Saturday, March 31, 2007

Doing the 6-12 on the Spirit of SC

Today was a pleasant day filled with activity. After meeting with Gabby's new mom in the morning, I went over to Mt. Pleasant to Patriot's Point to meet a friend and listen to Plain Jane and watch the ships go by. I wish that I were on one of them heading for the open sea.

I didn't exactly go to sea but did the 6-12 watch on the Spirit of SC. It was a beautiful night with a nearly full moon. I had my camera, sleeping bag, and a thermos of hot chocolate but no gnat repellant. The gnats were out in full force just before dusk.

There were a couple of tugs tied up near the Spirit so I wandered over to photograph some of the lines and shackles. As I doing this, one of the AB's on the tug came out to say hello. He was a young guy who had been working for Stevens Towing for several years. Anyway, I asked him a bunch of questions about being on the tugboat and he gave me a tour of the ship. It was fun and I photographed the engine room (the heart of a tug) and other interesting things. I think the AB was lonely because he came over to talk to me and the other lady on watch for a long time.

Every two hours we would make our rounds to pump the bilges and time the pumping. We would check the hatches and holds for moisture. We would also check all the lines to make sure that they were secure. It's not rocket science but it gives you a chance to be on the deck of South Carolina's latest tall ship.

Eventually, the captain of the tug showed up and he came over to sit on the dock and talk to the two of us on the Spirit. We all shared some stories. Cheryl, the other lady on watch with me, brought some scones and I brought brownies so there was plenty of stuff to feed the tug guys.
It made the hours go by quickly. Before I knew it, it was nearing midnight and time to inform the next watch crew that showed up.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hot spots

With spring already here, many Labrador will be shedding their winter coats. Shedding is also the time when hot spots can occur. If you use a slicker brush to get out the dead hair, then the chances of developing a hot spot are minimized. I have combs, slicker brushes, a shedding rake and pin brushes to use on the dogs. Labradors shed twice a year, although sometimes it seems that they are shedding all the time! It's best to brush Labradors daily and avoid giving baths that can dry out the coat and the skin.

Most hot spots occur when the dead hair starts to itch. Hot spots can also occur as a result of flea allergic dermatitis. A flea will bite, the dog will scratch, and an irritation will occur. Bacteria can then cause a slight infection and bumps will occur on the skin. It can be a vicious cycle with the dog continuing to scratch until a wound is created.

We treat hot spots with Chlorhexiderm scrub and Neopredf powder. If bad enough, you will have to give an antibiotic such cephalexin. I would definitely check with the vet should a hot spot develop.

Labrador hair should be showing up soon on a carpet near you!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Puppy Kindergarten

One of the things that I suggest to all the puppy owners is that they take their puppy to a kindergarten class. These classes are usually run by local obedience or breed clubs within driving distance of most people. They are really fun because it's an opportunity for puppies over 12 weeks of age to meet other people, other puppies and get some basic obedience instruction. Over the years, I took several puppies to kindergarten class.

A favorite game at the classes I attended was "pass the puppy" in which the puppy went around the circle with owners sitting on the floor and was actually passed from person to person. This is great socialization for puppies and they seem to enjoy it. The obedience part of the classes basically deals with learning to walk on a leash, learning to sit and learning to heel. The classes are a great introduction to further obedience classes and can be wonderful for those dogs and owners who are interested in conformation showing.

Aggression is something that should always be of concern with a puppy. Going to classes helps with interactions with other dogs but be sure that the other dogs are friendly. Since these are puppies, most are very happy and enjoy the interactions. Labradors are such happy dogs anyway that they enjoy any excuse to be goofy. Proof of vaccination is required for classes so be sure to ask about that and make sure that the instructors require such proof. No matter what the pursuit, the main thing is to have fun with your dog. Hopefully, kindergarten is just the start with the many activities that you and your Labrador can do together.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Judging on the Tarheel Circuit

I flew up to Raleigh yesterday so that I could judge this morning for the Fayetteville Kennel Club. There was a nice entry of around 60 Labradors. It's hard because the people that exhibited are people that I've shown with and known for years. I wish that I could say that the overall quality today was excellent but it was fairly average with a few very nice dogs and many that weren't real standouts. Coats were either lacking or too soft. I really liked the puppy that I put up for WD. He was a very nice puppy. The bitches were better in profile than the dogs but several had poor movement with a lot of "sidewinding". I realize that it's impossible to make everyone happy so you just do the best job that you can do based on what you observe in the ring with movement and structure. If the Labrador doesn't have good movement then how can it be expected to do work in the field?

I was glad to get back home this evening and have a few hours to just take it easy. After walking around on concrete and tossing and turning in a strange bed, it will be nice to just rest.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Today is the anniversary of the loss of dear sweet Becca. It was one of the darkest days for me because Becca died after having a C-section. Her six puppies were saved but she died in my arms on the way into our driveway. I'll never know the cause but most probably it was a pulmonary embolism since it happened so quickly. The shock and horror of that moment remain with me. It's one of those moments when time stops and you wonder how you will ever get through the next hour much less the days ahead.

Thanks to several Labrador breeders, the puppies had surrogate mothers for 3 weeks until they were finally able to eat mush on their own. If anyone ever thinks about breeding their girl, let them think about Becca and what can happen. They don't call dog breeding the heartbreak hobby for nothing. I miss you Becca.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dog Politics

I can't help but post this since I'm sure that something similar will be coming to your town or county in the near future. It' about whether the candidate you vote for is dog friendly. Luckily, I live on Wadmalaw where there isn't a dog limit (yet).

One of our neighbors has 7 calves in his backyard who live in cowhouses that look like a big doghouse. The Duluxe model is shown for your viewing pleasure. I like seeing the calves lying about in the yard and playing. Wadmalaw is an animal friendly place thankfully.

Now I can understand that having 12 Labradors in a residential neighborhood is probably not a good idea, especially since dogs do bark. Unfortunately, it's a dilemma that everyone will be facing. If we weren't living on acreage in the county, it would be highly unlikely that we would ever have continued to show our dogs or been as successful as we have been with them.

Monday, March 19, 2007

It's leaf time again

Today I feel rested and amazingly energetic considering the busy weekend that I had. After standing watch on the Spirit of SC until midnight and getting home at 1 AM Sunday morning, I got up around 7 AM, lit the fire because it was chilly, and got a cup of coffee. I walked the dogs and let the others out and came back in for a second cup of coffee. Instead, I made the mistake of crawling back into bed to read the paper. I was evidently more tired than I thought because I didn't wake up until nearly noon! Yikes, I haven't done that since I was a teenager! Who sleeps until noon????

Feeling guilty, I went outside and worked in the yard for the rest of the afternoon. The oak leaves are raining down so there were piles and piles to pick up and burn. I just love the smell of burning leaves though so it made for a very cheerful afternoon.

Tomorrow is Daisy Lanier's birthday. She is a Surry girl who is 8 years old. Her human parents Shannon and Troy love her and sent a photo of Daisy. Happy Birthday Daisy and many more! It seems like only yesterday when Shannon and Troy came to pick up their puppy and said that they would name her after our old girl Fernwood Miss Daisy. I wish that I could slow down the years.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

On the progging trail

When I visited Smith Island, there was a lot of talk about progging in the marsh. Progging is the local vernacular for finding something of value in the marsh, more or less beachcombing but in the marsh. At Station 12 on Sullivan's Island, there is a trail through the marsh that I call the progging trail. Today, I took Stella on the trail. She loves to go and always runs ahead and then stops to look back at me. It was quite a windy day today and not very warm. By the time we got to the end of the trail, the sun felt good. We hustled on the way back as it was off the beach for all dogs at noon. Stella enjoyed the outing. We didn't find any treasure in the marsh today but there will likely be some again in the near future. I have found a Hobie cat on Sullivan's Island and will likely try to find out if anyone claims it. If a boat is left abandoned in SC for a while, then a lost and abandoned boat form can be filled out.

I then took Stella and Aggy to the Isle of Palms doggy park. It is always fun to go there. There were other Labradors there as well as goldens and a silky terrier who could retrieve. Aggy loves to play so she was running all around the doggy park and retrieving the little frisbee that the silky was going out to get.

Tonight I also stood watch on the Spirit of SC from 6 to midnight. It was cold and windy and the ship has no heat. The standing orders were to pump the bilges every 2 hours and record the time that it took to do so, check all the lines and check for water in the holds. It was fun as my other watch partner was a lady who has a great sense of humor. The Spirit is tied up near Stevens Towing and she said that last week the tugboat crew was having a party. So we joked about telling them to bring us some scones and good coffee but guessed that they were having Wild Turkey in a box (rather than wine in a box). She told me stories about camping for 2 weeks where there was no shower just a bag of water hung up on a pole. We had a great time laughing about all kinds of things so it made the hours go quickly. She and I are on watch again in two weeks so I'm bringing a big thermos of coffee and she's bringing the scones. We can't trust the tugboat crew to cater our watch!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Last night's row

It was a bit windy last night for our rowing session. I was coxswain which was fun. I did however not look at the tide tables before heading out so we went downriver on high slack which meant that we were coming back on an ebbing tide which was hard going. It's a bit dicey getting out of City Marina but we managed to row our way out without hitting any other boats or endangering life and limb! That's always a big plus!

We had a new rower with us last night and he eventually caught onto the stroke rhythm. I suppose that some people have a hard time following the stoke while looking at their oar. By the end of the row, he was in sync with the rest of us.

I'm looking forward to getting my single in the water soon. The warm weather that we've been having is making me want to be on the water more and more. I'm sure that there will probably be a few more days of chilly weather but in Charleston, March is generally the end of bad weather. By May, it is hot!

The puppies are enjoying playing in their puppy yard. There are several obstacles set up for them to jump and play on. They enjoy rolling each other and generally being goofy. It's time to get these babies on a leash though. Otherwise, I'll have bucking broncos on the end of the leash if I delay.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's tick and flea time

It's getting to be tick and flea time with the seed ticks all over the woods. I pulled four off my pant leg this weekend. Fleas have been an issue for a while. There are years when we get a hard enough freeze that the nasty little things are killed. Then, when you live in the country with a lot of squirrels and other critters, it's hard to entirely get rid of fleas. We use Frontline Topspot which seems to work well for adult fleas. However, it's also advisable to use Progam for the larvae. Brushing and combing helps to determine whether the fleas are present and is good for the skin. It's hard though to get a flea comb through Labrador hair.

Ground treatment is also good to do and we do that twice a year in the paddocks. We till up the ground and then put down lime. There are no really good yard flea control agents that are approved by EPA. We used to use Dursban but can no longer use that. Sevin dust can't be used because it can cause neural tube anomalies in fetal puppies. One always has to check on what side effects could occur when using any pesticide.

In the house, it's best to vacuum frequently and empty the vacuum bag. We also use pyrethrin shampoos that are not toxic to animals. I hate fleas but realize that in the Charleston area where the temperatures seldom freeze, fleas, like cockroaches, are a part of the ecosystem.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Busy Sunday

I got up way before dawn and drove to Hilton Head to make a 9 AM ring call. Today I just showed Amelia who was happy in the ring, although she was the only puppy bitch being shown. A fellow breeder, Helen Gipe, rode down with me which made it nice as we could catch up on things and talk about life and dogs. We both decided that it would be nice to have fewer dogs and more leisure time. Not a bad idea since the dogs do tie you down and vacations are a luxury!

After getting home, I took a nap and then loaded up Stella and Pink to take them to the dog park and to the beach. Pink didn't like all the other strange dogs at first but eventually warmed up and started to play. Stella had a blast and both girls got new kerchiefs made by a lady who comes to the dog park. Stella's had shamrocks and Pink got a "surfer girl" kerchief.

We got to Station 12 just as the sun was about to set. It was beautiful and we took a long walk. Stella chased the birds and played with some other dogs. There are always people who love Labradors at the beach and the dogs get lots of hugs and pats on the head. After watching the sun go down and the lights of the city come on, we reluctantly headed back to the van. It was a long day but an enjoyable one.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dog show in Hilton Head

I went to the dog show in Hilton Head this morning. We showed around 12:30 PM. I took Amelia (Surry's Terminal Frost) and Vera (Surry's Earthbound Misfit). Amelia won her class and Vera took second in hers. Vera was a little apprehensive because of all the noises but eventually she was happy and enjoyed being petted by spectators. Amelia was her usual happy self. It turned out to be a beautiful day with no rain. It was actually hot in the sun but there was a good breeze blowing which helped to keep things bearable.

I'm driving back and forth to the show so tomorrow I'll have to be up and out the door by 6:30 for a 9 AM ring call. Ugh--I would love to sleep in one day of the weekend until 7 PM. Guess I'll have to wait until next weekend for that!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Importance of a good OFA technique

I've been lucky to have a wonderful vet who knows the correct positioning of hips and elbows for OFA certification. He is a perfectionist when it comes to getting the dog positioned correctly and having a good clear x-ray taken. Dr. Shong often takes 4 or 5 shots to make sure that he has the best one for submission to OFA. It is possible for dogs to be normal with regard to elbows and to have good hips but because the vet either didn't get the positioning right or the x-ray wasn't the best, the dog didn't pass. Not every vet knows how to get the positioning right so it's important to find one who does. Several breeders have driven many hours to come to Dr. Shong. He takes pains with each dog and wants to make certain that positioning isn't one of the reasons that a dog won't pass certification. I've seen crooked spines, unequal foramens, and other indicators that the dog wasn't positioned correctly on x-rays taken by other vets. For such an important decision, it's worth getting the dog to someone who takes a good x-ray and knows how to position the dog.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stella finds a big piece of line

Today, I took Stella to the beach for a long walk. During the walk, I came across a hawser from a tugboat, possibly the Elizabeth Ann who has been hauling mud scows out to the dumpsite off shore. Anyway, I decided that I wanted to bring this huge line back to my van and take it home. It was loaded with sand and wet which made it very heavy. Plus, I had to drag it for about a half mile on the beach and back to the van. It was pretty tiring work. Several people stopped to ask what I was doing and I said that it was a new exercise routine to burn off more calories while beach walking. They seemed very interested in the line and one art student wanted to take it home to photograph it. Are you kidding, I thought, after dragging this thing for nearly a half mile, do you think that I'm going to give it up now???? So Stella and I struggled...well, mainly I struggled while Stella just tagged along and wagged her tail. We finally got the hawser back to my van. I also found a hard hat with the Oswalt label on it and surmised that it was lost during the launching of the Spirit of SC since Oswalt did the moving of the ship from the shipyard to Union Pier. It was quite a time at the beach to find all these treasures. Now I'm trying to decide what to do with the hawser.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Launching Day

What an exciting day this was! The crew of the New Charleston Mosquito Fleet met at the Maritime Center around 10:30 and cast off lines at around 11:15. We rowed out into the Harbor and were greeted by a festive sight. There were boats everywhere, large and small. Everyone was there to celebrate the launching of the Spirit of South Carolina. There were large yachts, shrimp trawlers, small power boats, sail boats of all sizes, and two 34 ft. row boats. We were allowed inside the police boat perimeter for the launch. The ship was christened by a middle school student from Chapin who won the essay contest about the Spirit of SC. After all the dignitaries spoke, the tugs from Stevens Towing gently lifted the Spirit over the water and lowered her slowly down. Horns blew, small cannons were fired and we tossed our long oars and pointed them skyward in a salute to this new tall ship. God Speed Spirit!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Getting ready to launch

Today's email is not about Labradors but about a great event that's going to happen tomorrow. The Spirit of South Carolina will be launched tomorrow from Union Pier after seven years of hard work by a score of volunteers and fund raisers. The Spirit is an educational vessel that will take students on cruises where they learn science and math skills as well as team work and how to get along with each other. There will be sails for at risk children and the grades will encompass middle school through college. I can't say enough about the beauty of this ship. It is a 4 million dollar vessel that has been lovingly built by master boat builders and just ordinary people. The hours of dedication and love that the volunteers have put in is just incredible. It is truly a wonderful thing that has been done and a lot of self-sacrifices have been made. I hope that if you have a chance you will either watch the launch in person or on TV. There is a web site to go to so that you can read about the Spirit.

I'll be with the crew of the pilot gig so will have one of the best seats in the house. The pilot gigs have been asked to be on hand during the launch. I'll be snapping lots of photos for sure.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A rainy Thursday

Last night the puppies were having a great time wading in the puddles left by the heavy downpour of rain. It was very inclement weather but the dogs had to go out and the kennels had to be cleaned. It didn't seem to phase the Labradors who were bouncing around getting muddy. The puppies would run in and out of the DogLoo set up in the puppy paddock while their kennels were being cleaned. They were all piled in at once during a thunder clap.

Today the weather so far hasn't been bad but more rain and thunderstorms are forecast for this evening. I've signed up for watch duty on the Spirit of South Carolina and hope that all the rumbling and bad winds move on out before I have my watch. The launch of the Spirit of SC is on Sunday. The pilot gig crew will be rowing over to the SC Maritime Center and will have one of the best view of the launching. It's supposed to be cooler but clear that day.

I'm trying to decide how best to leash train all the babies. I think that I'll spend about 15 minutes with each puppy per day for walking on the leash. Then I can gradually increase the time a bit and get each accustomed to standing and staying. It's a challenge to have more than 2 puppies to work with!