab, enjoyed many times. Neilley has accompanied us on the weekend for three years, but
this year was a breakthrough. She forgot that she has little short legs, and really got into the “swim” of things. The river was at the lowest we’ve ever seen it. Humans really bump their butts in tubes these days, but Neilley thrived on the change in the current flow and actually wagged her tail after swimming. She didn’t hesitate to swim out into deeper depths. We’ve always kept a “tow” rope on her, as we did with Simba, because not only do we not want her to drown, but also do not want her going out on unauthorized mountain exploration!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Scare in the ring

I judged today in Atlanta at the Shawnee Mission Kennel Club show. It was a nice entry of 69 Labradors. Unfortunately, there was a medical incident that occurred that was scary. A lady who I know was showing her dog who was awarded WD in Best of Breed. I was getting ready to have the first special gaited when the lady fell to the floor. It was ascertained that her defibrillator was shocking her. Although she had been trotting with her dog, which may have been enough to trigger a shock, it was clear that she was in distress. EMT's were called and the AKC field rep came over as I had to suspend judging. Luckily, after about 20 minutes, she was feeling better and was cleared to be moved by gurney to a nearby hospital. Her friends who were there were able to take care of her dogs and finish showing the WD in the Best of Breed Class. I was very glad that she was okay and was in good hands with the EMT's.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Driving to Atlanta

I loaded up Tobias and took off to go to judge in Atlanta. Tobias is going back to a handler because of a mess up that occurred when he received a major that would have finished his championship. Unfortunately, the handler had the wrong number on (it was for another dog) so the major win was recorded for the other dog even though it was actually Tobias who was in the ring. In spite of letters being written by people who were there and a photo of Tobias from a previous major win, AKC awarded the points based on the number. Thus, the points actually went to a dog who did not win. It seemed so unfair but things like this happen. So now Tobias is going back out to try to get a major which will finish him. I think that he will have about 20 points when he actually finishes if you count the major that really was his!

I don't like the drive on I-26 to I-20 so I generally take the back roads along SC 78 through small towns like Branchville, Denmark, Williston and pick up I-20 near Aiken. It gives me a chance to see small towns and their main streets, which are much more picturesque than the interstates with their billboards. It isn't a bad drive at all and provides something much more interesting to watch. I judge tomorrow morning so will have to be up early.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hair is everywhere

It's definitely shedding season at Surry. There are masses of black and yellow hair floating through the air and accumulating in the puppy room. I always get questions about how much Labradors shed. I wish that I didn' t have to answer that question. I would like to say, "Oh not very much." But believe me, Labradors know how to blow their coat. Twice a year, we see the blacks turn a lovely rust color as the dead undercoat starts to fall out. The yellows just send off floating hair balls and I have to take sticky paper rollers to my pants if I have a brain spasm and wear black around them.

So, just keep the broom and vacuum keeper handy. Invest in some wire brushes, especially slicker brushes, and get used to combing and raking. Your dog loves it and you'll get gratification as you watch those big wads of hair come off. I wonder if anyone has ever made a dog hair sweater??

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Getting teeth cleaned

If you look in your dog's mouth as much as I do, you will start to notice that there will be plaque buildup as the dog ages. Most of our dogs have very good teeth but occasionally we have to schedule a dental cleaning for an older one.

The procedure will involve putting the dog under anesthesia while the vet will scrape off plaque and take care of any other problems that may have arisen. I recently had Abraham, my 9 year old cat, in for a dental. I had noticed that his breath was not great but found out that he had a rotten tooth. So the tooth was extracted and his other teeth scraped. Abraham now has just fishy breath and not rotten fish breath.

So if you've noticed a lot of plaque or bad breath with your dog, schedule a visit to the vet to see whether a dental cleaning is in order.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ectropion versus entropion

There are two eyelid problems in Labradors. One is ectropion in which the lower lid tends to droop. A severe example of this can be seen in blood hounds in which the lower lid severely droops down and is red in color. Labradors should have relatively tight lower lids. However, a slight droop can occur, especially when the dog is tired. Generally, ectropion has to be very severe in order to be noted on a CERF form by a veterinary opthalmologist. Keeping the eye clean and use of opthalmic ointment can help with this condition but doesn't cure it.

Entropion is a more serious problem because it involves having the lid and eyelashes turn inward which causes irritation of the eye. If severe enough, rubbing of the eyelashes can cause scarring of the cornea and ulceration. Most dogs with entropion have eyes that continuously weep. Surgery can be done to clip the lid so that it doesn't turn inward against the eye.

If you want more information on either of these conditions, take a look at the Canine Eye Registration Foundation web site at

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Passed pre-application for Weims

I met with the AKC field representative on Saturday morning and had a preliminary interview on Weimaraners. All went well with my qualifications so I'm now approved to put in my application to judge. The new breed application indicates a number of enrichment factors that must be accrued in order to proceed. For example, I've judged two Sweepstakes for Weims, have attended a breed seminar on Weims, have co-owned a Weim who produced two champions, and have had a strong breed mentor in Elena Smith Lamberson.

Once my application is approved at AKC, then I will schedule an interview with an AKC field rep at a show and proceed to discuss the breed with the field rep. After that, all being well, my name will be published as a provisional judge and after five assignments during which I'm observed, then I can proceed to full status. I'm excited about moving on with the process.

The Labradors that I judged at Penn Ridge Kennel Club were generally nice. I put up a black dog for WD, a black girl for WB, BOW and BOS and a black boy for BOB. The yellows at this show just were not as strong as the blacks. It was a nice venue and was thankfully air-conditioned. Thankfully the weather was great with cool temps in the morning and highs only in the lower 80's. It was a perfect time to get away from the heat wave in the Charleston area.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Applying for another breed

I've decided to apply for an additional breed to judge: Weimaraners. I don't ever want another breed other than a Labrador, unless maybe it's a lap dog like a French Bulldog. But I also enjoy judging so I've decided that a good ten year goal will be to eventually judge the entire Sporting Group. That means that I can apply for another breed now, and if approved, will then be able to apply for two more breeds the next time. It's basically the "rule of two" in applying for new breeds: if you are approved for two then you can apply for four, etc. At any rate, it's a long process. I may get worn out by the time it's all done but I do think that it will be interesting and a challenge.

I started going to shows a long time ago with Elena Smith Lamberson who has Silversmith Weims. She was an early mentor for me with dog shows. Elena taught me a lot about showing and being involved with dog shows through activities such as stewarding. She encouraged me to join the LRC, Inc. as she felt strongly that everyone should be a member of their national club. This was at a time when there was a lot of controversy about the LRC, Inc. and the revised Labrador standard. I always thought that Elena would be an excellent judge. But she seems to be enjoying her retirement, horses, and travels with Gary so her priorities right now are elsewhere.

I think that we all begin to rethink things after we've done something for a long time. For me, I do enjoy judging and going to shows as a judge. I have gotten a bit tired of exhibiting but know that it's the heat of summer that just puts the notion of dragging crates around at a dog show out of my mind. I'm sure when fall comes, I'll be looking forward to some specialty shows. In the meantime, I'm going to spend as much time as I can on the water!

Monday, August 06, 2007

The heat is overwhelming

The heat index is supposed to be around 115 degrees today. This is very dangerous for our dogs. If you haven't done so, you need to provide shade and lots of water for your dog. It's best if you can bring in your pet during the heat. We have the misting systems going in the kennel which is situated under oak trees. However, there isn't much air stirring anywhere. The old dogs are in air conditioning and chilling out.

During hot weather, it's best to know the signs of heat exhaustion in your dog. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy panting, hyperventilation (deep breathing), increased salivation early then dry gums as the heat prostration progresses, weakness, confusion or inattention, vomiting or diarrhea and sometimes bleeding. As the condition progresses towards heat prostration or heat stroke there may be obvious paleness or graying to the gums, shallowing of the breathing efforts and eventually slowed or absent breathing efforts, vomiting and diarrhea and finally seizures or coma.

Body temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit are dangerous for dogs and if prolonged can cause brain damage. It's important to reduce the body temperature by cooling the dog immediately using cool water. Ice packs can be applied to the stomach, armpits, or neck.
You should always take a dog who suffers from heat exhaustion to the vet because there can be complications that may result.

So take good care of your dog and don't overdo anything in this heat.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Being a boat dog

Stella has learned to go out on a sailboat. It isn't hard to get a Labrador to enjoy the water but Stella hasn't been exposed to being on a boat. At first, she didn't want to get on the boat. But after lifting her on the boat, she settled down and seemed to enjoy being in the cockpit of the boat. I took her to Cummings Point on the back side of Morris Island. After anchoring the boat, Stella went over the side and we swam to shore. She went under, went "Baloosh" as she went under, and then came to the surface paddling away. She then swam like a pro to shore.

I think that she is enjoying her time on the boat, especially getting to swim and enjoy the water. But at the end of the day, I think that she then enjoys going home and lying on the cool floor. I think that the most important thing is to make sure the dog is comfortable and doesn't get overheated or stressed. Keep plenty of fresh water on hand and make sure that there is ample cool water from a cooler to put on the dog. If you intend to go out in the ocean, then it would be a good job to have a doggy life jacket. Most dogs will enjoy the experience of being in a boat as long as they stay comfortable.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Zelda and the guinea pig

Labradors are great dogs in general but when you see the photo above, it's hard to not smile. If you look closely, you'll see that Zelda is actually licking the guinea pig. Linda Davis wrote that Zelda is really good friends with Cosmo, the male guinea pig shown above. She often lays by his cage and puts toys in it. After Zelda was spayed, Cosmo would lie next to her and snuggle up to give her a pep talk:"I know this is tough but I know you can do this. I'm here for you if you need me". I don't think that I've ever seen a Labrador and a guinea pig snuggle up but Zelda and Cosmo appear to be best buds. What great dogs these are!

Friday, July 27, 2007

A new Am. Can. Champion

I got the word from Gerri and Steve Lubinsky that Simon (Ch. Surry Ol Salt Surf n' Turf) finished his Canadian Championship in five shows. They were very excited to have their first Am. Can. Champion. Simon looks very similar to his brother Ch. Surry's the Madcap Laughs. These two boys and their brother Ch. Surry's Umagumma at Fortune were the three puppies that finished out of Stella's litter to Angus (Ch. Dickendall Buckstone Thunderstruck).

Many congratulations to Gerri and Steve and Simon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Puppies go to the vet's office

I took five puppies, Isabelle and the black cat Abraham to the vet's today for various vaccines and check ups. The puppies are great when they are in their crates but getting them to come out of the crate is a different issue. The girls like to go all the way to the back of the 36 inch long crate and turn their head the other way. So I have to crawl inside the crate and try to get a leash around their neck. It's great fun!

Then I lift each one down, and with some I have to move their legs from the spread out position (as in "No way am I leaving this crate!"). So after lifting 5 dogs in and out 4 times, I was more than a little dirty. Thank goodness there is a good chiropractor that I go to who helps with back strain.

Abraham has lost 2 lbs which was really good as he was one fat cat last year. The puppies did great in the office and they are little porkers at around 75 lbs.

I really like how Dr. Shong and Dr. Rockwell treat the animals. They hug on each one, give cookies and generally love each animal. They make all the trouble worth while and the puppies just loved them.

Now off for a good shower!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Annie Cogo

I had meant to post this last week but didn't. Annie Cogo, Windfall Labradors, died July 9 after suffering a massive stroker. Annie had been in the breed since the early 1970's. However, she really became serious about breeding in 1990 when she and her husband Rob built their home and kennel in Michigan and purchased two bitches that made Labrador history. One was Ch. Tabatha's Windfall Abbey JH who won many specialties.

Perhaps Annie's most famous bitch was Ch. Windfall's Black Piper WC who was one of the top specialty winning Labradors in the history of the breed. Annie also had several nice boys and the current popular Windfall stud is Am. Can. Ch. Windfall's Pipe Major.

Annie liked typey Labradors and thought that people should be able to recognize the dog as a Labrador, not as a generic dog. She was a character who enjoyed sending jokes to her email buddies. She also was a talented artist with an artist's eye. Annie was a frank person who was willing to provide information to anyone who asked her. She seemed to greatly enjoy the people and the dogs that she encountered.

I'm sure that there will be a tribute written about Annie and her Labradors in the Labrador Quarterly or International Labrador Review.

Friday, July 20, 2007


One of the laurel oaks next to the kennel died this spring. It was a huge tree and had been doing well but in spring there was no new foliage and eventually all the leaves dropped. I'm not sure what killed it. There are a number of fungi that kill oak trees and there are borers that do considerable damage. I know that it was an old tree so perhaps it was susceptible to a disease of some kind. It appears that the heart wood was rotten.

Anyway, the oak had to be taken down because branches were starting to fall in the kennel area and nearby paddock. The tree had become a hazard and in every wind storm, another branch would fall. I was getting anxious that a large one would fall on the kennels or on my head as I went back and forth to the kennels. So yesterday Van's Tree Service came with several trucks and what was once a wonderful tree was reduced to a pile of logs. I examined the base and the rot had gone completely through the entire heart wood.

I really miss that tree. There are hundreds more oak trees at Surry but I always mourn the loss of trees. The stump remains and looks like a table. I'll put some potted flowers on it to brighten the place where the oak tree lived.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spiders everywhere

I don't know about you but I'm not fond of having spider webs across my face. I like spiders but don't fancy the idea of running into webs every morning when I go to the kennel. There is a huge healthy crop of golden silk spiders this year at Surry. These spiders are sometimes called Banana Spiders because of their yellow bodies. They weave very strong webs which look like a gold thread in the sunshine.

Generally, you'll see the female because she is much bigger than the male. She is about 3 inches long, and the male is only 1/2 inch long. The webs are a work of art and are huge. I can't tell you how many I've had draped across me thus far. Thankfully, the spiders rarely ever bite people.
The bite is supposedly similar to a deer fly bite but these aren't aggressive spiders so I've never been bitten by one.

Mostly the spider wants to get away from you when you hit the web. I've taken down a few webs but haven't harmed the spiders. I'm hoping that the spiders will relocate out of a pathway and will continue to eat up any mosquitos that happen to be around.

In the meantime, I'm pulling spider webs out of my hair.